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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
    Wolf Creek
    by Nikko Lee

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

  • 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.

Saturday
Jul292017

Precipice by Paul Doiron

Why I read this book:

My husband gave me Precipice by Paul Doiron for Christmas last year. I've only read one other book in the Mike Bowditch series, Bad Little Falls, but I like the character. I'm also had the fortune of speaking with Paul Doiron at the Maine Crime Wave. Like so many Maine crime authors, he's attends a lot of library talks and in state events and is very approachable. I wanted to read this book in particular because it includes a search for lost Appalachian Trail (AT) through hikers, which I love reading about as a former search and rescue member.

My one sentence summary:

When two AT hikers go missing, game warden Mike Bowditch finds himself at the center of a homocide investigation whose suspects include a glory seeking searcher, a suspicious section hiker, a pack of coyotes and a clan of back woods locals.

Kuddos:

Doiron does a fantastic job of presenting and making relatable the many different locations in Maine his characters frequent. He's also a well-researched author who reaches out to expects while writing. This lends a lot of credibility and real life feel to his take on search and rescue operations. I also really enjoy reading about Bowditch's adventures and how he navigates the space between game warden and criminal investigator. His investigatory skills definitely make Bowditch a potential for a promotion to an investigator position within the warden services.

Quibbles:

There's not much I can find fault with. Sometimes it feels like Bowditch is covering a lot of miles. I live in Maine so I am keenly aware of the distances between places I've visited. But that's part of living in Maine. It's a big state, but drivable in book time. I've never gotten too involved in Bowditch's romantic relationships, but those aren't the center of the two books I've read. I don't think even Bowditch knows where he stands.

Final verdict:

Precipice is a good read with plenty of twists and turns to keep a reader interested. There are red herrings a plenty and the villain is well-built. I've got the Widowmaker on my night stand right now and plan to read it next. Who knows? Maybe I'll even go back and read the earlier books in this now nine book series.

PS I love the names of Doiron's books. The Precipice trail on Mount Desert Island is the most difficult to hike on the island complete with iron rung ladders and a list of fatalities.

Tuesday
Apr252017

The Chosen By J.R. Ward

Why I read this book:

I was an avid reader of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series until Lover at Last. I stopped reading at that point because the story lines were getting too convoluted and less interesting. The Chosen got my attention because of the central couple, Xcor and Layla. I decided that Amazon's half off pre-order sale was the right price point for me to jump back into the series.

My one sentence summary:

Xcor gets his mate, a family and redemption while Qhuinn nearly loses all three.

Kudos:

J.R.Ward has a gift for make vulnerable alpha males that feel real and unearthly at the same time. Each one of her central male characters has a rich back story filled with torment that makes their falling in love a wonderful torment. Xcor and Layla's romance has been building ever since I was reading the series. I love bad guy redemption stories and Xcor goes from badass traitor to his race to an invaluable member of the brotherhood along with finally getting his shellan and the family he has longed for all his life. I enjoyed the sub plots surrounding Tohr and Vischious. Even the brief appearances of the Blind King and Xsadist were enjoyable. Qhuinn and Blay go through their own trials related to Xcor, Layla and the young twins they co-parent with Layla. Although Qhuinn's behavior in an early pivotal scene borders on abuse, he's able to find his way back to his bonded mate and prove that he wants Blay to be as a parent to the twins as he and Layla are. Some of my pet peeves were also gone such as the mythology surounding the Virgin Scribe.

Quibbles:

There is still far too many plot lines going on in J.R. Ward's novels. I tend to skip the ones that don't interest me like the Lessers, Shadows and the peripheral Brotherhood members. The flashbacks are not as rampant as in previous novels, but not my favorite parts.

Final verdict:

This is a solid Black Dagger Brotherhood novels with all the strengths and fewer of the weaknesses of precious novels. I'm a fair weather series reader, especially one involving such a large cast of characters. I also find that I'm a lot less interested in the physical consummation of the relationships and skipped those parts as well. I'm unlikely to pick up another book in the series because there are no unmatched characters that I'm interested in. My favorite couples remain Qhuinn/Blay, Zsadist and Bella and Xcor/Layla.

Monday
Apr242017

One Day as a Tiger: Alex MacIntyre and the Birth of Light and Fast Alpinism by John Porter

Why I read this book:

I'm a fan of the Banff film festival and often look to their written category finalists for reading material. I bought One Day as a Tiger by John Porter nearly 2 years ago after the first of my first child to read. Alpine style mountaineering is impressive and when done right can be a relatively safe way to climb high peaks. When done poorly, it is a recipe for disaster.

My one sentence summary:

The first and evolution of Alpine style mountaineering seen through the life of one of its pioneers.

Kudos:

I have a natural affinity for mountaineering books that tell a story and transport the reader onto those perilous slopes that have showcased the height of human ingenuity and athleticism as well as the most devastating tragedies in sports. One Day As a Tiger by John Porter excels at both capturing the history of Alpism mountaineering and those involved in the pursuit of peaks through faster and lighter travel than their mountaineering fore-fathers. Porter mixes in personal stories with the often harsh realities of mountaineering behind the Iron Curtain and with ever evolving equipment. The reader really gets a sense of who Alex MacIntyre was, for better or worse, and the closeness of the mountaineering community despite its competitiveness. The tales of bribing officials and back door dealing just to get to the foot of a mountain that no one - or few - had climb is truly a testament to the determination of these adventurers. Let alone the perilous journeys and failures to reach the summits, which I eagerly read.

Quibbles:

It took me almost two years to read this book. However, that is more a reflection of my busy life and desire to take in every word rather than a lack of writing skill on Porter's part. There is a bit of a meandering quality to this book, much like the unexplored path to the top of a mountain. But I was never disappointed in the view.

Final verdict:

This is a high recommend for anyone interested in mountaineering development and the people who often sacrificed life, limb or relationships in the pursuit of the climb. The often asked question is posed at the end of the book. Why climb that mountain? As always, the answer comes down to Mallory's reply 'Because it is there'.

Wednesday
Aug172016

Wild Mama by Carrie Visintainer

Why I read this book:
I won a copy of Carrie Visintainer's first novel Wild Mama through the Tales of Mountain Mama's blog. Her blog is my go to for gear and activity suggestions for enjoying the outdoors with small children.
My one sentence summary:
Motherhood is about embracing change without giving up who you are.
Kudos:
My own transition to motherhood at the age of 37 was one of the more traumatic experiences of my life. Although I don't share Visintainer's wanderlust, I can relate to her need to preserve those individual qualities that make us who we are before baby. I found reassurance in her struggles to redefine herself post-baby. I enjoyed reading about her solo adventures and the push-pull if motherhood against individuality.
Quibbles:
My only quibble is that the sections jump in time, which was disorientating. The chapters felt more like a collection of essays rather than a cohesive work.
Final verdict:
High recommend to any outdoors mama's who need a pep talk on the value and importance of finding a way to hold on to what makes them a person. As Visintainer says, being kids respect their parents for being individuals.
Sunday
Jul102016

Burn By Nevada Barr

Why I read this book:

After commenting on how much I enjoyed Paul Doiron's game warden Maine character, a coworker recommended Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series about a park ranger. It came with the warning that Barr's writing can veer to the dark, but I was intrigued.

My one sentence summary:

While one woman struggles to find herself again after a traumatic experience, another must become someone else to find her missing daughters.

Kudos:

This being the sixteenth Anna Pigeon novel, her character is well-established. However, I did not have much trouble jumping right in with no knowledge of the character other than her profession. Unlike previous novels, Burn is set in the city of New Orleans. While I was looking forward to a park-based adventure, I enjoyed the details of the city and its people. Barr is great at building characters and ramping up the suspense. I was eager to see what both of her main protagonists were up to; Anna and Clare. The latter is desperate to find her daughters who the police believe she killed and she believes were kidnapped.

Quibbles:

As a reader, I often glazed over the longer descriptions. Although I was warned Barr has a darker side to her writing - in this case she focused on child prostitution - I was surprised that she pulled her punches when it came to the missing girls. While the child prostitution ring is given gory details, the girls are kept unspoiled. It just seemed too convenient.

Final verdict:

While I wasn't enamoured with this story, I liked Anna's character well enough and I'm curious about her last novel set in my back yard national park - Acadia.