PitchWars Bio…

I’m Kaye, and I suck at writing bios. There, it felt good to get that out. But I’m going to do this anyway because I’ve been watching everyone put their bios up and getting jealous.

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SO, I write stories about glam rock witches, Dissociative Identity Disorder, sentient gardens, fallen angels, faerie bars, ghostly orchestras, polyamorous dandies and basically anything weird and wonderful. This year I’m submitting a NA/upper YA novel about glam rock musician witches forming a rebellion in a world where anything creative makes magic, and magic is banned.

Other things you need to know about me:

1. I have blue hair.

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2. I like small spaces.

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3. I love playing the piano, violin and guitar (all badly).

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4. My favourite book is Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

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5. I love poetry. Especially Swinburne.

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6. I’m a female dandy.

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And I think that’s all! So I’ll say goodbye and wish you all luck.

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– K Hart

Faulty Bones – J M Fraser Review

Destined love thwarted by a supernatural con game.

Two bankrupt card players, lured by black magic and a casino-chip counterfeiting scam, get lost within the folds of a world no longer true.

Faulty Bones follows the journey of Mike and Amy–a couple of restless drifters who misdirect their anchors to the shifty part of town. Can they overcome her gambling addiction and his tenuous grasp of reality to find their way back on the grid? A pair of scheming mobsters, a demonic con man, and a series of ripples in the sands of time won’t make the going easy.

Nothing proves to be as it seems in this novel, and that’s the essence of a good scam. Are you a clever enough detective to guess the secrets before they’re revealed?

Why did I pick this up?: Casinos, gambling, demons. Need I say more? It sounded like a really great fantasy style read.

Good points: Well, once again this was a book with an interesting premise. Time travel, a noir fiction side, and poker! The story has plenty of humour and a fun-loving side, too!

Quibbles: The first few chapters were just plain confusing. I know what the author was trying to do (write one narrative going backwards and the other going forwards), but it didn’t work for me. It’s a very difficult thing to do and they didn’t pull it off. The romance felt odd, to me, and the story crawled until about half way through, when it finally got going a little.

Overall (TL;DR): It’s a good book in a lot of ways, but you really have to stick with it and persevere through the confusing and slow beginning.

-K Hart

Rage and Ruin – Katie Roman Review

Bridget O’Malley’s temper has always been trouble. It’s made her the black sheep of the family, cost her customers at her bar, and ruined relationships, but it has never put her life in danger. That is until she tries to rescue her cousin from a demon summoning cult. In picking a fight with one of Chicago’s most powerful witches, Bridget finds her bar being picketed, her witch’s license suspended, and demons on her trail. Annoyed and afraid Bridget uses the only weapon at her disposal to get her life back to normal: her temper.

Why did I pick this up?: Urban fantasy is my jam, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Good points: Interesting premise and world-building. It’s clear she’s done a lot of work on this novel and it shows. I also really like the idea of a heroine with faults – her temper – rather than the usual female main characters we get that are perfect.

Quibbles: I just… didn’t notice anything special. I really wanted to, but it didn’t really hook me. I wish I could have connected to the characters a little more, or at least found something within the plot that I just HAD to know more about. But honestly, I could have taken it or left it, and that’s a shame when an author has done such hard work to produce a book.

Overview (TL;DR): A novel with a lot of work put into it, but that didn’t manage to hook me.

-K Hart

Den of Shadows – Christopher Byford Review

The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?

While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One…

The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?

While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One night to forget all your troubles. But once on board there is more to the show than meets the eye: enter Franco, the elaborate ringleader, Wyld the stowaway thief and Misu the fire breathing showgirl.

In a kingdom ruled by the law Franco ensures his den remains in line, ruling with an iron first. But when he’s faced with saving the fate of the train, and those on board, he may be forced to break his own rules. Life on the den isn’t just a job but a way of life. And now you’re about to find out why!

Welcome to the den…

Why did I pick this up?: Comparisons to the Night Circus, a train running across the desert with an elaborate ringleader aboard? Sounds like my cup of tea.

Good points: The Gamblers’ Den is a Vegas on wheels, but better. Beautiful descriptions of the casino, the show they put on for the customers, everything. The flamboyant manners of the characters are exactly my style, and it’s got such a unique premise that the idea swept me along immediately. It’s one of those ideas that as a writer I wish I’d thought of first!

Quibbles: It takes a long time to get started. And I mean a long time. I was wondering what was going to happen well into the fourth and fifth chapters of a twenty chapter book. And, beautiful as it was, it failed to catch me and make me desperate to read more, something I look for in books I add to my shelves.

Overview (TL;DR): A beautiful book with an exciting premise that just missed the mark for me and my shelves. Someone else may find it exactly to their taste.

-K Hart

Heartborn – Terry Maggert Review

Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

Why did I pick this up?: It had a gorgeous cover. Honestly, this is the main reason. That and the tagline ‘her guardian angel was pushed’. It sounded interesting.

Good points: Okay, so I really liked the character Dozer, I thought he was funny and relatable and loved him.

Quibbles: Everyone else bored me. There were so many tropes, there was so much insta-love nonsense, there was just… it really wasn’t for me. Even the bit in the clouds, with the angels, which for some people redeemed the whole book, just wasn’t of interest to me. I genuinely almost did not finish this book simply because it bored me. It had a good idea going, but it didn’t make it.

Overview (TL;DR): Almost DNF. Bored to tears.

-K Hart

The Wishing Heart – J. C. Welker Review

With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel’s been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart.

But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni’s vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself.

Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker.

But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline’s freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel’s heart…

Why did I pick this up?: Honestly? I heard the word ‘jinni’ and I was in. Thieves, magic, jinni stuff… All immediate pick-ups for me. A definite interest.

Good points: It did all of what I expected and more. F/F relationship? YES PLEASE. It was so cute, too. At times it got a little trope-y, but that was all part of its charm. Magical creatures, sirens, werewolves, magicians, all looking for this jinni and the vase some girl thief picked up by accident. It read a little like a modern fairytale – perfect.

Quibbles: Like I said above, sometimes it got a little trope-y. I also lost the plot of it a couple of times and missed out on the smaller details. But other than that, a very good read with a very sweet story.

Overview (TL;DR): Cute, with a properly explored f/f relationship, modern fairytale vibes from this book. Worth a read.

-K Hart

Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Córdova Review

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Why did I pick this up?: I’d heard so much about this book, and it sounded perfect for me. Diversity, check. Brujas? Check.

Good points: This story was beautifully told. Rishi was adorable, and we had a BISEXUAL PROTAGONIST yay. Los Lagos was beautiful, dark, rich and morbid all in alternate places – it was perfect. I’ve heard constant comparisons to Alice in Wonderland, which I adore, so it’s only natural some of the love I have for one book would have passed on to the other. The bird people were awesome, as was the intricate description of the rest of the world. Latin mythology, too? YES PLEASE.

Bad points: I have to say, it didn’t wow me as much as I’d hoped from hearing about it. I was honestly hoping for an f/f pairing that was more than just a little at the end of the book and a few moments throughout to give it confirmation. I could have also dealt with a little more characterisation of most if not all of the characters. It started off amazingly with that, but trailed off for me towards the end.

Overview (TL;DR): A beautiful book with some amazing mythology incorporated, but at times loses it on the characterisation front. F/F relationship not as explored as I might have liked.

-K Hart

Spellslinger – Sebastien de Castell Review

“There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.”

Kellen’s dreams of becoming a powerful mage like his father are shattered after a failed magical duel results in the complete loss of his abilities. When other young mages begin to suffer the same fate, Kellen is accused of unleashing a magical curse on his own clan and is forced to flee with the help of a mysterious foreign woman who may in fact be a spy in service to an enemy country. Unsure of who to trust, Kellen struggles to learn how to survive in a dangerous world without his magic even as he seeks out the true source of the curse. But when Kellen uncovers a conspiracy hatched by members of his own clan seeking to take power, he races back to his city in a desperate bid to outwit the mages arrayed against him before they can destroy his family.

Why did I pick this up?: First thing, I loved the cover. I have a thing about playing cards – I absolutely love them. Don’t know why, don’t know how, but I just bought six decks myself because they were pretty. So the cover, and the title, drew me in straight away. I wanted to know more about any story that has playing cards in it.

Good points: Where do I start? I loved this. I really did. Ferius I adored. I want to be her. She talks smart, and she has CARDS, what more could you want? I loved how Kellen developed through the story, too, as he understood more about his people and the things that had happened. Also, squirrel cats? Annoyed, grouchy squirrel cats? Why not? They’re not supposed to be, but they still sound sort of cute to me. This was also so much darker than I expected it to be, and I love that. Dark is my thing. The magic of the Jan’Tep was fascinating, and I’d love to learn more. All in all, I don’t really have much bad to say about this at all. I loved almost everything. Which brings me to…

Quibbles: I’m not sure what to say here. I’m honestly not. I expected to dislike this story as it was a chance pick, but I utterly loved it and plan on getting my hands on a print copy asap to add to my shelves.

Overview (TL;DR): It’s gained an honourary place on my shelves!

-K Hart

Blood and Ink – Holly Evans Review

It turns out that saving the day comes at a cost. In this case, my home in Wildrun. Oh, and my freedom.

Keirn called in a few favours with his friend, Fein. In return for a new life and some help hiding the fact that I’m an ink magician, we belong to the elf that runs half of Prague. Some rumours say he runs half the continent.

There’s an art thief in town, and Fein’s decided it’s my job to find and stop them. I didn’t dare point out that I’m a tattoo magician, not a detective.

The real problem is, I’m terrified that this is a slippery slope, and I don’t like where it’s going.

Why did I pick this up?: This is the second book in Holly Evans’ Ink Born series, which I was lucky enough to get an ARC of from the author after reading and loving the first.

Good points: Keirn and Dacian = perfect. Tyn is adorable. Vyx is incredible and awesome and I wish I was more like her. Characterisation throughout this book is REALLY good. You really get into and feel for each different character as you read on. I read this book in the space of two days, happily between working on my own writing as a break, and it was the best break I could hope for. Urban fantasy at its best! It’s also set in gorgeous Prague, which is just perfect!

Quibbles: None that I can think of, really. Sometimes the plot moves very fast and I ran to keep up, but I sort of LIKED that.

Overall (TL;DR): Read it. Well, read the first one first. But still… definitely a great sequel.

I got an interview with Holly Evans, author of ‘Stolen Ink’!

“Who’s our first client?”

He curled his lip and looked up from his sketchbook. “Some prissy boy in an expensive suit.”

I read Stolen Ink a while ago, and absolutely LOVED it, and I’ve been lucky enough to get an interview with the author, Holly Evans. If you haven’t already, read this book. There will be links at the bottom of the page to the author’s Amazon page and Twitter for anyone interested, and you really should be. I reviewed ‘Stolen Ink’ here. I’m also now reading an ARC of the second book in this series, Blood and Ink, which is shaping up to be as good as the first! (review coming soon). Holly Evans has also written a series called Infernal Hunt, which is on my to-read list! So, without further ado…

1) What influenced and inspired you to write your novels?
Stolen Ink really came from my love of tattoos. I think they’re an incredible art form. I have two at the moment but I have plans for four more.
There are so many subconscious influences and inspirations buried in there. My fae come from the Celtic and Norse mythology, there are twists of course, but I adore the predatory tricksters that they had there. None of the fluffy Disney stuff. The really tight friendship between Dacian and Keirn (also the one between Evie and Elise in the Infernal Hunt books) comes from my friendship with my bestfriend. We’ve been through thick and thin, we’d do anything for each other. The city and setting comes mostly from Prague as I was living there when I wrote the IH books and Stolen Ink. It’s such a gorgeous, multi-faceted city. There are so many layers to explore, it’s hard not be inspired there.
I think one of the big things that influenced the books was the fact that I see a lot of people saying they don’t see enough platonic relationships in books. There’s so much focus on rivalry and romance. I wanted to show the strong familial and friendship bonds. That came through more in the IH books, but there’s plenty of time with Dacian and co. yet.

2) Most writers put themselves into their characters, to an extent. Out of your own characters, were there any in particular that you felt you identify with more than others? Were there any that you found yourself particularly liking or disliking as you wrote them?
I really love Vyx. She’s such a fire-cracker! She’s strong, self-assured, and yet still very definitely feminine. She loves her pretty dresses, she has quite a strong maternal instinct (as can be seen in her cooking for the hopeless boys), but she’ll still stare down an alpha wolf shifter. She isn’t the combat model so to speak, but that doesn’t take away any of her strength or fire, if anything it adds to it. And she doesn’t compensate for her lack of combat effectiveness with feminine wiles or overt sexuality because she’s very much asexual. She’s so much fun to write. Don’t get me wrong, I love kick-ass woman, Evie and co were fantastic to write, and my favourite women in fiction are all kick-ass, but Vyx is wonderful. She makes me smile so much.
As to those that I put myself into… Up until Stolen Ink I made very sure to strip out every scrap of myself from my fiction. I allowed something of myself to creep into Isa though. I have an abusive past and some of that came through with him. I like to hope that I have Isa’s strength. I identify with Dacian a bit as well, that feeling of wanting a quiet life but the gods just won’t quite allow it lol.

3) If you had a day in the world of Stolen Ink, what would you do and where would you go? Who would you be in that world?
That’s so hard!! I’d love to go up into the skies with the knowledge merchants. They enjoy such freedom flying around the world trading information and using their wits and wiles to get all they can from the world. I think I’d like to fly over Northern Africa and some of the magical cities over that with them. To see the cultures that are so different to my day to day life.
4) Are there any bits of worldbuilding that never made it into the book that you’d love to share with everyone? If so, what?
There’s so much! This world is huge. I’m planning another 4+ series in this world so there’s a lot left to explore and share yet. I adore the knowledge merchants, they’ll be shown in Blood & Ink. There’s another branch to the dreamwalkers that’re very cool too, I have a series planned with one of those as a protagonist. Where Ben was very much half in the dream world with his bright colours and vacant expression, the other branch is more military. They’re kick-ass investigators. Oh! And I want to share the non-magic cities where they have magical creatures in zoos to stare at. The ethics and views around that will be fun to look into. To see how they view magic so very differently to Dacian and co. There’s so, so, much left to share! I could go on for pages, but I think it’s best put into the books.

5) If there was something you want people to get from the books above anything else, what would it be?
Hmm. I think it’s probably the importance of your chosen family. The people that you pull around you, that you choose to give your all to. The relationships with those people are so important. As I mentioned above I think those relationships are quite often put aside in fiction, but, as scary as it is to open up to people and establish those bonds, they’re life-savers (literally) when you have them. Dacian has trouble trusting people, but the people around came through for him. When he opens up a bit more he’s so much happier and freer. It’s terrifying to do that, to take the risk, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s also worth putting our efforts into those bonds and being the best friends that we can be. It makes our lives richer.

6) What’s your next step? Tell us a little about the next thing you are planning to work on.
I’m currently writing Ink Bound (Ink Born 3). That continues Dacian’s story. After that I’m starting a new series, Hidden Alchemy. That follows the bisexual treasure-hunting alchemist Kaitlyn Felis. That’s set in the same world as Dacian and there will be a couple of cameos from Kaitlyn in Dacian’s books and vice versa. That’s far more an Indiana Jones type of book. I want to capture the adventure that I feel in the Stardust movie. Once those two series are established I’ll start my next series in the ink world. There are a few options for that, the dreamwalker I mentioned above, a blood magician, and there’s an air elemental that’s been calling to me for a while too. We’ll see what happens!

So, thank you to the wonderful Holly Evans for the interview, and for anyone who wants links to her work, here you go!
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Holly-Evans/e/B01ESEZALC
Twitter: Http://twitter.com/KhaosFoxe
-K Hart