#TrackBlast: FAST TRACK TO GLORY by Tomasz Chrusciel

She knows the stakes are high…
Genre: International Thriller
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
 
Nina Monte, a well-respected professor at the University of Padua, answers an unexpected summons to a secret meeting with three European officials. They want to hire her to verify the authenticity of an ancient artefact hidden on a forgotten galley that sank in the fifteenth century, and to this day lies buried at the bottom of Lake Garda in Italy.
 
She accepts the invitation to join an eccentric art collector and to examine the artefact. But before long, the Italian professor is cornered in an insidious intrigue. Her inner and outer worlds clash.
 
Joined by a lake-town hotelier, Alessandro Pini, Monte begins to unravel the truth surrounding the discovery. She knows the stakes are high.
 
Forced to abandon their ordinary lives, and dragged into a deadly race to outwit a smart, but wicked, villain, Nina and Alessandro must do everything they can to ensure freedom for all humankind.
 

Excerpt from Fast Track to Glory:

A sudden draught of air enveloped Alessandro’s sweaty torso, causing goose bumps to prickle his skin. An irresistible urge to sneeze came over him. He squeezed his nostrils with his thumb and index finger. The pressure bounced back to his head, and for a moment blocked his ears. He leaned his back against the wall and took a breath in and out. It would have been a ridiculous way of being discovered.

He cleared his throat, making enough noise to give up his presence. ‘Hello!’

A split second later, a bullet smashed into the wall right next to his left ear.

Tomasz Chrusciel had written his first short story when he was sixteen. Although the idea of being a writer had been put off for the next twenty years, he had never forgotten about his dreams. Having left his corporate work, he writes full-time now.
 
He loves to travel, and when he’s back from another journey, the next captivating story evolves in his mind. He strongly believes that the most rewarding feeling and the purpose of his writing is to let others experience those vibrant, wonderful countries he’s been too, and to introduce readers to new engaging characters born from his imagination and all those alluring locations. Then he makes that story real – it becomes a reader’s story.
 
Fast Track To Glory is his second full-length action & adventure novel.
 

#BookReview – BACK BLAST: The Gray Man #5 by Mark Greaney

Court Gentry was the CIA’s best agent. Until the day the Agency turned against him and put out a kill on sight order. That’s when the enigmatic international assassin called the Gray Man was born—and Court has been working for himself ever since

Now, Court is back in Washington looking for answers. He’s determined to find out what happened all those years ago that made the Agency turn against him. On his list to interrogate are his former partners and the men who sent him on his last mission. What he doesn’t realize is that the questions that arose from that mission are still reverberating in the U.S. intelligence community, and he’s stumbled onto a secret that powerful people want kept under wraps. And now, they have Court in their crosshairs.

Court Gentry is used to having people on his trail, but this time, it’s on U.S. soil—the last place he wants to be. Now, he’ll have to find the answers to his fate while evading capture…and avoiding death.

Published: February 16, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Get ready to boo me, because I just couldn’t find the love for this book that most other early reviewers are showing. You know how some books are 500 pages, but you’re so engrossed that they feel short? This book, at 500+ pages, feels exceedingly long. I thought an easy 100 pages could have been cut, so I’ll begin my explanation there. We have quite a few narrating characters who have wide ranging significance within the story. These characters often rehash information you already know within their own narratives, either in their dialogue or thought process. This makes for long, repetitive passages.

The dozen men in street clothes didn’t know much about the reasons behind the hunt, other than the facts that Violator was ex-Agency, he’d gone off reservation, and he had killed a bunch of his colleagues.

Then we have an excessive amount of detail in general. We learn all the intricacies of security in buildings, how to get in and out without detection, how the locks work, which weapons to use at which time, how to follow someone without being seen, how to determine if you’re being followed, security cameras, facial recognition, tempered glass and pneumatic doors, and overall far more detail than I needed. With these things, a little information goes a long way, at least for me.

Mayes knew from a phone call with Brewer that the door from the staircase into the hallway was iron and several tons in weight, and it was controlled by pneumatic pressure and flow-control valves so that it could pivot shut remotely and lock with wide internal iron bolts that could withstand a round from an Abrams tank.

We have a whole lot of tactical-related narrative, interspersed with running, escaping, and shooting. The action, when you get there, is indeed intense. It’s also over-the-top. Court is like James Bond with superpowers. He manages to outrun, out shoot, and outsmart dozens of highly trained professional assassins, mostly on his own, with little help.

Court dropped six feet through the air and landed on his right hip on a thirty-degree concrete incline. He rolled end over end several times, then righted himself and began skidding on his back, picking up speed towards the Beltway below.

We also have the conspiracy thing, which is the heart of the plot. I know without question that we have corruption within our government agencies. But the level of corruption here, along with the insane lengths the perpetrator was willing to go to in order to maintain the cover up, just stretched credibility way too far. People were being murdered all over the city, high-powered weapons dropping people in public, all to get to one man, The Gray Man, and silence him before the truth came out.

“So he’s hurt, but apparently not so badly he can’t ninja his way across the greater metro area.”

While the reading experience just didn’t work for me, I do think this book, and perhaps the series in general, would make a fantastic movie.

*I was provided with an ebook copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#BookReview – BILLY JOEL: The Definitive Biography by Fred Schruers

In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon.

Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles Joel’s rise to the top of the charts, from his working-class origins in Levittown and early days spent in boxing rings and sweaty clubs to his monumental success in the seventies and eighties. He also explores Joel’s creative transformation in the nineties, his dream performance with Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium in 2008, and beyond.

Along the way, Schruers reveals the stories behind all the key events and relationships—including Joel’s high-profile marriages and legal battles—that defined his path to stardom and inspired his signature songs, such as “Piano Man,” “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “New York State of Mind,” and “She’s Always a Woman.” Throughout, he captures the spirit of a restless artist determined to break through by sharing, in his deeply personal lyrics, the dreams and heartbreaks of suburban American life.

Comprehensive, vibrantly written, and filled with Joel’s memories and reflections—as well as those of the family, friends, and band members who have formed his inner circle, including Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, Jon Small, and Steve Cohen—this is the definitive account of a beloved rock star’s epic American journey.

Published: November 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It’s either sadness or euphoria

I don’t like those gossip-entertainment TV shows and magazines. I think, for the most part, we (society) are too caught up in the lives of celebrities. They should not be forced to live their private lives on display. Yet, here I am, reading Billy Joel’s biography. Such a conundrum.

Few musicians, or artists in any field, have made so much out of the slaphappy enthusiasms of youth. While Billy was embarking on what would become a three-decade run when he began composing in the 1960s, today, he says, “to write the same kind of songs now, at this age, I don’t think I’d even be able to try it. I didn’t know any better then.”

I admit to a heavy bit of intrigue when it comes to musicians’ biographies. A big part of that attraction is learning whether the person, and the songs he/she wrote, match my preformed opinion. I want to understand the minds that created those songs I’ve grown up with. Sometimes I’m horribly wrong and, equally, horrified, to the point where I don’t even want to listen to that music anymore. Other times, I find that the songs and the public persona match up almost perfectly with the real person. This latter is the case with Billy Joel. His music is likable, insightful, sometimes fun, and sometimes a little dark. And so, it appears, is he. It turns out that this alignment is largely because his songs are often mini biographies.

“I think the song, ‘The River of Dreams’ is the critical point,” he says. “I keep referring to this character because that’s who I was then and not now. When I was writing, I was actually living through these feelings and working things out – a very cathartic album for me in terms of how I was gonna come to grips with the things that were troubling me.”

This book is arranged extremely well, and the writing flows in an easy, conversational style. We start before Billy began, with his Jewish grandparents in Nazi-occupied Europe. Fortunately for them, and later for us, they are among the lucky ones to have escaped a fate for which there are no words.

One thing that’s certain is that given the rigors of escaping Europe at that moment in history, as well as the difficulty of finding a way into America, the Joel family was among a very small minority of those who successfully evaded the Nazis’ clinical, exterminating wrath, if not their depredations.

This book covers everything, from Joel’s childhood to his girlfriends, wives, music, touring, financial problems, and, of course, his touring life. We’re given a nice balance throughout. There isn’t a lot of sensationalism here. The author doesn’t attempt to exploit Joel’s personal life, and Joel doesn’t appear to give us much at which to point criticizing fingers. And, really, how many of us could survive such scrutiny with our own private lives?

You take a piece of whatever you touch
Too many pieces means you’re touching too much
You never win if you can’t play it straight
You only beat me if you get me to hate

I found this book to be a fascinating journey, as much for Joel’s life and career as for the portrait it paints of this moment in music history.

*The publisher provided me with a copy of this book, via Blogging For Books, in exchange for my honest review.*

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#BookReview – THE FINAL SEVEN: The Lightkeepers #1 by Erica Spindler

The first Saturday in July. . .
A missing coed . . .
The number seven carved into her door . . .
The countdown has begun.
THE FINAL SEVEN

New Orleans Detective Micki Dee Dare is a seasoned, no-nonsense cop. She doesn’t need a partner, especially not Zach “Hollywood” Harris, an irreverent charmer, fresh out of an experimental FBI program. And her assignment — keep him alive while he fights crime using the special skills he brings to the table — is not what she signed up for. But the die has been cast and there’s nothing she can do about it.

Micki soon realizes there’s more to her partner than meets the eye—and more at stake than catching bad guys and closing cases. There’s a new kind of evil at work the Crescent City, more cunning, more powerful than any she’s ever encountered. And she and Zach may be the only ones who can stop it.

As another coed goes missing and the darkness closes in, Micki must face a terrifying truth: this time she might not make it. This time the evil they’re facing might destroy them all . . .

Full of surprise twists and unexpected turns, The Final Seven is a heart-pounding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Published: February 11, 2016

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

I love the kind of supernatural thriller that makes you believe it could happen, and Erica Spindler delivers that here in a spectacular way.

He looked dead serious – they all did – but no way this wasn’t a gag. Sixth sense? Specialized police academies? It had to be bullshit.

First, this book has Spindler’s trademark twists and turns. The action kept me involved and on edge from beginning to end.

Her fear crackled in the air between them, racing along his nerve endings.

The characters propel the story, so that I cared what happened to all of them. Some are normal humans, others are gifted, and all are complex people.

His hand on her arm burned, heat that went clear to her core. Her thoughts spun, like a merry-go-round on crack.

Then we have the good versus evil aspect, which might sound trite and overdone but definitely is not. We do live in a world of light and dark, good and evil, and that reality makes this story all the more compelling. Spindler uses this platform to launch a world of powerful possibilities.

A sound from the darkness. A howl or a roar. Or was that the screaming rush of blood to his head?

Yes, this book contains supernatural elements, so if you live in a black and white world, this book probably isn’t for you. But if you’re willing to stretch the limits of what you can see and ask, “What if?”, then this book is guaranteed to keep you turning pages. I can’t wait for book #2 in this series!

Swirling energy. Limitless. Dark. Roiling with power.

*I was provided with an advance review copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#FridayReads – Author Richard Thomas Brings Us GAMUT Online Magazine

Richard Thomas’s writing skill blew me away early last year when I read his novel Disintegration. Then, at the tail end of last year, I got my hands on an advance copy of his (now published) book Breaker, and I was firmly hooked as a rabid fan. I’m excited to share the news that Richard Thomas has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for an online magazine called Gamut that promises to be exceptional. Read on for details.

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American neo-noir author Richard Thomas launched a Kickstarter project on February 1st, 2016, to fund the launch of Gamut, an online magazine of neo-noir, speculative and literary fiction. The Kickstarter closes on March 1st, 2016.

To be successful, the Kickstarter will need to raise $51,000, which works out to 1,700 annual subscribers paying $30 per year for access to the magazine, which will focus on publishing genre-bending, hybrid fiction that utilizes the best of genre and literary voices. If successful, Gamut will launch online January 1st, 2017.

Speaking of his plans for Gamut, Thomas said: “I want to support the voices that aren’t getting enough recognition, I want to pay a great rate (twice the going professional rate) and I want to surround myself with talented authors and artists that inspire me.”

“We need more markets like this,” he continued, “publishing edgy fiction that straddles the fence between genre and literary fiction. I think we’re in a golden age of dark fiction and there is a real demand for it.”

Over the past eight years Thomas has written and published over 100 short stories, in magazines such as PANK and Cemetery Dance; three novels—including Disintegration and Breaker at Random House Alibi; and three short story collections.

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Thomas, also editor-in-chief of Dark House Press and co-editor with Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer of the transgressive fiction anthology Burnt Tongues (a Bram Stoker finalist), has secured a wide range of contributors for the first planned year of Gamut, including Stephen Graham Jones (Mongrels, William Morrow), Benjamin Percy (The Dead Lands, Grand Central Publishing), Lucy A. Snyder (Soft Apocalypses, Raw Dog Screaming Press, Bram Stoker Award Winner, 2014) and Helen Marshall (Gifts For the One Who Comes After, ChiZine Publications, Shirley Jackson Award Winner, 2014).

RichardImages3

Backers of the Kickstarter can buy a year’s subscription to Gamut for $30 and a guaranteed annual rate of $30 per year for as long as they choose to renew. The standard rate of subscription, if the Kickstarter is successful, will begin at $60 per year.

Gamut will include mostly original fiction and fiction reprints, but also columns, non-fiction, art, flash fiction, poetry and maybe even a serial memoir or novella,” said Thomas, expanding on what subscribers could expect.

“To begin with, I’ll be publishing solicited material but I open up Gamut to submissions later in 2016. When that happens, I’ll consider fantasy, science fiction, horror, neo-noir, crime, mystery, thrillers, magical realism, transgressive fiction, Southern gothic, literary fiction and poetry —I want to read anything done with innovation, heart and emotion.”

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“Everything I enjoy reading and writing,” he continued, “typically leans toward the dark side, but I have been known to embrace lighter work, and humor, now and then. It just has to move me. And I like to be surprised. Also, diversity is important to me—so whatever your sex, race, orientation, religion, country of origin, current location—send me work, I want to read it.”

Authors that have given verbal agreements to contribute original and reprint fiction to Gamut so far include: Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, Usman T. Malik, Matt Bell, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alyssa Wong, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Axel Taiari, Amanda Gowin, Laura Benedict, Nathan Ballingrud, Dino Parenti, Ted E. Grau, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Sarah Read, Paula Bomer, Kelly Luce, Livia Llewelyn, Josh Malerman, Carmen Machado, Peter Tieryas, Kevin Catalano, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Nina McConigley, Nik Korpon, Craig Wallwork, Steve Himmer, Antonia Crane, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kristi DeMeester, Tara Ison, David James Keaton, Cassandra Khaw, Nikki Guerlain, Lucy A. Snyder, JS Breukelaar, Helen Marshall, Amelia Gray, H. L. Nelson, Craig Davidson, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, and Lincoln Michel.

AllArtistsGamutContributing artists include Luke Spooner, George C. Cotronis, Daniele Serra and Bob Crum, as well as photographer Jennifer Moore.

Fiction editors at Gamut will be Dino Parenti, Mercedes M. Yardley and Casey Frechette, poetry editors will be Heather Foster and Whittney Jones, with Keith Rawson, Max Booth, and RK Arceneaux acting as regular columnists, in addition to freelance essayists covering everything from film and books to travel and food.

If Gamut reaches its $51,000 goal, stretch goals include a scholarship at the $52,000 mark to help low-res MFA students and other authors, publication of a memoir showcasing one woman’s fifteen-year experience as a professional exotic dancer, Stripped: A Memoir, at $55,500, and a print anthology of the best of Gamut’s first year of fiction at $82,660.

 

About Richard Thomas:

Richard ThomasRichard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections, Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (TBA); as well as one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI. He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and the Bram Stoker-nominated Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer. In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.

 

The Kickstarter campaign is live and will run through March 1, 2016. You don’t have to pledge a lot to contribute. Every dollar counts. Richard has some fantastic pledge rewards on offer, including subscriptions to Gamut and signed copies of his books! Ready to join the fun? Click the link and choose your reward: http://kck.st/20BytmV

#BookReveiw – INCARCERATION NATIONS: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World

Baz Dreisinger travels behind bars in nine countries to rethink the state of justice in a global context

Beginning in Africa and ending in Europe, Incarceration Nations is a first-person odyssey through the prison systems of the world. Professor, journalist, and founder of the Prison-to-College-Pipeline, Dreisinger looks into the human stories of incarcerated men and women and those who imprison them, creating a jarring, poignant view of a world to which most are denied access, and a rethinking of one of America’s most far-reaching global exports: the modern prison complex.

From serving as a restorative justice facilitator in a notorious South African prison and working with genocide survivors in Rwanda, to launching a creative writing class in an overcrowded Ugandan prison and coordinating a drama workshop for women prisoners in Thailand, Dreisinger examines the world behind bars with equal parts empathy and intellect. She journeys to Jamaica to visit a prison music program, to Singapore to learn about approaches to prisoner reentry, to Australia to grapple with the bottom line of private prisons, to a federal supermax in Brazil to confront the horrors of solitary confinement, and finally to the so-called model prisons of Norway.

Incarceration Nations concludes with climactic lessons about the past, present, and future of justice.

Published: February 9, 2016

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Not many of us would choose to spend our time away from work touring prisons around the world, but that’s just what Baz Dreisinger does. The result is a fascinating, often depressing, and sometimes hopeful look at various types of prisons, ways of treating people who have committed crimes, and programs that offer various levels of rehabilitation.

In 2005, Human Rights Watch counted more than two thousand Americans serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles; the entire rest of the world has only ever locked up twelve children without possibility of parole.

Most, if not all, of us here in the US have heard the “revolving door” term in connection with our prisons. Our methods of dealing with crime, and even how we define crime, clearly are not working. Here Dreisinger gives us insight and perspective into exactly how and why we’ve gone wrong. While she doesn’t claim to have all the answers, she does force us to, at the very least, acknowledge the monster we’ve created.

America is the world’s largest jailer, with 2.3 million people behind bars, or one in one hundred adults.

Some readers might accuse Dreisinger of wearing those proverbial rose-colored glasses, and over-reaching in her hope to eradicate most types of prison institutions. She might even agree with those people, to some extent, as she calls herself a “tenacious optimist”. I personally find it refreshing to read the words of someone who works hard to make this world a better place for all of humanity. We have such an extreme climate of hate politics, with news and politicians focusing on feeding fear, that we risk losing sight of the fact that we are all, every single one of us, equally human. The way we treat each other reflects back on and influences our own humanity. We can work toward a better image, or we can watch our image become the monster we fear.

Is revenge a triumph? To harm someone who has harmed you, is that not hypocrisy, perpetuating a wretched chain of wrongdoing? We justify legal violence with the word “deterrence,” but one would have a hard time arguing that it is effective, considering the fact that putting 2.3 million behind bars has hardly eradicated crime.

The problem I find with books such as this one is that the only people reading them are the people who already know that our prison system is a mess. This book is a well written, engaging, easy to read narrative. I hope it finds its way into the hands of the masses, so that we can finally snap out of our complacency.

*I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#FreeBook – THE CUTTING EDGE – Murderous Fantasies and Razor Sharp Shears

FREE – for the first and maybe only time!

My name is Skye Summers. I’m a hairstylist and I can’t stop fantasizing about killing my clients. Not all of them, of course. I only want to kill the ones who irritate me, which, if I’m being honest, is most of them. My occasional fantasies have turned into chronic daydreams. They’re bloody and vivid, like watching a slice-and-dice movie on IMAX.

I also want to kill my husband’s ex-girlfriend. She’s not a client but she tops my list. Eighteen years ago, she gave birth to his daughter and she has tormented him ever since. I should be troubled by this growing desire to use my surgically sharpened shears for more than a haircut. Instead, I wonder how I can get away with it.

 

What’s so funny about peace, love, and murder?

This is the only book I’ve written in which I’ve drawn heavily from my personal life. I worked as a hairstylist for 15 years, in a small salon based on Skye’s salon, within the exact same small town where Skye lives and works. While there were no killers running loose (that I’m aware of!), much of the content is thinly disguised fact. All of the salon’s clients are based on real clients, and most of the conversations and incidents actually took place. I changed names and minor details to protect the innocent and hide the guilty.

Don’t get me wrong; Skye is not an autobiographical character. But she is the closest to me that you’re ever likely to find.

I loved doing hair but, quite honestly, the people often made me a little crazy. I was incredibly fortunate to have worked with an amazing group of ladies, who kept me laughing. The spirit of our friendship lives within these pages, because those ladies – particularly Lorraine (the owner and my mother), Kelli, and Rene – were the heart and soul of our salon.

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FREE from February 3 thru 5!

Amazon / Amazon UK

Thanks for reading. :)

#BookReview – GETTING SCREWED: Sex Workers and the Law by Alison Bass

Alison Bass weaves the true stories of sex workers with the latest research on prostitution into a gripping journalistic account of how women (and some men) navigate a culture that routinely accepts the implicit exchange of sex for money, status, or even a good meal, but imposes heavy penalties on those who make such bargains explicit. Along the way, Bass examines why an increasing number of middle-class white women choose to become sex workers and explores how prostitution has become a thriving industry in the twenty-first-century global economy. Situating her book in American history more broadly, she also discusses the impact of the sexual revolution, the rise of the Nevada brothels, and the growing war on sex trafficking after 9/11.

Drawing on recent studies that show lower rates of violence and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, in regions where adult prostitution is legal and regulated, Bass makes a powerful case for decriminalizing sex work. Through comparisons of the impact of criminalization vs. decriminalization in other countries, her book offers strategies for making prostitution safer for American sex workers and the communities in which they dwell.

This riveting assessment of how U.S. anti-prostitution laws harm the public health and safety of sex workers and other citizens—and affect larger societal attitudes toward women—will interest feminists, sociologists, lawyers, health-care professionals, and policy makers. The book also will appeal to anyone with an interest in American history and our society’s evolving attitudes toward sexuality and marriage.

Published: October 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Our war on sex is a lot like our war on drugs – long, expensive, and pointless. Let’s face it: Sex sells. We, as a society, are never going to win this war, so maybe it’s time we took a different approach.

Federal authorities, fearful that American soldiers would be laid low by disease-carrying prostitutes, began pressuring state officials to close down red-light districts throughout the country. By 1915, most red-light districts in the United States, including the famous Barbary Coast in San Francisco, the Levee district in Chicago, and Storyville in New Orleans, had been shuttered.

This book, whether intentionally or not, offers a compelling narrative for legalizing and regulating sex work. Alison Bass makes the argument that adult, consensual prostitution should be treated as a social problem, and perhaps a bit of a public health issue. By criminalizing the act, we are actually creating far more detrimental circumstances for the women involved. Here, I think, is where this book excels. You can’t read this book with an open mind, and then honestly say that our current system makes sense.

Indeed, researchers have found that countries with the most restrictive laws against prostitution (such as the United States and many countries in Southeast Asia) have the greatest violence against sex workers and other women, while countries with the least restrictive legal systems (such as the Netherlands and Germany) have the least violence.

The author is careful to consistently point out that under-aged and forced prostitution, such as with human trafficking, is an entirely different entity. Trafficking is a vile and violent act that is more akin to slavery, and should be treated as such. Sadly, these victims, when caught in the act of prostitution, are often treated as criminals, pushing them further underground and into the hands of abusers.

In some states, the men in blue are the biggest customers of commercial sex. In Ohio, for instance, law enforcement topped the charts of the listed occupations when it came to buying sex (indoors or outdoors), according to a 2012 report on domestic sex trafficking by Ohio’s Human Trafficking Commission. Police even beat out politicians for that distinction, and it didn’t matter whether or not the women were selling sex voluntarily. According to the Ohio report, law enforcement officials were the number one customers even when the women they frequented were found to have been trafficked into the trade.

The content does occasionally become repetitive. Still, it’s well written, engaging, and certainly thought-provoking.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#FridayReads – MOTOR CITY by Sherri Jefferson – Examining the War on Drugs

Friday Reads Featured Book

 

What happens when four U.S. presidents wage a war on drugs, and Americans become prisoners of war and part of the poverty-to-prison pipeline? What happens when two of America’s Most Wanted are victims of ineffective assistance of counsel?

Attorney Sherri Jefferson answers these questions and more in Motor City: The Odyssey of the War on Drugs, Scales of Injustice and Two of Americas’ Most Wanted. Motor City stirs debate with its brutally honest depiction of the war on drugs in America. Human and personal in its characterizations and attention to detail, Motor City plunges the reader into the decades of the struggles endemic to people of color and the poor. The book journeys the lives of the Motor City Brothers that led to an investigation by the DEA, FBI, CIA, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task forces.

Sherri Jefferson lays the foundation for criminal justice reform and an end to the war on drugs by building upon evidence-based and scholarly research to produce an honest critique of the war on drugs that has created prisoners of war and a prison industrial complex.

This book is an examination of how the issues of drugs, race, and class became intertwined in the lives of the Motor City Brothers as they became two of America’s Most Wanted. This material contributes to the ongoing problems of the so-called War on Drugs by highlighting anti-drug policies, social reform, and the criminal defense of the Motor City Brothers

In her honest depiction, Jefferson declares in Motor City, that if the war on drugs is the equivalent to an actual war, then it is the longest war ever fought by the United States of America. For the last 44 years, the U.S. has engaged in warfare that has resulted in more causalities and fatalities than any other war in its history.

The Johnson brothers journeyed through unchartered waters, forging alliances, acquiring wealth, possessing celebrity status, and becoming successful businessmen. Most interesting about their journey is that ten years after their arrest and conviction, they remain a topic of discussion. Understanding the journey means recognizing institutional racism and being willing to stand against it. American prisons are full of men like the Johnson brothers who could have reigned over Fortune 500 companies, but instead are living in bondage. Understand the journey.

Urban legend; the odyssey of two of America’s most wanted and their family transcends drugs, music, money, and material possessions. Their journey gives proponents and opponents of the war on drugs a lesson to learn. To the press, the Johnson brothers were hard core men who kept their mind on their riches. The press and public labeled these men as those who had a taste for Louis Roederer Cristal champagne and Perrier Jouet Rosé, traveled in style in Rolls-Royce Phantoms, Lamborghinis Murcielago, and Aston Martins Vanquish, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on entertainment. The journey continues.

To their friends and family, the Johnson brothers were God fearing, loving providers and men of fortitude. To law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, the Johnson men were two of America’s most wanted who deserve to die beyond the wall for violating criminal laws, no matter how vague, ambiguous, and arbitrarily or discriminatorily enforced. Understanding the journey means acknowledging the existence of injustice and working toward criminal justice reform.

Published: January 15, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Sherri Jefferson Sherri Jefferson is an author, independent book publisher, attorney, advocate, and lecturer. She is also the founder of the Family Law Center, African American Juvenile Justice Project, Jefferson Publishing, and the Law Mobile. Through #FemaleNOTFeemale, she advocates against child sexual exploitation and sex slavery, and the collateral consequences associated with criminalizing the acts of the victims of human trafficking and prostitution.

www.SherriJefferson.com

 

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Thanks for reading. :)

#BookReview: FRACTURED by Clar Ni Chonghaile

Peter Maguire has been kidnapped in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. He does not know where he is or what is going to happen to him. The journalist is filled with fear and, as the days go by, this dread of the unknown is shot through with remorse for the mistakes of his past. Peter’s mother Nina comes to Somalia to wait for her son’s release. His plight forces her to relive another trauma—the fatal shooting in Liberia of Shaun Ridge, a young photographer she once loved, and Peter’s real father. Abdi, a Somali teenager working with Peter’s captors strikes a tenuous friendship with the prisoner based on a shared feeling of captivity. He decides to help Peter escape. Together they set off into the barren vastness of a land filled with danger. Three people must journey into one of the world’s most dangerous places, the human mind, to answer the question: are we ever truly free?

Published: February 1, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Fractured has aspects of mystery, suspense, and thriller, but as a whole I think the book fits best within the genre of literary fiction. We have a lot of character introspection throughout the narration, which slows the pace. At the same time, this gives depth to the characters and the content, allowing us time to explore the humanity within the madness. This story, at its heart, is mostly about the people and how circumstances have and will change them.

My blanket is woven poverty, a brown-grey nothingness that says even colour is a luxury.

Some of the references here might be lost on readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of various wars and in-fighting within Africa, though I think the author does an excellent job of maintaining focus on the characters within their specific circumstances. The African setting adds a unique kind of complexity to the story.

The memory is fractured like a Picasso painting: an out-of-place eye, a snarling mouth in a bearded face, a fist, the butt of a gun, blood on my T-shirt, a perfect drop falling and breaking.

Chonghaile writes with simplistic beauty. Every word counts. She puts us in the moment, shows us this unfamiliar world, makes us feel the fear, the anger, and the confusion. The beauty and ease of her words stand in stark contrast to the crumbling world she shows us.

We always think there is time enough for everything, even when we are complaining about the days being too short. We believe tomorrow will always come. Even people like me, who should know better.

My one quibble is that I thought the three narrating characters shared too many similarities in their style of thought. Their behavior certainly marks them as individuals, but their introspective parts, with long passages of thought, seem to inhabit the same space. I wanted something to mark them as different during these parts; perhaps less beauty in the prose or an inability to see themselves and their world so clearly.

A few weeks ago, I was so free I didn’t even feel it. Now freedom feels awkward, like a new shirt, scratchy and clingy in all the wrong places.

This is a thoughtful, poignant story that leaves us with much to think about.

*I was provided with an advance review copy by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.*

 

Thanks for reading. :)