Review: Never Let You Go, by Chevy Stevens

Never Let You GoNever Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book that I’ve ever read by this author, but it certainly won’t be the last. ‘Never Let You Go’ was a suspenseful and highly engaging read/listen. I listened to the Audible version and I did not want to pull myself away from this story until I had finished it. I kept telling myself, “just another few minutes and I’ll turn it off”. Once I got started on this book, I had to keep going. It was great!

The story unfolds little by little, alternating between present time and flashbacks to the past. From the start, we know that Lindsey has built herself a new life after escaping an abusive husband. Yet, her abusive past is revealed gradually through her flashbacks. Told in this manner, it is easy to see how Lindsey got sucked in by her ex-husband, Andrew. I was enthralled, watching how charming he was initially and how he gradually increased the control he had over her life until it was absolute. As the violence escalated, it was evident that Lindsey had to get out of her marriage or that she would die at Andrew’s hands.

Now, over ten years later, Lindsey has established a new life for herself and her daughter, Sophie. A young child when Lindsey took her daughter on the run, Sophie is now a teenager. She knows nothing of her father, except what her mother has told her and the few articles that she’s been able to find.

As much as she loves her mother, she can’t help but be curious about the father that she’s never known. She’s only ever known the life of a child of a single-mother, struggling to make ends meet. She envies the children of the wealthy parents whose houses her mother cleans. She can’t help but wonder what it must be like to have both parents.

Now that Andrew is due for release from prison, Sophie’s dreams of the father she hasn’t known since she was five have the chance to become a reality. As she begins to work on building a relationship with him, her mother begins to fear for their safety.

Strange things start to happen. It is clear that somebody is messing with Lindsey. She’s scared…and she should be. Somebody is out to get her and she is terrified that Andrew is out to finish what he started all of those years ago.

From start to finish, this story had my full attention. My heart was pounding and I was on the edge of my seat from the time that these strange occurrences began haunting Lindsey, until everything was out in the open. There were quite a few twists and turns along the way. I had my suspicions, but I was definitely surprised by the way things worked out. I didn’t piece things together until the author wanted me to.

Overall, this was a fantastic story. If you’re in the mood for a thriller/suspense/mystery, then this is a good one. It will definitely make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

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Review: Lone Star, by Paullina Simons

Lone StarLone Star by Paullina Simons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Lone Star’ is a beautiful coming of age story, brought to us by the same author that gave us ‘The Bronze Horseman’. It tells the story of a group of teenaged friends from Maine that set out on a European adventure before they begin college. I enjoyed this story immensely.

However, I couldn’t help but to keep comparing it to Ms. Simons’ better-know work, ‘The Bronze Horseman’. In contrast to that epic story, ‘Lone Star’ fell noticeably short, despite being great in and of it’s own accord. In so many ways, it isn’t a fair comparison to make. They are different types of stories and, let’s face it, not many books will ever measure up to the greatness of ‘The Bronze Horseman’ in my mind. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but to compare them.

That being said, I loved the way that Ms. Simons was able to capture the essence of youth in this story. More often than not, I find that teenagers are either portrayed as mini-adults or pre-teens. Accurately capturing the behaviors and emotions of this age group seems to be particularly challenging for many authors. This is probably because their emotions and maturity levels are all over the place. Regardless, I thought that Ms. Simons did a great job of selling these characters as believable teenagers. The one exception to that would be Johnny Rainbow, which I’ll get to later.

Told from multiple points of view, this story follows Chloe, her best friend, Hannah, and their boyfriends as they travel eastern Europe. Barcelona is their destination, but to gain permission to go on this trip of a lifetime, Chloe had to agree to a few conditions set by her grandmother. She must lay flowers on the grave of her grandmother’s one-time lover, who was murdered by the Nazis in WWII.

Along the way, the four meet another young American traveler. Johnny Rainbow is an incredibly charming young man that seems to be an expert on getting around Europe. He repeatedly crosses paths with the other young travelers and insinuates himself into their group. It was clear that he had eyes for Chloe. The only person that seemed unaware of this was Chloe’s oblivious boyfriend, Mason.

Johnny was a pivotal character in this story. I always had a strong distrust for him, even as he seemed to do everything perfect. In fact, that was probably it. He was just too damn perfect. Like me, Blake was suspicious of Mr. Perfect right from the start.

Aside from his overwhelming charm and charisma, I had a hard time believing that he had done everything that the author would have us believe. At nineteen, he had traveled Europe, making connections virtually everywhere that they were going. He had also been accepted to some very prestigious schools, and promptly been kicked out. He had a band and performed in the US. He was a street performer and a tour guide. Whatever the topic may be, Johnny was an expert on it. Want to go somewhere? He’s already been. Etc., etc. I just found him to be a little too accomplished for a nineteen year-old boy.

Despite not buying into Johnny completely, I still found myself lost in this story. I loved Chloe and as she began to fall for Johnny, I fell for him also. Their story was reminiscent of naiveté, youth and summer flings. It was sweet and innocent and earth-shattering all at the same time.

Meanwhile, I loved Blake also. While I can’t say that I ever grew especially attached to Mason or Hannah, I adored Blake. He was always the steady friend that could be counted on. He was kind and responsible, even while being taken for granted.

When their trip ends, the relationships between these friends are forever altered. Some will grow closer. Some will grow apart. Hearts will be broken. I even cried.

The ending is not necessarily the way that I had envisioned, but I thought it was fitting. In fact, I’d say that it worked out perfectly. Sure, it was kind of sad…but it was kind of beautiful also. I especially liked the tie-in to the characters from ‘The Bronze Horseman’ at the end. That was a really nice touch.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic love story. It was sweet and incredibly touching. It may not be the huge, epic romance that ‘The Bronze Horseman’ is, but it is still a wonderful story.

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Review: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1), by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a spectacular world Laini Taylor has crafted in this book! Every once in awhile I enjoy a paranormal/fantasy type of story, but it definitely isn’t my go-to genre. Yet, Laini Taylor has managed to suck me in once again. The beauty of her words and the vivid imagery that she creates never ceases to amaze me.

This book centers on Lazlo Strange, aka “Strange the Dreamer”. An orphan, he has never really had a home or felt like he fit in. The closest he’s come to a sense of normalcy is during his time in the Great Library. He grows up to become a librarian, submersing himself in the stories that he loves so much.

More than anything else, he is captivated by tales of the “unseen city”. He remembers hearing the stories about the city and the travelers that used to return from having crossed over the city’s borders. Then one day, the city seemed to be forgotten. Unlike everyone else in his town, Lazlo remembers the feeling of having his memory of the name of the city pulled away from him. In it’s place is the name “Weep”.

When a mythical hero, the Godslayer, arrives in town, Lazlo is able to join the group on their quest for Weep. This is his biggest dream come to life. He finally has a chance to see the legendary city that he’s only fantasized about.

What awaits Lazlo is more than he had imagined. Mythical beings, age-old grudges and a history that melded the worlds of gods and men. As more of Weep’s past is unearthed, the brutality of the city’s past is brought to light. Lazlo is forced to look at the city and it’s inhabitants through a new lens.

Although Lazlo was the central focus for much of this story, Ms. Taylor provides a robust cast of characters. Each member of this large cast brings something special to the story. I don’t want to say too much for fear that I might spoil this story for others.

Sarai is such a character. Her relationship with Lazlo is essential to the progression of the plot. From his dreams to his reality, Lazlo could not have found a better match than Sarai. They made each other better for having known one another. Their relationship was sweet and innocent, but also intense and emotional. I loved watching their bond evolve and seeing how their actions changed how they viewed the “outside” world.

From start to finish, this was an entertaining and captivating story. Laini Taylor’s writing is poetic. You can’t help but notice the beauty of her prose.

I listened to the Audible version of this book and it was well-narrated. My only criticism is that it was a bit hard to follow at first. This author’s works are multifaceted and incredibly detailed. At first, this can be a bit difficult to follow when listening. I did have to rewind a few times in the beginning to keep my characters and events straight. However, I was able to get it all sorted out pretty soon and I wouldn’t trade the richness of the story for the small amount of time lost.

Overall, I thought that this was a wonderful story! I would definitely recommend it, whether you’re a die-hard fan of paranormal/fantasy or if you’re just an occasional dabbler, like me. Laini Taylor has created a fantastical and intriguing world. I am looking forward to seeing where this series will go.

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Review: Forbidden, by Tabatha Suzama

ForbiddenForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! That was some deeply disturbing and super depressing stuff. I’m thinking this was somewhere between a 3 1/2 and a 4 star read for me. This one will take some time to digest. In fact, as I write this review days later I’m still not sure exactly what to make of this story.

Lochan and Maya have been forced to grow up too quickly. As the oldest, these two siblings have had to take on the responsibility of raising their three younger siblings. Their drunken, deadbeat mother breezes in and out of their lives when she chooses, leaving all of the day to day responsibilities up to her two oldest children. As a result, Lochan and Maya have a relationship that more closely resembles that of a husband and wife than that of a brother and sister.

Since I knew where this story was heading from the start, I wasn’t surprised at all when the siblings’ relationship started to take on a more romantic feel. However, I was incredibly surprised when I found myself rooting for them as a couple. Going into this book, part of me had convinced myself that they were going to be step-siblings or half-siblings or some other relation that would somehow lessen the taboo nature of their relationship. That wasn’t the case and I had to deal with some very uncomfortable feelings. It was so wrong, but they were just so damn right for each other at the same time.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’d be right too. Awkward, right? I’m going to get it out and just say what we’re all thinking, “Ew!” I’m not going to try and deny that this was some seriously messed up stuff. Just the thought of incest makes me cringe. To say the least, this was a very uncomfortable read as a result.

Nonetheless, I found myself hoping that Lochan and Maya would somehow get a HEA. Even as I knew it was totally improbable, I wanted them to be happy. No teenagers ever deserved happiness more than these two. They bore the weight of the world on their shoulders. Right to the end, they sacrificed for their younger siblings.

Of course, this is not that kind of story. This is the type of story that you go into knowing that it will break your heart…and it does. I cried big, fate tears and probably went through half a box of Kleenex while reading this story.

Aptly titled, ‘Forbidden’ is taboo and controversial. While I won’t try to justify incest, consensual or not, I will say that this story was a heartbreakingly beautiful love story. You will fall in love with each of the siblings, as you hate their worthless mother. You’ll respect Lochan and Maya for their strength and dedication to their family. You will feel their love, anger, and desperation, even as you curse the injustice of it all. No way around it, you will FEEL while reading this story.

As much as anything else, this story made me feel conflicted. I usually don’t waver much in my convictions. However, this book made me question my values and morals. I found myself pondering “what if” more than I was comfortable with. Days later, I have to say that this story still has me feeling unsettled.

Will it make you highly uncomfortable? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! In my opinion, the books that challenge the status quo and make me look at life through a different lens are the best kinds of books. Agree or disagree, but consider alternate viewpoints. Books like this aren’t necessarily there to change what you believe, so much as they are there to make you examine why you believe what you do and consider other perspectives. Are there situations in which there should be exceptions to some steadfast rules of morality? This book will make you think about that type of thing.

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, I can see why this dystopian classic has made such an impression on so many. This is a book that definitely hangs with you, haunting your thoughts, long after you finish the book. It is thought-provoking and terrifying.

The story centers on the heroine, Offred, who is a “handmaiden” in this futuristic world created by Ms. Atwood. As a handmaiden, Offred’s sole purpose is to produce a baby for the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. Once she has served her purpose, she will be reassigned to another high-ranking man for the same purpose. This pattern will repeat over and over, until she is no longer able to bear children. What happens then, nobody really wants to talk about. Worse yet, if she fails to produce a child then she will face a fate reserved for the lowliest of women.

This is the world that Offred and others are left with after a brutal civil war stamped out the rights that citizens like Offred had taken for granted. The overthrow of the democratic government was gradual…until it wasn’t. The changes that took place were very insidious.

One moment, people like Offred were consumed with trivial problems, like where they were going to go out for dinner that night. The next thing they knew, a civil war was raging. Soon, their every movement was monitored closely. Of course, this was for their own “protection” and “safety”. Then, women weren’t allowed to hold jobs or manage their own money. (After all, the poor little dears shouldn’t have to bear that burden. A man should handle those sorts of things.) Next, anyone that dared to oppose the new regime was eliminated. Before long, citizens like Offred cannot even recognize their new reality. They are stuck under the rule of an incredibly oppressive, misogynistic regime.

Worst of all, their complacency paved the way for this gradual overthrow. Little by little, they handed over their rights with little resistance. They refused to see the writing on the wall and wanted to believe the lies that they were spoon-fed. Once they wised up, it was too late. Now, they are a people broken. Women, especially, face a grim fate.

This book is remarkable! Although it can be rather slow-moving at times, the message was powerful. This story serves as a cautionary tale and a necessary reminder. Civil rights are hard won and easily lost.

It is easy to draw comparisons to many of this books’ events and the events of the past and present. Ms. Atwood highlights many important issues and offers a great deal of social commentary. There were so many important topics that she touched upon that I can’t even begin to list them.

This book is considered to be a classic for a reason. It is a book that needs to be read and taken in by readers. While it isn’t necessarily the most entertaining read, it is certainly one of the most enlightening and thought-provoking. I highly recommend that everyone read this book, at least once.

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Review: Dominic (Benedetti Brothers, #2), by Natasha Knight

Dominic (Benedetti Brothers, #2)Dominic by Natasha Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a tough review for me to write. I find myself a little torn over how to rate this book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

On the one hand, ‘Dominic’ had many elements that would usually be an instant hit with me. It featured a morally bankrupt anti-hero that does some terrible things to the heroine. I love dark reads, so the twisted storyline was right up my alley. Also, the author didn’t shy away from writing dark, controversial content, which is also a big plus for me.

However, the flip side is that I never really “connected” to Dominic or Gia. Even though this story had all the dark elements that would usually be a formula for success for me, I just didn’t feel it. I don’t know if this was a result of poor execution, or if it is just a result of reading this book immediately after reading another phenomenal dark story. I think it is the latter. While this book might have been a 4-star/”good” read for me any other time, following a 5-star/”phenomenal” dark read it ended up paling in comparison. So as you read my review, please keep that in mind.

If you’ve read ‘Salvatore’, the first book in the ‘Benedetti Brothers’ series, you might recall that Dominic was Salvatore’s [disturbed] brother. This book takes quite some time after ‘Salvatore’ and Dominic has been out of touch with his “family”. While Salvatore has left the Mafia behind to pursue a normal family life, Dominic has only begun to work from the periphery, doing the most despicable work for crime bosses.

Dominic is definitely not a nice guy. He makes no qualms about the fact that he does horrible things. On some level, he acknowledges that what he is doing is wrong and that he is even ashamed of how far down he’s let himself fall. Regardless, he isn’t bothered enough by his conscience to stop doing what he’s doing….and what he’s doing is breaking girls and training them for lives as sex slaves.

Gia is given to Dominic to be broken and trained. She immediately piqued his interest because he was told that he could not have sex with her. She also had been branded, which was uncommon.

From the start, Dominic was very aware that Gia wasn’t like most of the other girls he was sent to train. It was clear that she wasn’t some random girl stolen from the street that wouldn’t be missed. She was taken for a specific purpose. Maybe she made a boyfriend angry. Maybe it was revenge. Dominic told himself that he didn’t care, until he began to realize that Gia might be tied to his past and the family that he had left behind.

As Gia’s identity comes to light, Dominic’s conflicting loyalties make for some surprising twists and turns. Gia’s past is more intertwined with his than she knows. From captor to savior, she can’t seem to escape him.

This story is dark and has plenty of danger. It is a Mafia love story that is full of betrayal and seedy underworld dealings. All of this would usually add up to an instant hit for me.

Unfortunately, ‘Dominic’ fell flat for me. I found myself feeling disconnected from the story and the characters. I listened to the Audible version and while the narration wasn’t necessarily bad, the story failed to hold my attention. I found myself zoning out frequently.

As I mentioned above, this could be because I was still in the midst of a bad book hangover after finishing another fabulous dark story and ‘Dominic’ just couldn’t compare. Regardless of the cause, ‘Dominic’ ended up just being an “okay” kind of story for me. I didn’t hate it or love it, because in the end I just didn’t care.

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Review: Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2), by Karina Halle

Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2)Dirty Souls by Karina Halle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Black Hearts’ left off with a rather ominous vibe that honestly, left me giddy. (I know, I know. I’m kind of messed up like that.) While Violet and Vicente were getting settled in and playing house, Javier was moving in on his son and his new lover. You just knew that whatever was going to happen wasn’t going to be good for the young lovers…and I couldn’t wait!

In case I haven’t said it enough, let me just be clear that Javier Bernal is one of my all-time favorite anti-heroes. He has owned a piece of my heart since the very beginning, despite his despicable ways. I guess that, like him, I’m still stuck in the past where Ellie and him are concerned. I always will be.

I totally understand why Ellie left him. In fact, I probably would’ve been pissed if she hadn’t. After all, I hate a doormat heroine. That being said, after some hardcore groveling I wanted Ellie and Javier to mend their relationship. I still refuse to see the writing on the wall, even as it is clear that Camden and Luisa are here to stay. A girl can dream, I guess.

Now that I’ve gotten all of that out into the open, I have to admit that I have never been more appalled by Javier’s behavior than I was in this book. He has done some pretty terrible things before, but never did he stoop to such a cruel and personal level as he did in this book. (Note: Some of the dead prostitutes from his last dark spell might disagree with me on this point.) The things that he did were beyond forgiveness and shocking, even to him.

While ‘Black Hearts’ was relatively mild and only hinted at the darkness to come, ‘Dirty Souls’ is incredibly dark and brutal. Just about every fear that I had for Violet and Vicente at the end of the first book was brought to life. On top of that, this book birthed new horrors that I hadn’t even thought of.

Given the history between Javier and Ellie, I couldn’t believe that he would go there with his daughter. It was like the last bits of humanity that remained within Javier were being snuffed out in front of my eyes. Yet, at the same time, there were glimpses of remorse that hinted at the remnants of a soul remaining within Javier. It was emotionally painful to watch as he actively worked at destroying what little love remained between him and Ellie through his intentional and callous actions.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I think anyone that is a fan of this series should read this. As I’m sure you’ve already figured out if you’ve read the first book in the series, Javier has taken Violet and Vicente. He intends to teach his son a lesson and he plans to use Violet to do that. She is also a means to get his long awaited revenge on her mother.

This book was an action-packed, suspenseful and emotional read. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I absolutely devoured this book. That being said, even for a die-hard fan of Javier, like me, his depravity was hard to forgive. His hunger for power has changed him so much over the years, as he’s gained and lost everything that he’s ever wanted. It was brutal, it was heartbreaking….and I could not have loved it more!

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Review: Black Hearts (Sins Duet, #1), by Karina Halle

Black Hearts (Sins Duet, #1)Black Hearts by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since reading ‘On Every Street’, I have been a huge fan of Karina Halle’s work. Admittedly, I’m still a little bitter over the fact that Ellie and Javier didn’t end up together. Being a “glass half full” kind of lady, I see this spin-off series as Ms. Halle’s chance to give those of us on team Javi a little something. After all, if we can’t have Javier and Ellie then we can at least have Vicente and Violet. (Take that Camden!)

If you haven’t read ‘The Artists Trilogy’ followed by the ‘Dirty Angels’ series, I would do that before starting the ‘Sins Duet’. You could probably read the ‘Sins Duet’ without having done so, but then you would be missing a lot of the backstory. Without understanding the history between these characters’ families, you won’t get the full impact of everything that transpires in this series. I would definitely recommend going back and reading those series before diving into this one. Don’t worry though, they’re fabulous!

If you haven’t read those series, you may want to stop reading this review. It is highly likely that it will contain spoilers for the books in those series. Since this series is largely built upon the history laid out in those books, it would be difficult to review this book without discussing some of that background.

Taking place years after the end of ‘Dirty Promises’, Javier and Luisa’s children are grown. Many more years have passed since Ellie left Javier behind to be captured by the authorities. Not being one to forget any affront, Javier has been biding his time.

Vicente’s relationship with his father is somewhat strained. The son of a notorious drug lord, Vicente never had a childhood resembling anything that would be considered “normal”. From a very young age, he was groomed to take over his father’s cartel. While other kids were playing soccer, he was learning to be a cold-hearted killer. He has only known the father that is feared by the world and seems to have no emotions or weaknesses.

When Vicente stumbles upon a file on Ellie Watt/McQueen, his curiosity gets the best of him. He is determined to find this woman that managed to capture his fathers’ heart, only to leave him the broken shell of a man that he knows now. With this seed planted in his mind, he sets out to San Francisco to find Ellie and make his father proud.

On the one hand, Vicente really detests his father. Yet, he yearns for his approval and affection. He has arrived at a stage in his life where he wants to challenge and usurp his father. Where Javier is considered, Vicente has a lot of mixed feelings.

Arriving in San Francisco, Vicente locates Ellie and her family. Immediately, he is drawn in by Ellie and Camden’s daughter, Violet. He sets out to use her as a means to gain access to her family. Only, he ends up falling in love with the innocent, kind and beautiful young lady. She is the polar opposite of everything he has ever known. She is refreshing in a life of violence.

While Vicente is busy falling in love with Violet, Javier is working on his own plan for revenge. He sees Violet as a way to mold his son into the hardened man that he’ll need to be to run the cartel. At the same time, Violet is an effective means to his long-awaited revenge on Ellie. Vicente never really had the freedom that he thought he had been granted, if only briefly.

This was a steamy and completely addicting story. I started this book and before I realized it, I was at the end. I was consumed by this story. Luckily, I waited until the second book was released so that I could start it immediately.

If you’re a fan of ‘The Artists Trilogy’ and/or the ‘Dirty Angels’ series, I highly recommend this spin-off series. I love the characters, new and old, that have been introduced. If you haven’t started this yet, I recommend going back to the beginning and taking it all in. This book, as well as each of it’s predecessors, is fantastic! I highly recommend it! I cannot get enough of this story!

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Review: The Castle (Endgame, #3), by Skye Warren

The Castle (Endgame, #3)The Castle by Skye Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you follow my reviews, it is no mystery that Skye Warren’s ‘Endgame’ series has become my latest addiction. There was something about Gabriel and Avery’s story that drew me in, right from the start. What can I say…I love an uber-Alpha a$$hole! Gabriel Miller did not disappoint in that regard.

After the way ‘The Pawn’ ended, is it any wonder I was hooked? It blew me away! For me, this series is about as addictive as crack cocaine. I can’t wait to get my next fix and when I get my next “hit” I devour it in record time.

The third book in ‘The Endgame’ series, ‘The Castle’ picks up where ‘The Knight’ left off. Gabriel and Avery are back on again. For once, they seem to be on the same page and their relationship seems more solid than ever. This was a nice development, as there seemed to be such a huge disconnect in previous books. Now, they seem to be united against a common enemy – Jonathan Scott.

Damon Scott’s maniacal father has it out for Avery. To protect her, Gabriel has pretty much imprisoned her on his estate for her own protection. In the meantime, the madman grows increasingly dangerous. No matter how hard Gabriel works to find him, he always seems to be one step ahead. This made for some very suspenseful, nail-biting scenarios.

I have to say that I couldn’t really understand the motivation for Jonathan Scott’s actions. Sure, he supposedly loved Avery’s mother. However, that doesn’t really explain his cruel actions or his determination to harm Avery…or her mother for that matter. Perhaps I should just accept the fact that he was a deeply disturbed individual and that there was no justification for his actions. Yet, I can’t deny that I craved more of an explanation.

Maybe we’ll get the story of Avery’s mother, Jonathan Scott and Avery’s father in the future. That’s one story that I’d love to read. It is bound to be a angsty and captivating story. I love a great villain and I can’t help but wonder what made Jonathan Scott into the deranged man that grew up to terrorize his former lover and her daughter.

While there was plenty of action in this book, I feel content with the way things ended. Their road was a difficult one, riddled with danger and deceit. Nothing worth having ever comes easy though.

This book also introduced Penny, a young lady traumatized by Jonathan Scott. Despite She clearly holds a special appeal to Damon, but we’ll have to wait to see exactly how deep their connection runs. Although she was mostly in the background this time around, I have no doubt that Penny will be central to Damon’s story.

Each book in this series has proven to be suspenseful and utterly addicting. I have enjoyed each one immensely and I look forward to seeing where the next book, ‘The King’ will take us. While ‘The Castle’ brings Gabriel and Avery’s story to a close, there are many more intriguing characters whose stories are yet to be told. ‘The King’ is supposed to focus on Damon Scott and I could not be more excited! I’ve pre-ordered my copy and will be anxiously awaiting it’s arrival in June.

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Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, by Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and DivorcedI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As you can tell from the title, this book focuses on a very disturbing topic – child abuse. Unfortunately, the forced marriage of young girls to older men is an all too common occurrence in many areas of the world. Nujood is only one such victim. This book tells her story.

Essentially sold by her deadbeat father to a man more than three times her age, Nujood’s childhood comes to an abrupt end. At ten years old, she is repeatedly beaten and raped by her new husband. She is also moved to a remote village where she further isolated from anyone that might be able to help her.

Eventually, she is able to go to visit family in the city. After her own parents fail to help her, she is able to get some guidance from one of her father’s other wives. Then, this incredibly brave little girl sets out for the courthouse to ask for a divorce.

I could not get over how courageous this ten year-old little girl had to be. What she did would be intimidating in any country, much less in a country where women are extremely oppressed and viewed as property. Yet, this little girl was brave enough to walk into a courthouse and demand to see a judge and ask for a divorce. I was in awe of this young girl.

Thankfully, the judges decide to take up Nujood’s cause. She is given a “safe haven” of sorts while the case is brought before the court. Since Nujood was younger than the legal age for marriage in Yemen, her father and husband were brought up on charges.

From there on out, the court proceedings turned into a bit of a circus. Nujood’s case made international news and she became a sort of poster-child for women’s rights and child abuse organizations. Meanwhile, her father and husband alternated between placing blame on the other and trying to plead ignorance and innocence on their own part. It was pathetic.

Eventually, the men responsible paid a small fine and Nujood was granted her divorce. While the divorce was unheard of and paved the way for other young girls in the Middle East to speak out, the forced marriage of young girls is still a huge problem. Of course, that is only one manifestation of a much larger problem. Nonetheless, in a place where women and children have virtually no rights, this was a remarkable case.

From start to finish, I was taken in by Nujood’s story. My heart broke for this young girl, who was the same age as my oldest daughter. I can’t even begin to imagine maltreatment that girls like Nujood are forced to endure. Once again, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have been born in a region of the world where women have rights. As the mother of two young girls, this is something that is never far from my mind.

Although this didn’t prove to be the in-depth expose that I had hoped for, it was definitely a worthwhile read. At less than 200 pages, or around 2 hours of listening time, Nujood’s story serves to raise awareness of a very important topic. While this isn’t the type of story that you read for enjoyment, it is the type that you read for enlightenment. It is painful, but necessary to read stories like Nujood’s.

I won’t pretend that everything worked out like I would’ve liked. The granting of her divorce was only one triumph, in a world of defeats for women. Nujood was ultimately returned to the very person that sold her in the first place. Where is the logic in that? I can’t help but wonder where Nujood is now, nine years later. I can’t help but wonder if her notoriety has turned her into a cash cow for the very father that shared responsibility for her abuse in the first place.

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