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  • Spar
    Spar
    by Nikko Lee

    A closeted black belt comes to terms with his bisexuality when he takes an openly gay student as his new sparring partner.

  • Wolf Creek: Gay Werewolf Romance
    Wolf Creek: Gay Werewolf Romance
    by Nikko Lee, Digital Fiction

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

  • Bon Appetit: Stories & Recipes for Human Consumption
    Bon Appetit: Stories & Recipes for Human Consumption
    by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, Rev. Thomas Thorn, Nikko Lee, Dax Bordas, Sebastian Bendix, Rick Powell, Misty Tyers, J. N. Cameron
    Contains Bouillon de Bebe 
  • NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    by Gary Budgen, Julian Darius, Richard Greico Jr, Nikko Lee, K. A. Opperman, Alice Renard, Rose Banks, Paul St. John Mackintosh, Michael Seese

    Contains Instabiable by Nikko Lee

  • Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    by Carol Hightshoe, Cynthia Ward, Terry M. West, Christie Meierz, Dana Bell, Mary E. Lowd, Patrick J. Hurley, Francis W. Alexander, Liam Hogan

    Brainatarian by Nikko Lee

  • Coming Back
    Coming Back
    by James Arthur Anderson, Brian Barnett, Dave Fragments, Shawna Galvin, Vince Darcangelo, Ken Goldman, Michael Lindquist

    Contains A Mother Knows by Nikko Lee (paperback available at Lulu.com)

  • Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    by Jonathan W. Thurston

    Contains Great Mother Wolf by Michelle Knowlton

  • People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    by Frank Larnerd, Tony Peak, Geoff Gander, Shenoa Caroll-Bradd, Robert Hart, Nikko Lee, Kyle Yadlosky, Edward Martin III

    Contains Bouillon de Bebe by Nikko Lee

  • Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    by Nicole Gestalt, Crysta Coburn, J.T Seate, Nikko Lee, V.C., Zak Jane Keir, Blair, Regina Kammer, Jim Lee

    Contains Boson's Mate by Nikko Lee

  • The Big Book of Bizarro
    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

    Contains Honey-Do by Nikko Lee

  • Between Love and Lust
    Between Love and Lust
    by Nikko Lee

    E-book

    Print-on-demand paperback

  • Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    by J. Troy Seate, Patricia McCarthy, Nikke Lee, Andrea Saavedra, James Hartley, Edward McKeown, Mike Graves, J.E. Gurley, Zakk Erikson, David Bernstein C.C. Blake

    Contains Pure Delight by Nikko Lee

My confession...

I have always been a slow reader and, worse, a picky reader. It's probably one of the reasons I enjoy writing my own stories so much. I am one of those pickly readers who judges a book by its cover or title or summary. A story has to capture my attention in order for me to devote the time it takes to get truly lost in it and finish reading it. Whether it's the characters, the plot, or even the first sentence, something has to grab me and demand that I read this book.

One of the best ways to learn about writing is to read. In other people's works I find techniques and skills I like. I see how they explore characters, background, and plots. I usually learn a lot and see how far I still have to go. However, I don't always like what others do.

In this section I'm going to present reviews of books that I have read in order to put into words what I take away from other people's writing. These reflections are only my opinion.

For more information see my blog post about this section.

Monday
Oct222018

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Why I read this book:

As a mother with two small children, going to the movies with my husband or on my own just isn't happening. So I used my Audible credits to purchase Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan as a fix until the movie is available in Red Box. The movie trailers hooked me on this sexy, extravagant princess story. Who doesn't dream once in a while of being whisked off to a reality where nothing is out of rich.

My one sentence summary:

Rachel's sexy boyfriend is much more than he lets on and his crazy-rich family might just be more than she wants to deal with.

Kudos:

Kwan transports readers to a lush, colorful and loud world where nothing is too expensive from buying a hotel when the concierge is rude to the latest fashions yet to reach the runways. Crazy Rich Asians is full of complicated characters with struggles that are often unique to the jet set and so common that anyone can relate too. Rachel is a down to earth character who acts as the reader's surrogate as she is thrown into a world where she will never be good enough. The romance between Rachel and Nick made my heart race as I struggled between hating Nick for being so ignorant in subjecting Rachel to his back stabbing, power hungry family and wanting the two to be together. The food description had me craving dim sum for weeks. The settings were gorgeous and exotic to my western mind.

Quibbles:

Although label dropping is a part of the world building, I quickly grew tired of it and just took Kwan's word that the labels equated excess wealth. There are also so many characters with their own drama going on that I often lost track of who belonged to which family and what their back story was.

Final verdict:

Sexy Asian princess story with enough drama to rival any telenovella. This was a great listen on Audible.

Friday
Oct122018

Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt

Why I read this book:

I heard a review of the translation of Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt while visiting family in Quebec. The premise hooked me right away.

My one sentence summary:

When happily married real estate agent Tessa tracks down the former lover of her life, she will have to choose between rekindling an old romance or embracing her present self.

Kudos:

I loved the writing in this book. The characters and locations all felt so real and Quebecois. The tension between embracing the ideal of the past and accepting the imperfection of the presence was wonderful and kept me on the edge of my seat. I wanted her to choose her husband, but understood why she lusted after an image of who she was.

Quibbles:

I found my attention started to wander in the many flashbacks. While they gave insight into Tessa's family life growing up and her journey into womanhood, I felt more drawn to the present conflict.

Final verdict:

High recommend.

Monday
Aug272018

The Pharaoh's Key by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Why I read this book:

After meeting Douglas Preston and reading one of his non-fiction books, I decided to use one of my first Audible credits on The Pharaoh's Key by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. In hindsight, this last novel in a series was probably the wrong place to jump into the lives of the main characters.

My one sentence summary:

Triple crosses, narrow escapes, and a hidden civilizations stand between Gideon Crew and Manual Garza's last treasure hunt.

Kudos:

The action in Pharaoh's Key is testosterone driven and would give Indian Jones a run for his money. I loved the intrigue and quasi travel blog. Crew and Garza make a wonderful odd couple team and their former boss, Eli Glinn, makes a fantastic dark shadows boogie man.

Quibbles:

I had a hard time determining which character was speaking or narrating at times. Female characters are few and farm between although the ones that are present end up being more than damsels in distress. The three-quarter's turning point took a fast-pace adventure and turned it toward the mystical, something that I hadn't expected or wanted.

Final verdict:

I was a little disappointed by this novel because it wasn't what I was expecting. However, looking at the other books in the series, I should have known that the authors liked to add in the mystical. The ending wraps up the fates of the two characters, Crews and Garza, in a neat little bow. A little too neat for me. This novel may be more for fans than first time readers.

Tuesday
Jul102018

The Lost City of the Monkey God By Douglas Preston

Why I read this book:

Douglas Preston received an award at the Maine Crime Wave 2018 and gave a fantastic talk that inspired me to buy one of his books. As a journalist, he's lived a life that is straight out of an adventure novel. It's no wonder he's written several fiction novels as well as non-fictional recounts of some of the adventures he's been on. The Lost City of the Monkey God details the re-discovery of forgotten ruins in the remotest Honduran jungles using LIDAR and the subsequent expedition to confirm the results.

My one sentence summary:

A team of scientists, a journalist and ex-commandos enter the deadly jungles of the Mosquitia jungle in Honduras to find a civilization left to mythology and a deadly infection.

Kudos:

Preston has got some real characters in this book from the former military specialists to the fixer who knows exactly who to bribe. The details on the scientific tools used to locate the ruins is well balanced with personal stories, threats of dire consequences and humor. Once the team is on the ground, the real adventure and hardships begin. Their discovery is appropriately put into historical context as well. Preston strikes a balance between reporting and story telling that makes for a griping adventure.

Quibbles:

Before getting to the meat of the story, Preston builds the groundwork for the historical context of the search for the White City. He details no only the reported attempts but tries to pin down their exact location. This preamble was interesting to a point but the detailed debunking of the previous failed attempts got a little long when I was more interested in getting to the team that would actually get to the ruins. Especially after the opening teaser about how dangerous the jungle they were about to enter was. I found myself having similar feelings in the epilogue which focused on the mysterious disease that some of the members of the team acquired. As someone interested in virology and parasites, I was interested in some of the details of the infection as well as the treatment. However, it felt like it dragged.

Final verdict:

Forgotten ruins in a deadly jungle filled with nacros, jaguars, disease carrying mosquitoes in a country with a new government trying to establish its legitimacy, you can't ask for a more gripping pretense. A high recommend to anyone who likes adventure archeology with a dash of science and medicine. Just don't be surprised if the beginning and end drag a little.

Friday
Jun222018

The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan

Why I read this book:

Aside from my interest over mountaineering, I'm also totally obsessed with the history of Rome. I was a devoted listener to Mike Duncan's History of Rome podcast. There's something fascinating about such a well documented and long lasting political organization. The ruins of the once far reaching society are still present today whether they are in stone or words.

My once sentence summary:

A victory obtained by compromising written and unwritten standards leads to a deterioration in the fundamentals of government.

Kudos:

Duncan strikes a conversational tone about a complex web of people and politics that spans decades. Well-documented as always and thoroughly enjoyable to read. I love how Duncan can draw connections between events and decisions made countries a part. This history book reads like a novel.

Quibbles:

None. I am a fan of Duncan.

Final verdict:

High recommend to anyone interested in Roman history or trying to understand where the current political climat may lead.