Tag Archives: Violence

Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Opening Blurb: Grandfather Kemal is found in a vat used to color the kilim rugs he sells, meaning he literally “dyed”.

Orhan’s Inheritance is the perfect title for Aline Ohanesian’s premiere novel about a young man, Orhan Turkoglu, who inherits the family business when his DeDe dies. His bequest is unusual since a father usually passes his property to his son, not his grandson, but the 1990’s are modern times even in Turkey. Yet traditions remain strong and Mustafa threatens to take Orhan to court and challenge what he considers a bogus will. It’s not that the father wants to run the family business, he’s never earned an honest days work, it’s just the principle. Orhan fears his father will either neglect the business or sell it and waste the money, negating all his efforts to create a successful company.

However, that is not the gist of the story. The most unusual aspect of the will is that the deed to their family home is to be transferred to 87 year old Seda Melkonian, an unfamiliar name belonging to an elderly women living in an Armenian Nursing Home in Los Angeles, leaving him, his father, and his aunt without their beloved residence. Seda is the key to Orhan’s true inheritance and he travels across the ocean, his grandfather’s sketch book in hand, to have this stranger sign papers so he can keep his childhood home in the family as well as discover the mysteries of his Dede’s past.

Bopping back and forth between present and past, the reader is exposed to the genocide perpetuated against the Armenians living in Turkey during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, when the Turks sided with Germany in World War I. The Armenian Death March, where able bodied men were murdered or imprisoned and women, children, and the elderly were forced to leave their homes and walk to the Syrian dessert, is prescient to the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis. Similar to the attitudes towards those of the Jewish faith, the Turkish people resented the affluence of their Armenian neighbors – angry at the fees they charged when lending money, angry that they were Christian instead of Muslim, angry that the women were seen in public without covering their bodies (wearing a bonnet was not enough), angry that their success make them feel somehow lesser. So when the Turkish Army took action, the populace remained mum, even though it was their former friends who were taken away and shot as traitors. They blamed it on the war where casualties are to be expected, but there is a difference between war and genocide, a fact that needs to be acknowledged when a population of 1.7 million is reduced to 300,000.

Based on the memories of the author’s grandmother, Orhan’s Inheritance gives us a glimpse into the mind set of those who live in Turkey, a modernized Middle Eastern country with one foot still in the past.

A thank you to Algonquin Books and Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 4 stars.

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Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

What goes on in the minds of the people who surround us, individuals who are there but invisible, going about their daily lives while we are involved in our own personal minutia so that even if we notice their presence they are an afterthought?

That is the case in the novel Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, a murder mystery which slowly reveals the guilty party via the personal reflections of three troubled souls who are somehow interconnected within the borders of the small town of Broomsville located in Northern Colorado. Fifteen year old Lucinda Hayes has been murdered on the carrousel at the playground of the local elementary school found by the night janitor, Ivan, an immigrant from Mexico with a criminal past. Cameron Whitley, Lucinda’s next door neighbor, has been obsessed with this beautiful teen, spending his evenings as a stone statue watching her movements. Cameron’s thought processes are a little strange as he has difficulty relating to others, becoming “Tangled” when situations are ltoo stressful for him to handle. Detective Russ Fletcher, a colleague of Cameron’s dad (a man who deserted his family several years previously), has vowed to watch over his former partner’s son keeping a promise to someone who ended up on the wrong side of the law. Cameron fears he will one day develop the evil characteristics which sealed his father’s fate, despite his inner sense of love for his long departed dad. Then there’s Jade Dixon-Burns, a girl who exhibits no empathy, not since she was rejected by her childhood friend who decided he’d rather hang out with the alluring Lucinda than remain cohorts with his fat, pimply companion from elementary school days. Through their collective thoughts the details of that fateful February night are slowly revealed with their paths intersecting as the surprising truth – clearly visible the entire time – finds its way to the surface.

Slowly is the key word. The reader must be patient as each trail is examined to see if it is a true path or a dead end. The bizarre contemplations of theseo three characters lead us to false conclusions time and again, yet within these premises are the clues necessary to solve the mystery. While I was curious to see how the author would reveal the perpetrator, I do wish she was a bit more purposeful and a little quicker in wrapping up a story which left a few too many strings dangling at the conclusion.

Three and a half stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears as on Goodreads.

Forbidden Knight by Diana Cosby

Forbidden Knight by Diana Cosby is a sweet little Scottish Medieval Romance, short enough to read in an afternoon, long enough to be chockful of action. Mistress Alesone MacNiven is under the protection of the rightful King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, when she comes across a group of men on horseback. Not sure if they pay allegiance to Bruce or his mortal enemy, Lord Comyn, she sends a masterful warning shot with her arrow, barely missing the heart of Sir Thomas MacKelloch. Leary of each other’s intentions, Thomas binds the maiden to keep her from escaping so he can verify her story of being the King’s healer. Once truths are revealed, the two find themselves on the way to safety in Avalon to avoid a disaster which would tear Scotland apart. Each has a series of secrets which affect their outlook on life and both feel a growing affection which doesn’t fit into either of their future plans. The road is not easy, not just because of the tough terrain, but also because the enemy is on their tail, and anyone who helps them also becomes a target. While this Medieval tale is full of violence, it is tempered with love as Sir Thomas and Alesone both attempt to reconcile their pasts. Although this is Part 2 of the Forbidden Series, you don’t need to have read the plot of Book1 to gain an understanding of the moral codes of the times.

Although well written and despite the exciting fight scenes, there was a little too much repetition in the intimacy department as the two lovers agonize over their feelings and despair that this is a romance which can never happen. With a lot of teasingly passionate moments, in the end there’s a nice twist which promises a happily ever after in spite of their doubts. The historical background regarding the Knights Templar and the strife over who will rule Scotland is an added plus.

Three and a half stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

Elves (Volume 1) – Part 1: The Crystal of the Blue Elves by Jean-Luc Istin and Kyko Duarte, Part 2: The Honor of the Sylvan Elves by Nicolas Jarry and Maconi

A few years ago Elves was published in France (Elfes) and now it’s making its appearance here in the United States. Volume 1 contains two separate stories, Part 1: The Crystal of the Blue Elves by Jean-Luc Istin and Kyko Duarte about the Blue Elves who live by the sea and Part 2: The Honor of the Sylvan Elves by Nicolas Jarry and Maconi dealing with the Sylvan or Forest Elves. There are three other subsets of Elves to be published in a future edition.

The trouble with this series is that it takes awhile to grasp the cast of characters. While the graphics are spectacular and help the reader interpret the story, there is still a lot of confusion. Part of the problem in the first story is that these are three plot lines which eventually intersect, however, the story flits from one to another in a jarring fashion, taking a moment or two to figure out which part of the plot is front and center. While in the second story there is also a bunch of back and forths which make it difficult at times to figure out who’s who or what’s what. Too many gaps in the story only adds to the confusion, requiring an explanation which is nowhere to be found. It’s as if there was a prequel we all missed. Some backstory please before you throw us into the mix. Eventually we get the drift, but only after a frustrating start.

In both stories there’s a lot of backstabbing and double crossing along with a few deceptions which change the outcome of the saga, although there are some honorable characters who leave us with hope for an eventual resolution. The various evil creatures such as the ork mercenaries are horrifying, but as least they are easily identifiable as the enemy. It’s when the “good guys” turn out to have a hidden agenda and double cross their so called friends that the stories reflect a dark theme.

Full of blood, violence, and death, not everything turns out with a happily ever after ending. It’s just not that kind of book. With a better narrative and smoother transitions, this would be a superior series. The colorful, intricate art work illustrating the two stories could easily be developed into an adult animation (there’s nudity along with the violence) for the small or large screen. Three stars.

Thank you to Netgalley and Insight Comics for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Harley Quinn Volume 5: The Joker’s Last Laugh (#22-25)

I was introduced to Harley Quinn when my 14 year old grand daughter (dressed in pigtails and a “cheeky” heart) dragged me to the opening night of the Suicide Squad movie. I immediately fell in love with the quirky Harley character and not just because my grand daughter resembles the actress, Margot Robbie, who stole the show with her dramatization of the comic book character.

Harley is one of those iconic personas who should be abhorred and yet can’t help but be endearing. Childlike yet clever, deadly yet kind hearted, serious in her intent yet inclined to humorous alliterative quips, brutal to those who cross her yet loyal to her friends, ready to love despite a sadistic tendency, Harley represents an enigmatic dichotomy perfect for the comic world. Add in some incredible colorful graphics thanks to Chad Harding, including a fair amount of suggestive sensual illustrations, and you have a compelling series.

Harley Quinn Volume 5: The Joker’s Last Laugh (#22-25) by Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti represents a series of comic books continuing on from Harley Quinn Volume 4: A Call to Arms as Harley returns to Coney Island after her adventures in Hollywood. Her ride home to her apartment is waylaid and she is kidnapped, but not for long as she dispatches her attackers and ends up back with her friendly tenants. One particular friend, love interest Mason Macabre, is in prison after being found guilty of the accidental death of the mayor’s son. Both the guards and the inmates want him dead, so Harley uses some “creative” maneuvering to get him transferred to Arkham Asylum In Gotham City. Determined to break him out to safety, Harley enters the one place she has vowed to avoid and sure enough she is exposed to her former boyfriend, the Joker, who tries to lure her away from the man she has come to rescue. Other featured players include a Squad of Harley wannabe clones, a couple of elderly romantic cyborgs, and various animals (both living and stuffed). Cameo appearances by DC Comic favorites Poison Ivy, Power Girl, and Batman add to the fun.

As an extra tidbit, a standalone comic (Harley Quinn: Be Careful What You Wish For) entertains when Harley discovers a bottle containing a genie who will grant any wish leading to some amusing misadventures as the majority of her so-called desires don’t quite turn out as expected.

Please note that the sexual innuendo and violence make this book inappropriate for young children.

Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley and DC Comics for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

I just finished reading the Danish version of Law and Order: SVU.

This is obviously a novel which is a part of a series, but only three out of the eight books featuring Louise Rick have been translated into English. Despite the alluded to back story, you don’t need to know all the past details to enjoy The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel. Louise has just switched jobs from the Homicide Department to the newly started Special Search Agency. Her first case involves the accidental death of an unidentified woman with a distinguishing scar who was walking through the woods after dark and stepped into a ravine. The investigation leads into familiar territory, Hvalso – Louise’s hometown from “days back when” – a place that she has purposely avoided. Besides her frustration in the search to unearth the secrets surrounding this mysterious woman, Louise also has to deal with a past which continues to haunt her, cringing whenever she meets people from her younger days, (just in case they mention the trauma she refuses to address). Her partner, Eik, has demons of his own which cause him to smoke and drink to excess.

As an aside, I had quite a few private laughs while I read this book. The names struck me as amusing, such as the men in Louise’s life – Mik and Eik (in my mind they rhyme). Then there is the scene where Louise introduces herself to a woman who answers, “Bitter”. I thought Bitter was an expression similar to “hello”, but, in fact, it was a first name. After I got over the unfamiliar words, the small town of Hvalso seemed typical of close-knit communities, with just a few quirks to remind us that the setting is Denmark and not the United States.

Back to the plot – the investigation broadens as several cases seem to indicate one common perpetrator. Louise and Eik, with help from Mik, set out to discover what is really happening up in the secluded woods and why women are disappearing or showing up viciously raped and/or murdered. As in any good mystery, there are numerous misdirections, so just as we think we know who is guilty, we get a clue which indicates another suspect. Drama ensues.

Central to the theme is a mental institution which had some shady practices prior to its closing. Much of this information is based on true events although this particular center was fictional. However, the setting was based on locales familiar to the author.

As the book wraps up, an unexpected incident occurs with references to disturbing events from Louise’s past which make her rethink everything she formerly believed to be true. The reader doesn’t get any answers to her questioning thoughts, just an urge to pick up the next book in the series.

An easy read which has a quick pace and some unexpected twists. The ancillary characters add a little substance to the story and are obviously a part of prior plotlines. Any strangeness is due to the locale (Europeans just give off a different vibe than Americans), but the translation is credible. I can see why Sara Blaedel is popular in Denmark, although this is not the next “Great Danish Novel”. Three and a half stars.

A thank you to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for this free ARC, with the expectation that I will write an honest review.