Book Review | Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

lola cover.jpgLola heads up a small gang in South Central Los Angeles. From the outside, people think her boyfriend Garcia is in charge and she flies mostly under the radar. After a mid-level cartel boss demands the gang intervene in a two million dollar heroin deal, it becomes clear that Lola may be in over her head. Addicts, murders and kidnappings spice up this slow burning tale.

Lola is a clearly written debut novel. The plot is easy to follow and the characters can be kept straight with no issue. It’s billed as a crime thriller, with no shortage of crime, but may not be so thrilling for some readers. Sweeping generalizations and swearing are prevalent and some readers may find sensitive issues in the story, though they’re handled tastefully. While I did enjoy the book at times, I was mostly hoping to quickly finish it. Fans of crime fiction, “badass” women’s fiction, or drug/gang violence may appreciate this novel more. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

*Fans of Lola, may be interested in Mexico : Stories by Josh Barkan (2017).

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Book Review | The Infinite by Nicholas Mainieri

infinite mainieriIn New Orleans, a few years after Hurricane Katrina, high schoolers Jonah and Luz are in love. Each with a troubled past, having dealt with parental deaths and other difficult events, Luz and Jonah continue to struggle when they become pregnant and Luz’s father demands she return to Mexico. Jonah decides he must follow her across the border, but all bets are off when Luz doesn’t show up at her Grandma’s on time.

The Infinite is Mainieri’s first novel. It maintains a casual tone, using colloquialisms and interjecting Spanish. The text is clear, with the storyline being mostly easy to follow. Chapters are very short, making the book easy to pick up and put down. The characters are developed enough, and descriptions allow the reader to envision settings described. While violence occurs, it is not overly graphic or drawn out. This novel would work well for somewhat hesitant high school or college age readers, or others with short attention spans. Mainieri has crafted a very digestible read that keeps up a decent pace throughout. Check it out from a library near you!

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading The Infinite, you may be interested in Mexico by Josh Barkan (2017). 

Book Review | Malafemmena by Louisa Ermelino

malafemmena

Malafemmena is a collection of Ermelino’s short stories, some previously published, focusing on female protagonists in untraditional situations. The sixteen pieces are of varying lengths and take place at different times, on different continents, over the past few decades. From women crossing borders abroad, to drug fueled relaxeés on permanent holiday, to the delusional and victimized, Ermelino has incorporated tales for all depraved readers to relate to.

Ermelino’s distinctive writing style is both easy to read and picturesque. The reader will be able to envision two naked women described sharing a bed in a rented room in India and other scenes. Tastefully written, some of these stories are particularly thought provoking. Though sex, drugs and violence are incorporated into the stories, none of them are overdone. Some of the character’s delusions are quite impressive, and some of the stories are much better than others. This book is a quick read, great for commute or travel. Check it out from a library near you.

Book Review | Sunless : A novel by Gerard Donovan

Sunless was recommended to me by someone with similar reading interests. It takes place in the near future in Salt Lake City, Utah and centers on a struggling family and their interaction with a nearby pharmaceutical company in Park City. Self-named Sunless, the narrator and protagonist, begins the story when he is about five years old. His parents are excitedly expecting their second child, his brother, but the baby never makes it home from the hospital. Mother plummets into depression, taking pills and father develops cancer. As Sunless grows up and things at home just get worse, he turns to his mother’s pills.

I was told that I should read this book with someone close nearby in case it made me sad. I was slightly disappointed when I found this book a bit flat. I wasn’t very interested in the main character and was unable to empathize. The story flowed alright and made for easy reading, but without appealing characters. The presence of pharmaceutical companies in day to day life was surprising and led me to think more about the current state of prescription drug use in the United States. It could be a quick airplane read, but I suggest approaching it without high hopes. Check out Sunless from a library near you.

Book Review | Monster’s Chef : a novel by Jervey Tervalon

book cover Monster's chef : a novel / Jervey Tervalon.Mr. Gibson has lost his wife and his NYC restaurant to his cocaine addiction and landed himself in the slammer. Nine months later, in a halfway house, he makes a personal connection that lands him a new gig (on parole) in Southern California as personal chef to Monster, a Michael Jackson-like, eccentric celebrity musician. Gibson signs a non-disclosure agreement and lives in a bungalow on the secured grounds. As Monster and Gibson become more acquainted, and other slightly off-base characters appear, Gibson has to choose who to trust and how to proceed – especially when a dead body turns up outside his bungalow.

I grabbed Monster’s Chef off the new fiction shelves at the library. The jacket description sounded alright, the book wasn’t too thick and I figured I’d quit if it didn’t work out. Tervalon’s writing style here is easy to read, though some characters seem unable to explain themselves. The characters are imaginable, but as other critics have mentioned, fairly flat. The idea of a rich music mogul holed up in a private mansion with a moat on his own mountain was interesting, but the suspense that was promised never really arrived. This book was okay, but when I’d finished it, I questioned whether it had been worth the time. Have a read from a library near you.

Film Review | The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese

the wolf of wall street movie posterIn just about every regard, this film was more than I had bargained for – more profanity, more absurdity, more drugs, more nudity, more small tangents from the plot line, and more laughing. It was however, a bit less satisfying than I’d hoped and I wished there had been a countdown timer in the bottom corner of the screen since this is a 3 hour job. If cursing, hookers or drug use offends you, do not see this film. If you are into all three of those, can handle the wildly absurd and like Leonardo DiCaprio you will probably enjoy this film very much.

The Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of a motivated young man who goes to Wall Street to make it big. He gets the lowest job in the stock market and with aims of getting rich works his way up to owning his own trading firm full of like minded brokers. Along the way he learns tricks that aren’t quite legal to harvest the most from his investors’ money, which allows him a yacht, a mansion, a helicopter, lavish parties, call girls and many other things associated with high life in the 1980’s. As sometimes happens when illegalities occur on Wall Street, he becomes the subject of a federal investigation. This movie is based on the actual life events of stockbroker Jordan Belfort. The film was released in the US on December 25, 2013 and may still be playing at a theater near you.