Review: Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Amanda Carlin - Narrator
Audiobook: Duration: 10:31:36
Published September 27th, 2016 by Simon Schuster Audio
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. 

In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, going from door to door and asking the parents to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling them out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings.

 But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept secret lists buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On them were the names and true identities of those Jewish children, recorded with the hope that their relatives could find them after the war. She could not have known that more than ninety percent of their families would perish. 

In Irena’s Children, Tilar Mazzeo tells the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust—a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

My thoughts…

I’m sure that there are a lot of people like myself who did not know of Irena Sendler before reading this book. Irena has often been referred to as “the female Oskar Schindler” in her native Poland for repeatedly risking her life saving thousands of Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II. With the help of her trusted network of helpers she was able to falsify documents and place the children into Roman Catholic convents, orphanages and given to non-Jewish allies. Irena recorded their names on thin rolls of tissue paper in the hope that she could reunite the children with their families later. She saved the valuable scraps of papers in jars and buried them in a friend’s garden. The heartbreaking truth was that most of the children’s’ families did not survive.

If you happen to pick this book up, do not get discouraged with the many names mentioned throughout it, it may be a bit much but they all do play an essential part in helping to save the children. Thought-out the book, Irena’s Jewish lover Adam played a large part with helping Irena keep track of records. After the war they were married and had children and not much later divorced. I would have liked to have known more about their relationship afterwards instead just a short sentence that the author provided.

Irena’s Children is a deeply moving and harrowing story. It is a reminder of how people can stand together and make a difference to save lives.  -J

Review: Diary of An Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

Diary of An Oxygen Thief by Anonymous
(The Oxygen Thief Diaries #1)
Paperback, 143 pages
Published May 10th, 2006 by NLVI Publishers
My rating: --- Ugh

Hurt people hurt people.

Say there was a novel in which Holden Caulfield was an alcoholic and Lolita was a photographer’s assistant and, somehow, they met in Bright Lights, Big City. He’s blinded by love. She by ambition. Diary of an Oxygen Thief is an honest, hilarious, and heartrending novel, but above all, a very realistic account of what we do to each other and what we allow to have done to us.

My thoughts…

I was browsing one after noon at Target and the cover with the snowman caught my eye. I read the back (above synopsis) and I then I read the first page.
“I liked hurting girls.

Mentally, not physically, I never hit a girl in my life. Well, once. But that was a mistake. I’ll tell you about it later. The thing is, I got off on it. I really enjoyed it.

It’s like when you hear serial killers say they feel no regret, no remorse for all the people they killed. I was like that. Loved it. I didn’t care how long it took either, because I was in no hurry. I’d wait until they were totally in love with me. Till the big saucer eyes were looking at me. I loved the shock on their faces. Then the glaze as they tried to hide how much I was hurting them. And it was legal. I think I killed a few of them. Their souls, I mean. It was their souls I was after.”
Anonymous, Diary Of An Oxygen Thief

Sounds interesting, right? I went into this book not knowing anything about it, big mistake. I would not normally post my thoughts on a one star, but I must tell you all… Do not spend your money.

The first chapter had me intrigued and I thought he was going to redeem himself by the end of the book. Didn’t happen. This is the story of a damaged person that chooses to hurt people in retaliation for being damaged, he wants you to feel sorry for him and tries to paint himself as the victim. I was absolutely surprised at the terrible ways in which he treated these women, especially Penelope who he dated for four and a half years.

“Why would anyone set out to break the heart of someone he loved? Why would anyone intentionally cause that kind of pain? Why did people kill each other?

Because they enjoyed it. Was it really that simple? To achieve a soul-shattering, it is better that the perpetrator has been through the same experience. Hurt people hurt people more skillfully. An expert heartbreaker knows the effect of each incision. The blade slips in barely noticed, the pain and the apology delivered at the same time” Anonymous, Diary Of An Oxygen Thief

He tried to give many excuses on why he was the way he was (an insensitive and inconsiderate jerk – my words). Being sexually assaulted or neglected by his father does not give him the go ahead to be cruel. He tried to make you believe that he changed his ways since attending AA meetings, no dating or showing interest in women… for five years!

“I see now that I was in pain and wanted others to feel it, too. This was my way of communicating.” Anonymous, Diary Of An Oxygen Thief

Until he goes to NY and meets Aisling and he is instantly in love with her. Turns out Aisling is just as rotten as he was, and she plays the game better than he ever did.

I did not like the writing style, it was inconsistent and repetitive. It wasn’t in a 'diary' format and it was difficult to sense the time passing. It begins in London, he moves to Minnesota and while there he obsesses over Aisling and goes on and on about his Victorian house… boring. Finally, he moves to NY with plans to be with Aisling forever, but she has other plans for him.

This book brought out plenty of emotions, which it’s likely meant to do, and I will give credit to the author for that alone. I’m finding it hard to believe that this is book has continued as a series. On the back cover it reads that the Diary of An Oxygen Thief is fiction, one can only hope, if not Mr. Anonymous needs help.

That is my rant for 2018 and I do hope it’s the only one for the year.

“Never let her know how much you love her or she'll kill you with it.” Anonymous, Diary Of An Oxygen Thief

Happy Reading -J 

Sunday Post #3 and Stacking the Shelves #35

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.

Everyday Life:

My tooth pain is no longer from the infected root canal tooth that was bothering me a couple weeks ago. I had a dental appointed Tuesday and apparently, I had an extra canal that branched out from the primary canal, who knew that could happen after 16 years. I’m just happy the dentist was able to find the problem. Currently I have a temporary filling with iodine packed inside to make sure the infection is gone before more work can be completed.

Also, on Tuesday, I met with my local library book club and we discussed two books. The Gentleman in Moscow by A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer. I had every intention of reading both books, but when I picked up Modoc and the cover read “a heartbreaking story, make sure to have a box of tissue” I couldn’t do it. I did read the last chapter to make sure she didn’t die tragically. It was a very interesting discussion that evening.

After searching Google, I was able to find html code to add a “hide/show” button to my blog posts. Now I can add spoilers to the reviews but keep them hidden for those who dislike spoilers. I’m excited to use it.

I also started a Twitter account, and I’m still figuring out how to use it. Here is my link, just in case you want to be my friend… wait, friends are Facebook. I’m not sure what it’s called on Twitter, maybe followers?

If you have a Twitter account, please let me know in the comments by posting your link and I can ‘follow’ you as well.

What I read this past week: 

Night Embrace (Dark-Hunter #2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon - This was four star read for me, I did enjoy it. I think there could have been more romance between Sunshine and Talon, but understand she was under protection so he couldn't really take her out to be wooed.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett - Five stars, I adored this book. The characters and story were wonderful. This is the first book by Jenn Bennett that I've read and I'm looking forward to reading another one.

What I am currently reading:

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.

Stacking the Shelves #35

I’m Jovita and I am a gift card stacker! Most of the time when I’m out grocery shopping I pick up an Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. I add them to my account but don’t use them until I have a full cart. What determines how full my cart is? Of course, it’s the amount I have available. After adding my son’s B&N Christmas gift to my account, it was time to place an order.

From the size of this list, I most likely will not participate in Stacking the Shelves until the end of February. These are the books I added, I’m not going to post the book covers, but all book links will take you to Goodreads:

Bring Her Home by David Bell
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Everless (Untitled #1) by Sara Holland
Haven by Mary Lindsey
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
Dark Ghost (Dark #28) by Christine Feehan

I uploaded my first ‘official’ book tube video, Stacking the Shelves Jan 2018, it includes the books listed above and books from previous Stacking the Shelves from this month. I discovered I need to change my camera settings, I'm looking a little blurred. At least being blurred hides most of the wrinkles and gray hairs. I was so nervous… but I did it! Yippee! 

Last week on Inky Impressions:

Wednesday: Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

How was your week? Sorry for the long post today, you probably thought it would never end. Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful week. - Jovi

Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Kindle Edition, 571 pages
Published November 7th, 2017
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
When small town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn’t be stronger, but the timing couldn’t be worse.
Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids, and himself, is his only priority.

Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that’s perfect for them—a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She’s learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that’s what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.

Hix can’t fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta’s finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.

But when the first murder that’s happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.

In other words, things are definitely... Complicated.

My thoughts…

Kristen Ashley has done it again with one of her classic styled romances which includes another gorgeous swoon worthy alpha hero. She is one of my favorite romance authors and did not disappoint. Let me apologize in advance for the long review, I really enjoyed Complicated and there isn’t anything better than a hero going after what he wants, while making amends for the mistakes he’s made and there was plenty in this book.

Greta Dare moved to Nebraska after her own divorce to escape a difficult family situation with her mother. She needed a fresh start for herself and her younger brother that she raised on her own. She loves her small-town life working as a hair stylist and singing at an upscale bar on weekends.

Hixon Drake is the small-town sheriff who is recently divorced after 19 years of marriage. He never wanted the divorcee and is coming to terms with the fact that he is now single. He’s adjusting to his new life and working hard to create a good comfortable life for his three children who are also struggling with the change the divorce brought to them.

It’s at the bar where Greta meets Hixon, of course she knows he’s the Sheriff… it’s a small town and his ex-wife and daughters come into the salon for appointments. Hixon has a surprising strong connection to her, the last thing he needs is more complications. He takes her home for the night and has the best sex of his life. Greta never thought she would have a chance to get to know him or experience the best night of her life as well. Not even with their powerful connection Hixon doesn’t stick around, he considers her nothing more than a one-night stand. His mistakes start by the way he treats Greta.

Living in a small town that everyone knows everyone’s business, that can be both a blessing and a curse. The gossip spreads around town that Hixon took Greta home the previous evening. His ex-wife also finds out and is hurt and disappointed. She may have forced the divorced, but she will not sit by and watch him show interest in someone else, least of all the curvy lady at the hair salon. Hixon ex-wife makes it her mission to hurt Greta by having her friends cancel appointments at the salon, causing her to lose money and hoping she would move to the town over. After all, she only divorced Hixon to get his attention and make a stand, she wants him back.

Greta has an estranged mother who shows up when she needs something, usually money. This was the main reason why her husband eventually left her but, he remains in contact with Greta’s brother Andy. Greta raised her brother from infancy after her mother checked out. Sadly, he suffered a brain injury in a car accident several years ago at the fault of his mother. Andy now lives in a care facility but frequently spends time with his sister. It is beautiful to see how Hixon’s children interact with Andy and how they treated him, it really added to the story.

The pull between Hixon and Greta can’t be easily ignored, he finds himself drawn to Greta again and again. He wants simple and he makes that clear to her from the start, no complications. She wants more, but she gives him what he needs… someone to care for him and he is amazed how sweet and kind this woman is. They keep things simple for a bit until we get the added drama of the ex’s, Greta’s mother and her drug dealer boyfriend, a murder mystery and the entire town watching them with interest.

Once they get themselves sorted with a little help from Hixon’s children on schooling him on how to properly treat a woman, they are on track with a genuine meaningful relationship, the drama is handled brilliantly. Hixon and Greta become a united couple and are committed to each other and nothing can come between them.

Complicated is a great read that is full of everything that Kristen Ashley fans love.

Happy Reading -J   

My Memory Isn’t That Great (TTT#2)

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, Jana. If you would like to participate, the schedule of upcoming topics can be found here. This week’s (January 23) topic is: Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About. 

When I first started adding book reviews to this blog, I had every intention of posting spoilers. Mainly for myself, I didn’t think anyone would really care about my thoughts on a book. I wanted to do this because I was so frustrated after reading a book and having to wait almost a year or longer for book #2 to be released. By then I usually had forgotten what happened in book #1.

As you can see from the books listed, it’s apparent that I did a horrible job adding spoilers. I understand that most visitors do not like spoilers, but it’s something I think I should start up once again for myself… gee, that does make me sound selfish. I know most of the books listed were at one time a favorite and it’s embarrassing to admit I can’t remember much about them.   

These are the some of the books I picked for this week’s topic: 

Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miles
The Final Piece by Maggi Myers
Unlovable (Port Fare #1) by Sherry Gammon

Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Persuasion by Jane Austen

What are your thoughts on spoilers posted in reviews?

Have a wonderful day and thank you for visiting - Jovi

Review: 1984 by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell
Simon Prebble (Narrated by)
Audiobook: Duration: 11:23:24
Published May 25th, 2005 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
(first published June 8th, 1949)
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Blackstone Audio presents a new recording of this immensely popular book. 

George Orwell depicts a gray, totalitarian world dominated by Big Brother and its vast network of agents, including the Thought Police, a world in which news is manufactured according to the authorities' will and people live tepid lives by rote.

 Winston Smith, the hero with no heroic qualities, longs only for truth and decency. But living in a social system in which privacy does not exist and where those with unorthodox ideas are brainwashed or put to death, he knows there is no hope for him. He knows even as he continues to pursue his forbidden love affair that eventually he will come to destruction.

 The year 1984 has come and gone, yet George Orwell's nightmare vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is still the great modern classic of negative Utopia. It is a prophetic and haunting tale that exposes the worst crimes imaginable: the destruction of freedom and truth.

My thoughts…

1984 is one of those classic books that everyone has heard about and has some basic knowledge of the story. I found this book interesting, and I can now understand why it is so widely popular.  

1984 is a dystopian where Winston Smith is a citizen of Oceania and who is questioning the leadership of the Party. The Party is a government group that uses cameras to monitor a person's every move and is run by the ever-watchful Big Brother. Oceania is also ruled by the Thought Police, they seek out ‘thought crime’ or anyone who dares to disagree with the Party. In Oceania, there are no rules, all mundane activity is basically controlled by the Party, but if you do anything the Party doesn't like they would kill you. The Party has spies everywhere, the children are known to betray their parents and other citizens by notifying the Thought Police, they are in turn punished. 

Winston spends his days working at the Ministry of Truth, his job is to re-write history by falsifying and eliminating unfavorable history and then immediately destroying the evidence. It’s at work he notices a much younger Julia, a rebel of the Party. They don’t communicate in fear of the cameras picking up their conversation. One-day Julie bumps into Winston and passes him a note. They meet and arrange for a secret rendezvous, something Julie is well practiced at. Despite knowing that their relationship violates many of Party rules, the two engage in an affair.  Which leads them to violate more of the Party rules until ultimately, they are caught.

Winston is taken to the Ministry of Love, those citizens who commit ‘thought crime’ are tortured there until they grow to love and serve only the interests of the Party.

Why only three stars? 1984 is a slow book and has boring parts, I listened to it on audio and many times I found myself tuning out the narration. One part is where Winston begins reading to Julia a book about the opposition's political viewpoint. I was seriously considering not finishing 1984. The story did pick up once again when Winston is taken to the Ministry of Love. I was extremely upset with the ending and didn’t like it.

Would I recommend 1984? Yes, everyone should experience at some point. It’s also said to be a great modern classic of negative Utopia, the introduction into this world is well written.

Happy Reading – J


To see the spoilers please click on the button below: 

Sunday Post #2

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.

**Everyday life:**

It’s been a very relaxing week here in Colorado. The forecast is calling for snow today, yippee!

Yesterday morning I attend the Mountain Shadow Riders monthly chapter meeting (yes, I do ride a motorcycle) and it was wonderful to catch up with my second family. I will be hosting a movie night soon for us ladies to watch Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker. We would like to be caught up for the release of the Fifty Shades Freed movie next month, as most of us have read the books.

Hopefully this week I can get my book shelves organized. I have stacks of books in sitting in front of others. I’m going to go through and set aside some to un-haul, I need to make room for others. I'm having a difficult time seeing stacks where they shouldn't be.

I hope you all also had a relaxing week.

**What I read this past week:**

Diary of An Oxygen Thief (The Oxygen Thief Diaries #1) by Anonymous -  The review will be up soon, but for now, don’t spend your money.

After We Fall by Melanie Harlow – This was the Romance Book Club pick for January and I liked it. I’ve read about five of Melanie Harlow books and haven’t been disappointed yet.

Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis – I dnf’ed this book, first one in years and I’m okay with it. I thought I would enjoy this but after listening to it on audio, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It’s an unauthorized biography and all the information in the book is what most fans already know and is readily available on the internet. One day I would like to hear from Stevie Nicks herself, in her own words… that would be an amazing book.

**What I am currently reading:**

Night Embrace (Dark-Hunter #2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon - I really enjoyed the first book, I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to read more of the Dark-Hunter Series. 

Do you have any recommendations of other books in this genre that are similar?

**Last week on Inky Impressions:**

Thank you for visiting and happy reading - Jovi

Stacking the Shelves #34

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.

Not too much to share in book purchases this week, only two… I’m thrilled since both were FREE, borrowed from the library. Here are the books I added to my shelves.  

Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis

 Stevie Nicks is a legend of rock, but her energy and magnetism sparked new interest in this icon. At sixty-nine, she's one of the most glamorous creatures rock has known, and the rare woman who's a real rock 'n' roller.

Witten in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop 

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
I haven’t read any of Anne Bishop’s books, hoping to find a new paranormal author to read from.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has added to their shelves this week, if you’ve read any of the books I have listed or if have any recommendations of other adult paranormal books, please let me know.

Have a wonderful day and thank you for visiting.

Happy Reading -J

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 

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 

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