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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.

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.

Sunday
May082016

Winter Hunger by Ann Tracy

Why I read this book:

Winter Hunger came to me as a recommend by a coworker. I haven't read anything by Ann Tracy before, but she was born in Bangor and lived in Canada. Plus the back cover caught my interest.

My one sentence summary:

Nothing is more isolating than winter in northern Manitoba, except for the hunger for human flesh.

Kudos:

I was really drawn to the premise of this story. Anthropologist PhD candidate takes his wife and infant son to a remote native community to finish his thesis. Having done my own time writing a thesis, I found Alan's struggle with completing a work of such importance to his career and possibly no one else a realistic conflict. Having a child around the same age, I could also sympathize with the demands such a small being places on a marriage. Now throw in a windigo threat and I'm hooked. I loved the sense of isolation and growing madness Alan encounters as he fights to come to terms with how the natives deal with a potential windigo problem and his own growing obsession over the myth. The ending backs a great punch that I didn't see coming.

Quibbles:

Shortly after the middle of the book, Alan departs the wonderfully isolated Wino Day Lake for the big city of Toronto. I found his whole experience there, while mildly entertaining, a break from the real location of the story and meandering. Alan isn't a likable character, but that feels more by design. I certainly gnashed my teeth at some of his clueless husband reactions to his wife's devotion to their son.

Final verdict:

Winter Hunger is an interesting read even if it feels to jump the tracks when it hits Toronto. It was published in 1990 and the pacing feels dated and the narrative a little self-absorbed. But I'm glad to have experienced the chill of a Manitoba winter which comes through in spades.

Saturday
Feb272016

Darkness First by James Hayman

Why I read this book:

When I started attending the Maine Crime wave writing conference, I decided to make an effort to get to know and support Maine crime writers. It was through the Maine Crime Writer's blog that I was first introduced to James Hayman's writing. Although Darkness Falls isn't the first in his McCabe and Savage series, it caught my eye when Amazon was having a sale on the ebook.

My one sentence summary:

Savage returns to her Downeast home to catch a sadistic murder who may be closer than she knows.

Kudos:

This isn't the first time that I've jumped into a series part way. Hayman has written a standalone that has depth because of the novels that have come before and will come after. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between Savage, who takes center stage, and McCabe, who doesn't come into the story until later. They share a night in this novel that feels like the culmination of several books worth of sexual tension and heartfelt longing. These characters are so well established that I'd read another in the series just to see how they sort through the consequences of their night of passion. Then again I love tortured romance. However, their romance only takes up a fraction of the novel. There is enough gritty crime drama and flawed characters to keep a reader turning the page between the moments of personal drama. I also appreciated a lot of the local flavor.

Quibbles:

This book took me a long time to read. Whether it was because I was reading in e-format or that I bought the book shortly before my daughter was born, I am ashamed to admit that it did not hold my attention after the first murder. It took a long road trip to get me passed the hump. Then I couldn't put it down. I also wondered about using the unstable veteran who is an expert in hand to hand and marksmanship. It is becoming a common trend. Toward the end there were a lot of twists and turns before Savage finally catches the killer felt like being in a pinball machine.

Finale verdict:

I love Savage and McCabe. Their characters are rich and complex. Hayman's crime fiction is fast-paced and filled with a balance of gory details and police procedural. The next novel in the series is Girl in the Glass. It's was already on my to read list for the title and cover art alone.

Friday
Jan292016

The Gazillionaire and the Virgin by Lisabet Sarai

Why I read this book:

I know Lisabet Sarai from the Erotica Readers Association. After reading her blurb for The Gazillionaire and the Virgin, I was thrilled when she offered me an Advanced Reader Copy to read and review.

My one sentence summary:

Tech company guru finds her match in a nerdy recluse with a dominant side she can't resist.

Kudos:

The concept grabbed me from the begin. I love stories about smart but flawed people who find common ground and learn about themselves. Rachel is a high-powered executive who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to do whatever it takes to get it. Theo is a brilliant and sweet yet socially awkward professor with an un-explored dominant side. It was so much fun to watch these two interact and figure out how to deal with both their desires and fears. When Theo panic about the bill for a pricy restaurant Rachel takes him to, I'm right there with him. When Rachel realizes she's found a master she will do anything to stay in the service of, I'm rooting for her.

Quibbles:

It's been a while since I last read erotica. Don't get me wrong, Sarai paints numerous sexy scenes that will make your body ache. However, I missed knowing a little more about what made these characters who they were. Sometimes Theo's oscillations between panic attacks and moments of self-possession are hard to follow. We do get peeks into each's families and lives outside of the bedroom. My biggest problem was what drives the two lovers apart. I'm not sure I would be as understanding as Rachel about Theo's response. However, you won't want to miss what brings the two back together again.

Final verdict:

A most enjoyable and titillating read. Sarai has crafted some solid characters that will make you cringe and root for in turn. And how Rachel wins back the master of her heart and body is breathtaking.