Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review of Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

Whoa, Nelly.

This book is the perfect package. It's totally original, quirky, unexpected, has fascinating characters, an incredible story line, crazy-ass tension (sexual and otherwise), excellent pacing, is super sexy, and finally....a fabulous ending. The fact that it was written by a debut author blows me right out of the water. Carolyn Crane, who also writes a witty romance blog, The Thrillionth Page, has just set a new standard for first time authors.

What's so great about this book? The originality of the story concept, the mastery of first person POV, and the writing....Holy Mother, the is smooth as butt-ah. The quirky POV of Justine paints a fascinating portrait of her environment, her delusions about her health, her conflicted nature. She is the perfect anti-hero/heroine, struggling with her own selfish desires and her need to do the right thing. She is as real as any heroine can get.

The unexpected premise for this story, which involves Justine's obsessive hypochondria and a totally cool paranormal super secret vigilante group, is completely engrossing. The group's leader, Packard, sort of reminds me of Karen Marie Moning's character Barron from the Fever series. He is mysterious, sexy, powerful, and we're not quite sure if he's a good guy or a bad guy.

The pacing and suspense of this story are amazing. Each "client" Justine has to work on is fraught with uncertainty. Is the person harmless, kooky, or a raging psychopath? We're never quite sure. The last book I read like this was Skin Game by Ava Gray. You keep thinking, there is no way this is going to end well, but I really, really want it to. Without giving anything away, I will say that Crane does a superb job with the ending. It is emotionally satisfying and makes the reader starved for book #2, Double Cross, which is coming out September 2010.

The "love triangle" between Justine, Packard, and Otto is just utterly delicious, and I can't wait for this to be further explored in the rest of the trilogy. I also love how Crane takes a character, such as Foley, who is skank personified, transforms him into a contrite and upstanding citizen, defuses the hatred of his enemies, and leaves us hanging with the uncomfortable feeling...okay, what now? We don't quite trust what's happening. These characters are the antithesis of your typical, easy-to-digest romance characters. They're complex, confusing, and the jury's still out as to their true natures.

There is no question that Mind Games will be on my Favorites List for 2010. It's just chock full of goodness. In fact, I was sort of pissed off when I finished it. I wanted it to keep going on forever, which is, of course, the ultimate compliment for any author. Bravo to Ms. Crane for this kick-ass debut. I have a sneaking suspicion that she is going to sky rocket in the next ten years as one of the most talented new writers of the genre.


Grade: A+



Sophia (FV) said...

I have not read one unfavorable thing about this book! It's going at the top of my wish list. Great review Penny.

Lori said...

Great review! I'm not a fan of the genre, but I do love Carolyn, and like you, haven't heard a single thing other than how fantastic this book is. So I am planning to read it. And soon!

Penny Watson said...

Hey FV! I was seriously walking around with this idiotic smile on my face yesterday after I finished reading it. Sooooooo good!

Penny Watson said...

Lori...I am not a big UF fan either, but I guarantee you will love this book. It has enough romance and spice to satisfy!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Fantastic review. I have been hearing great things about this one.

Smokinhotbooks said...

Eeek you make me want to skip work and go home and read Mind Games. I think I feel a cold coming on ::cough::

Great review!

Scorpio M. said...

wow, I'm seriously going to have to check out this book. I'm not a big paranormal, UF gal but if it's good I want to read it.

Penny Watson said...

Hey chickies! Even if you are not a big paranormal/UF fan, this book is worth reading. The concept is so original and refreshing, it is really fantastic. It's more about the suspense and the characters than the paranormality. And Carolyn does a terrific job with the first person POV. I was floored.

Mandi said...

Oh Penny - you nailed it. I loved this darn book like nothing else! I was pissed when I finished too! I couldn't stand it. I loved everything about it!! Packard and his creepy circumstances, is he really good? The love triangle at the end - where did that come from? Blown away..all her "team mates", crazy, crazy good. I want to reread it!

Penny Watson said...

Hey Mandi...didn't Packard give off that sexy-Barrons vibe? Mysterious, dangerous, powerful. Yummy!

Michelle Picard said...

Okay, dammit, there goes my resolve to reduce my book buying habit this month and save money. Now I have to order the thing. This sounds too good to pass up.