Book Review: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

An older book review and therefore different format but deserves a blog post:

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence

by Gavin de Becker

Nikki’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 Stars

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This book was recommended by a coworker who knew I was struggling with fear and anxiety, particularly around a stalking situation. I found this book to be quite helpful in easing my stress and anxiety. I really appreciated that Gavin de Becker really stresses that intuitively we know when we are in danger and that is when we feel fear and that we just need to pay attention and act when we feel fear. Gavin de Becker argues that anxiety and worry are useless because we are usually worrying about something that isn’t likely to happen. Worry isn’t based in reality, it is not authentic, it is a choice and we can choose not to feed it. We can choose to direct our energies elsewhere and trust in ourselves that we will know when we are actually in danger and can act accordingly. Gavin de Becker includes many real stories of people listening to their instincts and being able to survive a situation where their lives were in danger. These stories are terrifying and yet provide evidence of how good our intuition can be when we listen to it. Overall this book is a great choice if you are struggling with fear, especially the fear of other people and what they may do.

Favorite Quotes:

“When you feel fear, listen. When you don’t feel fear, don’t manufacture it.”

“Few of us predict that unexpected, undesired events will lead to great things, but very often we’d be more accurate if we did.”

“The fact that most Americans live without being violent is a sign of something wonderful in us. In resisting both the darker sides of our species and the darker sides of our heritage, it is everyday Americans, not the icons of big-screen vengeance, who are the real heroes.


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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Crucial Things about Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

Columbine

by Dave Cullen

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: Journalist David Cullen looks intensely at the events that occurred April 20, 1999 at Columbine high school when two boys showed up to school with bombs and guns. Based on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, and the boys’ own diaries and video recordings, Cullen pieces together how the tragedy unfolded and how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold came to be cold-blooded killers.

10 Crucial Things about Dave Cullen’s Columbine

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Correcting Mistakes

One of the biggest tragedies that occurred after the violence of Columbine ended was the neverending misinformation that spread like wildfire through the media. Sadly, many people do not realize that what was publicized during the months after Columbine was far from the truth as the media does not wait for thorough investigations and research. Dave Cullen’s Columbine attempts to correct these mistakes and reveal the astonishing truth of what happened that day, events that led up to it and the aftermath.

2. Research

Dave Cullen is considered the nation’s foremost authority on the Columbine killers and it is because of the meticulous research he has done and it shows in Columbine. Not only has he studied the thousands of pages from police reports and files, he conducted interviews with other people in the community, including friends and family members of Eric and Dylan. Cullen includes an extensive “Bibliography” at the end of Columbine and has links to many of them on his website to further solidify his claims and verify the facts he presents in his book.

3. The Boys

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were portrayed in the media as outcasts who were part of the “Trench Coat Mafia” and were bullied since they didn’t fit in. The shooting on April 20th, 1999 was viewed as revenge for the boys and that they were specifically targeting jocks and popular kids. The boys actually had a sizable group of friends, were not being bullied but rather there is evidence that they may have been bullies themselves, and they always had multiple social engagements each week. Eric and Dylan were not part of the social group clique known as the Trench Coat Mafia, they simply wore trench coats on the day of the shooting to help conceal their firearms. And lastly, the boys were never targeting specific people, Columbine was not a mass shooting but a failed bombing. Their purpose was to take out as many people as they could before they died, the goal was not revenge but rather a “fuck you” to the world and the system. To put it in perspective, they were meant to carry out their bombing on April 19th, the anniversary of the Waco raid and the Oklahoma bombing. Thankfully, Eric was not competent at making bombs.

4. Psychology

Consulting and interviewing renowned psychologists who have also viewed and studied the boys’ diaries and video tapes, Cullen presents their consensus that Eric Harris was a psychopath. In Columbine, Cullen includes studies and facts about psychology and psychopaths and does an amazing job of showing evidence that Eric Harris fits the profile of a psychopath.

5. Respect

Throughout Columbine, Dave Cullen shows the utmost respect to everyone he mentions. Whether parents’ of the killers or the victims, Cullen is respectful, never placing blame or that their reactions are unwarranted or over the top. Cullen also omitted names when necessary either by his own discretion or being asked to do so by the person. Cullen also reminds readers that only top officials were involved and complacent in the police cover-up surrounding Columbine, maintaining the integrity of the force as a whole.

6. Facts Only

Insinuations and unsupported theories are not seen in Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Even surrounding the interviews done under oath with the Harrises, which will not be made public until 2027, Cullen does not hint at anything he thinks may be revealed. He gives facts and keeps his own biases and judgments out of the book.

7. Healing

Probably one of the most powerful elements that Dave Cullen shares in Columbine is the many ways that the community came together to heal from the tragedy of Columbine. Cullen shares a look of the multiple public dedications and memorials that happened in response but also includes the small things that individual victims were doing for themselves to heal.

8. Afterwards

As healing can take time, Cullen also shares how the victims and/or their families are doing ten years later. It is amazing that the principal that was there during Columbine, stayed in his job and actually reaches out to other principals who have a shooting at their school. Or that some of the victims and their families were able to forgive Eric and Dylan and their families as well, regardless of the pain and suffering they caused. It is really a testament to how strong the human spirit can be, no matter what we go through.

9. Policies

The tragedy of Columbine did cause some changes to policies and laws, although this reader will say that gun laws are still ridiculously lax no matter how many mass shootings our country experiences. Regardless, Cullen brings up some of the changes Columbine caused such as the Zero Tolerance many schools now follow, which seem to not be helpful as it usually involves kids just blowing off steam, which led both the FBI and the Secret Service to publish reports to help faculty identify serious threats. In 2003, “The Active Shooter Protocol” that was released in response to Columbine that now mandates the objective is to take out the shooters at any cost instead of creating a perimeter and waiting for SWAT.

10. Blame

Columbine was written very well especially in regards to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. While he mentions other killers who were inspired by Harris and Klebold, Dave Cullen did not write the book in a way that glorified the killers. But just as important, Cullen does not crucify Eric and Dylan. He presents facts and shows ways that systems failed to prevent the tragedy, such as the police not investigating complaints and concerns about Eric Harris making pipe bombs and how easy it was for the boys to attain guns, but Cullen doesn’t put the blame on all one person or system. Cullen does a great job of humanizing both Eric and Dylan, reminding readers that while they made their decisions and are therefore responsible for their actions, there are elements that society is responsible for to help prevent these tragedies. 


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

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7 Quixotic Things about Holly Black’s “The Queen of Nothing”

“The Queen of Nothing”

The Folk of the Air #3

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

7 Quixotic Things about Holly Black’s “The Queen of Nothing”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. LGBTQ+

The Folk of the Air series features a positive LGBTQ relationship between Vivi and Heather. Thankfully in Faerie there seems to be an overall acceptance for many kinds of love relationships. What this reader appreciated as well is that Black made Vivi and Heather’s relationship believable with problems included. No relationship is perfect, there will be conflict, and the possibility for the relationship to end.

2. Prophecy

Books with prophecies are enjoyable as then the reader gets to guess on how said prophecy will develop or play detective trying to figure out if some of the prophecy has already come to pass. Cardan’s prophecy in The Folk of the Air series was originally interpreted as negative and actually led to Cardan being mistreated all his life. However, the fulfillment of the prophecy was not a bad thing at all but actually very positive for kingdom of Faerie.

3. Mercy

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust While taught by her adopted father, Madoc, to be unforgiving and merciless, Jude showed Madoc mercy nonetheless once he was defeated. This shows immense growth in Jude as a character, she easily could have called for his execution for the crimes of killing her biological parents, practically killing her, and then the crimes against the king. Her mercy also makes sense since she does love him like a father regardless of the spilled blood between them, one can love and hate someone simultaneously.

4. Redemption

The cause of the Ghost’s betrayal was finally revealed and it was a great relief to discover that he was being controlled. Although this reader would really like to know what Locke’s deal was and why he was fucking with Jude. Perhaps he really was just a mischievous asshole who liked to make good stories but what was the end game, what was in it for him? Regardless, the Ghost’s betrayal was forgiven, he redeems himself by rejoining with Jude and there appears to be a blossoming love between him and Taryn.

5. Love

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly As stated above, no relationship is perfect. Cardan and Jude experience major misunderstandings and miscommunications, they are constantly hurting each other because they are afraid and yet they love each other deeply. And in the end, they are able to accept each other regardless of faults, weaknesses, and past hurts. They choose each other and choose love.

6. Writing

Holly Black created a stunning, imaginative world filled with adventure, romance, magic, collusion, humor, and heartache. Black is able to paint a picture with her words without pulling away from the action of the story and keep the reader engaged. “The Queen of Nothing” was a fast-paced novel that was fun and hard to put down.

7. The End

Overall The Folk of the Air series has a happy ending. Cardan and Jude are married and rule Faerie jointly, Madoc is exiled to the mortal lands and Oak gets to see his parents as he likes, Vivi and Heather have repaired their relationship, and Taryn is forgiven her crime and is free of Locke. Faerie is no longer on the brink of civil war, traitors were dealt with fairly, and things are relatively calm and pleasant in Elfhame and the Undersea.


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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

7 Weleful Things about Holly Black’s “The Wicked King”

“The Wicked King”

The Folk of the Air #2

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

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7 Weleful Things about Holly Black’s “The Wicked King”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Characters

Characters in The Folk of the Air series are complex, believable, and relatable. Not one character is absolutely good or evil. The main protagonist Jude is power hungry and manipulative. Taryn, her good-natured, well-behaved sweet sister betrays her for a boy. And even Balekin, who is mostly an evil bastard, has some redeeming qualities.

2. The Undersea

Faerieland in The Folk of the Air is enchanting and magical. Filled with countless beings of all shapes, sizes, and colors, it is apparent that Holly Black was inspired by many different myths, legends, and folklore about faeries. In “The Wicked King” readers get to experience more of the land of Faerie and get to see the world of the Undersea and more of Orlagh’s merpeople and selkies.

3. Writing

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust and trying to figure out who is pulling the strings on whom. With a fantastic imagination, Black blasts us through this Faerieland adventure that is hard to put down.

4. Cardan

Cardan really starts to grow into a more likable character in “The Wicked King.” Not only is he embracing not being cruel but he begins to understand that as a king, he does have some responsibilities to his people. And thankfully, it seems that the land accepts Cardan.

5. Jude & Cardan

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly denying their feelings and are pretty volatile towards each other. And then without talking about their feelings they just went ahead and got married. Idiots.

6. Balekin

This reader would like to take a moment to celebrate that this asshole is dead, hoorah! Manipulative, sadistic, murderous, deceptive, abusive, the list could go on. Balekin was clearly a villain and yet, Cardan couldn’t bring himself to have him executed. This shows how unmonstrous Cardan actually is and that for all the outward appearance of being cold and uncaring, he is actually soft-hearted and feels deeply. It also reminds readers that it was Balekin who took Cardan in when he was abandoned by their father because of a prophecy.

7. The Queen of Nothing

Jude’s adventure concludes in Book 3 of The Folk of the Air series, “The Queen of Nothing.”


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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Idolized Things about Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Beloved poet and author Maya Angelou takes us back to her childhood. Raised by her religious grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya endures abandonment, racism, and rape. But most importantly, this memoir is about how she overcame these and found hope, love, and herself through so many trials and tribulations.

8 Idolized Things about Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Writing

First and foremost, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is written beautifully, as is all Maya Angelou’s work. While I prefer her poetry, Angelou is a phenomenal author and writes eloquently with great description and a knack for using words effectively to capture emotions.

2. Pacing

Memoirs and/or biographies can be very dry and unengaging, just a statement of facts and dates without any real purpose or emotional connections. Thankfully, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings does not have this problem. Pacing throughout this memoir was good and each story was filled with emotional engagement that will draw readers in.

3. Racism

Obviously a great amount of Maya Angelou’s upbringing was overshadowed by racism being an African American woman. Angelou describes the experiences she had with racism and readers are able to feel the wrongness of such attitudes even when they were not meant to be malicious. Such as Angelou not being able to get emergency dental work done simply because she was “colored” or her boss calling Angelou by the wrong name simply because she didn’t want to take the time to say her real name. Racism is not about hurting others because of their color, it is about treating them differently because of their color.

4. Rape

Any woman who comes forward and tells her story of being raped is courageous beyond measure. While incredibly hard to read, Angelou’s experience of rape is shared by countless women and it is vital that she shared it. Obviously this trauma shaped who she was but more importantly, it may help other women to share their story or help them understand they are not alone and their feelings of shame, confusion, self-hatred, anger, despair, and/or fear are valid.

5. Humanity

While humanity is not exclusively all bad, the human race has done and continues to do some terrible shit. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Angelou paints the picture of both the good and bad aspects of humanity that she has seen in her life but one line that really resonated with me was:

“As a species, we were an abomination. All of Us.”

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6. Reading

Being an avid reader and loving to devour books, it is so meaningful when an author shares this enjoyment as well. And Angelou describes the magic and enchantment of reading so well:

“To be allowed, no, invited, into the private lives of strangers, and to share their joys and fears, was a chance to exchange the Southern bitter wormwood for a cup of mead with Beowulf or a hot cup of tea and milk with Oliver Twist.”

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7. Kindness

The balance to all the bigotry, hate, and trauma Angelou endured is the kindness she experienced from others. None more so than Mrs. Bertha Flowers who threw Angelou “a life line” and was able to draw Angelou out to talking again by giving Angelou special attention, inviting her inside her home, telling her about the power of words, and lending Angelou books to read aloud. This story was a perfect example of how a simple kindness can have a tremendous effect on others and ultimately the world. Like throwing a stone in a pond, one never knows how far out their ripple of kindness will flow.

8. Overcoming

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings does not progress too far into Angelou’s life but where it ends off is shortly after becoming the first African American employed on the San Francisco streetcars and this is no small achievement. In regards to overcoming so many obstacles and becoming a woman to be reckoned with, Angelou explains:

“The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power. The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.”

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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

OwlCrate Book January 2018: “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black

“The Cruel Prince”

The Folk of the Air #1

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Stolen from the mortal lands, Jude and her sisters are brought up in Faerieland and it is not all that magical. Faeries are cunning, manipulative, and love playing tricks especially on mortals, which they generally hate. No longer belonging to the mortal world, Jude learns to navigate their world and play their malicious games. But then the High King is killed and Jude finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and a bloody political coup, which turns her life upside down all over again.

OwlCrate Book January 2018: “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Setting

While most of The Folk of the Air series takes place in Faerie, the world includes our modern mortal world as well. It is actually relatively easy for faeries to travel between the two realms allowing characters to go back and forth without consequences. This was a fun change from a fantasy novel being placed in a mythical land in which our world didn’t exist. Reminds me of Labyrinth.

2. LGBTQ

As always, I appreciate any author that includes positive, normalizing inclusion of the LGBTQ community in their novels. In Holly Black’s Faerieland, LGBTQ relationships appear to be accepted and Jude’s sister Vivi is actually in a serious committed relationship with another woman.

3. Sisterly Love

Overall, the three sisters, Jude, Taryn, and Vivi are there for each other and really show sisterly love. Throughout “The Cruel Prince” they are each other’s confidants, advocates, and counselors. They give each other space when needed, understand it when one of them has a secret that they are unwilling to share, and are willing to help each other with no questions asked.

4. Cardan

Cardan is an intriguing character, while he appears to be cruel there is an element of reserve, like he doesn’t actually enjoy being mean. He does terrible things but isn’t quite the monster his brother Balekin is and there may be hope for him to be better. It appears that Cardan is a product of his upbringing, as we all are, and with being abused, ignored, and taught to be ruthless, this is all he knows how to be. Perhaps free of his family he can become something different.

5. Emotional

“The Cruel Prince” pulls at the emotional strings, especially conflicting emotions. Madoc’s fatherly relationship with the girls, even though he murdered their parents. Taryn’s betrayal of Jude with Locke, even though they are sisters and twins at that. Cardan’s cruelty and then seeing him being beaten. Dain appears to be a fair and just prince and then he has Jude stab herself for making a mistake. Then there is Cardan wanting Jude but being repulsed and ashamed for his feelings. Holly Black creates an emotional whirlwind between her characters and one doesn’t know how to feel about anyone.

6. Surprise Twist

Holly Black did an amazing job of slowly revealing Jude’s overall plan to have Oak become High King. I didn’t realize who was going to be crowned until Cardan knelt before Oak, it was a surprising twist but makes total sense for Jude’s end game. Looking forward to seeing how this dangerous gamble plays out.

7. The Wicked King

As Cardan is now High King and in a binding agreement with Jude for another year, Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series continues in “The Wicked King.”


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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Benevolent Things about John Hargrove’s Beneath the Surface

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish

by John Hargrove

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Wanting nothing more than to work with orcas, John Hargrove realized his childhood dream and became a killer whale trainer at SeaWorld. But after 14 years of working at SeaWorld of California, SeaWorld of Texas, and MarineLand in the south of France, Hargrove walked away and gave up his dream. In this heartbreaking and honest memoir, Hargrove spills the secrets of SeaWorld’s Shamu Stadium and the atrocities the corporation allows for the sake of profit.

8 Benevolent Things about John Hargrove’s Beneath the Surface

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

Beneath the Surface was full of fun facts that were interesting, such as orcas are matriarchal and pods are centered around a dominant female. And while Hargrove pulled from his own experience and observations from working with orcas, he also offers insights from researchers and experts who study the lives of orcas living free in the wild.

2. Prisoners

One of the strongest points that Hargrove makes clear is that the orcas of SeaWorld are prisoners. No matter what improvements and changes the corporation makes to their living conditions or treatments, these animals are captives. And this imprisonment is not done for their protection or for their health, they are captive solely for profit.

3. Captivity

The most heartbreaking thing about Beneath the Surface is reading how the orcas behave in captivity. Pulling the paint off their pool from sheer boredom, crying and wailing after being separated from their calves, repeatedly raking each other, which is not normal behavior in adult wild orcas. To animal deserves to live in captivity.

4. Trainers

While Hargrove makes it known that he does not agree or condone with the policies and practices of SeaWorld, he remains extremely respectful towards the employees who work for SeaWorld. As someone who lived through the struggle of wanting to help the whales and yet knowing that SeaWorld was exploiting the animals, Hargrove understands the compartmentalizing employees must do and he respects that these other trainers and employees have a different journey than he does. He does not villainize them or imply that they are making the wrong choice.

5. Exposure

SeaWorld was exposed in the documentary Blackfish but Hargrove is able to shed more light. As a former employee, Hargrove is able to give examples of events that occurred at SeaWorld that the higher ups ignored or spun in ways that made humans look at fault. Never has SeaWorld come forward admitting that the orcas are dangerous, as they are prisoners held in tight quarters. Rather, they point the finger at the trainers, “She allowed her hair to touch the water and the killer whale thought it was a new toy.” “He panicked and drowned.” “The trainer missed his mark, didn’t give the right signal” etc. Hargrove is able to give testimony that SeaWorld is concerned about one thing: money. No amount of concerns from trainers, experts, or advocates have made them change having the killer whales for entertainment.

6. Beauty

Although Beneath the Surface focuses on the horrors done to captive orcas, Hargrove does an amazing job of conveying the beauty and majesty of killer whales. The communal bonds they share, the attachment and dedication orca mothers have to their offspring, no matter how old they are, and the relationships they can create with humans. Hargrove truly shows how complex, emotional, and intelligent killer whales are and that these beings deserve our respect, love and awe.

7. Necessary Evil

Sadly, there are still quite a few orcas in captivity and Hargrove explains that SeaWorld may be a necessary evil at this time. Hargrove is realistic and realizes that these captive orcas behave so unnaturally, with some of them being unnatural hybrids, that they would have no chance of survival free in the wild. Hargrove’s proposed solution is for the orca breeding program to be ended and that capturing any dolphins or whales be illegal world wide. And then finally, providing the already captive orcas with a more humane cage where they can live the remainder of their lives not performing or in isolation.

8. Advocate

Now that he has left the life as a killer whale trainer, John Hargrove is now an advocate for them. He maintains his deep love and respect for these animals and now serves them in a different manner. As with this book, Hargrove is attempting to put an end to whale captivity and educate the public and lawmakers through speeches and interviews. He had a choice to step away from SeaWorld, keep his mouth shut, and move on to a new chapter in his life. Instead he chose to stick up for the whales and take on SeaWorld. 


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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

7 Weighty Things about Jodi Meadows’s “When She Reigns”

“When She Reigns”

Fallen Isles #3

by Jodi Meadows

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: The Great Abandonment has begun, Idris has risen and no one knows which Fallen God will rise next. As Mira and her friends scramble to find a way to save everyone, their worst fears are confirmed when they learn that the dreaded Empire is working with Anahera. With two foes to fight, Mira takes a risk and goes to the Queen of the Empire to propose a new agreement between the Isles and the Empire. But they may be out of time. Once the double eclipse takes place, the Great Abandonment will be complete and the Fallen Isles will be no more.

7 Weighty Things about Jodi Meadows’s “When She Reigns”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. LGBTQ Inclusive

The Fallen Isles world is inclusive of the LGBTQ community. Through the trilogy, there is a lesbian couple who are side characters and part of Mira’s core group of friends. But in “When She Reigns” there is a scene in which politicians and other influential people are condemning the isle of Idris for not allowing men to marry men or women to marry women.

2. Aaru

Aaru has been a favorite throughout the Fallen Isles Trilogy and happily in “When She Reigns” he begins to speak verbally again showing that he is healing from all he has suffered. One of my favorite things about Aaru is his thoughtfulness especially in regards to Mira. He never rushes her, he does not chastise her, but most importantly he allows her to make her own decisions. Aaru respects that everyone has a right to choice, no human should be able tell another human what they can or cannot do if no one else is being affected.

3. The Empire

While brief, “When She Reigns” takes place in the Empire and though the interactions were sometimes less than pleasant, it was nice to be able to see the Empire and have some of the characters’ misconceptions corrected. One thing that stuck out was Mira being surprised that people of the Empire looked like herself and others of the Isles to the point where they could easily blend and secretly spy without being detected as foreign.

4. Consequences

The Fallen Isles Trilogy overarching plot revolves around the fact that the humans of the Fallen Isles did not protect dragons, the children of the gods, and the consequences are catastrophic. There is a mirror to our world about how we have destroyed our planet across the generations and still are not coming together to fix it. Much like the governments of the Fallen Isles, there are partial attempts, half-assed declarations and intentions that do not solve the problem but are deemed good enough as a means to save face.

5. Sacrifice

Mira’s sacrifice was not what she expected and it was utterly heartbreaking when LaLa and Mira tried to come together before she relinquished her dragon soul. Though it was her dragon soul she needed to sacrifice and not her human life, which was a mercy in many ways, it was still devastating. But a sacrifice is never truly worthy unless it is something you love. Regardless, Mira made it allowing herself and her friends to survive the Great Abandonment.

6. Death and Rebirth

Meadows effectively utilizes the concept of death and rebirth in “When She Reigns.” Through the Great Abandonment and the sacrifice of Mira’s dragon soul, a new dawn arises. A natural cycle, death allows new life, an ending creates a beginning. While death is difficult, there is a purpose and there can be joy found in the sorrow and Meadows paints this beautifully.”

7. Conclusion

Overall, the Fallen Isles Trilogy conclusion is rather bittersweet but fitting. A new island is formed by Mira’s sacrifice but many people of the Fallen Isles perished and those that survived are left giftless now that their gods are gone. Regardless, they are left with a fresh start, a second chance to take care of the dragons and create a better life for them all.


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

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

6 Affective Things about Jodi Meadows’s “As She Ascends”

“As She Ascends”

Fallen Isles #2

by Jodi Meadows

Nikki’s Rating: 6 out of 10

Summary: Escaped from the Pit, Mira and her friends are on the run as they are pursued by Khulani warriors led by Altan, their imprisoner and torturer. As they travel across the Fallen Isles searching for a safe sanctuary for the dragons, they come to realize that the conspiracy to capture and ship off the dragons may have not been limited to just Damina. Governments on each Isle may be complacent and their gods are angry. As quakes and storms ravage the Fallen Isles, Mira realizes that the Great Abandonment has begun and it may be too late to save her beloved dragons.

6 Affective Things about Jodi Meadows’s “As She Ascends”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Inclusion

With the exception of one Isle, being of the LGBTQ community is widely accepted in the Fallen Isles world and Meadows includes a lesbian couple as part of Mira’s core group of friends.

2. The Fallen Isles

The Fallen Isles world is enriched due to the vastly different cultures, traditions, and values seen on each isle. Most importantly though is that Meadows includes examples of misunderstandings and missed opportunities that may arise due to making assumptions, stereotypes, and judgments about others based on their culture.

“We’d both spent those moments making incorrect assumptions about propriety and culture and intention when we should have just talked.”

Meadows 456

3. Aaru & Mira

Ever the romantic, my heart was so happy when Aaru and Mira finally kissed and professed their love. It was nearly torture for almost two whole books of them looking at each other longingly and then deciding that the other didn’t actually like them.

4. Anahera

Surprising twist to find out that perhaps the Empire may not be the big bad but it is actually the Fallen Isle Anahera who are collecting the dragons and noorestones. Believing that cleansing fire is the way to redemption, Anahera would want nothing more than the Great Abandonment to come about in order to “save” the world. Looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds and to learn more about Anahera but I must admit some hesitance in believing a spy from the Empire.

5. Dragons

As a dragon lover and overall animal lover, it was hard reading about how distressed and sick the dragons were. But thankfully I can rejoice and can continue reading the Fallen Isles Trilogy knowing that for now the dragons are free and well. Mira’s affinity for dragons is amazing and I’m absolutely jealous!

6. When She Reigns

Thankfully Jodi Meadows’s Fallen Isles Trilogy concludes in the next book “When She Reigns.”


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