It’s been nearly two years since I did an indie author appreciation piece, so I figured I’m long overdue. Though I’ve read many indie books since last time, it would be impossible to feature them all in this post. Therefore, I’m going to focus on my favourites/those that gave me a lasting impression. Some of these might be fairly popular, others are hidden gems.
Whatever category they fall into or whether it’s somewhere in between, today they get to bask in the spotlight–and hopefully in so doing, they’ll find more readers to enjoy them.
If you haven’t read my previous installments, check them out!
Now, without further ado… Let’s get into it, shall we?
First up: The Boy With the Thorn in His Side (series) by Chantelle Atkins!
I’ve read the first four books (as I believe the fifth is not yet available), and I cannot begin to dive into what drew me to this series. Firstly, disclaimer: This series deals heavily with themes of parental abuse and drug use, so if either of these are triggering to you, you might want to avoid this series. If, however, you’re still intrigued, then please feel free to read on. I’ve put the summary below:
‘I don’t have my headphones on yet, but the music is always there. I have a constant walking soundtrack to my life, you see. There is a song for everything.’
In the decade of Grunge and Britpop, 13-year-old music fan Danny is on a mission to deter unsuitable men from his beautiful single mother. With best friend Michael on board and first love on the horizon, things are looking good. But the good times are shattered when powerful nightclub owner Lee Howard sweeps Danny’s mother off her feet. Howard is a dangerous man who has twisted plans for Danny…Told from both Danny and Howard’s points of view, who is Howard and what does he ultimately want? As Danny seeks escape through music, he finds a loyal ally in troublemaker Michael, but are they making an enemy of a man who will be a thorn in their sides for years to come?
A dark and powerful drama about friendship, music and the choice between escaping or fighting back.
Without going into too much detail, this was probably one of my favourite reads last year. It was emotionally scarring and sometimes difficult to get through for personal reasons I won’t explain, but at the end of it all, it was positively cathartic. I found Danny, the MC to be quite relatable at times, and his appreciation for music–not just the “I love music” but the deep down in your bones adoration for it–really spoke to me. His struggles with his step-father were likewise relatable, perhaps too much so at times, which ensured I was very much emotionally invested in the outcome.
If you pick up this series though, be sure you’re in it for the long haul, because it takes quite awhile for certain things to unfold to their inevitable, satisfying conclusion.
This is honestly some of the best writing I’ve come across where emotion is concerned, and particularly the believability of the characters within these pages. So if it sounds interesting to you, I really hope you’ll give it a chance.
Next up is something a little less heavy, yet no less enjoyable–Reyr the Gold, Book Two in Melissa Mitchell’s Dragonwall Series.
If you’re a lover of fantasy, particularly dragon-rider, this series might very well be up your alley. Much as I loved Talon the Black, Reyr the Gold is where things really take off. Talon the Black set the stage and gave us a pretty solid view of the characters–Reyr the Gold expands on this, as any good sequel should, and raises the stakes. To give you an idea of what this story is about, I’ve included the synopsis below:
After fulfilling an Unbreakable Promise to Cyrus, Claire has finally accepted her new life in Dragonwall. She has a new Promise and purpose—one she created for herself. She must save Dragonwall, that much is certain. What isn’t so certain, is how she will achieve this end. Powerful magic courses through her veins, and she has no idea how to control it. Mastering magic isn’t Claire’s only challenge. She constantly finds herself at odds with Dragonwall’s king. They both understand that to succeed, they must work together. This isn’t so easy when Claire secretly harbors a grudge against King Talon. Likewise, King Talon struggles to man-up and apologize for his destructive behavior. When their emotions collide, leading to a dangerous turn of events, King Talon becomes Claire’s only hope. They both must overcome their feelings and realize what is more important: each other. Dragonwall is relying on them. In this second installment of the Dragonwall Series, our story continues where Talon the Black left off. Join Claire in her quest to defeat Dragonwall’s evilest sorcerer and save Dragonwall from the pearl he intends.
If you have a taste for uneasy alliances, slow-burn romance, gradual character growth, and exciting battles, this series will not disappoint. Excellent writing and highly recommended.
Next up: Sins of the Sea by Laila Winters
How do I love this book? Let me count the ways:
- Pulse-pounding nautical adventure? Check.
- Sweet-tempered heroine with a steel resolve? Check.
- Snarky, smart-mouthed male MC that is equal parts exasperating and amusing? Check.
- Intriguing, diverse supporting characters bearing as much depth as the MCs? Check.
- Prose that keeps those pages turning? Check.
Honestly, there’s a lot I enjoyed about this series, but if I went into every little detail, we’d be here all day. But don’t take my word for it–check out the summary and see for yourself if this is a book you’d like to get your hot little hands on.
The Sonamire Empire and the Kingdom of Dyn have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. But when the fighting comes to an end, Sonamire’s seventeen-year-old princess, Sol Rosebone, suddenly finds herself as the political bridge between their territories. Betrothed to an enemy prince known to kill men for sport, Sol flees from her home with nothing more than a direwolf trained to protect her, and Magic she can’t control.
When the irresistibly charming—and only slightly arrogant—Fynn Cardinal rescues her from a man intending to sell her as a slave, Sol is whisked away onto a pirate ship known as the Refuge. Fynn’s rag-tag crew of runaway teens welcomes her with open arms, but only because Sol’s keeping secrets: she doesn’t tell them about her Magic, and she certainly doesn’t tell them she’s a princess.
As the Captain of the Refuge, Fynn’s keeping secrets of his own.
All he’s ever wanted was to sail the Emerald Sea and search for the legendary Dragon’s Heart, the rumored source of all Magic. In a race to find the Heart before Sol’s wicked betrothed, who plans to use its power to eradicate Sonamire from existence, Fynn drags Sol along to aid in his hunt for the treasure. But Fynn soon realizes there might be more to Sol than meets the eye, and she might just be the key to finding what Fynn has been looking for.
If you love fantasy political intrigue, magic, and in-depth worldbuilding, give Sins of the Sea a try. You may be glad that you did.
Next, Reciprocity by Sean M. Locke.
This book was such a fantastic blend of things I love: mobsters, sci-fi, kickass heroines that aren’t try-hards, but genuinely badass, and a gritty, criminal underworld atmosphere. I didn’t realize I’d love this book as much as I did until I was finished, leaving me feeling empty. The writing is crisp, the dialogue is smart and realistic, and there was never a dull moment.
Here’s the summary for some context:
All Kaeri Hawen wants is a peaceful life in the Lower Terrace. No more collecting debts. No more breaking kneecaps.
But then the Boss’s loose cannon of a son massacres a dozen rival gangsters with a single pull of the trigger. Kaeri’s quiet retirement is off the menu—for now.
Kaeri knows she’ll get no rest if this looming gang war erupts into the streets. If she wants out of her life of crime, she’ll have to stop Kasper and his devilish weapon first.
Maria Cantabile is a clever young noblewoman with a penchant for tinkering and a devastating right cross. She’s descended into the Lower Terrace to retrieve two precious possessions: her delinquent little sister, and the stolen prototype of her reciprocating repeater carbine.
Kaeri knows just where to find both—the girl and the gun sit in Kasper’s greedy, bloodied hands.
The deadly noblewoman and the gold-hearted gangster will have to work together to stop a city-wide bloodbath. They’ll have to break their own rules, and betray their own families. They’ll have to risk falling in love. Do they have what it takes to save the Lower Terrace, and save each other?
Next up, The Darkest Star by Ellicia Dawn!
If you’re looking for a modern vampiric tale with strong leanings towards classic Dracula lore, look no further. This book focuses on three women who move back to their small town to start anew–largely to save the one friend from an abusive relationship. Naturally, not everything goes as planned. Between Amanda’s ex stalking them and the strange crypt they’ve found in the basement of the school they’re repurposing, things take a terrifying turn for the worst.
If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, please give it a try–Ellicia is a wonderful, talented author, and her writing deserves so much more attention than it gets.
Though I have many others I’d like to add, I’m going to wrap this entry up with a hidden gem poetry collection; Jackrabbit by Book Cliff Poets.
Because this was a local project for the writers, you might be hardpressed to find a copy just anywhere. However, I do have a link to their FB page; so if you’re interested in reading a variety of poems, feel free to get in touch with them and I’m sure they’d be more than happy to accommodate you.
Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/NTakHPL/
Well, that’s it for this installment–but never fear, there will be more in the future. So stay tuned!
Until next time, stay safe and keep pursuing those dreams, whatever they may be.