Series: Heartstrikers # 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: July, 2014
Goodreads | Amazon CA / US / UK | Audible
As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.
Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.
He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons..
Rating: 5 / 5
Started: September 7th, 2016
Finished: October 10th, 2016
Wine Pairing: Beer..? Maybe? What do dragons drink? I’ll have one of those.
This book, right here, is the perfect example why we need book bloggers. I may never have found Julius and Marci if I hadn’t read Danya’s absolutely perfect and inspiring review, and that would be a sad world indeed.
So please, do yourself a favour and make your week – read Danya’s review and then go find this book wherever you can. You won’t regret it.
If you’re in the mood for a hot bad boy rebel protagonist, the geeky clumsy female love interest that we all relate to in one way or another, and action scenes that would put your perfected Level 923098 WoW Paladin to shame – well, you may need another book. And that’s perfectly fine! Those tropes are awesome and unashamedly make up more than a few of my favourites, and needing other books is the never-ending struggle for bookworms (or bookdragons if you prefer). But what about a book where the protagonist is a genuinely nice guy, the leading lady is independent, smart, and snarky, and the entire book is about how hard and rewarding it is to be a decent human being in a world that has thrived on manipulation, negativity, and segregation?
My friends, I present to you the book you never knew you needed.
Julius is the black sheep in his family of powerful, strong, manipulative dragons. The only reason he hasn’t been eaten yet is by keeping a low profile and not getting in anyone’s way. Unfortunately a dragon mother is even less approving of their son in their twenties still living at home, which is why Julius finds himself sleeping on his sister’s couch in the city where dragons are shot on sight. Thrust on a mission to prove himself worthy of being a dragon over kibble he gains the help of Marci, the awkward and eccentric mage who stands up for what she believes in and those she cares about. The duo make the cutest team since Luna and Neville, and their personality is only enhanced by the beautiful diversity of secondary characters. Crafted beautifully and narrated to perfection by Vikas Adam I couldn’t get enough.
… That description was terribly lacking, but I don’t think I could stop myself from raving about all the good parts without giving anything away. So how about instead I tell you what it was like to listen to Julius?
Begin listening experience:
The bus rolls up in front of you. It screeches slightly when the driver pumps the break a little too hard. With only a slight mumble under your breath, you mentally prepare yourself for the rough ride you know will ensue as the bus slows and turns onto the main street pot-marked like a thirteen year old boy’s chin. ‘Of course the roughest road is the road without traffic. It’s cheaper to pay for buses to go four-wheeling than it is to repair the roads,’ you think, and you can’t help the groan that escapes your lips when you’re re-acquainted with your seat. Repeatedly.
The next stop on your urban safari welcomes a dozen more commuters. You usually avoid eye contact, but today is the day destiny clothes-lines you. You glance up, make eye contact, and feel your stomach drop. Carrying four duffle bags, a dog, a trombone, and a cooler that you suspect is probably full of bricks sleeping on a bed of rotten eggs (because that would be just your luck), your worst nightmare of a commuter shuffles down the aisle, narrowly missing a great-great-great-grandmother. You pray to the gods you’ve denied (or created, no judgemnet) for them to sit anywhere else but here! But despite the two empty rows (three now) they plop down next to you, settling only after with a grunt and what seems like an infinite amount of readjustments and butt shuffling that we all know really means, ‘Move over – I need the other half of your seat and you’re obviously in my space.’ Rude.
You shove your hand in your bag, desperately searching for your phone as panic grips your heart when your fingers brush against your headphones. The stars and heavens have aligned for this – the moment you remember an audiobook recommendation you blindly decided to purchase after twelve and a half cups of coffee. Bruising your ears in the process you are now equipped with the listening buds of joy and slam play (sorry phone). It’s instant relief as you lean further into the wall – now on 34% of your seat – and enjoy the cascading feeling of falling into the DFZ. Where a crumbling residential, urban cityscape, or wild forest that was waving from outside your window before is now a dazzling futuristic and magical city built on the ruins of a ghost town: aka. Detroit, Michigan. High end designer shops and sparkling marble fountains preening to the High-Class blanket the dark undergrowth of a dead city, rough and crude in it’s diversity and history. Also the perfect place for a dragon and mage on the run to hide.
Bus long forgotten and seat space down to 27.64%, you cackle in a moment of bliss. Hours have passed but you weren’t going anywhere interesting anyway; you must be somewhere around the half-way mark because it’s far too late for you to stop. Your heart bubbles and your hands gain a life of their own as you try to smush your favourite characters together, resulting in an expression of maniacal joy staring into space and soundless clapping (dreams of percussion stardom have never failed you). But do you care? No. Of course not! Not when you just really need them to, ‘KISS ALREADY!’ Even though shouting was a little unnecessary there’s no regrets on your 79% of a seat. You don’t even mind that you’ve come full circle and vaguely acknowledge the off-roading street you’ve turned back on to with a nod of comradery.
“Don’t tell me the Pigeon Whisperer dragged you into one of his stupid schemes.”
Oh Bob, you crazy, lunatic, fortune telling quirky dragon. The fondness grows in your chest as you snort derisively while secretly wishing you could find your own Bob (or pigeon). The last action scene may have found you acting and cheering far too animatedly in your 159% of a seat and you smack your elbow on the window. Which is still there, by the way.
With that last snort you now have your own row to enjoy the rest of your audiobook. Level up!
End listening experience.
If you haven’t given up on this roller coaster of a review, high five for still reading! If I haven’t sold you on Nice Dragons Finish Last yet, you should really read Danya’s review. She’s far more eloquent and put together. Oh, and listen to the Audiobook snippet. If you’re not sold by then.. well.. how about The Graveyard Book?
You know you want to give Julius a chance to heal you. 😉
“Well, he’s not really my friend,” Julius admitted. “I don’t even know his real name, actually, but I was his healer in the game, and the bond between healer and tank runs deep.”