Book reviews

Review: Hearts Before Diamonds by Bryan Fields

Hearts Before Diamonds by Bryan Fields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the latest in my “You Haven’t Read This Yet? You Should!” review series.

“Hearts Before Diamonds” impressed me, and I am not easily impressed. Easily pleased, yes, and willing to overlook flaws in the interest of expanding my reading horizons, but not impressed. I don’t often rate titles above 3 stars. (No, not even my own.)

When I do get excited, you can bet that some exacting high standards for a lot of picky details have been unexpectedly exceeded.

Intriguing premise? Check.
Clever dialogue free from jarring anachronisms or stilted phrasing? Check.
Entertaining, original tale, built with classic storytelling techniques? Check and check.
Polished, smooth writing free of spelling, grammar and usage errors? Check, check, and check.

Add those exceptional delights to a rollicking plot that blends the feel of a stiff-upper-lip British adventure novel with the tropes of a hard-boiled PI novel, sprinkle in some modern attitudes without damaging the authenticity of the setting, and you get … a GEM of a story. Pun intended. Of course.

It’s only a short story, but the world-building and the character development have more than enough strength to hold up a much larger plot. I enjoyed it from start to too-soon-reached finish, and I hope to see more of the main character soon. Bonus claps for a title and an eye-catching cover that evoke elements of the story without giving away plot.

Hearts Before Diamonds is currently 99 cents on Amazon, and it’s well worth every penny.  Gets yours here: Hearts Before Diamonds

The author’s full-length urban fantasy novel is also available for sale. Go buy them now. Seriously.

View all my reviews (on Goodreads)

Book reviews

Review: Ash to Embers by C. V. Larkin


You Haven’t Read This Yet. You Should.

If I wanted to write a review series that focused on ebooks by indie authors, that’s what I would call it.

Since that’s exactly what I’m doing, consider the title chosen, and here’s the first installment.

Ash to Embers by C.V. Larkin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you like your urban fantasy on the gritty side, if you want plotting that pulls no punches, characters who refuse to let their damages hold them back, and a storyline that sprints from crisis to crisis with barely a break, (I do! I do!) then grab this title as fast as you can.

The author drops you right into the middle of Tian & Sio’s lives and lets you pick up the pieces of the story as you ride along from adventure to fight to confrontation. The fancy reviewers call that ‘in media res.’ I call it a rocking good time. I wouldn’t recommend this as a first introduction to the world of modern Fae stories, because none of the mythological terminology or personalities are given much background, but as long as the reader has a passing familiarity with folklore and the idea of the Seelie & Unseelie courts, the action will carry the day.

And oh, is there action! Thumping fights, steamy sex (I would put this at a firmly adult rating, pun intentional, oh, my yes…) long-running conspiracies and hidden pasts that come to light. You’ll get all that and more. Tian and Sio are complicated people, and their friends & allies are fully-realized people with their own problems and motives. There’s plenty of room for more stories in this world, and I’m looking forward to the next.

Nitpicky details paragraph: it’s not a polished gem of editorial perfection, although it gets close. Admirably close. The premise was on the murky side due to the total lack of exposition. There’s a gray area between building mystery and reader confusion, and plot revelations were heavily weighted to the end of the story. The use of of slang description in narrative sometimes went from entertaining to jarring, for me, especially when a paragraph would use two synonyms for face and never say face, f’rex. Sometimes it’s cool when a character has to “wrap his brain around” something, but sometimes the extravagance would jar me out of my immersion in the world.

There. That’s my due diligence on critical elements. Now, proceed straight to the “buy” button on Amazon, click, and enjoy the heck out of this dark, brutal, bloody, sexy delightful read.

View all my reviews