New Book Review: Darktown

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Rated 5 of 5 stars

Darktown by Thomas Mullen put me into a dizzying head spin and a full blown emotional rollercoaster ride. The first 20 pages had me so seething mad that I had to realize that it was a story of fiction and I should probably calm down. I wasn’t going to find an “Officer Dunlow” in my town…well, not by that name anyway. The story gripped me from the very beginning and never let me go. I was emotionally on the edge of my seat for hours and felt real, palpable tension while reading this book.

So let’s get on with the synopsis. In Atlanta, the first black police officers are given badges, guns, training and a bunch of obstacles to overcome, racism being one of the tallest hurdles. The book is set in the 40’s and it shows the state of race relations to full scale with racial slurs, discrimination and the constant brow beating of black and brown people in a southern state. As a reader, this will boil you. You will hate what is happening and the general climate of the time….which is a good thing. If you don’t feel sickened, then you probably have racism, bigotry or just a general problem with having sympathy or empathy.

Anyway, two of the eight officers are walking their beat in Darktown (the slang term for the all black neighborhood) when they see a white man crash into a light pole, drunken at the wheel. After stopping him, they find a young black girl in the passenger side, clearly beaten but not asking for help. The man drives off when he realizes he was pulled over by cops that had no real power to arrest him. Later, they find the young girl dead. This spawns so many storylines in this book, you’ll be wondering who did what and why for most of the story. Excellent tension, suspense and overall unfolding of a mystery.

In the end, the story is gratifying. It may not be ideal but it definitely wraps up all the storylines and gives credibility to things that happened earlier in the story. I enjoyed every second of this story as a reader and hated/loathed/despised many of the characters (which is a sign of a powerful writer). This story will stay with me for a very long time. Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended!

*Book was purchased with my own money. Grab a $7 copy of your own with free shipping on Book Depository using my affiliate link HERE. (I get a couple cents for sending you, so thanks for keeping the blog running….)

New Book Review: Dark Matter

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4 of 5 stars

I found Blake Crouch’s, Dark Matter, to be an enthralling read! It had me sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering what I would do in the same situation and questioning what type of integrity I really have. This novel touches on scientific quantum studies, individuality (or lack thereof), emotional ties, psychological and post traumatic stress as well as a host of other really deep mental mysteries.

At the start of the book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to entirely like it due to the slower start but it ramped up pretty quickly when I wasn’t expecting it. Then it never let go. As a reader, you journey with the main character through his own mental and emotional struggles but also into the world of science. I’m no science nerd but this book made me really interested in quantum physics and the capabilities of a multiverse. Anyway, before I start, nerding-out completely, let’s get a brief synopsis.

The book follows Jason Dessen, a professor at a local college, as he spends an evening with his wife, Daniela and son, Charlie. You feel the comfort between Jason and his wife immediately. They have a really great bond. Later, as Jason sits with his buddy whose just won a prestigious award at a local bar, he questions whether his life would be different if he’d moved forward with his scientific invention related to quantum physics. He wonders if he could have been an all-star like his friend. He brushes this off as a simple “what if” and begins his walk home. While on his way, he is ambushed by a masked man and his life changes forever from that point on. When he wakes, he is in a lab. The people are acting strangely and even though he doesn’t recognize any of them, they seem to know him quite well. This is the start of Jason Dessen’s journey back home to his wife and son.

The scientific appeal of this novel is sci-fi to the max. But the suspense is just as strong a motivating factor for the reader. You want Jason to win. To find his family. But then there’s an extreme twist that makes you go “what the…”. That’s when you know Crouch has pulled you deep into the rabbit hole.

Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended

*This book was purchased with my own money. Purchase a copy with free shipping through my Book Depository affiliate link CLICK HERE

New Book Review: The Mothers

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4 of 5 stars

Brit Bennett wrote a breakout novel filled with heartbreak. She writes the story of Nadia Turner as a main character that has lost her mother and is in turn, always seeking out who she is in the shadow of her mother’s suicide. She questions why her mother would want to kill herself, wondering all the while whether it was Nadia who had made her mother hate her life by having a child too soon. Ironically, Nadia is faced with a similar situation at a young age and with the help of unlikely people, she makes a decision that will affect so many lives.

The story was a great, fast read when you get into the thick of her relationship with Luke, the preacher’s son and even more so with Nadia’s friendship with Aubrey. Aubrey is also damaged in her past by her own mother and she finds herself leaning on Nadia as her symbol of perfection and beauty. Her high hopes for Nadia are realized when she heads of to college in search of becoming a lawyer, travelling the world yet Aubrey doesn’t realize that Nadia is running from her past, her mother, herself.

The book is written from multiple perspectives throughout the book which I found particularly confusing in the beginning. There was not notation to let the reader know the narrator was switching from Nadia to Luke to the Mothers in the church. So many times, I’d read a few paragraphs completely lost until I got the gist of who’s point of view I was following. In the end, the book had really good conversation starters about women’s rights, youth rights, suicide, depression and so many other topics that I won’t say and spoil the story. Readers that value heartfelt, deep thought out drama will find this entertaining and a sure fire conversation starter. Great book club pick!

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

*Hardcover book was purchased with my own money. Use my affiliate link on Book Depository to get free shipping.

New Book Review: The Apartment

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2 of 5 stars

This novel took me entirely too long to finish. It was hard to identify with the characters and some of their decision making skills. Grey wrote a horror novel that had the attempt at being character driven yet the characters were not likable. The story is narrated through Steph and Mark’s point of view of the aftermath of a not so brutal home invasion that leaves the couple scared and paranoid. Then the couple finds a house swap site and take the first home in France that responds. Once they arrive at the house in France, they notice it is in a seemingly abandoned building. The apartment is in shambles and doesn’t look lived in. They stay due to their lack of funds. Mark had lost his job and they are pinching pennies. Weird things occur over their stay but nothing so gripping that a reader wouldn’t put the book down. There weren’t very many moments that tied me to the story, especially since Steph and Mark continually lie to each other which gets annoying. At some point, they need to have a meaningful conversation, yet that never happens. The end is lackluster. So meh and blah that you’re wondering if that was the payoff.

Raging Book Reviews Not Recommended

*book purchased with my own money (sadly)

New Book Review: Hydromancist

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Rated 4 of 5 stars

4 Stars of Greatness!

As always…Pauls delivers a great love story full of intrigue, angst and hot love making! There were times in the story where I wondered exactly how the main character was going to get out of the jam she was in and sure enough, it made me read all the way to the very end to get answers.

The story follows Maya Martin, a Cape Town orphan turned gangster in her early years, who was found by Cain, the leader of a paranormal task force, for extraordinary abilities to control water. Her skill is known as a hydromancist by paranormals and is very powerful and deadly. Cain has sent Maya on a mission close to her own heart. She must stop the illegal sale of arms which will be shipped by boat to Mozambique from Costa Rica. She must get close to the distributor, Tim Fardel, who happens to be a wealthy, heavily guarded ambassador. As she gets close to Tim, she learns that she is very attracted to him and his heart seems to be good. She feels conflicted in what her research has found on him and what he is showing her one on one.

By a fluke meeting with the head boss, she is targeted by him. Tim must do what he can to protect her but also has his own selfish motive for wanting to mark her as his own to keep her untouchable. Maya doesn’t realize that marking her will change her life forever.

This story was a very fast paced and satisfying read. It has romance, spying, fighting, sex and paranormal abilities. You get a taste of everything. I loved Maya in the previous novels so it was awesome to finally get her backstory and see her as more than a bad ass, quick witted woman. I also secretly liked the interracial love in this (but felt a little taken aback when she changed her dreads…I wanted her to stay in all her cultural glory and be loved by a handsome man that liked it too). Other than that, I withheld the final star because I think the ending was a bit quick and convenient regarding cures and the like. Overall, still a solid addition to the series!

Raging Book Reviews Recommended!

*This eBook was given to me by the author for an honest review.

Check out the author, Charmaine Pauls’ entire series on her website at www.charmainepauls.com

 

New Book Review: The Argus Deceit

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Rated 4 of 5 stars

The Argus Deceit by Chuck Grossart is Quantum Leap meets Stephen King-esque style of creepiness. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Grossart whose writing I’ve come to love. In the beginning of the story, we meet Brody Quail as a 52 year-old man who has gone through terrible unthinkable loss. The weird thing is…his life always ends at the same point. He never knows what happens before or after the day he’s living. Shortly after, Brody Quail is a ten year old boy playing with his buddies with the unthinkable, yet inevitable lurking around him and his little brother. After that day ends, you meet Brody Quail as a 26 year old, disabled veteran that relives his lackluster life and hard outer appearance until he’s met with three guys that want to rearrange his future. The last Brody Quail is sixteen and full of quiet admiration for a girl he likes, who actually may like him too. But that love is very short lived as he is thrust into the cycle all over again. That is, until he meets Constance “Connie” Drake…and things change forever (or do they?).

This story was very confusing in the beginning because the lives were so different. The years were all over the place so it wasn’t any type of foundation for the reader to hold on to. In the end, that is all explained in a glorious fashion. When I say, you must read this book to the VERY end to get every bit of nugget…you’ll be so curious as to the why, what and who…that you will zoom through the pages just to find out. You are not let down by the ending which is not quite one dimensional, but multi-layered.

Grossart writes with exploding action, heartfelt emotion and clever mystery. Even though in the beginning the stories repeat (to show the importance of how each day is the same for Brody Quail in each “life” he is in), you’ll enjoy the subtle changes as things start to crack and fall apart while Brody starts to realize that he is in a loop.

This story is for folks that like sci-fi done with a bit of mystery and suspense. If you’re tired of the same ole alien stories masquerading as sci-fi, then try Grossart for a refreshing sci-fi change.

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

COVER REVIEW

So I’m trying something new for writers that send me ARC’s…I’m going to review your book cover and back copy. I thought this would be a good addition to help for the final release. So here goes!

COVER: The cover is well balanced but doesn’t give the reader a good idea what the story is about. It doesn’t pull me in off first glance. It has a very sci-fi edge to it but after reading the story it doesn’t quite align. Maybe showing Brody Quail since he’s such a big factor of the story? Not sure if that’s the style you like. Just a thought. Leave a message below if you agree with my assessment of the cover.

BACK COPY: Back copy reads well! It doesn’t give away the story too much but definitely lets the reader know that they will be getting multiple lives of Brody Quail. Well done.

*This ARC was sent by the author for an honest review. The novel releases MAY 9, 2017.

 

New Book Release: Made Safe by Kurtis Sparks

 

Just a quick reminder that Made Safe by Kurtis Sparks is now available on Amazon! You can check out my Book Review: Made Safe by Kurtis Sparks (his newly released novel) on the blog or click HERE to purchase your own copy!

Made Safe: Book 1 in The Moses Winter Mysteries by [Sparks, Francis]

For Private Investigator, Moses Winter, the job just got more complicated. His adultery case has taken a violent turn landing the subject of his investigation, Fred Dunsmore, in the hospital and Moses in jail. Moses is held for questioning along with his erratic client, Sharon Dunsmore, and Fred’s mistress, a Bosnian refugee who just happens to be related to the DCI agent investigating the case, Raif Rakić.

After Rakić secures their release, Fred goes missing, and Moses Winter finds himself compelled to find him. With the assistance of Rakic, Moses unravels Fred’s ties to Des Moines’s underworld and is forced to confront the most heinous crimes of his career.

New Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10

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Rated 2 of 5 stars

This is my second Ruth Ware book and will likely be my last. The hype behind this book alone has made me question whether there will be any really great book from her that aren’t hyped to the max. It makes me not trust the publicity behind this author and that sucks royally for me as a reader since I spent my hard-earned money on both of her books because everyone LOVED them so much and I saw it practically everywhere. Well, now that I know that she has a good publicity team, that’s about all I have to quantify my spending because the books were not great, not even that good. So let’s get into it…

Ruth Ware has a way of creating the weakest, shrinking violet female leads that make me think she lives in some bubble somewhere. A place where the average woman is sobbing 75% of the time and the other 25% she is drinking her troubles away. This to me is a very annoying and demeaning trait for female leads to have. Therefore, I absolutely hated the main character in The Woman in Cabin 10. Laura “Lo” Blacklock is a travel writer sent to a luxury cruise liner to do a write up on all the rich and influential people attending the first voyage. Before she attends, she is robbed in her apartment. Not at gunpoint or knife point…he just locked her in her bedroom while he took everything. Of course, this has sent her reeling and paranoid that someone is out to get her…even though she has no security on her place. Anyway, this robbery stays with her and makes her feel unsafe so she heads to her boyfriends place. He returns home and helps ease her mind even though she ends up fighting with him and basically calling off the relationship in a fit of misplaced anger. At this point in the story, I’m wondering what the hell is wrong with this woman? Her reasoning for fighting with her boyfriend seems very sudden and dramatic. So I rolled my eyes constantly during their exchange. I guess the author didn’t want them to be on great terms before the cruise because it was sooooo forced.

Anyway, Lo finally makes it to the cruise and its pretty fancy. There’s only a small group on the ship. The cabin next to hers is supposed to be empty but she sees a girl in there when she asks to borrow mascara before dinner. Later that evening, while in bed after a night full of too much drinking, she hears a scream and splash. When she rushes to look out the balcony, she sees what looks like a hand going beneath the tide and sees a blood smear on the next patio door. She calls the security team who inspects the room next door to find nothing there about 5 minutes later. No blood. No signs of struggle. Nothing from the girl who was staying there that lent her the mascara. So she is tossed away as a drunk that was dreaming but she believes what she saw.

Throughout the rest of the story, you follow Lo’s quest to figure out who the person was in the cabin next to hers that no one seems to know about. The story gets really boring at this point. She finds something then someone steals it, erases it or loses it. It’s like “oh look what I found…then where’d it go?” for about 150 pages. In between all this, there’s lots of drinking, crying and weird interactions with guests, including an ex boyfriend. There was literally no one likable in this story.

In the end, there’s a few twists but none that are easily believable. It gets interesting at about 275 pages up until the end but who wants to wrestle through 275 pages of mediocrity ? So if you read this book, just skip to 275 and start there. You will still be asked to suspend your logical mind when they explain what has happened and how a person gets away with it.

If you prefer weak, drunk female protagonists…then have at it. Otherwise, save your pennies and get a book with a real woman leading the charge.

Raging Book Reviews Not Recommended

*This book was purchased with my own money.

New Book Review: The Vegetarian

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Rated 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Han Kang novel and I really enjoy her style of writing. It’s poetic and blunt while also being very thought provoking. In her novel, The Vegetarian, the reader follows the main story of Yoeng-hye and her plight to finding herself and exerting her own control over her life. The story breaks off into three points of view. The first is of her husband, a self serving critic of her as well as a man that craves mediocrity. Her relationship with him is tested as she first claims to be vegetarian and will no longer eat meat. Her husbands lack of support stems to her family as well. Everyone she knows does not support her and attempts to force her to eat meat against her wishes even go so far as to lie about ingredients or force feed her.

Next, you follow the brother-in-law and his own exploits of Yeong-hye during her weakest points. Lastly, you get the story from her sister which brings together a lot of Yeong-hye’s family issues that we weren’t completely aware of but soon realize that its not only her with psychological issues. There’s a lot of mental health issues to go around.

The story is a creative approach to psychological health through the lense of control. Controlling what one eats, how they live and how they believe. Then you see the other side of the coin, what would life be like without any support? Not a friend. Not a family member. No children. Nothing to keep you grounded. How long could you last in psychological isolation?

All in all, this book was worthy of the Man Booker International Prize that it won. It was an incredible look at how control, psychology and change can be a horrible cocktail for the right family. I couldn’t give it the full five stars because I didn’t care for the ending at all but found it poetic in nature (while lacking the ability to close out the story lines).

Raging Book Review Highly Recommended

*Book purchased with my own money. Want a copy? Use my Book Depository link (you get free shipping and I get a few cents for sending you!) Click HERE

New Book Review: The Body Reader

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Rated 4 of 5 stars

Anne Frasier has a mind like a killer (and thus, someone should check her basement frequently and without warning). The way she creates scenes of torture are second to none. Throughout this story, I found myself cringing and thinking, “God, how do you survive that?”. I was completely swept up into the story of Jude Fontaine and her descent into what some think is insanity while she sees it as gifted in her craft of reading people (dead or alive). Jude was held captive for three years in a secluded, dark basement with no other stimulation than the visits from her captor. Over that time, she’s learned to read his facial expressions and body language in order to prepare for or hopefully escape torture.

When she escapes from her personal hell-hole, life is so different. Her senses are heightened. Her sense of smell and ability to read people’s feelings is intensified. Before she was abducted, she was a detective. When she returns to her old precinct, Uriah is there in her place, the position she left when she was abducted. He helps her find herself in this new world and she helps him find a piece of himself that was missing after suffering his own tragedy but only after the bumpy start to their relationship. Jude has fleeting thoughts. Why was she abducted? Why did he let her live so long? Why are girls dying around the city with uncanny similarities? The ride doesn’t stop there and there’s no stopping the twists in this story once you start.

This book is a hell of a ride. I found myself attached to Jude and Uriah. I like that Frasier keeps the main thing the “main thing” and doesn’t force romance in places where there isn’t any. I give her kudos for that. I felt she did an exceptional job of creating characters that were easily identifiable throughout the story. There was one hole left in the story at the end which left me questioning so I took a star away due to the story not being completely transparent at the end. Overall, Frasier knows how to write strong women and she excels at defying my suspenseful expectations. Thoroughly enjoyed!

Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended

*This book was listened to on Audible using my own dinero. 😉

Interested in snagging a copy? Use my Book Depository link HERE to get free shipping! (Oh, and I get a couple cents for sending you there…hee-hee.)