Time To Recommend An Author-Published Book

Figure after last week’s pair of apparently controversial self-publishing posts, this is high-time to go to you, the army of audiovisual hallucinations I call my “audience,” to recommend some self-published books you have read recently.

Use the comments below to talk about some self-published books that you enjoyed very much — and, as an extra mark of criteria, books you think meets a professional standard equal to or beyond that of what you’d get from a Big-Ass Publisher.

Tell us what the book is, who it’s by, why you dig it.

And if you’re so inclined, a link to purchase.

GO FORTH AND SHARE THE AWESOME.

121 comments

  • My current favorite author is one who’s been in the news recently: Russell Blake. He’s an action/thriller author in the Ludlum/Forsyth vein whose books I can’t get enough of.

    His “Jet” series is gloriously over-the-top action featuring an ex-Mossad operative trying to escape her past. It’s Bourne and Bond with a heroine as the main character and is unexpectedly well written for the genre. With 870+ reviews, it’s no secret, but still a great read for what it is.

    http://www.amazon.com/JET-Russell-Blake-ebook/dp/B0098QJQR0

    I’d also point you to his latest in the Assassin series, which I just finished, and can go toe to toe with anything Vince Flynn, Brad Thor or Lee Child has ever written. Blood of the Assassin.

    http://www.amazon.com/JET-Russell-Blake-ebook/dp/B0098QJQR0

    Per the WSJ a couple weeks ago, he’s co-authoring with Clive Cussler, so apparently the traditional publishing world has a decent opinion of his abilities.

  • Oh, and I must add this:

    http://helptheyarecoming.wordpress.com/about/

    Not a normal self-published book. “Allison Hewitt is trapped” was written as a series of blog posts at the wordpress link above. Eventually somebody discovered it and it was turned into a book. Not only was it a very original way to get a story out there, it’s a very exciting story. I loved it! (it’s zombies. I like zombies.)

  • Crescent City: The Hammer
    by Cody Weston
    Available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Crescent-City-Hammer-Cody-Weston/dp/1490313958/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391448459&sr=8-1&keywords=cody+weston

    Imagine a land that has been devastated by manmade plague, a plague that besieged contemporary society by an act of terrorism. This novel is narrated from the perspective of Daniel Lawrence, a type-1 diabetic who works as a physician’s apprentice in a post-apocalyptic future where society is sent back to 19th century infrastructure. The creative ways in which Daniel saves lives will keep you on the edge of your seat. The supporting cast includes an ego-centric politician who causes conflict and passion in Daniel Lawrence. Ultimately the forces that be must align to deal with a higher enemy, an enemy that threatens to destroy everything left of humanity.

    I might be a little biased (I know the author), but I seriously bawled my eyes out (in a good way!) four times while reading this book. Cody Weston wrote this novel in a month (during Nanowrimo 2012). To balance my potential conflict of interest here, I will add a note of criticism: the book formatting could use some touchups.

    However, the meat of the book: plot, narration, dialog, and characters are all immensely strong, and the pace of the story will prevent you from putting it down.

    • I’m really glad you recommended this. Your review, and the reviews on Amazon, sound great. I must read it now! If you hadn’t mentioned it, I don’t know if I’d have noticed it. The cover art is a bit odd, I might have passed it by. Thank you!

  • Ripley Patton’s GHOST HAND and its sequel GHOST HOLD are quite excellent YA paranormal books.

    “Seventeen-year-old Olivia Black has a rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Instead of a right hand made of flesh and blood, she was born with a hand made of ethereal energy.

    How does Olivia handle being the girl with the ghost hand? Well, she’s a little bit morbid and a whole lot snarky…”

  • Terra Vonnel and The Skulls of Aries by D. C. Akers. If you like a rip roaring pirate adventure filled with magic and danger, then this is definitely a book you should check out. It’s the first in a series and I can hardly stand to wait for the next one to come out. I love the cover and I think this book could easily stand up to anything traditionally published. http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Science-fiction-Paranormal-Mystery-ebook/dp/B003ZK5PXY/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391452712&sr=1-1&keywords=terra+vonnel

    • I made it 1/3 of the way through before chucking it across the room. I just didn’t care if any of the humans made it out alive and had my suspension of disbelief broken too many times to persevere. I only bought it because he was spamming twitter with it and am now very reluctant to follow back any of the self-publishing authors who have found me on someone’s list of people who can read.

  • Peter Cruikshank’s Fire of the Covenant (Dragon-called Legend Book 1) has all the elements you’d expect from a classic epic fantasy romp with more battles, magic, elves, dwarves (or dwarf-like creatures), dragons and deities than you can poke a sword at. And while there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers turning the pages, the real strength of the story lies in its characters.

    Well worth a read for lovers of epic fantasy.

    http://www.amazon.com/Covenant-Dragon-Called-Legend-Peter-Cruikshank-ebook/product-reviews/B00GY7A3WI/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

  • February 3, 2014 at 4:03 PM // Reply

    “Miss Lucy Parker and Other Short Stories” is a collection I found free on Kindle awhile ago (it’s 99 cents now, still a steal). Truly creepy and unpredictable stories. It’s also in audiobook.

    Audiobook: http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Miss-Lucy-Parker-and-Other-Short-Stories-Audiobook/B00GHW7RWY/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1383827980&sr=1-1

    Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Parker-Other-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B005WVPKMU/ref=ntt_at_ep_edition_1_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

  • “Corridor of Darkness” by Patrick O’Bryon. He is a gold seal of excellence Awesome Idie Acheiver. The book was phenomenal with everything a reader could want, suspense, intrigue, romance, lust, mystery, action. The best example of show not tell that I have seen in twenty years. The pace is a perfect fit to the content. It is a historical thriller set in pre-war Germany and was inspired by his father’s real life adventure there. That adds a personal note that I find appealing. The quality of the paperback is outstanding and it is most professionally done. My full review is here:

    http://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/book-review-corridor-of-darkness-by-patrick-obryon/

    The book can be found here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Corridor-Darkness-Novel-Nazi-Germany-ebook/dp/B00GLFIS0W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391465095&sr=8-1&keywords=Corridor+of+Darkness

  • I liked my friend Ryan Fitzgerald’s “The Legion Rises” trilogy a lot. You really have to do read the three stories together. It’s about a group of crashlanded survivors who get thrown into a chaotic high-tech world with an elf CEO on a flying cityship and a manipulative sorceror who wants to raise the dead and cause untold havoc on the world.

  • Rainbird by Rabia Gale. Not the best book ever, but it’s a really original fantasy with an incredible setting (a civilization built on the remains of a giant dragon! holy shit!), and lovable characters. Here’s the synopsis:

    She’s a halfbreed in hiding. Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed. She lives on the sunway. High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself. But one act of sabotage is about to change everything. For Rainbird. And for her world.

    Available on Amazon, of course.

  • Clockwork Twist: Waking – Emily Thompson, a new self published author from last year. Think airships, some X-men like abilities floating around and some good humor.
    http://www.amazon.com/Clockwork-Twist-Book-1-Waking/dp/1482766507

    The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker. I think I have a steampunk streak going here. I’ve only read indie steampunk. This is another well written book with a wonderfully fleshed out cast of characters and a plucky female lead.
    http://www.amazon.com/Emperors-Edge-Lindsay-Buroker-ebook/dp/B004H1TDB0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391469723&sr=1-1&keywords=Emperor%27s+Edge

    The Prince of Ravens by Hal Emerson. Epic fantasy. No creatures, just humans, but that’s all the threat Emerson needs to keep you turning pages. http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Ravens-Exile-Hal-Emerson-ebook/dp/B00A3U36NK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391469754&sr=1-1&keywords=Prince+of+Ravens

  • It’s not SF, but the best book I read last year was the mental breakdown novel Mixtape for the Apocalypse by Jemiah Jefferson, who up till now has only written (trad-published) vampire novels. It’s about a twenty-something indie comics artist going crazy in 1990s Portland, Oregon, told through a series of journal entries and flashbacks. I think even people who are solely genre fans should give this a read because it’s definitely strange and also fast-paced! It’s also extremely well-written. Like I said, best book I read last year. You can read my much more exhaustive review here.

  • House of Blades by Will Wight. It’s an epic fantasy series about “the other guy.” In a world where Travelers can summon otherworldly powers (based on their respective Territory), Alain is the prophesied hero with the ability to access Elysia, the City of Light. Only problem is, he’s kind of a dick.

    Enter Simon, who witnesses his parent’s death at the hands of murderous Travelers. Alain comes around and kills them, but too late. Simon decides he doesn’t want to be at the mercy of these Travelers anymore and goes to seek the power to save his friends and family for himself.

    It’s an amazing book, he sold 10,000 copies in the first month and he’s still going strong. Book 2, The Crimson Vault, is also out and is even more awesome, and Book 3 comes out here soon. He’s also released three small side story compilations over the last few months.

    Exclusive to Amazon: http://amzn.to/LJ6i4o

  • “Mirror Project” by Michael Scott Monje. Lynn wakes up in the hospital after a car accident only to discover that the mind experiencing her thoughts is an AI reproduction of herself, and that she *died* in that accident. As she works through the shock and improves interfacing with her android body, she begins to doubt that she is the same person Lynn. Tension rises as she tries to convince the man who runs the project—her husband—that she is a new entity and deserves to be treated as such, but nobody believes her. Can she escape? Does she even need a body?

    Anyway. It’s a good read. Deals with a lot of stuff that’s close to my heart regarding the nature of personhood and such, and in a cool science-fiction-y way. Comes out in paperback soon, too!

    http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Project-Michael-Scott-Monje-ebook/dp/B00FJPFL7I

  • “The Serpent’s Ring”, Relics of Mysticus – Book One and “The Trickster’s Totem” – Book Two by H.B. Bolton. I am a fourth grade teacher and my students have thoroughly enjoyed these novels. They are hoping a third book will follow. Obviously an up and coming author to look forward to.

  • The Foxhole Court series, of which there are two thus far, by Nora Sakavic is beyond amazing. It follows a dysfunctional college team playing the fictional sport of Exy. The team serves as a second chance for it’s members and watching these broken characters knit themselves together through force of will and spite is painful and inspiring in the best way. Also Exy is a violent cross between lacrosse and hockey. I’m not doing it justice. Here’s the link for the first book. http://www.amazon.com/The-Foxhole-Court-All-Game-ebook/dp/B00E9BLRUI

  • February 3, 2014 at 11:02 PM // Reply

    I’m not wholly unbiased, because the author has become a friend, but for a change from all these adult zombie and post-apocalyptic novels, Jemima Pett (who comments and shares flash fiction here) has a middle grade fantasy series that’s a lot of fun, and has improved with each book from a very respectable start. http://jemimapett.com/princelings/ for links to them all.

    Totally different sort of stuff from most of what’s being recommended here. I’m trying to decide if the overwhelming load of fantasy/SF/post-apocalypse lit is indicative of anything other than Chuck’s main readership.

  • I nominate Wool by Hugh Howey for two reasons. The first, it’s a solid read. The second is that it is easy to see why self-publishing was a viable method for this sort of story.

    The setup — “Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside. Or you’ll get what you wish for.” — doesn’t sound unique enough for a traditional editor to take a chance on it.

    But with luck, some ebook readers took a chance and now the author’s got a career in fiction.

  • “Dispensing Justice” by Fritz Freiheit is a Young Adult “coming of age” novel of the Heinlein school (meaning it’s written for adults, but without the cussin’ and sex). It’s the story of a second generation superhero, still in high school when his “super” father is killed “live” on TV, and the impact this and the subsequent efforts to continue to protect his father’s secret identity have on his family, while he wrestles with his motivations to take up his Dad’s mask. It takes place in the “Nova Genesis World” universe, which is familiar but unique in that it splits from our timeline in the post-war 1940s. It explores the changes that likely would be forced on daily life in the US under such circumstances.

    I read constantly, mostly SciFi/Fan, 2-3 a week. I don’t normally read superhero fiction; only one prior to this which was mainstream published. I have a pretty good memory and usually have to wait many years before I can re-read anything and enjoy it again. Not only did I enjoy this book enough to look for more in the genre, I have re-read it a number of times and enjoyed it anew each occassion. (The author is a friend and asked me to be a beta-reader for him, so I went through a number of drafts and polishings. I cut him no slack.) This was better than the published “super” book I read prior to it, and as good as the majority I have subsequently read. It very much reminds me of something Heinlein would write: good story, strong characters, interesting world, leaving me wanting more.

    It won an Honorable Mention from the “20th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published” Book Awards”. The sequel (Red Rook) is a continuation of the storyline from the viewpoint of a female friend (and super) and even better. A third novel of four planned is currently in draft. There are free chapters of DJ available on his website [http://fritzfreiheit.com/wiki/Dispensing_Justice], so how can you go wrong? Available in all the Ebook formats (epub, mobi, pdf, lrf, pdb, rtf, txt), and on:
    Amazon [http://www.amazon.com/Dispensing-Justice-Nova-Genesis-World/dp/0984795537/],
    Barnes & Noble [http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dispensing-justice-fritz-freiheit/1037149148],
    CreateSpace [https://www.createspace.com/3771981],
    Smashwords [http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/110967],
    iTunes [http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dispensing-justice/id489790882].

    His “Nova Genesis World” wiki [http://fritzfreiheit.com/wiki] contains links to both books, and background material if you are interested.

    • I fully agree with Lane. Fritz Freiheit makes the Nova Genesis world play before your eyes like a graphic novel in his book, Dispensing Justice. It’s such a fun romp through the superhero genre that I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as I read it.

      The book is incredibly accessible with its short chapters and serial novel like pacing. It drew me in until I found myself cheering out loud for the main character during the epic battle in the book’s climax.

      Unlike Lane, I’m a very casual reader and science fiction isn’t usually my first choice. So I really appreciated the subtle choices the author makes between paying homage to the classics of the genre and keeping the pacing of the story moving along. I often struggle with authors that get mired in the details of the world they’ve created and this story strikes a perfect balance between the details that provide depth and the plot that keeps the pages turning.

      I highly recommend this book. It’s exactly the kind of gem that this blog is trying to uncover.

  • “Bullet Catch” by Scott Jenkins is the first book of a new series about magicians working for the CIA, based on the true story of John Mulholland, a magician who taught CIA agents slight-of-hand and misdirection during the Cold War.

    I thought it was very well done, a new idea applied to the conventional spy novel, and I am looking forward to reading the next one.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bullet-Catch-Smoke-Dagger-Book/dp/1492928151/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391536669&sr=8-1&keywords=bullet+catch

  • The Battle of Wildspitze by Zach Ricks and Scott Roche.
    Airships, dragons, war and wizardry. A Victorian-era “Manapunk” story taking place in the skies over Europe. A coming of age story following a yound wizard, new to his craft, defending against an implacable enemy (with an almost equally implacable mentor!).

    To my mind it has at least the quality I read and hear from many a traditionally published story, and I look forward to learning more of the fate of young Norris.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Battle-Wildspitze-Scott-Roche-ebook/dp/B005PP8Q3I/ref=la_B004KS1U6Q_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391542234&sr=1-8

  • No question here. CONTRACT OF DEFIANCE (Spectras Arise #1) by Tammy Salyer: http://www.amazon.com/Contract-Defiance-Spectras-Arise-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B007TK6KCG

    The sequel, CONTRACT OF BETRAYAL, is freaking awesome also.

    This is a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners action sci-fi romp, featuring space-marine-turned smuggler Aly Erickson, whose search for her missing brother takes a turn for the worse when she finds herself press-ganged into service aboard a vessel heading straight for the heart of Corps space … where Aly is a wanted fugitive.

    Action. Guns. Kickass heroine. Oh … did I mention the guns?

  • Since this seems to be sci-fi-loving crowd (I COUNT MYSELF AMONG YOU), I’ll recommend SURVEILLANCE, the first book in Aaron Pogue’s Ghost Targets series. It’s a light, easy, detective read (Pogue himself calls it a “beach read”) set in the near future, where privacy is dead and we’re all monitored by all-seeing systems with names like Hathor, Midas, Hippocrates, and Jurisprudence.

    Ghost Targets is fun and, in some ways, cautionary. Light reading that makes you wonder just how much privacy you’d be willing to give up for safety’s sake.

    • Also, the book/series has an awesome main character in Katie Pratt, somewhat reclusive FBI agent who just wants to get the bad guys but keeps having her world and her worldview turned upside down.

  • Dispensing Justice – self published by Fritz Freiheit
    About a year ago, I read this short novel inspired by comic books. It was well written, creative and fun. Many times I start reading something because some important reviewer says, “this is an important novel,” only to find myself turning pages out of obligation rather than enjoyment. Dispensing Justice was the opposite of that. The chapters were so short that I could easily read one or two during my 15 minute subway commute. (Full disclosure:I know the author.) This was the first self-published novel I have ever read. But by comparison to some of the “important novels” I’ve tried based on main stream recommendations, I’ll now be willing to look outside the bookstore for reading material.

  • I’ll throw one into the ring: ALTDORF (The Forest Knights: Book 1)

    I don’t particularly like the cover and the subtitle. I think they make the book look like a fantasy story with elves, of which I’m not really interested in. But this is historical fantasy. It’s well-written and has a grounded story. No over-the-top, crazy action scenes. It’s a good story and I liked it.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005TU1GKE

  • Even more in the Nova Genesis World: The Red Rook
    Dispensing Justice by Fritz Freiheit has already been recommended above. I really enjoyed it and so did my three teen kids.
    I want to also mention that it already has a sequel that I actually enjoyed MORE: The Red Rook [http://www.amazon.com/Red-Rook-Nova-Genesis-World-ebook/dp/B00DW0NLAG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1391626309&sr=8-3&keywords=The+Red+Rook].
    It’s a great coming-of-age story from a female perspective, even if she already has her own amazing abilities, emphasizing what it means to find your own independence and sense of adulthood. Our whole family loved it. We’re really looking forward to the third in the series.

  • An author and book that I learned about from this site: Barry Lyga’s Unsoul’d. Gritty, a bit raunchy and 100% fun. “That day, I had a bagel for breakfast and sold my soul to the devil. In retrospect, the bagel was probably a mistake.”

  • Late to the party, but get in on Girl Afraid by Ciarán West, or his first Boys of Summer. I enjoyed both immensely. Both are “I should be doing stuff but instead I’m going to read all of this book” type experiences, even when you’re uncomfortable. The books are different from one another, but both definitely hold up to “regular” publishing quality.

    (Here’s a further review for Girl Afraid, if anyone wades this far into the comments… http://glorifiedloveletters.blogspot.com/2014/01/girl-afraid-by-ciaran-west.html)

  • The Girl Who Would Be King by Kelly Thompson is one of my favourite books EVER, author pubbed or not. Kelly is my self-pub hero.

    http://thegirlwhowouldbeking.com/Blurb_and_links.html

    Blurb:
    Separated by thousands of miles, two young women are about to realize their extraordinary powers which will bind their lives together in ways they can’t begin to understand.

    Protecting others. Maintaining order. Being good. These are all important things for Bonnie Braverman, even if she doesn’t understand why. Confined to a group home since she survived the car accident that killed both her parents, Bonnie has lived her life until now in self-imposed isolation and silence; but when an opportunity presents itself to help another girl in need, Bonnie has to decide whether to actually use the power she has long suspected she has. Power that frightens her.

    Across the country, Lola LeFever is inheriting her own power by sending her mother over a cliff…literally. For Lola the only thing that matters is power; getting it, taking it, and eliminating anyone who would get in the way of her pursuit of it. With her mother dead and nothing to hold her back from the world any longer, Lola sets off to test her own powers on anyone unfortunate enough to cross her. And Lola’s not afraid of anything.

    One girl driven to rescue, save, and heal; the other driven to punish, destroy, and kill.

    And now they’re about to meet.

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