Category Archives: violence

Book Review: Scattered Lies by Madison

Scattered Lies
by Madison
(Influential Writers Publishing)
3.5 out of 5 Stars

Scattered Lies, the debut novel from Madison, gives the reader everything that makes Urban Fiction delicious. On the surface, this novel is full of high-priced cars, upscale backdrops and inner-city squalor. The entertainment factor is high, but the psychology of and interaction between the characters of Scattered Lies is what will make this a great read. Madison created characters with deep, dark layers giving the reader plenty to digest.

Scattered Lies starts in the middle and works its way to the beginning and the end simultaneously. This is one of the things that makes the novel such an interesting read. Most of the characters are related to each other in multiple ways. As the characters reveal bits and pieces through strong dialogue, the plot twists unravel and will make the gears turn inside of the critical readers’ minds. If you have to go back and re-read parts of Scattered Lies, rest assured that it is not due to poor editing. The complex plot twists keeps the reader engaged.

Although Greg is not the central character in terms of the amount of pages dedicated to him, he can be directly or indirectly attributed to the tangled web of events the author Madison has put together. Greg is a locked up master-mind of a criminal enterprise. More than just a common street thug, Greg’s vision for what was possible for his Melrose Projects crew is infinite. Greg attempts to set his people up for legal success gained mixed results. The intricate mix of personalities, abilities and sense of loyalty is what will separate Scattered Lies from the average Urban Fiction book.

Gabrielle is Greg’s loyal wife and a successful lawyer. Her parents are ashamed of her decision to marry a convicted criminal. Her love for Greg is as genuine as his love for her. The bond gives her the strength to be married at a distance. The monthly conjugal visits are great sexually but not enough to convince her to have children. Gabrielle met Greg while hanging out with her cousin, Denise. The bond with Greg was instant but is later strained when Gabrielle starts to figure out exactly how Greg landed in prison.

Denise, Greg’s protege, shows the most promise out of Greg’s associates. Instead of becoming a statistic, Denise became the exception to the rule. From teenage “good girl gone bad” to ruthless killer to a mature business executive, Denise is a testament to the fact that bad people can come from good families and good things can come from bad people. In the hood, she is known for making people who cross her disappear. At her day job, she is known for keeping everything under control and getting things done no matter what. However, she can’t stay away from street thugs with nothing to offer besides mind-blowing sex. She’s seen it all from being pimped to contract killings to multi-million dollar real-estate deals, and Denise still manages to keep a job strictly for the health benefits.

Tony is a nobody in the hood who is at the helm of a platinum-selling music career with the help of Greg’s direction and connections. With average looks and an overboard ego, Tony lives a life that most wanna-be rappers would die for. He is able to obtain a beautiful girlfriend who is equally successful in her R&B career. His sexual addiction makes it hard to enjoy his girlfriend. Unlike Denise, he has a rep for being a pushover in the streets.

In her debut novel, Madison shows her mastery of melding together name brand items with high level psychology. The characters in Scattered Lies know enough about each other to know that there is more to know. It is that surface tension that keeps the reader afloat amid infinitely deep plot twists. The realistic dialogue is matched with issues that will hit home with many readers: family favoritism, being in love with old flames, skeletons in the closet coming back to destroy stability, among others.

The additional characters and scenarios perfectly accommodate the flavor and complexity of Scattered Lies. Denise’s niece Morgan deals with issues that most teenagers struggle with such as teenage sex, being a critical thinker at a young age and being treated differently because of beauty. Gabrielle’s clientele also engages issues like money laundering practices by wealthy people and rich women who are sexually addicted to boy toys from the hood.

There were two things that did not sit comfortably with me: the book’s cover and the book’s ending. Past the fact that “shattered” rhymes with “scattered”, the only connection I could see between the book cover and its story was that two shards of the broken glass had an image of a microphone (Tony, the rapper) and a woman wearing an unbuttoned shirt with a pearl necklace (presumably Denise, but possibly Gabrielle). However, this cover is much more welcomed and classier than just posting up a pin up model. Scattered Lies’ ending was shocking, but not satisfying. Given the lives of the characters up to that point, I struggle to see how ending the story that way brings closure to the various plot twists or opens the opportunity for sequels.

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Book Review: Her Little Secret by T. Freeman, Jr.

Her Little Secret
by T. Freeman, Jr.
(Sleepy Eye Publishing)
5 out of 5 Stars

t freeman her little secret on myspacedotcom

T. Freeman, Jr’s Her Little Secret is a masterpiece which encompasses gritty situations, the perfect use of slang and picturesque scenes from the roughest hoods to the absolutely luxurious locales from the East and West Coasts. Freeman invades the mind of his readers with the sometimes harsh but thoroughly adventurous life of Lerrez Crawford. Born in complete squalor to two drug-addicted parents, life deals Lerrez a bad hand from the very beginning. Dark-skinned, thick and undeniably beautiful, her life would be anything but sweet as she struggles to escape the grips of the cold streets of inner-city Camden, NJ.

Lerrez’s attempt at elusiveness is met with the domino effect of tragedy after tragedy. Before she can reach 18-years-old, she gets shuffled off to a foster home, thrust onto the streets, housed in juvenile detention and taken by her long-lost grand mother. During this whole ordeal, she experience sexual and drug abuse, murders and misadventures that are not too uncommon for people surviving in inner-cities across the nation. A chance meeting with a big-time producer from L.A. proves to be the ticket to stability. Just when she finds solace with the love of her life, all of the dirt she did in Camden threatens to snatch away her fairytale ending.

What really makes this novel pop is T. Freeman’s effortless use of slang and location. Being the perfect guide, he puts foreign slang words in context. He also gives you a street-level view wherever his characters are. Her Little Secret takes you from the crowded projects of Camden to the city blocks of New York City to the socio-economic extremes of L.A. Freeman doesn’t just reference a location. He gives you street names and landmarks in a way that perfectly complements the wicked plot twists.

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Book Review of Blood Money: The Beginning by Toni Coleman

Blood Money: The Beginning
Toni Coleman
(Seraphim Publications)
4 out of 5 Stars

toni coleman blood money book review on amazondotcom

Blood Money by Toni Coleman is roller coaster ride through a world where the music industry and criminal activities are mutual bedfellows. Jameelah Cole marries her long-time boyfriend, inherits a multi-million dollar record company and gets a huge house complete with two million dollars in cash in its safe. Not bad for a “little girl from Compton”, right? Wrong… Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jameelah’s female intuition leads her to be suspicious of her boyfriend, Michael Mine. Being the CEO of G-Styles, women throw themselves at Michael left and right since its the hottest West Coast record label out. Jameelah is naturally suspicious when Michael rushes to drop her off and go handle some “record company business”.

Michael meets up with the other woman and swiftly swooshes her to his mini-mansion. In the throws of passion, Michael becomes the victim of a serious jack move. His late-night rendevous steps to the side and lets two burglars beat Michael to a pulp and demand the location of the money hidden somewhere within the house.

Gun in hand, Jameelah finds Michael hogtied and hanging onto dear life as the two hooligans hold him hostage. A couple blasts from the shotgun sends the floozy flying out of the room like a ghetto roach and the thugs splattered on the floor like extras in a horror flick. The shots also partially paralyzes Michael, but he survives. That would have been highly unlikely if Jameelah wasn’t a woman that shoots first and asks questions later.

While laid up in the hospital, two of Michael’s closest business partners plan and plot like vultures over the remnants of Michael’s anticipated demise. Bruce Kelly shares ownership of G-Style records with Michael. Ruthless by nature, this red-haired Irishman will stop at nothing to make the business moves that keep him financially secure and keep his business partners satisfied.

The sexy R&B crooner Alan Wise is G-Style’s flagship artist. He was Michael’s bestfriend when they were petty thugs on the rise in the drug game. Allan becomes rapped up in Bruce’s evil manipulations just like everyone else who is too afraid to cross Bruce’s path. Allan’s loyalty quickly shifts from Michael to Bruce because he believes he is going to take Michael’s place as a partner in G-Style.

At the hospital, Michael not only asks for Jameelah’s hand in marriage but also give her all of the inside details of his business operations. Michael had been working on transitioning his interest in G-Style records into his own record company. Jameelah pays attention but has no idea how what she learns in that hospital will be crucial to her survival both physically and business-wise.

Michael’s untimely passing brings much more than his past lovers out of the woodwork. Micael’s former partner in crime and business, Bruce, begins to set in motion the steps neccessary to make G-Style records a burgeoning music empire. He also feels he now has the room needed to turn the record label into a perfect money laundering operation for his “silent partners”.

As Jameelah sorts through the things left to her by her forward-thinking husband, she happens upon the stash of money Michael was getting robbed for. Jameelah and her best friend Renee hand-count one million dollars only to realize they only made it halfway through the total stash. The money turns out to be more of a curse than a blessing for reasons you’ll have to read in Blood Money.

Unbeknownst to both Bruce and Allan, Michael’s secret marriage to Jameelah gives her control over Michael’s interest in G-Style and its transition to a new record label. Her private attraction for Allan come to the forefront as they meet for a sensual encounter that is deliciously guilty and too complex for either party to truly understand.

Blood Money is the perfect title for this fast-paced, action-packed thriller that will keep the reader off-balanced and rushing through the pages for the next plot twist. Blood Money: The Beginning is the perfect title not only because of the money’s origin but also the resulting outcomes the money generates for those who are connected to it. As the marriage and its implications come into play, all three parties attempt a deadly game of chess full of death, deception and dishonesty never experienced before in Urban Lit.

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