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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.

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.

Saturday
Oct182014

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Why I read this book:

I came across Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing while searching the outdoors section of a second hand book story for books about mountaineering adventures. I had a passing familiarity with Shackleton's failed 1914 Antarctic expedition and had really enjoyed reading Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts about Marston's failed 1913 Antarctic expedition.

My one sentence summary:

Shackleton's leadership and his crew's indomitable spirit conquer ice, storms, starvation and a harrowing trip across the most formidable ocean to find rescue.

Kuddos:

I enjoyed this recounting of Shackleton's voyage as much for the details about the dangerous and awesome Antarctic terrain and conditions as the details about the men and their will to survive. Lansing presents very personal struggles and group dynamics that were fascinating to read. From the perpetually wet and freezing conditions to the thrill of spotting seals and penguins, Lansing spins a captivating and true tale of resourcefulness and perseverance.

Quibbles:

As is the case with most of the non-fiction books I read about survival, I can't find much to complain about in Lansing's book.

Final verdict:

Great read and highly recommended to anyone fascinated by survival or Antarctic exploration.    

Friday
Oct102014

The Black by Paul Elard Cooley

Why I read this book:

I actually came across The Black by Paul Elard Cooley the old-fashioned way, word of mouth. Specifically, I saw a post by Michell Plested (author and podcaster) and fell in love with the cover art. I was on the fence about purchasing a novel from an author I hadn't heard of before but the jacket cover and Cooley's bio gave me hope that this was a story I'd enjoy. Unknown creature attacking a group of people on an isolated oil-rig? Sounded like a great story to me.

My one sentence summary:

Calhoun and his team may have found the purity oil pocket in the world, but that's not all they've unearthed.

Kudos:

I'm a huge horror fan, especially when it involves an isolating local and fighting for survival against nature and the unknown terror. Cooley is excellent at setting an eerie mood and ratcheting up the tension not only with the unknown terror but also among the characters. I actually enjoyed his level of detail about the oil rig operation. I have no idea how true to life those details are, but they didn't know me and gave me the impression he knew what he was talking about. There's ample conflict in The Black between the drill team and engineers, a storm closing in on the rig and the terror they've unwittingly unleashed. Some of the horror scene descriptions are wonderfully gory, and the fight to survive utterly engrossing.

Quibbles:

For all the wonderful qualities of Cooley's writing, there are some quirks that irritated me to no end. I'm not sure if it is style, but my inner editor was having conniption fits over three main issues. First, Cooley's characters refer to themselves by either their first, last or nickname in the same POV section. It was only by a quarter of the way through the book that I realized Thomas and Calhoun or that Standlee and Catfish where the same person. Secondly, many scene begin with 'he' doing something and it isn't until a few paragraphs in that it's reveal which one of the half dozen he POV characters is in charge. Thirdly, Cooley has a habit of inserting commas after conjunctions that separate the subject from the verb. It was so distracting that I wanted to take out my red pen, and I was reading this novel on my iPhone.

Final verdict:

Despite the editing oddities, I'd recommend anyone who likes isolation monster horrors like The Thing purchase this book so Cooley can get more publications. I want to read more of his works if they are anything like this taut piece of horror. 

Tuesday
Apr292014

Alone on the Ice by David Robert

Why I read this book:

I've been a fan of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival for a couple of year now. Two years ago, I started following their book awards as well as their winning films. When I saw Alone on the Ice by David Roberts on their list, I knew I had to read it. My first exposure to Douglas Mawson's harrowing story of survival in Antarctica while reading Les Stroud's Will to Live. The fact that this survival story takes place in Antarctica in 1913 only added to my curiosity about the details.

My one sentence summary:

Alone with dwindling food supplies and days of trekking in front of him, Mawson races back to base camp it is abandoned for the season.

Kudos:

At over 350 pages, Alone on the Ice is packed with details including what brought Mawson and his teams to Antarctica in 1913. I really enjoyed learning more about the man and his team members. Roberts includes quotes and passages from the men's diaries and publications related to the expedition. Especially interesting are the section of photographs. My previous knowledge of Antarctic exploration was limited. Roberts puts Mawson's expedition in context with Shackleton's and Scott's. As much of an explorer as Mawson was, he was also a scientist in an age when science was about discovering the furthest reaches of the earth. I found the scope of Mawson's expedition mind-boggling and the limitations of the terrain and equipment that was standard, or even innovative for the time, fascinating.

Quibbles:

Roberts throws the reader into Mawson's struggle fairly early in the book. My disappointment at the lack of background was only momentary as Robert then devotes numerous chapters to Mawson's participation in an earlier expedition, his struggle to pull together the 1913 expedition and backgrounds of the men that would make up Mawson's team. I read this book slowly and tried to absorb as much detail as I could. There is a lot of information in it. Roberts presents contradicting accounts when available and at times the quotes duplicate what Robert had already summarized about relationships and incidents. The level of detail may be more than a casual reader wants or needs.

Final verdict:

This wasn't a quick read for me for a number of reasons. However, it was very enjoyable. High recommend to anyone interested in survival stories or Antarctic exploration.

Monday
Mar172014

Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles

Why I read this book:

A few years ago, I listened to Mortal Fear by Greg Iles on the long drive from Maine to Connecticut. I was so engrossed in the story that I stayed in my car a full 20 minutes after reaching my destination because I had to finish out the CD. Iles' combination of erotic elements with suspense inspired me to write the outline of what became Safe Word. So with his newest book in the Penn Cage series, Natchez Burning, coming out this year, I decided to read Devil's Punchbowl, the third book in the Penn Cage series.

My one sentence summary:

Prostitution, dog fighting and embezzlement are the least of Mayor Penn Cage's concerns when a childhood friend asks him to help bring an evil man to justice.

Kuddos:

Iles is able to craft an intricate and sinister plot involving very unlikely people doing horrific acts. I was constantly afraid for the safety and lives of the main characters even though they ultimately form a pretty kickass posse. The side characters in this novel are as interesting as the main character, including a semi-retired Texas ranger who knows how to run a grift and a special ops soldier who doesn't flinch at the thought of killing bad people. The action is fast pace when it erupts and no one is safe, especially not those closest to Cage.

Quibbles:

As much as I enjoyed the action scenes and suspense, the day to day activities of the mayor and his personal relationships drag. The conversations with his daughter seemed to most unrealistic. They seemed to be paying out promises of the earlier books in the series, which I have not read.

There are several sub plots that go nowhere, including one with my favorite character the old Texas ranger. The middle of the book gets bogged down in exposition and comes to a grinding halt until someone gets kidnapped. Some of Iles' scenes are graphic and not for the faint of heart. This book would have been a gripping read with about 200 less pages.

Final Verdict:

Overall, I liked this book but the length and pacing really threw me. I don't have any burning desire to pick up the next installment, but a mild curiosity to see in Iles has tightened up his writing to what I remember in Mortal Fear.  

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