New Book Review: Made Safe

Tags

, , , , , ,

32996854

Rated 3.5 of 5 stars

Sparks gives readers a glimpse into the underworld of human trafficking in his novel, Made Safe. We follow a cast of characters that are flawed and courageous as they fight to first understand what crime is being committed, then stop the heinous act from happening. All the while, the larger implications of such a scandal does not escape the reader. Human trafficking is happening everywhere, even in Des Moines, Iowa. We start the story with Moses Winter, a private investigator, helping to catch a cheating husband in the act. Little does Winter know, the angered wife has more up her sleeve when she finds her husband bedding down a Bosnian immigrant. Sharon, the wife, pulls a gun, threatens the lives of both adulterers and then in a scuffle to maintain control, her husband, Fred is subsequently stabbed. When the cops come, Rakic is introduced to the story, as he is the agent in charge of homicide. Ironically, when he steps in the room and notices his scantily clad cousin (the mistress) in the corner…he tries to quiet the case in order to ensure she isn’t imprisoned for attempted murder of Fred. Rakic soon realizes there are three stories, not including the truth with what happened in the room.

Rakic wants the case to go away so he can protect his cousin. Moses is a curious guy that feels something is going on that he missed with the husband. So Rakic tries to distance himself from the case while Moses dives deeper in and finds that what’s going on is actually far worse than he anticipated or was prepared for. The readers are taken on car chases, stake outs, spying, foot chases, break ins and lots of falling in the snow/smoking cigarettes and other small redundancies.

I enjoyed the story up until the very end. Throughout the story, I felt there were many different storylines and liked how they tied in together later in the story. Unfortunately, the ending was a bit far fetched in certain scenes and I rolled my eyes a time or two when people would escape pretty dismal endings. Moses Winter is a likeable main character but as smart as he was in his fact finding, he was equally as dumb about Majka and using her for answers. It grated my nerves that he would sleep with someone then not grill them on a case he is totally invested in. That didn’t translate to good sense in my opinion. Also, I thought throwing Claudia in was a bit rushed and forced.

Another thing, could just be me since I’m not a smoker but…there was a hell of a lot of references to smoking in this novel. I despise smoking so it just made me grimace each time it was brought up and unfortunately, that was very often. That’s a personal preference though. I’ve read some books that use smoking and don’t explain it in much detail and I much prefer that method. Other than that, I really liked Sejla and the Wildcat and wished that we’d felt more of their personality in the story so that when it came to the end, we as readers, could really feel triumphant for them. Majka was very well written. I knew her as a character by the end and could understand the kerfuffle she was in coming from another country and wanting to be successful, albeit in the wrong area. Overall, I enjoyed the story and give it a strong 3.5 because it is fast paced, action packed and a solid detective story.

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

*This book ARC was sent by the author for an honest review and releases on January 17th!

Keep in touch with this author:

Francis Sparks

www.pandamoonpublishing.com

@writingsparks on Twitter

 

New Book Review: Riding Chance

Tags

, , , , ,

29241310

Rated 2 of 5 stars

Kendall’s debut shows promise with the story of Troy and his quest to find himself after the death of his mother. I’d tag this novel as a coming of age story although the ending was quite lackluster and didn’t tie in what the character actually learned about himself (which is sort of a key role of coming of age novels).

Troy is a young man, (possibly a teen?) that had been struggling with the death of his mother. He starts getting into trouble and gets a social worker that offers him a chance at the local stable to work off his community service. At first, he feels silly about the work, another rider is bullying him but he feels a closeness with the animals while he’s there. He gets close to a horse named Chance and she helps him silently work through problems, even though as a reader we miss what Troy is trying to gain outside being “cool” like the Polo players. We get a full scope of his want to fit in but is scared to do anything different. We get a sense of his strength and desire to make his family proud but never really get into any true depth behind his mother’s death or how he will deal with his anger or what he even learned from the program.

I thought the novel was very one dimensional and missed a real opportunity to dig deep into how the riding program could change a child. As a reader we saw through Troy’s actions that he was trying but never truly grasped if he understood if he, himself, had even changed and why.

*This book was given by the publisher at BookCon 2016 for an honest review.

Raging Book Reviews

Purchase this book HERE using my Book Depository affiliate link (free shipping for you, a few cents for me for sending you!)

New Book Review: Widowmaker

Tags

, , , ,

26114382

Rated 3.5 of 5 stars

Widowmaker takes the reader on a trek through the snowy, mountainous regions of Maine. A place I know absolutely nothing about with its hunting, skiing and small town secrets. This is my first Doiron book but likely won’t be the last.

The story follows a game warden, Mike Bowditch, on a journey to find a missing man that he’s been manipulated into finding while he’s on off time from his normal duties. Mike is smart and had great attention to detail that keeps the story moving along on pace with clues and questions in various storylines.

First, there’s a storyline of a wolf dog or hybrid wolf that had been discovered and captured. Mike must find a home for the rare creature that had captured his interest with its intelligence. Next, Mike has his demons he’s battling with a dead father that was notorious for being a charismatic yet heinous poacher, womanizer and all around problem. He wants to mourn for his dad but finds it hard when everyone he knows reminds him that he’s born from a man like Jack. Lastly, there’s the mystery of the missing boy and the story behind a big secret the entire town is hiding.

In the story, we meet some colorful characters and are taken down various storylines that make the reader feel like they know this town and its people and have been there. Doiron does a good job creating links to storylines which was helpful because at certain points I wondered why we were going down so many lanes.

All in all, I liked the story but it was slow in certain points so I took a star away. I also took half a star because I didn’t love any one character enough in the story to make this book memorable. So it’s a solid read at a 3.5 star rating.

Raging Book Reviews

Purchase this book on Audible or use my Book Depository affiliate link for discounted rates HERE (you get a great rate, free shipping and I get a few cents for sending you there. Woo-hoo!)

New Book Review: Saga (Volume Six)

Tags

, , , ,

28862528

Rated 4 of 5 stars

So we all know that I love this series, right? Well, nothing has changed…end of review.

Okay, okay, slow down….let me tell you about what I loved, okay?

The story continues with a closer look at the growing, Hazel. If you haven’t read the series yet…Hazel is the daughter of two badass fighters/thieves/parents/lovers who are not supposed to be together. Papa bear is from the Moon which hates “wings” from another planet. While being imprisoned, Marko (Papa Bear as I affectionately call him) falls for his prison guard, the hot-tempered and blunt Alana. They make war and make a baby. Hence, beautiful and funny Hazel. Throughout the comic, Hazel narrates from her point of view which is hilarious yet strangely thought provoking. She’s the cutest little mixed breed baby…and the FIRST. Which means that everyone in the universe wants her dead (if they ever found out about her) because they are trying to kill the parents just for BEING together.

Anyway, Hazel was left with her badass grandma who is thoroughly tatted up and not afraid to bash a head in or two over her son, Marko or her grandbaby. Anyway, Marko and Alano must find where Hazel is since they were separated during an ugly heist.

The book also follows parallel stories of a hired assassin who has completely gone bat-shit crazy after the death of every person he loves…his sister (also an assassin) and his girlfriend (also an assassin). You’d think this guy would get a new profession, right? Nope. He puts on 100 pounds, talks to ghosts of his loved ones and searches for their killer. *I didn’t care for a lot of this portion of the story with him and the reporters but I know it will tie in with the next volume. But now I have to wait!!!!!!!!! Aghghghhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I waited so long for this one and it ended with a BANG. Can’t wait to see Volume Seven….can’t freakin’ wait.

Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended

Get the Saga series using my Book Depository affiliate link HERE (You get FREE shipping, I get a couple cents for sending you there! Woohoo!)

New Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood

Tags

, ,

27834600

Rated 2.5 of 5 stars

This is a first for me, Ruth Ware, that is. I have her newest novel and plan to read it soon. In a Dark, Dark Wood was a stretched out story of a teenage feud gone long overdue. In the story, Leonora goes to Clare’s “hen party” which is basically a bachelorette party. She wasn’t quite sure why she was invited because they hadn’t spoken for over ten years (the reason is actually quite vague as to why they stopped talking) . But still, Leonora attends with her pal, Nina. The hen party is a hodge podge of Clare’s friends from throughout her life. Leonora being the oldest friend, Nina (a brash, outspoken female doctor), Tom (a gay, theatrical guy she’s known through her fiance), Flo (her new “bestie” with a serious case of obsessive compulsive disorder) and Melanie (a friend from college who has a new baby and leaves the hen party quite early). Anyway, they embark on what is supposed to be celebratory until Leonora finds out that Clare is marrying her ex-boyfriend and first love. The story unravels from there. There’s dark shadows, footprints in snow, creaking doors and a host of other things meant to make you scared…even a Ouji board type game. All a bit overkill in the story to me.

Leonora will irk the hell out of anyone who values strong or smart lead characters in a story. She’s incredibly dense and in her shell which stifles the reader throughout the story. She harps on how beautiful Clare is…OVER and OVER until the point you want to pluck your eyes out. Not to mention, Clare is (shocker) a blonde and slim and incredibly charming. Why does this have to be the anecdote of perfection in every freakin’ novel?! Ugh.

I digress. The story itself was written well. I just didn’t like the characters or the ending very much. Therefore, I finished reading with a strong urge to start the next book. I didn’t wait…I just put it down and flipped open the cover of Saga, in the hopes that I’d get to see a strong female and male lead…hell, even the child is strong for that matter. Anyway, this book is for those that don’t mind reading about a whining twenty-six year old talk about breaking up with a boy when she was 16.

Raging Book Reviews

Purchase your books using my Book Depository link HERE (you’ll get free shipping and I’ll get a couple cents for sending you)

New Book Review: The Heart Goes Last

Tags

, , , , , ,

28503851

Rated 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Margaret Atwood book but I find her style to be very entertaining. The Heart Goes Last is a redemption story at the heart of some dystopian-esque storyline. It was a very different style of story because the relationship between the main characters was sometimes the main story then the story shifted to social issues being the headliner. So what was it about in a nutshell? Charmaine and Stan are a married couple living in a post-depression America. They are living in their car trying their best to use Charmaine’s meager earnings as a bartender to stay afloat. Luckily, they have a car as a refuge because there are people who are taking advantage of the world’s utter disadvantage. It is their only safety from being robbed, beaten or raped. While at work, Charmaine sees an ad for Consilience Prison Project which promises clean homes for FREE for anyone accepted into the program via a life contract. These homes are fully furnished, all bills paid and food provided. Basically, safe, free living as long as they work in the community for a month then in the prison for a month (and so on for the rest of their lives). Anyway, Charmaine and Stan are accepted and enjoy life for a while. Stan has taken to his job in scooter repair in town and overseeing the chicken coops while in the prison. Charmaine works in a bakery in town and is Chief Medications Administrator (a highly secretive position which includes euthanizing “bad” people). Needless to say, Consilience is not all its cracked up to be and there are shady policies and procedures along with privacy issues. *enter social issue portion of the book*

Later in the story, you see the breakdown of Charmaine and Stan along with ah host of other characters that are pretty one dimensional for the most part. There’s lots of sex, sexual innuendos, sexual jokes and more (not sure if that’s an Atwood-thing or not). I found some of the character’s to be humorous and sometimes annoying, especially Charmaine. I didn’t find any character truly likeable throughout the whole book which is why the star count is so low. I thought the premise was the best thing about the book by far. On one hand, if Atwood would have wrote the story from the perspective of one person living within Consilience and finding out all the shady things that were happening, then it might have been a bit more agreeable to me as a reader. Overall, I felt Charmaine and Stan weak characters to base the book off of and they were pretty far from the actual happenings of the big wigs in the book in regards to how social experiments were happening until the very, very end. Therefore, you “heard” about the social experiments but never really read about them. Get it?

All in all, not a bad book if you like someone bickering in their own mind about their marriage or you like gossip and rumor style stories.

Raging Book Reviews

Purchase this book using my Book Depository affiliate link HERE

New Book Review: The Passenger

Tags

, , , , , ,

26154406

Rated 3.5 of 5 stars

Lisa Lutz’ novel, The Passenger, is a cross country ride through dive bars, strange strangers along with a woman who sheds her identity like seasonal fashion trends. There are so many names in this story that can align with the main character Tanya/Jo/Paige/Nora/Debra and the list goes on depending on whose purse she can pickpocket without being caught. She’s running from her past which isn’t readily given away in the beginning and then soon after, she’s running from the death of her husband. Once she’s set off on a path of finding a new identity, she buries herself deeper into each identity that she steals. She meets Blue, a barkeep with attitude and shady history of her own and things change very quickly. At the end of the story, you realize completely why she was running and frankly, its not satisfying enough to be worth the wait.

In lieu of that, there’s an added twist at the end which makes things a bit icky. But it definitely makes up for the less than riveting main ending. Not completely, but enough. I’ve rated the story a solid 3.5 stars because the characters along the way seem to have more personality than the main character. I felt lost when Blue exited the story for a long period of time. That’s when the story really lagged. Blue brought life, danger, mystery and depth to the story while the main character just…ran. I sort of wished this story followed Blue, honestly.

I found lots of redundancy with bars, whiskey, and plaid shirts. I enjoyed all the little pit-stops along the way for the main character and then her eventual return was a bit lackluster. So overall, the story was decent enough to finish but the ending wasn’t groundbreaking enough to quantify my time for 300 pages. I liked Lutz’ style of writing although the analogies were sometimes overkill. She writes well and can tell a story with a twist. I thoroughly enjoyed the email excerpts throughout the story which linked the main character to her past yet never really gave anything away. This story is recommended for readers who like stories of vanishing women and what happens while they’re gone.

Raging Book Reviews

Purchase this book HERE

New Audiobook Review: Shady Cross

Tags

,

23743812

Rated 5 of 5 stars

Shady Cross by James Hankins was a romping good time with humor, suspense and lots of action. You won’t be yearning for any more fight scenes for a while with this one. I truly enjoyed the main character, Stokes. He was funny, dry and all about business. I liked that he wasn’t too smart and was very average in all others categories which fit nicely into the irony of the ending. There were some things you could hate about him (like abandoning his girlfriend and child by just leaving and never coming back). So don’t think you’re getting a superhero in this book that saves a little girl because the ending will leave you gasping.

It has some pretty gruesome scenes and especially weird sequence of events but you’ll find a startle every few chapters. Not the “trying too hard to wow you kind” but the real, “damn, I just stepped in some shit” type of scenarios. In a world where everybody owes everybody and no helps for free, you find a career criminal with a semblance of heart drowned by a heartless antagonist. Very good writing by Hawkins! Bon Shaw was a critical piece of how good this story was. His voice and his choices were spot on with Stokes and I felt like each character was different. Bravo!

Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended

Purchase this book on Book Depository with Free Shipping HERE

Listen to a snippet or purchase on Audible HERE

New Book Review: Children of Eden

Tags

,

29430620

Rated 3 of 5 stars

*I  know, I know…I’m not following my reading list BUT I needed a change and this cover is ah-mazing, right?

Joey Graceffa’s debut novel, Children of Eden, is a strong start in the fiction world after his memoir. Even still, there is much room to grow in his writing style and character building. I enjoyed the story of Rowan, a teenage girl, in hiding due to her being a banned “second child” in Eden. The book is based in a technology driven society of the future (don’t think cellphones, think eye implants that scan for train rides and money transactions). Rowan is on the verge of getting her first chance at a life in society with a pair of black market lenses that will allow her to move about the city seamlessly. Unfortunately, the lenses come at a price. She must trade her family for a new one and never see them again. As things unwind, Rowan gets the courage to explore the town outside her home (without her lenses) and meets a cast of characters that help her. Ironically, there’s a rebel group hoping to free all second children and they enlist her help.

Along the journey there are many twists and turns and friendships made. I found the story to lag in the beginning a bit. I didn’t find it incredibly gripping but good enough to keep reading. I think Rowan’s voice (due to it being written in first person) seemed quite childish so it was hard to see her as brave because she doubted herself constantly and had a negative outlook on almost everything at first. Not sure if this was purposefully written to give the character a “spoiled rotten” child vibe which changes to a “oh, the real world is so much harder than I thought” type of outlook. Either way, I didn’t find her very endearing although there were moments by Lark or Lachlan that helped bring some normalcy to the story.

I suspect this book to have a follow-up since there are a rash of unfinished storylines and explanations. For instance, what secret was Lark going to share? What happened to Ash? What is the big plan to take over the government? What was Aaron Al-Baz’s big secret? What happened to Rowan’s father? Did he help in the end? Lastly, what the heck happened in the end??? I was utterly confused about what actually happened.

I think the book was okay. Nothing that I’d remember to tell a friend about. The ending moved fast but left a lot of unanswered questions so the reader doesn’t feel fully satisfied with the ending.

Raging Book Reviews

New Book Review: Choir Boy

Tags

, , , , , ,

30370309

Rated 3.8 of 5 stars

Choir Boy by McCraney was a really creative way to tell a story without actually telling a story. The book is a play that has been shown throughout America. Reading it definitely gives a different feel to the characters and makes the reader focus on the dialogue. By thinking deeply about what characters are feeling in the dialogue, it gives a dimension of oneness with the characters, a connection. I found that I hurt for Pharus’ plight into being accepted. I still didn’t completely understand what happened with David (why? what was the reason?). Maybe the play or the visual aspect would have helped. Unfortunately, with it being a book, if the dialogue isn’t completely expressive or even suggestive then we lose a bit of what we were looking for. I lost my way towards the end which is why I took a star away. I didn’t mind the overabundance of song lyrics in the book and felt it was a setting to the story. Overall, I enjoyed the Choir Boy. Recommended for readers who want a new experience with LGBTQ issues in an all-boy school setting.

*This book was given to me by the publisher at BookCon2016 for an honest review.

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

Purchase book HERE