I wonder if Toby Neal knew what she was starting when she invited us to jump into her sandbox. The assignment to write a novella to help launch the Lei Crime Series Kindle World seemed straight forward. The deadline was crazy short, but I got my butt in the chair and wrote Hidden Poppies in record time and am proud of the way it turned out. I love the book, I love the cover and I love the idea of writing another novella for the Kindle World very soon.
What I didn’t expect was the remarkable collaboration and support I received from the other authors working on this project. The emails between us have been flying back and forth and our Facebook and Twitter exchanges have been lively and, for me, informative—I’ve learned so much from these authors!
The diversity of the eight stories is proof that, if you stick eight authors in a room and ask them to describe something, you’ll get eight completely different viewpoints and that’s a good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of these stories. I’m sure you will too.
Here are my thoughts on the books in the series:
A Snake in Paradise by Eden Baylee – You’ll find proof that pain can lead to beauty in this engrossing story. Rebuilding a life can be a frightening prospect but one best met head on. I love what Eden did with this story. It’s not a typical Lei Crime storyline but everything fan fiction should be.
Half Moon Girls by Corinne O’Flynn – There’s so much police work packed into this little novella. It’s clear Corrine O’Flynn knows Toby’s world because this really felt like a Lei Crime story and just as engrossing. The story kept my interest from the first page to the last exciting finish.
Never Again by Julie C. Gilbert – Julie Gilbert isn’t afraid to give you an unexpected ending. A great glimpse into the early years of Michael Stevens and his strength of character. Years ago I had a stalker who would call me at all hours of the night and show up at unexpected places. It was frightening and strange and an experience that I’m sure many people have faced.
Fireweed Trail by Craig Hansen – This sort of back-to-nature kind of therapy seems exactly like something Lei’s auntie Rosario would send her on. The premise and the setting of this story are prefect but the crimes committed are disturbing. Hansen does a great job of bringing the creepy to this Lei Crime story.
The Shell Keeper by Christine Nolfi – Lei, just before she starts working as a police officer, receives an unwanted gift of forced time to relax and celebrate the start of her new career. Lei’s skepticism about the trip grows when she meets the innkeeper and learns of an appointment she is encouraged to keep. What follows is the kind of encounter we might all wish to have had at some point in our lives. Nolfi paints beautiful scenes in this moving narrative.
Warrior Dog by Emily Kimelman – When I first heard about this story written from the perspective of Lei’s dog Keiki, I have to say I was skeptical of the merits of such an endeavor. It only took about three paragraphs to convince me otherwise. The story, like the dog, has tons of heart packed in it. The love Keiki has for the entire family, the frustration she feels at not being understood and her commitment to protect and defend, are perfectly drawn here. This is a great story and a perfect example of what fan fiction is all about.
Saddle Road by J. L. Oakley – Oakley pens a great mystery very much like the Lei Crime stories we know and love. She manages to weave in the flavor of the islands along with themes of military service and the lasting brotherhood (or sisterhood) of veterans. The plot twists involving shady veteran charity organizations are timely and just as disturbing in this tale as they are in real life.
Pick up a copy of one or all of the books. I’d love to hear what you think of them. Reviews are always appreciated!