The Last Girl

The Last GirlAuthor: Nadia Murad

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

You sure you want to know the truth about ISIS? Read this and find out about inhumane trafficking.

Nadia Murad is a Yazidi who spent her entire life in the village of Kocho in Iraq. She was from a large family who worked as farmers.  The families had to be large to have enough children to help work the farms.  The more kids you had, the larger of farm you could handle.  Still, she went to school and learned the material placed into Iraq’s educational systems, which also wasn’t fully truthful.  Yazidis have been persecuted for several years by several different groups.  They are different in that they have no holy book such as the koran or a bible, but keep their religion alive by passing stories down between priests for centuries.  However, they have also survived alongside Sunni Arabs and Kurds without any problems, until ISIS came.  The day they came into town, everything changed.  The routes out of town were cut and nobody was allowed to leave.  Fear drove people to stay inside their homes, but nothing happened to them until the day they told the people to either convert to Islam or be taken to their holy mountain.  Hopeful, everybody came to the schoolhouse to be taken to their holy mountain only to have all of the men and older women slaughtered.  Young boys were sent to an ISIS training compound and the young women were forced to become sex slaves for ISIS militants.  Nadia was bought, sold, raped, and abused in a sickening cycle that is condoned by the caliphate.  Miraculously, She was able to finally escape to safety and tell her story.  Nadia has been featured in Time magazine and told her story in front of thousands including the United Nations Security Council.

These are the stories that never make it to the news in the United States. Stories that you can’t believe are true, but know they must be.  Stories that make you sick when reading them.  Stories that make you cry for the women that have gone through this and are going through this right now.  Stories that make you believe in human rights activism because someone told her story.  Someone wants it to stop.  That someone is Nadia Murad and her story is sad, yet incredible.  How this can happen in today/s society is truly bewildering.  Living in the United States can be easily taken for granted.  News stories are centered around rating points rather than what is going on in the world.  Nadia’s story inspires me to make a difference.  To help others.  To put an end to the violence and sex trafficking.

I hope if Nadia reads this review, she will know she has an ally a world away to fight for her.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Code Name: Papa

code-name-papaAuthor: John Murray

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Release Date: September 30, 2015

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Ever wonder about who keeps evil out of everyday life? Just know that Papa’s taking care of it.

Just when you think you are living a mediocre life, everything gets turned upside down. That’s what happened to John Murray.  He joined up to serve in the Vietnam War and made two close friends named Jake and Bill.  After a disaster where everyone believed John to be dead, he was picked up by a Japanese freighter and delivered back to the United States where he was reunited with Jake and Bill.  Soon, Jake’s father says that he wants to have a meeting with all three where he briefs them into the intelligence world, should they choose to accept.  Jake’s father is code named Papa.  After their first few missions, Papa calls them back in and explains that he has stage four cancer and only has weeks to live.  From now on, John will be Papa.  The adventures that ensue include several missions throughout the world for several different governments and agencies.  Kill missions, cleanups, arms deals, you name it, this team did it.  But at what cost to keep people safe?  Marriages, health, families, and sanity all suffer.  But in the end, they know they can’t turn their back.

This is an eye opening read. The amount of conspiracy throughout the world is staggering.  The amount within the United States own borders and even military is even more alarming.  I was shocked to learn of how this team was used to clean up high ranking officers that had gone rogue because the Uniform Code of Military Justice wouldn’t be effective or cause too much bad PR for the US.  Not to mention that a US sanctioned team would be used by Russia in the 1970s and 1980s to handle their dirty work.  I guess it just goes to show that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Overall, this was a really interesting book that was very fast paced. There is a lot of emotion throughout the book based on what happened to several of the different team members.  From suicide to murder, it is all in there.  And no one outside the direct team knew what was going on.  It was well written and kept my attention throughout the book.  If you like real life espionage, then this one is for you.  However, there is a considerable amount of foul language, so only mature audiences should read this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Missing Matisse

the-missing-matisseAuthor: Pierre H. Matisse

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A breath-taking memoir that accounts many hair raising escapades during World War II in France.

Pierre Matisse was born into an artistic family. Many people know of his grandfather, Henri Matisse, who was a famous artist.  Pierre loved his parents and his younger brother, but once the war started, his family began to be torn apart. He was forced to take another name to become Pierre Leroy and was no longer part of his family, at least on paper.  This began a personal vendetta against Adolf Hitler and the Germans so that he could one day finally be reunited with his family and no longer be missing.

Pierre’s memoir recounts his time as a young boy in France as well as Spain including the Spanish civil war led by General Franco. He then returned to France with his family as the German Nazis started to occupy France. He was part of the evacuation of Paris and even helped his father in some of the French underground’s activities.  He was transferred between boarding schools in his mother’s attempt to keep him safe and was eventually sent to Normandy to live with his “grandparents on paper” just days before D-Day and the Allied forces arrived.  Needless to say, trouble finds Pierre without a problem.

This book was a really interested look at World War II history from the French side. The majority of the book is based around the WWII time frame, but does have some time before and after.  Needless to say, Pierre was a very interesting person.  The history that is presented really takes you to the time and place.  There is a lot of raw emotion of tragic events that befall Pierre and his family, so beware before reading.

I felt like the end of the book was a little rushed. There was a lot of time spend from 1939 to 1946 and then very little devoted from then until present day.  I bet he had a lot of grand adventures, but just had trouble figuring out which ones to share with everyone.

I recommend this book for anyone who loves history or memoirs!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Composing Temple Sunrise

composing-temple-sunriseAuthor: Hassan El-Tayyab

Publisher: Poetic Matrix Press

Release Date: June 1, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

How one man’s writer’s block spurred a life changing journey through unknown terrain!

Hassan El-Tayyab has known his share of challenges. Being born with a cleft pallet left him with several painful surgeries throughout his first twenty years of life.  Being an Arab-American in Massachusetts also didn’t help his social status at school, particulary after September 11th.  Having his family torn apart by his dad’s drinking when he was young and an abusive romantic relationship that recently ended didn’t help either.  But now he has been laid off from his special education job in Boston.  And to top it all off, he hasn’t been able to write a song in months.  So, he decides to take a trip across the country and post an ad for a riding partner.  A young woman named Hope Rideout agrees to split the gas and time with him and they embark on a journey to California.  All too soon it is over and they part ways.  Now Hassan is facing the reality of what to do with his life.  He meets up with another young woman who posted to have him drive some stuff back to MIT.  On a chance encounter, he winds up at a metal working shipyard in Berkley where he begins to find himself in metal working art on a piece called Fishbug that is going to be displayed at Burning Man in Nevada.  They group appreciates Hassan’s help and work so much that they give him a ticket to Burning Man.  There he meets many more colorful characters, sorts out the meaning of his life, and finally composes his first song in a long time!

This book was inspiring if not informative. I had never heard of Burning Man, so I had to look it up.  Once I did and say the aerial photograph, it all made a lot more sense when he was talking about street layout and how it is a small city.  It really is!  Back to the book.  The emotion that Hassan pours into this book is very evident.  From his relationships to his physical pain.  But he doesn’t let the story get the reader down.  For every challenge, he has a humorous story that balances it out.  I really enjoyed all the experiences and characters that he met at Burning Man.  His story will be an inspiration to many.

There are some sexual encounters as well as occasional harsh language throughout the book; therefore I recommend this book to mature audiences.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Poetic Book Tours in exchange for an honest and thorough review. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.