Friday, January 31, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee: A Book Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Author: Karen Foxlee
Genre: Children, Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Pages: 240
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

     Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

     As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

     A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

     My Review: In "The Snow Queen", a young girl must venture on a long quest in order to save her next-door neighbor from the hands of the Snow Queen. In this retelling of "The Snow Queen", the young girl does not go on a long journey. Rather, she goes to a museum in London, where her father is in charge of an exhibiton. She discovers a mysterious boy who has no name and claims that he is a prisoner of the Snow Queen. The young girl realizes that the museum and the workers of the museum are not what they seem to be.

     The setting of the story takes place in a museum. Ophelia’s, the main character, father is a sword expert and is putting together an exhibition of swords around the world. She, at first, thinks that it is an ordinary museum; she explores artifacts and likes to look at dinosaurs. When she discovers the mysterious boy who is trapped inside the museum, she realizes that the museum is the Snow Queen’s world, and that she is planning on using the exhibition that Ophelia’s father is working on as the time to set the world into an eternal winter. Ophelia must rescue the mysterious boy from the hands of the Snow Queen and then save the world. She finds that the museum is a place of magic and she discovers ghosts, monsters, and villains.

     Ophelia is an emotionally-damaged character. Her mother has passed away three months prior to the story, and she is still coping with the loss. She has no self-confidence in herself, and thinks that she is not pretty. She has a broken relationship with her sister, who has ignored her since the death of their mother. Her father copes with the death of his wife by distancing himself from his children and immerses himself in his work. Ophelia is a lonely child, and she cheers herself up through her passion for science. She is reluctant to rescue the boy and to save the world. But what makes her courageous and a strong heroine is that she is curious and always asks questions and the thought of her mother and what she would say to Ophelia if her mother was still alive.

     Overall, even though it is a retelling of "The Snow Queen", it is actually about a girl who tries to cope with the death of her mother and to bring back the wholeness of a family who has been torn apart by a tragedy. Because it is set in a museum, there are references to history and science. The fantasy world of the museum is magical. The characters are realistic and well-developed. This book is appropriate for readers ages ten and up. I recommend this book to fans of fairy tales, fantasy, the Chronicles of Narnia series, Roald Dahl, and Polly Shulman’s The Grimm Legacy. I would also recommend this to anyone who has just lost the death of a loved one. This book will sure help you find comfort, joy, and encouragement.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Monday, January 27, 2014

Medea (Book 1 of the Delphic Women Series) by Kerry Greenwood: A Book Review

Medea (Book 1 of the Delphic Women Series)
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Genre: Historical fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 431
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: We know Medea killed her children . . . or do we?

     In Medea, the first novel in her Delphic Woman series, Kerry Greenwood breathes fresh life into the age of heroes and rescues a woman wronged by ancient playwrights and history.

     Princess Medea’s destiny is bound up with passion, quests, power, murder, voyages, prophecies, and broken oaths. As priestess of Hekate--the Dark Mother, Queen of the Lost, Lady of Changes--Medea protects the sacred grove holding the Golden Fleece and bones of an old king. Jason arrives determined to acquire both and rule the land.

     The King sets up challenges which Jason must conquer to earn the throne. But Jason’s gentian blue eyes and hair bright as gold thread obsess Medea--”here is love, here is joy”--compelling her to help him master wild bulls and lure the great serpent guarding the fleece into sleep. Then the king breaks his word and seeks to kill the two, who escape together.

     Through Medea’s royal line, Jason becomes king of Corinth, swearing always to love his wife and queen. But his allegiance is fleeting. Not even their four children can save their union. Medea has sacrificed home, family, goddess, and innocence for the “melting, fiery loving” she feels for him.

     What comes next? The answer lies in this compelling story of tragedy, vengeance, exile, grief, change, and an oracle’s response to one returning to worship the dark after having fallen in love with the light.

     My Review: Medea has been known to us through Greek playwrights, most famously Euripides, for killing her children after her husband Jason of the Argonauts have abandoned her for another woman. However, in Kerry Greenwood’s version of Medea, Medea has given her voice to speak and narrates her version of what happened. This Medea does not kill her own children. Rather it was the city of Corinth who killed them, and thus bestowed a great curse over the city.

     Medea is a princess of Colchis and a priestess of Hekate, the Dark Mother. She spent some time with the Scythians, and Iranic equestrian tribes, and learns about the customs. When she comes back to Colchis she finds that a stranger named Jason and his group of fellow Argonauts have come to demand her father, Aetes the King of Colchis to give the Greeks back the city’s most treasured Golden Fleece, and the bones of Phrixos’s, Jason’s grandfather and rider of the the Flying Golden Ram, whom he sacrificed in honor of Zeus. Aetes agrees to give Jason what he has asked for, but intends to not honor that agreement and plans to kill Jason. Medea, who is instantly infatuated with Jason, decides to betray her father to help save his life, gets the objects he has demanded, and leave with Jason to become his wife and queen.

     Medea is portrayed as a strong and wise woman. She is expressed to be independent. However, when she arrives in Greece, she is a foreigner and not accustomed to their ways and is instantly hated. She is portrayed as a woman, who will do anything to keep the love of Jason, even to kill the evil tyrants who stand in the way of Jason being king. However, despite the dark deeds, there is always room for redemption, which is Medea’s ultimate quest. Jason is portrayed as weak and stupid. He is a failure as a leader and cannot make smart decisions. Rather, he depends on other people to make decisions for him. There is also a second narrator, Nauplios, a fellow Argonaut and best friend of Jason, who tells the adventures of the Argonauts.

     Overall, this is a story of betrayals, deceits, murder, and broken love. But there is also renewal, second chances, hope, and, most of all, redemption. The message in the book is that anyone can be redeemed, and there is always hope. I recommend this not only to anyone who is interested in fantasy and Greek mythology, but to anyone who is going through a rough time, and feels hopeless. If a woman like Medea can be redeemed, there is always hope for you!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winner of Real Beast: Abused Giveaway!

The winner of the Real Beast: Abused Giveaway is Sue Holland! Congratulations, Sue! Thanks for entering the giveaway!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sacred Hearts: A Novel by Sarah Dunant: A Book Review

Sacred Hearts: A Novel
Author: Sarah Dunant
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2009
Pages: 448
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: The year is 1570, and a new novice has just been forced into the Italian convent of Santa Caterina. Ripped by her family from the man she loves, sixteen-year-old Serafina is sharp and defiant. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal. As Serafina rails against her incarceration, disorder and rebellion mount inside the convent, while beyond its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to impose a regime of oppression that threatens what little freedom the nuns have enjoyed. Acclaimed author Sarah Dunant brings the intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life in this rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship.

     My Review: In the Renaissance period, the price of the wedding dowries were  so expensive that most noble families could only afford to marry off one daughter. The remaining young women were sent into convents. Historians believe that in the great towns of Italy, nearly half of the noblewomen became nuns, and not all of them went willingly. Sarah Dunant’s Sacred Hearts pays tribute to the women who were forced to go into the convent.

     The story is set in 1590, in a fictional convent of Santa Caterina in Ferrara. The story is set entirely inside the convent walls. All of the main characters are women. There are a few men mentioned in the novel, but their parts are pretty small. The focus of the novel is on convent life and the women in the convent.

     The story is revolved around an unknown young novice, whom the nuns have called Seraphina. Seraphina is a Milanese noblewoman in love with a poor musician. She disobeyed her parents’ wish to marry a rich suitor, so her parent’s punish her by sending her to to the convent of Santa Caterina, which they hope because of the distance will break off Seraphina’s romance with her musician. The convent of Santa Caterina is happy to have her for Seraphina’s parents gave them a handsome dowry and Seraphina is known to have a beautiful voice that will help make the convent known on the music spectrum. However, instead of being pious, compliant, and dutiful, Seraphina rebels against the convent with a fiery spirit. Her rebellion disrupts the peace of the convent. The nuns try to get her the conform to the ways of convent life.

     The other main character in the novel is Suora Zuana, the dispensary mistress. She is interested in healing. She finds joy and contentment and God’s love by tending her gardens and finding cures through her remedies. She is assigned to take care of Seraphina and looks after her well-being. Gradually, Seraphina comes to admire Suora Zuana, and she looks to her as a teacher. The two form a complex friendship and eventually comes to trust one another. Both of them are great foils to each other. Seraphina is tempestuous compared to Zuana’s calm nature. Seraphina is rebellious and tries to defy becoming a nun, whereas Zuana submits to being a nun and eventually finds contentment in it.

     Both the characters, Seraphina and Zuana are likable, strong, and relatable.  The reader can identify with Seraphina’s plight of rebellion and plots to join her lover. The reader can also identify with Zuana’s conflicted duty to follow the convent’s wishes instead of helping Seraphina escape the convent. The other characters are also interesting and complex in the convent life. There is Suora Umiliana, who is the novice mistress. Suora Umiliana is devoted to God, and believes that starvation and prayer is a good way to be closer to God. There is  Suora Magdalena, who is a woman of stigmata. She is portrayed as a living saint in the convent. Then, there is the abbess. The abbess is a business woman who seems to care only for the interest of the abbey. She seems cold, cruel, and manipulating at first, but then has a change of heart. Her only friend in the convent is Suora Zuana, whom she trusts and deeply cares for.

     Overall, this is an interesting novel about convent life. It is, in a way, a feminist story, for all the main players are women. The women are a team, and they each make decisions in which they believe is best for the convent. It shows that in the convent the women did find a sense of freedom they have enjoyed. The novel has church politics and examines how the convents were affected during the Protestant Reformation. There is a love story in the novel that reminisces Romeo and Juliet, for it is a tale of forbidden love. The novel can be slow at times. The characters were both realistic. They were all complex and were multi-layered. The setting was well-developed, and it symbolized that while it may look like a prison to people from the outside, the women found freedom to be themselves inside the convent walls. I recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in convent life in the Renaissance era. I think this book is a great homage to the obscure women who were forced to go into convent life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the author's official book trailer of her novel, Sacred Hearts:

This is an official interview of the author talking about her novel:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Interview with Melanie Dickerson

     Today, I have the honor to host Melanie Dickerson, who is not only the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, but also of her latest novel, The Captive Maiden. She is a young adult author that spins classic fairy tales into a historical and Christian perspective. I have all of her books. I am still in the process of finishing her series, but the books that I have read, I love them. I even went to her book signing to get her to sign my copy of The Healer’s Apprentice. This interview gives readers a good insight to her writing and style of her novels. I would like to thank Mrs. Dickerson for her time and cooperation with the interview and generosity to give my readers a book giveaway.

1. Can we learn from fairytales, and why do they appeal to you?

Fairy tales have amazing themes, and I think we can learn from them. Most of 
them have some sort of moral or takeaway, a lesson we can learn. I like 
them, but it's hard to say what it is about them that appeals to me. I 
suppose I like the fact that good always (or usually) wins. A person who was 
born poor can end up marrying a prince, or an evil queen can end up getting 
her just desserts and be defeated by the orphan she mistreated.

2. The women in your books are strong heroines. Do these type of women fit
into the norm of conventional medieval society?

I think so. There are a lot of myths people believe about Medieval times. It 
actually was a time when women with a lot of gumption and determination 
sometimes did amazing things, in spite of the fact that men held most of the 
official power. Joan of Arc comes to mind. Women weren't quite as beaten 
down as most people think, especially if they had money or were 
property-owning widows.

3. In The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant's’ Daughter, why do you
decide to make your heroines be pursued by wealthy elderly men?

Actually, that was pretty common for that time period. Often, young women 
were pursued by older men and pressured to marry them. Money was power, so 
the lure of possibly becoming a wealthy young widow was probably very 
strong. Plus, it just increases the drama of the story, don't you think?

4. In all these four books, do you have a favorite character?

That's like asking a mother if she has a favorite child! It would be too 
hard to choose.

5. Do you put yourself into your characters?

Of course. :-) If I haven't experienced what they're experiencing, I can 
imagine it.

6. What do you hope readers can learn from your novels?

That God is good and He has a good plan for all of us. Each novel has at 
least one special lesson that I hope the reader can take away with them.

7. For those who would like to learn more about the medieval period, are
there any books that you can recommend?

Anything by Frances and Joseph Gies is highly recommended.

8. What genre of books do you like to read? Do you have any favorite
authors or books?

I suppose my favorite genre is historical romance. Some favorite authors are 
Mary Connealy, Ruth Axtell, Julie Klassen, and Julie Lessman.

9. Since your first novel in The Healer’s Apprentice has your writing
changed dramatically?

I don't really think so. I have certainly learned a lot and honed my writing 
skills (at least I hope so) since I wrote that one. But it also got edited a 
LOT. I don't think my writing style has changed too terribly much.

10. Are you working on any novels right now?

I just turned in my Frog Prince story, so I'm about to go back to working on 
a Regency series that I am enjoying very much. And of course, I have plans 
to write more fairy tale Medievals. :-) 

     Melanie Dickerson is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Her novel of The Healer’s Apprentice has been a finalist of seven times in RWA-sponsored contests, including winning the 2007 Fiction from the Heartland Contest over all categories. She is also the author of The Merchant’s Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, and her latest novel, The Captive Maiden. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education of the hearing impaired from the University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

You can find out more about Melanie Dickerson and her novels at her website.

                                                    Book Giveaway of The Captive Maiden


     I also have the opportunity to offer a copy of her The Captive Maiden to residents of the US. The entries are through the drawing from Rafflecopter. The giveaway will end on February 1st. I wish you all the best of luck!

Here is the summary of The Captive Maiden:

     Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

Check out my reviews of Melanie Dickerson's novels:

The Healer's Apprentice

The Merchant's Daughter

The Fairest Beauty

The Captive Maiden

The Princess Spy

The Golden Braid

A Spy's Devotion

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Healer's Apprentice (Hagenheim Series #1) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

The Healer’s Apprentice (Hagenheim Series #1)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical fiction, Christian
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Two Hearts. One Hope. 
     Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her---a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill. 

     When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

      My Review: Melanie Dickerson retells the story of “Sleeping Beauty” with a Christian twist in The Healer’s Apprentice. The story is set in medieval Germany. Instead of a spinning wheel, fairies, and sleeping curse with an evil fairy as its villain, it is instead an evil pagan worshipper who curses the Duke of Marienburg's daughter so that she will be possessed by demons and driven mad. In an effort to protect his daughter from the curse, the duke hides his daughter from the pagan worshipper until his daughter is ready to marry her fiance, the Duke of Hagenheim’s son, who is his enemy. This marriage is to end the warring strife between the two dukedoms and to help bring prosperity and peace.

     The center of the story is Rose, a woodcutter’s daughter. She has secured a great position that few in her status could ever hope to dream of-- an apprentice to the royal healer. However, she still gets sick at the sight of blood and wonders if she is cut out to be a healer. She relies on her teacher to help cure the sick and heal the wounded. But when Lord Hamlin, the Duke of Hagenheim's son is injured and her teacher is nowhere near, Rose is forced to take Lord Hamlin’s life in her hands and heal him. The two begin to form a connection and eventually fall in love. There is, however, an obstacle. The two are forbidden to fall in love for Lord Hamlin is engaged to the Duke of Marienburg's mysterious daughter, and Rose’s mother is forcing her to marry an old man. 

     Although I did like Rose, I found that she was annoying at times and sometimes I did not like her. The reason is because she was always constantly worrying about what people would think of her. However, she is very faithful to God. She quotes the biblical scriptures and makes her decisions around God. However sometimes, she makes mistakes, especially to resent Lord Hamlin’s betrothed.

     Overall, it was a light and fun read. The novel is filled with romance, friendship, and faith. It has a powerful message about God’s love and his plan for us. There is a mystery, which is predictable, and a love triangle, which can sometimes be tedious. The characters are well-developed, and the setting is realistic. The plot is enough to keep the reader entertained. This book is recommended for anyone who is interested in Christianity, romance, fairy tales, or anyone who is looking for light and quick read. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the author's official book trailer of The Healer's Apprentice: 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Daughter of the Forest (Book #1 of the Sevenwaters Series) by Juliet Marillier: A Book Review

Daughter of Forest (Book #1 of the Sevenwaters Series)
Author: Juliet Mariller
Genre: Historical fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: 2002
Pages: 560
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

     But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. 

     When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...

      My Review: In this faithful retelling of “The Wild Swans”, Juliet Marillier centers on Sorcha, who is the youngest daughter of a powerful Irish chieftain. She is well-loved and protected by her six brothers. She is a healer, and spends her days tending to the sick. However, her happy life takes an ultimate turn when her father marries the evil sorceress, Lady Oonagh. The power-hungry Lady Oonagh turns Sorcha's six brothers into swans because they are a threat to her and her ambitions. In order to save her brothers, Sorcha must make clothes from a needlelike plant, and she must also give up her voice. Sorcha also finds true love along the way.

     Sorcha is introduced as a 12 year old in the novel. Steadily, she matures over the course of the novel. She is very determined,and courageous. She is also very self-sacrificing for she is willing to endure many pains and suffering for her brothers. Even in the face of immense suffering and pressure, Sorcha keeps the goal of regaining her brothers’ humanity as her foremost goal and never waivers. She has a love of Irish folklore and she tells herself stories to help comfort her. 

     Her brothers are very likable characters. Each of them are very unique and have talents of their own. They are very protective of their sister, and when they are turned to swans, they are forced to leave their sister alone and unprotected which breaks her brothers hearts and are anguished because they desire nothing but to protect their sister.

     The love story in the book is very beautiful. Sorcha cannot speak, and her love interest has to understand her without words and to ultimately love her. Both of them learn to understand each other and to communicate with each other without speaking. Red, or Lord Hugh, who is Sorcha’s rescuer and protector is a strong, morally upstanding man. He is steadfast in his love for Sorcha, even in the face of severe criticism from several of his closest relatives.

     Other characters also stood out. The villains, in particular Lady Oonagh and Lord Richard, are truly evil. Also, some of the lesser characters, such as Simon (Hugh’s Brother), Lady Ann (Hugh’s mother), Ben and John (also Sorcha’s protectors) and members of the clergy such as Father Brien and Father Dominic were all interesting and played important roles in the book.

     This book has very few graphic parts that while painful to read, were handled very well and were vital to the plot of the book. This book may not be suitable for the youngest of readers, but for readers over sixteen it is fine. The author still caters this book to young adults and she does her best to make it tasteful. Without some of the more graphic parts, the love story that unfolds would not be quite as interesting for it helps shake Sorcha’s and Hugh’s relationship. It also shows the brothers' anguish and their inability to be there at all times to protect Sorcha.

     Overall, this book is very powerful. It has an amazing message that love prevails and obstacles can be overcome. It's themes are loyalty, family, and friendship. The setting is well-developed and the characters are likable. Sorcha is a likable and strong heroine. She is a characters that readers can easily can relate to. Even though Sorcha has to deal with pain and suffering as she goes through her trials, in the end, she ultimately triumphs. Although, I recommend this book to anyone who interested in fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and strong heroines, I believe that this is one of the books that everyone should read for it is a good story with an encouraging message.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Real Beast: Abused by Brian Arthur Levene: A Book Review

Real Beast: Abused
Author: Brian Arthur Levene
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography & Memoir, Modern History
Publisher: Gully Gods Publishing
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 232
Source: This book was given to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Brian Arthur Levene’s fifth book, Real Beast: Abused, is the true story of the marriage between a beautiful young woman, who struggles to break free from her own middle-eastern religion, culture, and ethos of sexuality and an American who has different ideals. The conflict transforms the couple’s capacity to love, nearly destroying each of them in the course of their lives together. The immersion of Laila into the materialistic and carnal ideals of the western world is also her escape from an abused past. 

Neither her striking beauty, the purity of her husband’s devotion and love, nor the birth of a son is enough to overcome malicious desires to consume her adopted culture and its trappings. Money, and her submission to sexual deviance cultivates this insightful story of the inescapable and inseparable psychological realities of abuse, love and culture—vices that bring out the Real Beast.

      My Review: Brian Arthur Levene’s book, Abused is a memoir that tells the story of his marriage to a young Pakistani woman. She is a woman that has been abused by her parents, and she has been struggling to break loose from the struggles that haunts her past and present. The author tries to help his wife through his love for her. However, he finds that his love nor her son can satisfy her. This memoir tells the effects and aftermath of an abused woman.

     Even though this is a memoir, its focus is on his wife and how his wife has been traumatized by the abuse of her parents and her culture. His wife Laila is a Muslim, but the author is a Christian. Because of their religious differences, Laila’s parents breaks all ties with her. At first she seems alright with her marriage to her husband. She is in the U.S. and has a son. However, her parents abandonment of Laila affects her deeply and she then begins to feel guilty and depressed for what she has done. She misses her parents and went back to visit her.

     Laila comes across as cold and manipulating. We learned that she is emotionally-damaged, but she does mean things. To be honest, I found that I didn’t like her and could not relate to her. This may be why the author calls her a “real beast”.

     Overall, this story is about a broken marriage because of the traumas of a woman who has been abused past and present. It is also about a man's love for his wife who tries his best to make her happy. To be honest, I didn’t know what it would entail. This book has heavily adult content and graphic scenes, violence, and adult language, which I will admit, I skipped all of them. It does focus on their religious and cultural differences. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the aspects of the psychological aftermath of abused victims, and people who are interested in cross-cultural marriages. It’s just this book just wasn’t for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars