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review 2019-01-14 22:16
Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life. - Antonia Felix

This is a biography of one of the most remarkable political leaders in the United States to emerge in the past decade.


Elizabeth Warren, born into a working class family in Oklahoma, is the embodiment of what has come to be known as the American Dream. By dint of sheer hard work and scholarship, she earned a university degree and a law degree, all while raising a family. She went on to teach law at Rutgers University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1995 was offered a position to teach law at Harvard, where she went on to become a tenured professor.

I first became aware of Elizabeth Warren in 2011 when her work in the establishment of what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was highlighted by President Obama's naming of Richard Cordray to head that bureau. I was impressed with her knowledge of consumer and economic issues and when she decided to challenge in 2012 the Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) for the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, my interest in her began to grow. 

Antonia Felix has done a wonderful job through this biography in making real the manner of person Elizabeth Warren is. Unlike a significant number of politicians on Capitol Hill today who came into elective office (many of them from privileged backgrounds) to derive some benefits for themselves by currying favor with the corporate lobbies that have an inordinate and excessive influence in the shaping of legislation relating to policies and practices in the marketplace, Elizabeth Warren won election in 2012 to the Senate as an outsider willing to work on the inside for the public interest. She has proven to be the real deal. She's got grit, spunk, compassion, and saavy to get things done. And now that she has declared herself a candidate from the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 2020, I am hopeful that Elizabeth Warren will prevail against her detractors and critics, while inspiring millions across the nation to support her campaign and make it successful.

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review 2018-12-02 10:00
The One You Fight For by Roni Loren
The One You Fight For - Roni Loren

***ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley***

Dr. Taryn Landry had lost her little sister in the Long Acre massacre and watched her family fall apart, so she has one goal in life—prevent school shootings. She's been working her ass off developing a program to implement in schools and she's this close to present it to the school board of her old, now renamed school. She has no time for distractions, no matter how hot the guy might look. Besides, he's blown her off.

Shaw Miller had no other option. He's been living a lie for years, changing his name, his look, creating a new life in order to escape the brand society and media put on him—brother of a murderer. His little brother opened fire on the senior prom in Long Acre fourteen years ago and Shaw's been feeling responsible ever since...Others have held him responsible, just waiting for him to erupt as his brother had. He has no business looking for romance, feeling happy...

These two lost and lonely souls were bound to end up together, but once the whole truth comes to light, will they be able to live their lives together or will preconceptions drive them apart?

This one was rather exhausting. The entire series deals with a tough (and very contemporary) topic, and the stories aren't light and fluffy reading material, but this book made me really tired. I just couldn't read it in one gulp (as I did the others). There was something blocking me, I guess.

And I guess I know what it is.

I didn't really engage with the two protagonists. I didn't really like them, actually. I disliked the pity party they both had going; Shaw with his everybody-hates-me-so-I-don't-really-deserve-a-normal-life and Taryn with her allowing her parents to emotionally blackmail in not having a life at all.
I guess, in the end, these two really deserved each other, having so much in common, but I didn't really appreciate their story and romance.

It was the friendship angle that saved this story for me. Both Shaw and Taryn had friends, steadfast, stubborn friends who tried to make them see reason and didn't take no for an answer, never bailing, but sticking fast and true. Rivers was a nice addition to the storyline, he clicked right in (especially with Kincaid).

I guess the next book will be the final one in the series. Kincaid is the only one left and I'm looking forward to seeing who she'll end up paired with.

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review 2018-10-26 19:12
Amazing story of survival
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, an... The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State - Nadia Murad,Amal Clooney

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, Nadia Murad, author; Amal Clooney*, foreward; Ilyana Kadushin, narrator

That something like what is described in the pages of this book could occur in a society of human beings is appalling. This is one of the most heartbreaking descriptions of brutality and violence that I have read, apart from the books about the Holocaust. This genocide was carried out without regard for human dignity or suffering. Religious fanatics, attempting to recreate the Caliphate, murdered and captured the Yazidi people with abandon, and the world largely watched it happen.

The Yazidi religion is described as a combination of the three major religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Their religion has aspects of each religion with respect to worship, prayer, and dress. They are a simple people with their superstitions, customs, and codes of proper behavior to guide them. There is no written book for them, however. The traditions and culture are passed down orally by specially selected Yazidi who are tasked with that effort. There are some aspects, like honor killings, that I found reprehensible, but what happened to the Yazidi people is equally, if not more, reprehensible.

Forced from their homes and moved by Saddam Hussein to make Iraq more Arab, they were then attacked by ISIS. They were viewed by the extremists to be fair game because they had no written book. They were, therefore, unforgivable infidels. Because sex before marriage was forbidden, they abused the women they kidnapped and told them they were ruined and would not be accepted back into their world. Fear and pain were tools used with abandon by men and women who were followers of ISIS, who accepted their brand of brutality.

The author lost many members of her family during the time ISIS was capturing towns and villages, among them her own, in Kocho. Women were forced to convert. They were raped. The infirm were murdered. Young boys were forced to be soldiers or used as human shields to protect the cowardly members of ISIS. Those who witnessed the mass murders and brutality turned a blind eye, perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of their agreement with the goals ISIS.

Today, Nadia Murad is an activist and works to help those abused and to prevent further kidnappings and massacres. Her description of the events she witnessed and experienced may be simple, but it is so vivid and detailed that the reader will be forced to visualize the heinous and vicious treatment of the Yazidis, imprinting it on their own memories as it is imprinted on Nadia’s. It has to be emphasized that it was only through the grace of God and some kind Iraqis that Nadia was able to escape.

Nadia admits that although life was better after the Americans took over, it was followed by horror. Tribal issues rose to the surface; Sunnis, Kurds, Shites and Yazidis butted heads. Religious factions rebelled. The war was poorly executed and promises that were made went unfulfilled. Hope for the future died, for many, with the development of ISIS and Al Qaeda, with the rise of fundamental Islamic, radical terrorists.

The book, although not long, describes Nadia’s happy life before the war, reveals the atrocities committed after her capture, details her return to civilization in Germany, and than as an activist. She has resettled in Germany, but will always be an Iraqi, in her heart. However, her home is gone, ransacked and destroyed. Now, she dedicates her life to helping others who are less fortunate than she was and rejoices with the family members who have survived and those that can be rescued.

Nadia states that she learned that words could be used against you as weapons, a valuable lesson, since people interpret words differently. How apropos to consider those words in the divisive political atmosphere that exists today in the America. Mobs become protesters; illegal aliens are transformed into undocumented workers depending on which side of the political spectrum one sits. When appeals are made to emotion rather than intellect, people suffer, when fear and identity are used as tools people grow hopeless. Couple that with a lack of power and they are also helpless. No one would come to their aid.

When the last page is turned, the reader can’t help but wish it had been a novel, rather than non-fiction! The awful cruelty and blood bath committed by members of ISIS and its followers is hard to wrap ones head around and accept.

The Yazidis were caught between haters in a war they did not want, but they hoped that America would save them. However, Obama abandoned them and allowed the terrible acts committed by ISIS to continue and proliferate. Yazidis were kidnapped for ransom, women were used as sex slaves, boys were forced to be soldiers, belongings were looted and destroyed, and many Yazidis were simply murdered in cold blood. Because conversion and intermarriage is forbidden to Yazidis, their numbers have been diminished. To continue, they must have large families. Muliple wives are permitted, so perhaps their numbers will rise.

Nadia was happy once, although her family was poor. Her home was filled with love and laughter. Now she lives to prevent further atrocities, to rescue those that she can, and she hopes one day to see those who commit such acts of terror to be punished and brought to justice. They should not escape untouched.

*Amal Clooney is the lawyer who represented Nadia so she could  tell her story to let the world know of the plight of the Yazidis and the crimes of ISIS and the Islamic state. She is the wife of actor George Clooney.


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review 2018-10-23 02:37
ARC Review: Adder And Willow (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #6) by Sam Burns
Adder And Willow - Sam Burns

This series just keeps getting better, with every new book the author releases.

Adder And Willow is the 6th book in the series, and the third book of the 2nd trilogy, in which we catch up with Fletcher and Conner, whose relationship is still growing.

Now Conner's mother and step-father are coming to visit, and Fletcher is dreading meeting them. Not because he doesn't want to meet his boyfriend's parents, but because he's a terrible liar, and he knows that he's no good at keeping secrets. And the supernatural parts of himself and Rowan Harbor must be kept secret from outsiders.

Fletcher is also having meetings with Oak, the Dryad, who have been working with Fletcher to continue the training his mother couldn't. It is during one of these meetings that Fletcher finds out something he may have already sort of known, but that might put his future with Conner in danger.

And, as if that isn't enough on his plate, he also stumbles across two strangers in a stranded car, a mother and son, who are intrinsically linked to Rowan Harbor.

I just adore this series. The characters are complex and fully fleshed out, and each one is so different. There is never any confusing one character with another, because they all have different personalities. Fletcher may be one of my favorites, because while he's timid to some extent, and not assertive, he has much more steel in his backbone than he realizes. 

Conner is still growing into his new powers (you'll have to read the previous book to find out about that), and he's going to be tested here.

What also stands out about the characters is how they're all connected - not only because of their supernatural powers, but also because they feel like family, and they treat each other that way. They stick together, they stick up for each other, and they work together for the common good. 

The book is alternately humorous and serious. There is action, there is danger, and there are sweet moments between Fletcher and Conner that really cement their relationship. 

This series cannot be read out of order - each subsequent book builds on its predecessor - however, each book does end in a satisfying way. There are no cliffhangers. 

The writing style of this author really works for me, and I flew through the pages. 


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of this review tour, in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-10-01 00:50
ARC Review: Midnight In Berlin by JL Merrow
Midnight in Berlin - J.L. Merrow

I loved Leon's irreverent narrative - he was my favorite person in the book.

In a case of mistaken identity, a werewolf bites a human. Oops.

Christoph, a lawyer of sorts, and Lycan, driving through Berlin in his Porsche very late at night, spots Leon, a student/drifter, who's hitchhiking his way back to this hostel. Leon is covered in feather, after a pillow fight at a concert and some rain, and Christoph thinks Leon is Lycan too and has just killed a large bird. So he stops, offers him a rider, and takes him to his pack house in one of the Berlin 'burbs. Because wolves aren't supposed to run around arousing suspicion, and Christoph chides Leon for potentially revealing the secret.

Leon has no idea what the guy with the Porsche is babbling about, but he's not liking it. And never mind the guy's face growing fangs and sprouting hair. When the car stops, Leon bolts just as soon as Christoph realizes his mistake.

Long story short, Leon wakes up Lycan (oops) after Christoph bit him. Christoph is nowhere to be found, and nobody living in the house where Christoph took him is telling him anything useful.

The pack is led by a horrible man named Schreiber. He's brutal, he treats his pack members like crap, and he's not happy that Leon is now a wolf.

Leon discovers where Christoph is being caged for punishment (that was hard to read, OMG), and together with Schreiber's daughter, they flee the house. 

The rest of the story is basically telling us about their escape and their movements through Berlin, trying to find out what they can about the experiment Schreiber appears to be running. There's a side story with another pack, this one full wolves.

The plot is fast-moving and the action scenes were fascinating, but the romance was rather bland. Outside of some sort of mating bond, I didn't really feel it at all. 

Leon's character stood out for me - the rest of them all were more or less one-dimensional. Christoph was okay, once he let go of his guilt a bit, and we do get a HEA. The descriptions of Berlin felt accurate, and most of the dialogue rang organic and realistic for the characters. 

Not one of my favorites by this author, but I enjoyed it. 

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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