Friday, September 01, 2017

The House of Blood & Tears

Vista, CA—Most of us have heard of Corrie Ten Boom are awed by how she and her family risked (and lost) their lives to help Jews. But few have heard of Anje van Tongeren. I had not heard of her until I read The House of Blood and Tears, a compelling, scary and true story of Anje van Tongeren and her mother who helped save hundreds of Jews in Holland during Hitler’s takeover during the second World World.

Anje van Tongeren’s mother, Hillie, was an extraordinary woman with great kindness and compassion. In spite of a difficult family situation, she never lacked a positive word to say and was always available to help those in need. It is not surprising, then, that she did not hesitate to join the underground resistence against the Nazis in the 1940s Netherlands. And since 12-year-old Anje was all too eager to help, Hillie’s strong convictions led her to bring her daughter into the fight too.

Lenore Eidse, newswoman turned novelist and author of The House of Blood and Tears (Westbow), uses her clear writing style to recount the story of the Netherlands under siege in the 1940s. She craftfully introduces the reader to several points of view, Hillie’s and Anje’s being at the forefront. But Anje is our antagonist and our greatest sympathies lie with her (which makes sense since Eidse wrote her specific story after spending many hours with her).

Says Eidse, “The dreaded word ‘Occupation’ began to rule the Dutch people’s existence. Secrets, lies, the concealment of Jews, were all considered acts of treason and could condemn their fates. The consequence of their involvement was costly in Hitler’s Holocaust; but the cost of losing their homeland to the Nazis was higher.”

Given the turbulence in the world today, the brewing hatred and threatening wars—as well as the push to “erase” history—The House of Blood and Tears is relevant. I highly recommend it. The book is well-written and a page-turner—and it also provides a much needed visit back into to History to remind us of what could still happen today and that God must be our ultimate focus to get us through.

For more information about The House of Blood and Tears,  visit: and also

This article also appears in Assist News

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © September 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Atheist & The Parrotfish by Richard Barager tells a complex but compelling story probing some hardcore human issues. Atheism, transgenderism, guilt, death, relationships… It’s all there.

A cross-dresser, Ennis Willoughby, is in need of both a new kidney and a new heart. His hope of a double transplant is in the hands of his nephrology doctor, Cullen Brodie.

The two organs suddenly became available through the tragic death of a woman who, coincidentally, had worked in the very medical center where Brodie works. In spite of Willoughby’s age (in his sixties), the doctor ensures that his patient is the recipient of these vital organs. Everything seems to go well until an odd phenomenon occurs.

Ennis Willoughby – whose female side he calls Emily – feels an uncanny connection with his anonymous donor.

Ennis tells Brodie as well as his psychiatrist, Becky, that he knows who his donor was, he is convinced her name is Carla, and even odder is that he suddenly experiences new tastes that no doubt came from her. He feels he has received Carla’s soul as well as her organs.

In spite of things that Ennis suddenly knows and feels that cannot be explained, the two doctors resist his theory.

Meanwhile, Brodie has his own demons to fight. An untimely death and a broken-up relationship with the love of his life make for a heavy past which forever lurks in the background. Unable to come to grips with what happened, it is easy to just become a staunch atheist living as you please. God cannot logically exist, it’s as simple as that! But underneath this belief system, there is deep pain – pain he drowns in promiscuity and large living.

Underneath it all, question about God’s existence keeps on popping up.

Carefully crafted narrative weaves in scenes from Brodie’s past as well as Willoughby’s. Several other key characters are brought in, adding to the story’s complexity and brilliance. Unexpected twists and turns keep the reader riveted.

Barager, who is himself a nephrologist practicing in Southern California, employs a rich vocabulary, subtle imagery and a stunning knowledge of culture, including the arts, overseas societies and much more.

However, as well as a rich vocabulary, the author does not spare us from sexually charged content and crude language—all of which serve to paint an authentic picture of the characters. Thus, the book would not be classified as “Christian” per se, and would not be a good fit for everyone.

The Atheist and The Parrotfish (Evolved Publishing, May 2017) is a fascinating, well-written read. A page-turner rom the get-go.

For more information, please visit and connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Goodreads

This story also appears in Assist News Service.

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © June 2017

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Refugee Crisis, thru the eyes of children

The worldwide refugee crisis is a complex issue with no easy answers. It is hard to imagine what it feels like for a child to arrive on a foreign shore hungry, wet, exhausted… Or what it is like for the parents taking such a risk in hopes of giving their children a brighter future.

Robert and Robin Jones’ book, The Refugee Crisis, thru the eyes of children, gives us a glimpse of what this looks like – particularly through the eyes of innocent children.

Robert and Robin Jones from Southern California have lived on and off in Lesbos, a Greek island near Turkey, for 42 years. In 2015 they found themselves involved in a growing crisis – the arrival of boatloads of refugees coming to Lesbos to flee war and start a new life.

The Jones watched as weary families came ashore, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Children were cold and hungry, and parents were confused—yet hopeful. Since they had not died on the seas, maybe they would find a new life after all. But their story does not end there.

In spite of mixed feelings about how to handle this increasing influx of refugees, it did not take long for the generous people of Lesbos to pitch in and do their part to take care of these people as best they could. Some gave bread, others water, others a ride up the road (although the registering center was still much further and required a lot of walking).

Robert and Robin Jones witnessed the generosity of the Greek people as well as the endless work of volunteers and aids groups. They found themselves also doing their part to help and were particularly drawn to the children with their intense innocence and vulnerability.

Robin initiated a stress-relieving activity for the children as they gathered waiting for their bus to the registration center. She placed a checkered tablecloth on the ground with colored markers and papers and invited the children to draw (giving the exhausted parents a much-needed reprieve). She captures their art in the book The Refugee Crisis, thru the eyes of children—and it is deeply moving.

The children seemed to find joyful distraction in coloring. All drew some kind of body of blue, the sea that had brought them to this island. Some sketched tanks on one shore and trees on the opposite shore. Each colorful drawing recorded a story – a child’s perception of his flight from wartime.

The Refugee Crisis: Through the Eyes of Children recounts an eye-opening story that will surely touch any heart. The pictures are delightful (of course – children created them!) and portray the daunting and desperate adventure of crossing water in hopes of finding a safe haven. Robin’s photos bring life to Robert’s compelling narrative. However, tighter editing could have improved the flow and eliminated annoying writing/typing errors. Still, this is a rich read.

My interview with the Robert and Robin Jones gives a glimpse of what is happening in Molyvos now:

JD--The story of the work among the refugees is compelling. Have you been able to follow up with any of those you helped? If so, can you tell us what happened to them? 

RJ – Thousands of people were on the move during the time of the book.  There was really no thought of staying in touch as most only had dreams of reaching somewhere they knew very little about.  It was a time of escape and we were merely a part of the flow.  Countries were building fences to keep them out and movement was the great driver.  We have wished many times we had taken the opportunity to look towards future follow up but it was not the time, it was a time of helping in the moment.  The few names we do have, we have not been able to locate.

JD--As founder of Orphans First, I work with impoverished, at-risk children in several countries and it is amazing how they express themselves through their art. Can you tell us what surprised you—or touched you—most about the children's artwork?

RJ—All of the artwork in the book was done by the children within 3-4 hours of making the dangerous crossing by raft from the Turkish mainland.  Although exhausted, dis-oriented and in incredibly strange surroundings, given a chance to be a child for a moment, we were amazed at the way the children fell into the fun of expression.  The drawings tell frightening stories but were at the same time filled with hope and new beginnings.

JD--Have you returned to Molyvos recently? How does it look? Do you still see the orange vests?

RJ—Molyvos is our second home.  We live there three to six months per year, for the past 42 years.  There is a lull in the arrivals and the island and village have had time to take a breather.  We are experiencing under 100 per day on the island, a far cry from the 3000 arrivals a day during the height of the crisis.  The beaches are pristine, and the village is open and inviting.  We hold our breath for the coming summer and hope the mass movements of prior summers will not suddenly reappear.

The Refugee Crisis: Through the Eyes of Children (82 page full color paperback) by Robin and Robert Jones is published by Blue Point Books and listed at $19.95. All proceeds from the sales above and beyond costs, will be donated to IsraAID through the Avi Schaefer Fund. (This organization has helped and continues to help the refugees extensively.)

The children’s art as well as Robin’s photographs can be viewed here.

This story also appears in Assist News

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © March 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

You Carried Me, an abortion survivor's story


This week we remember the holocaust. Today thousands of women around the country march for pro-life -- to protest the modern holocaust of millions of abortions (some performed even in late-term pregnancy). My review of You Carried Me, A Daughter's Memoir--the story of a botched abortion who survived to tell her story--could not be more pertinent. Hope it inspires you to read the book.

What must it feel like to discover you were aborted? To discover that you were meant to die, but instead you lived--and you cannot understand why your birth mother wanted you killed? You Carried Me, a daughter’s memoir recounts Melissa Ohden’s life and escape from death—from a botched-abortion, turned accidental birth, to forgiveness for all who were involved in seeking her death.

Adopted by hard working, God-fearing parents at only two-months-old, experiences the same humble joys and challenges any child growing up in the heart of rural America encounters. Surrounded by a large extended family, siblings and church friends, her life seems normal. She is just an ordinary girl. Or so she thinks.

It is not until her sister’s unplanned pregnancy that Melissa, now a teen, discovers the haunting secret about her own past—she is an abortion survivor. This traumatizing news plunges her into a dark space and launches her quest to know why her birth parents had wanted to have her killed. Did they even know she was alive?

Melissa Ohden brings us on an incredible and intimate journey full of shocking twists and turns as she tries to contact her birth parents and anyone who may know something about why she was aborted. Her story is riveting, compelling and enlightening. Things are not always what they seem to be. Beyond the helpless baby, abortions have many other victims.

Ohden, now a wife and mother, is an advocate for adults and children impacted by abortion and has appeared before congress and on TV. She is also the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network. She holds a Master of Social Work and has worked with cases of substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and child welfare.

You Carried Me is an easy read, page-turner with a story you will never forget. I highly recommend it--especially to anyone wanting to better understand abortion and its victims as well as those seeking healing from abortion.

This excellent book by Plough Publishing released this month. Find out more at

This story also appears in Assist News Service

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © January 2017