Secrets of a Southern Town

Chalktown –
Melinda Haynes

Reviewed by Donna G. Pierce

When this story opens, 16-year-old Hezekiah Sheehand is dodging his school’s truant officer. With his 5-year-old mentally disabled brother, Yellababy, strapped to his back, he heads to Chalktown, Miss., determined to discover the secrets that plague the small town. Hez leaves behind an abusive mother, Susan Blair, and a philandering father, Fairy, who lives in an old bus and slips off every day to meet his ex-wife.

In Melinda Haynes’ second novel, Chalktown, she weaves a Southern tale about people in rural Mississippi in the early 1960s.

The novel takes the listener back a few years to a summer day when a traveling preacher passed through Chalktown preaching a revival where some churchgoers are slain in the spirit and some speak in tongues. The preacher prophesizes that a lover will return to resident Annie, promising the young pregnant girl a happier life. But while Annie hopes for the best, others in Chalktown are doubtful.

After the preacher leaves, the residents stop speaking and begin communicating on chalkboards that hang on their front porches. Tragedy strikes the small village of loners and misfits and leaves them doubting each other.

When the story returns to Hez, he’s nearing Chalktown, unaware that while he’s been away, tragedy has struck home. His younger sister, Arena, who is involved with an older man, leaves home. Fairy sets out to find Arena and her lover, and their confrontation leads to the dramatic ending.

Hez and Yellababy begin a life together; and in prison, Fairy learns that life doesn’t always go as planned.

Haynes’ first novel, Mother of Pearl, was chosen for Oprah’s book club, and it had a similar storyline to Chalktown. The dialogue is chock full of Southern clichés and country dialect that doesn’t always ring true, but it lends some authenticity to her work.

Rating: 6
6 hours
Retail: $26
Simon & Schuster Audio

My Dream of You –
Nuala O’Faolain
Reviewed by
Andrea L. Denton
Jefferson City, Tenn.

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Title: My Dream of You

Author: Nuala O’Faolain

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Listening Time: 6.5 hours

Retail: $26

Genre: Romance

Plot: A travel writer based in London loses her best friend to a heart attack. She decides to make changes in her life. She returns to her native country of Ireland to investigate a true story about an affair between the wife of an English landlord and a servant during the Irish potato famine in the 1850s. What follows is a disjointed collection of memories about her past – including family, friends and lover – mixed with information she has gathered about the affair she is investigating. She meets a man for whom she has strong feelings, but he is married. She decides not to continue to see him. There is no resolution to the story of past lovers.

Main characters: Kathleen de Burca is a travel writer from London who was born and raised in Ireland. Burca escaped Ireland at the age of 20. She still has many unresolved issues with her family in Ireland and New York. All other characters are minor, and they pass in and out of the story through tales of the past.

What’s best (or not)? I did not like much about the book. It took too many jumps from the distant past to her present life. I did not feel as though there was any resolution to the story of the lovers.

Would you recommend? I would recommend this book to anyone who is particularly interested in historical romance.

Narrator’s style: Dearbhla Molloy did a wonderful job narrating the book. Molloy was clear and concise. She did a great job distinguishing the characters.

Rating: 3


Killing Pablo –
Mark Bowden

Killing Pablo is the inside story of the brutal rise and violent fall of Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. The United States launched a joint military and intelligence operation with the Colombian government to track down Pablo. After Pablo’s audacious escape from prison, they knew it would not be enough just to capture Pablo. This time, they would have to kill him. Bowden’s gripping narrative sounds as if it were torn from the pages of a military techno-thriller.
Killing Pablo
6 hours
Retail: $25
Simon & Schuster Audio

Springwater Wedding –
Linda Lael Miller

Once a frontier stagecoach stop, tiny Springwater has grown and entered the 21st century. Although many things have changed, heartbreak is still heartbreak, and love is still love. Springwater still boasts of a rich legacy of joy, sorrow and second chances as two childhood sweethearts discover when they rekindle a long-ago passion in the place they will always call home.
Springwater Wedding
4.5 hours
Retail: $25
Simon & Schuster Audio

Star Trek: The Genesis Wave –
John Vornholt

Like an unstoppable cosmic storm, the dreaded Genesis Wave continues to sweep across the Alpha Quadrant, transforming entire planets on a molecular level and threatening entire civilizations with extinction. Based on the long-hidden scientific secrets of Dr. Carol Marcus, who has mysteriously disappeared, the wave of mutagenic protomatter seems to have come from nowhere. To combat the rushing terror of the wave, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise have been forced into an uneasy alliance with the Klingons and the Romulan Empire, both of whom may crave the forbidden secrets of the Genesis technology for themselves.
Star Trek: The Genesis Wave
3 hours
Retail: $18
Simon & Schuster Audio

Truckers News Associate Editor Donna Pierce has a novel out on CD (for computer) titled “A Secret Of Color,” about a bigoted district attorney who frames a woman for murder. From Page Free Publishing, this virtual CD includes photos and other enhancements and can be read on a computer screen.

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