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review 2017-04-21 05:07
Mind Games
Mind Games - Carolyn Crane

A hypochondriac as a heroine?!  Interesting, yes!  Not to mention different.  Justine was recruited to help "disillusion" people who are not-so-good.  When one is "disillusioned," their old self is broken down and when they rebuild, they are good.  

This was interesting and I'm glad I read it, but Justine got on my nerves. She was just annoying.  I liked the secondary characters.  Could have gone with less love interests; Cubby, Packard, and Otto (yes, there are 3- not all at once, try for 2 and you'd be correct). 

More on the world they inhabit would have been interesting.

 

Read for #9 Fantasyland, 371 pages

(one down, one to go before I can roll again!) 

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review 2016-05-02 22:49
Against the Dark
Against the Dark (Associates, #1) - Carolyn Crane
This was a fun read. I liked that Angel was a brilliant safecracker; retired for 5 years, she comes out for 1 job to save a friend. Cole is an Associate, who uses his abilities to infiltrate and take down evil, corrupt individuals. Angel gets caught and is forced to team up with Cole.
This had a good villain and enjoyable characters. The romance happened fast, but this was a shorter book.
 
 

 

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review 2016-03-31 16:11
Audiobook Review: Against the Dark (The Associates #1) by Carolyn Crane
Against the Dark: Undercover Associates, Book 1 - Tantor Audio,Romy Nordlinger,Carolyn Crane

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

 

I read the rest of this series a while ago. I started with book three, Into the Shadows, because that was the review that really peaked my interest in this author and series. I can’t for the life of me remember who it was that recommended this series to me. I finished the series off, bet for some reason, never got back to book one in the series. So, I picked up this book when it was a free Kindle purchase and then added the audible narration for for an additional $2.99 (always check for those Whispersync deals).

 

I really loved getting back into the world of the Associates. They are a group of people who work in deep cover to take down some pretty horrible people. Some of the guys have to do some not so great things to keep their cover, but it is for the greater good in the long run. It just may not seem that way to the women in their lives at the time. In this story, our heroine isn’t very clean herself. She has quite the past as a jewel thief, however she’s gone clean until her team really need her help to save a family member.

 

Angel Ramirez is one of only a handful of people who can break into a Fenton Furst safe. The problem is that she has retired from the thief life. She is now just an interior designer. That is until her old team asks for a favor to help save a family member, one who was like family to Angel too. She has no choice but to break into this safe at Walter Borgola’s mansion, who is quite the notorious crime boss. She is quickly spotted by one of the members of Borgola’s security team, a guy named Cole.

 

Cole Hawkins is quite the geek, but is in deep cover as security for Borgola. If his cover is blown he will not only die, but he will die slowly and painfully. He feels that the risk is worth it. Borgola has a ship of children coming from outside the country that he plans to use for his snuff films. Cole needs to find Borgola’s plans to find the ship before it makes landfall or he will never find all of these kids. When Angel and her team breaks into get the diamonds, he makes plans to recover the diamonds and use the diamonds to track to the even more secluded safe. He also give Angel an offer she can’t refuse to help him get the information he needs to save the kids.

 

I really enjoyed listening to this story. Cole was so calculating in persona to keep his cover. The ways he used his intelligence to keep the rest of the security team and Borgola from learning about the real Cole was fun to watch. Angel was another fun one. She wanted so badly not to get back into to the thief life, but at the same time she missed it so much. She missed her friends who had not left the life. She missed the thrill of the heist. But she didn’t want the rejection of her family for being a criminal. Not to mention the relationship between Cole and Angel was hot. Some of it starts of as a ruse to keep their cover for Borgola, but they love every minute of it in the end. If you’re looking for a fun romantic suspense series, this is great one where people are quite what they seem on the surface.

 

Narration

Romy Nordlinger is a narrator that has grown on me the more I’ve listen to her. The first book that I listened to from her, I wasn’t a huge fan, but the more I listened, the more I got to where I liked her narration. I don’t think I will ever have her listed as a top narrator on my list, but I think she does an okay job. I never had a hard time understanding anything she said. She voices the different characters well, both male and female. I think she does a good job with her inflection, especially when you consider she has to voice some pretty horrible people in this series. This is the only series that I’ve listened to her narrate. I am sad to see that the four and final book in this series isn’t available on audio. I still need to read it, and I will tackle it, but I’m sad that I can’t tackle via audio.

Source: www.hotlistens.com/against-the-dark-audiobook
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text 2015-08-02 01:49
Saturdays' Reads: Fuck Yeah!
Mr. Real: Code of Shadows: Book 1 (Volume 1) - Carolyn Crane
Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor
The Mechanical - Ian Tregillis
God's War - Kameron Hurley

Stop me, oh oh, stop me. Stop me if think that you've heard this one before. A woman between the ages of 15 and 40 never thinks about sex. Or thinks it's not that great. Then an alpha male forces it on her and instead of rape, she calls it love because she had no idea the clitoris existed. I know I have. And I know I'm bored to tears with women who have no concept or ownership of their own sexuality. Who only find orgasm as the result of a lack of consent. 

 

How about a few alternatives.

 

 Carolyn Crane is a genius. She plays with consent in brilliant ways. There are these two horrific lies we're fed by our culture over and over and over and over through our lives about consent. First, that no means keep trying and coercion is the same as consent. Second, that any time a woman cries rape, it's just that she regrets the sex she willingly had. Crane has no interest in either one of these toxic narratives. Oh, no, she plays with information asymmetry instead - a far more interesting and refreshing form of complexity. In that it's actually complexity and not just rape rebranded. There's a scene like this in all three of the series she's written. Where two people are happily fucking, but one know that if the other had all the facts, they wouldn't be interested in any horizontal mambo. This is my favorite just because it's so fucked up all around. He thinks he's going to torture information out of her. She thinks they're going to do something kinky and is so up for it. A third party breaks in to rescue her and she's having none of that nonsense. On top of that, while she likes sex, she likes respect more - walking out on a guy she thought was attractive until he opened his mouth. This book is awesome for a lot of reasons besides this. It's so under loved.

 

 Berenice, the foul-mouthed French spy-master uses sex to her advantage. It's yet another tool in her arsenal, and a way of helping her level the playing field in a male dominated world. But she isn't cold and calloused. While she might judge a man harshly for being shit in the sack, she engages in an enjoyable sex life with a man she loves.  If you like this character description, but would prefer erotica to historical fantasy with cussing, check out The Innocent's Progress and Other Stories.

 

  Onyesonwu is circumcised as are all young ladies in her village. This is a rite she chooses, when too young to understand. As she comes into her own power and sets off on a quest for vengeance and salvation, she uses her magic to grow back her clitoris. Oh, yes, that's the stuff. Not only does she know what she wants, even having it taken away from her isn't a barrier. 

 

"That tiny piece of flesh made all the difference. Growing it back hadn’t been hard and it pleased me that for once in my life obtaining something of importance was easy."

 

Her relationship isn't perfect. I, personally, think her lover is an asshole, but it's hers and she owns everything she puts into and gets out of it.

 

 Nyx. You knew Nyx would make the list. She drinks, and fights, and fucks on her own terms. She is the best. Whether it's seducing a boxer or cutting off a mans cock, she is always a barely in control train wreck. but she knows her body, she knows what she likes, and she owns everything she is and does. Of this set of books, this has the least amount of actual sex in it. But whether she's finding a partner out of strategy or desire, she's 100% in control.

 

I'm sure there are plenty of books out there I haven't yet discovered. Recommendations, please!

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review 2015-07-10 09:57
Leider keine Verbesserung
Double Cross - Carolyn Crane

Die Trilogie The Disillusionists von Carolyn Crane habe ich vor fast genau einem Jahr begonnen. „Mind Games“ weckte mein Interesse, weil die Idee hinter diesem Urban Fantasy – Roman völlig anders war als alles, was ich bis dato in diesem Genre gelesen hatte und gänzlich ohne Vampire, Werwölfe und Magie auskommt. Die Geschichte stützt sich auf Psychologie: die Protagonistin Justine Jones wird dank ihrer pathologischen Hypochondrie in ein Team zur Verbrechensbekämpfung aufgenommen, in dem sie lernt, ihre Angst zu kanalisieren, in Kriminelle zu leiten und sie somit dauerhaft zu besseren Menschen zu machen. So großartig dieser Ansatz ist, vollauf überzeugt war ich von „Mind Games“ nicht. Carolyn Crane konzentrierte sich meiner Ansicht nach zu sehr auf Justine und vernachlässigte die Nebencharaktere. Vom zweiten Band „Double Cross“ erhoffte ich mir daher einen intensiveren Einblick in die Arbeit der Desillusionisten.

 

Seit Otto Sanchez, der Bürgermeister von Midcity, und Packard, Justines Boss, einen Deal aushandelten, der Packard aus seinem Gefängnis im Mongolian Delites befreite, haben die Desillusionisten alle Hände voll zu tun. Stück für Stück desillusionieren sie Ottos Gefangene – kriminelle Highcaps, die mit ihren übermenschlichen Fähigkeiten furchtbare Verbrechen begingen. Für Justine ist diese Mission sehr persönlich, denn sie möchte Otto entlasten und so das Risiko eines tödlichen Hirnaneurysmas verringern. Doch es sind nicht nur die Gefangenen, die Ottos Kräfte herausfordern. Eine Gruppe von Serienkillern versetzt Midcity in Angst und Schrecken. Ihre Ziele sind ausgerechnet die Highcaps der Stadt, wodurch auch Otto und Packard in permanenter Gefahr schweben. Hin und her gerissen zwischen diesen äußerst unterschiedlichen Männern muss Justine die Hinweise aus der Vergangenheit der beiden entschlüsseln, um die Mörder aufzuhalten.

 

Leider musste ich feststellen, dass „Double Cross“ keine Verbesserung im Vergleich zu „Mind Games“ darstellt. Das Niveau bleibt erhalten, was bedeutet, dass dieser zweite Band erneut voll und ganz um Justine herum konstruiert ist. Vielleicht sogar noch mehr als der Vorgänger.
Ich habe „Double Cross“ ganz gern gelesen, doch meine Erwartungen wurden nicht erfüllt. Besonders problematisch fand ich, dass Carolyn Crane weit von ihrer Ausgangsidee weg geht und die Desillusionisten kaum noch thematisiert. Stattdessen steht die Mordserie in Midcity im Fokus; eine etwas ungelenke, verschachtelte Haupthandlungslinie, die Crane krampfhaft mit Ottos und Packards Vergangenheit in Verbindung zu bringen versuchte. Ich empfand das als unnötig, denn die beiden Handlungsstränge hätten auch unabhängig voneinander funktioniert. Justines Entdeckung dieser Verbindung kam reichlich kompliziert zu Stande und war vermutlich überhaupt nur möglich, weil Crane darauf bestand, dass Justine diejenige sein musste, die das Rätsel der Serienmorde und ihrer Motivation löst. Sie hat sich wirklich angestrengt, Justine als strahlende Heldin zu inszenieren – für mich war sie das allerdings nicht. Ich war überrascht davon, wie rapide meine Sympathie für die Protagonistin immer weiter abnahm, da ich sie im ersten Band durchaus mochte. In „Double Cross“ wirkt sie weniger unabhängig und lässt sich leicht manipulieren, wodurch ich den Eindruck hatte, sie sei ein Fähnchen im Wind und nicht gerade gefestigt in ihren Meinungen und Ansichten. Ich verstehe zwar, dass sie eine Gewissenskrise bezüglich des Desillusionierens durchmacht, sich nicht mehr sicher ist, ob sie das Richtige tut und an Ottos Empfinden für Recht und Unrecht zweifelt, doch so launenhaft hätte ich sie nicht eingeschätzt. Speziell ihr Boss Packard bekommt das zu spüren. Ihm gegenüber ist sie häufig hysterisch und nimmt prinzipiell das Schlechteste von ihm an, obwohl es dafür eigentlich keinen Anlass gibt. Ja, er hat ihr verschwiegen, dass sie durch das Zingen an ihn gebunden ist. Das ändert jedoch nichts daran, dass er ihr Leben maßgeblich verbesserte, indem er ihr eine Möglichkeit schenkte, mit der Angst fertig zu werden, die ihre pathologische Hypochondrie verursacht. Außerdem verhält er sich ihr gegenüber immer korrekt und anständig. Ich finde ihn schwer in Ordnung und kann nicht verstehen, wieso er sich zu Justine hingezogen fühlt, schließlich weiß sie nicht zu schätzen, was er für sie getan hat und dass er sie so akzeptiert, wie sie eben ist. Stattdessen flüchtet sie in die Arme von Otto, den ich bereits in „Mind Games“ unangenehm fand. Ich traue ihm nicht und empfand es als beunruhigend, wie sehr er an Justine klebt und sie emotional unter Druck setzt. Mit ihm kann sie nicht sie selbst sein. Es erstaunte mich nicht, dass er gegen Ende des Buches sein wahres Gesicht zeigt. Die Wendung an sich empfand ich jedoch durchaus als überraschend und äußerst spannend – sie macht Lust auf mehr.

 

„Double Cross“ bot mir nicht die ultimative Steigerung, auf die ich gehofft hatte, aber es hat mich gut unterhalten. Besonders das Ende gefiel mir sehr, sodass ich auf jeden Fall das Finale der Trilogie lesen werde. Ich will einfach wissen, wie Justines Geschichte ausgeht. Ich wünsche mir, dass sie ihre Stärke zurück erlangt und wieder zu der Frau wird, die mir zu Beginn von The Disillusionists so imponierte.
Dieser zweite Band ist eine Lektüre für LiebhaberInnen erwachsener Urban Fantasy, die ungewöhnliche Wege beschreitet. Für QuereinsteigerInnen ist er nicht geeignet, doch als Fortsetzung ist er angenehm kurzweilig und bietet eine ganze Palette abwechslungsreicher Emotionen, sowohl für die Figuren als auch für die LeserInnen.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/carolyn-crane-double-cross
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