Tag Archive | Sexual Abuse

The S.K.A. at Carnarvon – A TROJAN AFFAIR by Michael Smorenburg

Source: Own Collection
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

It has taken me a very long time to knuckle down and write this review – much to my chagrin. The fact that it has bothered me for so long (not least because I haven’t sat down to review it) is testament to the accuracy of the viewpoints Smorenberg investigates in this book. This was probably one of the most difficult books I read in 2016/17.

The book tackles many topics – racism, bullying, abuse, science, religion, fear, terrorism, prejudice… Yeah. It’s a very complex book. And what drives it home even more painfully – even as a reader who is an English-heritage, white, Christian, South African – is just how realistic it is. In oh-so-many ways.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a Christian in the previous paragraph, so let me tackle that. For me, science and my belief/trust/faith/knowledge of/in God are not incompatible. Historically, it was Christians – protestant Christians, note, NOT Roman Catholic – who were the forerunners of today’s scientists. Isaac Newton being one I can think of off the top of my head – and I know he doesn’t stand alone. These men were free – a freedom granted by their belief in God – to question the world they lived in and seek to understand it. That is the essence of science. So. To bring this back to me, personally… For me, science has always reinforced my knowledge of the God as revealed to us in the Bible. No, I don’t always agree with the interpretation many scientists (the non-Christian ones) put on the evidence at their disposal, but by the same token, I don’t always agree with the interpretations scientists who are Christians put on the same evidence. And likewise, the fact that I believe in God does not make me fear science or, for that matter, interpretations scientists place against the evidence they find.

Simply put, I do not, as a Christian, hold to the anti-science prejudices characterised in this book. That said, I will in no way dispute that there are far too many Christians of whom the anti-science Christian characters in this book are wholly representative of. In that, Smorenburg’s portrayal is entirely accurate and extremely well conveyed.

This book is really a melting-pot of a complex state of affairs that drives the narrow-minded, racist, bullying leadership in a rural town to confront the modern world, with disastrous consequences. I appreciated that Smorenburg treated all aspects of the topics he tackled very well, enabling each side their moment in the spotlight, with a very clear illustration of what behaviour is acceptable, what drives people to do all sorts of things, and yet he enabled each party to maintain dignity as far as was possible. Not an easy task, for sure.

This book is not an easy read, as it includes some graphic descriptions of violence. That said, I would go so far as to say that it’s an important book.

 

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Source: Own Collection
Format: Kindle
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Honest review, hmmm? I put the book down at the 32% mark. I’d had enough. While I admired the historical research and the portrayal of the harshness of life in the 1700s, I didn’t like either of the main characters. For me, they were both inconsistent. It seemed Jamie had more of an idea of the forces at work around them, but that didn’t really come across very clearly – I felt like I kept being TOLD what his character was like rather than being shown it, and when I was shown it, it felt like a token gesture that was judged by Claire (seeing as this was written in her first-person POV). And Claire… I felt was just being whipped around by the tides with very little thought process and sensibility of her position in the place and time. And where there was thought process, it was again not shown, so one had little idea why she made the decisions she made.

However, I am not a quitter, and I picked the book up again. And finished reading it. It was ok, but I wouldn’t rate it higher than that. However, I will give a firm nod to Gabaldon’s research and portrayal of life back then – I definitely commend and respect it. And it’s for this reason only that this book gets three stars from me, and not the two the “it was ok” would garner.

Hidden in Ashes by Rachel Leigh Smith

Hidden in AshesSource: ARC from author
Format: ebook
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Childhood enmity turns to love, with one problem: his heart isn’t his to give.

Lorin is a daro, a Lokmane man trained to make humans feel special and valued. As Prime of Arkos House, no one stands between him and the safety of the daros under his care—except his mistress. The dead one, and the new one. He needs to focus on the Essence crisis infiltrating the Houses, and his sister’s safety. Not figure out how to balance his duties with falling in love.

When her mother dies, emotionally wounded Sagira Memeos becomes the Marcasian Empire’s newest High Lady. And reluctant owner of the most sought after daro in said empire. He’s her childhood nemesis, and way too sexy for his own good. With his kindness finding its way into her bruised soul, asking for his help to navigate her succession to ruling high lady probably isn’t her brightest idea.

Lorin wants Sagira. But not if he has to pay for it with innocent lives. She’s a distraction he can’t afford while the bedrock of Marcasian high society is under attack. Not to mention facing losing his sister to the man who wounded Sagira. If the daro houses fall, all hope of freedom goes with them.

An up-front warning – this book is not for the faint of heart, or those unable to deal with abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual. There are some graphic descriptions of abuse: while most action is off-page, it is discussed on-page.

This is, I think one of Smith’s gentler novels, but at the same time, she still takes her time taking your heart apart piece by piece – and at one point, she certainly ripped mine to shreds – and then patches it all back together again ready for the end.

My goodness. Nothing in the universe Smith has created ever comes easy – especially for the Lokmane. In this novel we get to know Lorin – a Lokmane daro we met briefly in Freedom’s Embrace – and Sunny, who some of us may have met as a babe in a short story Smith shared a while back. And as usual, Smith’s characters are broken people – usually through abuse of one form or another – who are trying to learn how to stand on their own two feet again.

Smith made me cry. Now, I am NOT a person who cries easily when reading books. The fact that this was the second book within a month that got to me says more of my fragile health at the time than anything else, but even then I think I would have had tears in my eyes at a particular revelation in the book. In all, I have huge respect for an author who can engage my emotions in a story that far.

I loved learning more about the Marcasian society, and it was special getting to know Lorin and Sunny. I look forward to meeting them again one day, as surely their story is incomplete.

To Save a Life by Rachel Leigh Smith

To Save a LifeSource: ARC from author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewer: Laurel

A’yen’s loved ones are under attack. To save them, he’ll risk everything.

Half the Lokmane are free and the resettling of Lok’ma is in progress. A’yen is crowned king, but it isn’t stopping his enemies. Someone is after Ro, and the woman he’s falling in love with is caught in the middle.

When Fae is trapped in a cave-in at a dig site and wakes up with fake memories, A’yen knows who’s to blame. Proving it is the hard part. Things get worse as his past relationship with a human male, a man once again part of his life, is used to trap him and try to turn the people against him. And destroy his marriage.

Ro is then framed for murder, another move to discredit A’yen. Saving his marriage and reputation is easy compared to saving Ro’s life. Ro’s demons come for him, taking him back to a life not worth living.

A’yen races to save Ro before he can act on his deepest desire: killing his tormentor. Happily ever after can’t happen if Ro is dead.

Can this series get any more addictive? It’s taken me three days to read through this book (with extensive breaks inbetween enforced by life – breaks which were infused with a longing to read more), and I could easily read the next one.

I can’t say that this book is better or worse than the previous two, but the events that unfold are compelling. At times one laughs out loud, at others one cries, and yet others one wants a certain person to burn in hell… yet through it all, one just wants to read, devour, inhale more of this book.

Smith introduces us to several new characters in these pages, expanding our knowledge of the Marcasian Empire in particular. I for one cannot wait to learn more of them, as I know we will in upcoming books.

In short, a compelling read that doesn’t disappoint. And among the best I’ve read so far this year

The King’s Mistress by Rachel Leigh Smith

TKMSource: ARC from author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?

Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he’s not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A’yen fears for the young man’s sanity.

Upon returning to Titan, A’yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he’ll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he’ll live long enough to do it.

With A’yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.

Separated by light years, A’yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.

This book is an excellent read. The universe Smith has created is one I can easily immerse myself in, and remain stuck in there for days after I’ve finished reading one of these books.

The second book in the A’yen’s Legacy series, The King’s Mistress is a continuation of the storyline begun in My Name Is A’yen. We follow A’yen and Fae as they figure out what’s required of them as the next king and queen of the Lokmane, but some new characters are introduced, particularly Da’Ro, mentioned in My Name is A’yen as someone Na’var knows. While the story focuses predominantly on how A’yen can relate to his people, both the enslaved and the free, it also deals very elegantly with the topics of trust and identity.

There are many surprises along the way in this story, and nobody gets away easily. As always, Smith is unafraid to demonstrate the inhumanity of man – at times graphically – but juxtaposes this with an exploration of what it means to be a person, an individual, free. And a very important lesson underpins it all; don’t judge, because you don’t know what a person has been through and who they really are.

Suitable for both YA and adult readers, but deals with issues such as rape, slavery and physical and sexual abuse.