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review 2018-02-09 20:41
A book strong on plot and fast action and full of information about la Santa Muerte.
Freaky Franky - William Blackwell


I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I have been reading a book called Paperbacks from Hell and when I saw this book, it reminded me so much of many of the covers and topics I had been reading about that I could not resist, although I was not sure about the title (was it horror, humour, or something else entirely?).

The novel begins with quite a bang. A strong scene where we are introduced to la Santa Muerte (Saint Death) a religion/cult (depending on whose point of view you take) that has flourished in Mexico and is spreading to many other places. Although we all have heard about the Mexican Día de los Muertos, this might cover new ground for many of us, but the author is well informed and provides good background into the history and the various opinions on Saint Death, that is an interesting topic in its own right.

But don’t get me wrong. This book is not all tell and not show. We have a number of characters who are linked (unknowingly at first) by their devotion to Saint Death. What in the beginning seem to be separate episodes, which show us the best and the worst consequences of praying to Saint Death, later come together in an accomplished narrative arc. Whilst praying for health and good things can result in miracles, praying for revenge and death carries serious and deadly consequences.

The story, written in the third person, alternates the points of views most of the characters, from the main characters to some of the bit actors, good and bad (although that is pretty relative in this novel) and it moves at good pace. It is dynamic and full of action, and this is a novel where the plot dominates. The characters are not drawn in a lot of detail and I did not find them as cohesive and compelling as the story, in part, perhaps, because they are, at times, under the control of Saint Death (but this is not a standard story of satanic possession). Although none of the characters are morally irreproachable,  Anisa and Dr. Ricardo are more sympathetic and easier to root for. Yes, Anisa might resent her missed opportunities and the fact that she is stuck in Prince Edward Island looking after her son, but she goes out of her way to help her friend Helen and her brother Franklin and warns them not to pray for revenge. Dr. Ricardo threads a fine line between helping others and protecting himself, but he does the best he can. Franklin, the Freaky Franky of the title, is a much more negative character and pretty creepy, especially early in the novel. Although we learn about his past and the tragedies in his life, he is Anisa’s brother, and she’s also gone through the same losses, without behaving like he does. He uses Saint Death’s power mostly for evil, although he seems to change his mind and attitude after Anisa’s intervention (I was not totally convinced by this turn of events). I found Natalie, the American tourist visiting the Dominican Republic with her fiancé, Terry, difficult to fathom as well. Perhaps some of it could be explained by the love/lust spell she is under, but she clearly suspects what Franklin has done to her, and her changed feelings towards a man she has known for five minutes makes no sense, at least to me (sorry, I am trying to avoid spoilers). Much of the action and events require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, but not more than is usual in the genre.

The novel keeps wrong-footing the readers. At first, we might think that everything that is going on can be explained by self-suggestion and that all the evil (and the good) is in the mind of the believer. These are desperate characters holding on to anything that offers them a glint of hope. And later, when bad things start to happen, it seems logical to believe that the characters we are following have acted upon their negative thoughts and impulses (and even they have doubts as to what they might have done). But nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

Although there is plenty of explicit violence and some sexual references (those not as explicit), I did not find it frightening or horrific as such. However, it is a disquieting, dark, and eerie book, because of the way it invites readers to look into the limits of morality and right and wrong. Is revenge ever justified? Is it a matter of degrees? Who decides? It seems la Santa Muerte has very specific thoughts about this, so be very careful what you wish (or pray) for.

An eye-opener with regards to the Saint Death cult and a book that will be enjoyed by readers who don’t mind supernatural novels with plenty of violence, and prefer their plots dynamic and action-driven.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-25 00:00
Santa Muerte (The Daniela Story #1)
Santa Muerte (The Daniela Story #1) - Lu... Santa Muerte (The Daniela Story #1) - Lucina Stone Review coming by next week! Thanks Rich in Variety & Lucina Stone for the copy.

This book man, this book. Take away the problematic parts in the writing, characters and plot and you'd really have something here. Sadly, that cannot be done and I just can't review the other pieces. There's so much problematic material...

First of all, read C.T. Callahan's review as she points out a LOT of issues with the beginning of the book.

Also, Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCallahan/status/835880138206228480

I'm not going to rehash it. I'm going to continue the shit from the rest of the book and add some details from my perspective.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: KKK, Lynching, Witch Burning, Sexual Assault, Kidnapping, Rape & Breeding Threats, Racism, Biphobia, Homophobia, Ignorance Galore,

Prologue: Daniela's mom Emma is threatened and forced into having sex with a man by her mother. The man is her mother's choice. Emma, a staunch lesbian, suddenly feels attraction to the guy right before it cuts to black for the fucking.

She had never been with a man before; never had the desire to. But something about this man provoked all manner of lust. Emma felt deeply ashamed to be unfaithful to her girlfriend. Before she met him, it was just an act to get through. It was her duty. It was to cleanse her future of familial guilt. But now, with the way he was staring at her….

Obligations are not supposed to be fun. At least, Emma had thought that was the rule up to this point.

Did I mention there was a love potion but she refused it? Any mention that it's rape? How it is for a lesbian to have to fuck a man? Nothing but "magic man" bullshit and biphobia.

Rape & Breeding Threats: Daphne ends up in the werewolves stronghold as a prisoner bound for raping and forced birth of the shifter king's kids.

Lynching & Witch Burning: It's graphic. It's several pages long. It's fucking brutal. It's how Daniela unlocks her powers finally.

KKK: Not only do they appear for the violence, but we suffer through one of their perspectives. Who? Daphne's father of course. Her brother is just "not in agreement" with him according to his father.

Lain: Extreme Douchebag. He undresses Daniela while she's unconscious and fondles her. Ultimate creep. Declares she's his soulmate based on the amount of piercings she has.

When the ghost takes over for Daniela the ghost uses Daniela's naked body against him.

Daniela's response to all of this?
Fuckin’ Lain. She touched her mouth. Her Achilles’ heel was shitty relationships.


Funny how her piercings and tattoos weren't mentioned until she time travels. She came off as such a mousy, plain, submissive type at first. Then BAM! Tattooed pierced up badass wannabe. What happened with her controlling BF? Control freaks and abusers are usually going to stop the self-expression and self-love.

Depression & Suicidal Thoughts: Okay, C.T. did a great job on this but as someone with depression and previously attempted suicide, I have to say my piece.


Okay so the opening establishes Daniela's great family with every opportunity but still feeling like a disappointment and a suicidal piece of shit.

Yes, you can be depressed for no outward reason - it's a chemical thing in the brain. Fine. Everything else here? NOPE.

1. Depression doesn't mean "crazy" or hallucinations
2. Suicidal thoughts aren't that easy to dismiss
3. Since when can people in a depressive state just shake it off?

Someone just asking "Do you REALLY want to die?" and hopping up to get shit done? The easy way she switches from days in bed and ecstatic happiness? That sounds more bipolar than depression. But hallucinations are not in either's symptom list.

It's pure ignorant and stereotypes being regurgitated. Because no matter how I look at it and try to work it out, it's not right.

The Lord knew she wasn’t made for these times. She was too sensitive, and just not strong enough to cope with all the problems the world was dishing out. She felt God would forgive her choice. It was not that she was ungrateful for her life—just that she had had enough of the lying and pretending.

So let's send her back in time and make the special snowflake feel the pain?!? WTF? She's depressed because she's weak? Because she doesn't fit in as a 20 year old? Fuck, it reads like some anti-millennial torture porn with everything that happens next.

Suicide is never just a whim. It's planned. It's thought out and every angle worked through. Daniela though? Didn't even have a tree picked out. And why hanging herself? Why in the park? None of this is thought of or brought up. It just is, which is insulting. Did she think it would be better than her mom's finding her? But what about making it a public display? With her mom's obvious political and community influence, wouldn't those be a consideration too?

I thought my suicide out better at 14 than she did at 20.

Now, I did like the magic and the *basis* of it all, but...

Her mother really, really didn't know about the witches? Why the hell didn't HER mother break out the shape-shifting aunt earlier?

Now, what the hell am I going to do? I did finish the book, I did keep thinking about it after finishing it. I do love the original world and getting to know the badass witches in Daniela's family.

Even now that the mental health problems have passed (she found out where she belongs and is cured basically
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review 2015-03-25 23:56
Heart Wrenching/Terrifying/Realistic
Blood Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers) - Alexandra Sokoloff


This is a gift it comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife
– Florence and the Machine – Rabbit Heart


 “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – ― Elie Wiesel


 I find the idea of vigilante justice very attractive. I like the idea that the murderer decides that this person has gone too far, and nothing will happen to him unless she does something to stop him. – Donna Leon


 This series should carry a sign.



 OK? Do we have that out of the way now? Whew. Good. Because you won’t find “Fifty Shades of Horrible Writing” or “The “Twilight” of the Modern Mind” between these pages. What you will find is Outstanding psychological suspense.


Sokoloff’s work reminds me, in her writing style and story lines, of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. If there is no God, everything is permitted. Mass murder. Child sex slavery. Or a small girl, throat slashed, left to lie in the blood of her slaughtered family.


This is the story of Cara Lindstrom, a five-year-old little girl whose family is slaughtered by a serial killer. Now, twenty-five years later, Cara is an Avenging Angel – Santa Muerte – an Angel who brings death to the evil of the world. Her specialty? Child sex traffickers. Find them. Kill them. Release the children they exploit.


Of course, the FBI can’t have that. In Huntress Moon, after Cara killed the members of a child sex slavery ring in the desert of California, and to be fair, an undercover FBI agent (who happened to be “sampling the wares”) it is Matt Roarke’s job to capture her, bring her in, and put her away for the rest of her life for doing what the FBI can’t, or more importantly, won’t do.


“You can never kill them all,” she whispered. “They keep coming back.”


 And Cara should know. She sees the monsters in men’s souls. And while the monster who took her family and two others twenty-five years ago disappeared, now he is back. Back to slaughter. Back to kill the one who got away. And he isn’t the only one. For there is another killer, perhaps more savage than the first, who is walking death across the country – The Reaper. And finding Cara may be the only way Roarke can stop the past from becoming the present – even if capturing Cara means her complete and total destruction.


Twenty-five girls to a block, locked in the rooms and drugged to the gills, servicing twenty-five to forty men a day, twelve hours a day, seven days a week.



The monsters live amongst us. And Santa Muerte, the Lady Death, walks amongst them, nibbling away at a $33 billion a year industry of rape, torture and abuse – she saves with death – unless the FBI, and Matt Roarke, can stop her. After all, you could only sell a drug or a gun once, but you could sell a girl to the walking vermin known as johns twenty-five times a night.


Terry Pratchett said it, and Blood Moon reflects it:


“This is Art holding a Mirror up to Life. That’s why everything is exactly the wrong way around.”Wyrd Sisters


 Roarke seeks “Justice” – but is it justice, truly, to capture Santa Muerte?


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. Ms. Sokoloff is an amazing storyteller, and her works are now high on my “automatic buy” list. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.


Coming May 5, 2015

Cold Moon

Cold Moon

Book Three in the Thriller Award-nominated
Huntress/FBI series


It is strongly recommended that you read Huntress Moon and Blood Moon first.

The hunt for mass murderer Cara Lindstrom is over. FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke has been working for this moment: the capture of a killer who savagely hunts the worst of humanity. But Roarke remains traumatized by his own near-death at the hands of the serial killer who slaughtered Cara’s family…and haunted by the enigmatic woman who saved his life.


Then the sixteen-year-old prostitute who witnessed Cara’s most recent murder goes missing, and suddenly pimps are turning up dead on the streets of San Francisco, killed with an MO eerily similar to Cara’s handiwork.


Is a new killer on the loose with a mission even more deadly than hers? In the pulse-pounding third Huntress/FBI Thrillers book, Roarke will have to go on the hunt…and every woman he meets, even those closest to him, may prove deadly.


About the Author:

Alexandra SokoloffAlexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, and THE SPACE BETWEEN, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”


As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written two non-fiction workbooks: SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS and WRITING LOVE, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.


Learn more at http://alexandrasokoloff.com

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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