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

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Dreams and Shadows – C Robert Cargill Review

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Why did I pick this up?: Urban fantasy, a world of faeries close to ours, genies, a darker faery world? Not to mention the gorgeous cover. This book sounded like it was made for me… and spoiler alert, it met expectations!

Good points: This book had an incredible skill and craftsmanship about it. It’s been compared to Gaiman’s work, and I can see why. That underground world of magic fusing seamlessly with our own mundane world, creatures walking amongst us invisible. This book  was everything I wanted from an urban fantasy – it made me believe that maybe, just maybe, it might be real. I loved the dark and the weird: that’s my territory, and this checked all of my boxes.

Quibbles: Honestly, it’s a shame, but it took me a while to really get into it. Starting with the young Colby made me wonder for quite a long time where it was going, and if I’d even like it. I loved the little bits of information we got from the start about the magical world, but the characterisation of young Colby, not so much.

Overall (TL;DR): Please don’t put this down because you’re not sure where it’s going. I promise you, it’s going somewhere great. If you’re willing to come along for the ride, this book will take you to amazing places.

-K Hart

Small Favour – Jim Butcher Review

Progress on Alternate: In the hands of beta-readers

Current Review:

The Dresden Files #10, I believe. This book reminded me why I think Dresden is the exact sort of hero I’d be. Oh God, angels. Why am I doing this again? Just completely done and fed up with all of these external agencies pushing him around, but doing it anyway because he’d feel bad if he didn’t. Yeah, that would be me.

It’s getting so deep by this point. The stakes have been upped. I can’t help but wonder, though, why whenever urban fantasy ups the stakes, the angels are called. It’s always Heaven vs. Hell. Surely the highest stakes could be something different? I don’t know… it’s less a criticism and more a consideration.

Having said that, these angels are fun. Angelic vessels? Fallen angels? Weird coins? Well, you know, maybe the last one doesn’t excite many people, but you know. I never said I was normal. And as I said last time I reviewed a Dresden Files book, I love how much Molly is maturing. She’s sort of adorable and I want to keep her.

Less of Bob in this one. Fewer sleazy comments. But hey, Bob never struck me as an unpleasant sleazy… just… weird. And Dresden has a smart enough mouth to get past it.

Ivy is… quite frankly, adorable. I feel oddly protective of this little child. For anyone reading this review who hasn’t read previous Dresden Files books with Ivy in them, just… she’s cute. Take it from me. I want to wrap her in a blanket and take her away from everything. And even though I really disliked Kincaid at first, I’m coming to like him a lot more. Murphy, as always, is a goddess. I don’t have the rest of the series on my shelf yet (I know, it’s awful), but soon I’ll be trying to review the rest, as and when I get hold of them.

-K Hart

Trick of the Light – Rob Thurman

So I said I’d start doing book reviews, and since I read this and loved it so much…

To be fair, I started off a touch biased. I read Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series and loved it, particularly Robin Goodfellow. Also, I’m THAT PERSON. Give me ANYTHING based on mythology from any culture, and immediately you’ve got an ‘in’. Demons, angels, gods, mythical creatures, bring it on. That’s my thing.  Kevin Hearne is another of my favourite authors that do this.

So when I got this book and the sequel, ‘The Grimrose Path’ as a gift in the holidays, I knew I was getting somewhere.

Trixa, a Las Vegas bar owner with the typical badass attitude often reserved for male characters, is the sort of person you have to look up to. And laugh with, too. Watching women kick ass? You go, uhh… girl. In the least patronising way you can ever say that sense (hard, I know).

But for me, as ever, it was slightly more secondary characters I fell in love with. Zeke and Griffin. Zeke, quite frankly, was sort of oddly adorable. With very black and white thinking, he’s sometimes referred to as ‘psychopathic’, which as anyone who knows me will recognise, automatically put me on edge. Mental health wise, he was… not as much of a terrible charicature as I expected. Sure, some things were written oddly, but he was sweet and sympathetic despite that. And very quickly became one of my favourite characters. No joke. He’s on the list now…

Griffin… on the other hand. Bless his heart. I need him in my life. Gun-wielding, faint hints of a downright angelic bearing… Damn this guy. Life goals = Griffin.

So, again for anyone who knows me, all it takes to keep my interest is a character I love. Here, I loved almost all of them.

If I had to say anything against this book it was ‘again with the sexy demon dudes? Really?’, but this is borne from a long history of reading urban fantasy and also my own asexuality. Like, why do I care if the bad guy is attractive? But hey, I’m not going to crap on anyone’s potential fictional guy crushes.

So basically, thanks Rob Thurman. Entertaining, and definitely added to my bookshelves!

-K Hart

Angels, writing, and New Orleans voudou.

Well, have another update…

My current work in progress, Falling, is well on it’s way. I’m still going through the terrible task of sending out to literary agents for Alternate and being rejected…

But, as it will, my mind has latched on something new. I became, rather recently, fascinated by New Orleans and Haitian voudou. More specifically, with the Loa and the incredible tradition surrounding them.

As a writer, my first thought of course was ‘I need to write about this’. As a human being, my second was: ‘how do I do this and yet still retain the respect and reverence that the traditions deserve?’. So I am currently on a research-mad stint, where I am finding out anything and everything about the Loa. There is so little information out there that if any lovely folk wish to educate me further or direct me to information, I would be most grateful.

I’m also considering a trip to New Orleans. I can’t travel to Haiti. For one, it’s not in my budget. Secondly, I’m English and I’d melt in the weather… But since I have a planned trip to the US coming up, it would be great to be able to travel and do some talking to folk about the rich tradition. So advice on that also welcome!

Essentially, right now I know a decent amount… But I am still a tourist, an outsider. Yet I can’t be that if I wish to respect the tradition. I have to truly experience and know what I’m talking about.

Anyone out there?

– K Hart