“The Three Dahlias” by Katy Watson | Book Review

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“In the early eighties, actress Rosalind King originated the onscreen role of lady detective Dahlia Lively, the creation of Golden Age author Lettice Davenport. Fifteen years later, Caro Hooper introduced the character to a whole new generation, gracing TV screens for twelve years. Less than a decade has passed, and Dahlia is headed to the big screen once again, this time portrayed by former child actress Posy Starling who’s trying to reverse a bad reputation and revive her career. A three-day summer convention is being held in the late Lettice Davenport’s honor at Aldermere, her family home, and in attendance are relatives who still reside in the house, three generations of Dahlias, the movie crew, and VIP fans. As the weekend commences, real mysteries start popping up, threatening to derail the summer festivities. Caro, Posy, and Rosalind couldn’t be more different, but they’re well acquainted with the detective mind of Dahlia and team up to figure out what’s going on. When the situation escalates to murder, the three actresses appear out of their depth but continue to push for answers. Will the tenacious spirit of Dahlia Lively prevail, or should her three successors give up their amateur sleuthing before one of them gets hurt?”

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*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Constable, imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, through NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

I can’t even imagine what goes through an author’s head when their work is compared to Agatha Christie, the one and only “Queen of Crime.” Those are big shoes to fill, and I wouldn’t wish that pressure on anyone. That’s exactly what’s happening with Katy Watson’s debut, and as an Agatha fan, I agree on many counts. The book opens with an invitation and Aldermere House map which makes you, the reader, feel like one of the guests. The story takes place during a modern time, probably not far off from 2022, but it feels so much like a classic mansion murder mystery that you forget what year it is until someone mentions their cellphone. The convention is dedicated to Golden Age author Lettice Davenport, let’s call her Agatha’s fictional peer, and though she has passed away, her presence is felt everywhere. Aside from story after story about Miss Davenport’s life and career, each chapter begins with a quote from one of her Dahlia Lively detective novels, a deceptively small detail. The quotes don’t take up much of the book, but Katy Watson went to the trouble of creating excerpts from a book series that doesn’t exist which makes the fictional world where it does exist seem that much more real. That is maximum effort, and I applaud it.

Sometimes, on a rainy evening, you reach for a thriller to elevate your heartrate and maximize the chills in the room. Other times, you brew your favorite hot beverage and reach for a sleeper that’s going to lull you into the depths of coziness while intriguing you enough to devour page after page. “The Three Dahlias” is the latter, a mystery that’s less about action and more about brainstorming. Yet another way Katy Watson has captured the essence of Agatha’s work, almost exclusively focusing on the detectives methodically working through the clues until an answer presents itself in the eleventh hour. Speaking of detectives, I dare say the best part of this book is the dynamic between the actresses-turned-sleuths trio. They’ve all assumed the role of Dahlia Lively for films and television and gleaned enough knowledge to fake their way through detective work until something sticks. Rosalind King is the oldest and most prim and proper, and though she now finds herself passed over for leading roles due to age, she’s earned enough respect as the original Dahlia to be able to walk among the convention crowd and get answers to her questions. Caro Hooper likes to take charge and be the center of attention, much to the displeasure of Rosalind; she often loses herself in the character of Dahlia, shying away from being herself when it’s easier to hide her personal struggles behind a facade. Posy Starling rounds out the trio as the youngest member and the newest Dahlia; she is a disgraced child star recently returned to England and trying to distance herself from a substance abuse past with a new chapter in her career. Three women, different ages, contrasting personalities, and the combination works, like three liquids that shouldn’t mix, but if you trust the process, they eventually blend into something of substance.

I’m going to stick with my normal procedure and give this debut four stars, leaving room for improvement. I enjoyed it but struggled to focus at times due to the pace. There was a little something missing, but this is a solid foundation for the in-progress sequel. I’m not sure what Katy Watson’s plans are, but she has the makings of a great modern murder mystery series on her hands. I highly recommend you check out this debut mystery that has, thus far, flown under the radar. It may not have enough action for thrill-seeking readers, but mystery enthusiasts will find more than enough meat to sink their teeth into.

*NOTE: The expected U.S. publication date is July 26th, 2022.

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Content Breakdown: 

*Disclaimer: I read an uncorrected ARC so certain things might be different in the final copy.

*Disclaimer 2: This section of my review is thorough and might contain SPOILERS.

Abuse: It is briefly implied that Posy’s last relationship was abusive.

Alcohol, Drugs, & Smoking: Mentions of Alcoholism, Amaretto, Brandy, Cigarettes, Cocktails, Drug addiction, Gin, Intoxication, a Pub, Rehab for substance abuse, Sobriety meetings, Whisky, & Wine

Main character Posy Starling is a recovering addict, and there are numerous mentions of her experience with rehab and sobriety meetings. She no longer drinks alcohol.

One of the side characters who never makes an appearance is mentioned as an addict who ran away from home as a teen, got pregnant, and moved back home, only to relapse several times and struggle to keep a job.

Blackmail: PLOT SPOILER – Three characters are blackmailed with photos. The first group of photos shows the victim under the influence despite being on a sobriety journey. The second group of photos is sexual, & the blackmail note mentions there’s a tape. The third & final group of photos shows the victim in an affair with someone else’s husband.

Blood & Violence: There are dolls left lying around as a threat, each representing a method of murder such as poison & stabbing.

During a tour of Aldermere House, the contents of shelves in Lettice Davenport’s office are described: books on anatomy and poison, the knot from a noose, a bottle with a poison sticker on it, and a line of bullets.

Chapter 8 begins with a Dahlia Lively quote which is said while she holds the hand of a corpse.

In chapter 11, there’s a brief mention of World War II & a bomb landing on Lettice Davenport’s building of flats.

PLOT SPOILER -There is a murder via poison, & the victim is described as looking relatively unharmed aside from the vomit coming out of his mouth.

A character is attacked from behind, hit with a heavy object which leaves a bloody head wound.

PLOT SPOILER -A dead body is discovered in a river, described as bloated, grey, & naked; it’s later revealed that the victim suffered blunt force trauma to the head. The person who discovered the body screamed long enough for her voice to go hoarse & later mentions not being able to sleep because all she sees are the bulging, staring eyes of the victim.

During the big reveal, the murderer throws the contents of a poison bottle into Rosalind’s face. Posy throws herself in front of Rosalind, but thankfully it’s only a bottle of glitter labeled as poison.

Cheating: PLOT SPOILER – There are two characters having an affair. The history of the situation is complicated, but the black & white facts are her having a relationship with her friend’s husband & him staying with his wife despite insisting she isn’t the woman he truly loves. 

Fake Pregnancy: PLOT SPOILER – There’s a discussion about a character who announced a pregnancy, but once her boyfriend married her, the baby was never born. It’s not known whether she faked the pregnancy or lost the baby, but it is known that her boyfriend wasn’t planning to take their relationship any further before the announcement.

Language: B*st*rd, Bloody, D*mn, Heck, & H*ll

Pregnancy & Adoption: PLOT SPOILER – Details are given about a character’s father who was given up for adoption at birth. His mother fell in love with her cousin, but he wouldn’t commit when she got pregnant because he had an understanding with a family friend, a more suitable wife. The son tried, and later on his daughter, to reconnect with the biological family & was met with rejection.

Therapy: Posy mentions having a therapist & dealing with the aftermath of a past relationship, possibly abusive. 

Sensual/Sexual: There is one kiss which happens as part of the murder mystery game at the convention.

In chapter 16, Juliette admits to sneaking out of Aldermere to meet her boyfriend. There’s no definite mention of what they were doing, but Juliette says they were too busy to notice any suspicious activity outside the house.

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🌟 Find author Katy Watson here:

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“Gilded” by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

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“Though 18-year-old Serilda Moller has lived in the town of Märchenfeld her whole life, most of the townsfolk choose to ostracize her. Cursed by the god Wyrdith before her birth, Serilda’s eyes are covered by the golden wheel of fate and fortune, and she possesses the ability to spin fantatsical tales, earning a reputation as an impulsive liar. One night under the Snow Moon, she lies to the wrong person, the Erlking, and changes the trajectory of her small town life. Now she is at his mercy, forced to answer his call every full moon to enter his haunted castle and spin straw into gold. A mysterious boy comes to her aid the first time, but even though he’s slowly falling in love with her, his magic cannot be given away for free. It’s apparent that the Erlking will never be satisfied, and Serilda is quickly running out of currency to continue paying the price of magic. Will she find a way out of her predicament, or will she be forever bound to Erlkönig and Adalheid Castle?”

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The beginning of “Gilded” was promising, so much so that I was prepared to hand out a five-star rating. I would highly recommend the audiobook, which I listened to all the way through; Rebecca Soler did a fantastic job as the narrator, making me feel like I was being read a fairytale before bed each night. The winter setting is cozy, and the darkness of the story kept me on the edge of my seat. I also appreciate the way foreshadowing was used. In chapter two, Serilda’s students comparing her storytelling to spinning straw into gold, transforming their dull lives in the town of Märchenfeld into something special. A second example is the moss maidens Meadowsweet and Parsely gifting jewelry to Serilda in chapter five; the crest on the ring and picture in the locket end up being significant clues that tie everything together. 

I was enchanted and ready to be taken on a immerisve journey for 500 pages . . . until chapter ten. Despite dark subject matter that toed the line, it’s the romance that lost me. It fell into the insta-love category and took me out of a world that had previously enraptured me. Never once did I feel a spark between Gild and Serilda. I wasn’t invested and found myself reading at a slower pace whenever they shared a chapter. I understand that his century-long loneliness as a poltergeist and her past with bullying gave them a connection as outcasts, but their intimacy progressed too quickly. The ending was wrapped up in their relationship, and I’m not sure there’s any part of it I liked. I sincerely believe a slow-burn romance would’ve suited this dark fairytale; instead an insta-love story weighed down an otherwise promising book.

Despite my disappointment, I’m giving this book 3 stars, and the completionist in me plans on reading the sequel. If you’re looking for a wintery read and like the idea of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, give “Gilded” a try. Maybe the insta-love won’t bother you as much as it bothered me. Beware, this book is heavily inspired by German folklore and extremely dark. I’m shocked that there are no trigger warnings and did my best to cover everything down below so you’re fully prepared for the amount of blood & violence. 

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Trigger Warnings:

Abandonment – Serilda’s mother left when she was a young child. It’s mentioned throughout the book but addressed directly in chapter 17, starting on page 154.

Abortion – Though an abortion is not performed, it is used as a threat.

Bullying – Serilda’s experience with bullying due to her appearance is mentioned throughout the book.

Blood & Violence – If you can’t stand even a hint of blood, don’t read this book. There is blood and violence in most of the chapters.

Death & Suicide – Death is a major theme throughout the book, including the death of children. Chapter 49 is the most disturbing in my opinion because it deals directly with children’s dead bodies. There is a brief mention of suicide on page 178 and miscarriage and stillbirths on page 325.

Discipline – I know this isn’t always a bad or triggering subject, but on page 10, Madame Sauer grabs a willow branch and threatens to strike Serilda’s hands, bringing back painful memories from her school days. It’s briefly mentioned again on page 170. I wanted to note this because in my opinion, it’s a controversial and borderline abusive method of discipline.

Hunting & Trophies – There are frequent mentions of the Erlking hunting for magical creatures as sport; he mounts some of them on the walls of his castle and keeps others chained in cages.

Kidnapping & Missing Children – The Erlking is known for luring children from their homes & leaving their lifeless bodies at the edge of the Aschen Wood, sometimes keeping their spirits as prisoners in his castle.

Supernatural – If you’re easily creeped out, be aware that there are mentions of demons, appearances by ghosts who bear the wounds that caused their death, & eery creatures such as the Nachtkrapp, a raven with no eyes.

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Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: In order to be thorough, there will be spoilers in this section.

Alcohol – There are approximately 10 pages that mention alcohol and drinking, possibly a few more, but nothing too extreme – Pages 3, 103, 112, 134, 269, 280, & 326 

Blood, Violence, & Death – There are approximately 132 pages that mention blood, violence, and/or death, ranging from brief to descriptive & disturbing.

Page 2 – The Erlking shoots an arrow that pierces the wing of the god Wyrdith in beast form; there’s mention of bloodied feathers.

Page 12 – Serilda is daydreaming about the Erlking’s Snow Moon hunt, imagining that “after their demonic ride, there will be feasting on what beasts they’ve captured, and drinking of mulled wine spiced with the blood . . .”

Page 14 – Serilda tells the children “”the only way to kill off a Nachzehrer is by putting a stone into its mouth. That will keep it from gnawing on its own flesh while you cut off the head.”

Pages 17 to 20 – Serilda tells a story about the Erlking bringing lost children to his queen Perchta who longs to be a mother. Once they grow out of babyhood, she tires of them, & he takes them to the forest & kills them. The child in this particular story has his throat cut by a hunting knife.

Page 37 – A female ghost riding with the Snow Moon hunt has blood stains down the front of her tunic, seemingly from the gash in her throat which was the cause of her death.

Page 41 – Brief mention of a hypothetical bargain signed in blood

Page 43 – Serilda is thinking about the rumors that the Erlking murders children, how in the past children’s corpses were found at the edge of the forest, often picked clean by crows.

Page 47 – Brief mention of Serilda’s story about a water nix who bites off fingers

Page 48 – Brief mention of Serilda’s story in which she brandishes a lethal fire iron & stabs her enemies, including one of the Erlking’s hellhounds

Page 55 – The first appearance of the Erlking’s servant Manfred, a ghost with an iron chisel sticking out of his left eye socket & a beard soaked in blood. He appears frequently so his appearance is described more than once.

Page 59 – The carriage Serilda rides in is made of a beast’s ribcage, the lantern out of his jaws & skull.

Page 65 – A young ghost servant of the Erlking is noticed by Serilda. She speculates that the bruises on his neck might be evidence of abuse from when he was alive or his cause of death.

Pages 65 & 66 – One of the Erlking’s hellhounds breaks loose and attempts to attack Serilda so he puts it down with an arrow which strikes through one of its eyes and jaw.

Page 71 – The Erlking’s castle is full of taxidermied creatures; the different heads & bodies are discussed throughout Chapter 9. 

Pages 73 to 74 – There is mention of tapestries depicting the brutality of the Erlking’s hunts.

Pages 76 to 77 – If Serilda cannot spin straw into gold, the Erlking threatens to mount her head and that of her father on his castle walls.

Page 80 – Brief mention of bloodstained walls which is what Serilda thought the Erlking’s dungeons would have

Page 83 – A panicked Serilda wonders how the Erlking will cut off her head, with an axe or a sword?

Pages 103 to 105 – Serilda tells another story in which the Erlking kills a child, this time by stabbing with an arrow.

Pages 118 to 119 – Mention of a tapestry depicting a stag bleeding from multiple arrow wounds

Pages 122 to 123 – Serilda is attacked by a creature with a demon face, something known as a Drude; his claws draw blood.

Page 125 – Mention of bloody footprints & a pool of blood in the throne room where Serilda is walking

Page 134 – Mention of the dried blood on Serilda’s cheek

Pages 140 to 141 – Serilda & Leyna talk about Nachzehrer, creatures that eat people & their own body

Page 161 – Serilda has a beautiful dream about some kind of celebration at a castle which suddenly turns into blood spilling from under the gates and into the lake

Page 165 – Brief mention of a wolf pack taking chickens & goats from a local farm

Pages 177 to 178 – Serilda starts to tell the school children a story about seeing a Nachzehrer, freshly risen from the grave, who had already chewed off his burial shroud and right arm

Page 178 – Brief mention of suicide, Fricz explains that someone who commits suicide could potentially become a Nachzehrer

Page 178 – Brief mention of Serilda remembering the screams & bloody footprints from Adalheid Castle in Chapter 14

Page 194 – The Crow Moon hunt catches up to a red fox who is swiftly killed with a cudgel. Serilda mentions that the hunt will end with a feast of their kills served on silver dishes in a pool of blood.

Page 194 – Back at the castle after the Crow Moon hunt, the hellhounds are lured back to their cages by bloody meat.

Page 195 – The Erlking grabs Serilda by the hair & threatens her with a blade against her throat.

Page 198 – The Erlking strikes his blacksmith, throwing him into a wall.

Page 198 – After his latest prank, the Erlking gives orders for the castle poltergeist to be strung up with rope in the dining hall.

Page 199 – The Erlking theartens Serilda, saying “Either this straw will be gold come morning or it will be red with your blood.”

Page 209 – Serilda continues her story from chapter 12, mentioning once again the prince who is badly wounded and bleeding while watching the Erlking continously stab his little sister with an arrow.

Page 210 – In that same story, the great huntress Perchta is bleeding from an arrow wound inflicted by the prince.

Page 228 – The Erlking remarks that he won’t be gutting Serilda since all the straw in the dungeon has been spun into gold.

Page 231 – Two brief mentions of blood

Page 232 – Serilda mentions that if the Erlking finds out about her lies, he will kill her and mount her head on one of the castle walls.

Page 237 – A man appears in front of Adalheid Castle, seemingly wounded with blood spilling out of his mouth

Page 238 – Serilda runs into a goblin in the castle who begins to bleed from his neck; on that same page, Serilda mentions the stench of blood in the air.

Page 240 – Another mention of the smell of blood in Adalheid Castle

Pages 241 to 242 – Serilda runs into a woman who isn’t wounded at first, but suddenly a red line appears across her throat.

Page 261 – Serilda wants to know more about Adalheid Castle & “what had happened to leave its walls haunted by so many brutally murdered spirits.”

Page 261 – Brief mention of the Erlking killing mortals & stealing children

Page 266 – Serilda considers how she might kill the Erlking; she certainly can’t walk right up to him & stab him with his own hunting knife.

Page 268 – For the Spring Equinox celebration, the citizens of Adalheid decorate their doors with garlands made of animal bones.

Page 269 – A man with a cart full of live animals passes Serilda; the animals are left caged or tied to posts to await their fate during the Erlking’s Spring Equinox hunt. A cart of rabbits is added on page 272.

Pages 272 to 273 – Lorraine tells Serilda that trying to have a conversation with the Erlking during the Feast of Death will be “ . . . asking for him to skin you alive! To pluck out your eyeballs and feed them to the hounds. To tear your fingers off one by one and . . .”

Page 273 – Brief mention of the innocent children who disappeared because of the Erlking

Page 275 – Leyna tells Serilda that the live animals will be let loose for the hunt to chase down & kill; the meat is then thrown upon the likeness of the god Velos where the hellhounds feast upon it.

Page 279 – Serilda recognizes two ghosts riding with the hunt, describing them as “covered in their own blood”

Page 280 – Music is being played at the feast by “gore-splattered musicians”

Pages 280 to 281 – The live animals are let loose, running as fast they can from the pursuing hellhounds & hunters who are cheered on by a crowd of ghosts

Page 286 – Serilda sees a tapestry in Adalheid Castle that depicss a skeleton dressed as royalty and a small body ripped in two, identified as a female child from the pink dress & ringlet curls

Pages 287 to 288 – When a drude attacks Serilda, it gives her horrible visions: the Märchenfeld school on fire with children trapped inside, her father’s body being scavenged by birds, three of her young students being poked & prodded by goblins while locked in a cage, two other students being ripped to shreds by hellhounds, Leyna and her mother being attacked by Nachtkrapp, & Gild pinned like a moth to a spinning wheel.

Pages 288 to 289 – Gild fights with two Drudes, & there’s mention of blood & entrails.

Page 289 – Gild is bleeding from a wound on his scalp.

Page 290 – Gild explains to Serilda that Drudes can torture you for hours until your heart stops, when you can’t handle any more terror & give up.

Pages 292 to 293 – Gild drags his hand through his hair which smears his fingers with blood from his head wound. Serilda cleans the wound as best she can.

Page 304 – Another mention of the Erlking’s Spring Equinox hunt throwing the captured animals’ carcasses onto the effigy of Velos for the hellhounds to feast upon

Page 306 – Serilda catches a glimpse of the hellhounds fighting over the meat hanging from the likeness of Velos.

Pages 314 to 315 – Serilda cleans her shoulder wound caused by Drude talons, gouges caked in dried blood.

Page 325 – Mention of children dying from disease as well as mothers suffering a miscarriage or giving birth to a stillborn baby

Page 334 – Brief mention of blood

Page 364 – Serilda passes by two ghost gardeners, the man with shears sticking out of his neck & the woman with a crooked head, possibly from a broken neck.

Pages 365 to 366 – The Erlking shows Serilda his collection of caged beasts, looking miserable in their confinement; some even have untended wounds.

Pages 367 to 370 – The Erlking’s fellow hunters drag their latest catch into the gardens, a chained Tatzelwurm who is promptly put into a cage.

Page 405 – Brief mention of blood

Page 409 – Mention of the great huntress Perchta liking to toy with her prey, both animal or human, no torment enough to satisfy her bloodlust

Pages 414 to 417 – Serilda’s father returns as a Nachzehrer, a zombie covered in blood with visible bones. When he can’t get ahold of Serilda, he starts to eat his own finger. Madame Sauer suddenly appears and decapitates him with a shovel.

Page 417 – It is explained that Nachzehrer come back to life to eat their family members.

Page 420 – Brief mention of blood

Page 423 – Serilda asks a Nachtkrapp if he’s found any plump mice this morning, & then tells him to stay away from the hearts of the local children. 

Page 425 – A Nachtkrapp scratches Serilda’s hand & draws blood.

Chapter 49, Pages 433 to 442 – This might be the most disturbing chapter in the whole book. Five of Serilda’s favorite young students go missing after the Awakening Moon hunt. After a town-wide search, their bodies are found at the edge of the Aschen Wood. Sadly they are not peaceful & untouched; they all have holes where their heart should be, bones sticking out & covered in drying blood. 

Chapter 50, Pages 443 to 454 – Serilda continues her search because the fifth child’s body was not found. She ends up in Adalheid Castle, telling a gruesome story about a massacre from the past that killed all its inhabitants. That story triggers a pool of blood that opens a door into The Veil where the Erlking resides after dawn. Right before entering, Serilda sees a horrifying sight, a little girl’s body hanging from the throne room chandelier. 

Chapter 51, Pages 455 to 461 – There is mention of blood at the very beginning of the chapter, & the four children’s ghosts are by the Erlking’s side when Serilda finds him. 

Page 463 – Mention of ghosts with “battered bodies & bleeding wounds”

Pages 466 to 467 – The Erlking hung Gild outside the castle with chains, non-fatal but meant as a punishment.

Chapter 53, Pages 472 to 477 – The whole chapter revolves around the Erlking wanting to abort Serilda’s unborn child.

Page 475 – At the prospect of Serilda’s magic not returning, even if the fetus in her belly is removed, the Erlking says it would be better to slit her throat and be done with both of them.

Pages 477 to 478 – The Erlking shoots his barber in the heart, black blood spilling down his convulsing body.

Pages 482 to 483 – The Erlking stabs Serilda in the wrist with a gold arrow to curse her, putting her under his control; there is mention of blood from the wound.

Page 487 – Serilda once again notes the appearances of the ghosts around her at Adalheid Castle, each of them bearing the wound or wounds that killed them.

Page 490 – Gerdrut is revealed to also be a ghost with a hole where her heart used to be.

Gods & Magic

There are heavy magical themes, mentions of curses, potions, & witches. There are seven (mostly) fictional gods who are mentioned frequently: Eostrig-god of spring & fertility, Freydon, Hulda-god of labor, Solvilde-god of sky & sea, Tyrr-god of war & hunting, Velos-god of death & wisdom, and Wyrdith-god of fate, fortune, lies, & stories.

Grammar & Spelling

Page 140 – “It was a far cry tastier that the buttered rye bread . . .” instead of “It was a far cry tastier than the buttered rye bread . . .”

Language

By the old gods (as an exclamation) – Page 41

Damned – Page 312

Gods alive (as an exclamation) – Page 140

Sensual/Sexual Moments

Page 227 – A brief kiss

Page 312 – Extended kiss

Pages 358 to 361 – A kiss that turns into touching which leads to something more but fades to black. The only additional information is that he helped her get dressed before they fell asleep side by side.

Page 363 – She briefly daydreams about her night with him, imagining his body, his hands, & his mouth.

Pages 376 to 377 – She considers the opinion of society concerning unwed couples sleeping together & ponders whether or not she feels shame for sleeping with him; she concludes that she does not.

Page 469 – She realizes she’s with child after missing her period.

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🌟 Find author Marissa Meyer here:

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Disney+ Marathon Day 8 | November 19

Welcome to week 2 of my 30-day Disney+ marathon! Grab your popcorn & settle in for more throwback favorites in the next 7 days. Feel free to interact in the comment section down below. I would love to hear what you’ve been watching on Disney’s new streaming service. 😊

10am – Rise & shine! 🌞

10:30am – Breakfast + Timon & Pumbaa 🍳 

S1E1 – Boara Boara / Saskatchewan Catch

🎵 IT’S OUR PROBLEM FREEEEE PHILOSOPHYYYYY! HAKUNA MATATA!! 🎶

This is a Disney Channel show that I vividly remember watching as a child. One of my favorites then & now!

S1E2 – Kenya Be My Friend? / Good Mousekeeping

👁 Spotted: Rafiki! 💕 Fun Fact: He was one of the first characters I met in Disneyland, my home Disney park.

11:30am – Getting ready for work + Timon & Pumbaa 💄 

Rewatched S1E1

Finished S1E2

1pm – Work 🛍

3:30pm – 15 minute break + Timon & Pumbaa ⏰ 

S1E3 – Brazil Nuts / South Sea Sick / The Lion Sleeps Tonight

6:20pm – Dinner + Timon & Pumbaa 🍲 

S1E3 continued!

7pm – Blogging + Timon & Pumbaa 💻 

S1E4 – Never Everglades / Cooked Goose

S1E5 – Yukon Con / Doubt of Africa

9:20pm – Blogging + The Lion King 💻 

Mufasa’s death still punches me in the gut. On top of that, Simba’s helpless little face & the way he snuggles up to his dad’s body. One of the SADDEST scenes in Disney history! 😭 💔

Final thoughts for the day: Even though my afternoon was spent at work, I had a blast hanging out in the African savanna the rest of the day. I always forget how much I love Timon & Pumbaa. They are hilarious! 😂 I’ve always felt this way, but it needs to be acknowledged that The Lion King has an AMAZING score & soundtrack. It blows my mind every time I watch the movie. So atmospheric! 🌍 I’m off work tomorrow, & it’s supposed to be cold & rainy so I have an ambitious schedule planned. Get excited! 😆

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   E I G H T   A R T 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 1 | November 12

I didn’t win the Disney+ Dream Job contest, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have my own 30-day marathon. Whether or not you have Disney’s new streaming service, I hope you’re ready to hang out with me for one month. 😊👍

12am – Disney+ is live! One episode of Bonkers! before bed. 🌛

*Note: The streaming service actually went live at 10pm PST. 🌴

S1E1 – In the Bag

Has anyone else noticed how much Bonkers D. Bobcat resembles Chester Cheetah?? An interesting mystery. We deserve answers!

Mad Hatter & March Hare spotted! Such a cool pair of cameos & an easter egg for eagle-eyed Disney fans. ☕️

9am – Rise & shine! 🌞

10am – Breakfast + Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers 🥥

S1E1 – Piratsy Under the Seas

10:30am – Blogging + Bonkers! 💻

S1E2 – Hear no Bonkers, See no Bonkers

11am – Laundry + Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers 🧺

S1E2 – Adventures in Squirrelsitting

11:30am – Blogging + Bonkers! & Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers 💻

S1E3 – Out of Sight, Out of Toon ( B! )

S1E3 – Flash the Wonder Dog ( C & D )

12:50pm – Blogging + Darkwing Duck 💻 

S1E1 – Beauty and the Beet

S1E2 – Getting Antsy

S1E3 – Night of the Living Spud

3pm – Blogging + Aladdin 💻 

*Note: I wanted to start with my favorite Disney movie Tarzan, but it isn’t available yet so I watched my number 2 movie. 👍

I sobbed my way through the ENTIRE movie. 😭 I wasn’t allowed to watch Aladdin as a child so my only exposure was the Disney sing along songs VHS tapes & the TV series. One of the songs I grew up learning was You Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me so Genie has meant a lot to me for a very long time. I’m extremely emotional every time I watch the film, especially following Robin William’s passing. Gone but never forgotten! 💙

5:45pm – Blogging + Disney’s Hercules: The Animated Series

S1E1 – Hercules and the Apollo Mission

S1E2 – Hercules and the King of Thessaly

S1E3 – Hercules and the Secret Weapon

I don’t think I’ve watched this show since grandma’s house in the late 90s & early 2000s. What a blast from the past! 😮

8:30pm – Blogging + Hercules 💻 

Of course I had to complete my top 3 favorite Disney films of all time! Tarzan. Aladdin. Hercules. I’ve always loved the heroes. 💥😊💥

Final thoughts for the day: I didn’t experience an annoying amount of bugs on Disney+ aside from the occasional loading issue or touchscreen controls not responding properly through my iPad. As a MEGA Disney fan, this streaming service is worth the money. Films & shows I’ve wanted to watch again for years & years are finally available to me, some that I haven’t seen since I was a child. It was a blast reliving my childhood, & this is only DAY ONE. I got through 12 TV episodes & 2 movies. Not bad for a Tuesday!

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   O N E   A R T 

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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Aquaman Review

I’m starting the new year with a review of Aquaman, my family’s 2018 Christmas movie. Even though I’m a “DC Girl For Life,” I still have the ability to be constuctively critical. In short, I loved this movie. In depth, there are a few things that bothered me:

  1. Some of the camera angles & shots took me out of the movie. The beach training scene between Arthur and Vulko involved back and forth shots of both characters straight on. It felt odd and a bit too melodramatic. In the Italy scene with Arthur & Mera, the atmosphere dramatically changed to a cheesy rom-com and felt out of place in an adventurous superhero movie.

2. Speaking of the rom-com scene, that brings us to the terrible soundtrack. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I specifically dislike the songs from the Black Manta costume creation scene (“It’s No Good,” Depeche Mode), the Italy rom-com scene (“She’s A Mystery To Me,” Roy Orbison), and the infamous Pitbull cover of Toto’s “Africa.” I should clarify that those first two songs aren’t bad; they just felt out of place. The Pitbull song is the one I hate with a vengeance, with or without the movie. All that being said, the score is amazing, and I really like the end credits song “Everything I Need” by Skylar Grey which fits right in with the tone of the movie’s finale.

Let’s end with two MAJOR positives:

  1. I  teared up twice: once during the title sequence from pure, unadulterated joy & again when Arthur Curry is proclaimed king of Atlantis because FINALLY we have the Aquaman we deserve on the big screen.

2. My dad loved the movie! You definitely won’t understand why that is such a big deal so let me provide some clarity. He enjoys movies like Darkest Hour and The Post. Superhero blockbusters are usually a little too weird & rarely impress him as great films. I 100% expected him to either fall asleep or walk out of the theater unimpressed. Shock of all shocks, he stayed awake the whole time and loved both cast and plot. 😱

I can understand why length was an issue for some people. Right before the finale, it started to feel like the story was being stretched out . . . and then BAM! It ended with an E P I C fight; I teared up; and all was forgotten and forgiven. Lastly, I want to give the cast & crew a round of applause. Director James Wan brought Atlantis to life which is no small feat considering you can’t actually film an entire movie underwater. There wasn’t even one weak link in the cast; I was impressed with every single performance, and I can’t wait to see more.

This is a DC film I can stand behind, and I think my fellow fans should do the same. Moving forward, we need to focus on the positive & support the parts of our cinematic universe that we love. Things can only get better from here because the casts & crews are experimenting, learning, and growing. So what if DC is darker and/or weirder?! At least we’re daring to be different!

GO.  SEE.  AQUAMAN.  🌊

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wcj6SrX4zw

🌊 🦀 🐠 🧜🏼‍♀️ 🌊 🐢 🐟 🧜🏻 🌊🐬 🌊 👑 👊🏼 💥 🔱 🌊 🐙 🌊 🧜🏾‍♀️ 🐳 🦑 🌊 🧜🏿‍♀️ 🦐 🦈 🌊 

Check out some awesome Aquaman art  ➡️  H  E  R  E  ⬅️

🌊 🦀 🐠 🧜🏼‍♀️ 🌊 🐢 🐟 🧜🏻 🌊🐬 🌊 👑 👊🏼 💥 🔱 🌊 🐙 🌊 🧜🏾‍♀️ 🐳 🦑 🌊 🧜🏿‍♀️ 🦐 🦈 🌊 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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My Disney & Pixar Bracket

It’s been awhile since we last talked so why not do something that will likely rip us apart. 😂 We are in the midst of March Madness so naturally a Disney bracket is making the rounds on social media. I have very strong opinions when it comes to all things Mickey Mouse, but it was extremely difficult to make these “life-altering” decisions. I felt like I was choosing between children. I allow me to walk you through each category so I can relive the pain.

Brave vs Up – This was hard because I really like both movies, but I had to listen to my wee Scottish heart. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Toy Story vs Toy Story 2 – I absolutely adore this entire trilogy so my answer to this category is WHY WOULD YOU MAKE ME CHOOSE?!? In the end, I went with Toy Story because it’s the classic that started it all.

Cars 3 vs Coco – I haven’t seen either, but I went with Cars 3 because it’s the only one I’m interested in.

The Good Dinosaur vs Toy Story 3The Good Dinosaur is good, but it never had a chance against Toy Story 3 which makes me weep with little more than a thought.

A Bug’s Life vs Ratatouille – This is another tough choice. I would drop everything & watch either right now. I ultimately went with A Bug’s Life because I’ve always loved the concept & characters . . . which is also true about Ratatouille. UGH!!

Inside Out vs Finding Nemo – Why has Pixar made so many great movies?? 😡 I chose Inside Out, but both reduce me to tears so it could be a different answer on a different day.

Cars vs Monsters, Inc.Cars is really good, but Monsters, Inc. is my favorite Pixar movie so this choice was easy.

The Incredibles vs Wall • E – I’ve never seen Wall • E so The Incredibles won by default, but I probably would’ve chosen it anyway.

Right side is complete! Moving on . . . to the left, to the left!! ⬅️ ⬅️ 😂

The Lion King vs TarzanI love The Lion King, but I chose Tarzan because it’s my favorite Disney movie. Duh!

Lilo & Stitch vs The Princess and the Frog – I chose Lilo & Stitch because it’s in my Disney top 10. Also, I’m not a big fan of The Princess And The Frog. Sorry (but not really).

Tangled vs Big Hero 6 – I’ve seen Big Hero 6 once, and it was okay but not very memorable. Tangled, however, is amazing. Flynn Rider has my heart. 💘

Frozen vs Moana – Frozen wins by default because *gasp* I haven’t seen Moana. 😭

Aladdin vs Hercules – My babies!! This category ripped my heart out of my chest, broke it, & stuffed it back into my body so I could relive the pain all over again. 💔 The only reason I was able to make a decision is because I have a set Disney trinity: Tarzan, Aladdin, & Hercules. That being said, Aladdin is pretty much interchangeable with Hercules.

The Little Mermaid vs Pocahontas – Ariel was one of my favorite princesses growing up but not so much anymore. These days Pocahontas is #3 behind Mulan & Jasmine therefore her movie wins this battle & my heart. 🍂 🍃 🍂 🍃 🍂 🍃

Mulan vs Zootopia – I love Zootopia, but as I’ve already mentioned Mulan is my favorite princess. 💚

Beauty & The Beast vs The Nightmare Before Christmas – I’ve tried to get into Nightmare Before Christmas, but it just isn’t happening. Beauty And The Beast will always hold a special place in my heart. 🌹

The time has come to choose between Tarzan, my favorite Disney movie, & Monsters Inc., my favorite Pixar film. I love both, but the choice is easy . . .

🍃  🌳  🐵  🌳  🍃   T  A  R  Z  A  N   •   F  O  R  E  V  E  R   !  !  !   🍃  🌳  🐵  🌳  🍃

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Turn that frown upside down because, for once, Monday isn’t so bad. Today is Harry Potter’s 20th birthday. Actually it’s the book’s birthday, but you get the point. In honor of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book turning twenty, I’m sharing some amazing art with you as well as my experience with the series. The tribute will continue from this blog post to my art blog and end on my YouTube channel. Make sure you read carefully and use the provided links so you don’t miss anything. Hop on your broom and AWAY WE GO!!!

P A R T   T W O   ➡️   ➡️   ➡️   ➡️   ➡️   G O L D E N   T R I O   A R T W O R K

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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United

On a day that is dedicated to giving thanks, I want to draw attention to a video I just watched.  For those who don’t know, the band “Eagles of Death Metal” recently spoke about what happened at their concert in Paris.

* * * I don’t want to take away from the emotion of the interview, but if you are around small children, there is some language in the video.

Eagles of Death Metal Discuss Paris Terror Attacks

My heart breaks for the band and crew members that survived because what they saw and who they lost will forever affect them.  I want Dave, Eden, Jesse, Josh, Julian, Matt, and anyone else involved to know that they are in my prayers.  I am only one person, but it is important to show that no matter what people around the world are going through, there are others who are aware of and care about what is taking place.

If you would like to send messages of encouragement to Eagles of Death Metal, here are their social media links:

Eagles Of Death Metal – Facebook

EaglesOfDeathMetal (@EODMofficial) | Twitter

I want to share an expression that is used by Jewish people when someone passes away.  In honor of the lives that have been lost in 2015, may their memory be a blessing!

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.”  Psalm 95:1-3

Happy Thanksgiving readers!  I hope you have a safe, blessed day.

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– Lauren Michele <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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Disney Challenge

Disney Challenge Thumbnail

Me and my best friend Gabby did the Disney challenge featuring songs from “Frozen”, “Jungle Book”, “Lilo & Stitch”, “Lion King”, “Little Mermaid”, “Mulan”, “Pocahontas”, “Princess and the Frog”, “Shrek 2”, “Tangled”, and “Tarzan.”  Warning!  The following video features A LOT of dramatic lip synching and laughter.

– <3 http://youtu.be/Z-4aTEJX2XU <3 –

If you would like to do this challenge, here are the rules:

1. At least two players are required plus someone to play the songs and keep score.  We did not have a third person so I used the Pandora app on my phone.  I put a towel over the top half of my phone where the songs were displayed and did the manual work myself (playing, pausing, etc).  Gabby kept score on her phone.

2. Each person has ten seconds to guess the title of a song (One Point) and what Disney movie it comes from (One Point).  After time is up, the other person can take a guess and try to steal the points.  Each round can earn a player 0, 1, or 2 points.

3.  The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.  Me and Gabby ended the game after ten songs.

I hope you enjoyed the video!  Film your own version.  It’s a lot of fun!!

Stay tuned for more posts coming soon.  Stay young at heart readers!  :)

– Lauren Michele <3

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Cinderella Part II – Have Courage and Be Kind

Cinderella 2015(Source: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20141119151633/disney/images/b/b4/Cinderella_2015_1.jpg)

Good evening and welcome to the 2nd and final part of my Cinderella series. Part I was posted on my art blog yesterday. If you did not read it, I suggest you read it now.  After all, what is part II without part I?? Here is the link: https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/cinderella-part-i-a-little-magic/

Part I was all about the beautiful costuming created by designer Sandy Powell.  Tonight’s post focuses on the main motto of the movie: “Have courage and be kind.”  Ella’s mother expressed these words before [SPOILER] her death.  Ella took the phrase to heart and recited it in order to endure harsh treatment from her stepmother and stepsisters.  Despite being treated like a servant rather than a relative, she was gracious.  However, when her happiness was on the line, she had the courage to speak up.  What an example!  In negative situations, it is always a better choice to be the bigger person and turn the other cheek.  But, never let your kindness be mistaken for meekness.  The unfortunate truth is that there are people who will attempt to take advantage of compassion.  Kindness should always stem from genuine desire, not obligation or fear.  Have the courage to speak up if you feel uncomfortable and/or threatened.

I hope you have enjoyed this two-part Cinderella series.  If you have not already seen the movie, I highly recommend you do so.

Cinderella Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DF6U1HcGQ

“Have courage and be kind.  Where there is kindness, there is goodness and where there is goodness, there is magic.” – Ella’s mother, “Cinderella”

– Lauren Michele :)

Cinderella Part I: https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/cinderella-part-i-a-little-magic/

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