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

Keeper of the Dawn – Dianna Gunn Review

Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Why did I pick this up?: There was a call on Twitter for people to read an ARC of this, especially bloggers who are on the aromantic or the asexual spectrum (or both, like me!). I jumped in and ta dah! ARC.

Good points: This is a cute little story, nicely written, reminiscent of the likes of Tamora Pierce and that vein. Perfect for me, of course, since I love Tamora Pierce. There was nicely done asexual representation that may even have been aromantic as well, although the words were never used. I loved that there was a discussion between the characters about boundaries and what they wanted. Also, cute female/female relationship, yes please!

Quibbles: Few, really. I think perhaps the story could have been expanded further, but then, I’m not used to reading novellas, so that could be the novel reader in me talking. Other than that, nothing. It was an interesting read that I managed in the space of a few hours.

Overview (TL;DR): A nice, quick fantasy read with some asexual and same-sex relationship rep. What more could a girl want?

-K Hart

House of Binding Thorns – Aliette De Bodard Review

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal – to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom – and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear . . .

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength – or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

Why did I pick this up?: Okay, so this one is the second book in a series and I read the first a while back, where it is now sitting on my shelf smugly demanding to be joined by its partner. I picked up the first because Paris, fallen angels, magic, LGBT, dragons, fantasy? You’ve got me there.

Good points: I have to talk about it… Madeleine’s addiction. That was done SO WELL. So well-written, in fact, that I could see bits of people I’ve known within it. (For reference, I used to volunteer in addiction services, so I know where I’m coming from). The relationships between characters were incredible. I won’t give spoilers, but there’s something that happens throughout the book, accumulating right at the end, that is so much a twisted and so easily toxic and dark relationship and I hate it but I love it at the same time. Thuan’s growth throughout is amazing, as is the determination of Phillippe… the ruthlessness of the Hawthorne house… I could talk for hours, but this is supposed to be a short review.

Quibbles: Seriously? I’m struggling hard. All I can say is that it’s very political. Which to me is a good point, but to some of the people who like similar things to me, might get boring. Honestly, though, it was done so well it didn’t matter.

Overall (TL;DR): Do read. Maybe read the first book first (The House of Shattered Wings), but absolutely this book did not disappoint!

-K Hart

Stolen Ink – Holly Evans Review

I’m Dacian, a tattoo magician, and my life went from my biggest concern being finding a pretty guy to fall into bed with at the end of the week to everything falling apart around me.

There are two problems in my life.

Number one – I’m an ink magician, the thing of myths. A lot of very powerful people would love to get their hands on me, and I have no intention of letting that happen.

Number two – A tattoo thief came to my city, and the magical community has decided that I’m the guy to stop them.

Somehow, I have to catch the thief without letting my secret out of the bag, and that’s even harder than it sounds.

Why did I pick this up?: LGBT+ ink magician? Urban fantasy? OF COURSE I was going to pick this up, and I wasn’t at all disappointed. I got what I came for and more.

Good points:  Isiah! I fell in love with this character from the first moment he appeared. Elves! Magicians! Tattoo magic! Vyx! Potentially asexual representation! Gay characters! Badass vixen hybrids! Snarky sarcasm. This was practically my perfect book. Vyx and Isiah I particularly fell in love with.

Quibbles: I had a panic mid-book thinking that there was going to be a sex scene, but there was all of the lead-up to sex and then a fade to black. THANK YOU SO MUCH HOLLY EVANS. I LOVE fade to black, because it saves me from having to read the gross details. So anyone like me, who moves away from sex automatically, know that this book is mostly safe for you!

Overall (TL:DR): READ IT. I absolutely loved it and have already prodded several friends to read it.

-K Hart