Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Review Double Feature: Kait Nolan and Victorine Lieske

Before I forget, check out Sparkling Review's Friday write-up of Gifts of the Blood, courtesy of the lovely Jamie:

I love those ladies. Their blog is always so upbeat, and a lot of fun. I've been a follower for a while now. In fact, it may have been the very first book blog I started following, so it was really special to see my own book reviewed on their site. Thank you, ladies! You rock my casbah!

We're facing a potentially debilitating ice storm here at the Ides of March, so I'm racing to get my online work done in case we lose power. One of the things I've been meaning to do has been to review the books I sat down and read yesterday. I made myself take a reading day, which is kind of my version of a taking a sanity day at work. It was great. In addition to the two books I've put up for review today, I also read J.L. Bryan's Jenny Pox, which blew me away. It was wonderful in a mind-blowing, brain-twisting, etc. etc. fill-in gruesome but worshipful metaphor way. With an impending ice storm and the possibility that we might lose power, I think I'll wait to write my review for it. Plus I just need time to process it.

This leaves the last bit of work for ROW80 for tomorrow's check in. It's not supposed to get really nasty until tomorrow night, so I should be able to get everything done. Why am I being so meticulous about this? Because I live in the South and we freak out about snow and ice. The schools have closed for Monday already, and we've been told to expect widespread power outages. Since Auburn is playing in the National Championship for the first time since 1952 on Monday night, the prospect of losing power is enough to cause a state-wide panic. It's not real if you can't watch it on TV, you know. And we take our football very seriously here in the SEC. Hopefully there won't be riots. I plan to download a hoard of books to my fully charged Kindle, because the battery will last for a month (according to the website.)  At any rate. here are my reviews:

Kait Nolan, Devil's Eye:

I love New Orleans. It's like no other city in the world. There's a rhythm and a spirit there that I've never encountered anywhere else. It's easy to break it down into its component parts and celebrate those: the food, the music, the architecture, the festivals. It's far more difficult to capture some aspect of the essence of the whole.

When I heard Kait Nolan had set her latest Mirus release in New Orleans, I knew I had to read it. The city is so often the subject of paranormal fiction that rarely manages to capture part of its greatest charm: that of a tightly knit southern community that cares tremendously about its members. Ms. Nolan manages this quite nicely by depicting a wolf-shifter who's had to create his own version of pack and family of all Mirus races, and even a human or two, and the flesh and blood sister of one of his missing pack members. Along the way, Ms. Nolan offers us wonderfully accurate renditions of the city I know and love so well: the tense camraderie of a hurricane watch party; the edgy awe of the St. Louis' cemeteries after dark; a mixture of modern and colonial architecture; a lilting Cajun patois.

In fact, it was the Cajun accent that got me. Mick, the wolf-shifter, hands a soaking wet protagonist a towel and says: "Here. This'll help a l'il bit."

Oh, the rolling Cajun 'l, perfectly and casually captured. I fell in love with Mick right away. And stayed that way for the rest of the novel. Some demi-goddesses have all the luck.

Nolan's writing is, as always, well-paced and deeply plotted. Her world building is meticulous. Her Mirus world is consistent, continuing some of the same tensions from Forsaken by Shadow, even though the characters are different. If anything, the story is a little too short. The novel ended with me wanting to know more. There are certainly interesting possibilities open for the lead characters as the novel ends, but perhaps we won't have to wait long for the next installment.

Victorine Lieske, Not What She Seems:

It's been quite a long time since I read something in this genre, and I was happy that when I did, it was with a good read like this one. I'd call this a sweet romantic suspense. The writing was excellent. Ms. Lieske kept up a fast pace that didn't drag or get boring or, alternately, go so fast as to lose the reader. Her writing was lean but descriptive- no long, flowery, unnecessary expostions here. Her dialogue was believable, as were her characters. In fact, I developed quite a fondness for several of them. The male protagonist, Steven, was particularly interesting. He's the kind of guy who has everything, and it's really easy for characters like that to come off as flat and unbelievable, but Steven was actually my favorite one. Ms. Lieske does a great job with the supporting characters, too. Rose was one of my particular favorites. She really captured the feel and rhythms of small town life, and just when I thought I had figured out who'd done it, there was some twist that made me have to guess again. I didn't relate to the female lead character all that well. She was well written, and sweet and all that; I just had a hard time feeling sympathy for her. I know she went through a lot, but it was hard for me to like a character who was so passive about what she had been through. I know these aren't real people, but if they were, I hope she gets counseling! And that's actually a point in Ms. Lieske's favor- I really did think about these characters long enough after I put the book down to imagine what their lives would be like afterward. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery, romance, women's fiction, suspense, or thrillers.

Both great reads whether you're going to be housebound or not. 


  1. I think I had pretty much exactly the same reaction to Devil's Eye. Even little Irish me could hear that accent as I read. :) Looking forward to more.

  2. Ha, you're just next door to me. I'm in Mississippi. I went to Walmart yesterday for my normal grocery run and was traumatized by all the stupid people who heard "snow" and think "NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST!" As if they can't survive 2 days without stocking up for 2 months and wiping out all the stock on the shelves. Geez.

    Thanks for the lovely review!

  3. I enjoyed reading Devil's Eye- now I want to run away to the French Quarter. @ snow- my husband went to the store, thank goodness. The store beforehand is more dangerous than the actual event. I have seen genteel Southern ladies fight over Wonderbread. Worked in a grocery store in college. True story.