7 Lovely Things about Christine Feehan’s “Lair of the Lion”

“Lair of the Lion”

by Christine Feehan

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: In a desperate attempt to save her brother’s life, Isabella Vernaducci agrees to marry Nicolai DeMarco. But Don DeMarco is not all that he seems. Cursed to turn into a rageful beast, DeMarco is fated to kill the one he loves and therefore keeps everyone away. But beautiful Isabella sneaks into his heart. Will their love be enough to break the curse or will Isabella pay the ultimate price?

7 Lovely Things about Christine Feehan’s “Lair of the Lion”

May contain Spoilers

1. Isabella

Isabella Vernaducci is such a lovable heroine. She is headstrong, courageous, sassy, resourceful, and never afraid to speak her mind. Isabella’s love of life is contagious and a great balance to Nicolai’s doom-and-gloom outlook.

2. Nicolai

While Nicolai is rather bleak, grumpy, and rageful at times, he is so gentle with Isabella and wants nothing more than to protect her. He takes the time to listen to her and consider her feelings even when he doesn’t agree with her. More gentleman than a beast.

3. Lions

Nicolai can commune and direct lions to do his bidding, totally awesome! He also shapeshifts into one.

4. The Writing

Christine Feehan has a pleasant writing style. The story moves at a good pace, she provides enough description for the reader to understand the scenery without wasting time being overly descriptive. Characters were relatable and the chemistry between Nicolai and Isabella was spot on!

5. Family

One of my favorite things about all the characters, especially Isabella, was their fierce loyalty to family. Isabella would have happily given her life in place of her brother’s.

6. Passion

The romance between Nicolai and Isabella is super sizzling hot with lots of passion!

7. Happily Ever After

Thankfully, “Lair of the Lion” ends happily. I was getting a bit nervous because it isn’t till like the last page before everything gets resolved. Isabella and Nicolai get their much deserved happily ever after!

What are your favorite things about Christine Feehan’s “Lair of the Lion”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Being a Unicorn is Not all that Magical

While I was always that odd child, the kid that marched to the beat of their own drum, never in my life have I ever regretted being a bit unusual. On the contrary, I’ve spent most of my life feeling very proud to be different. But being different in medical terms is really not a good thing.

Being a unicorn in the medical sense means seeing multiple doctors and being told that while there is something wrong, they are unsure of what is the cause. It is having multiple tests done, many of which come out abnormal but with not enough information to give a clear diagnosis. It is literally being told by your primary care doctor, “I’m used to horses, I see an occasional zebra but you are a unicorn and I don’t know how to help you.”

After over a year of dealing with an unknown health problem, I would love to give up my unicorn status. While I’d love to simply be healthy, I’m willing to settle for typical symptoms of whatever is ailing me instead of my body’s atypical confusing bullshit. In the medical sense, being a unicorn is not all that magical and for once, I just want to be a boring horse.

Any other medical unicorns out there? Were you able to get a diagnosis?

10 Beloved Things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”

“Between Shades of Gray”

by Ruta Sepetys

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: June 14, 1941, Stalin begins his deportation of people in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia who are deemed anti-Soviet. 15-year-old Lina is taken in the middle of the night with her family. Forced into labor camps with hundreds of others, her family must stay together to survive the harsh conditions of the Arctic circle and the brutalities of the NKVD officers.

10 Beloved Things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Real Experiences

While the characters are fictional in “Between Shades of Gray” all the experiences were inspired by true events and situations that survivors experienced. Absolutely horrifying and touching!

2. Educational

Up until reading this book, I was totally ignorant on Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. “Between Shades of Gray” was an eye-opener for me about what happened and also how it was kept secret for so long.

3. Realistic

Ruta Sepetys does an amazing job of capturing the experiences of the survivors she interviewed to write “Between Shades of Gray.” Lina seemed so real, it felt like I was reading a diary.

4. Different Reactions

We all react to stress, terror, and death differently. Septeys captured these differences effortlessly. Some characters became complacent or even worked with the NKVD officers. Others became angry and would take out their frustration on other victims. Most did what they had to for survival while still trying to help their fellow prisoners.

5. Emotional

“Between Shades of Gray” is a powerful novel and so emotional. You will cry, you will smile, your heart will break and then be lifted up. This novel is absolutely beautiful!

6. The Writing

Ruta Sepetys kept the writing elegant and simple, there are no unnecessary words or sentences. Easy to read but effectively well-written.

7. Disturbing

While reading “Between Shades of Gray” was difficult due to the subject matter, Ruta Sepetys does an amazing job of allowing the reader to comprehend the trauma that the victims went through without actually traumatizing the reader. Yes, the novel is disturbing and unpleasant to read at times, but there are no detailed, bloody torture scenes.

8. Strength in Humanity

One of the strongest things about this novel, is not the stories of what the victims survived, but how they survived together. The victims coming together, stealing food and other items needed for each other. Carrying one another when one was too weak or injured. The NKVD soldiers who took risks trying to help, regardless of the consequences.

9. Capacity for Cruelty

Humans are capable of such cruelty and during Stalin’s reign, the NKVD soldiers committed some serious atrocities. Sepetys includes many examples of the needless death, suffering, humiliation, and pain the victims endured.

10. Love

Lina’s letter in the end, “My husband, Andrius…” made me sob. Love found even in the worst of times.

What are your favorite things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child

by Nancy Verrier

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: A book meant for anyone involved in adoption, “The Primal Wound” explores the trauma that all adoptees experience through the process of adoption. With emphasize on the adoptee’s experience, Verrier provides information on how best adoptive parents, biological parents, and the adult adoptee can help themselves and heal from this trauma.

10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Adoption

Even though 6 out of 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption (themselves or close family/friend has adopted a child or put up a child for adoption), adoption is not an openly discussed topic. Verrier shares new insight and knowledge on this stigmatized subject.

2. Nancy Verrier

The author of “The Primal Wound”, Nancy Verrier is an adoptive mother and it was her personal experience with her adopted daughter that brought her to doing research on adoption and the trauma that occurs. Personal experience brings so much more substance and Verrier is able to provide a wealth of knowledge because of this.

3. Adoption Triad

“The Primal Wound” addresses the whole adoption triad: the adopted child, the biological mother, and the adoptive mother. It is written in a way that any individual in the role of the adoption triad should be able to understand and empathize with another role in the triad.

4. No Blame

Verrier makes a point to stress multiple times in “The Primal Wound” that the biological mother is not to blame for the trauma experienced by adoptees. Instead, she points to society as a whole for lacking resources that could have been available so that she could have kept her child. Improper treatment of drug addiction and/or mental health, poverty, unaffordable childcare, lack of sexual education, etc. are issues that many women face that may contribute to placing their child up for adoption.

5. References

Verrier meticulously cites multiple references and sources throughout “The Primal Wound” providing credence to her work and theories.

6. Validating

As an adoptee, “The Primal Wound” was so validating. A must-read for any adoptee, adoptive parent, or biological parent of an adopted child!

7. Suggested Reading

A super helpful list of other books is listed at the end of “The Primal Wound” to help readers further explore their interest in adoption and/or issues that may arise from being part of the adoption triad.

8. Issues

“The Primal Wound” does an amazing job of presenting all the issues and challenges people can experience if they are part of an adoption triad, especially for the adoptee. Self-esteem, attachment styles, intimacy problems, guilt, mourning, etc are all addressed.

9. Solutions

Not only does Verrier present the multiple issues that may arise from the experience of adoption, she also makes suggestions on how to solve some of these issues, especially by going to therapy.

10. The Writing

While “The Primal Wound” is a wealth of information, it never seems overwhelming or confusing. Verrier presents her supported theories clearly and includes her own personal experiences or those of people she interviewed to provide examples.

What are your favorite things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

5 Fearless Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout”

“Fallout” Crank Book 3

by Ellen Hopkins

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Hunter Seth Haskins, 19 years old and living in Reno, Nevada with his maternal grandparents; Autumn Rose Shepherd, 17 and living in San Antonio, Texas being raised by her paternal aunt and grandfather; Summer Lily Kenwood, 15 years old and in the foster care system in Bakersfield, California. Three children all touched by meth by no fault of their own but through their mother. Kristina Snow has left her children to be scattered along the west coast as she runs amock with the monster with no end in sight.

5 Fearless Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Children of Addicts

Ellen Hopkins does an amazing job of providing a voice that is not heard very often. The children of the drug addicts. Stigmatized and ignored, the system has failed these children in so many ways. It was refreshing but difficult to read a book from their perspectives.

2. I Love You/I Hate You

One of the most important elements seen in Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout” is the love-hate relationships all the children have with their parents who deeply wounded them in many ways. This is true in most, if not all, parent-child relationships in which the parent is the abuser or source of trauma for the child. The child’s life depends on the parent, especially the mother, and therefore the child loves the parent. And this is why no matter how much hurt a parent does to a child, the child still loves their parent, it is survival.

3. Biological Parents

Also captured in “Fallout” is the drive for a child to know a biological parent, even if the parent already abandoned/traumatized the child in the past, especially the mother. You will see this in not just foster children who may have some memories of the biological mother, but also in children who are adopted at birth and who have no conscious memory of her. As an adopted child, I can say this is absolutely true from my own experience.

4. Attachment

Finally, another concept that Ellen Hopkins explores in her novel “Fallout” is that of attachment issues experienced by children who have experienced trauma in childhood. Often having trust issues, these children may avoid getting close to anyone or simply sabotage relationships because they don’t believe they are good enough and deserve the other person’s love

5. Writing Style

Just like “Crank” and “Glass”, Ellen Hopkins’s wrote “Fallout” in free-verse poetry. Making the novel that more interesting and powerful.

What are your favorite things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

5 Gratifying things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Glass”

“Glass” Crank Book 2

by Ellen Hopkins

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Kristina has gotten clean. Clean from the crank, glass, ice, crystal, meth. She did this for her son. But now that he is born and they no longer share the same body, the monster calls. Believing that she can control her usage, Kristina goes back to meth and things begin to spiral. But this time it is not just her, she may destroy her son’s life as well.

5 Gratifying Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Glass”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Poetry

Ellen Hopkins’s has a unique writing style of her own in which she tells the story in free verse style poetry. Sometimes the structures of the poems will create shapes or other words. Also, some poems could be read not only left to right but also other directions. This allowed multiple thoughts and feelings to be expressed on a single page.

2. Rationalizations

The concepts that one can “control” the drug, that they will only “try a little”, or that they can be around it without using are all very common thoughts amongst addicts that have gotten clean. Hopkins really captures these thinking processes and also how easy it is for an addict to believe it and then get caught up in the drug again.


As like many other Ellen Hopkins novels, “Glass” includes side characters who identify as LGBTQ+.

4. User to Dealer

Another easy trap for addicts is going from simply a user to dealing drugs and then looking at an immensely longer prison sentence and this is beautifully illustrated in “Glass”.

5. Chaos

“Glass” clearly shows the chaos, damage, and pain that drugs cause on not just the addict but the addicts’ friends and family. Disturbing to read but so worth it.

What are your favorite things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Glass”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.