Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mind Games review

Mind Games as usual, look for excerpt under book cover


Carolyn Crane
currently available-came out 3/23/10
urban fantasy - 371 pages

I first came across Carolyn Crane's regular blog way back ...maybe in the summer of '09. I don't comment much on her blog, but I read it a lot, and she has funny blog. I especially love her posts about her cats. It was while I was lurking around that I realized that the cover on the side of her blog, was actually for the book that SHE had coming out. Then there was an excerpt posted - I love when authors are secure enough with their work, or maybe it's generous enough, to post excerpts. A lot of the books that I've bought lately have been because I was able to read an excerpt. In this case, I was fortunate and won a copy of her book. I was hoping to read it before it came out, but I've been battling oxygen issues and work and sleep and stuff like that, so it's taken longer than I wanted. I hated having to put the book down, whenever I had to go to work or sleep. But I did finish it early Tuesday morning.

This book is GOOD! Carolyn Crane has not only given her main character a new angle, a different flaw than most urban fantasy heroines, but she has worked it, used it as part of the plot. Justine has hypochondria and constantly worries about all kinds of ailments, but specifically worries about something called Vein Star Syndrome. I haven't looked this up to see if it's real or not. I'm happy to just sit back and enjoy the book

Justine is trying to deal with her boyfriend, who is having a hard time dealing with her hypochondria, while she's living in fear of dying when she comes across the owner of a Mongolian restaurant. He get's her involved in a "psychological hit squad", helping to fight crime in mysterious ways. She makes friends and learns to use her own fears as a kind of magical power. As you read you learn a little more about this magical world, mixed in the everyday life. In fact, things come to life, such as kids wearing bicycle helmets while they are outside playing, to protect their heads from telekinetic terrorists, or "highcaps".

One of the things I enjoyed about this book is that I learned about a variety of magical differences (between our own reality and this novel's reality) as I went further into the book. I didn't notice any long, protracted paragraphs of information coming at me (commonly known as info-dumps). While I don't mind a little bit of info-dumping, I recently read a book where it totally took me out of the story so I appreciate the way Carolyn Crane handled the gifting of information in her novel.

(please newer writers, don't info-dump right in the middle of an action scene! Please- especially if you want some of your older readers to stay engaged in the book; we might forget that we are reading an adventurous book, think we're reading a textbook and in MY case, put the damned thing down. Done with textbook learnin', long time ago)

Another thing that I loved about this book, is that the main character, Justine had no problem making NEW FEMALE friends. She makes a good friend, one who stays a friend. You know how special this is, if you've read a lot of urban fantasy. Female friends aren't high in the lists. Not only did she make female friends, but also male friends, and they weren't all into her body. A couple were, but it fit with the plot.

Justine also has some reservations about what she is doing, but throughout the book she's working on these reservations. There's one moment where she almost lets anger take over. It works here. I'm also okay with characters that aren't perfect, because then we would have to be reading about saints, all the time, and we centainly aren't all saints.

More things I liked/loved in this novel - dialogue (wonderful!), humor (throughout the book, but not overdone), the sex fit (sometimes, most of the times, it seems inserted for the sake of having it in there - OMG major punnage there-sorry, I can be a little juvenile at times), and great plot twists. I liked the ending also - it's not completely "happily ever after", but not depressingly "things will never be better". You know people will have work to do, relationships are going to shift around and there's going to be sequels (yay! at least two, it's a trilogy). In fact from the beginning of the book to the end, Justine herself had gone through some changes, at the way she looks at herself and the world, as well as how she views others.

Great debut novel, looking forward to the sequels.

Reading Challenges
2010 Countdown Challenge - for 2010
Speculative Fiction Challenge


  1. Oh, this one definitely made to my hated list in 2010. I was liking it up until she did what she did. Then I hated it. Also, I didn't like the way the ending played out. Ugh! Hahah.

  2. I'm not always crazy about any of the character's actions...in fact, some of the actions in this book were questionable..but I do enjoy the story and I also like that some characters aren't always making the best decisions or doing the best things. Makes them more human. :)