Being a reviewer on the website Read2Review , I’ve had the chance to read the works of some truly talented writers. Don’t get me wrong, I do like to settle down with a good book now and then, writing by one of the mainstream authors – but I have a special affinity for indie authors, probably because I am one myself.
Indie authors used to get painfully overlooked in the days before – but thankfully these days, readers are more open to trying new things. With technology advanced in such a way that people can release their books dirt cheap – or even give them away for free, readers are able to discover hidden gems and new talent. What I love about indie authors is the way that they can put out the story the way THEY intended to, without any input from a publisher or agent. And I think this is great.
Whilst I always go into a review with the purpose of being unbiased, I do occasionally find authors that I just fall in love with and books that I find are just so effortless and enjoyable to read. Therefore, in a slight change to my usual Top Five Tips, I’m going to showcase the five indie novels that I think you should be checking out. I’ve tried to mix and match the genres a little so that I don’t talk about the same thing, so there should be something for everyone here. Some of these authors are published through small publishing companies – but for the sake of argument I am including them as indie authors (because indie authors doesn’t necessarily mean self published in my opinion, any author that is published through a lesser known publishing house can be considered indie).
So, here we go. These are the five books and authors that I think you should be checking out. I’ll also include a few links to check them out yourself.
1. A Ranger’s Tale by Mysti Parker
Ok, I’ll admit it – I’m somewhat of a fan boy of Mysti Parker. She’s kinda like my writing idol at the moment! When I first read A Ranger’s Tale, I honestly didn’t think I was gonna like it – but I did. In fact, whereas I hardly read romance books before, I have a greater appreciation of them thanks to this novel.
A Ranger’s Tale is an Adult Romantic Fantasy set in the world of Tallenmere, a world where elves are the main race and the centre for the characters. A Ranger’s Tale is set around a high elf called Caliphany and a half-elf called Galadin. Cali lives a sheltered life, but longs for something more, whereas Galadin is trying to escape his tortured past. Their paths meet and fireworks start to sparkle.
In many ways, A Ranger’s Tale uses a lot of fantasy tropes that have been used before – but the good thing about it is that Mysti Parker doesn’t go out of her way to make it overly magical and over the top, but rather creates situations that we ourselves would find ourselves in. The characters are brilliantly crafted and have real emotional depth, so we can sympathise with them and their plights. I think this is because the chapters are told in a POV way so we can see what the characters are thinking and feel their thoughts. A bold move but it works well.
I love the character of Cali – she’s a very strong heroine and I think that female readers will love her for her feistiness and vulnerability. Galadin is equally well rounded and likeable. The other character of mention is Jayden, a wood elf that has the hots for Cali. Even though he does start off a little sinister, I must admit I did feel sorry for him at the end.
In order to make Fantasy work, the world and characters must feel realistic and relatable. And A Ranger’s Tale does this brilliantly – the characters are beautifully crafted and the world of Tallenmere is realised enough to believe that it does exist. And Mysti even grants us some backstory of the world in her blog and Facebook and this is great. I love hearing about the history of fantasy worlds and their creation – makes me appreciate the story more.
The next book in the series, Sereyna’s Song is out very soon and I can’t wait to read it. But until then, let me just say one more thing about A Ranger’s Tale. It’s a fantastic book – even if the ideas have been done before, Mysti has found a way to use them so that you don’t care that you’ve seen this before. Her characters are brilliant, the romance is genuine (if a little steamy at times) and the story just sucks you in so that you have to keep reading. In short, read it!
2. Airion – Return to Zire by J.S Council
For those wanting a Fantasy/Sci-Fi with a more young adult edge, I suggest checking out Airion – Return to Zire.
Now, I actually gave this author a bit of a hard time in my review, given that the version I was given to review had a lot of spelling mistakes and formatting issues – but these have now been corrected so I can now concentrate on the book as it is. And it’s a very entertaining book indeed!
The novel is set around 2 twins, Kobi and Rali, that thought they had a pretty simple life on land. Just before their 14th birthday, the twins are separated and dragged to the underwater land of Airion – where they find that this is their true heritage. Now stuck in a war between two nations, the twins discover that they have a higher purpose – and secret powers that they soon discover will shape the world.
It’s a very exciting story, filled with colourful characters and some very impressive fight scenes. Reading this, I actually imagined that this would work well as a Manga/Anime. And given that the author lives in Japan that would be a great idea. Also, J.S is one of the hardest working and down to earth people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to, via guest blogs and interviews and I was worried that she would find my review a little harsh. But she took the comments with grace and dignity – that is the sign of a good author!
Do please check this novel out. It’s an exciting read and one that I do recommend. In fact I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series as the first one left me wanting to know more. The content isn’t too violent either, so younger readers will be able to enjoy this as much as adults.
3. CASTLES: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors by Benjamin X. Wretlind
Now, I’m not usually a fan of horror if I’m being honest. Main reason – I just don’t find a lot of them very scary. Most of them seem too heavily of blood and gore for their scares and honestly, that just doesn’t do it for me. Horror needs to have an atmosphere, to build up the tension and terror, not just have loads of body parts everywhere.
With Castles, it has no problems. Yes, there is a fair share of blood and disgusting images – but that’s not the focus of the book. The main focus is around the central character, Maggie, and the journey she takes. Living in a trailer park in an almost apocalyptic atmosphere (with constant thunder and dust storms), the book chronicles Maggie’s descent into madness as she starts off an innocent young girl and then transforms into a psychotic killer.
That being said, you actually can sympathise with Maggie a little as she goes through a lot of trauma in her life, ranging from an overbearing and overly protective mother to abusive spouses and boyfriends. Her only consolation is the spirit of her grandmother, who advised Maggie to “clean up her messes”. Acting as a kind of guardian angel for her, Maggie finds inner strength to gather pieces for her “Castle”. Unfortunately, this means bad news for those who end up crossing her!
Castles did what no other horror book I’ve read has done – disturbed me long after putting the book down. And that is what a good horror should do. I think that it’s because this book is told entirely from the POV of Maggie that she’s almost trying to justify her actions as the right thing. This makes her even creepier as she seems utterly desensitised to her actions. Whether you think she’s a victim or a villain is left up to the reader to decide.
Castles has a great atmosphere, a psychological terror and a main character that is both monstrous and innocent at the same time. If you want a great horror read then look no further than this one. Although I doubt you’ll ever want to use scissors again afterwards!
4. Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen
Humphrey Bogart, Blade Runner, Mad Max, Jap-Anime, Australian Humour, Film Noir – these are just SOME of the things I could use to describe this novel but it wouldn’t do it justice. This book is all these things and more!
From the title alone, you could almost expect to be reading a sort of obscure comedy – but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, we get a post-apocalyptic city that is bleak and unfriendly. With the threats of “Deviants” ever present in the last remaining city, it’s up to our hero Floyd to find a way to save the day.
Thing is, Floyd doesn’t care about that. All he wants to do is to drink himself stupid and forget his tragic past – which is the result of his job as a Seeker. Constantly referencing obscure and classic films, Floyd tells us his story in his own way – through good old Aussie slang! He’s both humorous and depressing, but thankfully the author treats the main character with enough respect to know when to take it seriously and when to have fun. And because the book is written with the Aussie sense of humour and style in mind, it adds a fresh new look to a subject that has otherwise been done to death.
You wouldn’t think that a novel could fit in so many themes and references without being convoluted, but Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat blends it all nicely like a perfect set of ingredients to make a fine whiskey. Not once was I ever bored when reading this book and really wanted to know what was going to happen to the main character. Hands down this is my favourite indie book that I’ve read so far and I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a unique science fiction read.