News for Collection Development and Readers Advisory Librarians

Titles to Know and Recommend, Week of February 15, 2016

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The most heavily anticipated titles this week, as demonstrated by hold queues, are Jeffrey Archer’s Cometh the Hour, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) and Jo Nesbo’s Midnight Sun (PRH/Knopf; RH Large Print: RH Audio).

The titles covered here, and several other notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Feb. 15, 2016

GIRL Successors


After a string of books with “Girl” in the title, it’s a relief to hear of a successor that uses a more grownup name. The Widow, Fiona Barton (PRH/NAL; OverDrive Sample) is a People pick for the week, “a twisted psychological thriller you’ll have trouble putting down.” Entertainment Weekly’s review invokes comparisons to those Girl books, adding, “Barton’s debut, already a best-seller in her native U.K., might have more of a right to the comparison than most.”

Booksellers made it an Indie Next pick:

“Readers on the hunt for the newest, hottest thriller can take heart: Barton’s debut novel is impeccably paced and quietly terrifying, sure to fill any void left after reading The Girl on the Train. Jean Taylor is reeling over the loss of her husband, but the man she knows and the man the police know are two very different people. Told in alternating voices, The Widow is perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Tana French and will have readers on the edge of their seats.” —Annie B. Jones, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.

Prepub reviews were generally strong, with PW giving it a star. Kirkus was more mixed, “The idea of a woman who stands beside an alleged monster is an intriguing one, and very nearly well-executed here, if it weren’t bogged down with other too-familiar plotlines.”

Most libraries ordered it cautiously. A few are showing holds. Watch this one; you may need to order more.

Girl in the Red CoatBut we’re not escaping girls completely. Kate Hamer’s debut, The Girl in the Red Coat
(Melville House; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample) has already been hailed by the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani, who also invoked the girl comparisons (as Entertainment Weekly says, “Apparently, the first rule of Gone Girl Club is: Never stop talking about Gone Girl.”).

It is also a LibraryRead pick. Kim Dorman of the Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ says:

“There is not much more terrifying than losing your child. There’s the terror, the guilt, and then the relentless and unending chasm left behind by your child. I am grateful to not know that pain, and yet what Beth, the main character of this book, went through, resonated with me. I have had so many things on my to-do list, and yet I found myself delaying laundry and dusting and research so that I could find out how this story would unfold.”

It comes with an impressive three stars from the prepub review media.

Check your holds; they are high on modest orders in many areas.

Media Magnets

9781101902752_e76d6A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. Sue Klebold, Andrew Solomon, (PRH/Crown)

To be featured tonight on an ABC Prime Time Special with Diane Sawyer, it is  promoted on Good Morning America today.

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Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, William Shatner, (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne; Macmillan Audio)

No news yet on media coverage, but given the subject and the author, we’re sure to be hearing about it.

Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir,
Joel Grey, (Macmillan/Flatiron; Macmillan Audio)

Grey was interviewed by Terry Gross on Monday’s Fresh Air about his memoir, which is also a People pick this week, “as much about his struggle coming out of the closet as it is about the theate …this is a refreshingly honest look back at an actor’s life, regrets and all.”

Peer Picks

In addition to the “Girl Successors” above, more LibraryReads and Indie Next picks hit the shelves.


Joshilyn Jackson’s The Opposite of Everyone (Harper/William Morrow; OverDrive Sample)  is the #1 IndieNext pick for March as well as a LibraryReads selection.

Beth Mills of New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY offers this take:

“Fans of Jackson’s Someone Else’s Love Story will be pleased to see William’s acerbic friend Paula take center stage. A successful divorce lawyer, Paula’s carefully constructed life starts to fracture when family secrets come to light, forcing her to try to come to terms with the power of her story to hurt and heal, and a growing need for family connections. A wonderful cast of offbeat, memorable characters make this book a winner.”

More IndieNext picks coming this week:

9781400068265_2faeaA Doubter’s Almanac, Ethan Canin (Random House; OverDrive Sample).

“I love settling into a novel where I meet smart yet conflicted protagonists and get right into their skin. In A Doubter’s Almanac, Milo Andret’s mathematical genius is as much a burden as it is a gift. He makes a series of choices — damaging to both himself and his family — that would seem to unravel any empathy readers might have for him, but Canin’s eloquent prose brings out the humanity in even the most flawed individuals. This is a novel filled with characters whose struggles with intellect, family, and vulnerability I won’t soon forget.” —Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS.

It is also People magazine’s “Book of the Week”

“Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind — at times almost unbearably painful. But Canin also shows how families can work through their divisions, making a kind of peace with even the most abhorrent behavior. Surprising and beautifully written, this hefty book is a gem.”

9781632863386_71710Hide, Matthew Griffin (Bloomsbury USA; OverDrive Sample).

“On the outer edge of a struggling small town in North Carolina lives a long-married — in name, if not in fact — couple, Frank and Wendell. For all the decades they have been together they have hidden from the world to protect themselves, but now Frank’s health is failing. The poignancy of Wendell’s struggle to keep Frank safe is heartbreaking. These are not characters we see often in fiction — poor and rural and gay and old — but Griffin draws them so honestly and well that we quickly know them and come to care deeply for them.” —Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, CA.

9781492615354_834bcAll the Winters After, Seré Prince Halverson (Sourcebooks Landmark; Brilliance Audio).

“This is the compelling story of a damaged young woman, Nadia, who has taken refuge in a cabin in the Alaskan woods for the last 10 years after escaping an abusive marriage. Kachemak Winkel, the cabin’s owner, returns to Alaska after a long absence, still mourning for his parents and older brother who lost their lives in a plane crash 20 years earlier. Two young, damaged souls are at the heart of this beautifully written novel, and the wild and dangerous beauty of Alaska is present throughout. Perfect for book groups!” —Patricia Worth, River Reader Books, Lexington, MO.


The tie-ins arriving this week are connected to three very popular series.

9780062420084_337b7Veronica Roth sees the third adaptation of her Divergent series hit the screens on March 18.  Allegiant Movie Tie-in Edition (Harper/Katherine Tegen Books; HarperCollins Audio) comes out Tuesday in this hardback edition as well as a paperback version.

The film series stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James (the same actor who played Kemal Pamuk on Downton Abbey – Lady Mary’s first season indiscretion).

Holy Catnip, Batman! Super Heroes collide in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Starring Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, it opens March 25th.

9780545916301_2be49A junior novel tie-in comes out this week.
Billed as a companion novel, it tells a new story but riffs off the movie, Cross Fire: An Original Companion Novel (Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Michael Kogge (Scholastic Inc.; OverDive Sample).

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Finally, two more Star Wars books arrive, seemingly late to the party since the movie debuted in December. The first is the junior novelization of The Force Awakens film. The novelization for adults was delayed in print for weeks after the movie opened and it is only now that kids are able to get their hands on a version of their own.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Junior Novel, Michael Kogge (Hachette/Disney Lucasfilm Press; Blackstone Audio).

Also out this week is a Chapter Book focused on the female star, Rey: Star Wars The Force Awakens: Rey’s Story, Elizabeth Schaefer (Hachette/Disney Lucasfilm Press).

(For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV and link to our listing of tie-ins).



Hitting Screens, Week of Feb. 15

Blame it on the Super Bowl, but last week’s new movies failed to perform, with Variety reporting that both The Choice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did not do well at the box office.

There are more hopes for Deadpool. opening today even though it’s not your normal superhero movie. Entertainment Weekly lauds it  for having “the balls to mess with the formula and have some naughty, hard-R fun. It’s a superhero film for the wise-asses shooting spitballs in the back of the school bus.”

There are no tie-ins, but collected editions of the comics are available in book form. Wired recommends “The 5 Comics You Have to Read Before Seeing Deadpool.”

The comedy How to Be Single, very loosely based on the book by Liz Tuccillo, will be taking aim at those opting out of Valentine’s Day.

On TV, only one new adaptation airs in the upcoming week, a Hulu special series based on Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (S&S/Gallery; S&S Audio; OverDrive 9781501120602_36daeSample).

An alternative history about a man traveling through time to prevent the assassination of JFK, it has big names attached, produced by  J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens, Lost) and starring  James Franco the time traveler.  However, Entertainment Weekly gives it a lowly C+.

The attention has brought the novel back to best seller lists. It is #6 on the 2/21 NYT Paperback Mass-Market Fiction list. In late January, it came out in both mass market and trade with a sticker linking it to the adaptation.

The eight-part series premiers on President’s Day, Feb. 15.


Born to Sell

Born to Run SpringsteenAfter yesterday’s announcement that the Boss will publish a memoir in September, the book instantly rose to #1 on Amazon sales rankings, indicating it may be worth the reported $10 million advance.

Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen
S&S, September 27, 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1501141515

PAX Rising

A middle-grade novel exploring the effects of war and the bonds of love between pets and humans is getting media attention.

9780062377012_0e913Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Harper/Balzer + Bray; OverDrive Sample) is about a twelve-year-old boy who has a pet fox named Pax. Separated by war, the two seek to find each other again, each telling their part of the story.

Pennypacker was on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday and today her book rose to #10 spot on Amazon’s sales ranking. UPDATE: The book debuts at #2 on the 2/21 NYT Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover Best Sellers list.

During the conversation she describes how smart foxes are (they can communicate with other species) and her take how children see the world, saying:

“I wanted to … celebrate this extraordinary sense of no boundaries — it’s kind of a boundary issue where kids don’t realize there are boundaries and I love that! They’re right, they’re correct! Why can’t they love an animal, a wild animal or a pet? Why can’t they? … Humans sort of get narrow as they age and I think the older we get, the less we’re able to see we can have real relationships with more of life.”

The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have devoted attention to it as well. The novel received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and SLJ.

Nelle Changes Her Mind (Again)

MockingbirdAfter years of refusal, Nelle Harper Lee has agreed to a Broadway adaptation of her iconic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. That decision comes on the heels of her reversing an earlier stance that she would never publish another book and agreeing to last year’s publication of Go Set A Watchman.

Rights to Mockingbird have been acquired by well-known Hollywood producer Scott Rudin. He has hired Aaron Sorkin to write the screenplay, with plans for it to debut in the 2017-18 season. The two have worked together on many projects in the past, including the films Steve Jobs and The Social Network.

Lee’s literary agent Andrew Nurnberg, quoted in the New York Times story says, “While [Lee] had always had misgivings about anyone who might want to bring To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway — and there have been many approaches over the years — she finally decided that [Ridley] Scott would be the right person to embrace this,” Nurnberg said.

This is not the first stage adaptation of the book. A 1991 play by Christopher Sergel has been produced by regional theaters, annually in Lee’s hometown and recently in London. Although it is true to the book, critics have accused that version of being plodding and static.

Horton Foote’s adaptation for the screen won an Oscar and was embraced by Lee. According to an interview with Foote. “The studio asked Harper Lee to do the script, and she didn’t feel she knew enough about dramatic form. I was her choice.”

How might Sorkin handle the material differently? Sorkin has a distinctive style, characterized by the NYT as “machine-gun spray of dialogue.”

While he tells the NYT that he feels resposibility to the many fans of the book, he adds, “You can’t just wrap the original in Bubble Wrap and move it as gently as you can to the stage. It’s blasphemous to say it, but at some point, I have to take over.”

Top LibraryReads March Pick:

9780812993103_f08deThe #1 pick on the just-released LibraryReads list for March is The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson (PRH/Random House; Random House Audio; BOT). This is only Simonson’s second novel; her first was the bestselling Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

Paulette Brooks of Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI says the following in her annotation:

“Fans of Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand have reason to rejoice. She has created another engaging novel full of winsome characters, this time set during the summer before the outbreak of World War I. Follow the story of headstrong, independent Beatrice Nash and kind but stuffy surgeon-in-training Hugh Grange along with his formidable Aunt Agatha. Make a cup of tea and prepare to savor every page!”

9780399169496_dec56Another fan-favorite author, Lyndsay Faye, makes the list with Jane Steele (PRH/Putnam; BOT), an historical crime novel using Charlotte Brontë’s
Jane Eyre as a launching pad.

Abbey Stroop of Herrick District Library, Holland,
MI describes it:

Jane Steele is a great read for lovers of Victorian literature who especially love their characters to have a lot of pluck! Jane Steele is the adventurous, irreverent, foul-mouthed broad that I so often loved about Jane Eyre, but in more wily circumstances. Remember that fabulous scene in Jane Eyre when she stands up to her aunt for the first time, and how you wanted to stand up from your comfy reading chair and cheer for her? Imagine an entire book just of those sorts of scenes. Absolutely fabulous fun!”

9781451686630_0a0baLisa Lutz, who grabbed readers with her Spellman Files books takes a turn to thrillers, in The Passenger (Simon & Schuster).

Beth DeGeer of Bartlesville Public Library, Bartlesville, OK writes:

“This is a compulsively readable story of a young woman who has to keep switching identities and stay on the run. Is she a reliable narrator or not? What was the original event that sent her on the run? There is a lot of action and suspense as she tries to survive and evade the law while trying to keep her moral center intact. Unlike Lutz’s Spellman books, this reads more like a Charles Portis road novel, though considerably more serious and dangerous. Highly recommended.”

9781616205027_7fcfeNovelist Lee Smith takes a turn to nonfiction in
her memoir Dimestore: A Writer’s Life (Workman/Algonquin Books).

Lois Gross, Hoboken Public Library, Hoboken, NJ writes:

“Evenly divided between a book about Smith’s process and her life, first as a Southern mountain child and, later, as the parent of a schizophrenic child, this book is interesting and compelling. Despite being surrounded by loving family and being blessed with an active imagination, Lee copes with a mentally ill mother. Later, her son’s mental illness and early death brings her to the breaking point but she is saved by her writing. This is a read-alike for Karr’s The Liars Club. It desperately needs a cinematic translation for it’s elegant and evocative writing.”

Two debuts make the list, The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (Harper/Ecco; HarperAudio) and The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell (S&S/Touchstone; Blackstone Audio).

9780062414212_2b722 Mary Kinser of Whatcom County Library System, Bellingham, WA says the following about Sweeney’s debut, which is also a top 15 Most Anticipated title:

“If you think your family is dysfunctional, move over, because here come the Plumbs. Suddenly faced with the dismantling of the nest egg they’ve counted on to solve their financial woes, the four Plumb siblings have to grow up, and fast. But though they all do some terrible things in the name of ambition, there’s something lovable about the Plumbs. You can’t fail to be moved by the beating heart of this novel, which seems to say that family, for good or ill, unites us all.”

9781501124211_01013Kristen McCallum, Algonquin Area Public Library, Algonquin, IL offers this recommendation for The Madwoman Upstairs, another riff on Jane Eyre:

“Meet Samantha Whipple, a descendant of the Bronte family, who arrives at Oxford to study literature, as her father did before her. She receives a copy of Jane Eyre – a volume that she thought was destroyed in the fire that took her father’s life. When a second Bronte novel belonging to her father turns up, she is convinced he has staged an elaborate treasure hunt for her promised inheritance. Enlisting the help of her sexy, young professor, Samantha sets out on a quest to find buried treasure and learns the value of friendship and courage along the way.”

The full list of suggestions is available beginning today.

Our GalleyChatters were also fans of many of these books (see here, here, and here).

Later for PLAYER ONE

Ready Player OneIf you already felt it’s a long wait for Stephen Spielberg’s movie adapation of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (PRH/Crown), that wait just got longer.

Originally scheduled for release on Dec. 15 of next year, the date has now been moved to March 30. 2018, bumped by Star Wars Episode VIII.

ARMADA-paperback-lgCline published a second book in the series, Armada, last July and has signed with Crown to write a third. Title and release date have not yet been announced.

The trade paperback edition of Armada will be released in April, with a new cover (called “kick-ass” by the author).

THE LIGHT Appears This Fall

The Light Between Oceans, Trade PbkA couple of months ago, we wondered what had happened to the film adaptation of The Light Between Oceans, based on the long-running best seller by M.L. Stedman (S&S/ Scribner).

We just got our answer. Deadline reports it is scheduled for September 2nd, to take advantage of Labor Day weekend. Deadline suggests it may have been held back to save it for next year’s awards season. Both its stars are already up for Oscars this year, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl.


The Light Between Oceans
M.L. Stedman, 8/30/16
Trade Paperback, (S&S/Scribner)
Mass Market, (S&S/Pocket Books)

For other adaptations in the works, check our Upcoming Adaptations list. For tie-ins, Upcoming — Tie-ins

HARRY POTTER Announcements

38452-1A news release from Pottermore.com is setting the internet ablaze.

Announcing an “exciting publishing program,” it confirms the expected news that the script for the upcoming play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be released in book form.

It will be released in the U.S. by Scholastic at 12:01 a.m. on July 31st. The play begins its run at London’s Palace Theatre the day before.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child :Parts I & II  (ISBN 978-1-338-09913-3; $29.99 U.S. and $39.99 Canada; simultaneous eBook from Pottermore).

The play, and the book catch up with Harry as an adult with children of his own (reminding us that it’s been nearly twenty years since HP first appeared on the scene).

Also released today are photos of Universal Studio’s theme park, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” set to open April 7th.

Parental Aid

Untangled“Meanness peaks in the 7th grade,” says psychologist Lisa Damour, interviewed yesterday on CBS This Morning about her new book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, (PRH/Ballantine; BOT/RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).

As a result of the interview, the book shot up Amazon’s sales rankings and is now at #8. Holds are rising in many libraries.

The Washington Post‘s reviewer calls it, “the most down-to-earth, readable parenting book I’ve come across in a long time.”


Even as newest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, continues to do well at the box office, more Star Wars books are on the way.

Of course, the novelization of the movie appeared in print after the movie’s release and immediately shot up best seller lists.

There are 30 or so years between the time periods of the movies Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, leaving plenty of time for writers to fill in. In September, Chuck Wendig published a bridge book, Star Wars: Aftermath, which debuted at #4 on the NYT Best Seller list in September.

9780345511362_5f494The next title to watch is Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray (PRH/Del Rey/ LucasBooks; Random House Audio/BOT), coming in May.

The main character in Bloodline is Leia Organa and, unlike Aftermath, it is set closer to the time frame of The Force Awakens.

USA Today showcases the cover and posts an excerpt. Interviewing Gray, the paper reports that the novel tells the story of “how far Vader’s shadow falls” and how far Leia has come, “the role she’s created for herself since the fall of the Empire, and the one she takes up by the time of (The Force Awakens).

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Gray is no stranger to the Star Wars universe, having also written Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) (Hachette/Disney Lucasfilm Press; OverDrive Sample; Sept 2015).

The second in Wendig’s Star Wars trilogy, Life Debt: Aftermath, comes out in July.

Short Stories and the
SLATE Book Club

9780374202392_4fb99This month the Slate Audio Book Club discusses Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample), a book that got a lot of attention very quickly last fall and landed on a majority of the best books lists.

As we reported Entertainment Weekly, O magazine, and The New Yorker we all on board the bandwagon celebrating this under appreciated author’s 400+ page short story collection.

Now Slate critics Christina Cauterucci, Mark Harris, and Katy Waldman take on both the stories and the concept of short story collections themselves.

The most interesting parts of their conversation center on various ways to read short stories. They suggest reading this collection from beginning to end and not skipping around.

Another high note is the way they discuss Berlin ability to put readers right into the heart of the moment. At one point the panelists note that all the stories drop readers directly into the middle of the tale, without the least bit of warmup. At another they discuss Berlin’s economy as a writer, saying that she excels at implication and is masterful about noting what is just outside the reader’s line of sight.

All three enjoyed the collection and recommend it to readers.

Next month the club will discuss Better Living Through Criticism. (PRH/Penguin, Feb. 9), by the NYT‘s film critic A.O. Scott, a book currently receiving wide-spread attention, including reviews in the Atlantic, Slate, and, of course, the New York Times.

Holds Alert: WEST OF EDEN

When reviewers differ, how do readers decide? It can all depend on how the book is positioned.

9780812998405_08179A case in point is Jean Stein’s newest oral history, about the Golden Age of Hollywood glitterati, West of Eden: An American Place (Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Janet Maslin clearly did not like it. She writes in her cutting NYT review that is its, “strangely unfocused … chopped into a few chapters about seemingly arbitrarily chosen families.”

However, the review in the LA Times by author Judith Freeman is far more compelling, saying that reading the book is:

“like being at an insider’s cocktail party where the most delicious gossip about the rich and powerful is being dished by smart people, such as Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Arthur Miller and Dennis Hopper. The result is a mesmerizing book … compulsively readable, capturing not just a vibrant part of the history of Los Angeles … but also the real drama of this town, as reflected in the lives of some of its most powerful players.”

Those players include the Dohenys, the Warners, Jane Garland, Jennifer Jones, and the Steins (big figures in movies, money, and real estate), each with a seemingly more grand, outrageous, tragic, or dysfunctional story to tell than the next.

Readers are clearly weighing in on the side of the cocktail party take. Strong demand is driving holds over a 3:1 ratio at nearly every library we checked, which has resulted in several systems ordering extra copies after buying very low.

Kakutani Likes THE GIRL

You may not expect the NYT’s literary-focused Michiko Kakutani to begin a review with references to Gone Girl or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, although, as a fan of the Millennium series, she has shown an appreciation for psychological thrillers.

9781612195001_a2c4eYet, her take on Kate Hamer’s indie press debut, The Girl in the Red Coat (Melville House; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample), begins with references to both titles and goes on to applaud Harner’s character development, saying she has a “keen understanding of her two central characters … Both emerge as individuals depicted with sympathy but also with unsparing emotional precision.”

Those keeping track will remember that was Kakutani’s key praise of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well.

It’s receiving appreciation from other quarters as well.  Amazon picked it as one of their Best Books of February and as their Featured Debut of the month. It is a LibraryReads selection, with Kim Dorman of the Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ observing:

“There is not much more terrifying than losing your child. There’s the terror, the guilt, and then the relentless and unending chasm left behind by your child. I am grateful to not know that pain, and yet what Beth, the main character of this book, went through, resonated with me. I have had so many things on my to-do list, and yet I found myself delaying laundry and dusting and research so that I could find out how this story would unfold.”

It is showing solid holds in libraries we checked, performing strongly enough to be pushing against a 3:1 ratio.