Monthly Archives: September 2012

No Crying for Elena: A Woman Raised in a Cult and Her Daughter Finally Find Salvation in Each Other by N. Meridian

No Crying for Elena Reviewed by Diane Pollock

Child of a Cult, Woman of the World.

The author relates the true story of her life as a young girl in a cult who was forced into the real world following a raid upon their compound. She carves out a life for herself as a teenager, but is sideswiped by a rape that led to her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter Elena. She triumphs in the end as we leave her looking forward with hope.

The author has had an intriguing and difficult life, overcoming much adversity. I feel that the very writing of this book was quite cathartic and even necessary for her. The book teases us with flashes and glances at her life, leaving us longing for further detail. For example, we learn of her moving in with her Aunt Bee and living with her for many months before suddenly being told that Aunt Bee had an adult daughter who was bipolar and quite cruel to our heroine.

Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story by Freddie Owens

Then Like the Blind Man:  Orbie's StoryReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Debut author, Freddie Owens, swings for the fences and hits a home run with his excellent coming-of-age story set primarily in Kentucky, Then Like the Blind Man. When Orbie’s father dies, his life changes forever. His mother, Ruby, finds herself attracted to the smooth-talking, poetic atheist Victor Denalsky, who had been Orbie’s father’s foreman at a steel mill in Detroit. After Orbie’s father dies, Victor courts Orbie’s mother, and eventually marries her. Not wanting to nor desiring to take care of a nine-year-old boy with an attitude, like Orbie, who can’t stand his stepfather, anyway, Ruby and Victor decide to drop Orbie off at Ruby’s parents’ house in Kentucky, with the promise that they’ll come back to get him once they’ve settled in Florida, where Victor supposedly has a job lined up. Orbie’s mother and Victor take with them Orbie’s younger sister, Missy.

The novel is told in the first person by Orbie, who, though young, is very insightful for his age. As I read, I was often reminded of another famous novel told from the POV of a child, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird. The themes are different, but Orbie’s and Scout’s perspectives on African Americans in the 1950’s are significant to understanding both books. Orbie has some bad experiences with some of the black people he comes in contact with early on in the novel, so he calls them the “n,” word at various points in the story.

Through the course of Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie eventually realizes that his grandparents are great people who love him. They may not have attained a high level of school education, but they are wise about farm life and human nature.

They don’t like it that their daughter, Ruby, has developed a prejudice for blacks, nor that she’s passed it on to Orbie. That’s one of the many nice touches I liked about Freddie Owen’s debut novel, that in it, it’s not Orbie’s grandparents who live in Kentucky that exhibit a prejudiced point of view, but it’s learned from experiences Orbie and his family have living in Detroit, in the north. Of course, in reality, unfortunately you can find prejudice in every state to this day; but, the author didn’t go the stereotypical route of having his northern characters expressing an enlightened POV, and his southern ones being all racists.

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

Talking to the Dead Reviewed by Teri Davis

Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths is new to her job, insecure, and finding it difficult fitting into the “old boys” detective mold with the police force in the town of Newport in Wales. Knowing that she has a tendency to not fit in anyway, she finds the job a challenge that is quickly becoming a life obsession.

For Fiona, her first murder scene is shocking and disturbing. Sure, woman on drugs would seem to have an outcome of being murdered, stabbed. That part didn’t completely bother her. What she didn’t plan on was the woman’s six-year-old daughter being killed by having a sink smashed over her head. How could a six-year-old have deserved that kind of a death? Also, the young girl seems to have a smile on what is left of her face. She appears happy and content.

Curiously though, a platinum credit card was found at this crimescene. The card belonged to a man who went missing months ago. Even though his body had not been found, he is believed to be dead. Could he be alive? What would this wealthy man’s platinum card be doing at the home of this single mother? Added to that is that the neighbors didn’t ever see the daughter. Was she hiding in the house and fearful to even look out the windows? It seems that each discovery brings with it a multitude of questions that are not easily answered.

Also, she is currently assigned the job of investigating embezzlement by another police officer. She finds that somehow he seems to be linked to both the murders and the missing person.

For whatever reasons, Fiona becomes obsessed with this murder. She searches out the history of the credit card and the missing man, as well as those who knew both the mother and her child. Unfortunately, she manages to question too many people and another prostitute is killed. As she finds herself connecting with the world of the victims, she discovers a healing process herself for her own breakdown years ago.

Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery by Mary Jane Clark

Look of Love Reviewed by Julie Moderson

I love Mary Jane Clark. She writes a good story with just the right amount of romance, mystery and humor. Her books are always a fast read that will keep you reading until the last page. This time this book was a “Kiss and Teal” with a teal ribbon for Ovarian Cancer Awareness. It is wonderful to see someone promote some other form of cancer other than Breast Cancer. The book shares some warning signs of Ovarian Cancer which is informative.

A Plain & Simple Heart (The Amish of Apple Grove) by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

A Plain & Simple Heart Reviewed by Jane Squires

Rebecca has loved Jesse ever since meeting him during a cattle drive. The cowboys had helped her family when they were robbed. Rebecca is Amish. Her sister, Emma, married Luke the cowboy who was in charge of the cattle drive.

Rebecca leaves at night to set out to find who she thinks is her true love. She is arrested and put in jail. Colin, the sheriff, has a time with this spit fire of a young woman taking over the jail. Rebecca gets caught up in the Temperance Movement by accident. Yet through it all she makes friends with the Englishers.

Amos comes to bail her out of jail with money from the Amish Community. He cannot believe the outside world. He falls for Sassy – Sarah, who had worked in a Saloon. She returns to the Amish Community.

Love Finds You in Amana Iowa by Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You in Amana Iowa Reviewed by Teri Davis

Life with people known for their peaceful practices allows avoidance of war, but how does anyone attempt to handle a country’s civil war while still holding your values and beliefs.

The people from the Amana colonies are in the process of moving their entire colony from New York to settle in Iowa during our country’s Civil War. Even though the elders chose to pay for their young men not to be conscripted, they were still strongly influenced by the realities of the war.

The colony in New York sent many able-bodied men ahead to begin to build and prepare for the women, children, and the rest of their families who would eventually make the long trek overland to Iowa. Their advance team included Friedrich Vinzenz, clockmaker, and his adopted brother, Matthias, who was a builder. Their job was to start planting the fields and building the kitchens, shelters, and places of worship for those coming in the near future.

Friedrich has promised to marry Amalie Weise when she finally arrives at the colony. Their long relationship grew from their childhood while spending time with Friedrich’s family. Growing up with the Vinzenz family, their close relationship grew as well along with Matthias being promised to Friedrich’s sister.

Reunion by Carl Brookins

Reunion Reviewed by Patricia Reid

Jack Marston, a former investigator for the Navy, is now a student service director at City College in Minneapolis. Jack is living with Lori Jacobs and Lori has just received an invitation to the reunion of the Class of 1989 in the town of Riverview. Lori isn’t too excited about going but Jack encourages her to accept the invitation. Lori accepts but wants Jack to attend the reunion functions with her.

The couple travel to Riverview to attend. There are some interesting sounding events set up for the attendees at the reunion. Jack takes a walk outside on the first night and finds a dead body and this won’t be the first murder to happen during the reunion.

Lori didn’t expect things to remain the same in Riverview but it isn’t the town that she remembers. It seems that there are a lot of shady dealings going on and certain people will go to any length to keep their secrets hidden. Jack is using his investigator skills to attempt to figure out what is actually going on in this crooked town and Lori is helping with her knowledge of the people.

Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Review #2)

Don't Ever Get Old Reviewed by Patricia Reid

Buck Schatz has been married to his wife, Rose, for 64 years. Buck can be pretty set in his ways but when Rose speaks Buck does listen. Rose insists that Buck go to the hospital to visit Jim Wallace. Jim is dying and is asking to see Buck. Buck uses the excuse that he can’t drive to the hospital but Jim’s daughter Emily Feely agrees to drive him. Jim and Buck have never been close but they did spend time together in a POW camp back in 1944.

Jim confesses to Buck that he had seen Heinrich Ziegler in France in 1946. Ziegler was not a happy memory for Buck. Zeigler was head of the POW camp and was very cruel to Buck, partly because Buck was Jewish but mostly because Ziegler was simply a very cruel individual. Buck had heard that Ziegler was dead but Jim states that not only was Ziegler alive but he had given Jim a gold bar to let Ziegler go.

Buck having fulfilled his agreement to visit Jim is more than ready to return home and daytime TV. A retired homicide detective Buck has had many dangerous adventures in the past but is now pretty much content to just stay at home, visit the Jewish Community Center on occasion, eat Rose’s cooking and smoke Lucky Strikes. Buck carries a “memory book” jotting down notes of things he needs to remember because at 87 a person can’t be expected to remember everything. Buck can’t understand why he can’t light up a Lucky in public and that is just one of the many things Buck finds unacceptable.

Just Add Salt Book 2 (Hetta Coffey Series) Jinx Schwartz

Just Add Salt by Jinx SchwartzReviewed by Teri Davis

Some people seem to attract trouble like Hetta Coffey. It also might be that Hetta is the type of person who jumps into the water and then asks about its depth. Added to that, she can’t swim.

Living on a yacht definitely requires a different lifestyle. Since she no longer has a land-based house, all of her life encompasses her boat. Being the she is an engineer who is contracted to work in various places, her boat or house, goes wherever she is needed. With her love, Jenks, currently in the Middle East, Hetta takes off for Mexico with her best friend, Jan, and a mysterious, but conveniently cheap captain to pilot the boat.

The more Hetta discovers about her new temporary job, the more she questions whether this job is legal or ethical. A particular Japanese company wants to buy land in Baja to develop into a desalinization plant which also seems to be involved with some poaching of whales. Hetta’s job is to plan their supplies and needs to complete their project. Jan accompanies Hetta as a marine biologist who is really a companion and friend with no qualifications.

Just Add Salt is the second book in the Hetta Coffey series which now includes four novels. Just Add Water is the first book in this series which is wonderful with the character develop of Hetta and her friends. This second book in this series could be difficult to understand if someone does not have this background of the characters.

Kill Shot: An American Assassin Thriller (Mitch Rapp) by Vince Flynn

Kill Shot Reviewed by Allen Hott

Perhaps a difficult story for some to believe but in today’s world there seems to be little doubt that this type of thing can happen. Kill Shot tells the story of a political assassin hired and trained by a department of the United States government. Yes, that is right. He is a U.S. citizen and is hired by our government to “take care of” political enemies.

Mitch Rapp is the assassin and he is primarily out to destroy those known enemies who were responsible for the killing of the several hundred citizens in the Pan Am Lockerbie catastrophe that occurred. (And it stands to reason there are probably more of these assassins who are working their way and riding the world of those who have caused harm to the U.S. during these terrorist years.)

However Rapp’s latest assignment has turned out to be a catastrophe. He has been making “kills” for over a year with absolutely no problems but on this one in Paris it seems that everything goes wrong. The target had supposedly been checked out completely and had no bodyguards, etc. to cause Rapp any problems. But just as Rapp had finished his job and was heading out suddenly there appeared four rapidly-firing gunmen with Rapp as their target.