Rip the Sky Review (Lone Star Book Blog Tours)


Mark Packard

Speculative Fiction / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Publisher: Bluestreak Publishing
Page Count: 317 pages
Publication Date: August 21, 2023

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After a shocking courtroom tragedy, a disturbed Vietnam veteran and the vindictive judge who sent him to prison become an unlikely pair of time travelers in a chaotic multiverse. The fallen angel who rescues them wants to guide them to a radiant new life. But first they must return to the scene of a ghastly crime.

Billy Worster was a naïve teenager ill-prepared for the gruesome realities of war. The sole survivor of a deadly massacre in a Vietnamese jungle, he avoided certain death only because he ran away when the shooting started. Riddled with guilt, he comes home to a dusty Texas farm with post-traumatic stress disorder and the crazy notion that he can fly in and out of parallel worlds.

As Billy struggles with addiction and questions his sanity, he is arrested on a drug charge and ends up in the courtroom of Judge Madeline Johnston, a bitter old judge tormented by a dark secret surrounding her father’s death. She callously tosses Billy into prison, but when a greedy executor files a lawsuit to steal his inherited land, Billy is hauled back to her courtroom in chains, where a stunning twist of fate launches them into the sky on an odyssey of discovery and healing.

Spanning forty years from the jungles of Vietnam through infinite, parallel worlds, Rip the Sky examines how the power of forgiveness can lead us toward a better life, no matter how many worlds we may live in.

Mark Packard spent the last 38 years as a trial attorney and is now retired from the courtroom and working as a mediator. In a life before lawyering he was a journalist and regrets waiting far too long before returning to his roots to write his first novel, Rip the Sky. Though he knows he should have jumped off the merry-go-round years ago, he hopes to hang around long enough to craft a few more tales. Connect with the author:

My Review

Rip the Sky is the story of Billy Worster. The book begins with his time in Vietnam, before shifting to his life post-war. It reveals his struggles with PTSD, alcoholism, and drug addiction as he struggles to feel he belongs in the world. It illustrates the strained relationships and new friendships he has with different people in his life. In this way, it is a very real book that deals with very heavy topics. 

On the other hand, it's also a very trippy book that deals with Billy's daydreams and belief that he can "fly" between different worlds, entering doors in the sky. This is a belief that is constantly questioned by others and an action Billy struggles to control. The book is also about his secrets and how he learns to navigate this multiversal aspect of his life. 

As a result, Rip the Sky is a book that deals with questions of religious belief, spiritual wellness, and personal influence. Put all together, this can only be described as a ride. To be fully honest, the first page wasn't very gripping - there was a part of it that made me wonder if I'd be able to really get into it - but within a couple pages, everything settled in. Things felt smoother narration wise and I started to feel immersed in the story. By the end of Chapter 2, I wanted to know what Billy's overall journey was going to look like. So while it gets off to a slightly rough start by my markers, I did end up enjoying myself and the story not long after. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the end, as I found the story went by rather quickly!

For readers uncomfortable with certain things (brief though graphic wartime descriptions, language, alcohol, drugs), this book may be a little much. It deals a lot with human struggles and the complications that come with the twists life throws at people. It deals with nightmares and questions of self, questions of purpose and place. It also deals with faith and the ways people can struggle to understand it based on their independent experiences. Billy was an interesting character. I didn't really relate to him, but I empathized with his struggles and wanted to see where his journey took him. I thought the cast of additional characters was interesting and the shift in who is followed to start chapters halfway through made things very intriguing. Early on, every chapter begins with Billy. However, this eventually changes and was a noticeable shift that didn't bother me as much as I would've thought it could. I don't tend to like shifts in perspective mid-narrative, but each one worked well and added to the story.  

Starting out, I didn't know what to expect. I like to come into review books with as little information as possible. That way, I can see how it naturally progresses without any preconceived ideas of pacing or plot. I just let the stories take me where they will. This book certainly surprised me and I liked it more than I initially thought I would early on. It's an intriguing read that shines in how it portrays the struggles of a small-town man that keeps getting beat down by the situations and systems around him. I definitely encourage any interested in its premise to give it a chance. He's not a traditional hero by any means, but he's an interesting protagonist to follow. I give Rip the Sky  a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯ stars

Signed hard copy of RIP THE SKY & $50 Amazon gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 10/13/23)


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  1. I try to do the same thing with books -- go in with very little information (I am all about the covers, though) and just see where the story goes. I like that there is so much to think about in this story. Thanks for sharing your review.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this story, Sam. I had some of the same thoughts as I started reading the book, but soon I was totally immersed, and what a ride!

  3. Thanks so much taking the time to read and review my book!


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