The pictures were nice, and soft. My niece thought that the appropriate things looked squishy, and she liked the colors. She also liked the words and...moreThe pictures were nice, and soft. My niece thought that the appropriate things looked squishy, and she liked the colors. She also liked the words and thought they sounded nice, and liked the end- and was fascinated with the little ramp up to the bed. When asked how many stars for it, she said 20.
I have one critique really- a couple of places the transitions were a little abrupt for me. . . Particularly in between one of the puppies going down the stairs and them being in the crates. But my niece didn't notice it at all, and it was otherwise fairly cute.
Recommended for people who deal with young children, particularly those with short attention spans. Also, puppy lovers.
Ambelina and I reviewed Louie and Lilly's Naptime on Amazon in a video review. Ambelina is 4 and has a short attention span, so this was an appropriate read to introduce her to the idea of reviewing books.
I received a free digital copy of this from the author.(less)
this was a very cute read. More Garden witch-y than some of the full on magical that some other books I read, it was as charming as an English garden....morethis was a very cute read. More Garden witch-y than some of the full on magical that some other books I read, it was as charming as an English garden. There were a few places that made me question the heroine's sense of her own boundaries, but that might have more to do with differences between the setting and modern day sensibilities. It did take a while to get to the central conflicts, though, so it can feel a little meandering. There's no steaminess to the romance at all, just sweetness and warmth. While the sweet homey thing isn't really my bag, I love this author, so even though it wasn't exactly what I go for it was a pleasant read. I just wish that some of the mysterious promise from some parts blended slightly better into the sunshine and drying herbs feeling in other parts. (less)
What can I say? It was a fun and lovely read. I loved their little arrangement, and how it worked out differently in the end. It certainly was the sor...moreWhat can I say? It was a fun and lovely read. I loved their little arrangement, and how it worked out differently in the end. It certainly was the sort of situation I could imagine myself in in the time period, and played out nicely. I especially liked how the misunderstanding wasn't turned into an enormous comedy of errors like they often are.
As a person with disabilities, I'm always pleased to read books featuring characters with disabilities.
I enjoyed how the author brought up the feelings of the hero about the behavior of others. I'm not blind, but it is indeed obnoxious when people, even those I love dearly, become over solicitous and act as though I can do nothing without help. Having that dynamic change for him was a wonderful thing to read about. I do kind of think that his mother would have been slightly more resistant in giving up her caregiver role but perhaps that resistance wearing down happened out of "sight" of the hero and heroine in part.
I also liked that the heroine's solutions reflect some of the thoughts we have today- that one's environment can and where possible should be constructed in a way that is conducive to the individual rather than forcing the individual to adapt or to become dependent. It was wonderful to see. I also liked that the book ended affirming that the hero's disabilities effect just what they do- a blind man, after all, can still hear the music and feel the rhythm, even if learning the dance can be a bit more difficult.
There was a bit of awkwardness in the set up, but it was only minor and in spots. If I had to critique anything of the romance, it's that the heroine's self-esteem issues were dealt with in a way that implied that love alone can amend them. There were a couple of spots where the hero was a little... well, he reflected some of the attitudes of his time which, while good for the period, was jarring once or twice. This wasn't enough to throw me off though. I do have some doubts about the accuracy of certain things disability wise in time period, but that might just be because I've spent a lot of time on the topic- and it's not that the things wouldn't happen, but that they seem would be unusual in the time and class.
Rec'd to romance readers, those fond of historical romance, and people who are looking for a fluffy read featuring a character with a disability.
Spice: it had a nice scene or two, but nothing terribly explicit. Very conventional activities, not super detailed but pleasantly warm. Don't go in looking for anything too racy!
Romance novel rating: 4.5/5 stars. It was exactly what I needed today.
I received a copy of this novel for free from the author/publisher/giveaway.(less)
Let me be clear- while the characters start out as teens, the big parts of the book take place when they are in their mid 20s. Thi...moreActually 3.5 stars.
Let me be clear- while the characters start out as teens, the big parts of the book take place when they are in their mid 20s. This is not a YA book- Neither is it an Urban Fantasy novel. It is a Horror novel. I might rec this to someone who has a tendency to be morosely nostalgic about their alt teen years, and to those who might fist pump at gruesome rather than sweet/possessive vampires often depicted in Urban fantasy.
Lilly and Maggie meet in High School, each of their horrifying pasts (view spoiler)[of victims of childhood sexual abuse, one on the part of their father and the other on the part of a religious figure (hide spoiler)] creating a bond that brings them close. (view spoiler)[I... personally found they revealed that past a little too soon to each other, sooner than I've seen happen in real life outside of the psych ward. (hide spoiler)] They become confidants, with Lilly (who most but not all of the book is the character whose view we see) finding in Maggie someone with whom she can "fit in" with. Both girls are borderline goths- Lilly at one point describes herself "I'm not really goth. I'm not really anything." Each has some psychic gift and Maggie's has drawn her to casual dabbling in the occult. They mess around with a spell at one point, which later causes a great change for them both.
The first half of the book deals primarily with their friendship, and how each changes over time. As a former kinda goth kid, the mellowing/drawing out process that is involved as one grows older feels a little more authentic. Not that you really lose that part of you, but that it becomes a less overwhelming, must show part of you. It becomes slightly more organic than show eventually, unless you have a reason to put on the show. That part seems well captured, especially in Lilly (we see more of her early adulthood.)
The second half of the book reminds me a little of some of Anne Rice's work and world building, with a little bit of a R. A. Salvatore feel at a certain point. ((view spoiler)[That point being the battle. Granted, it's been about 10 years since I've read R. A. Salvatore, but his work is what it reminded me of. (hide spoiler)]) This is indeed a vampire book, but with the vampires being a lot more gritty than the urban fantasy genre's- it is, indeed, a horror novel's vampire that you are greeted with. Perhaps it is like contrasting the vampires in the Sookie Stackhoose books to the brutal vamps in the later seasons of True Blood.
(view spoiler)[In their mortal lives, Lilly is morose and at times suicidal; Maggie more angry/rebellious and at some points hedonistic. Lilly falls into the perpetual victim trope, and Maggie the victim becoming the aggressor, particularly after their transformation. We see Lilly in the first half of the novel drift from one abusive relationship to another, until she becomes engaged to a sweet, dying man who she has not real feelings for. It's on her wedding day that un-death comes for them.
The spell they cast as teens was a Death spell, calling on a demon who will ensure their deaths 10 years later, since they were minors. She sends vampires to them, thereby giving them a choice (which we don't see- we only see the results of that choice)- to die, or to live as undead. They both chose undead, but while Lilly's is in the same burst of survialism that grips many about to die, Maggie is enticed by the power of the option.
As vampires, their qualities are amplified- Maggie becomes a predator, Lilly an intense, deeply thinking tortured soul. Maggie takes pleasure in her status as a beat who must kill to live, and seeks out her abuser for a particularly gruesome scene of retribution. Lilly, on the other hand, tries to act as an angel of vengeance/mercy, but remains plagued by the sense that even this, she has no right to. These are both played out in their initial kills- Maggie goes for a young man who they had briefly met earlier who she found attractive; Lilly, someone who had bullied her in high school, and who attempts to rape her at the beginning of her attack before she is driven to fight back and feed. Even under blood lust, Lilly is reluctant, and morosely so.
When Lilly targets someone scoring drugs and it turns out to be her ex fiancee (who was buying euthanasia drugs, and was going to kill himself before the cancer does anyhow), she tries a number of ways to avoid feeding on live humans- corpses, animals, etc. She convinces/guilts Maggie into joining her semi-abstinence for most of the rest of the novel.
Now, I'm fine with exploring these dichotomies. They are the two classic reactions to becoming a creature of the night who must kill to survive. We even see it in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire with Lestat, who for all the later back story and feels we get in the other books, is in Interview a hedonist, whereas Louis goes through many periods of self loathing and self doubt. But Lilly on a nice day out moroses Louis on a bad one. While as a human she was depressed and her moroseness usually vague, as a vampire her moroseness is sharp and direct. She even wields it as a verbal weapon at various points. High school Lilly was someone that high school me would have found awesome, and her friendship with Maggie enviable. Adult Lilly leaves adult me- also depressed, and a survivor of prolonged but non-sexual abuse that used both religion and disability as weapons- feeling slight revulsion.
And yet adult Lilly is more realized than adult Maggie. We see an episode of her dabbling in group occult stuff as an adult, but very little else other than what she tells Lilly on the phone. And even that felt more like an episode inserted to tie the second half of the novel to the first. (hide spoiler)]
In the very beginning of the book, some of the cultural references were a little heavy handed. I'm not sure if that was on purpose to highlight how they bond over media and are a little less deep than they think, or if it was just a misjudgment. If the first, it was certainly effective, though a little heavy handed and didn't seem to peter out the same way it does in real life, if the second, unfortunate. That said, as a teen, their friendship at that age would have been something I envied.
The biggest flaw, unfortunately, is that the first half of the novel feels like a completely different book than the second. It could have used a few more touches of the second half, more foreshadowing rather than episodes that point back. I wanted something that would feel vaguely creepy that would be an "ah ha!" moment later, and there was really only two, maybe three, and they were small drops in an otherwise prolonged story of friendship and how it mutates as we grow older. While the second half does carry that to a drastic conclusion, it doesn't feel super connected to the kind of mutation in the first.
That said, the second half was still engaging enough for me to want to read the second book suggested in the publisher's questions at the end. I think that the adult, vampiric, and yes, brutal and horrifying, world the author builds is very compelling, even if it is preceded by a less compelling mortal adulthood.
I promise I liked it even if I'm a little harsh. It made me super nostalgic at parts, and I even made a spotify list for it.
I was sent a copy by giveaway (usually meaning author/publisher/publicist) on Goodreads.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fun and easy to read. Upon first reading, I loved having a rural woman as a protagonist. I live in a rural area, and there are comparatively few in th...moreFun and easy to read. Upon first reading, I loved having a rural woman as a protagonist. I live in a rural area, and there are comparatively few in the urban fantasy genre who bother with rural settings- or so it seems.
I will note though: If you are looking for the sex and gore levels of the show based on these books, you will be disappointed. While they are sexy, and there's some violence, it's a lot more on the level of a mystery novel with a slightly sexy kick. Later books add more and more fantastic elements, and some of the violence is unusual/fantastic in nature, but it isn't terribly gorey.(less)
I... have so many feels. I love how the many different perspectives allowed us to both see the whole story as well as forces us to acknowledge the sub...moreI... have so many feels. I love how the many different perspectives allowed us to both see the whole story as well as forces us to acknowledge the subjective nature of things, especially in politically rife contexts. Also I have to commend the author on the period-realistic level of brutality. (less)
Interesting but a bit convoluted. It *did* however make me want to read the subsequent books, though, so it was effective in that sense. Would warn th...moreInteresting but a bit convoluted. It *did* however make me want to read the subsequent books, though, so it was effective in that sense. Would warn those with sexual abuse/victimization backgrounds to be wary entering this, though, as well as those with DV backgrounds. This does have a lot of manipulation, emotional abuse, and perhaps even neglect of the young lady who the plot ends up centering around. Even the character who claims to love her enough to risk his life treats her more like an object than a person. There were hints, though, that she could grow up into a bad ass, but only time will tell... Does deal with a caste system in an interesting way, but sometimes is repetitive about it. Does have the issue of Domineering dude in the love interest department. I am interested to see how the relationships develop, though, even if some of the elements were less than appealing due to romanticism of emotional manipulation.
TL;DR, I'll read the follow ups, characters were compelling, but sometimes unsettling because of manipulation.(less)
Very beautiful, but sad. I found the writing fairly straight forward but descriptive and bright until the last section of the book, after the tragedy/...moreVery beautiful, but sad. I found the writing fairly straight forward but descriptive and bright until the last section of the book, after the tragedy/apart-ness is revealed. At that point it... fades and feels rushed. I don't know if it's because it is the part that covers a part of Satmar/Hassidic life that the author was not privy to, as she left before she entered into marriage, or because of the way that the timeline is accelerated. However, the rest of the book is startlingly passionate and beautiful as a read. (less)
For all the problematic elements (which other reviewers have covered) I liked it. I also liked that even though male characters were patronizing, she...moreFor all the problematic elements (which other reviewers have covered) I liked it. I also liked that even though male characters were patronizing, she was clearly and demonstrably bitchy about that. Urban fantasy has to have some things that are realistic to our world, and sadly our world is full of patronizing d-bags. At least she recognizes it?
(view spoiler)[not so cool was the WOE I can't have kids woe stuff which... eh. seriously, as if we don't get enough of woman = reproductive value primarily out there, we have this otherwise pretty cool lady go all WOE about babies REPEATEDLY. While it is perhaps something to explore, it didn't fit as a character exploration in this book- maybe if it had been limited to when they were actually relevant to the story? But the every pregnant lady and kid's party thing was kinda too much. She's ANCIENT. I would have expected this level of mope about fertility in her first century or so, but by now... too much. On the other hand as someone whose fertility is questionable because of a medical condition I would have appreciated it... if, again, it was in a context that was related to the plot. (hide spoiler)]
Also, relatively non-rapey which is, sadly, a big deal in the genre. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
From a writing standpoint, it isn't brilliant and was maybe cringeworthy, but from an entertainment standpoint it was AWESOME. SERIOUSLY. The fantasy...moreFrom a writing standpoint, it isn't brilliant and was maybe cringeworthy, but from an entertainment standpoint it was AWESOME. SERIOUSLY. The fantasy fan in me was squealing all over the place, while the part of me that enjoys sexy stories was amused.
I will note, though, that the bonus story included with it was the better story- it was a little better written, and character arc felt more complete, and I found it both hot and fun... And loved how powerful the lady ended up being as well as her [spoiler] defeat of an abusive mother[end spoiler](less)