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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. 

Recommended! 



** 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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review 2018-08-15 02:03
ARC Review: Camwolf by JL Merrow
Camwolf - J.L. Merrow

This was an interesting take on the shapeshifter sub-genre, and a much darker tale than what I'm used to from this author.

Dr. Nick Sewell is a professor at Cambridge university. He's also a werewolf, bitten and turned by an ex-boyfriend, and still struggling a bit with the wolfy parts of him.

Julian, a new student from Germany, causes an immediate reaction in Nick, even more so when Nick realizes the younger man is also a wolf. Nick is all alpha-wolf, which works well since Julian is more submissive in nature. 

Nick is still angry with the ex-boyfriend - he didn't ask to be bitten and turned, and the ex disappeared on him, more or less, so Nick has had to figure out pretty much on his own how to deal with the pull of the moon and the change. And now he's all growly and jealous and finds that he has this urge to be near the new student as much as possible, even though that creeps him out and he knows he sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Julian's backstory comes out slowly, and there were moments when what I found out made me so. fucking. mad! 

The author did a fine job with her characters - both are complex and flawed, polar opposites at first glance, but in many instances more alike deep down than they realize. The book is told from Nick's POV, switching with Julian's friend Tiffany's POV, which I found unusual and somewhat unfitting, since I really didn't have much interest in Tiffany, but the more I thought about her narrative, the more I realized that she actually brought some depth to Julian's character that may not have been as clear if we'd only heard from Nick. 

The thing that bothered me the most was how the situation with Julian's father's Beta turned out - and how his father seemed unapologetic for what he put his child through. Julian's mother seemed very weak, but we only saw her through Nick's eyes, and those were a bit biased. What didn't help was that there was a distinct lack of world-building - the werewolf lore used wasn't really explained, for one, and while Nick learns a bit more about changing into a wolf, he didn't really delve any deeper than what Julian told him. 

And it raised additional questions - like, is Crack fully human? And will he get his own book?

It's a rather dark novel, much darker than I expected, but I enjoyed reading it. I am German by birth, and most of the German used in this book was accurate. A few things were, while spelled properly, not exactly how a German would express themselves (at least not one from where I grew up).


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

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review 2018-07-07 23:39
Fight for You (The Kingman Brothers #2) by Nina Crespo
Fight for You - Nina Crespo

 

For Delanie and Aiden a business deal signaled the beginning and end of their happily ever after. Can seven years of heartache and regret help them find their way to a second chance? Young love and foolish pride left two hearts in ruins. Aiden Kingman broke his own heart to impress his father. He loss the girl of his dreams and a project he truly believed in, to his father's manipulations. Seven years later, the past comes back to haunt him, when a business deal brings him face to face with the love he never forgot. Can the people they once were forgive the people they've become? Fight for You is a heartbreaking tale of regret, misunderstandings and pride. Crespo delves into the flaws that make us human and the hopes that give us the courage to move on. A heart tugger for sure.

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