Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kid Konnection: The Sky Painter & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a gorgeous picture book about a special artist.

Summary: Louis loves to watch birds. He takes care of injured birds and studies how they look and how they move. His father wants him to become an engineer, but Louis dreams of being a bird artist. To achieve this dream, he must practice, practice, practice. He learns from the art of John James Audubon. But as Louis grows up, he begins to draw and paint living, flying birds in their natural habitats.

Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927) is now known as the father of modern bird art. He traveled with many scientific expeditions all over the world. His best-known works—paintings for habitat exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York—are still beloved by visitors today. His art helped to encourage wildlife conservation, inspiring people to celebrate and protect the world of wings.

Poems by Newbery Honor–winning author Margarita Engle and illustrations by Aliona Bereghici capture the life of Louis Fuertes and the deep sense of wonder that he felt when he painted the sky. -- Two Lions

THE SKY PAINTER: LOUIS FUERTES, BIRD ARTIST by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici is a beautiful book with gorgeous poetic prose as well as amazing illustrations. What makes it even more special is that it tells the true story of Louis Fuertes, a famous bird artist.

I'm not sure if I'm alone when I say this, but I had never heard of Mr. Fuertes. I am not a huge fan of birds and the only bird artist I know is Audubon. That's probably what made THE SKY PAINTER so interesting to me. I was fascinated with Mr. Fuertes' non-traditional way of drawing birds.

After first learning to draw birds by posing ones that had been hunted, he decided that he wanted to let the birds live. As a result, Mr. Fuertes had to learn to paint quickly so he could capture them in their natural habitats. He eventually became quite good at this and even was able to capture the motion in their wings. He is credited with creating a new form of bird art!

I thought THE SKY PAINTER was a wonderful way to pay tribute to this special artist. The book begins when Mr. Fuertes was a young child just discovering the beauty of birds. It follows him throughout his career as he changed the way bird art was made. It's apparent that Mr. Fuertes loved nature, and especially birds; and he wanted to share his appreciation with others.

THE SKY PAINTER is an absolutely gorgeous book. It's written by a Newbery Honor-winning author and her prose is truly lovely. It's simple enough for young children, yet it also tells Mr. Fuertes' story in an interesting way. However, I thought the illustrations brought the book to the next level. They are beautiful! Each page comes alive with the bright colors and there is so much for readers to experience. I thought the pictures of the birds were especially detailed (as they should be in this book!), and I appreciated how many of them were labeled.

Because THE SKY PAINTER is both interesting and educational, it would be perfect for classrooms. There is an activity kit for teachers available on the author's website that has some unique ways to enhance children's reading experience.

I highly recommend THE SKY PAINTER!

Giveaway alert: One lucky winner will receive a copy of THE SKY PAINTER: LOUIS FUERTES, BIRD ARTIST. To enter, just fill out the form below before Friday, May 8th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

Follow along on THE SKY PAINTER blog tour!

Mon, Apr 20 Library Fanatic
Tues, Apr 21 Kid Lit Frenzy
Wed, Apr 22 Unleashing Readers
Thurs, Apr 23 5 Minutes for Books
Fri, Apr 24 Teach Mentor Texts
Mon, Apr 27 Sharpread
Tues, Apr 28 The Children's Book Review
Wed, Apr 29 Cracking the Cover
Thurs, Apr 30 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
Fri, May 1 Archimedes Notebook

Thanks to the Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Finding Jake

Summary: A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does—and does not—know about his teenage son, in the vein of Reconstructing Amelia, Defending Jacob, and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

While his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn’t. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school.

Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Brilliantly paced, Finding Jake explores these questions in a tense and emotionally wrenching narrative. Harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, it is a story of faith and conviction, strength, courage, and love that will leave readers questioning their own lives, and those they think they know. -- William Morrow

I honestly don't know why I picked up the novel FINDING JAKE by Bryan Reardon. As I look back at the book's description, I must have been attracted to the psychological suspense aspect of the story. Maybe it's because they compared this novel to three books that I read and loved. But for whatever reason, I am pretty sure I didn't know how gut-wrenching this story would be to me!

FINDING JAKE tells the story of a stay-at-home father, Simon Connolly. His wife goes to work as a lawyer every day while Simon stays home taking care of his two teenage kids, Jake and Laney. One day, Simon is shocked to learn that there was a shooting at the high school. He immediately drives to the designated meeting place and waits for Jake to arrive. Jake never arrives and Simon discovers that he is a suspect in the shooting!

Simon reflects on Jake's past and present, and he begins to question if he ever even knew his own son.  Simon starts to actually doubt Jake's innocence and even blames himself for allowing Jake to hang out with one of the shooters. Simon's obsession with finding Jake's and learning the truth begins to take over his life -- eventually causing even more tension in his strained marriage.

As a mother, I have to admit that many of the events that occurred in FINDING JAKE were almost nightmarish to me. I think in today's society we all have a little fear about a kid (or kids) going crazy and being involved in a school shooting. However, for Simon that nightmare was even worse. The media and the police (and fellow students and parents) actually thought that his son Jake was part of the problem. I think it's a testament to the author that I found FINDING JAKE to be so real... and therefore so depressing.

What I most appreciated about this novel (because enjoy just isn't the right word) is how honest it was. I actually could feel Simon's pain and fear, and I know I might have reacted the exact same way if I were ever in a similar situation. We all think we know our kids, but do we really? And as far as doubting my own abilities as a parent, I am absolutely 100% sure that I would be doing that as well!

FINDING JAKE was a difficult read for me. Between Simon's concerns about Jake, Jake missing, and the tension in Simon's marriage, I just felt uncomfortable for most of the novel. Fortunately, the ending made the entire read worthwhile. Had FINDING JAKE not had some positive themes of faith, healing, and redemption, I would have either cried my eyes out or thrown the book at a wall.

Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was the mystery surrounding the school shooting and Jake's disappearance. I felt that Simon's feeling and Jake's behavior through the years was the primary focus of the novel; however, the suspense aspects were very well done; and they definitely contributed to my appreciation of the story.

FINDING JAKE would make an excellent book club pick. There are so many things to discuss, especially for parents of teens! There is a reading guide available with fourteen thought-provoking questions. Some of the topics you might want to explore include parenting, marriage, faith, personality, introverts vs. extroverts, responsibilities, and judgments.

I appreciated FINDING JAKE and recommend it to fans of literary fiction and/or mysteries.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Travels of Daniel Ascher

Summary: Who is the real author of The Black Insignia? Is it H. R. Sanders, whose name is printed on the cover of every installment of the wildly successful young adult adventure series? Or is it Daniel Roche, the enigmatic world traveler who disappears for months at a time? When Daniel’s great-niece, Hélène, moves to Paris to study archeology, she does not expect to be searching for answers to these questions. As rumors circulate, however, that the twenty-fourth volume of The Black Insignia series will be the last, Hélène and her friend Guillaume, a devoted fan of her great-uncle’s books, set out to discover more about the man whose life eludes her. In so doing, she uncovers an explosive secret dating back to the darkest days of the Occupation.

In recounting the moment when one history began and another ended, The Travels of Daniel Ascher explores the true nature of fiction: is it a refuge, a lie, or a stand-in for mourning? -- Other Press

THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER by Deborah Levy-Bertherat, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter, is really unlike any book I've ever read. I've seen comparison to a SARAH'S KEY/THE BOOK THIEF mashup; however, this little novel is special in its own way.

THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER really is a short novel, about 180 pages, that explores stories, storytelling, secrets, and the truth. However, it's also a touching story about one man whose life was forever changed as a result of the Holocaust. That might sound like a lot for a little book, but Ms. Levy-Bertharat accomplishes that and much more.

Helene is a young woman who moves to Paris to continue her studies in archeology. She stays in her great-uncle's apartment because he is away traveling much of time. Her uncle is Daniel Roche, an author who writes the popular Black Insignia series under the pen name H.R. Sanders. Helene was never that interested in her uncle or the books he writes; however, when she starts dating a fellow student named Guillaume, a huge fan of the series, she begins reading the novels... and becoming more interested in learning about her strange and eccentric uncle.

All Helene knew about her great uncle was that he was a Jewish boy adopted by her family during World War II. His name was Daniel Ascher but most of his life is a secret. As Helene delves into understanding her uncle and his past, she discovers more questions than answers.

THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER packs a powerful punch. It's part historical fiction in that it takes the reader back to the Nazi occupation and part mystery because Helene is searching for clues about her great-uncle, but it's also a bit of an adventure story. Daniel was a very unique individual for many reasons, and he incorporated some aspects of his life in his stories and books. I loved how everything eventually came together to make an interesting read.

Despite being such a compact book, THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER does make readers think... and that's why I enjoyed it so much. I've read quite a few book that take place during World War II and explore the Holocaust, but this one was different. The author used both the character of Daniel and his creative storytelling to tell this story. The novel provides quite a bit food for thought on many important themes including memories, secrets, identity, and the power of stories.

One thing I appreciated about THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER is that it was a book for both adults and teens. I actually think it's a wonderful book for teens, and I would love it if my daughter had to read it for English or History class! There is an in-depth teaching guide that would help instructors present the important themes from this novel to their students.

Overall, THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER is a wonderful book. It's a mix of history, adventure, and mystery that's sure to entertain both adult and teen readers. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Guest Review: A Scourge of Vipers

Summary: To solve Rhode Island's budget crisis, the state's colorful governor, Attila the Nun, wants to legalize sports gambling; but her plan has unexpected consequences. Organized crime, professional sports leagues, and others who have a lot to lose--or gain--if gambling is made legal flood the state with money to buy the votes of state legislators.Liam Mulligan, investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch, wants to investigate, but his bottom-feeding corporate bosses at the dying newspaper have no interest in serious reporting. So Mulligan goes rogue, digging into the story on his own time. When a powerful state legislator turns up dead, an out-of-state bag man gets shot, and his cash-stuffed briefcase goes missing, Mulligan finds himself the target of shadowy forces who seek to derail his investigation by destroying his career, his reputation, and perhaps even his life.

Bruce DeSilva's A Scourge of Vipers is at once a suspenseful crime story and a serious exploration of the hypocrisy surrounding sports gambling and the corrupting influence of big money on politics. -- Forge

Earlier this month, award-winning author Bruce DeSilva wrote a fantastic guest post about his writing process for Booking Mama readers. Since then, his fourth book in the Liam Mulligan series, A SCOURGE OF VIPERS, was published; and my father had the chance to read it. Here are his thoughts:

The governor of Rhode Island has a plan to propose legislation to use legalized sports gambling as a means to offset budget deficits. The plan attracts several interested outside parties such as amateur and professional sports leagues, current out-of-state sports gambling sites and organized crime. All these special interests are pumping substantial money into Rhode Island to influence the outcome of the legislation.

Liam Mulligan is an investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch, a Rhode Island newspaper that is a shadow of itself under its new owners who appear more interested in profits than in running a good newspaper. Liam is asked to investigate two recent deaths, one a body fished out of water and the other a body found in a small plane crash. Liam, working against the directive of his editor, soon links the bodies to the recent proposal to legalize sports gambling. Of interest is the fact that the governor is an ex-nun and a personal friend of Liam.

As Liam continues the investigation against the newspaper’s wishes, more people turn up dead and Liam becomes a prime suspect. At the same time outside forces are working to derail his investigation and ruin his reputation as a reporter.

In A SCOURGE OF VIPERS author Bruce DeSilva writes a terrific mystery novel that combines a great plot, great writing and great characters with a lot of fast-paced action. DeSilva also uses the novel as a social commentary on the sad state of daily newspapers and the influence of outside money in corrupting the political process.

If you are a fan of mystery novels then you will definitely enjoy A SCOURGE OF VIPERS.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel and to Booking Pap Pap for his great review.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Death of a Liar

Summary: Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is alarmed to receive a report from a woman in the small village of Cronish in the Scottish Highlands. She has been brutally attacked and the criminal is on the loose. But upon further investigation, Hamish discovers that she was lying about the crime. So when the same woman calls him back about an intruder, he simply marvels at her compulsion to lie. This time, though, she is telling the truth. Her body is found in her home and Hamish must sort through all of her lies to solve the crime. -- Grand Central Publishing

I feel as if I am so late to the game on the Hamish Macbeth mystery series. But better late than never, and that's definitely the case with DEATH OF A LIAR by M.C. Beaton. DEATH OF A LIAR is the 30th book in this series -- isn't that amazing? I was very hesitant in starting with book 30; however, I am happy to say that I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It's no wonder that this series has been so long-running and so successful.

In DEATH OF A LIAR, Sergeant Hamish Macbeth receives a call from a woman in Cronish, a small village in the Scottish Highlands. She claims she was attacked and that the man escaped. Hamish is quite alarmed but soon realizes after investigating that her story doesn't add up. In fact, it seems this woman not only lied about her attacker, but she also has quite the reputation of being a story-teller.

When this very same woman calls back and claims there is an intruder on the loose, Hamish doesn't believe her. However this time, it seems like she was telling the truth! The woman is found dead outside her home, and Hamish has to start separating fact from fiction in this strange case.

While all of this is happening in Cronish, things are also heating up in Lochdubh. A couple relatively new to the area is found murdered. Hamish is kept away of this case because of office politics, but he's too smart and knows too much about the town to keep him away from trying to solve this case too!

I really liked DEATH OF A LIAR. I loved the setting of the novel, in a Scottish Highlands village; and the characters were definitely... well, characters! Unfortunately I've never been to Scotland, but I loved the vivid images described in the novel as well as the odd assortment of townspeople.

I mentioned earlier that this was my first experience with Hamish Macbeth, and I have to say that he was a fantastic character. I loved his Scottish "tendencies" as well as the way he dealt with both the victims, the townspeople, his co-workers, and even the women from his past. There were more than a few laughs in this novel; however, Hamish was all business when it came to figuring out the crimes!

In addition to the beautiful setting and interesting characters, DEATH OF A LIAR had some intriguing mysteries. I admit that I didn't figure anything out about either one, but I was more focused on just loving the rest of the book to worry about solving any crimes. I was pleasantly surprised by how Hamish worked through the murder mysteries and also by how much suspense was incorporated into this book.

Overall, DEATH OF A LIAR was a very fun read -- I wouldn't hesitate to read any of the other 29 books in the series or any future ones. Recommended to fans of mysteries and cozies.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kid Konnection: Fun Mom & Dad Books

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you two cute picture books that are a perfect way to celebrate both Mother's and Father's Day!

Summary: In this adorable kid’s-eye view of what would happen if Mom went to school, a little girl imagines Mom School, where all moms learn their amazing skills, like fixing a bike tire and baking cupcakes. With warm, funny illustrations and a fun role-reversal story in which moms act like kids, young readers will love imagining what would happen if their own moms went to Mom School. -- Doubleday

MOM SCHOOL by Rebecca Van Slyke and illustrated by Priscilla Burris is just an adorable book that celebrates moms! MOM SCHOOL tells one little girl's ideas of what her mom might have learned when she went to school.

Of course, moms learn to do such things as go grocery shopping without losing any kids, read stories, tuck kids into bed at night, and go on scary rides at the fair. In addition, she probably learned how to pitch slowly, make cupcakes, and why vegetables are important -- although the little girl wished she'd been absent on that day! She concludes that her mom was the best student at Mom School!

I really liked both the story and the illustrations in MOM SCHOOL. The pictures are both fun and entertaining, and I loved the use of the assorted colors. In fact, I think the illustrations were the perfect complement to this sweet story.

MOM SCHOOL is absolutely adorable and the ideal book to celebrate the upcoming Mother's Day holiday. It's also a sweet reminder to both moms and kids alike that being a good mom is the best job in the world!

Summary: Do you ever hear strange noises in your house? (The bathroom in particular.) Are hairy creatures raiding the fridge at midnight? Does some animal keep leaving the toilet seat up? YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Join one little girl on her quest to catch the wild beasts in her home that HONK and ROAR and BELCH at all hours. Or... could it just be Daddy? This hilarious (and yet heartwarming) salute to real daddies everywhere is crafted with contemporary parents in mind and will have readers laughing out loud as they recognize and relish many familiar family moments that most books for children leave out! -- Little Brown

DADDY SAT ON A DUCK by Scott M. Cohn is a book that celebrate fathers -- albeit in an unusual way! You can probably imagine what this book is about based on the title, but the author assures readers that "contests are 100% humane, hilarious, and odor-free!

DADDY SAT ON A DUCK is a book that my son would have loved as a little guy. For some reason, Booking Son has always appreciated potty humor; and I'm told that's not unusual for little boys! This very cute picture book tells how one little girl discovers the variety of animal sounds that come from their house like a quack, a roar, and braaahhh. She also finds some other clues that indicate an animal lives there like smells, pieces of hair, and more.

As the little girl begins to investigate, she discovers that the wild animals living in her house might not be so wild after all. They might just be her daddy She quickly realizes that it's kind of fun to live with animals especially when a furry bear can tuck her in at night!

I thought DADDY SAT ON A DUCK was a very fun book. The story is rather funny and the illustrations are adorable. I loved the pictures of the family and the animals, and I even thought how the author drew the details of the house were interesting.

DADDY SAT ON A DUCK is a cute way to celebrate dads... even if it celebrates some of the more "wild" things about them. I can pretty much guarantee a few giggles will occur when reading this book, and that's probably because more than a few readers will relate. Recommended for families whose dads like to live a bit on the "wild" side.

Thanks to the publisher for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Walking on Trampolines

Summary: Praised as “a tender exploration of friendship, families, and first love” (Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret), this coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Frances Whiting is equal parts heartwarming, accessible, and thought provoking.

“Tallulah de Longland,” she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgment. “That,” she announced, “is a serious glamorgeous name.”

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable…

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce. -- Gallery

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES by Frances Whiting. The cover was sure pretty and I so love coming-of-age stories, so I had a feeling that I'd at least like it. What surprised me is just how readable this book was... and that's saying something because my attention span these past few months isn't what it used to be.

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES is most certainly a coming-of-age story for Tallulah de Longland, called Lulu for short. The book begins when Lulu wakes up with a serious hangover next to her ex-boyfriend and the love of her life... the day after his wedding to her childhood best friend Annabelle Andrews. I honestly didn't know what to make of Lulu!

The novel takes the reader back to when the girls were twelve years old and met for the first time. Lulu was absolutely enamored by Annabelle and her life. The girls quickly became inseparable and shared everything... even Lulu's boyfriend! When Lulu discovered this betrayal the day of their high school graduation, she was devastated; and needless to say, things were never the same for the two girls.

After Lulu sleeps with her ex (who is also now Annabelle's husband), her life takes a tragic turn for the worst. Not only does she have to deal with her guilt on a personal level, but the story hits the papers and television. WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES shows how Lulu, with the help of her family and friends, works through her life problems... including some very heavy baggage from her past.

I really, really liked WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES. The book was a quick read for me because I got very caught up in Lulu's life. The cast of characters was interesting, as were the dynamics between them; and the writing was strong. However, I think what I enjoyed the most about this book was how it portrayed friendships, self-discovery, and forgiveness.

I have to admit that Lulu was a very complex character, and I wasn't sure I liked her after what she did to Annabelle. That changed pretty quickly when I discovered the truth about her childhood and how damaged she was. In fact, I grew to really like Lulu a lot! Despite her little encounter with her ex, I knew she was a good person; however, I also recognized that she had a lot of growing up to do! And that's where one very special character came in!

Lulu began working for a famous radio host named Duncan, and this character was larger than life. I loved Lulu and Duncan's relationship -- both learned and grew as a result of it; and I definitely think they were able to bring out things in each other that no one else could. Duncan's huge dog was also a fun character that helped Lulu heal. Duncan and his dog also provided some humorous scenes to the story!

As Lulu began to accept herself and what happened to her in the past, she really blossomed into a fantastic character. Naturally she was hesitant to enter new relationships, mainly because she thought she was so damaged and couldn't forgive herself. I appreciated seeing how much she grew by the end of the novel, and I was glad to see her move forward with her life.

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES was a great read but it was also one of those stories that tugged at my heart. I don't want to give too much away, but this story does deal with some serious issues as well as some major pain in Lulu's life. I found myself tearing up at a few scenes in this novel and wondering how Lulu would be able to recover from them.

I'm pretty sure you can tell by now that WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES would make a wonderful book club pick. There is a reading group guide available with thirteen questions along with a few ideas to enhance your book club. Some of the themes you might want to explore include female, friendship, love, family, mental illness, marriage, betrayal, heartbreak, first love, fear, self-discovery, and forgiveness.

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES is an interesting coming-of-age story that deals with love, loss, and forgiveness. I highly recommend it to fans of women's fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.