NaNoWriMo and Mini Book Reviews: Kait Nolan and Montreal Noir

Mini book reviews are back!

Kait Nolan has a new book out this week!

Good old, reliable Pru. Of the four Reynolds sisters, Pru is the natural choice to take on custody of the girl their late mother had planned to adopt. At thirty, suddenly becoming the mom of a teenager means big changes, but Pru's ready to do whatever it takes to adopt Ari. Before she settles down, though, she wants one thing for herself.

Enter Flynn Bohannon, the sinfully sexy Irish musician in town for her sister's wedding. He's led the kind of free, vagabond life Pru can hardly imagine. Definitely not the kind of guy she should be dating, but he's the perfect guy for a crazy fun fling before her life changes.

When Pru proposes a brief, no strings affair, Flynn's not about to say no. But when unexpected complications endanger the adoption, the two find themselves in a phony engagement.

Now they have to convince a sharp-eyed, skeptical social worker, a teen who's too smart for her own good, three dubious sisters, and one protective brother-in-law that Flynn's willing to give up the gypsy life and settle down. But in convincing everyone that this relationship is real, will they convince each other as well?

I love books that recur in the same settings, so that you get glimpses of characters from previous books, and get to be reassured of their Happily Every Afters all over again. This is the third book in the Misfit Inn series, and the second Reynolds sister to star in a story of her own.

It's rare to read a story in which the hero and heroine fall in love at first sight and it's so believable, and they're so perfect for each other, that reading their story gives you a warm glow that you don't want to lose once the book is over. This story does exactly that!

Of course there are problems along the way -- but it's wonderful to never doubt even for a second that Pru and Flynn are meant to be together, and that somehow they will make it work. I also loved the supporting cast, especially Ari -- and the town itself! Makes me wish I could attend one of those Friday night jam sessions at the Inn...

I've also started reading one of the newest books in the Akashic Noir collection: Montreal Noir

"Following the success of Toronto Noir, the Noir Series explores new Canadian terrain, featuring both English and Francophone authors.

Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city...

Brand-new stories by: Patrick Senécal, Tess Fragoulis, Howard Shrier, Michel Basilières, Robert Pobi, Samuel Archibald, Geneviève Lefebvre, Ian Truman, Johanne Seymour, Arjun Basu, Martin Michaud, Melivssa Yi, Catherine McKenzie, Peter Kirby, and Brad Smith.

From the introduction by John McFetridge and Jacques Filippi:

Montreal is one of the oldest cities in North America and seems to be in a constant state of flux, changing its personality every few decades. Today, the city has its own language: Franglais (or Frenglish). Maybe the first word spoken in that language was noir...

Perhaps it’s fitting that a collection that brings so many of Montreal’s cultures together is noir. Much of the city’s literary tradition was defined by the two solitudes and most of the works delved deeply into single neighborhoods... This collection, with voices of both French and English writers, visits many neighborhoods and combines them into something that is, if not totally coherent, at least as coherent as the beautiful mess that is Montreal... Each neighborhood is different, and of course, each Montrealer (Montrealais) is different, making up the pieces of the mosaic of our city. Some are bright and shiny, others are darker and somber, but all have a shadow in the noir."

It seems so very fitting that the first story involves a traffic reporter, and starts with a report of congestion and delays on the main bridges and expressways. I wonder if that aspect of Montreal will ever change?

The story quickly moves into other, more tense, territory, however, involving a bomb threat and a very limited time before the explosion hits -- can tragedy be prevented?

I also enjoyed Arjun Basu's story, "Wild Horses", with its fantasy elements reminiscent of Michel Tremblay's The City in the Egg, and Catherine McKenzie's "Joke's On You", including the Agatha Christie references!

It's always fun to be able to follow characters as they move through a city that you're so familiar with, but you don't need to recognise the names of streets or landmarks (or bagel shops...) to be able to enjoy these tales.

Check out the full list of the Noir Series on the Akashic website, and search for your city! I've also read and enjoyed the Istanbul one. They don't have an Edinburgh or Geneva one yet. I wonder if I could write a Geneva-based short story...

Meanwhile, what starts today? NaNoWriMo starts today!

And it's also Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, and this month's question is: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

Not published yet, but yes, I do always finish the story! To varying degrees. One of them is all handwritten and hasn't been typed yet. Two or three others are all typed up but definitely need editing. Last year's NaNo project was The Charm of Time, and it's currently all edited and out with betas! I've gotten a few responses already, and mostly need to tweak a few character motivations and portrayals, and maybe delve a little deeper in a scene or two. Plus some pesky repeated words here and there -- even in the first paragraph! And then it's on to agent seeking...

This year's NaNo project is the sequel to The Charm of Time. Yes, a sequel to a romance novel. Is that possible? I think it can be done, since I'm writing both to be standalones, each with their own internal arc and happily ever after. Here's the info as I typed it into the NaNo novel blurb box, without much editing:

A Handful of Time (yes, the working title is the same as that of a Kit Pearson novel)
Author: denizb33
Genre: Romance

Christianne, a detective inspector about to take very early retirement from the Geneva police force, and Rory, an expat Scot and successful mechanic, have recently become engaged. She's moved into his flat, while they search for a place to buy together and call their own, before their wedding at the end of the year. Nothing need disturb their bliss.

Except Christianne is battling a personal threat in a recurring addiction, and Rory's past, in the form of his ex-wife, has suddenly put out a desperate call for his protection. Both attempt to hide from their problems at first, which only drives a wedge between them and exacerbates their troubles. When Rory's ex is nearly drowned while on a dinner cruise on Lac Leman, he suspects foul play, but the police don't. Now, he must come clean to Christianne and ask for her help. Rory's need, and the threat of a recurring cancer diagnosis, force Christianne to breaking point. How can she put the pieces together again, and save not only Rory, but herself?

I'd love to share a snip, but don't want to post any spoilers yet, and just the first line of the story is a spoiler in itself!

Good luck to those of you doing NaNo! And to all of you doing other things, like Academic Writing Month.
What are the stories or other projects you're working on right now?


I loved reading your reviews and views on these books. All the best with your Nano!
Fallon said…
I have Kait's book on my list to read for this month. I can't wait to get to it. :) Good luck with your NaNo project!
Good reviews.
That's awesome one of your NaNo projects is with critique partners.
Nice mini-reviews.
The thought of an entire MS hand-written makes my hand hurt, though I actually do a lot of writing longhand myself. Not 50,000 words in 30 days, though. Ouch.

Good luck with the project! I like the idea of a romance novel with a sequel, though it rather disturbs the happy-ever-after delusion :)
My IWSG Post
cleemckenzie said…
Many congrats on those reviews! Hurray.
Beth Camp said…
Your review of Kait Nolan's latest made me add it to my far-too-long TBR list. How great to post your mini-review. That's inspiring. And thank you for posting your synopsis. I posted mine on NaNo also. What I like about your synopsis is how you pull the reader right into story complications and make us care about your characters. Have a great month!
S.P. Bowers said…
Your NaNo project sounds great! I'm not doing NaNo officially but was trying to push myself through November. Got off to a rough start today when life fell apart. No words so far. Hope your first day was better.
Hi Deniz – the Misfit Inn series sound wonderful … thanks for letting us know about them; While Montreal Noir – fascinating … again to have stories based around areas in a city … I checked out the Akashic site … only one London and no Oxford … I didn’t get to Vancouver … but yes – give Geneva a go.

Good luck with NaNo and your sequel … you are always pushing forward … congratulations – cheers Hilary
Anonymous said…
Good luck with NaNo - it sounds like a fascinating story. I like those mini reviews. I've passed on the Toronto Noir info to my girlfriend, since she lives there. And can be noir at times. ;-)
Anonymous said…
Your posts are always an event, Deniz! Reviews, news, teasers for your novel...I haven't gotten my synopsis or blurb up yet...I like to wait a little bit, somewhere between 5 and 10K...

But yours sounds intriguing - I've always loved the stories AFTER HEA, because that's life. =)
Deniz Bevan said…
Thank you so much, everyone!

Hope you got some words in, S. P. Send your characters to the houseparty! :-)