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Maggie For Hire by Kate Danley

A great book to start off the new year! Amazon descriptions can often be a hit and miss affair but when I saw “WARNING: This book contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.”
Well, sign me up!

Maggie is a magical tracker, now going it alone after her Dad disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She can easily travel between our world and The Other Side, where every fairy tale and mythical creature you’ve ever thought of are hanging out. Her job is to track the reprobates and general baddies who have illegally skipped over to our world for nefarious reasons, and bring them back – usually kicking and screaming.
From the first sentence, you are immediately immersed into a fight between Maggie and a vampire. It’s only when he seems to get the upper hand that Killian the elf appears – to whom Maggie becomes begrudgingly indebted to. To clear the debt, she has to agree to save the world from vampires. Simple.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book (and have re-read it several times since I bought it in March).   Maggie is a brilliant, well rounded, character who kicks ass on a daily basis, and swears like a sailor on leave. As well as being kick ass, Maggie has a vulnerable side; she is wracked with guilt about her Dad and the consequences that led to her family moving to the Other Side. What’s more, she is standalone character – there isn’t a male romantic interest or some kind of romantic triangle; she stands on her own merits.
I feel that this is a particularly important feature, as so many urban fantasy books have lead female characters who are not only ‘incomplete’ without a male partner, but almost lacking because of it. All of a sudden a man comes along and automatically completes her, becoming the key to fulfilling her as a woman and the story. Maggie is her own woman. She is fulfilled, powerful and while she does have flaws and weaknesses, they are hers – and hers to fix and grow in spite of them. She doesn’t need to rely on a man’s presence to erase them.

The other thing that I really liked was that Danley covers things that are often overlooked in traditional urban fantasy books. For example, Maggie wears a neck protector which makes perfect sense. How many books with vamps in them have you read and thought ‘why the hell isn’t there some kind of neck guard for vampire hunters ?’ if you have a predator that keeps on going for your neck, of course you’d protect it, leaving it out just seems to be inviting trouble.

The other characters are equally as interesting. Killian is as ‘Other side’ as Maggie is ‘normal’ with peculiar turns of phrase and working for an elf Queen. I loved little details, like how he took ‘human dialects 401’ at University.  It’s these touches that I really enjoy. Maggie’s family are packed full of awesome too. Her Mum is a psychic and lives on the Other Side, where she reads tea leaves; while her twin sister is Maggie’s polar opposite, living in this world with no magical talents. Most mothers have their own brand of psychic ability when it comes to their children, but one who can read tea leaves must bring its own special chaos – and it does!

This book was an absolute joy to read. I found it very well written, with lots of little details which means you can still find fresh things to enjoy when re-reading it.   The characters are a delight too. I loved Maggie’s irreverent attitude, especially when it came to Killian – who is clearly God’s gift to ladies and used to it. I have been reading a lot of books recently and this has stood head and shoulders above them. Of course I ended up reading the whole series (reviews to come) and wasn’t disappointed. So, go ahead and get a copy – at the moment it is free too!

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Crikey, it’s been a while.  2014 has been kicking my ass.  However, with everything falling around me, there was one thing I could always rely on – my books. During long nights, when my body was falling apart, and when I just wanted to escape my brain and the pain in my heart, books were, and still are, my life line.  Soon I was whisked off to small towns in the US where an underestimated woman was revealing a murderer; or in Chicago falling in love with Harry Dresden; or kicking ass with the awesome Maggie MacKay as she battled beasties; or a sewing circle of friends unpicking local murders; or chuckling along with Abby as she tries to curb her swearing while kicking ass for the government with her psychic skills …

In the first 4 months of the year when sleep was almost impossible, I’d ‘chain read’ books during the night – as you can imagine I’d read a lot of books!  So I ended up reading more and more free and nearly-free ebooks and with that, exploring more of the mystery genre, spreading into sci-fi, crime and even steam punk.  It broadened my horizons from my bed.

Read all the books!

So often the free or nearly free ebooks are dismissed or criticised, but I saw them as gifts.  Writing books aren’t easy, and it’s not like the writer has the author gnome pop by while they are asleep, root about in their head and write up a book (spell checked of course) ready for them to find in the morning.  I was also acutely aware of how much time, energy and effort went into making these books, which made me appreciate them even more.

Bearing all this in mind, I decided that I’d like to include self published ebooks in this blog, not only to review them, but to talk about issues that concern them.  I’ve always realised that as a prolific reader, that recommending books and writing reviews is part of loving books in general. However for this new generation of ebooks, it is even more important that there is *vocal* support for authors.  I have been reading a lot of author books and it seems that people speaking up can make a difference, as many series have been stopped simply because there wasn’t enough interest.

So as well as my murder mystery books, which I will always love; I am just expanding things a little more.  If you know of any books or authors I should try – drop me a line or comment and let me know.

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