Fable by Adrienne Young | Review

Fable by Adrienne Young | Review
<strong>Fable</strong> Book Cover
Fable Fable #1 Young Adult, Fantasy Wednesday Books Hardcover 368 pages Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

I was provided an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review

I haven’t read a lot of young adult literature lately but devoured Fable this past weekend. This novel by Adrienne Young is the first book in a fantasy duology. The second book, Namesake, comes out in March.

Four years ago, Fable was abandoned by her father on an unforgiving island. While there she was forced to survive among thieves and traders. Using skills learned from her late mother, Fable is trying to make it off the island to prove herself worthy and join her father’s crew.

I really enjoyed this story. Although fantasy, I think that readers of many genres will enjoy this book. And let me be clear, this isn’t a pirate tale.

Fable is a strong, smart female lead. Even when she is enlisting the help of others, she finds ways to be useful. Fable’s backstory unfolds throughout the novel and I thought the author did a nice job weaving needed information into the narrative.

There are several side characters and each one approaches Fable in a unique way. It is easy to see how each character’s personality fits with the others. However, I don’t feel that we’re given enough. I want to know more about these characters.

I am happy to say there is no love triangle. There is a love interest. The relationship has a slow burn. These are two characters who shouldn’t be together but can’t fight their connection forever.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. The pacing was spot on and there was a nice balance between action and character development. The author did a good job world building. I could imagine what each of the places and people looked liked. Fable also didn’t feel like an introductory novel. I think because it is part of a duology, not too much time was wasted explaining things.

Anyway, this book ended on a cliffhanger and I’m dying to read the next installment. Luckily, I’ve already been approved for an ARC, so I don’t have to wait long.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Murder, Death of Parent

My Fallen Saint by J. Kenner

My Fallen Saint by J. Kenner
My Fallen Saint Book Cover
My Fallen Saint Fallen Saint #1 Contemporary Romance, Suspense Martini & Olive ebook 374 pages Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Charismatic. Confident. Powerful. Controlling.

A brilliant investor with a Midas touch, Devlin Saint turned a modest inherited fortune into billions, and now operates one of the world’s foremost international philanthropic organizations. He’s a man determined to help the underprivileged, to fight injustice, and to make the world a better place. And that at least is true.

It’s not, however, the full truth.

Because Devlin Saint is a man with a dangerous secret. One he’ll do whatever it takes to protect. And when investigative reporter Ellie Holmes turns her attention to an unsolved murder, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue and passion as Devlin draws her closer and closer. But as the intensity and sensuality of their relationship grow, so do Ellie’s suspicions. Until she is no longer certain if the heat between her and Devlin is real, or only a facade he constructed to hide his dark and twisted secrets.

Preorder this book and receive a free bonus short story. Click here for this exclusive offer!

My Fallen Saint series coming soon.

Machiavellian by Bella di Corte | Review

Machiavellian by Bella di Corte | Review
Machiavellian Book Cover
Machiavellian Gangsters of New York #1 Romance, Suspense ebook 456 pages Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub

I hungered to be seen.

There were three things I knew about Capo Macchiavello:

He was gorgeous.

He was reclusive.

He was considered one of New York’s most savage animals.

And he wanted me as his wife. A simple arrangement – you do for me, I do for you. Nothing owed, no expectations. Except for one: never leave.

Life was never that simple, though. By the age of twenty-one, I was parentless, jobless, and homeless, and I had come to learn the hard way that nothing was ever free. Even kindness comes with strings.

Capo might’ve been the only man to ever see me, but I had made a vow to myself: I would never owe anyone anything. Most of all, the man I called boss.

I killed to stay hidden.

Mariposa Flores thought she owed nothing to no one, but she owed everything…to me, the ghost the world had once called The Machiavellian Prince of New York.

Machiavellian is the first of three books set in the savage world of the Gangsters of New York series.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for participating in the blog tour and providing a review. This review contains my honest opinion of the novel.

Review

This was an entertaining story and not exactly what I suspected.

Our main characters find themselves together in an agreement, but not everything is what it seems. They each have a motive but secrets are divulged as the story develops that create complications. Capo and Mari were and interesting pair. Both are independent and head strong characters. However together, they really work. I appreciated that this novel showed their relationship grow. You were given small moments where the couple got to know each other and saw growth in each of them. Not everything was about sexual tension.

There was a bit of violence in this novel. It is a mafia story after all, so that is to be expected. The scenes weren’t explicit, but I wouldn’t recommend to readers who are sensitive to violence and assault. I also found the arrangement to be off putting given the power dynamics at play, but character development helped ease this.

Overall, I found myself devouring the novel and couldn’t put it down. Although long, the pace was well balanced, and I didn’t lose interest in the slower moments. I thought that the author did a good job creating the world around the characters and I developed an interest in many of the side characters as well.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Murder, Rape, Homelessness

About the Author

Bella Di Corte has been writing romance for seven years, even longer if you count the stories in her head that were never written down, but she didn’t realize how much she enjoyed writing alphas until recently. Tough guys who walk the line between irredeemable and savable, and the strong women who force them to feel, inspire her to keep putting words to the page.
 
Apart from writing, Bella loves to spend time with her husband, daughter, and family. She also loves to read, listen to music, cook meals that were passed down to her, and take photographs. She mostly takes pictures of her family (when they let her) and her three dogs.  
 
Bella grew up in New Orleans, a place she considers a creative playground.
 
She loves to connect with readers, so don’t hesitate to email her at belladicorte@gmail.com if you’d like to reach out. 

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Review

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Review
Mexican Gothic Book Cover
Mexican Gothic Gothic, Horror, Historical Fiction Del Rey Hardcover 301 pages Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Review

The minute I heard about this novel, I knew I needed to read it. And I am so glad I did.

I love gothic novels and they don’t get made much anymore, so I was really excited about this read. This novel has all your major gothic tropes and perfectly blends horror with romance. You have a secluded location, insanity, eroticism, nightmares, and more. The horror level on this book wasn’t very high and the gore was also minimal. There are definitely spooky moments, but I feel that a lot of the tension is more psychological. You were really trying to figure out what was going on and who this family was.

Pretty early on, I thought that I had this book pegged. I was convinced that I knew the twist. And I was half right. But the rest of it blew my mind. Looking back I see things that I missed and I appreciated that the author gave hints without completely spoiling the surprise. The pacing was steady and I didn’t feel that there were lulls. The scenery of this story was very descriptive and the house became just as interesting as the characters.

Overall, I thought this was fantastic. It is a conversation starter and felt fresh and new. I kept giving my family updates as I read it and have recommended it to a ton of people. So now, I am recommending it to you.

Trigger Warnings: Hallucinations, Racism, Incest, Sexual Assault/Attempted Rape, Violence, Murder

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole | Review

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole | Review
<strong>When No One is Watching</strong> Book Cover
When No One is Watching Alyssa Cole Mystery, Thriller, OwnVoices Harper Audio Audiobook 8 Hours, 30 Minutes, 5 Seconds Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review

This was an interesting read and I’m glad that I listened to it.

A predominately black neighborhood in Brooklyn is going through changes. Neighbors are leaving left and right and white people are moving in. Businesses are closing and then reopen, catering to a new type of customer. The neighborhood is going through gentrification, a not uncommon problem.

This story is told from two perspectives: Sydney, a black female, and Theo, a white male. This provides an insider/outsider perspective and I thought was a clever way to show the social issues through different eyes. Sydney has lived in the neighborhood most of her life and she is trying to hold on to her family home. Theo recently moved in with his girlfriend.

Sydney and Theo soon begin a friendship and try to understand each other given the circumstances. The evolution of their relationship felt organic and their conversations brought racial and social issues to the front. The pair soon find themselves wondering if the changes happening may be caused by more sinister schemes.

I found the overall plot interesting and liked that this thriller took real-life issues. Not only was this a thriller, but educational on current social issues that plague many communities across the country. What makes this story scary is how realistic the problems are. I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the racial topics, so I’m not going to get in-depth about it, but I appreciated what the author was trying to achieve and hope to see more novels like this in the future.

I did find the plot slow-moving in the beginning. It took about half to the book to establish characters and for more thriller aspects to be displayed. It really picked up in the last third and I felt that it moved very fast at the end. I also found the twist to be predictable. I did like the open ending, however, and thought it was very fitting for the story.

As this was an audiobook, I very much enjoyed the narration. I liked that there were different narrators portraying Sydney and Theo. The change is voices helped keep up with the story and made the characters more real. It was well-read and kept my attention and they did a good job.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Murder, Racism

10 Bookish Shirts to Wear Any Day

10 Bookish Shirts to Wear Any Day

Do you love lounging around in t-shirts? I know I do. Not only are t-shirts comfortable, but they are a great way to have fun and show off your personality. I’ve been looking for new tops recently and couldn’t help but buy a couple bookish finds.

So, I’ve decided to round up ten adorable book related shirts that I’m sure you will love.

one more chapter tshirt

“One More Chapter”, The Harper House (Etsy). $26.49 and up. Various colors and sizes XS-3XL.

So many BOOKS, so little time! t-shirt

The Pigeon – So Many Books, Out of Print. $30.00. Sizes XS-3XL.

LITerary Weekend, Little Cutees (Etsy). $18.74 and up. Various colors and sizes S-4XL.

Jane Eyre, Litographs. $34.00. Various colors and sizes XS-3XL.

Read More Books, The Bookish Shop. $29.00 and up. Sizes XS-4XL.

Bookish Babe, Blissfully Bookish. $26.00 and up. Sizes S-2X

Read a Book, Bookshelf Tees. $26.00 and up. Sizes S-3XL.

Professional Bookworm, Ship Wavez (Etsy). $24.94 and up. Various colors and sizes S-3X

All the Cool Kids are Reading, Binshre (Amazon). $18.99. Sizes S-XL

Hide Away in a Good Book, Bas Bleu. $26.95. Sizes S-2X

Play to Win by Ja’Nese Dixon

Play to Win by Ja’Nese Dixon

I’m happy to be part of this blog tour and giveaway promoting Ja’Nese Dixon’s newest novel.

Play to Win book cover

Play to Win

Southern Gentlemen, Book 1 

Ja’Nese Dixon

Contemporary Romance

Goodreads | Amazon

Description

Kamal’s an ex-football player. Jayda’s a single mother uninterested in another relationship until she sees Kamal with her daughter.

Every rejection will only make his victory sweeter. He plans to lick, taste, and devour her like the delicacy she is until the world, her ex, and Jayda recognize his name tatted on every inch of her curvy body.

Kamal never plays by halves, and Jayda has a thing or two to show this deviously handsome player. But when the past runs an interference, they’ll learn in matters of the heart there are no rules.

About the Author
About the Author


USA Today Bestselling author, Ja’Nese Dixon pens tales of romance in various subgenres, including romantic suspense and sweet romance. But her favorites are the ones that manage to keep readers sitting on the edge of their seats lying to themselves about reading “just one more chapter”.
She is an avid reader and coffee drinker living in Houston, Texas with her husband, three children, and diva dog. Visit her at https://www.janesedixon.com.
 
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6 Reasons Why You Should Craft

6 Reasons Why You Should Craft

Crafting and being creative is my main hobby. This has been true for most of my life.

I think a lot of it boils down to how crafting makes me feel. So, today I will be sharing with you six reasons to craft.

It doesn’t matter what skill level you are at; the benefits are the same.

IT’S RELAXING

Being creative in the craft of your choice could help reduce anxiety and stress. There is something to be said about doing an activity where your mind can wander. If you aren’t into mindless doodling, the relaxation could come from the focus of a project, which pushes all other worries from your mind. I find crafting a good activity to do after a stressful day. I can put my emotions into the designs, let my body and mind relax, and focus on the task at hand.

YOU’LL EXPLORE SELF-EXPRESSION

Creating pieces can be like solving puzzles. Learning the different parts, colors, mediums needed. There isn’t a wrong answer. The more you craft, the more you get a sense of design choices, patterns, and colors that you lean towards. You might develop your own artistic voice. Even if you are following a tutorial or pattern, you can still add your own spin to the piece. It is interesting to look at old projects and see how they were influenced by what was going on in my life.

CRAFTING PROVIDES A SENSE OF PRIDE

The feeling that comes with finishing a project is amazing. Especially if it took a long time to complete. I love looking around my house and seeing pieces that I’ve made, it’s even better when people ask about them. There is a sense of pride that comes with explaining to someone, “I made that.” You get to share your passions and creativity with others and maybe inspire them as well. However, even if no one sees something I make, I am still proud that I attempted a project, learned from it, and maybe even finished.

YOU’LL LEARN NEW SKILLS

There are an endless amount of crafts and mediums out there to try. If you are like me, you want to try every one of them. However, some crafters like to stay within niches. Either way, there is so much to learn about crafting and the techniques or designs are constantly evolving. I love learning, so it is nice to foster that outside of a classroom environment.

IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

One major reason to craft or be artistic that is good for your health. Along with the mental health benefits, crafting can also offer physical advantages. Many crafts involve using your hands and help improve dexterity. Others might involve more rigorous use of the body. Crafting is also a great stress reducer and can help improve you mood.

HOBBIES IMPROVE HAPPINESS

Creating helps us through our emotions. Whether expressed in the piece itself or by allowing your mind to think through problems. But happiness also comes from being engaged in an activity you love. I like crafting. No one is forcing me. Being creative brings joy. You can also spread that joy by crafting with others or gifting friends with pieces.

Excerpt | Poisoned Primrose by Dahlia Donovan

Excerpt | Poisoned Primrose by Dahlia Donovan
Poisoned Primrose book cover

Poisoned Primrose 

Motts Cold Case Mystery #1 

by Dahlia Donovan

Genre: Cozy Mystery 

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Synopsis

Autistic, asexual, and almost forty, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley flees London with her cat and turtle to a quaint cottage in Cornwall. She craves the peace of life in a small village. The dead body buried in her garden isn’t quite what she had in mind, though.

Unable to resist her curiosity, she falls directly into a mess of trouble and runs head-first into the attractive detective inspector, Teo Herceg. She tries to balance her business with the investigation, but as the killer focuses on her, staying alive becomes trickier than advanced origami.

Will Motts survive the onslaught of murderously bad luck?

Can she solve the mystery before it all spins out of control and off a cliff? 

Read to the bottom of this post to enter a giveaway! (Limited time)


Excerpt

Chapter One

A cat, a turtle, and a Pineapple walk into a cottage…. That’s it. That’s the punch line of my life choices.

“Well, here we are.” Motts closed the solid wooden front door to her new cottage, leaning back against it and releasing a pent-up sigh. She opened her bluish-grey eyes to stare at all the boxes, plastic bins, and bags. “Bugger. You’ve no one to blame but yourself for this, Pineapple Mottley.”

Pineapple Meg Mottley had been so named because her mother had craved nothing but the tropical fruit during her one and only pregnancy. There’d only been one issue. No one ever called her Pineapple; her uncle had nicknamed her Motts as an infant, and it stuck.

Meow.

The plaintive cry came from behind one of the boxes. Motts moved quickly to lift up her precious cat. Cactus was a tortoiseshell Sphynx cat; she’d found the poor dear at a shelter and fallen head-over-sneakers in love. He buried his head in her shoulder-length brown hair, purring his little heart out.

She stroked the suede-like downy fuzz covering his wrinkly body. “What are we going to do about this mess? Want to help me unpack? No?”

Figures.

What have I gotten myself into?

When her auntie Daisy had passed away, Motts had taken the inherited cottage as a sign. London had always been overwhelming to her senses. Polperro was a much quieter place with a slower pace suited for her autistic needs.

She loved Polperro. Her parents were both originally from Cornwall. A lot of her family lived in the area, as did her ex-girlfriend.

Despite having spent many a holiday with family at the cottage, Motts found herself overwhelmed by the sudden change. This was a terrible idea. I should’ve sold the house. I am such a silly fool.

Okay.

Take a few deep breaths.

Match Cactus’s purring. 

You’re going to be okay.

“Ahh!” She jumped when a rapid knocking on the door jolted her. “For goodness sake.”

“Motts? You okay?” 

She spun around and yanked the door open to find the welcome sight of her ex-girlfriend, Pravina Griffin, and Vina’s twin brother, Nish. “I’m….”

How do I finish the sentence?

Panicked?

In the middle of the biggest mistake I’ve ever made?

Just slightly overcome by irrational fear?

Nish moved forward to take Cactus from her arms while Vina led her inside. “Amma is bringing over supper. She wanted to let the sambar simmer a little longer. She even made your favourite kind of rice.”

The Griffin twins took after their Tamil mother, Leena, who’d been a Bollywood star before falling in love with Cadan Griffin, a Cornish-Indian cricket player. They’d settled in Polperro to run a coffee shop and bakery. Griffin Brews had been around for thirty-plus years, and now their children managed it, allowing their parents to retire early.

Leena and Cadan had welcomed Motts with open arms even before she’d briefly dated their daughter. Motts and Vina had realised over the years that their close bond felt more like that of siblings. They’d dumped each other but remained the best of friends, where they’d started in the first place.

“Let’s talk about something less daunting than unpacking. How goes the dating life? Did you fill out a dating profile on the site I emailed you?” Vina plucked Moss, Motts’s turtle, out of his travel terrarium. “Well?”

“No, I didn’t. There’s no box to check for asexual, biromantic autistic.” Motts gently took Moss to return her to a safer place. “No touching the turtle.”

About the Author
About the Author

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress.  She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters.  An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

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My First Business Failed. Here’s What I’ve Learned for the Next One.

My First Business Failed. Here’s What I’ve Learned for the Next One.

I failed. My business was losing money, and I was missing the energy and motivation to sustain it. It wasn’t always that way.

When I started my business, I wanted it to be full of handmade products. I felt passionate about creating items with my hands. Handmade companies take a lot of time and money, both of which I was short on. My ambition was through the roof, but I didn’t have a clear plan of action or the financial means to achieve this.

Like many, I started a handmade business creating a product I liked to make. The product was a hard sell, especially at my high price point. When trying to sell at craft fairs, many potential customers would complement the work and follow up with, “But, what do you do with them?” I would spend countless hours creating, then stood behind a table for many more hours and would barely make enough to cover booth fees, let alone make a profit.

It was soul-crushing.

I tried to adjust by selling several different types of products and settled with those that got the most significant reactions from customers. I used the feedback to create cohesive designs and product lines. I also adjusted how I marketed my products, so confusion wouldn’t be there anymore.

It didn’t help. My current business was not working the way I wanted it to. I was spending more money than I should have, and it was stressing me out. I couldn’t devote as much time as was needed to not only get everything done but also to master my craft. I was also losing passion for the business, which eventually translated to my customers. I was making products I thought would sell, looking at other companies with jealousy, trying to find the secret.

I made the decision to close my business. It wasn’t easy, and I felt guilt over the money lost and years wasted. I took much needed time off and reflected on my failures to improve my next try. I still wanted to be an entrepreneur. However, I needed to create a business that fits in with my life, time, excitement, and financial means.

So looking back, here are five tips to help make your business a success:

Create a Business Plan

Coming up with a business plan is essential. It provides a space to think about your business goals, products, marketing, and more. Take the time to understand why you are starting a company and how you plan to succeed. Having a plan in place before you create your first product helps you know how and why.

Start with a Handful of Products

Don’t try to do too much once. Start with less than five products. You can have variations of these but limit the product types. Test them out with customers and get honest feedback. Figure out what is selling and what isn’t. Take the time to get a feel for your business and products. You may find that it takes too long to make items or save money on different materials. It is better to start small and build, then drown before you really get going.

Build a Network of Local Entrepreneurs

Get to know other business owners, especially local ones. You can learn a lot from them. It is also lovely to have a network of people going through the same struggles and successes. Being a business owner is hard work, and no one knows that more than other entrepreneurs. You might also make a few friends.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

Know how much money you have and create a reasonable budget. The point of a business is to make a profit. You also want to pay yourself and employees, if you have any. The easiest way to sink your company is by overspending and paying too much for supplies. You probably aren’t starting out with a lot of money, so don’t spend it like you have a million-dollar company. Staring slow and only spending money on essentials is vital. Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t start in the red, but it helps you grow out of it as your business continues.

Avoid Comparing Your Business to Others

It is ok to have aspirations. It is ok to look at other businesses as inspiration. However, don’t try to be another version of that company. Don’t gauge your successes off that of others. You and your business are unique, and you need to focus on that. There is no magic formula for success, but you definitely won’t find it by being envious of or mimicking others.