Monday, November 28

B's Monday Review: Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst

Kate has given up on love—at least for herself. She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to cozy New York town, she has to put aside her own romantic disasters to make her business a success.
sense a romantic connection between two people—a gift that her family passed down for generations. When Kate launches her own matchmaking company, Kinnection, with her two best friends in a

But when a furious man stalks into her office and accuses her business of being a scam, Kate is given the ultimate challenge to prove herself. Slade puts himself in her hands and asks Kate to find him love. Enraged at his arrogance but stubbornly eager to prove herself, Kate agrees, dedicating herself to the journey of finding him love... only to find herself falling for him along the way. 

My thoughts:
This was another free read from xoxo after dark, I just can't stay away from that site. I mean my e-reader does not have e-ink, so I can just as well read one from my tablet then (though to be fair my eyes hate it all.)

Kate owns a matchmaking agency. She also has the touch to feel real love. But she is single. I did like her, but she was so afraid. Then again she seems to be so unlucky and never meeting the right person.

Slade, oh no, he was a divorce lawyer. I know! The worst possible thing to be, well at least for someone who puts people together. And he also wants to save someone from their evil claws. But he was a nice guy. Just a bit wary of love.

There is passion, banter, and drama, well duh, of course there is the usual drama before they live happily ever after.

I liked it. 

ebook, 384 pages
Published November 26th 2013 by Simon and Schuster
Searching For #1
Contemporary romance
Free on xoxo after dark

Sunday, November 27

Joint Review: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Happy end of November! This week Blodeuedd and I are discussing, "Children of Earth and Sky" by Guy Gavriel Kay. 

We are doing something special for next month! We are letting you guys choose what we read. The choices will be at the bottom after our discussion. The most votes win!
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Title: Children of Earth and Sky
Genre: Historical Fiction and Fantasy
Pages: 571
First Published: May 2016
Where I Got It: Borrowed from library

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world...  

C: So...this was not what I expected it to be. LOL Where shall we begin? B?

B: Well for me it feels like I picked another crap one. UGH. I just could not follow it, sooo boring. So many things I want to complain about

C: I don’t think it was a “crap one”....I think it was just boring. LOL Like it was a people-story, but the people were meeeehhhh.

B: Yes! So meh. I wish I had cared for someone, but I did not. I can’t even say I read the whole thing cos I skimmed so damn much. It just have to be a dnf for me in that aspect. I just did not care about them or their story.

C: There was one character (can’t remember their name) that I liked, but they seemed to just not matter to the story anymore. Which boo. The rest of the people were meh. Like nothing happened. Things that did happen none of the characters were around. They just happened to escape to the next town. Like the riot. Boring. I did a LOT of skimming to. XI I feel bad, but I just didn’t care about some of those people’s stories. 

B: From the rave reviews I read I expected something great, and then I got this and you know, I just felt so disappointed :/ Another issue I had was that it was so our world. Oh there is the Ottoman empire, oh there is Venice, oh there is blah blah. The Ottomans even took boys to become those, whatever, but it was too our world. I do not want that. Sure, borrow from a culture, but do not put every other country next to it. Make it harder, mix things up. Now I just read a historical novel set here...sort of ;) I wanted fantasy.

C: Was there suppose to be fantasy elements mixed in? 

B: It’s not that I need magic and unicorns, but if I wanted to read about the Ottomans and the rest of that area we could have chosen a book at least set in our world. Instead of this pseudo earth. But yes magic and unicorns are fun

C: It felt like such a Historical Fiction. I didn’t even notice the small fantasy that was suppose to be in there. XI But I agree with you. I love the epic fantasy stuff, but I think there should have been more fantasy to make it feel like it. 

B: More fantasy, less our world, interesting characters, maybe then it would have been a book I would not have skimmed.

C: Same. I was just meh. The world-building was exhausting at the beginning. Once it get past that it was better, but not good. 

B: For me I just want to put a big fat failure sign on it

C: I’m wanting to put a “meh” sign on it. From reviews I read there are other books set in this world. I think this might have been better if we read one of those to understand. 

B: You are supposed to be able to read these without having to read the others. His failure if he did not make that work. Oh and I will SO NOT read more books set in this world.

C: Completely agree! 

B: This is such a meh book, we can’t even complain. The crappy ones we can write pages about here...meh

C: I’m  bummed by this. I was so excited. LOL. So...anything else you want to add? 

B: Nope

C: Nothing here except...if you wanna read anything by this author read something else. A total meh. 

B: HA, I agree.

C: I’m curious to see which book is next! Let us leave it to the people since we stink at picking. Hehehe xD

B: I have picked two, just like that, no reviews, no ohhh must read. Just picked two so not to get disappointed

YA - The statistical probability of love at first sight by Jennifer Smith

FICTION - The secret keeper by Kate Morton

C: I picked two. I ignored the reviews as well.

Fantasy/PNR -  Bound by a Dragon by Linda K. Hopkins

HF - Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson

B: Ok then readers, please tell us in your comments which book we should read next :)

C: We leave it in your hands! :D Don’t let us down. ;) LOL! Until next time?

B: Until next time

I expected more out of this. I'm really bummed. It wasn't bad for say...but it wasn't good either. It was boring. The one character I actually cared about disappeared and the rest of them were meh. There was suppose to be a fantasy element but it was overshadowed by the historical fiction. Needless to say I did a lot of skimming. I do not recommend this to be your first book by the author. I would try something else. Out of five stars, I'll stamp this with 2 stars.

Saturday, November 26

Book Review: Princess by Gaelen Foley

Author: Gaelen Foley
Title: Princess (Ascension Trilogy #2)
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 389
First Published: June 1999
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Used Bookstore)

Darius Santiago is the King's most trusted spy. He is charming, ruthless, and he has one weakness--the stunning Princess Serafina. She is all he has ever wanted and everything he cannot have. Serafina has always worshiped Darius, knowing that deep in the reaches of her soul, where she is not royalty but a flesh-and-blood woman, she belongs to this dangerous man. Unable to suppress their desire, they are swept into a daring dance of passion until a deadly enemy threatens to destroy their new love.

Oooh Darius...I forgot all about you my fictional boyfriend! I was going through my bookshelf the other day looking for something good to read and then I remembered how much I loved this book and this series. I only have this one of the series, so I picked it up and gave it a re-read. And I still love it. 

This is the second book of the series, but it can be read as a standalone. The first book was about Serafina's mom and dad and them retaking the throne. It was good, but this was better. This follows Serafina and Darius. Serafina is a princess being made to marry some guy in order to protect her country against good ol' Napoleon. Darius is the King's right-hand man, head spy, and Serafina's main protector. They have had feelings for each other for a while, but duty kept them apart. After some events that lead them to have alone time, they discover they need each other. But this love story is not at all an easy one and it takes a long time for them to finally be together (no spoiler since this IS a HR).  But good, it shouldn't be easy. 

The princess is okay, she is spoiled, but duh...she's royalty. But she is sweet overall.  

Darius is....amazing. Okay - he's a hottie, but he's also one of the most complex and dynamic characters the author ever made. He has a lot of baggage and even though he is this great spy, warrior, and lover, he's still flawed. Love, love him. He's on my top 5 list of heroes I am in love with. 

I think what I love most about this is that even though I was re-reading it I couldn't remember how they got out of each issue that pops up. 

My only issue was how Darius got out of one issue. WHAT? It could NOT have been that easy. Sure, Josephine is a *cough* slut *cough* lover of men, but I highly doubt she would lower her standards at that point....I can't give more explanation, but it was SO unrealistic. 

However, the rest of the book is amazing. Like I said you don't have to read book 1, but I think reading the first one will make you appreciate the characters (especially Darius) a little more. I shall keep my original stamp that I gave this years ago before I was blogging - 5 stars. 

Tuesday, November 22

Book Review: Devastation by MJ Haag

Author: MJ Haag
Title: Devastation (Beastly Tales #3)
Genre: Paranormal Romance and Fantasy
Pages: 403
First Published: August 2015
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Amazon)

Abused and rejected, Benella strives to regain a purpose for her life, and finds herself returning to the last place she ever wanted to see. She must learn when it is right to forgive and when it is time to move on. 

This is the third and final book in the series. The last one ended horribly (but in a good way) I could not help but dive into this one the moment I could! I needed to know how the author was going to move forward with the story. Poor Benella! She has a long road in order to pick herself up from what happened at the end of the last book. The Beast has his own journey to make. He has a lot to do to redeem himself for all he had done wrong...and he needs Benella to help him. 

Okay...this is going to make me sound bad....but I wanted Benella to be sad and upset for a little longer before making her go back. BUT the story cannot linger, so I understand getting the ball rolling, but I did want her to stew more and be more resentful.

There were some points that dragging on and on and on. I think the author should have focused elsewhere. There was a lot of repeating scenes. I get it...the Beast cuddles you pretty much every night. I get don't know if you can trust yet. It was getting frustrating at some points. 

Dammit - the Beast and Benella's Father need to keep Benella locked up in the house. Everyone is out to rape her or hurt her in some way! Good lord!! SMDH.

I do love the whole role of the witch. I'm glad we got to understand her a bit more and why she did the things she did. It was interesting to see **SPOILER ALERT** that the witch was not truly the bad guy at all. Sure, she should have done some things differently and manipulation is not always ideal. I'm just glad that it turns out she really did care for the well-being of the Beast/Alec, Benella, and the entire North. **SPOILER ENDED** I thought it was a truly clever turn of events for this character. 

GAH! I hate Benella's sisters. WHY DO YOU KEEP FORGIVING THEM!?!?!?!?!?! They are selfish and greedy and bitchy. I get they are her sisters and blah blah blah, but they do not deserve Benella's love. The one did seem to get better but gah. 

Siiiiiiiiighs, I want to say more, but I'm afraid of letting go more spoilers! D: 

Let's see....

This was pretty okay. There were a lot of dragging moments, but it is a must read especially if you read the other two. This book dives into more character building and even some more world building. All the loose ends from the previous books are tied up nicely. I recommend this series if you like retellings. It is good. It's a dark world and a dark retelling, but I liked it. I'll stamp this with 3 stars. 

Monday, November 21

Blodeuedd's Monday Review: The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries

To root out the card cheat responsible for her brother’s death, Miss Delia Trevor spends her evenings dancing her way through high society balls, and her late nights disguised as a young man gambling her way through London’s gaming hells. Then one night, handsome Warren Corry, the Marquess of Knightford, a notorious member of St. George’s Club, recognizes her. When he threatens to reveal her secret, she’s determined to keep him from ruining her plans, even if it means playing a cat-and-mouse game with the enigmatic rakehell.

Warren knows the danger of her game, and he refuses to watch her lose everything while gaining justice for her late brother. But when she starts to delve beneath his carefully crafted façade, can he keep her at arm’s length while still protecting her? Or will their hot desires explode into a love that transcends the secrets of their pasts? 

My thoughts:
Oh these two. Delia was sure a handful. I mean sneaking out, gambling and getting away with it. She has a good head on her shoulders but was so reckless.

Warren was a good guy, and he sure gets curious when he stumbles upon this mystery. And he is a gentleman too, he can't just leave it be.

There is also the mystery concerning her brother, who did he lose his money too. She needs to solve it. And save her home. Her brother and father both gambled away too much.

And as for Warren, he is just trying to avoid matchmakers.

But they fall in love. And she is so stubborn!

I liked the twist which I cannot speak of. Also the next book looks to be good too.

A nice romance

Look two heads!

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: November 22nd 2016 by Pocket Books
Sinful Suitors #3
Historical romance

Sunday, November 20

Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Author: Libba Bray
Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Paranormal, and Fantasy
Pages: 403
First Published: December 2003
Where I Got It: My Shelf (From the store - 2nd & Charles)

It's 1895 and, after the death of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped from the she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true. Gemma finds he reception a chilly one. She's not completely alone, though... she's being followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her mind against the visions. 

It's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds as she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy, timeless group called The Order. Her destiny awaits... if only Gemma can believe in it.

I've been meaning to read this book for a little while now. It's been sitting on my shelf collecting dust. I finally managed to get myself to read it to the persuasion of a friend of mine. 

Gemma has lived in India all her life with her parents. Through some tragedy, Gemma's mother is murdered and now she is given her wish to move back to England. But it is not at ALL what she expected or wanted. She is tossed in a boarding school away from her family and she is pretty much alone to suffer with her newfound powers. See kiddies? Be careful what you wish for.  

OMG I hated Gemma. I wanted to kick her. She was spoiled little shit. Okay, it's not her fault, because she is 16 and her mom didn't really do much to punish her. Totally get it, but she was sooooo annoying. It was really hard to fully enjoy the book, because she was so dumb and just did whatever she wanted to do. She needed a firm kick or slap outside the head. 

Honestly, I wish that this story would have stayed in India. I think the setting would have been interesting to go with the plot. But it makes sense that she would have returned to England, so it works. 

I honestly felt like I was on a roller coaster this whole story. One minute I was super involved and curious what was going on. The next I was bored. Then I was hooked again and then back to bored.

The ending was good, but there were a lot of things left unanswered and unfinished. Lots of plot holes. I'm sure these will be answered in the next book, but I'm not sure if I'm going to move forward. I'm undecided as of yet. I do want to learn more about Gemma and her powers. Maybe I'll like her more in the next one. IDK we shall see. 

In the end, this was not horrible, but it wasn't great. I think if I had liked the main character I would have enjoyed this more. It is an interesting story. Honestly, I am still undecided if I want to read the next one. I'll give this a three. I recommend it if you want an easy read. 

Saturday, November 19

Belated Movie Review: Suicide Squad

Length: 2h & 3 min
Released:  August 2016
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy 
Rating: PG-13
Where I Got It: Seen at the Theaters


A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse.


Eek, I forgot to share this review. Whoooopppppssss. Anyways...back to original review - 

I've been very undecided if I wanted to watch this movie. Superhero movies are a hit and miss for me. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they make me want to bash my head into the wall. 

I think the deciding factor for me to finally watch this is because this was not technically a superhero movie, it is a super villain movie....and the trailer looks so badass. Sooo...yes, I went with my friend to watch this. I took a gamble...

And I was surprised...this was good. Not amazing, but it was good and worth the watch. The cast well picked. I think they did a good job. The only issue I had was with who they picked for the Joker. He was okay...but I hated his look and costume. I get what look they were going for (modern gangsters and whatnot), but it didn't work for me. I think it took away from the creepiness the Joker is suppose to give off. Also, the actress for Enchantress bugs me. I can't stop staring at her eyebrows. That is the only interesting about her. Her acting is sub-par at best. Also, I feel that for a first movie they should've picked a different baddie. They should've saved her for a later movie. Other than that, I loved everyone else.

The fight scenes were fun even though the minions were creepy and gross. Why did they have be all melty and gross? Bllleeeehhhh

As much as I like the Joker and Harley Quinn, I wish that this was so centered around the two. The other baddies of the group are equally interesting and I feel the spotlight was a little biased. Maybe the next film (if they make one) will focus more on the other members. IF they do another movie they need to include Poison Ivy (she is my second favorite villain in that universe). 

In the end, this was a surprisingly good movie. It was way better than I imagined and hoped for. Sure, it wasn't amazing, but it was good. There were some issues, but overall I enjoyed it. I do recommend this to those that like superheros/villains. I'll give this 4 stars. 

Wednesday, November 16

Book Review: Nam-A-Rama by Phillip Jennings

Author: Phillip Jennings
Title: Nam-A-Rama
Genre: Historical Fiction & Humor
Pages: 332
First Published: March 2003
Where I Got It: My Shelf (an Xmas or bday gift a million years ago...)

It starts and ends, like all the best adventures, in the air. Almost-Captain Gearheardt and his buddy, Almost-Captain Armstrong, are ferrying bodies (live in, dead out) for the CIA's Air America, but they have never forgotten their TOP SECRET orders, given when Gearheardt was delivering pizzas to the Oval Office for the CIA: Chopper into Hanoi and buy Uncle Ho a beer. Then either shoot his ass or shake his hand (the instructions get vague at this point). 

And so they do, Semper Fi, pausing only to get an aircraft carrier black-flagged for bubonic plague, have an affair with Mickey Mouse, cleverly decode the message sewn into a lusty spy's black panties, commandeer a Russian truck complete with a midget Chinese 'Uncle Sam,' avenge themselves on a Cuban torturer, and dutifully experience all the Honor and Glory of the next-to-the-next-to-last war that never (God forbid) made the Nightly News.

And they do it all for laughs. Because if they were to stop laughing, where would the heartache end?

This was a DNF many moons ago. I legit only got to page 25 before I solemnly put it down and walked away. I wanted to like this. I love funny and I love military novels. So what could go wrong with blending the two? So, now that I am older and wiser, I decided to give this book another chance. 


No. The only difference is that I finished the book...after lots of skimming. 

So...this story is about some dudes during the Vietnam War and their "adventures". Gear and Arm are two guys who have been dragged to war in crazy ways. They are given a top secret mission for the president. 

SPEAKING OF WHICH. I wanted to punch the man in the face. OH MY GOD. I may not have liked the president during this time period, but in real life he was not that weasel-y, annoying, or dumb. I get what the author was trying to do. Sure. But it was not funny at all, it was more annoying. 

Anyways....but yes, these fellas are on an adventure to accomplish this secret mission. The craziest things happened. Yes, I laughed a few times, but the rest was over-the-top and made me roll my eyes. I love slap-stick funny, but this was annoying. 

The only silver-lining of this book was 3/4th to the end. It was good. There was some meaning there among the craziness. 

The rest of the book was meh. An "eh that was kinda funny" at best. Bummer. Maybe if I had served in the war during this time, I would have liked it better? I'm not sure, but...not for me. I'm so sad!!!! I wanted to like this book. Out of five, I shall give this....2. The ending gave it a star. 

Monday, November 14

B's Book Review: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton

Football pro Mick Riley is an all-star, both on the field and in the bedroom. But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game...

For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune, and a different girl in every city. But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand. Too bad Tara's not interested in getting to know football's most notorious playboy any better.

As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable. Tara's life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick's latest girl du jour. Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn't intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick.

But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind. 

My thoughts:
I have had it for years, I think I won it ages ago when I wanted to see if I could read Ero Romance....I can't. I skim sex scenes, I want the emotional stuff, things happening and more.

But I finally gave it a try, and it was so good. But yes I skimmed the sex scenes, lol. But the rest, so good, she writes such good books. The emotions, the drama, everything works so well.

Mick is a playboy, he is a great football player, oh and he has a really bitchy PR agent.

Tara on the other hand is a hardworking mother with a teenage son. She wants no drama.

They meet, they do it, he wants more, she is careful considering his past, and hers. There are hardships, smexy times and just a really well written book. I would sort of even give it a 4 if I did not skim parts. I know! Not the books fault, but I am just not sure how the book would work without them either. They need each other.

I would  recommend it.


Trade Paperback, 324 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Penguin Berkley Heat
Play by Play #1
Ero Romance

Sunday, November 13

Book Review: The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

Author: Alexandra Curry
Title: The Courtesan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
First Published: September 8th 2015)
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)

The year is 1881. Seven-year-old Jinhua is left an orphan, alone and unprotected after her mandarin father’s summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth. For seven silver coins, she is sold to a brothel-keeper and subjected to the worst of human nature. Will the private ritual that is her father’s legacy and the wise friendship of the crippled brothel maid be enough to sustain her? 

When an elegant but troubled scholar takes Jinhua as his concubine, she enters the close world of his jealous first wife. Yet it is Jinhua who accompanies him—as emissary to the foreign devil nations of Prussia, Austria-Hungary, and Russia—on an exotic journey to Vienna. As he struggles to play his part in China's early, blundering diplomatic engagement with the Western world, Jinhua’s eyes and heart are opened to the irresistible possibilities of a place that is mesmerizing and strange, where she will struggle against the constraints of tradition and her husband’s authority and seek to find “Great Love.”

I have heard of Jinhua in the past, but I admit I know pretty much nothing about her or her journeys. She was orphaned, became a courtesan, and then a legend. Unlike many Chinese women of the day, she was able to travel and learn about the world. She learned so much in her travels. She grew to love the Western world and brought that love back to China. However, as we all know, the Boxer Rebellion starts as she comes back. 

The beginning was rough to get in. It started dark and it was hard to read. Poor little orphan. Her parents are killed and she is sold to a whore house at a very young age. It took a while for me to become immersed in the story. Very dark. But it certainly got better as hope was brought to life and Jinhua began growing to the woman she was supposed to be. I was utterly hooked from there. 

I go back and forth on how I liked the multiple POVs. Some were okay, but some annoyed me and I skimmed them. I would have preferred just Jinhua's and maybe a couple key ones like Suyin's or Madame Hong's. Some were essential, some were not. I think cutting some and extending others would have been a huge benefit to the story and made it flow a little better. Some of the POVs made the flow choppy. 

Other than that, I enjoyed this story. It was dark, yes, but there was hope and I want to learn more about Jinhua. There is little ACTUAL knowledge about her since she was merely a woman and a Courtesan, but there is some.

In the end, I highly recommend this if you like historical fictions or just a good people story. The beginning was rough for me and some of the POVs were non-essential to me, but the rest of the story was addicting. I could hardly put this down! I shall stamp this with 4 stars. 

Tuesday, November 8

Excerpt from War Torn: Stories of Courage, Love, and Resilience

War Torn by Kenneth E. Miller

War Torn: Stories of Courage, Love, and Resilience by Kenneth E. Miller

Publisher:  Larson Publications (October 17, 2016) Category: Non-Fiction, PTSD, Current Events/World Affairs, Political Science: Genocide and War Crimes Tour Date: Oct and Nov, 2016 ISBN: 978-1936012787 Available in: Print,  296 Pages War Torn With some 200 million people in more than forty countries affected by armed conflict or genocide, refugees are appearing in record numbers. War Torn is timely in how it brings us intimately into the lives of civilians who have survived wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka. Alongside stories that convey intimately the destruction and heartbreak of armed conflict, Miller captures the courage and resilience he calls “a remarkable kind of light,” an essential counterpoint to the grief and trauma that war creates. The stories in War Torn are powerful, heart-wrenching, and unforgettable.

Advance Praise for War Torn by Kenneth E. Miller

"This is an eye-opening study. Psychologist Kenneth E. Miller and his wife Debbie began collecting data and teaching volunteers in refugee camps around the world back in 1991. In reality, there are almost 200 million people in over 40 countries impacted by war and genocide, living day to day exiled from their homes, families, and lifestyles. Kenneth Miller brings us their stories. This is a book I will read again, and share with my children. This is a worldwide problem we all need to understand, and address."- Bonnye Reed, GoodReads Reviewer “You could find no better guide than Ken Miller to illuminate this dark territory. A skilled story teller, he has an eye for nuance that is often missing in our cultural conversation about PTSD. I put down this book with a heart that was broken but also filled with hope. “-Ethan Watters, Author of Crazy Like Us and Co-founder of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. “War Torn is an exceptional, gripping account of the impact of war—a must-read for anyone interested in how war profoundly touches and shapes people. Ken Miller merges the expressive writing of a novelist with compassion and the profound understanding of a seasoned mental health professional. This collection of personal experiences and mosaic of situations provides rich and unique insights into the complexities of war torn countries.”-Dr. Mark Jordans, King’s College London "Ken Miller weaves together for us tragic stories of war, loss and injustice with tales of friendship, family, and laughter. Ken's gift is the way he listens, which takes him and his readers beyond simple categories of war victim or trauma to the complex experiences people have in settings torn apart by violence. I'm grateful for the way he has captured the simultaneously disabling and inspiring coexistence of darkness and light in these places." -Jeannie Annan, PhD, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Learning at the International Rescue Committee

War Torn by Kenneth E. MillerAbout Kenneth E. Miller

An international expert on the impact of armed conflict on civilians, psychologist Kenneth E. Miller has been working with war-affected communities since 1991 as a researcher, clinician, organizational consultant, and filmmaker. A professor of clinical and community psychology for much of his career (San Francisco State University, Pomona College), in 2015 he joined the Dutch NGO War Child Holland and is currently based in Amsterdam. Blog: Website: Twitter: @kennethemiller LinkedIn:

Pre-order War Torn by Kenneth E. Miller

Amazon Barnes&Noble IndieBound

My colleague Martín was intense and animated. He was a great storyteller, always pausing just long enough at key moments to build the suspense, then finishing with an ending that left you laughing, or in tears, or simply bewildered by the crazy things that happened in this country.
He came in one morning, dressed in his usual jeans and button-down shirt, looking agitated. 
“Man,” he said, “you won’t believe this one, Ken.”
“Go on.” 
He'd just heard about a woman, I'll call her Maria, maybe fifty years old, a Mayan Indian who lived in a small village near Lake Atitlan. The deepest lake in Central America, Atitlan is ringed by steep mountains that were thought to be home to armed guerillas during the war. That made the villages surrounding the lake hot targets for the army, whose strategy was to terrorize the villagers into submission and destroy any real or potential support they might be inclined to offer the guerrillas. 
Maria’s teenage son had disappeared during the height of the army's scorched earth campaign. Soldiers took him away at gunpoint one night, along with several other young men from the community. Neither he nor any of the others abducted that night were ever seen or heard from again. 
"That was ten years ago," Martín said.  
He paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts, and then said, “The thing is, every week she cleans his room. Dusts it, wipes it down, sweeps it, keeps everything just as it was the day he was taken away. Just in case, you know, he comes back.
"Ten years, man,” he continued. “And she's still waiting for him to come home."
"That's a long time," I said. "No way that kid’s still alive."
"Right. No way." Martín paused a moment. 
"Imagine that," he said. "Ten years and she's still waiting." 
I saw the sadness in his face. We both knew what Maria couldn't bear to admit: her son was never coming back. He’d probably been dead for most of the past decade.
It’s a familiar story, lived out by thousands of families. People didn’t just disappear in Guatemala, they got disappeared. It’s something you did to someone, a transitive verb. El fue desaparecido, someone might say, “He was disappeared.” There’s no corresponding verb for reappearing, because people rarely reappeared. Sure, sometimes the disappeared did show up again, usually as a corpse on the side of a road, bearing signs of torture. But there was no need to invent a word for that. 
Mostly, though, the disappeared remained that way. 
That left families in a terrible state. What Maria was going through, cleaning her son’s room, holding on to hope despite the almost certain reality that he was no longer alive—it's a familiar syndrome in Latin America. Argentines lived through it so often that psychoanalyst Maria Langer coined the term “frozen grief” to describe the syndrome she saw among families of the disappeared.[1] It’s the painful uncertainty of not knowing a loved one’s fate, the anguish and guilt if they give up hope and finally let go. It can feel like an abandonment. You don't want to imagine your child or parent or cousin being tortured in some dark and lonely prison cell, but you also can't let go of the possibility that they might still be alive, and could somehow find their way home. 
So people hold on, in a perpetual state of hope, even as they know, somewhere just below consciousness, that they're holding on to an illusion. As a result, they never really grieve. Healing gets put on hold indefinitely. A body would provide closure, however painful it might be. Whatever signs of violence it might bear, a corpse would end the uncertainty and help people move on with their lives. But it doesn't happen that way with disappearances; that's their particularly cruel legacy. You don't get to know. 
Martín had heard stories like this before, hundreds of them. He lived through the worst years of the war, never left the country like a lot of his peers did. Just kept his head down at the university where he was finishing his degree, and hoped he wouldn't get targeted by the army like so many of his classmates and professors. He knew the stories, but for whatever reason, Maria's experience, the way she still cleaned her son's room in anticipation of his possible return, really got to him. 
"He's never coming back, you know," Martín said.
"Right. I know. He's not. There's no way."
"And she can't see that," he continued. "Can't allow herself to see that."  He shook his head, as if trying to clear the story from his mind, then poured himself some coffee and sat down at his desk. 
Morning in Guatemala.

[1] Marie Langer, From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst. (London: Free Association, 1989).