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Mudman by James A. Hunter

2016-standout-award-badge-smallCan a golem made for vengeance ever find redemption and peace?  Not when life keeps throwing him curve balls like this!

MudmanTitle:  Mudman
Author:  James A. Hunter
SeriesThe Golem Chronicles Book 1
Publish Date:  March 8, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionLevi Adams is a soft-spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.

Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately, he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.

Someone is attempting to revive a pre-Babylonian murder god, and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.

Now, Levi must protect Ryder—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy mage holds a terrible secret about the Mudman’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for bloodshed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to uncover: maybe even Ryder’s life. If Levi isn’t careful, he may end up turning into the monster he always imagined himself to be.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

“Holy shit,” Chuck said, standing in slack-jawed wonderment at the building scarring the horizon with its presence. “Don’t tell me we goin’ in there, ’cause I ain’t fixin’ to do it. That place is a straight-up horror movie set, and everyone knows the black dude gets it first in a horror flick.”

First of all, this is an urban fantasy adventure. No sex and no cliffhanger.  The bad guys are vanquished…for now. There is lots of death and dismemberment, but when in Levi’s world, it takes a lot to survive.

The cover says it all.  The MudMan is a new kind of hero. From his beginnings, Levi was made for revenge.  Somewhere along the way, he developed a sentience. He doesn’t want to kill, so he tries to make himself abandon instinct and move toward a cleaner way of living.  That takes strength and a lot of determination.

badge4v4Levi has an enormous amount of humility.  He doesn’t present himself as a savior, he’s just doing the right thing. He’s uncovering a nasty plot of a recurring enemy in the Yancy Lazarus world, Hogg.  Levi is very serious but the author threw Chuck in the mix to add levity. Chuck MacLeti, the leprechaun, quickly attracted my attention from the first fist bump (don’t worry Yancy, my heart still belongs to you..) The situation is dire and something has to be done. Levi could leave the problem for someone else, but he teams up to take down the bad guys.  He saves who he can from the horrible experimentation that is reminiscent of the people that were used together to create him. It’s not a funny story.  It’s not a fluffy story, but it’s a darn good action adventure story with an unsuspecting superhero.  Levi is a great character with plodding intensity and fierce reputation. I would like to see more from his world, his exploits and his fight to maintain his focus.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Being a fan of Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series, I was both sad and excited to see a new book from Hunter with a different protagonist. Lucky for me, Mudman is set in the same world as Yancy Lazarus, and even includes some familiar names and places. Though it doesn’t have the same snark as I’m used to from Hunter, Mudman is a fantastic book. Levi is more the quiet straight man while Yancy is the wise-cracking smart-ass, but that doesn’t mean Mudman is devoid of humor; it just comes from the other characters.

Levi’s origins are so interesting — he’s a vengeance golem made out of the agony and fury of WWII Jews slaughtered in concentration camps.  He’s built to see the evil in men’s souls and meet out justice and vengeance upon them.  After many, many years of this, Levi reaches a higher level of self-awareness, realizing that he doesn’t want to be just a killer.  To help control his compulsion to kill, he turns to traditional addiction therapies and to the Mennonite church.  He acknowledges that he can’t totally control his urge to kill, and so aims himself at otherworld creatures instead of humans. Levi’s current adventure makes him a more than a killer; it makes him a protector.  And that’s something he sees as worthwhile.

Though the author wrote Mudman as a standalone, he has said that if the response is good enough, he might turn it into a series.  I can easily see Levi and Yancy working a case together–Levi playing the straight man to Yancy’s smartassery.  That would be a hoot to read.

badge4v4If you’re a fan of Yancy, be sure to give Levi a try.  He’s different, but the story is so good, you won’t want to miss it.  If you are new to James A. Hunter’s world, Mudman is a great introduction.  In either case, be sure to pick up this book.  Did I mention YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT?  Though the badge says 4, I’m giving this book a 4.5.

Other reviews…

Mudman publishes today, so watch Amazon, Goodreads, and your favorite sources for more reviews.

If you like this book…

…you should definitely try James Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series if you haven’t already.  Thomas Sneigoski and Christopher Golden’s Menagerie series has a golem character.  Here’s a list from Goodreads of other books featuring golems.

Savage Prophet by James A. Hunter Release Day Blitz and Review

savage-prophet-banner-851-x-315

Savage Prophet feels like a high point in the Yancy Lazarus series. There is so much madness and mayhem that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor several times!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

savage-prophetTitle: Savage Prophet
Author: James A. Hunter
Series: Yancy Lazarus # 4
Publish Date: October 7, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover: Harper Design
SourceBewitching Book Tours
Buy LinkAmazon

Publisher’s DescriptionLegions of murderous undead, Haitian voodoo, and a five-thousand-year old serpent god.

Yeah, ’cause that’s exactly what Yancy Lazarus needs in his life: more complications. As if being the Hand of Fate and the newly appointed guardian over one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse wasn’t headache enough.

All Yancy wants is an easy life on the open road—chock-full of ribs, beer, cigarettes, and smoky bars blaring with gritty blues music—but that just isn’t in the cards. Nope, not anymore. He’s been charged to save the world and now that he’s got a no-shit demon riding shotgun in his head, he’s sorta committed to the cause.

If Yancy can’t sort through this colossal heap of bullshit, he’s coffin bound. But, he’s not dead yet. In fact, he even has a lead.

Turns out one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse—the pale Rider, Death—is slumming around in one of Yancy’s old haunts. In order to corner this new threat, though, Yancy’s gonna have to face some deadly supernatural nightmares from his distant past. And, to make matters worse, he’s not the only one trailing the Pale Rider. A powerful new mage with some serious magical chops, is also aiming to find the Fourth Seal and he’ll do whatever it takes to win. Even if it means hurting those closest to Yancy …

Like F.B.I. Agent Nicole Ferraro.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous Nellie says…Nervous_Nellie_100

Yet here I was on the receiving end, in desperate need of a State Farm agent, ’cause he’d just burned my ass to the ground.

This is an urban fantasy, no sex, lots of death and much to my dismay, a cliffhanger.  This is not a stand alone, please start with Yancy’s book #1.

There are a few series that I feel passionately about. Yancy’s story is one of them. Yancy is a salty, ill-behaved 68-year old Marine who is a mage that has seen too much and done far worse. He’s been betrayed, loved, and hated. He’s also funnier than anything I can ever compare. His sense of humor is one of those that makes me laugh out loud.

His story is continuing, though I have no idea how he’s keeping himself alive. In this book, it’s never a good day for Yancy. He’s got more on his plate by just waking up in the morning than I have in all my life. He has to out-guess the Fates and try boxing in a demon. He has to figure out puzzles and keep at least three moves ahead of his enemy…which he’s not always sure the identity.

badge4v4He’s trying so hard to do the right thing that sometimes he has to do the wrong thing to get him into the place he needs to be to do the right thing. The secondary characters are not disappointing either. The world is a mixture of Earth as we know it, Faerie, and an other world that is deadly if you don’t know what you are doing and treacherous even if you do.

Yancy Lazarus is a one of-a-kind and his story is the ultimate conspiracy theory.  If you think the government is bad, you’ve never met the bathrobe-wearing shitpickle of the Guild.  That’s Yancy’s word – not mine.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Savage Prophet is a game changing novel in the Yancy Lazarus series. Poor Yancy goes through Hell trying to find and stop the next seal bearer. To make matters worse, the Guild is after him.

I had some very visceral reactions to this book. The bugs, the bokker’s place with dead things everywhere, the torture. I was cringing and grimacing a lot, which means the writing and description is doing its job.

There are some sweet elements to this book as well. Yancy has a nice couple of scenes with Lady Luck and the Fates. There’s also a new character introduced, Darlene, who is absolutely adorable. I’m confident that Darlene will soon become the patron saint of all administrative assistants everywhere.

badge4v4The biggest compliment I can give this book is that it made me want to go read the whole series over again. Characters and story elements from previous books are interwoven into the big picture, and I want to see if I can detect them on a reread. 4.5.

Our reviews in this series…

About the Author…

Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—’cause that’s a real thing. I’ve also been a missionary and international aid worker in Bangkok, Thiland. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.

Okay … the last one is only in my imagination.

Currently, I’m a stay at home Dad—taking care of my two kids—while also writing full time, making up absurd stories that I hope people will continue to buy. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Hunter’s Mudman Now Available in Audio!

Back in March, Nell and I reviewed and loved Mudman by James A. Hunter. I’m happy to say that, for those of us who like listening to books, Mudman is now available as an audiobook, too!

Mudman AudioTitle: MudMan
Author: James A. Hunter
Series: The Golem Chronicles Book 1
Publisher: Shadow Alley Press
Publish Date: August 10, 2016 (audio)
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Narrated by: Armin Taylor
Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Publisher’s DescriptionLevi Adams is a soft spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.

Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.

Someone is attempting to revive a pre-Babylonian murder god, and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.

Now, Levi must protect Ryder—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy mage holds a terrible secret about the Mudman’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for bloodshed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to uncover: maybe even Ryder’s life. If Levi isn’t careful, he may end up turning into the monster he always imagined himself to be.

Get it on Audible!

All three novels in Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series are also available in audio:

Excerpt from Mudman by James A. Hunter…

ZERO:
Awakening
June, 1943

He blinked his eyes open for the first time: a newborn stealing his first look at the world, which, in a way, is exactly what he was. Except no squealing, rosy-cheeked infant had ever been so big, so ugly, or so filled with blood-boiling rage. Never had a child been so appalling. He squinted at first, letting in only the merest trickle of light because even the wan illumination from the moon, which loitered over the world like a fat thumbnail, was harsh to his virgin eyes.

Smells came next: the scent of musky earth, the harsh tang of powdery slaked lime—used to mask the reek of decay—and buried beneath that, the sour stink of rotten flesh and burnt hair.

The sky spit down a misty drizzle, fine droplets of cool water that turned his gray skin slick. After a few moments more his eyes adjusted fully, allowing him, at last, to survey his surroundings. Mud and muck, deep brown and goopy, lined everything. It squished beneath his shoulder blades, clung to his arms and legs, and liberally coated the corpses crudely piled to his right. Despite the mud, the bodies appeared almost white, like angry specters waiting for him, welcoming him to this new hell with silent screams and vacant eyes.

How he knew anything was beyond him, since this was the first day of his life, the day—or rather night—of his unnatural birth. Surely, no baby pushed and fought its way into the world with dark and grisly thoughts of murder and death lingering in its mind, with knowledge of mass graves, heinous experimentation, and hasty executions. But he knew such things. Fragments of memories floated and swirled inside his skull, dancing a slow funeral dirge, parading incoherent snatches of imagery through his head.

The Wehrmacht march through the streets in their black spit-shined boots and high-collared, gray wool uniforms. Smart and dashing, those uniforms, dressing up the face of murder in civility and pageantry …
The Luftwaffe soars overhead. The buzz of the single-prop Focke-Wulf and the thunderous roar of the colossal Messerschmitt transport planes fill the air with their racket …

He clutches a small boy to his chest, his body trembling as he hides, holding his breath for fear of being heard. Terror and panic wriggle in his guts as the black-garbed Schutzstaffel—the SS—make their way from door to door, fists rapping on wood, rifle buttstocks smashing out windows, booted feet kicking their way inside …

Then, train cars, loaded to capacity, roll through his thoughts. Bodies press up against one another so tightly he can’t breathe—except he isn’t a he, but a she. And she is searching for her sister. They’d been separated in all the chaos …

So many images, circling around, each screaming more loudly than the last, each demanding he lend them an ear or an eye or a hand. He clutched at either side of his head. Broad, fleshy palms pressed in as though he could simply pulverize the images and send them back to whatever nightmare they’d come from. But they kept coming, and as they came—faster and faster, like a hail of automatic machine gunfire—his chest began to itch and burn. It felt like someone had taken a cherry-red fire iron and jabbed it into the meat covering his breastbone.

A huge hand flew to the pain, his fingers finding crude markings etched directly into the skin, cut deep into the muscle below. As he touched the mark, the jagged wound, the voices and visions coalesced into a single demand. A demand for retribution. The anger came next, flowing from the brand like gasoline pumping through his veins, scorching his insides and propelling him to action. He lumbered to his feet, the muck squishing around his thick toes, and made for the muddy wall of his earthen womb. In reality, an open grave. He dug his digits in and used his flabby, though powerfully built, arms to pull himself upward and free.

He lay on the edge of the pit for a long beat, charting the lay of the land, eyes scanning the dark, which covered everything like a velvety blanket. In the distance, not so far off, he saw a squat building. Some sort of bunker, outlined by the faint glow of light bulbs. He wasn’t surewhat he was. Where he was. Or how he’d gotten there. But, as the brand burned in his chest, he was certain of one thing: someone—or, perhaps, lots of someones—had quite the butcher’s bill to account for, and he was ready to collect.

About the Author…

Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—’cause that’s a real thing. I’ve also been a missionary and international aid worker in Bangkok, Thiland. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.

Okay … the last one is only in my imagination.

Currently, I’m a stay at home Dad—taking care of my two kids—while also writing full time, making up absurd stories that I hope people will continue to buy. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep.

You can visit me to find out more at www.JamesAHunter.wordpress.com.

website | twitter | facebook

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Flashback: The Morrigan by James Hunter

Welcome to Saturday Shorts where we features short stories and novellas.  Today’s novella is from the world of Yancy Lazarus, our favorite mage, bluesman, and supernatural snarkmaster.

Flashback MorriganTitle:  Flashback: The Morrigan
Author:  James Hunter
SeriesYancy Lazarus Book 03.5
Publish Date:  May 6, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionThe year is 1998.

Yancy Lazarus—bluesman, gambler, mage, and professional fix-it man—has been working for the Guild of the Staff for over twenty-five years. Handling ugly problems no one else wants to touch. Mostly by breaking things, blowing ’em up, or otherwise meting out Guild-sanctioned justice, Rambo-style.

His next assignment will be his last.

A Guild operative, with a headful of dangerous secrets, has gone missing inside the court of the High Tuatha De Danann: ye olde Irish gods of badassery. Yancy—along with fellow wet-works man James Sullivan and Judge Ailia Levchenko—is dispatched to retrieve the missing operative or, barring that, make the perpetrators behind the operative’s disappearance pay a steep, bloody price for crossing the Guild.

But with pissed-off godlings gunning for him on every side, a little kidnapping might be the least of Yancy’s worries.

The Guild investigators are gonna have to navigate the murky waters of court politics, ferret out a traitor, and devise a way to put the kibosh on an inter-dimensional invasion if they want to avoid being murdered horribly. And even if they do get to the bottom of the diabolical mystery, nothing will ever be the same, because one of their number isn’t coming home …

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

Ah, yes. Yancy, the man is explained. Often it’s betrayal that creates in us the stoic and hardened attitude of “rode hard and put away wet.”

This was a tough read for me and the author knew it. He warned me, but I had to see for IMG_0945myself. I love Yancy and it was hard to see the man he was being betrayed. Kind of like watching a TV show and yelling “Watch out!!”

He wasn’t innocent by any stretch of the imagination as he was “The Fixer”. It’s a cool name but the job was not all it was cracked up to be. I guess it rang bells in my life because it seems like everyone is blindsided at some point. Like I said, it was a tough read for someone who really hates pain.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Heroes, even reluctant ones, aren’t typically people who have led a charmed life.  Heroes are usually born out of heartache and misery and major hardship. The Morrigan shows the reader a pivotal point in the live of Yancy Lazarus; one that shapes him into the person he is in the novels.

Chronologically, The Morrigan is the second installment of the Yancy Lazarus series, after Siren Song.  The Morrigan takes place while Yancy is still working for the Guild as “The Fixer,” their badass assassin. It answers some questions about why Yancy no longer works for the guild and his strained friendship with James Sullivan, and explains some references Yancy makes to a former lover, Ailia, to The Morrigan, and to his relationship with the Tuatha De Danann.

badge3v4While Yancy is already a master of snarky insults in The Morrigan — “dickbasket” is one of my new favorites — he’s not quite as cynical or jaded as he is in the novels.  He still trusts the Guild and is content being the thug that doesn’t think too much about his assignments.  This is the story of how that trust was violated, and how Yancy came to be the ultimate paranoid drifter that we know and love.

Our reviews in this series…

If you like this book…

…you might try any of Hunter’s other works, Havoc Rising by Brian S. Leon, or the David Hooper series by John Birmingham.

Wendigo Rising by James A. Hunter

Yancy’s life sucks.  He’s the Fixer and that means that people are…

Always asking me to fix things, like I don’t have anything better to do.  Needlessly complicating my life with their problems.  I must have some kind of invisible sign hanging over my head that says Sucker Here, Please Ruin My Day.

27065362TitleWendigo Rising
Author: James A. Hunter
Series: Yancy Lazarus Book 03
Publish Date: November 3, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Bigfoot is real. Yancy Lazarus—mage, bluesman, and rambler—knows because there happens to be a nine-foot-tall, walking myth standing in the road, flagging him down.

Yancy just can’t escape his reputation as a supernatural Fix-it man even when cruising through the forgotten backwoods of Montana. Turns out Bigfoot has a serious problem on his hands: one of his own has gone rogue, developing a taste for the flesh of humans and Sasquatch alike. A greater Wendigo has risen for the first time in thousands of years and if Yancy can’t stop the creature it could be a slaughter for the residents of a rural Montana town.

But even with the monstrous threat looming on the horizon, Yancy has bigger fish to fry. He’s working as an agent of Fate, attempting to put the kibosh on a nefarious scheme, aimed at upsetting the tenuous balance between the supernatural nations. When your boss is Lady Luck, however, nothing is ever left to chance, and his two cases may have more in common than it appears. If he can’t figure out the missing link it could usher in a new world order: an age of inhuman creatures and walking nightmares … one where Yancy Lazarus doesn’t exist.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!)


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

But a mustache like that only existed to be twirled in a dastardly fashion by a scheming scoundrel who ascribed to the Snidely Whiplash School of Villainry.  Now if I could only find his top had and black bad-guy cloak, I’d have him dead to rights.

If only finding the bad guy was that easy.  Yancy is still in the mix from the last book, searching for solutions for many problems that all seem to be connected.

Wow. I loved this book.  Everything was top shelf.  The descriptions of battle scenes, the monsters and the story line were very compelling.   Heck, the author even got me to feel sorry for the bad guys for goodness sake.  No one can make me do that….well…until now, I guess.

Yancy was in full snarky form and I wore out my highlight button noting all the fun quotes.  If you are a fan of Darynda Jones’s Charlie Davidson, then Yancy Lazarus would be right up your alley.  He might be able to get the senior discount at Denny’s, but he is The Fixer, one tough cookie and hard to beat.  His boss is Lady Luck and if that isn’t a weird turn, then finding out the rules that govern the Hands of Fate is something to behold.  “I can’t tell you this, but let me give you this super cryptic hint,” is par for the course.  Yancy doesn’t save the world this time around, but he does put the smackdown on some bad guys.  He also pulls in his friends to help with problem solving.  Nicole Ferraro, FBI agent, former Marine and major player in this book has got personality that will not quit.  She’s definitely not a shrinking violet or wilting flower, or badge4v4whatever.  She will send the bad guys packing with just a look – and she’ll do it all in a suit.  Go Ferraro!!  Greg, Yancy’s lifetime friend, gets dragged into Yancy’s mess even though he never answered Yancy’s phone call.  I guess trying to avoid a mage is more difficult than one would think.  Now we come to James Sullivan.  Supreme high enforcer type/law enforcement muckety-muck in the Guild.  James was Yancy’s boss when Yancy worked for the Guild.  They worked ops together and Yancy trusts him.  Is it misplaced?  Is James the bad guy?  I am holding out for a firm and resounding “no” from the author, but I haven’t gotten it.  I’m pretty sure that James A. Hunter is un-bribable, so I guess I’ll just have to let things develop as they are to be. Darnit.

There isn’t a cliffhanger, but there is story lines that are alluded to and hinted at.  I don’t know where this story is going, but “grab your luggage and empty your bladder cuz it’s gonna be a wild ride!”

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Wendigo Rising is a great addition to the Yancy Lazarus series and probably my favorite book so far. Not only are the two Bigfoot characters likable, but there are some awesome scenes in this book, like a haunted woods scene, a musical competition with the sirens, and a giant transformer fight.

I really enjoyed that Yancy wasn’t working alone. The four friends – Yancy, Ferrero, James, and Greg – made a really good team. The addition of Winona and her father made them unstoppable. I hope we see the four working together again in future books. I wouldn’t mind seeing Winona in future books either; she has a great sense of humor and is a lot of fun.

I’m curious about where the main plot is going. Is Dr. Arlen Hogg working with someone in the Guild? Is James a traitor or not? And what the heck is up with the Morrigan? She is a new addition to the mix of villains.

badge4v4And I really do have to give kudos to the cover designer. The covers for all three novels and short story have been amazing.

Yep, this is my favorite book of the series so far. If you haven’t started reading the late Lazarus series yet, you really should.

Stand Out Award Badge2Other reviews in this series…

If you like this book…

…you might try: