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Top 10 of 2017 on RBR

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I'm ending this blog early this year, but I would like for you to check out these wonderful books. They will make great gifts and these are ones that I wholly recommend!

By the way, I'm in the process of reading a few more great books; so, be on the look-out come January for these wonderful stories!

This year, I'm dividing the top 10 into genres, with one special bonus book at the end. (total of 11, so this is contrary to my title) 

In no particular order nor ranking:

Nonfiction

Love Him Anyway by Abby Banks

Abby Banks wrote a book of raw honesty and a look into the life of a Christian parent. We all struggle with feelings of selfishness and unselfishness, that duel between anger and love, and the ping-pong effect between bitterness and praise.







Young Adult

The Delusion by Laura Gallier  

"My stories are twisted and bizarre--and so terrifying that I'm sometimes told to shut up a few minutes into them--but I can't."
So by this prologue begins a strange and wei…

Bible Promises to Live by for Women

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Bible Promises to Live by For Women by Katherine J. Butler, Ronald A. Beers

The golden embossed linen textured book is compact enough to carry on your travels, to work, to school, in your purse, etc.

The small devotionals take only moments to read. Each have a variety of scripture for reference.

I found many of the chapters to be exactly what I needed. One such chapter was about Helplessness. With compassion and insight, the words lifted my spirit and gave me that added boost I needed in my daily meditation.

This is a perfect gift for any women, young and old.

***I was given a copy by Tyndale Blog Network in exchange of an honest review*** 

Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fischer

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Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fischer (Thomas Nelson 2017)
Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fischer is the perfect board book to introduce a toddler up to a young reader to well known Bible stories.

Many of the Old Testament stories include Genesis' story of creation, Noah, Abraham, and Moses; David, Daniel, and Jonah. After Jonah, the young reader reads about Jesus' birth.

One of the things I liked about this story is the inclusion of "The Lost Sheep". This parable told by Jesus is often overlooked, but one of the best stories for children to learn. I have a soft spot for Mark 4:39, so it was my utter delight to see the chapter "Jesus Calms the Sea". The classic "loaves and fish", plus the story of his crucifixion and resurrection was next.

The book wraps up nicely with "Jesus Lives" and the commandment to go and spread the Good News!

The sturdy book will withstand even the toughest of little hands. T…

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

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The Delusion by Laura Gallier (Tyndale 2017)
"My stories are twisted and bizarre--and so terrifying that I'm sometimes told to shut up a few minutes into them--but I can't."

So by this prologue begins a strange and weird tale told by Owen Edmonds.
Owen starts off as an agnostic. We see that he is basically a good boy, someone who strives to do what is best, even though he comes from a broken home. He has friends that at times can be good, but for the most part are self-absorbed and vain.
Just one moment of curiosity, the want to know more information, the need to have his questions answered, Owen takes a risk and the consequences send him into a supernatural existence. Now he can see demons and angels. He can see the shackles and chains that bound people to sin. And he can see the light of those who have been freed of their chains by their belief in Jesus Christ.
The book is told in first person. The reader falls headlong into teenage thoughts and emotions, experiencing them…

The Gift of Heaven by Charles Stanley

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The Gift of Heaven by Charles Stanley (Thomas Nelson 2017)
This isn't a devotional or a coffee-table style mini book. What it is, is a book that gives detailed descriptions and answers, according to Scripture, about heaven.

Many people often wonder about Heaven. Who will be there? Will we eat? Will we know anyone? What does it look like? Where is Heaven?

In the short 10 chapters, Charles Stanley answers each. Whereas, not all questions can be answered because we lack the information, he does provide a satisfactory answer to those unanswerable questions.

Complimenting the pages are beautiful photography, each showing a bountiful heaven on earth and underscoring that Heaven will be even more beautiful and glorious.

Charles Stanley doesn't rely on only one version/translation. He uses 6 translations throughout the book: New American Standard, English Standard Version, New International Version, New King James Version, New Living Translation, The Living Bible.

The Gift of Heav…

Regarding Tiberius by Bartholomew Boge

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Regarding Tiberius (2017)
As I read this story, a tribute to Louis L'Amour and Lew Wallace, John Bunyan and Henry van Dyke, I imagined it to be bound in cloth hardback and smelling of history.

Anachronisms in the novel gave Regarding Tiberius a distinct Shakespearean flair. Like Shakespeare, the novel contains some 16th century words, some that can be found in the King James Bible; although, nowadays these words are considered crass.

Other words used, although in proper format isn't considered vulgar, when used as an oath or epithet it becomes vulgar and shouldn't be found in Christian literature.

If not for these words, which many readers of Christian fiction may find offensive, the novel would be a strong Christian historical tale. As it is, it's a well-written and highly engrossing historical novel with Christian themes.

Various cultures, aligning with history, and a true portrayal of the Roman Empire adds to the dusty and timeless adventure.

With a regal Nubia…

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck

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The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck (Thomas Nelson 2012)
1: I want this book so that I can read it time and time again. (I borrowed a copy from the Marion Public Library).
2: The main character's name is Daphne. The perfect name, in my opinion.
3: The smell of rain is my favorite scent. Nothing smells as peaceful or as refreshing as the smell of falling rain.

And no other chick-lit book seems as refreshing as Billerbeck's The Scent of Rain. The main character was an utter delight: smart, sassy, and sensitive.
The Christian aspects were natural and authentic.
The pace never bogged down or seemed rushed.
To me, this became the ultimate Christian Chick-lit romance novel.

By the time I turned that last page I was smiling and felt as though all cares were taken from me. And that is how a book is suppose to make you feel!  
***Click on the title for the option to purchase a copy*** 

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

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Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore (Tyndale 2017)
I've tried many of Janice Cantore's books in hopes that I would find one that I could like and read. Unfortunately,  this one was not the book. 

Although I found this book difficult to immerse myself into and where I found myself speed reading quite a few paragraphs, I realize that this could be a good book for many people. 
I didn't like the pages and pages of backstory and description of who the character was and what had happened to them previously. There were a lot of repetition throughout. And at one point the "oh, my ---" phrase was used. It was used in Spanish, but still, many readers would take that as using God's name in vain.
The pace was steady. The writing style solid and at times intense. After three books I think I can say this author isn't for me. But I would tell readers who are looking for a good police story within the Christian market should give Janice Cantore a try. You might like her books.  
***I…

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson

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Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson (Bethany House 2017)
This was a book that took me a while to read. Not because of layers upon layers of plots or because of the writing style, but it was more of an interest factor for me.

While I do like some legal thrillers, and this one did remind me quite a bit of a Grisham novel, there were technical issues that kept me from truly enjoying the novel. The flashbacks, told in memory format, were quite irritating. It would bog the story down. In my opinion, it could have been handled in a brief summary or through dialogue. But pages and pages of memory lane tended to become old and boring.

At one point of the book, a scene with a clerk was used to alert us to crisp, old money. Of course this wouldn't be a strange occurrence, but it seemed out of place. And even the following scene of the man spying on the clerk to gain the passwords. These scenes more thrown in and not developed. A portion to explain a why, which I think did matter.

The ploys used in the…

Blink by S.A. Jewell

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Blink by S.A. Jewell (Ambassador International 2017)
Many cons and pros to this book. I'm going to start with the cons.
I did find some political leanings in the book; they were slight and only eyebrow arching worthy.

I will have to say that the beginning was strong. Although the point of view was old school (omniscient), and at times I forgot which character the scene was devoted to; because of it the point of view became jumbled. If the author had stuck with one way, either single point of view per scene or constant omniscient, the scenes would have flowed better.
Another thing was the constant history info dump. Almost two pages (Kindle-wise) devoted to a history lesson on the EU (European Union). Another on a man's resume and why he had that particular job and why he was able to get that job. There were more, but these two really stuck in my head. To me, it was an extremely low blow to a reader's intelligence. In my opinion, and in the professional opinion, it should have bee…

Swipe Right by Levi Lusko

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Swipe Right by Levi Lusko (Thomas Nelson 2017) 
The play on words with the title, Swipe Right, relates to the Tinder dating app. This is more of a "Me" generation thing; so reading this book, I can see that the audience is the teens and upwards to the mid-20's.

With so much sexual immorality that has become a blight on this world, this book not only shows why a young person should wait before having sex, but also shows how it is never too late to rededicate yourself to purity. Levi Lusko doesn't mince words or try to sugar coat so not to affront someone's delicate sensibilities. He is matter of fact, using language of the modern culture, and still he plays hard ball with a sensitive topic.

The Holy Bible is his guide and he doesn't deviate from it. All he writes is written in love, even if it does sound harsh sometimes.

Older people may not benefit from this as much; although, there are some really good points to note when it comes to relationships.

I would defini…

Why Did You Choose Me? by Katie Cruice Smith

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Why Did You Choose Me? by Katie Cruice Smith (Ambassador International 2017)
From time to time I come across a great children's book. Lately my publisher has been dishing out quite a few great Christian books for children, which is a blessed relief.


Of those books Katie Cruice Smith wrote a book about adoption. Not about how to adopt, or when to adopt, or the process of adoption. She wrote about the heart of adoption: what a child may ask his or her parent. 
Why did you choose me?

This was an interesting children's picture book. With an easy and flowing cadence, it expressed some of the major questions adopted children would ask a parent. These questions are posed beautifully and in a way for a child to understand his or her uniqueness.

My favorite part is actually the end of the mother's reply: "Do you think that Mama chose you? It was no choice for me. From the moment that I saw you, I had found my sweet baby." 

This epitomizes the unconditional love a mother has for H…

Hearts of Fire by The Voice of the Martyrs

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Hearts of Fire: eight women in the underground church and their stories of costly faith by The Voice of the Martyrs ( The VOM Books 2015)
God will call anyone He chooses and these women prove that sometimes one must step up, be strong, and stand firm for Christ.
I shared this book on Facebook, urging others to read it. Here's my post:  Voice of the Martyrs: this book is something I encourage everyone to read it. It will open your eyes about those who suffer for Christ. It will open your eyes to other religions who persecuted Christians (Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and various other tribal beliefs). It will rewrite your heart and soul and show you the true meaning of following Christ.
Even though these testimonies will span the decades, you will see similarities to today's culture and society as it were decades ago.
Instead of spending your money on a cola and junk food or even that lazy day when you purchase fast food; put off buying that shirt or shoes; take a small portion (only $12) out of…

Bella Gets Rescued by Ellie Wakeman

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Bella Gets Rescued by Ellie Wakeman (Ambassador International 2017) 
This is a cute story. Cat owners can relate to the behaviour that is seen in many of our pets and these behaviours are brought to life in the small story of Bella Gets Rescued.

The illustrations were soft and eye catching, a sure win for those little readers who delight in stories that are able to be told through the pictures. Not too long that it will lose the attention of the young reader and not too short that it rushes the story, this book is a perfect balance for a little child.

What's more is that Bella Gets Rescued has an underlying message to us all: we should not fear.
The parallel of being lost to Christ and then found is a major theme in this children's book.

I see this as a great Sunday School lesson, a homeschool lesson, or as an entertaining read that will stick with the little ones as they grow. Lessons of love, acceptance, patience, and thankfulness will gain a foothold all because of this beautiful …

Every Job a Parable by John Van Sloten

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Every Job a Parable What Walmart Greeters, Nurses & Astronauts Tell Us About God by John Van Sloten (NavPress 2017)
Again, it is rare that I find a book that just doesn't suit me. I'm honor bound to write a review, and although this isn't a negative review, per se, it is a review that is honest about what I thought of Every Job a Parable.

When I read about this book, read the blurb on the back, and the description I thought it would be how jobs, whether blue collar or white collar, can be a parable in Christian living. How awesome to see how a person's everyday living can be a testimony and how awesome that the author took the time to talk to these people....I was mistaken.

This wasn't a book that I expected it to be. The author expounds upon these jobs by relating what he had observed and then creating a sermon from it.

Some of the vocations mentioned were not what I would call a vocation and some of the "parables" seemed as though he really had to strive an…

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

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Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson 2017)
This book struck a balance between the pros and cons. In my opinion, although the writing was solid, there were instances where delivery of the art was lacking.

Denise Hunter, in the vein of Song of Solomon, portrayed the sensuality and physical attraction between a married couple. Although these two were in the process of finalizing the divorce, the attraction was still there. The author toed the line (according to Christian fiction standards), never quite stepping over it, when it came to describe the lust, love, and attraction between the characters. There might have been one instance where a reader would say that God's name was taken in vain, but it depends on how the sentence is read.

The faith wasn't as strong in Sweetbriar Cottage as it were in her earlier books. Gladly, there were no more usage of mildly crude language that had appeared in some previous works.

Denise Hunter handled a very sensitive topic well, although…

The Divide by Jolina Petersheim

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The Divide (The Alliance #2) by Jolina Petersheim  (Tyndale 2017)
This is one of those rare times where I really enjoyed the book and where the pros barely overrode the cons.

I'll start with the cons in this second installment of The Alliance story. The insertion of Sal's POV seemed more of a storyline crutch than any added value. Sure it helped knowing the "other side" of what was happening, but it could have been approached differently in my opinion. The four/five times that the POV was used compared to the alternating POVs of Moses and Lenora was jarring and inconsistent.

The first two thirds of the books seemed draggy, and took a while for things to happen. It did become a chore to read at first. And the last negative point about this book would be the abrupt transition from one scene to another. The first book handled it smoothly, but in The Divide, no matter whose POV, the scene breaks jarred me a little out of the story until I could visualize what was happening to…

God's Lineup by Kevin and Elizabeth Morrisey

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God's Lineup Testimonies of Major League Baseball Players by Kevin and Elizabeth Morrisey (Ambassador International 2012)
Any major league sport will have a devoted fan base and even the players themselves will view their chosen sport as the most important thing in life.

In God's Lineup, we are exposed to the raw faith of 26 Christian players who are either retired or actively playing.

As in many areas of life, Christians can be ridiculed and baseball is no exception; although MLB does have what is called Baseball Chapel. We are shown through a few testimonies how this ministry became a pivotal point in many players' lives.

The testimonies contained in this book doesn't lessen the masculinity of the men, but instead it fortifies the uniqueness of each and how they yearn to spread the Gospel.

Like the Topps, Fleer, and Upper Deck baseball cards, each chapter has a take on the player highlights, but geared toward their faith: born, favorite verses, saved, positions, team, school…

Scientists Discover God by William Davis

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Scientists Discover God by William Dallas (Ambassador International/Ambassador Books and Media 2012)
This book from across "the pond" is one that melds Christian faith and science. Written in layman terms, William Dallas takes sciences such as quantum physics, quantum theory, natural selection, geography, etc. to show that many discoveries (past and present) and theories prove the existence of God.

For one example: The Big Bang Theory states that nothing existed beforehand and yet science proves that nothing can be created from nothing.
The first third of the book cites many sources, secular and faith, to set up his argument. The second third explains the Christian faith. The last portion concluded with a merge of the two.
Being a nerd in all things dealing with the universe, quantum theory and physics, etc., I found this book ideal for an introduction into the deep topic, and a controversial one. It was thought provoking and informative, a highly recommended read for the curious. 

Mists of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

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Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd (Howard Books 2015)
I've always enjoyed reading novels by Daphne du Maurier and Georgette Heyer. Sandra Byrd takes the same theme and style from them and then makes it her own.

This is this first book I have read by Sandra Byrd, and it won't be the last. I was intrigued by Rebecca's plight. Englishwomen have a certain attitude and disposition that she must adhere to, and Sandra Byrd pulls this off extremely well.

The mystery is something that is slowly built into a vibrating tension. The red herrings and misdirection adds to the complex plot. The romance within grows slowly, with hesitation.

Since this is the daughter of missionaries, member of the nonconforming church, and faith is a mainstay to her character, the reliance upon God's direction is a steady and natural part of the story.

As for the details in the setting, Byrd uses flashbacks within the book by incorporating them as sudden surges of memories. It's almost like watching a Mast…

The Amish Firefighter by Laura V. Hilton

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The Amish Firefighter by Laura V. Hilton (Whitaker 2016) 
After reading The Post Card and enjoying David and Rachel's story, I looked forward to reading more about Sam Miller, especially since his scene at the end of the story.

He is a passionate and reckless man. Abigail is a sweet and bewildered woman, one who feels as though she wasn't loved, not even by God. Sam, on the other hand, approaches his relationship with God just as he approaches a fire that must be fought, with head-on abandon.

Throughout the book, I saw Sam mature into a beautiful and devout man; while, Abigail became more self-assured and willing to trust God with her future.

The story kept me reading up to about the end, and then it seemed rushed. I wished for a little bit more at the end to really keep the emotion high, instead of letting it peter off into a mild and sedate feeling.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. I did wish for a little more of the firefighting or at least more of it referenc…

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

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The Alliance  by Jolina Petersheim (Tyndale 2016)
 This was different than what I expected. Compared to other books I have read where the break down of society was evident either through an EMP or dollar collapse, this book ranks high.

The present tense first person narrative was refreshing and it seemed to center me in the story and see it through the eyes of Moses and Leora. This is their story. It doesn't matter the cause of what happened. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world is doing or the pursuit to find out. What matters in this story is how they will survive. How does two people from two separate faiths work together for the good of the community?

Moses believes, but he has PTSD. He cannot reconcile his faith with his past.
Leora believes, but she has to be in control. She cannot reconcile her past with her Mennonite faith.

Somewhere along the line they learn about trust and compromise, but above all how to have faith that God will provide.

The symbolism of Moses' n…

How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler

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How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler (Bethany House 2009)
This may be an older book, and it think it was a book published before its time. The dialogue and present tense of the character was refreshing and authentic.

Alice Wisler was able to portray that back and forth emotional state of someone who is sad and brokenhearted. A plus to her character was how she was able to insert an unique and beautiful personality into the story. Deena's emotions, thoughts, and behaviour was truly an accurate portrayal of many people who are like Deena. The slightly sarcastic humour, the truthfulness about jealous, unforgiveness, and self-deprecation are many things that many people read. 
How many times do we pause in a chore or such because a memory is brought forth? Alice Wisler uses this to her advantage for Deena and the reader is able to learn more about what happened in the past. A very good utilization of that skill.

The romance isn't the main story. Deena is attracted to Zack, but she doesn…

If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock

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If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan 2017)

If you haven't read If I Run, that's okay, but you would lose a little bit of the story and some parts of this book wouldn't make sense.  I like books that run in a trilogy where book two picks up where book one left off, and book three picks up immediately after two. (Waiting patiently for book three).

Terri Blackstock delivers another wonderful story that kept me reading into the early morning hours and turning the pages to see what would happen. With If I'm Found, the small story plot that Casey finds herself involved in isn't as intimate as the previous book. She is more of that outside observer who makes a difference through secondary resources.

Again, I am enjoying a character who is feminine and yet not helpless. Casey Cox is portrayed as a strong Southern woman who doesn't cower before an adversary. I can't help but feel my heart speed up with every close call.

Dylan is a man I'm beginning to admi…

The Redemption by M.L. Tyndall

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The Redemption by M.L. Tyndall (Barbour 2006) 
I'm always on the look-out for a good pirate story.

M.L. Tyndall delivered a great pirate turned privateer novel. While the action scenes and character interactions in The Redemption kept me riveted, there were pros and cons to the book.

The book had well developed characters, ones that grew and changed over the course of the story. The plot allowed for a little leeway in how a pirate could be a Christian. He became a privateer hired to root out the enemy ships and "relieve" them of their cargo. This made sense for the mid 1600's when Britain and Spain were at war and Jamaica was a crossroads for them in the Caribbean.

Historical facts were evident. The setting strong and detailed. The fights scenes, although not as detailed as I would have liked, were not glossed over and watered down.

The things that bothered me most about the story were these: the heavy handedness of Scripture. I wished for a more natural occurrence. The Sto…

Tainted by Morgan L. Busse

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Tainted by Morgan L. Busse (Enclave 2016)

When I had the chance to obtain Tainted and read it, I jumped at the chance. Morgan Busse delighted me with her Follower of the Word series, and I looked forward to her new steampunk book.

I love steampunk. From Jules Verne to movies like Wild, Wild West and Sherlock Holmes (which is slightly more steampunky than most SH shows), I enjoy that mesh of steam powered technology and Western/Victorian setting.

Morgan Busse created a new world and immersed the reader right into the story. Without using prologue or backstory, she was able to span the course of two years without any hitches. I really got to know the characters well before the real conflicts started.

It's not only steampunk, but also a taste of the supernatural. This makes Tainted even extra unique. And I love unique books!

Her characters leave you with a whirlwind of emotions: excitement, anxiousness, joy, and curiosity. One brought out an emotion, and the other brought out a different em…

The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. by Susan Page Davis/James Davis

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The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. by Susan Page Davis/James S. Davis (Tea Tin Press 2016)
I've been excited about typing this review and at the same time hesitant. How can I do it justice? This was an exceptional book and quickly became one of my most favorites. 

For quite a while I've been on the look-out for a good pirate/seafaring book. And this one is beyond exceptional (how many times can I say that before it comes repetitious?). It may seem as though it opens slowly, but each page pushes the story along, slowly building upon the next, until the final culmination.

Faced with a daunting dilemma, Alice is forced to make an unpopular and unheard of decision, completely against societal norms. Throughout the book, the ship full of women sailors encounter dangers and trials as they sail the oceans in an attempt to fulfill her late husband's promise and for the women to gain their freedom.

Not every woman is prim. Not every woman is proper. Neither are they strong nor weak. Each…