Although Birds of a Feather, book 5 in the series, is the longest book in the series, it’s the least interesting. It feels incomplete and almost like a throw away or unimportant entry, which doesn’t seem to fit with the main characters actually getting married in this installment. It’s hard to describe, but the story feels like more fluff and less actual story. Even the wedding scenes, very few and hurriedly rushed over, feel like filler. There’s no weight to their connection and the mystery is weak at best. It’s nicely written and the characters are as charming as always with several scene stealing newbies, but you could skip this one entirely and not miss anything in the series. Continue reading
I honestly can’t think of a better treat than a Nicole Kimberling sci-fi book. I was of two minds to read this because it’s a sequel to a book that was published four years ago so although I read that book I can’t remember a single detail about it sadly. While I was really excited to delve into this, I worried that I’d be lost since I couldn’t remember anything from the previous book. Thankfully I don’t think you need to since the story flows easily enough without encountering any big gaps. No doubt reading and remembering the previous book will enhance enjoyment and understanding of this one, I think anyone new to the series can read it just fine. I certainly enjoyed it immensely despite my lack of remembered knowledge. Continue reading
One Man’s Treasure is a thoroughly enjoyable read and visit down memory lane with familiar characters. You can easily pick this up without having read the previous books, as I had only a passing memory of the characters and situation when I started this latest book, so don’t worry if you’re a latecomer to the series. Those that remember the series more than my faint memory will appreciate a lot of the nuances and details that connect to the previous books. The formula is similar for almost all the books in the series where Peter finds a mystery and gets in trouble trying to solve it. Yet the crisp writing and endearing narrator help overcome any sense of “been there, done that” with a repetitive formula. Continue reading
A "Not Quite New Year" Story!
Folklore researcher and PhD candidate Hank Caldwell has a problem. He’s come to Japan to get information for his book on supernatural creatures called yokai. Along the way he discovers that yokai are not only real, but one of them is determined to make Hank his forever lover.
Translator Daisuke Tachibana knows all about the shadowy figure in a business suit who keeps accosting Mr. Caldwell. He knows the creature must be stopped, but how? Their upcoming research trip to a remote, hot springs resort will be exactly the opening the yokai is looking for. Now if only Tachibana could stop thinking about Mr. Caldwell’s naked, freckled body submerged in steaming water long enough to formulate a plan to keep the amorous creature at bay.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Small-town reporter Peter Fontaine has a cherry job, a hunky artist boyfriend, and an insatiable lust for rooting out the truth. In this third installment of the Bellingham Mysteries, he and Nick must try to recover a stolen statue in time to host their big Halloween party.
The catch? The statue was created by Nick’s ex lover and to find the culprit, Peter must first delve into Nick’s past. Will Peter’s slutty nurse costume be enough incentive for Nick to come clean about his life before Peter?
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Nicole Kimberling
Small town Pacific Northwest reporter Peter Fontaine wants to level up. A job offer in Austin seems to be the answer to his prayers, but there’s one catch: his boyfriend, Nick Olson, artist, recluse, and snow-loving outdoorsman.
When Peter agrees to go to the Freezing Man snow sculpture competition, he thinks he’s going to get a lesson in making love in a hollowed-out snowball in the woods. He thinks he’ll either find a way to convince Nick to come to the Lone Star State or be forced to say goodbye. But one frozen corpse derails Peter’s personal plans entirely…
Ghost Star Night by Nicole Kimberling
Desire. Destruction. Destiny.
Thomas Myrdin knows that intrigue is part of life at court, but that doesn’t make his king’s betrayal any easier to take. Yet heartbreak troubles him less than the apocalyptic visions that haunt him. Fiery premonitions that show the world burning in ruins—and the cause, the king’s daughter. Visions and vengeance awaken a strange new power within him, but not even he is sure if he is the kingdom’s savior, the king’s pawn.
Lord Adam Wexley harbors a secret longing for the elegant Thomas, but his duty is to protect the newborn princess. When a sudden threat arises, Adam seeks to procure services of Grand Magician Zachary Drake. Even if it means sacrificing his own soul—and his body.
Drake has seen the worst of kings and courtiers. Now he protects himself with powerful sorcery and the adamant refusal to affiliate with any of the Four Courts. But the grand magician isn’t without weaknesses and Adam may be the one enticement that could draw him to ruin.
In a rising storm of magic with the power to strip away men’s souls, the thread of desire connecting three men could be the kingdom’s last lifeline…
Without a doubt this is a stunning piece of fantasy fiction. The fabulous and intricate world building explodes and overwhelms the story as the creativity and imagination of the author expand to offer a new unique, absorbing world. The story itself is just as complex with twists, turns, assassinations, betrayals, possessions, murders, and a thin romance. The short length of the story – a mere 116 pages – doesn’t do the entire plot justice as the romance is definitely the weakest aspect. However, fantasy lovers will clamor for this world and forgive the almost non-existent romance element in favor of the intricate world building.
The plot is complicated with a large cast of characters and the intricacies of the world often come into play. This is a world with all the seedy court politics where magic, favors, and souls are the currency over money. The city is ruled by four courts of power and the jockeying for power, souls, and position happens almost constantly. The large cast involves kings, heirs, courtiers, magicians, and a bevy of inhabited creatures. Inhabited creatures are animals, insects, and objects inhabited by a human soul that has been stolen, bought, transferred, or bartered. The most precious commodity is a soul and that is also the most often used in negotiations. These apes, spiders, rings, lions, birds, and so on perform a variety of jobs from nanny to driver to family pet. These souls are also the source of power for all magic.
The plot is dense with details and world building. While this fantasy creation is truly wonderful, engaging and fascinating, it is also riddled with information and detail so it’s thick to read. There is a large cast that is all important, many more characters than just the blurb suggests, but they are easy to follow once the basics of the world are established. The theme and central plot at its core is timeless with greed, avarice, and selfish choices of revenge and regret. Although the story changes point of view several times to follow various characters and their thought process, the main character could arguably be Grand Magician Zachary Drake. His point of view offers the most information with regards to the plot while Lord Adam Wexley’s point of view enhances the complexities of the courts and their politics.
For all the wealth of information and characters offered, this is a completely engaging and entertaining read. The ending is slightly complicated, yet beautifully drawn with evocative imagery and a solid resolution. While the plot does have extraneous information, the details add such flavor and color – it’s easy to see where the author got carried away and a pleasurable trip for readers to do so as well. If there is anything lacking, the romance element and characters lack some depth. The intricacy of the plot and world building overwhelms the story, so much so that the characters themselves are often very superficial. Their motivations are explained, but often just stated without the complexity of their personalities. This plays into problems with the shorter length for such a packed story. Along those lines the romance between two of the characters is very superficial and poorly developed. There is almost no chemistry and interest between the two men as politics, intrigue, and soul catching dominate their interactions.
The modern aspects such as cars, cell phones, elevators, clubs, and shops mixed with court politics make for a somewhat jarring reading experience at first until the pacing and flow get their stride. The absentee romance may frustrate some but the brilliant fantasy world should engage readers even over objections. The tight writing and descriptive prose create a story within the story, and a must read for fantasy lovers. Such a complex and creative world demands a sequel (or maybe that’s just me) but hopefully there will be more of this wonderful new fantasy in the future.
Get it HERE!
Primal Red by Nicole Kimberling
Peter Fontaine is a reporter writing for a free weekly newspaper in the quirky little town of Bellingham. Nick Olson is a reclusive painter with questionable past and a studio in the Vitamilk Building. Peter has a knack for choosing to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this case that place is the Vitamilk Building and the time is the moment that Shelley Vine, local art professor and rising star of the art world, is stabbed to death.
Determined to understand why Vine was killed, and convinced that breaking the story could jumpstart his career as an investigative journalist, Peter begins his own investigation into her death. As Peter uncovers more information about Vine, Olson, and the interconnected lives of the rest of the artists at the Vitamilk Building, he finds himself falling in love with Nick.
Peter wants a story but he also wants Nick, and it looks like he’s going to have to make a choice before the two can paint the town Primal Red.