Indie Reads

Indie Reads

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

Quelling by Angie Grigaliunas has been released!!

Stay low, act loyal, and don’t drawn attention.

For years, Rabreah has longed to overthrow the power-abusing Hulcondans who control her city. Yet in the wake of an unauthorized rebel attack, Lord Masrekah takes over the hunt for the “terrorists” – and it’s only a matter of time until he figures out her secret. If he hasn’t already. And while Rabreah finds relief in Sorek’s return, his easy infiltration of the enemy ushers in questions of where exactly his loyalties lie.

Unaware of her sister’s double life, Ariliah continues to support the Hulcondans. But as the city spirals into violence, everything she’s ever believed starts to unravel. Afraid to confront her doubts, she clings to her splintering trust and a dangerous new connection.

Yet the more the Hulcondans bear down on the resistance and its allies, the clearer the truth becomes: there aren’t just two sides, the greatest enemies may lurk inside the city, and even the most faithful supporter has a breaking point.

I read the first book, Sowing, in a day, not because it is short, but because it grips you round the neck and doesn't let go. The pacing is fast and never keeps you waiting long for something interesting to happen.

Sowing is a novel set in a dark dystopic world where the Hulcondans control everything to protect the people from the evil Itzalin. Or at least that is what they want you to think.

The story is about two sisters, Ariliah and Rabreah. Ariliah is fifteen and trusts the Hulcondans to protect her. Rebreah is eighteen and has more experience with the Hulcondans, one of the most powerful in particular. To put it mildly, she isn't as trusting of them as her younger sister.

I felt so many emotions through the course of the book. By the end of almost every Ari chapter I was almost convinced the Hulcondans were good. Then by the end of Rab's chapters I was ready to fight them.

I want to know more about the Itzalin. While the story the Hulcondans tell seems convincing enough, I have a feeling there is a lot more to the strange orc/elf people.

World building wise, this felt solid, like you could travel there and see the same buildings described, the square, the Burrow (market), the meadow, their cottage.

Some of my favorite scenes are the banter between Sorek and Rebreah. I also wouldn't mind seeing more Ariliah and Sorek in the next book, they are sweet in a younger sister / older brother kind of way.

Some other the other major characters include the serial smirker Lord Masrekah and the sarcastic Sorek. These two have me serious conflicted. No one in this story is an angel, but some are better than others. Mas and Ari are almost too cute, seeing this high and mighty lord totally melt around Ari is equal parts adorable and scary. However Hikah seems to be a good fit for Ari, he seems nice and would give her a life she would enjoy. I have my suspicions about him.

Sorek though. Man, great character, but I do not trust that guy as far as I could throw him and I am terrible at throwing things.

So my verdict? If you like fantasy, dystopia, or character driven stories, this is the series for you.

If you haven't read Sowing, you can also get it here:

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.

Indie Reads

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. :)

Steve Lang says...

I was offered the chance to review the brand new short story Circe: The Beginning by indie author Lisa Morrow.

A short story set in a dystopic future world, Circe: The Beginning asks the question, what would you do in the pursuit of beauty? How far would you go to change your life?

Description from Kindle:

“Impressions can be deceiving. The world has taught Connie that. Monsters don’t hide in shadows or under beds, like she believed as a little girl. Instead, they walk in broad daylight with handsome faces and warm smiles. What’s worse, the nightmares they awaken within her are memories rather than creations of her own imagination.

But, what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Connie and The Revolutionists think they have the answer. An idea that will finally make things fair. Unless they’re wrong. Will the new world be any better than the old, or will Connie find she’s made the worst mistake of her life?”

I enjoyed the subtle allusions to Greek mythology from Circe’s name (the goddess of magic in the story of Odysseus) to the shocking ending that I won't spoil for you!

Since this is the prequel to the True Souls series, I am looking forward to her going more in depth with the characters so you can really understand their motivations (good, bad or otherwise!). I think the author has set up an exciting world, and it will be interesting to see her explore the ideas to their conclusion.

If you are looking for a quick read and enjoy epic fantasy movies with a mythology setting (like Gods Of Egypt or Clash of the Titans), this might be the story for you!

It's now available on KU for free!

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