SKIN OF TATTOOS by CHRISTINA HOAG #Street gangs #Review @ChristinaHoag




When Cyco Lokos gang member Magdaleno (Mags) Argueta comes home to Los Angeles after serving prison time for a robbery, he wants nothing more than to start a new life. However, there’s one obstacle he has to overcome first…his old life.
Mags tries to let go of his bitterness–he was framed by Rico, the new leader of the Cyco Lokos–and stay out of gang life for the sake of his Salvadoran immigrant family and his girlfriend Paloma, but trying to integrate into society after a stint in prison doesn’t come easily. Faced with low job prospects and Rico’s demands to help the Cyco Lokos make money, a broke and disillusioned Mags makes the only choice he can.
However, Mags soon discovers that loyalties have shifted, including his, and being a part of the Cyco Lokos with Rico in charge is far more dangerous and uncertain than it used to be. With his sister pregnant by a rival gang member and his own relationship with Paloma, his best friend’s sister, a violation of gang code, Mags becomes caught in a web of secrets, revenge, lies, and murder that might ultimately cost him everything.



Well if you are wanting sugar and spice and happy ever afters then don’t read any further, you need fantasy and this is more like reality. It is gritty and raw, at times with a cruelty that so shocking that you really do feel the fear. This book is of course fiction but it has been written by a lady that has been right in amongst the real life homeboys and homegirls in Los Angeles and San Salvador. So this isn’t one persons story, this is a representation of all of them. All their stories melted into one and these are the characters Christina Hoag moulded them into.

Mags took the fall for one of his gang and ended up inside, he is a tough cookie that had to do his full time because someone disrespected his gang and he had to sort him out. He has no intention of ever going back in, just get it together and get out of it all, make a new life, but he knows leaving isn’t going to be easy or maybe not even possible.

I really did not want to like Mags, he was a very active member of ruthless gang but God damn it I really did like him. Christina Hoag has created a character that as a mum I can relate to, a loving boy that helps out and just got in with the wrong crowd. A boyfriend who is loving and faithfully and just wants a new start, well as soon as probation is over and just a couple more jobs to get some cash together, you know how it is and  a big brother to watch over his sisters. How can you not like him?

There are some pretty scary people to read about that would put the fear of God in to you even in a room of policemen. There is no crossing the line, no forgiveness and definitely no mercy as far as punishing your own. Yes you are ‘family’ until something goes wrong, then God help you, but even he won’t come. This is a very visual read, such a very touching story for such brutal reality. A Brilliant book.



Christina Hoag is a novelist and journalist based in Los Angeles, California.
She is the author of literary noir-thriller “Skin of Tattoos” (Martin Brown, 2016) and YA romantic thriller “Girl on the Brink” (Fire and Ice YA, 2016).
She also writes nonfiction. She co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” (Turner Publishing, 2014) a ground breaking book on gang intervention.
Christina was born in New Zealand of Kiwi and British parentage, and at the age of six, won a prize for “writing interesting stories.” That’s what she’s been doing ever since. 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.) Her short story “Life Stories” is forthcoming in the anthology “100 Voices” (Centum Press, 2016).
She is a former staff writer for The Miami Herald and the Associated Press, and other newspapers. Her career as a journalist took her to Latin America, where she reported from 14 countries in the region 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, The Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, and other publications. She is fluent in Spanish.
A graduate of Boston University, she is the recipient of two writing awards from the New Jersey Press Association.



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