Indie Books

How To Tackle Your To-Be-Read List (And Read More Books You Love)

Last year, I rated The Wendy as one of my top indie reads! Now comes the sequel, The Navigator! Here is an excerpt from my review of The Wendy: "There is a difference between retelling a story and recapturing the essence which made it wonderful. This novel manages to do both."

NOT EVERY ADVENTURE GOES AS PLANNED…

In this eagerly awaited second volume of the acclaimed Tales of the Wendy series, Wendy’s troubles are far from over. Hook wants her in irons, the crew wants to throw her overboard, and Pan’s magical compass is the only thing standing in their way. But Pan himself is nowhere to be found.

When a new everlost captain appears on the horizon, it will take everything Wendy has to survive.

And a tiny red dragon will set events in motion that could save or doom them all.

I can't wait to read the continued story of Wendy and Her Boys! I know of a certain purple dragon in the previous book so I wonder if the red dragon will be another familiar face or a unique character.

Without further ado, here is the shiny cover!

Book Mail: Silent Lee and The Adventure Of The Side Door Key

The Heart Of The Curiosity is the latest novel from indie author H.L. Burke. I have been following along with the creation of this novel and I can't wait to read it. The characters are delightful, I detect a hint of romance and a mystery worth solving! Just look at that beautiful cover! The preorder links are below the description! The release date for the book is June 27th.

The secret lies with the Heart.

Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora's only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd's mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.

Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity's sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater's stagemistress, is the key to finding it.

While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.

Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes and National Treasure, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from H. L. Burke.

Pre-Order links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Kobo

Autographed paperback

Goodreads

COVER REVEAL: The New Electrical Menagerie

Encircled is an upcoming Anthology by the Ever Afters group set to be released on April 16th! Scroll down to see the beautiful cover!

Experience six of the world's most beloved stories in a whole new light! From historical to futuristic, these retellings will take you to an enchanted forest, a cursed castle, and far beyond. Uncover secrets of a forbidden basement, a hypnotic gift, and a mysterious doll. Fall in love with a lifelong friend or brand-new crush. Venture to unknown lands on a quest to save a prince, a kingdom, or maybe even a planet. With moments of humor, suspense, romance, and adventure, Encircled has something to offer every fan of fairy tales, both classic and reimagined.

This anthology features stories from S.E. Clancy, Jebraun Clifford, J.M. Hackman, E.J. Kitchens, Laurie Lucking, and Tori V. Rainn.

You can preorder this book for $1.99!

Amazon
Kobo

COVER REVEAL: The New Electrical Menagerie

The Electrical Menagerie is a lovely book by indie author Mollie E. Reeder. I've written a full length review here and included this book in my top ten best indie author books I read in 2018. This year the author comissed a new cover by artist Kirk DouPonce from DogEared Designs. I am in love with the new cover for this novel! I think it reflects the magical uplifting story contained within.

For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades.

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie's bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there's more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.

Tell me what you think about the new cover in the comments below!

Indie Reads

Last year I challenged myself to read more fantasy and more indie authors. It was so much fun that this year I have challenged myself to read only fantasy (for as long as possible) to stay inspired for my novel Rise Of The Shadow Lord. This has been equal parts difficult and easy. Why? Well, I usually read scifi so the temptation to read what I'm comfortable with is high. But it has also been easy because of the weath of delightfully good indie fantasy books.

Last month I read three indie fantasy books, each one just as good as the last.

Pippa of Lauramore by Shari L. Tapscott

Pippa of Lauramore is a delightful fantasy romance novel I am going to be recommending to anyone who likes romance with great character arcs and twists you may not see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed the growth of the main character Princess Pippa as she went from judging everyone, feeling like she was always being treated unfairly, and trying to meddle to someone who realized she had treated others unfairly, first impressions aren't always what they seem, and sometimes you should leave well enough alone. I loved each of the knights, but Irving made me laugh out loud many times and Dristen made me aww, so I'd pick either one of them. Archer was brilliant and honorable. Rigel was great and I had him figured out after a few scenes, but it didn't make it any less sweet when his pure and honorable intentions were revealed. Lionel is delightfully despicable. I can see myself rereading this book in the future and I added the rest of this series to my TBR list!

Best For: Laughing out loud. Great character development.

A Gift of Poison by

You know that feeling you get when you finish a good book and now don't know what do to with your life? Well, I finished this story in one sitting, not because it is small, but because it is amazingly wonderful! I love each of the complex characters who have their own burdens and their character growth. The mystery!! Briand is such a great scrappy character who is constantly underestimated and misjudged, but learns to earn the trust of those around her. That twist at the end nearly gutted me. I couldn't believe it. I almost wanted to start reading this book again right after I finished it! I was so happy to see this the first in a series. 

Best For: Complex characters. Gut wretching twists.

Such A Secret Place by

Let's be honest here, this cover is gorgeous and totally what made me want this book. I enjoyed reading this book. It is refreshing to have a heroine who starts at zero and has to fight for every ounce of advantage she can. There is a lot of back story here, but it is revealed layer by layer in little bite-size pieces as the plot continues. It might seem like it starts slow, but everything that happens, in the beginning, sets up the rest of the story on solid foundations. There was a point towards the end when I realized there wasn't enough pages to wrap up all of the plot points and I wanted to slow down reading so I could savor the ending. But I also needed to know what happened ASAP.

A fully imagined world with a unique magic system. If you like YA Dystopic Fantasy, you'll enjoy this book. I have the next two books on my TBR list!

Best For: The Cover. <3 Great character growth.

What was your favorite fantasy read in 2019?

#FantasyMonth Blog Tour:

February 1

Jenelle Schmidt - Tour Schedule
Selina J. Eckert - Fantasy Favorites

February 4

Crystal Crawford - World Building
Katy Huth Jones - Book Review

February 5

Deep Magic - Fantasy Favorites
Jenelle Schmidt - A Game of Tag
Laura VanArendonk Baugh - Research and Writing Fantasy
Elizabeth Koetsier

February 6

Nicki Chapelway

February 7

Jenelle Schmidt - Author Spotlight: Terry Brooks

February 8

Kyle Robert Shultz - Non-Human Characters

February 9

Amelia Nichole
Lila Kims

February 11

Katy Huth Jones – Book Review
Crystal Crawford
Savannah Jezowski

February 12

Laurie Lucking
Jenelle Schmidt

February 13

Nicki Chapelway

February 14

Melissa Rose Gardiner
Jenelle Schmidt

February 15

Selina J. Eckert

February 16

Amelia Nichole
Laura Matthias Bendoly

February 18

Katy Huth Jones - Book Review
Crystal Crawford

February 19

Jenelle Schmidt

February 20

Nicki Chapelway
Kendra E. Ardnek

February 21

DJ Edwardson
Jenelle Schmidt
Jackie Castle

February 22

Kyle Robert Shultz

February 23

T.R. Gemmell

February 25

Katy Huth Jones - Book Review
Savannah Jezowski

February 26

Jenelle Schmidt

February 27

Nicki Chapelway

February 28

Nicola Pike
Lauricia Matuska
Jenelle Schmidt

Indie Reads

I was inspired by a fellow writer to post my top indie books that I read in 2018. Here is my top ten indie reads in 2018!

10. Begger Magic by H. L. Burke

This is a lovely story about doing what is right not because you want the praise or the fame, but because it is the right thing to do. This book features a wonderful friendship, a dash of romance, and a gripping mystery. The main character has a good moral compass and that isn't always easy to find in novel nowadays. I also loved the deaf love interest, he is adorable. This book features a unique (to me) magic system that I enjoyed quite I bit.

9. Claus: Legend of the Fat Man (Available for free)

I got this book in an anthology of Twisted Fairytales. I missed the title page so I had no idea what I was reading, nor what I was getting into. If you would have told me this novel was about Santa Claus I might have stayed away. I am glad I didn't know, because this is an awesome family friendly novel with genuinely good worldbuilding. A scifi twist on Santa Claus perfect for the holidays!

8. Cora and The Nurse Dragon by H. L. Burke

(Available for free on Kindle Unlimited)

I love this book. It one of three books in the world that fill me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Delightful from beginning to end! It fulfills every fantasy fans dream of hatching a special dragon.

7. Windswept by Sarah Delena White

(Available for free on Kindle Unlimited)

A lovely short story about empowerment and love. Felt like it could be right there on the shelf with other traditional fairytales. Can't wait to read this authors main series.

6. Ursa Kane by Stacy Bender

Ursa Kane is a great book! The main character is one of the few true modern warrior princesses that I have read in fiction. She's a women and a warrior, and there are no compromises. The plot was gripping and it had a satisfying conclusion. It has helped inspire my own characters. I will be reading this one again!

5. Dragon School Series by Sarah. K. L. Wilson

(Available for free on Kindle Unlimited)

A series of short novella like episodes. Easy to read on the go or during breaks. I haven't finished the series, but I read the first six books in two days. These short novels are about 150 pages long and have a complete plot arch. They also manage to end on a cliffhanger at the same time.

The first book follows the adventure of Amel, a crippled girl who decides to leave her family and become a dragon rider. She feels like a burden to her large family since she cannot help out with the farm chores, and no one will marry her. The Dragon School must accept anyone who wants to join as a dragon rider or as a servant.

When it comes time to choose her dragon, the dragon chooses her instead. Raolcan, the purple dragon, is the highlight of each book. A sassy dragon, who underneath all of his scales, truly cares for Amel.

4. A Keepers Tale: Tomkin and the Dragon by J.A. Andrews

(Available for free on Kindle Unlimited)

This is a great fantasy story for all ages, I can't wait to read this author's series of books! Tomkin is not your usual hero, but I love him for it. It feels more like a real life fairytale with real heroes and real consequences.

As someone who likes fairytale retellings, I noticed what seemed like a few tropes you'll find in those stories, but this book turned them on their head and had them doing cartwheels. ;)

I want to say so much more, but it would be spoilers. I'll be reading this one again. And if you haven't read this one, you should. I also bought the main series by the author which I can't wait to read!

3. Windwalker: Forbidden Flight by H. G. Chambers

I love the rich world building, the sand, the characters, the birds! The author has created a tangible fantasy world with filled with a vibrate culture who have their own unique mythology. I know strong female character can sound like a buzz word, but I really felt like this story portrayed a very real person who was strong in spirit and in action while staying true to her femininity.

And now my top two favorite indie reads from 2018...

Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder

The characters are heartwarming, larger than life and real all at the same time. A futuristic fantasy world of magicians and traveling sideshows, a world where trains run on stardust and travel on invisible rails in the sky. The Electrical Menagerie is a fantastical tale that at the same time has such a realness to it, that you almost feel like you could go there. This book leaves you with a big smile on your face. This novel earned a spot on my favorite novels of all time list.  Read my full review here.

The Wendy

There is a difference between retelling a story and recapturing the essence which made it wonderful. This novel manages to do both. It warmed my heart and made my laugh in every chapter. This novel earned a spot on my favorite novels of all time list. 

I hope you enjoyed my list of my top ten indie reads in 2018! What was your favorite books of this year?

#WIPJoy Writer Question

The first thing that made me want to read this book is the cover. The second thing that told me I was going to read this book was the fact that it was compared to The Greatest Showman. I just watched that movie and loved it. The third thing was at least five other readers I follow adding glowing reviews.

So I put down my Star Trek book and picked up my brother's kindle. I hoped this was the kind of book which made my imagination soar, the kind of book that I talk to my friends about until they get sick of it or read it and join in my excitement, and it was even better. 

Here is the description from the back of the book:
For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades.

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie's bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there's more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.

 
Let's start with the characters: Heartwarming, larger than life and real all at the same time. Carthage is the aging magician and illusionist inventor. I would seriously love to be his assistant inventor. Huxley is that relatable character, the Edmond from Narnia, the underdog who finds his way and by the end of the book I wanted to hug him.
 
Something else that I love about this book is the depth of the world, it has its own unique religion, political parties, and technology. A world where trains run on stardust and travel on invisible rails in the sky that somehow has a facet of reality at its core, making you feel like you could travel there if you tried hard enough.
 
This book left a smile on my face, but also a hole in my heart where no other book will do. Imagine my delight when I flipped the page and there was a link to a short story of one of their adventures. It was like that last bite, the dessert after a delicious meal, the icing on the cake. I know this book has just been released, but I'm already waiting for the next book.

 
Indie Reads

I received an ARC Irresistible World Building For Unforgettable Stories by Janeen Ippolito in return for a honest review.

Here is the book blurb:

Write stories with worlds that create lifelong fans and fandoms!

Irresistible World Building for Unforgettable Stories contains key methods and tips on how to weave your world building into every aspect of your story, from theme to plot to character arcs. 

-Use writing prompts and exercises to jumpstart your creativity
-Get ideas on how to refresh world building genre tropes while still hitting reader sweet spots
-Learn to embrace your inner geek and passions to connect your world building with readers

Vivid world building is great. Vivid world building that sells? Even better!

This book really delivers on the title in all the right ways. It starts with an in-depth explaination of different writing terms. Each section gives you gives many, many questions to help you figure out what your character, worldview, and narrative is for your book which is absolutely invaluble.

This isn't someone trying to give you a few premade plans, this is a workbook that walks you through the step by step process of figuring out your world. It helps you to weave your worldbuilding right into your story with questions to ponder and figure out.

I have been looking for a book like this and I am so glad Janeen has written it. :) Click here to buy it on Amazon.

Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-imagined

Last week I was introduced to the Dragon School short novel series by Sarah K. L. Wilson. I read the first six books in two days! These short novels are about 150 pages long and have a complete plot arch. They also manage to end on a cliffhanger at the same time.

The first book follows the adventure of Amel, a crippled girl who decides to leave her family and become a dragon rider. She feels like a burden to her large family since she cannot help out with the farm chores, and no one will marry her. The Dragon School must accept anyone who wants to join as a dragon rider or as a servant.

When it comes time to choose her dragon, the dragon chooses her instead. Raolcan, the purple dragon, is the highlight of each book. A sassy dragon, who underneath all of his scales, truly cares for Amel.

I honestly love the world Sarah has created in this short novel series. I found myself cheering for Amel through the whole book. I actually laughed out loud at some of the things the dragon said.

Don't think just because Amel is in school this book doesn't have intense action packed scenes.

New "episodes" are released every 18 days and the latest one was released on the 30th. I'll be posting a review of the second book soon!

Dragon School Books:

   

The books are available on Kindle Unlimited or for $.99 each. They are well worth the price. :)

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