1 Mar 2012

Book Review: Blood Orchids, by Toby Neal.

In case you have been wondering: I am still alive. For the past month and a half, I have been working like a maniac. Neglecting my blog - and my friends' blogs (sorry guys!) - was the only way I could save the remaining shreds of sanity.

By now The Project has been submitted and I have taken a week off to recover, read, write and spend some time in my beloved Cotswolds.

I've finally finished Kim Harrison's The Hollows series, and got to read Toby Neal's Blood Orchids, which had been on my must-read list ever since it came out.

I hardly ever read crime novels, but I'm a big fan of Toby's blog, her topics, writing style and her warm, zesty personality. As a result, I really wanted to read Blood Orchids, and I'm glad I have.

It took me a while to get a feel for the story and connect with the characters, possibly because there's a lot of Hawaiian "couleur locale" in the story, which is quite alien to my European self. However, the more I got to know Lei Texeira, the protagonist, the more I cared and the faster I began to read - a good sign.

The novel's world is drawn in rich detail and step by step the setting enfolded and I got grabbed by the lighter and darker sides of Hawaiian culture.

However, to me, the strongest elements of this novel are its characters. They're human and real, they have a history and hopes and dreams for the future, they're damaged but eager to live fulfilling and meaningful lives. Toby's characters stay with you long after you've finished reading.

Lei's a great heroine, but my personal favourite was Dr. Wilson. I'd unload my issues on her couch any day! I'm (not-so-secretly) hoping Toby will one day write another series with her as the main character.

I also found Lei's developing relationship with Stevens very interesting and well-written. They have a number of great scenes together, which could only have been written by an intelligent and wise person with a keen insight in human nature, who's not afraid to dig deep into her own mind and experiences in order to touch on fundamental thoughts and authentic emotions.

I can't wait to see what Toby will come up with in the future. Definitely a writer I'll continue to follow!

You can find Toby's blog at http://www.tobyneal.net/.
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  1. My dear writer friend, KC!!! OMG!! There you are, I've missed you. I'm SO THRILLED you liked Orchids, and here's the cool thing for anyone reading this--it's FREE on Amazon this weekend March 3, 4, and 5. Please do post that so anybody interested can have a free download.

    You'll never guess--I got an agent!! And, I laughed to see you want more Dr. Wilson--she reappears in two more books, and YES, I'm planning a book with her as the MC. Sometimes when a character shows up you just have to give them the stage. Dr. Wilson needs her own stage!

    I'm eternally grateful for the support and shout-out!

    1. Brilliant news! I'm so happy for you, and just as happy that we haven't seen (read) the last of Dr. Wilson yet! =)

      I've just come back from a long weekend in the Cotswolds and didn't get back in time to add the free-this-weekend message to the post, but I hope a bunch of people have read your comment and got there in time!

      See you around! :-)

  2. Yay! You made it back to the blogosphere. :) And with a great book review. Love the cover of the book, by the way. Really beautiful.

    1. Yay! :-)

      It's good to be back. I don't think I'll have the time I used to have in the past few years (no more writing sabbaticals in the near future), but at least there will be regular updates and I'll be popping up at your blog again. I'm curious to see what I've missed! :-)

  3. Good to see you back! That sounds like a very unusual and interesting crime novel.

    1. Hi Rosemary, great to see you here again. :-)

      Unusual and interesting: 2 good words to describe Blood Orchids for sure!

  4. yep, the cover is very intriguing and lush :)

  5. Nothing makes a good book like strong characters. Great review.


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