Connect 5 Friday: Self-published sci-fi/fantasy that needs more buzz

Self-published Scifi/fantasy authors who don’t always get the buzz they deserve

Connect Five Friday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. (The hashtag is #connect5books) This is a fun and creative way to think about my books and reading. Check out Kathyrn’s blog and link up your Friday Five!

The five book-related items need to connect in some way, but each person who participates can decide for themselves what the book subject and connection is. For example, you could write about five books read last year or five books you want to read. It could even be favorite bookstores or five movies made from books.

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This week I’m talking about five science fiction-fantasy books I’ve enjoyed recently from authors who either self-publish their books or publish them through a small independent publisher. (I have to admit I have trouble telling sometimes whether a book is self-published or the publishing name listed is the name of an independent publisher.) I think all these are self-published. If you know otherwise let me know.

I enjoy highlighting authors who aren’t as well-known as some of the authors who get lots of buzz and/or are published by the big publishing companies. Each of these authors write interesting, fun, well-edited and well-written books. I don’t always get reviews written, but I do want to give a shout-out to these authors.

Between Walls by W.R. Gingell

W.R. Gingell is one of my favorite writers. She mostly writes fantasies. I’ve read most of her books and always enjoy them.

The City Between series is one of my favorites. It’s an urban fantasy series and is a delight to read. Between Walls is number 6 in the series and was published at the end of May 2020.

The main character in the series is Pet who is cheeky and irreverent with a strict moral compass.

Ascending by Meg Pechenick

I’ve read both the books published so far in this series and really hope the author writes more books set in this universe.

Avery Alcott is a linguistic student who learns to speak the language of the aliens who came to Earth 25 years before and then abruptly vanished. When the Vardeshi return she’s recruited to go on a one year mission on one of their ships. She learns it’s not as simple as she had thought to become one of the crew on an alien ship.

Mantivore Dreams by S.J. Higbee

I really enjoy S.J. Higbee’s books. They have adventure, a protagonist to cheer for and usually a bit of romance.

She’s a good story teller and I’ve enjoyed each of the books she’s written. The third book in this series came out at the end of August.

This first book starts in a small village, but soon Kyrillia has to leave the village and many adventures ensue! It’s a fun book with a few twists and turns I didn’t expect!

First Flyght by S.J. Pajonas

Vivian is set to inherit the family business–a large farm. (Their society is matriarchal.) However, her brother has bankrupted the farm and the bank confiscates nearly everything.

Vivian follows leads to other planets in her search for her brother and the missing money. The series is full of adventure, many problems and some romance. Vivian is such a fun character and I really enjoy being inside her head!

Note: Some women in this society have more than one husband–often to build alliances. The first book mostly talks about Vivian’s need for consorts. However, by the third book there was more sex than I was comfortable with! (And I realize this is just how I felt–others may feel differently.)

I don’t mind romance and even some sex in a book, but find that too much sex often takes away from a story. I do enjoy the story the author is telling in these books and the characters are great–especially Vivian. And I do like the fact that Vivian has feelings for the men has sex with.

Termination Shock by Gillian Andrews

This is a good military science fiction. Ryler Mallivan is on a training ship that’s attacked. He has to step up to try to save his own life and other lives.

From there the book continues at a furious pace as this group of survivors find themselves having to try to save the universe. The characters are a diverse group that come together to create a crew that are loyal to each other.

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them? Do you like to read self-published authors?

My favorite books of 2019

In 2019 I read lots of books that made me happy I can read!

I’m finally getting my favorite books of the year completed. 2019 was a good reading year since I read many books I liked and many that filled me with joy. So I have lots of favorites this year!

I had set a goal for myself to read 95 books and only read 90, but that’s okay. I love to read. I think I’m reading a little slower these days. However, the important thing for me is that I’m still reading and that I enjoy most of the books I read.

I’ve added links to the books I reviewed (only three books). 😦

Mystery

Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger, Cork O’Connor #5

This series takes place in northern Minnesota’s lake country. I love the series which features wonderful descriptions of northern Minnesota and well-written mysteries. However, I need to read them a little quicker since there are already 17 books in the series!

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima, Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries #4

This is another series I love. I’m up-to-date with this series and have read these books since started being published a few years ago. I love reading about working dogs and Robo is a great example of a K-9 dog in a police department. He and Mattie are a wonderful team.

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong, Rockton #4

This police procedural is set in one of the oddest towns I’ve read about in a mystery and there’s lots of suspense. Each book ratchets up the suspense a little more.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong, Bone Gap Travellers #2

Former Marines Brynn and her K-9 partner Wilco suffer from PTSD and both carry the scars from an IED explosion. Brynn tries to control the flashbacks with alcohol and pain pills–not a good combination especially since she’s now working for the McCreary County Sherrif’s Department. She’s also trying to straddle two worlds–that of the Irish Travellers (a nomadic group from Ireland who came to the U.S. during the Great Famine) and the settled townspeople (most of whom distrust the Travellers.) The mysteries are good in this series and the world of the Travellers is fascinating.

The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman, Leaphorn & Chee #13

I’ve read these mysteries since I was a teenager. My mom and I would talk about the books through the years since we both loved them. One of the best things about this series is that it’s set in the United States Southwest. For a while I stopped reading mysteries so now I’m catching up with this series. And I’m so happy that Tony Hillerman’s daughter Anne Hillerman has continued writing the series after he died.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8

The books in this series are so well written. Sometimes they’re difficult to read since heartbreaking things happen to characters I like. Things that happen in one book may have far-reaching impact several books later and then we see how skillfully Louise Penny has intertwined so much into her books.

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

I was so happy to read this book since it has been several years since Deborah Crombie had written a book in the series. When I read about Duncan and Gemma and their family it’s like having a chat with old friends. And the mysteries are good, too!

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, Ruth Galloway #9

I’m always happy to return to Ruth’s world. She’s such an interesting character and I love the mysteries which always have something to do with her forensic archaeology work.

Science Fiction

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries #4

I’ve loved every single one of the Murderbot books. They are original, an adventure story and also thought-provoking.

Borderline by Janet Edwards, Hive Mind #4

I like everything I’ve read by Janet Edwards. This series is one I especially love. Ms. Edwards has a great way of writing exciting stories about characters I care about. And her world building is so good. It takes place in Earth’s future.

Mantivore Dreams by S.G. Higbee, Arcadian Chronicles #1

I like the way this book slowly unfolds so that it gives readers time to try to figure things out themselves. I also like that by the end of the book there are threads for future books, but that this book is a complete story. I need to get that next book read! The world building is especially good and I like the way Kyrillia grows and changes throughout the book.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

I chose to read this book because it was about a dog! I love the bond between Griz and the dogs. However, the book is a post apocalyptic science fiction so the book is good, but also has an overall feeling of sadness.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I feel like a lot of science fiction really makes you think in a different way and that’s kind of what this book did for me. It’s also post apocalyptic, military science fiction and during parts of the book I wasn’t really sure what was happening! It went different directions than I thought it would.

Ascending by Meg Pechenick, The Vardeshi Saga #1

Margaret (Meg) Pechenick is a new author to me. (S.G. Higbee @ Brainfluff reviewed this book. I find out about so many good books from her.) I loved this science fiction about aliens visiting Earth and inviting a group of Earthlings to visit their part of space.

Doing Time by Jodi Taylor, The Time Police #1

This was book one of a new series–The Time Police–that came out in fall 2019. It’s a spin-off of The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. These are both time travel series and so much fun. I’m doing a happy dance that Jodi Taylor decided to start another series which comes at the time travel idea from a slightly different angle. Can’t wait for the next book!

Urban Fantasy

These are my favorite urban fantasies (which are about the only fantasies I read these days) and I’ve read every book as they’ve been published!

Wild Country by Anne Bishop, The World of the Others #2 (The Others #7)

The world building in these books is one of the most appealing parts of this series. It very different from other urban fantasy series I read.

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson #11

Mercy Thompson is such a great character. She doesn’t always do the smart thing, but she’s such a loyal friend and she tries to do what’s right for the people she’s responsible for. And I love the world Patricia Briggs has created.

Between Homes by W.R. Gingell, The City Between #5

This series is so unique and the last book has really ratcheted up the suspense. I hope another book comes soon in this world where Fae often come and go in the human world, but very few humans manage to survive a trip either Between or Behind. And most humans don’t even know they exist.

Fiction

Doggirl by Robin Brande

I loved this book! It’s young adult which I seldom like or read, but this book about a high school girl who wants to be an animal trainer for movies is just lovely. And the dogs are wonderful!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

An out-of-work librarian, a bookstore on wheels and remote towns without libraries all come together in this wonderful book. There’s even some romance in it! And it’s set in Scotland!

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

I loved all the dogs in this book plus the human characters are great fun to read about.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

At the end of the book I felt so happy I’d read this which is one of the reasons I love reading. It’s set in Maine which is one of my favorite places and Evvie Drake is a great character. She’s certainly not perfect, but she’s someone I’d love to talk to. Linda Holmes is also one of the hosts of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast which I love to listen to.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of my most favorite books of 2019! So glad I read it. The language flows and the characters are so vivid–especially Kya (aka “Marsh Girl”). The book is heartbreaking at times, but ultimately a wonderful read. It’s historical fiction, almost a natural history of the North Carolina swamps and marshland and a mystery all set in swamps along the North Carolina Coast. It switches back and forth between Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s and a murder that happens in 1969. Cassandra Campbell narrated the audiobook and made my enjoyment of the book so vivid and immersive.

Memoir

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I enjoyed this one a lot–especially since I listened to the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. By the end I felt like we had met! So interesting to hear about her childhood, her meeting and marriage to Barack Obama, and then her life as the First Lady in the White House. She’s such an inspirational person.

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite books of the year?

Review: Between Jobs by W.R. Gingell

between jobs by w.r. gingellBetween Jobs by W.R. Gingell

Series: The City Between Series #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Publishing Date: 2018

251 pages

Synopsis: When you get up in the morning, the last thing you expect is to see a murdered guy hanging outside your window. Things like that tend to draw the attention of the local police, and when you’re squatting in your parents’ old house until you can afford to buy it, another thing you can’t afford is the attention of the cops.

Oh yeah. Hi. My name is Pet.

It’s not my real name, but it’s the only one you’re getting. Things like names are important these days.

And it’s not so much that I’m Pet.

I’m a pet.

A human pet: I belong to the two Behindkind fae and the pouty vampire who just moved into my house. It’s not weird, I promise—well, it’s weird, yeah. But it’s not weird weird, you know?

My thoughts

This is the sixth book I’ve read by Ms. Gingell this year. It’s an urban fantasy rather than a fairy tale retelling which is what the books that I’ve read so far are. I read this in June and am finally getting my review posted. I checked the author’s website before posting this and am excited to see that the second book in the series–Between Shifts–comes out September 30!

Pet

I started out wondering a little about this story since the only name we have for the main character, a 17-year-old girl, is Pet. I was afraid I wasn’t going to like a story about a girl kept as a pet by two fae and a vampire. However, much as the fae and vampire don’t want to like her and warn each other not to get too fond of her, they like her cooking, listen to her when she has ideas and save her several times as she also saves them. They don’t think humans are very intelligent which is understandable if we think about the powers fae and vampires have compared to humans. Pet is determined that they will listen to her and treat her as an individual.

The three psychos

She has been on her own since her parents were murdered when she was 13. Whoever murdered her parents didn’t find her in the house and she has squatted in the house ever since. When the three psychos (as Pet calls them) come into the house they don’t find her at first and by the time they do she discovers it’s nice to have someone else in the house to interact with.

The psychos are in the human world looking for a murderer who kills both humans and supernatural characters. Pet helps them in their investigations. Sometimes she seems smarter and certainly understands the human world better than they do. There’s a lot in this book for future stories and I can’t wait!

My Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Review: Spindle by W.R. Gingell

Spindle by W.R. GingellSpindle by W.R. Gingell

Series: Two Monarchies Sequence #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2015

377 pages

Synopsis: She’s not a princess . . . but then, he’s no prince. 

Polyhymnia is deep in enchanted sleep. High in a tower, behind an impenetrable barrier of magical thorns, she sleeps, dreams, and falls ever deeper into her curse. 

Woken by a kiss, Poly finds herself in an alien world where three hundred years have passed and everyone she has ever known is dead. Luck, the enchanter who woke her, seems to think she is the princess. Understandable, since he found her asleep on the princess’ bed, in the royal suite, and dressed in the princess’ clothes. 

Who cursed Poly? Why is someone trying to kill her and Luck? Why can’t she stop falling asleep? 
And why does her hair keep growing? 

Sometimes breaking the curse is just the beginning of the journey.

My thoughts

I loved this fantasy! W.R. Gingell is fast becoming one of my favorite fantasy authors. Several of the books and series I’ve read are a fairytale retelling which is what this book also is. It uses the Sleeping Beauty fairytale as its basis and then turns it all around.

I really enjoyed the story and the characters. The author often adds some romance without that taking over the story and I like that. She also has lots of humor in the book which is always fun. The world building is also interesting. Polyhymnia is woken from a very deep sleep and she doesn’t have much memory of why she fell asleep or exactly who she is. And she keeps falling asleep. Luck is the enchanter who woke her up with a kiss. He thinks she’s a princess and she keeps insisting she isn’t and that she doesn’t have any magic. Luck and Poly bicker and disagree about lots of things, but they also have each other’s back. The two of them embark on a journey and face many adventures. A very good book!

I’ve still got a lot of questions which is great since there are more books in this series. The book has a very satisfying ending, but lots of room for the next book to start where this left off. And it has different main characters. And lots of cats!

I’ve already got the next book in the series–Blackfoot–and will read it soon.

Have you read any books by this author?

My Rating: B+

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook–A fantasy book inspired by a fairytale

Thoughts about books I’ve read–Feb 2018

I’m trying something a little different with my reviews. I’ve only done a handful of separate reviews so far this year. So instead I’m going to list all the books I read during a month and write a few sentences about each one or give a link (if I’ve already reviewed the book). I really want to get my reviews under control. And in some cases just write a few sentences. (Did I mention that already?!!)

A Matter of Loyalty by Anselm Audley & Elizabeth Edmondson

A Matter of Loyalty by Anselm Audley & Elizabeth Edmondson

Series: A Very English Mystery #3

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, purchased

287 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: February 23

Bottom Line: The last book in this series (because the author–Ms. Edmondson–died). The author’s son finished the book and did a good job with this British cold war mystery.

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Series: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #2

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Source: Ebook, Library

304 pages

My Rating: B

Reviewed: March 19

Bottom Line: A romance and a mystery . . . Ms. Krentz does a good job giving both equal time. 

White Nights by Ann Cleeves

White Nights by Ann Cleeves

Series: Shetland Islands #2

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Source: Ebook, purchased

392 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: May 25

Bottom Line: The white nights of summer–where it never gets completely dark during the summer. That theme runs throughout this very good mystery.

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

 Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

371 pages

Source: Audiobook, Library

My Rating: A

Narrator Rating: A

Reviewed: March 16

Bottom Line: Excellent story and narration. The story arc which started in the last book continues in this book.

A Youthful Indiscretion by Elizabeth Edmondson

 A Youthful Indiscretion by Elizabeth Edmondson

Series: A Very English Mystery #1.5

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, purchased

60 pages

My Rating: C+

Reviewed: February 23

Bottom Line: A short story that provides some background to the books I read before I read this one. However, it isn’t necessary to read this to understand the books in this series.

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch & Andrew Cartmel

Series: Peter Grant/Rivers of London Graphic Novels #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Source: Graphic Novel, Library

128 pages

My Rating: B

Reviewed: April 19

Bottom Line: I don’t read many graphic novels, but I really enjoy the Peter Grant series so I really liked the illustrations and the story in this graphic novel. It gave me a new way of looking at the series.

Diamond Girl by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Murders

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, purchased

38 pages

My thoughts

This was a fun short story while we all wait for the next Country Club Murder book! It’s about Aggie DeLucci who is Ellison’s housekeeper. She’s an important character in the series so it’s nice to find out a little more about her. And even though it’s such a short story the mystery is good and finishes up well.

My Rating: B

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #6.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Audiobook

Source: Audiobook, Purchased

29 Minutes

My Rating: B

Reviewed: April 19

Bottom Line: Very short, but what a fun story about something larger than Peter’s dog running around the British library!

Twelve Days of Faery by W.R. GingellTwelve Days of Faery by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

136 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: June 8

Bottom Line: A short book (novella), but a fun and satisfying fairy tale retelling that turns the usual fairy tales upside down!

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Mini-Reviews: Shards of a Broken Sword trilogy by W.R. Gingell

I read the Shards of a Broken Sword trilogy in February and March and am doing mini reviews for each book. I’m also excited because this is the first time I’ve read a book by an author from Tasmania (as far as I know). I’ve always thought Tasmania sounds like such an intriguing place to visit.

twelve days of faery by w.r. gingellTwelve Days of Faery by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

150 pages

My thoughts

This is the first book I’ve read by W.R. Gingell, but it isn’t the last book by Ms. Gingell I will read. So far this year I’ve read six of her books! I really enjoy her writing.

I liked that this book turned some of the fairy tale tropes on their head. For example, a prince is cursed instead of a princess. A woman comes to save him, but maybe after the curse is gone she’s not interested in the prince, but in his father the king. This is a short book (a novella), but it’s lots of fun and filled with intrigue, magic, some romance and trips into Faery. A good start for a trilogy.

My Rating: B+

fire-in-the-blood-by-w-r-gingellFire in the Blood by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #2

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

123 pages

My thoughts

This is the second novella in this fantasy trilogy called Shards of a Broken Sword. The first two books are about different characters. They are set in the same world and both about shards from a broken sword that hold a great deal of magic. The books are short (from about 120 to 220 pages), but the stories are satisfying and complete.

This story about a prince, a dragon, a maid and a sleeping princess in a tower is humorous and exciting as the prince along with his dragon try to complete challenges in seven circles to find the princess. And there is even some romance!

My Rating: B

the first chill of autumn by w.r. gingellThe First Chill of Autumn by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #3

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

220 pages

My thoughts

I like how this ties up the loose ends in the trilogy. Each book is about different characters, but in this book all the characters are brought together by the end. I like that. There is magic galore in the book as well as dragons, royalty, enchanters and enchantresses, romances, lots of Fae! And we finally find out what the shards of the broken sword are for.

I recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes fairy tale retellings, a little romance in their stories (that doesn’t take over the story), magic, dragons, fantasy.

My Rating: B+

Trilogy Rating: B+

About the Author

W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She loves to rewrite fairy tales with a twist or two–and a murder or three–and original fantasy where dragons, enchantresses, and other magical creatures abound. Occasionally she will also dip her toes into the waters of SciFi.

W.R. spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.

Reading Challenges

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book with a weather element in the title (The First Chill of Autumn)

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a sequel (Fire in the Blood)