Shirley F’N Lyle: Viva the Revolution (Book One in Chick Grit Lit Series) by Clayton Lindemuth is a fiction story about a hooker named Shirley Lyle who is tired of being treated like she doesn’t matter, and she’s not going to take it anymore. She wants to be someone different, someone better. Viva the Revolution. She and her friend Ulyana, a stripper, have decided to make men pay for their actions. But things don’t go as planned, and the two women find themselves running from a drug dealer after they killed his son. The drug dealer isn’t the only person they have to worry about, however. When Ulyana disappears–possibly murdered–will Shirley be next?
There was a lot of action in this book, plus the mystery of Ulyana’s disappearance, which held my interest in the story. The story line was dark, but there was enough humor in the book to lighten it. I liked Dr. Kristanna Rong’s character and the encouragement she gave Shirley to make a change in her life. I was hoping for her to be a larger part of the story, but she only appeared in the beginning. I also liked that there was a slight romantic element with Donal O’Laughlin wanting to date Shirley rather than paying for her services.
I enjoyed reading the back and forth between Shirley and the “voices” in her head as she argued with herself. Old Shirley versus Viva Shirley. Shirley’s imagination was very amusing, including her superwoman day dreams about making the men who had done her wrong pay for their treatment of her and other women.
But I felt like Shirley walked into a few situations that would have gotten her killed in real life, when her spunky attitude alone wouldn’t have saved her. Some of the descriptions of violence and injuries were a bit graphic and gory. Conversely, there were only minimal descriptions of the setting. I prefer books with vividly described settings that add depth to a story, which I felt it was lacking in this book. The beginning of this book was a bit confusing, switching between various points of view made it hard to figure out how everything was connected.
But overall Shirley F’N Lyle is a fantastically entertaining novel that puts interesting characters in interesting situations. The drama that ensues is enthralling and ultimately uplifting.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B07SMN6H3V
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The Testimony of a Villain by Aaron Harrell is a dark, slick ride into the gritty alleys of the inner city. The book is not your typical crime thriller but one with a social lens that can only be given substance by one who has lived it. The reader follows Manuel Doggett, a boy who lost everything to be formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. He is out for retribution not redemption when an opportunity arises to have his vengeance on one of the murderers of his family.
Harrell provides a fresh and new take to the “true crime” thriller. His style is so firmly set in the bitingly grime reality of the inner city that the reader could even give this novel a new sub-genre of socio-economic thriller. The new threads do not stop there either, because the plot of the book itself is almost like a hero’s journey in reverse. Manuel is the classic anti-hero and one that does not once look to the audience for sympathy. Instead, there is only apathy towards almost everything, except towards the memories of his past.
The weaving of the inner city struggle and the complex inner life of Manuel makes this novel a stand out for readers of not only crime thrillers, but also those who wish to delve into the dark, broken mind of a man walking the line between light and shadow. The writing is fraught with graphic images of both violence and sex and is not for the weak-hearted.
I found myself enjoying the book from the start, because of the quick and realistic dialogue and the meta conversation about corruption, justice and social strata. There are a lot of binaries at play here, between the poor and wealthy, justice and injustice, and morality and immorality. Harrell does a fantastic job with surveying these issues, touching on them just enough without becoming too explicit. I can only guess at what Harrell’s personal experience has been with the inner city, but I very much appreciated the taste of authenticity that he lends to the narrative.
I find Manuel to be a compelling character. Most readers may find something akin to the backstory of Batman here, but there is a real human struggle that Harrell puts on display often.
Overall, I do believe that The Testimony of a Villain stands up to the best the crime thriller genre has to offer. It makes for a pleasurable read for any fans of such novels!
Pages; 489 | ASIN: B06XG6FYVH
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