18 January 2018

Review: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson
(A Medieval Fairy Tale #2)
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published May 17th, 2016 by Thomas Nelson
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

 The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

 Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

 Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

My thoughts…

The Beautiful Pretender is set in 1363 Germany and is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea with a bit of Beauty and the Beast added in. I was drawn to the beautiful cover and couldn’t resist, even though I haven't read the first book in this series, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, I had no trouble following along.

Reinhart, the Margrave of Thornbeck needs to find a bride, per request of the King. He is given a list to choose from, ten noble-born ladies who would be suitable for a man of his importance. All ten ladies are invited to Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, he will put the ladies through tests and make his determination on which Lady he should marry.

Lady Dorothea of Pimmwald is invited, as she is on the list. Lady Dorothea has a secret of her own and has no intentions of meeting Lord Thornbeck. Dorothea is angry when her father the Earl of Pimmwald insists that she is to go. Later that evening, Dorothea runs away with the father of her unborn child, one of her father’s Knights.

The Earl is angry when he finds out about his daughter leaving, more so angry with her maidservant, Avelina, for not telling him immediately of his daughters’ plan. The Earl commands Avelina to go to Thornbeck and take Dorothea’s place.

“You must not ever let Thornbeck realize that you are not Dorothea. He must never suspect. He must also not choose to marry you, but you must not offend him in any way. He is by far our most important ally and our best hope of defeating Geitbart.” Melanie Dickerson, The Beautiful Pretender

If Avelina fails, she and her family would be punished and banished from Plimmwald. Of course, things do not go as planned. During Avelina’s ‘interview’ with Lord Thornbeck, he instantly realizes by the answers that she gives, she is not like the other ladies.

“A woman wishes to be swept up by a man’s fervent feelings for her, by love and longing and depth of feeling. She does not wish to be married for her father’s coin or her noble birth or because she is a sensible choice. She wants to be wooed, even after she is married, to be cherished and loved for her very self, not just because she has a beautiful face, long after she has passed the age of freshness and youth.” Melanie Dickerson, The Beautiful Pretender

No fairytale is complete without wickedness and in this story her name is Fronicka. She is determined to marry the margrave and she has given every other girl notice that if they try to flirt with him, they will be consequences. Her father is the Duke of Geitbart and they are horrible together.

Avelina had a kind and loving heart and was trying her best to be as truthful in the difficult situation she was in. Reinhart was stern man with a short-temper, a man who didn’t speak often or at length, he was respected because of his actions. The romance was perfect, beginning slowly and growing into an undeniable attraction. It was beautiful to watch Reinhart realize that Avelina was more than a maidservant.

How good it would feel to turn her face toward him and kiss her. A sharp ache stabbed his chest. He must not think such things. She was a servant and he was a margrave. He could neither love her nor marry her.
  Melanie Dickerson, The Beautiful Pretender

The Beautiful Pretender also had plenty of action, adventure and danger; the castle was over taken, Thornbeck guards were held as prisoners, Avelina and Reinhart’s life were in jeopardy. I enjoyed this book and for those who love a Happily Ever After’s... this book is for you!

She no longer had to dream about love. God had given her a love all her own, one that the troubadours would sing about for years to come. Melanie Dickerson, The Beautiful Pretender

Happy Reading - J 
17 January 2018

Review: The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad
lyana Kadushin - Narrator
Audiobook: Duration: 12:22:59
Published November 7th, 2017
by Random House Audio Publishing Group
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of the Islamic State tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story.

 Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.

 On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia's brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade.

 Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.

 Today, Nadia's story--as a witness to the Islamic State's brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi--has forced the world to pay attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.

My thoughts…

It's been a couple weeks since I read The Last Girl by Nadia Murad and I'm still thinking about. This is a memoir about her survival and escape from being held captive by the Islamic State (ISIS - Daesh).

Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village in northern Iraq and a member of the Yazidi community. In the beginning of the book you get of feel of how closer her family and community are. Nadia talks about her father taking a second wife and becoming close with her younger siblings. Many families gathered for celebrations and weddings, wedding's were among Nadia's favorite to attend. At those wedding's she was able to admire and study the brides' beautiful hair and makeup, something she was very serious in pursuing for her future, to open her own salon.

That all changed on August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just 21 years old. Islamic State militants surrounded village, men and women separated at the school house. ISIS then executed the men who refused to convert to Islam. The women too old to become sex slaves were also executed.  Younger boys were taken to ISIS training sites to become fighters, who would eventually fight against their own. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother’s death soon followed. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced to convert to Islam and sold in to the ISIS slave trade. I will not go into detail about the horrific and brutality that Nadia endured while in captivity.

Nadia managed to escape, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family, who did not follow ISIS beliefs. As of 2017, Nadia was not able to find information on welfare of the family and eldest son that helped smuggler her to safety.

After reading this book I was amazed by Nadia’s will to survive, and to bring her captors to justice. At the end we get an understanding of what it is like to be a survivor, and the guilt that Nadia felt when her family, relatives, and friends do not make it. It took awhile for Nadia to talk about what she endured while captive, she wasn’t sure how she would be treated by the Yazidi men, as she was no longer a virgin.

To this day, it is thought that thousands of Yazidi women are still being held captive. Nadia has become an activist for the human rights of the Yazidi people and those have been oppressed and enslaved by ISIS. Since overtaking large portions of Iraq in 2014 ISIS has killed thousands of Yazidi’s for their religious beliefs, the UN finally recognized and called it a genocide.

I highly recommend this book, it’s not meant for enjoyment, it’s eye-opening and heartbreaking. It will bring out your emotions, I was angry and horrified that this had happened, and is still happening, genocide and slavery are Not a thing of the past.

If you would to help Nadia with her mission, Nadia’s Initiative is a public foundation dedicated to helping survivors of war crimes re-build their lives and communities.

Who are the Yazidi’s?

A historically misunderstood group, the Yazidis are predominantly ethnically Kurdish, and have kept alive their syncretic religion for centuries, despite many years of oppression and threatened extermination.

The ancient religion is rumored to have been founded by an 11th century Ummayyad sheikh, and is derived from Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian faith founded by a philosopher), Christianity and Islam. The religion has taken elements from each, ranging from baptism (Christianity) to circumcision (Islam) to reverence of fire as a manifestation from God (derived from Zoroastrianism) and yet remains distinctly non-Abrahamic. This derivative quality has often led the Yazidis to be referred to as a sect.

At the core of the Yazidis’ marginalization is their worship of a fallen angel, Melek Tawwus, or Peacock Angel, one of the seven angels that take primacy in their beliefs. Unlike the fall from grace of Satan, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Melek Tawwus was forgiven and returned to heaven by God. The importance of Melek Tawwus to the Yazidis has given them an undeserved reputation for being devil-worshippers a notoriety that, in the climate of extremism gripping Iraq, has turned life-threatening.

Under Ottoman rule in the 18th and 19th centuries alone, the Yazidis were subject to 72 genocidal massacres. More recently in 2007, hundreds of Yazidis were killed as a spate of car bombs ripped through their stronghold in northern Iraq. With numbers of dead as close to 800, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent, this was one of the single deadliest events to take place during the American-led invasion.

The Yazidis had been denounced as infidels by Al-Qaida in Iraq, a predecessor of Isis, which sanctioned their indiscriminate killing.

Islamic State systematically killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidis in the summer of 2014 as they overran the Sinjar area, where many of them lived.

Numbering about 400,000 people, Yazidis are a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions and are considered devil-worshippers by the hardline Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Most of the trapped people are members of the Yazidi religion, one of Iraq’s oldest minorities. They were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar in the Iraqi north-west region, or face slaughter by an encircling group of Islamic State (Isis) jihadists. The UN has said that roughly 40,000 people many women and children have taken refuge in nine locations on the mountain, a craggy, mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah’s ark.

Estimates put the global number of Yazidis at around 700,000 people, with most them concentrated in northern Iraq, in and around Sinjar.

My apologies, I do not have the links for the above source, I educated myself after reading this book and I should have made note of the websites I did visit.  -J 
16 January 2018

My Bookish Goals for 2018 (TTT #1)

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) is a weekly meme hosted by Jana, That Artsy Reader Girl. If you would like to participate, the schedule of upcoming topics can be found here. This week’s topic is Bookish Resolutions/Goals.

These are my bookish goals for 2018, in no specific order.

1. Goodreads Challenge Goal – Lower It
Over the past few years my reading goal was set between 100–250 books, and I was able to exceed those goals. This year I wanted to take it easy and not feel stressed in the Fall when time closes in. I want to take my time and enjoy the books I do read. This year my goal is 50 and I’m okay with that.

2. Read Outside My ‘Go to Genre’
I do tend to read more romance and young adults books. This year I would like to add more classics and non- fiction to my reading. Also, read books off the list of literary awards, The Man Booker Prize, National Book Award, Edgar Award and such.

3. Create a TBR Jar
Surprise myself by choosing a book from the jar. All the books I own physically and on Kindle will be listed individually on a piece of paper. Two picks a month.

4. Read Books I Own
I love my library, but I must stop adding my name to library holds and read the books I have.

5. Finish the Series
I have plenty to choose from, mostly it’s the last book in the series I need to finish.   

6. Un-haul Books
I’m terrible about parting with books, it’s like I have some kind of emotional attachment to them. I really need to donate the books I didn’t enjoy, maybe it will become someone’s favorite.

7. Set a Monthly Spending Limit
I’m currently writing down the price of every book I purchase – to see what I actually spend and try to limit myself on future purchases. I can’t just go on a book buying ban, let’s face it… I am sure to have withdrawals.

8. Don’t Purchase an Entire Series
Until I’ve read the first book! Guilty, Guilty, Guilty… I want the entire series before I start reading it. It is a horrible and expensive habit I need to break.

9. Limit My Book Reviews
In 2017 I felt pressured to review EVERY book I finished. This year I’m not doing that, I would like to spend my time writing reviews for those books that I truly enjoyed, or feel strongly about. I don’t request arc’s, so I have no commitments to authors or publishers. I would also like to write the review for those books before I move onto reading the next book.

10. Spread the Love
Get more involved with the book community, visiting and leaving comments via blogs or YouTube, participate in weekly meme’s and join in book discussions. 

Do you share any of the same goals that I have listed?  Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful day -J 

14 January 2018

Sunday Post #1

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme
Life has been busy here at home. I’m trying to jump into the book community over at You Tube, so far, I haven’t been very happy with any of the videos filmed but Im determined to try and not give up. One day I will get a video posted!

The weather in Colorado has been unseasonably warm, which is good for our fur babies, Toby and Avery are getting in daily walks. I want snow I want to be snowed in, so I can binge read a book series.

I have also discovered the best weight loss diet infected tooth! Im happy the antibiotics took the pain away, but, because of the pain I didnt feel like eating and I noticed I did drop a few pounds.

I decided that this year I’m going to try to be more active in the book blog community. When I first started my blog, Inky Impressions, in 2006, I was very involved in rubber stamping and paper crafting at the time. You can still see many of my older posts are craft related. Back then I was very active in the blogging community and had a chance to form long lasting friendships with other bloggers. I would like to have that once again. So, I’m going to try to participate weekly in The Sunday Post and Top Ten Tuesday and visit other blogs.

How was your week? Please, if any of you belong to the You Tube please post your link channel below, I can go visit you there as well as your blog.

What I read this past week.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor TowlesI was hesitant to read this, what could possibly happen in a hotel?  I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children fromthe Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo(Audiobook) One of my reading goals this year is to read more non-fiction, this was awfully sad and heartbreaking.

What I am currently reading:

Diary of An Oxygen Thief (The Oxygen Thief Diaries #1) by Anonymous - It’s not looking good a book I will add to the donate stack.

Last week on Inky Impressions:

Thanks for visiting - Jovi
13 January 2018

Stacking the Shelves #33

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks.

This week I will be adding two weeks’ worth of books to my shelves. I had every intention of participating in last week’s Stacking the Shelves, but early in the week I began having a tooth ache. By Thursday I couldn’t take it anymore, after a trip to the dentist and after some painful poking, I had an infection in a root canal tooth. After a high dose of antibiotics and pain medications I’m feeling so much better. I have another appointment next week to have that root canal retreated with having all new hardware, it’s been sixteen years since it was originally done.

So, without further ado, here are the books I added to my shelves, all book links will take you to Goodreads. 

by Patricia Briggs
Read: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
My favorite Urban Fantasy Series

by Melanie Dickerson
Read: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Romance, Historical Fiction, Christian

by Renee Shafransky
Kindle First

by Melanie Harlow
Romance Book Club January - Free

The audio-books I borrowed from the library:

by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Read: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Nonfiction, History

by George Orwell
Read: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Classic, Science Fiction

The physical books I added to my shelves:

By Oscar Wilde
Classic, Fiction, Horror

by Oscar Wilde
Classic, Play

by Paullina Simons
Historical Romance

by Paullina Simons
Historical Romance

by Anonymous
Fiction, Adult

by Sara Holland
Young Adult, Fantasy

I’m looking forward to reading what everyone has added to their shelves this week, if you’ve read any of the books I have listed, please let me know what you thought of them. Hopefully this week I can catch up on book reviews and maybe participate in other blog memes. Have a wonderful week.
Happy Reading -J
08 January 2018

Review: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, JR. by Clayborne Carson

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, JR. by Clayborne Carson
LeVar Burton (Narrator)
Martin Luther King, Jr. (Narrator)
Audiobook, Duration: 09:35:50
Published December 1st, 1998 by Hachette Audio
(first published August 1986)
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

He was a husband, a father, a preacher-and the preeminent leader of a movement that continues to transform America and the world. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the twentieth century's most influential men and lived one of its most extraordinary lives. Now, in a special volume commissioned and authorized by his family, here is the life and times of Martin Luther King, Jr., drawn from a comprehensive collection of writings, recordings, and documentary materials, many of which have never before been made public.
Written in his own words, this history-making autobiography is Martin Luther King: the mild-mannered, inquisitive child and student who chafed under and eventually rebelled against segregation; the dedicated young minister who continually questioned the depths of his faith and the limits of his wisdom; the loving husband and father who sought to balance his family's needs with those of a growing, nationwide movement...
My thoughts…

The Autobiography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was very insightful and a brilliant retelling of his life. Yes, retelling, not a true autobiography, but rather a collection of Dr. King’s writings and speeches throughout his life, it was written after he died. The editor, Clayborne Carson, who went through Dr. King's papers both public and personnel, edited his work into a factual format. The book received the endorsement of Coretta Scott King in 1998, by having her endorsement I was okay with it not being a true autobiography.

It is best to listen to it in audio format because not only is it by narrated by LeVar Burton, the former host of Reading Rainbow, but it also contains clips and full recordings of numerous sermons and speeches by Dr. King himself. By listening to his speeches and hearing him read these words take new meaning when put into the context of Dr. King's life. I became very emotional when I heard him reading his Letter from Birmingham Jail, which is included in its entirety, it is the most compelling words I've ever heard and wouldn’t soon forget.

The book gives you a thorough account of Dr. King's major moments in his life, from his childhood, meeting his wife, having children, his actions and involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, the Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington in 1963, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as insight into his personal struggles. Dr. King had a strong faith in God and I was in impressed with his devotion to the principles of non-violence.

Dr. King is undeniably one of the most important figures in American history, I highly recommend listening to The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., and it should be required reading in high school.

Happy Reading -J
30 December 2017

Stacking the Shelves #32

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I had a delightful Christmas just spending it here at home in Colorado with my family. We also celebrated my daughters 22nd birthday, time passes quickly.

These are the books I added to my shelves this week and I’m a bit surprised that I don’t have any Kindle books to share. All book links will take you to Goodreads.

A literary page-turner about a beloved college professor accused of murdering his entire family, and one small-town cop's dangerous search for answers. Thomas Huston, a beloved professor and bestselling author, is something of a local hero in the small Pennsylvania college town where he lives and teaches. So when Huston's wife and children are found brutally murdered in their home, the community reacts with shock and anger. Huston has also mysteriously disappeared, and suddenly, the town celebrity is suspect number one. Sergeant Ryan DeMarco has secrets of his own, but he can't believe that a man he admired, a man he had considered a friend, could be capable of such a crime. Hoping to glean clues about Huston's mind-set, DeMarco delves into the professor's notes on his novel-in-progress. Soon, DeMarco doesn't know who to trust—and the more he uncovers about Huston's secret life, the more treacherous his search becomes.

In time for the holidays and to celebrate the movie’s thirtieth anniversary, The Princess Bride is getting the deluxe treatment. With a gifty 8 x 10 trim size, foil and embossing on the text-only cover, and elegant cream uncoated stock with rough edges, this is a stunning package no fan will be able to resist. Other embellishments include fifty full-page color illustrations by Michael Manomivibul (taken from the 2013 edition and enlarged), full-color chapter openers, and a beautiful color rendition of the map printed on the endpapers. What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams? As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears. Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere. What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex. In short, it's about everything.

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside. Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
 Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
 Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her. It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters. Mine broke Bale. Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent. Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams. Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

At the beginning of December, I posted on Stacking the Shelves #29, that I took advantage of Book Outlet’s Black Friday Sale. When I received my order, I had my son Austin and his girlfriend Paola help with the unboxing. I had no idea how to edit out all the craziness, finally my daughter Riley had a chance to help me and did it in about 15 minutes. I had her edit out my introduction, I was at a loss for words and I couldn’t keep my eyes on the camera… they were looking everywhere. Riley would have been finished a lot sooner, but she had to spend some time explaining things to me over and over. We still left a little craziness in the video, but I would like to share it with you all. Please be kind… hopefully next year I can add more videos.

I’m looking forward to reading what everyone has added to their shelves this week, if you’ve read any of the books I have listed, please let me know what you thought of them. Have a wonderful and safe New Year, thank you for visiting and watching the video.
Happy Reading -J