Nov 232016
 
Skin of Tattoos by Christina Hoag Tour Banner

Skin of Tattoos

by Christina Hoag

on Tour October 17 – November 24, 2016

Synopsis:

Skin of Tattoos by Christina HoagLos Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice.

Kirkus Review:

Hoag tells the story of a gang member’s attempts to flee his life of crime in this debut novel.

After 26 months in prison, 20-year-old Magdaleno “Mags” Argueta knows he can’t go back to his previous life as a member of the Cyco Lokos, one of Los Angeles’ most notorious Salvadoran street gangs. He’s hoping his time served will earn him veteran status, allowing him to walk away without repercussions. Unfortunately, his crew is now under the command of his chief rival, Rico, who’s less than sympathetic to his aspirations to go straight. What’s more, the only jobs available to a tatted-up ex-con like Mags are demeaning, such as passing out fliers on the sidewalk while dressed as a clown. At home, his family relationships remain strained: his mother sees him as a disappointment, his father as a source of shame, and his fireman brother makes him look irresponsible by comparison. His sister, Lissy, still treats him with affection, but he’s heard rumors that she’s hooked up with a member of a rival gang. Despite his pledges to stay out of trouble, Mags finds that no one believes he’s up to the task. His parole officer tells him, “The life’s not going to let you go so easy.” As hard as that is to hear, Mags knows that it might be the truth. Hoag is a talented writer, summoning Mags’ world on the page with remarkable empathy and detail: “The sidewalks were crammed like a giant flea market—people selling jeans, pots and pans, plastic bags of mango slices….Everything looked familiar and strange at the same time, old and new, I belonged and I didn’t.” Despite a story that feels a bit well-trod, none of the characters seem hastily constructed or come off as clichés. Their pressures and motivations are clearly stated and genuinely felt, and readers will quickly become invested in Mags and his confrontation with an uncertain future. A sense of melodrama flares toward the end as events start to feel less realistic and a little more heightened and Hollywood-ish. But the overall experience is surprisingly nuanced and wholly enjoyable.

A well-crafted, engaging novel about an ex-con trying to break free.

MY REVIEW

4 stars

We have all seen on TV, read about and/or heard about gangs in today’s society but Ms. Hoag brings us inside the gritty world of gangs with SKIN OF TATTOOS.

Magdaleno, aka Mags, has just been released from jail, after taking the fall for one of his “homies” from the Cyko Lokos gang, which he is a part of. But this time it will be different. He is ready to leave the gang life but soon realizes it’s harder to leave than it was to join. Is death the only way out?

A compelling, and at times chilling, tale of the inner workings of what it is to be entrenched in a gang lifestyle. The “codes”, the rules, the crimes and even the betrayals.

Ms. Hoag has written a truly extensive and intensive story that will have you turning the pages.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Crime
Published by: Martin Brown Publishing
Publication Date: September 2016
Number of Pages: 267
ISBN: 9871937070663

Get Your Copy of Skin of Tattoos on Amazon ⇗, Barnes & Noble ⇗, & add it to your Goodreads ⇗ list.

Read an excerpt:

“Ay yo, homes!” A familiar voice sliced through the bustle. “Mags!”

I twirled faster than a ballet dancer, my stomach clenching. Fuck. It was him. Rico. Slashing across the street aiming the shopping bag in his hand at me. His baggy shorts slung so low the waistband of his boxers showed. Socks, white as fluorescent light, pulled neatly to his knees. Ink flowing out of the arms and neck of his plaid shirt. Exactly how he looked the last time I saw him.

The memory of that day bore down on me. We were kicking it at a street corner, and Rico was bragging about how he shot a trey-eight into the ceiling of a liquor store he was jacking, and the storeowner pissed his pants. As he was talking, he took the .38 out of his waistband in a live re-enactment, and I just had to take the piece, feeling its cold weight in my hand for just a second or two before handing it back to Rico. That second or two cost me twenty-six months of my freedom.

When Tweety yelled “five-o,” Rico took off like an Olympic sprinter. I never even saw him throw down the cuete. I had no reason to run. As Morales was giving me his routine hassle, he kicked the edge of a bush behind me. Then he crouched down. When he straightened, he was dangling the piece with a pen hooked through its trigger guard. He busted me on possession of a firearm. It got worse. They matched the cuete to the robbery, and my fucking prints were the only clear ones on it. I had no alibi. The fact was, I was doing a drop with Chivas to the big jefe that night.

Lissy signed a statement saying I was watching TV with her at home that night, but nobody believed her, seeing as she had said that before when I got busted. I couldn’t drop Rico’s name or I’d have a green light on me as a snitch. My P.D. told me to take the D.A.’s deal even though the storeowner couldn’t positively identify me in a lineup. I took the hit for possession, and they dropped the robbery, as well as the ADW charge, which they tacked on since “I” waved the piece around and shot it during the robbery. Like I would ever pull such a dumbass move.

Rico threw his arm around me. A thick gold chain shone around his neck. I had a cord with an orange arrow slung around mine.

“Ese.” My voice had as much life as a three-day-old soda.

I never knew if he dropped that thirty-eight by accident, as he said, or if he saw his chance to set me up. I kinda figured the latter. Someday, somehow, I’d get him to admit the truth to me.

“I thought that was you. But I said to myself, ‘Mags, in that fuckin pendejada? Couldn’t be.’ But I looked again and *simón,* it was. Whatup with this shit?” He flicked the red nose ball. I caught his wrist in midair and stared him down in his swamp eyes. “Easy, fool,” he said.

I dropped his wrist. “Just making a few bones.”

“I heard you was back. We been waiting for you at the garaje, but you ain’t showed up.” Rico drilled my eyes. “You avoiding your homies or what?”

The ball was itching my nose like an oversized mosquito bite. “I got parole and all that. I just wanted to get set up first.”

“I figured you needed a couple days to get readjusted, get some pussy.” He shook his head. “But damn, this shit?” He shook his head. “You ready to get crazy again?”

“Keeping it lo pro, Rico.”

Rico studied me. I suddenly glimpsed myself in his eyes—I had become a small brown man.

Author Bio:

Christina HoagChristina Hoag is a novelist in Los Angeles,. She is the author of “Girl on the Brink” (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016,) a YA romantic thriller about an abusive relationship, and “Skin of Tattoos “(Martin Brown Publishing, August 2016), a literary thriller about the gang world.

She also co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014).

A former staff writer for The Miami Herald and The Associated Press in Los Angeles, she was also a correspondent in Latin America, where she reported from 14 countries on issues such as the rise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Colombian guerrillas, Guatemalan human rights, Salvadoran gangs, Nicaraguan landmine victims, and Mexican protests, for Time, Business Week, Financial Times, Houston Chronicle, the New York Times, and other publications.

She has had numerous short stories, poems and creative nonfiction published in literary magazines and journals, Her short story “My Mother’s Knives” was included in a horror story anthology, “And Now the Nightmare Begins” (Bear Manor Media, 2009) and her literary short story “Life Stories” is forthcoming in the anthology “100 Voices” (Centum Press, 2016)

Catch up with Christina on her Website ⇗, Twitter ⇗, or on Christina Hoag’s Facebook ⇗.

Tour Participants:

Visit these other Skin of Tattoos tour participants for more giveaways, reviews, guest posts, and interviews!


Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Christina Hoag. There will 1 winner of a $15 Amazon.com gift card & 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Skin of Tattoos by Christina Hoag. The giveaway begins on October 15th and runs through November 27th, 2016.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Nov 222016
 

For Duty and Honor

by Leo J. Maloney

November 22, 2016 Book Blast

Synopsis:

For Duty and Honor by Leo J. MaloneyIn this action-packed novella, Black Ops veteran Leo J. Maloney delivers a heart-pounding tale as fast, cold, and sleek as a 9mm bullet…

For Duty And Honor

The unthinkable has happened to operative Dan Morgan. Captured by the Russians. Imprisoned in the Gulag. Tortured by his cruelest, most sadistic enemy. But Morgan knows that every prisoner has a past—and every rival can be used. With the most unlikely of allies, Morgan hatches a plan. To save what’s important, he must risk everything. And that’s when the stakes go sky-high. Dan Morgan’s got to keep fighting. For duty. And honor. And even certain death…

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This is the first book that I have read by this “new to me” author. But it won’t be the last!

FOR DUTY AND HONOR, a novella, is a 96 page book that had me turning the pages to the very last word. Ninety-six pages of intense suspense and action.

The reader meets Dan Morgan while he is imprisoned in a primitive Russian jail trying to escape the brutal treatment but the reason is not known until the end, which was shocking. Also met, is his daughter, Alex, has she refuses to accept that he is missing and not knowing where he is or even worse, if he is dead.

This book had me on the edge of my seat! Chilling! Mr. Maloney is now on my “authors to read” list and can’t wait to read more by him. If he is also a “new to you” writer, I highly recommend that you read this novella and I guarantee you will be wanting more too!.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Political Thriller
Published by: Kensington Books/Lyrical Underground
Publication Date: November 22nd 2016
Number of Pages: 96
ISBN: 1616509813 (ISBN13: 9781616509811)
Series: Dan Morgan #5.5

Purchase For Duty and Honor at Amazon 🔗, Barnes & Noble 🔗, & add it to your Goodreads 🔗 List!

Read an excerpt:

The prisoner’s body was a brick of exhaustion and pain.

Steel cuffs chafed against his raw wrists and ankles, the rough uniform scraping the burns and cuts that lined his arms and legs and pocked his torso. Even under the blackness of his hood, the prisoner smelled stale sweat mingled with his own breath: iron from the blood, acetone from the starvation. He could barely hold himself up against the jolting ride. All that was keeping him upright were the two thick guards at his sides boxing him in. At the outset, hours ago at the landing strip, the guards were in high spirits, joking and jesting in Russian, which the prisoner could not follow. Whenever he couldn’t hold himself up anymore and leaned into one of them or into the front seat, they would box the prisoner’s head and laugh, forcing him to sit upright again.

But as they drew nearer to their destination, and the car’s heating lost ground against the cold, the guards grew quiet, like there was something grim about the place even to them.

The prisoner swung forward as the jeep came to an abrupt stop, tires on gravel. The doors opened and the spaces on his sides cleared as the men got out, leaving him exposed to the frigid Siberian air. Against this cold, the canvas uniform felt like nothing at all.

The guards unlocked the cuffs and yanked the prisoner out. Too tired to offer any resistance, he walked along, bare feet on the freezing stony ground. Someone pulled off his cowl. He was struck by a hurricane of light that made him so dizzy that he would have vomited, if there were anything in his stomach. It took a moment for the image to stop swimming and resolve itself into the barren landscape of rock and creeping brush lit by a sun low in the sky.

The Siberian tundra.

They prodded him forward. He trudged toward the Brutalist conglomeration of buildings surrounded by tall mesh fences and barbed wire. Prison camp. Gulag. The prisoner’s trembling knee collapsed and he fell on the stony ground. A guard gave him a kick with a heavy, polished leather boot and pulled him to his feet.

They reached the top and entered the vakhta, the guardhouse. He passed through the first gate and was searched, rough hands prodding and poking at him. They then opened the second, leading him through, outside, into the yard. His gaze kept down, he saw guards’ boots, and massive furry Caucasian shepherds, each taller than a full-grown man’s waist. He didn’t look up to see the bare concrete guard towers that overlooked the terrain for miles around or at the sharpshooters that occupied them.

He was pulled inside the nearest boxy building, walls painted with chipping murals of old Soviet propaganda, apple-cheeked youngsters over fields of grain and brave soldiers of the Red Army standing against the octopus of international capitalism. On the second floor, they knocked on a wooden door.

“Postupat’.”

The guards opened the door, revealing an office with a vintage aristocratic desk. They pushed him onto the bare hardwood.

A man stood up with a creak of his chair. The prisoner watched as he approached, seeing from his vantage point only the wingtip oxfords and the hem of his pinstriped gabardine pants, walking around his desk, footsteps echoing in the concrete office.

“Amerikanskiy?”

“Da,” a guard answered.

The man crouched, studying the prisoner’s face. “You are one of General Suvorov’s, are you not?” His voice was deep and filled with gravel and a heavy Russian accent.

The prisoner didn’t respond—not that he needed to.

“You are tough, if he did not break you.” He stood, brushing off unseen dust from his suit jacket. “And if he had broken you, you would be dead already. I am Nevsky, the warden. Welcome to my prison.”

Leo J. MaloneyAuthor Bio:

Leo J. Maloney is a proud supporter of Mission K9 Rescue, www.missionk9rescue.org, which is dedicated to the service of retiring and retired military dogs and contract dogs and other dogs who serve. Mission K9 rescues, reunites, re-homes, rehabilitates, and repairs these hero dogs. Leo donates a portion of the proceeds from his writing to this organization. To find out more about Mission K9 Rescue, or to make your own donation, please visit www.missionk9rescue.org; or go to www.k9gala.org

;

Catch Up with Mr. Maloney on his Author’s Website 🔗, on Author’s Twitter 🔗, and on Author’s Facebook 🔗!

** (Photo Credit Carolle Photography)

Tour Participants:

Stop by the participants of this tour for more great features!


Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Leo J. Maloney. There will be 1 winners of one (1) eBook copy of For Duty and Honor by Leo J. Maloney. This giveaway is limited to US & Canadian residents only. The giveaway begins on November 19th and runs through November 26th, 2016.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Nov 212016
 

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia of A girl and her books and is now hosted on its own blog.

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Wednesday: 212 by Alafair Burke from Bookperk/Personal
Thursday: SPARE CHANGE by Bettee Lee Crosby Personal download

Nov 202016
 


2017 READING CHALLENGES

More challenges!! And I’m sure more to come. I didn’t participate in Challenges during the past 2 years, while I was on LOA, so I might as well go all in! Plus, the prediction is for a very cold and snowy winter here in New England, so I will be hibernating with my books.


Color Coded



Hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block

Once again the categories will be more open–the color may either be named in the title or it may appear as the dominant color for the cover of the book. For “implies color” the image implying color should dominate the cover–for instance a large rainbow, a field of flowers, or the image of a painter. Get ready for a rainbow of reading in 2017.

Once I have a chance to look over my TBR list I’ll see if I’m able to do the colors this year. It’s getting harder and harder to do that from my own stacks. Once again there will not be a prize offered for this particular challenge this year.

Here are the rules:

*Read nine books in the following categories.
1. A book with “Blue” or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) in the title/on the cover.
2. A book with “Red” or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgandy, etc) in the title/on the cover.
3. A book with “Yellow” or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.)in the title/on the cover.
4. A book with “Green” or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) in the title/on the cover.
5. A book with “Brown” or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc) in the title/on the cover.
6. A book with “Black” or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) in the title/on the cover.
7. A book with “White” or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc) in the title/on the cover.
8. A book with any other color in the title/on the cover (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.).
9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).

* Any book read from January 1 through December 31, 2017 will count.
*Crossovers with other challenges are fine.
*Please post about the challenge on your blog. Sign ups accepted until Nov 1, 2017.
*Please sign up using the Linky below. Give your name & blog (Example: Bev @ My Reader’s Block) and use a direct link to your challenge post as your url. Please don’t connect to just your home page. Links to a list on GoodReads or other social media sites are also acceptable.
*Please use the Review Headquarters Page (sidebar link coming in January) to post review links and a final wrap-up post when you finish the challenge. [Reviews are not required–but we’d love to see what you think about the books that you’ve read if you do review.]


2017 You Read How Many Books?



Hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair

Guidelines are pretty simple. You’ll have all year to read your books so go ahead and stretch yourself.
1. Choose a Level
Level 1: 100 minimum
Level 2: 150
Level 3: 200
Level 4: 250 or more
2. You may move up a level but not down.
3. You don’t need a blog to participate. Feel free to link to a Goodreads shelf or another public profile where everyone can see your books.
4. Reviews are not necessary but a list of books is. There will be a link up for reviews if you wish to post them.
5. All formats allowed as long as the book has an isbn or equivalent and can be purchased/borrowed, the book counts.
6. Individual short stories in a collection and individual books of the Bible do not count.
7. Crossovers from other challenges count – they’d have too!
8. Books started before January 1st, 2017 don’t count.

100 books!!??!! Going to give it my best shot!