5 Stars, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Nicole Castle, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: The Inauspicious List by Nicole Castle

Amazon

Amazon

Title: The Inauspicious List (Chance Assassin: Book Three)

Author: Nicole Castle

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I have what could probably be described as an unhealthy love for this series, and The Inauspicious List only reaffirms it!

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: With a new handler and Silva’s book of hits, Frank and Vincent’s marital bliss is only interrupted by the occasional spat over whose turn it is to kill. But when their jobs stop going according to plan, a detour takes them down a path that could bring the end of their careers. And their lives.

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Review: So, if you haven’t started reading this series yet, let me catch you up: Everyone in it is certifiably insane. There. Now you’re caught up.

After a brief respite to allow Bella and Casey to have their say in Les Recidivists, Nicole Castle has brought two of my all-time favorite assassins back for book three in the Chance Assassin series, The Inauspicious List. Just to catch you up even further on what exactly the list is, it’s a book full of names…which doesn’t sound all that exciting until you know those who are named in this book are people who someone has hired our assassins to kill. Fun, right? Well, the “Inauspicious” part of the title means not so much fun for our hitmen and hitwomen (Bella <3), but it adds up to loads of entertainment for us readers.

Frank and Vincent are our happily wedded couple, blissfully come out of retirement after V was forced to take some time off to recuperate, having sustained some serious head injuries whose aftereffects still haunt him but for which Frank made the kidnapper pay dearly. One of the most absolutely awesome things about these characters, I must say, is their hunger for violence—yet they’re so damned likeable. They live for the kill, and I know that adoring them sounds crazy, but it’s nonetheless true. These guys barter hits like kids trading baseball cards, and their gleeful anticipation of wreaking havoc is infectious, to say the least. That’s how lovely Nicole Castle’s storytelling is: she’s created this band of social and psychological misfits who kill for fun and profit, who, outside of these books, would be considered irredeemable (at best), and she makes them completely lovable…in a pathological and twisted and joyful sort of way.

In an even lovelier addition to this installment of the series, V’s narration of certain events which occurred with our sweet and loopy Miko in The Result of a Straight Razor (book two in the Mako Shark companion series about a rival set of assassins), have now overlapped into Chance Assassin. One of the things I loved about getting these particular scenes from Vincent’s point-of-view was not only the effect the encounters had on Frank and V, but also seeing Miko through someone else’s eyes. The beauty in this is that had we only seen our oddball outsider assassin via V’s storytelling, Miko wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful and sympathetic as he is in his own books. Honestly, it made me love him a li’l bit more. He’s sincerely broken and somehow a little bit smishable too.

I’d also be somewhat remiss not to add somewhere in here how beautifully warped Frank and V’s relationship is, so I’ll say it now. Looking for a non-traditional romance? This is it. These two men met after Vincent had been stabbed during a job-gone-wrong he’d been set up for. V was only a teenager at the time, though he had an unfortunate amount of experience with sex by then, and he set about seducing Frank in a rather comical and tenacious way. Let me assure you, though, that Frank waited until Vincent was of legal age to consummate their relationship. So even with their age difference and in spite of the way they met, even in their twisted “yes, of course I shot you on purpose because, hello, you shot me on purpose years ago” way, these two guys just fit like a custom tailored straight jacket. I love every single one of their interactions because they’re so sincerely in love with each other. They just so happen to show it in a different way. When these two men said “‘til death do us part,” they meant it. Probably in a hail of gunfire.

So, in the end, the merde has hit the ventilateur. I’m trying that out in French in honor of Frank. For the rest of us, that means the shit has hit the fan. Seems there’s an assassin war on the horizon, one Miko may factor into in an interesting way, and based on the final sentence of this book, holy merde, it’s already underway. And I can’t wait to see what Nicole Castle has in store for us next.

This series has quickly become an absolute favorite, what with its quirky characters and sharp dialogue and plenty of laughs to go along with the killer bits, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you’re looking for something just a little bit different and a lot cuckoo for cocoa puffs. I felt like this installment started off a little slowly, but it didn’t take too long to get moving, and once it did, it was another fun ride on the crazy train to Murdertown.

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You can buy The Inauspicious List here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Literary Fiction, Nicole Castle, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: The Result of a Straight Razor by Nicole Castle

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Title: The Result of a Straight Razor (The Mako Shark: Book Two)

Author: Nicole Castle

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 168 Pages

At a Glance: Three cheers for the morally complicated!

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Miko is in mourning. He is plotting. Miko is thinking about death and vengeance. About forgiveness. And love. Miko is getting some new tattoos.

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Review: There’s one thing author Nicole Castle will never be accused of: writing sane characters. Or, at least what might be considered sane by most people. Not up to this point, anyhow. Ms. Castle writes about a group of assassins, after all, and their lives revolve around murder and mayhem, something they pursue quite passionately, I might add. Sometimes with a glee that can only be called disarming and charming in a disturbing sort of way.

These people make me happy.

The Result of a Straight Razor picks up where The Consequence of High Caliber left off, so it’s an absolute must to read these books in order. Miko, our sweet and broken man-child, returns to his would-be lover Toby—would-be if Toby didn’t give Miko a sense of normalcy that only serves to make Miko realize how not-normal he really is, and how dangerous it is for him to be in Toby’s life.

Relationship Status: It’s complicated.

We get a bit more of Miko’s backstory in this installment of the series, through flashbacks that show us how he came to be where he is; not exactly the best assassin in the bunch but having been nursed on a steady diet of violent and murderous bedtime stories about people who became his heroes, it’s given him a lot to strive for. But poor Miko. ::sighs:: He just seems to have a big Murphy’s Law target tattooed on the business end of his best intentions.

Plus, he needs to stop pointing his gun at the wrong people.

The linchpin of The Result of a Straight Razor’s plot is a carry-over from book one, and the death of Miko’s best friend Ophelia—a death everyone but Miko believes was suicide. Miko is determined to prove there’s murder afoot!, even as every one of his efforts to do so seem bent upon proving him wrong.

The murder business is so fickle.

And it also distances him from Toby, not only geographically but mentally and emotionally too.

It’s also hard on relationships.

Razor-sharp wit and a skillfully honed sense of pace and timing have been the hallmark of not only these books but those in the Chance Assassins series too (several characters from that series make brief cameos in “Straight Razor”). Bella, as usual, steals every scene she’s in, and every single nuance, from the overt to the subtlest, adds to its charm. These are not your typical heroes and heroines, nor are they strictly antiheroes—they’re far too loveable for that. Maybe they’re just demiheroes. Because, really, are any of our favorite characters all good or all bad?

Three cheers for the morally complicated!

I love this book. I love this author for being just a little demented. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this, or any of Nicole Castle’s books, for that matter. They’re disturbingly comical and comically disturbed novels.

They’re disturmical in the very best way.

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You can buy The Result of a Straight Razor exclusively at:

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Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply the Best 2014: The Finale – The Year In Reviews and a Giveaway

2014

We have reached the end of our journey, folks, the final choices for our Top Reads of 2014. In case you’ve missed the others, check out Sammy’s and Tina’s selections HERE; Jackie’s, Lana’s, and Jules’ HERE; Lynn’s and Chris’s HERE; and Kim’s and Kathie’s HERE.

Rena and I are the last to go, and I paired the two of us together because we each, by coincidence, themed our lists just a bit. Rena’s choices are not only all selected from the Historical sub-genre, but they are also unique to the genre, each in their own ways. For my selections this year, you’ll find some among them (and yes, I listed two series because I’m a big cheater) are self-published, one falls under the Historical sub-genre, two of them are Alt U/Alt History, and one of them is a chronologized serial set in the 1980s world of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. And one features a group of some of the most charming and twisted killers I’ve ever read.

As we’ve reached the end of the line and are now looking forward to discovering some of the best books of 2015, The Novel Approach is offering you the chance to win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or All Romance eBooks, winner’s choice! Just click the Rafflecopter image to enter before Midnight Pacific time on Saturday, January 3, 2015.

Good luck!

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And now, here are Rena’s and my selections for the best of the best this year had to offer.

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Rena:

21529170Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles:Flight of Magpies is another brilliant addition to KJ Charles’ magnificent A Charm of Magpies series. Reading the book was one of those instances where I was so deeply immersed in Lucien and Stephen’s world that I actually got upset when I realized how far I’d gone and how little I had left to read. It’s an experience that’s not new to me; it began with The Magpie Lord, and it had yet to show signs of fading or slowing down. That said, I don’t want it to happen, considering how much I adore this series.”

 

23202149Bloodline by Jordan L. Hawk: “Fans of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series are in for a pretty dark treat with Bloodline – with a generous dose of tragedy, at that, but in ways that are a lot more complicated than simply death. As an installment of the series, Bloodline is perhaps the darkest and grimmest so far, but it does end in bittersweet hope that marks a new era, so to speak, for the characters involved.

The stakes in this book are significantly higher because everything becomes personal for Whyborne. We get to see his family’s history, which is intricate and bizarre and is steeped in magic.”

22544017Prosperity by Alexis Hall: “The first thing you’ll notice when you crack open Alexis Hall’s Prosperity is that the book’s written in some pretty heavy vernacular. Piccadilly, an orphan and a guttersnipe, narrates the story with so much sass and attitude to spare that his language, if at first a little challenging to get into if you’re not expecting it, almost serves like an emphatic exclamation point to his hilarious commentary. As he’s grown up in the streets of London, he’s illiterate and is sadly hardened for a boy his age (eighteen, he reckons, but isn’t sure), and his interactions with so many different characters – mostly adults who’re educated in varying degrees – are a never-ending source of delight. He’s alternately exasperated, mystified, resentful, contemptuous, and childish in his dealings with his fellow adventurers. And from a hardened urchin who thinks lowly of himself, Dil gradually develops into a cautiously hopeful young man who starts to believe that, hey, he’s got some worth, after all.”

bsb-juniorwillisJunior Willis by Richard Natale: “Richard Natale’s Junior Willis is a beautifully subdued account of a man’s sexual maturation during some of the most tumultuous decades in the 20th century. The novella begins in the 1950s, when Tom Larson’s first tour of duty in the Korean War places him in the path of Colonel Philip Dore, a married and closeted gay man who awakens Tom’s true nature. From here on, the story follows Tom through the years as he not only falls in love, but also gets himself hurt again and again, the miserable laws of the times compounding the pain by forcing him to suppress his needs and lose himself in work, if not seek comfort and questionable companionship in brief and unsatisfying liaisons.”

22224746Mending Him by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee: “There’s no emotional wallowing in this book, which can be the downfall of historical gay romances, given the outlaw nature of same-sex relationships. Part of the book’s strength lies in the authors’ masterful use of restraint in laying out the complications and the triumphs not only of the lovers, but also of the Chester family, whose loving relationship with the two men shapes painful choices they all make along the way. The resolution to the problem of gay lovers in the 19th century is also plausible; modern readers might grieve over the lack of an out and proud relationship, but in their practical and emotionally rewarding way, Robbie and Charles prove to us that men in their position can carve out a happy life together, regardless of society and, especially, family. There’s defiance tempered by prudence and vice-versa, and one can’t ask for anything more.”

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Lisa:

17453304Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder by Nicole Castle: “I’m in awe of this author’s ability to write a story starring not one but two characters who should be unappealing in every way. Nicole Castle has made Frank and Vincent loveable to a degree that has left me obsessing over this book. It’s a hallmark of truly brilliant storytelling I haven’t experienced since reading Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt and I fell for the insane Jacob Cullen. This author’s writing style is fresh, her characters funny and vibrant, her version of romance refreshing, and this book is one disturbing, endearing, horrifying, and sexy surprise after another.”

WicklowsOdysseyWicklow’s Odyssey by R. Cooper: “The timing of this book couldn’t be more perfect, and you don’t have to be a Civil War history major to appreciate the events that build up to one of the more tension filled and action packed climaxes I’ve ever read in a book. You need only know the motives for the war, who fought it, and its outcome to understand how beautifully R. Cooper has twisted it to suit this clockwork, steam driven adventure, where a great iron beast is the Trojan horse that, if not lamed, could bring victory to the South. Every single anachronism purposefully woven into this novel does nothing but add to the sense of intrigue, every single character introduced along the way not only adds to the adventure but also exposes more about Wicklow Doyle, revelations that are sometimes frustrating, sometimes heart-tugging as he tries to understand what he’s feeling, but each and every one is a new layer peeled away from this complex man’s prickly exterior.”

BSB-TurnbullHouseTurnbull House by Jess Faraday: “With its (The Affair of the Porcelain Dog) brilliant and stunning sequel, Turnbull House, the continuing story if former rentboy, Ira Adler, and his ex-lover Cain Goddard (the infamous Duke of Dorset) Jess Faraday has done nothing more than secured her place on my must-read-authors list, and did it in little more than the opening paragraphs of this book.

With characters who are layered with charm and complexity, settings that play out visually like a full color series of daguerreotypes on the mind, a mystery that reveals how far apart Ira and Goddard have grown since Ira walked out two years before, and a fluid prose that draws the reader into the lives of the characters and the time of the story, Turnbull House is as flawless a historical novel as I’ve ever read.”

Daron_Omnibus_Cover_500px1-231x300Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volumes One thru Five) by Cecilia Tan: “As addictive as any books I’ve ever read, as heart-rending as any series I’ve ever loved, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is, if not perfect, the quintessential compilation of music, drugs, sex, love, lust, and pain. My one fear as I got farther along in Daron’s saga was that the author would fail in her effort to keep this storyline fresh and vibrant and emotionally encompassing through its hundreds of chapters. I’m happy to report she damn well did. Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is a brilliant feat in fiction, far too luminous for this simple 5 star rating.”

2146294723251880Baal’s Heart (Caged and Sacrificed) by Bey Deckard: “Bey Deckard has written a book that’s a study in contradiction and a sublime characterization of three men who will eventually become one, introducing two characters in the dominant Baltsaros and the submissive Tom, two men who should be difficult, if not impossible, to love, but then makes it entirely impossible not to love them. When Jon comes between them, through no fault of his own, and then falls in love with both his captain and with Tom, becoming the foundation upon which both men will anchor themselves, Jon risks not only losing his heart but his sense of self, in the process, and it’s an evolution that’s a glory to witness.”

“As impressed as I was by Bey Deckard’s debut, Sacrificed has exceeded any and all expectations I might have had for the follow up to Caged. It’s a grand adventure the author is taking us on, a journey of heart, soul, and imagination that promises, at the end, even more to discover as this extraordinary series continues.”

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Nicole Castle, Self-Published

Interview and Giveaway: Nicole Castle – The Consequence of High Caliber

Nicole Castle

TNA: Welcome to The Novel Approach, Nicole, I’m so glad to have you with us today! Why don’t we start off by having you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Nicole:  Thank you so much for having me!  Well I’m a self-published author of the Chance Assassin series, which has me thinking about murder in one way or another for most of the day.  But if you look at my browser history you’ll likely find searches for gunshot wounds and car accidents in equal amounts as kitten videos or feel good coming out stories.  I currently live in Portland, OR, and I have a little monster-dog that takes up as much of my time as she can. Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Nicole Castle, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: The Consequence of High Caliber by Nicole Castle

Title: The Consequence of High Caliber (The Mako Shark: Book One)

Author: Nicole Castle

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 168 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Miko is a devoted son. An irresponsible brother. A protective friend. An anonymous lover. An assassin, nicknamed the Mako Shark after the sheer violence of his hits. Miko is deadly. And damaged.
Miko is in love.
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5 Stars, Nicole Castle, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Nicole Castle’s “Les Recidivists” Is A Repeatedly Fantastic Read


“Driving a corpse across several international borders in the trunk of a Maserati sounded like a great idea to me! It would make a terrific sitcom.” – Nicole Castle


Title: Les Recidivists (Chance Assassin: Book Two)

Author: Nicole Castle

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 447 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Two years following the events of Chance Assassin, Frank and Vincent are living in France, struggling with retirement. And with each other. When someone from Frank’s past shows up and threatens to bring his personal and professional lives together with a bang, it’s up to them to find out who ordered the hit and take them out first. Things may not be what they seem, but they may be exactly what Frank and Vincent need.

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5 Stars, Nicole Castle, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Nicole Castle Redefines Romance In “Chance Assassins: A Story of Love, Luck, And Murder


“I looked at Frank, wondering whether that was the connection I’d felt between us. Two murderers seeing one another for what they were. Death united us. Not love.” – Nicole Castle


Title: Chance Assassins: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder

Author: Nicole Castle

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 354 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Vincent Sullivan is down on his luck. When a chance encounter generates a job prospect he’s too desperate to decline, Vincent is well on his way to a career in crime. But after the job goes wrong and he’s gravely injured in the process, things couldn’t get much worse. Except that he may have just killed a man.
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