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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.

Friday
Dec112015

The Black: Arrival by Paul E Cooley

Why I read this book:

The Black by Paul E Cooley was a stumbled upon recommendation from Michel Plested. I was immediately hooked by this novel about a deadly threat pulled from the depth of the ocean running amok abound an oil rig. As soon as The Black: Arrival was released I purchased it and have been listening to Cooley's podcast of the novel.

My one sentence summary:

It's Houston Analytical Laboratories' turn to try to survive and destroy the Black.

Kudos:

Cooley has a way of creating dread that is unparalleled. From the initial break out of the Black to the CDC-imposed quarantine, the scientist and civilians at HAL face obstacles and threats to their lives at every turn.

Quibbles:

I listened to this novel as a weekly podcast so admittedly I lost out on the natural pacing of a continuous read. While I enjoyed some of the quirkiness of the characters, some of them annoyed me. I also felt that some of the personal relationships between the characters were lost on me.

Final verdict:

Cooley keeps the tension at ten in this fast-paced horror thriller. His heart might be in other stories, but The Black is a monster that sizzles. I've started to listen to a couple of his other series. I'm more a fan of his horror than fantasy. Amazingly he podcasts many of his works as well as being a co-host on the writing podcast Dead Robots Society. Check him out and support this author who should get paid for more than he does for his creepy worlds.

Thursday
Dec032015

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

Why I read this book:

Years ago, I discovered Cherie Priest. When steampunk was starting to hit the mainstream, I fell in love with the aesthetics and the counterculture aspects of it. I wanted to write my own steampunk adventure and decided to read Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. At the same time, I also ordered the second book in her parallel America where the civil war is on going. Throw in airships and zombie-like creatures and I was hooked. It took me a couple of years to come back to Dreadnought.

My one sentence summary:

Nurse Mercy Lynch travels by airship, steamboat and train across the civil war torn country and a zombie plague to reach her dying, estranged father.

Kudos:

I love Priest's writing style. It is emersion and filled with details from dress to social customs. Mercy is a no-nonsense character who can patch the wounded and isn't afraid to stick up for what she believes is right even if it means helping out the Yankees. The story starts off at a leisure pace but picks up steam as Mercy is pulled into intrigue and ends up in more than one shot out.

Quibbles:

It took me a long time to read this book, but that might have more to do with the now 13 month old Bean who is both delightful and exhausting. I could put this book down and sometimes found myself reading too quickly over passages that were more descriptive or internal thoughts. However, by the time Mercy leaves St. Louis I didn't want to put the book down.

Verdict:

A solid steampunk with a dash of horror thrown into it. I was particularly interested in the southern feel of the character. Recommend. The connections to Boneshaker are revealed at the end and aren't required to enjoy this novel which can be read as a stand alone.

Saturday
Aug152015

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Héctor Tobar

Why I read this book:

One of the most basic fears is the fear of being buried alive. Yet thousands of men and woman willingly walk into caves and mines every day. Many never see the light of day again. As soon as I saw Hector Tobar's Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free it went on my to read list.

One sentence summary:

Thirty-three men survive sixty-nine days under two thousand three hundred feet beneath the surface by a combination of occupational pride and faith.

Kudos:

First of all, the story alone of how these thirty-three men survived for so long underground is unparalleled. With a subject matter so interesting, it's hard to go too wrong. Tobar's account puts the readers right next to the miners as they struggle starvation, sensory deprivation and some how find a way to survive until they are rescued. I have mixed feelings about the way the story was told, but the very personal narration kept me turning the page to see how these men with vastly different personalities, fears, passions and flaws would be able to stay sane until they could finally be set free. The aftermath stories about how the men dealt with - or failed to deal with - this life changing experience were just as compelling as the rescue.

Quibbles:

While the personal style of narration brings the reader into the mine, sometimes I felt like it was too much information. There was a lot of detail that either had to be obtained from the journals some of the men kept or interviews. At times the drama and conflicts felt a little exaggerated, but I have not read any other accounts. So it is hard for me to judge how true to life the account was. I'm not sure if it was an attempt to be true to the men and their survival story or if the author took creative liberties.

Summary:

An interesting read to be sure, but Deep Down Dark... like the title feels a little too long. I just hope that this is an account the men involved signed off on and is true to their experience.

Saturday
Jul042015

Everest The First Ascent by Harriet Pugh Tuckey

Why I read this book:

My husband gave me Everest The First Ascent: How a Champion of Science Helped to Conquer the Mountain by Harriet Pugh Tuckey. It combines my interests in mountaineering with the scientific research that makes it possible to climb big mountains - and survive. This is the first book I've managed to finish since my daughter was born. It only me a few months.

My one sentence summary:

Part biography, part coming to terms with a father whose personality often overshadowed his brilliance.

Kuddos:

Tuckey's account of her father's contributions toward the fields of human tolerance in extreme conditions (altitude, heat and cold) are mixed with persnal accounts about a man she only came to terms with after his death. I really enjoyed this mixture of science, mountaineering adventure and personal recollections. It's hard to think of a time when the contributions to mountain climbing could be scene as ungentlemanly.

 

Quibbles:

Although I enjoyed the personal interludes and exploration of a scientist, man and father, some might find them a contrast to the rest of the content. Beyond the scientific content and accounts of mountaineering expeditions, large portions of this book are devoted to the author coming to terms with her feelings toward her almost entirely absent and eccentric father.

Final review:

Definite recommend. It was fascinating to see how much modern mountaineering and endurance sports relies on the advances of Griffith Pugh.

 

Thursday
Dec112014

Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition by John Roskelley

Why I read this book:

Whenever I visit Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington Vt, I always look for an outdoor book. I wasn't familiar with the Nanda Devi expedition or John Roskelley, but I am always fascinated by tales of survival and tragedy.

My one sentence summary:

Expeditions are as much about team dynamics as technical skill.

Kudos:

Roskelly's narrative is a straight-forward, first hand account of the expedition he joined to climb Nanda Devi. There are a lot of interesting personalities that clash regularly. Despite the sharing the goal of climbing the mountain, the consequences of interpersonal conflicts and a team divided are laid out. I loved the description of how Nanda Devi was summited in stages. Himalayan style mountaineering is about logistics and perseverance.

Quibbles:

I don't really have much to say in regards to quibbles. The afterwords from the various editions give an interesting perspective from the author's point of view at different time points after the incidents. Admittedly, this is one man's account of an incident involving many people.

Final verdict:

Very interesting and engaging read. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in mountaineering in general and mountain tragedies.

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