The Finest Books I Learn in 2016 : #GoIndie2016 in Evaluate

Are you able to consider it? 2016 is nearly over. It appears like a blink in the past that I pledged to learn solely self-published and small press books for the complete yr, and now, thirty books later, I am virtually accomplished! 

Was it laborious to search out high quality, self-published books? Sure and no. No, as a result of I’ve develop into pals with authors on this scope. Sure, as a result of historically revealed books have such an enormous push behind them. In the beginning of the yr, BookBub was an amazing useful resource for me. And now that it is grown, about 2/3 of the books on my each day information are from large publishers. 

Even on Amazon, the books that I am seeing essentially the most now are those from Amazon’s personal imprints. This is not an excellent or unhealthy factor, but it surely simply goes to point out you that the publishing business is at all times altering. For authors like myself, it helps to only keep the course. Preserve writing. Preserve adapting. 

Okay, prepared for the massive winners of this yr? (In my ebook, no less than.)

The Collector’s Society by Heather Lyons

Here is the story : all the books are actual. Alice in Wonderland. Huckleberry Finn. However! Perhaps not for lengthy. A mysterious villain is erasing all their worlds. This ebook is a component motion, half romance, half historical past, and all elements superior. 

Now and Once more by Jennifer Ellision

I’ve beforehand talked about this ebook in my February ebook checklist, and it is stayed on the highest of my checklist. This ebook is a small city romance about two outdated pals reunited at a marriage. (Sure, it is a very comparable premise to These Are the Moments, so in my thoughts, they’re type of like sister books.) 

Someplace in Between by Katie Li

This can be a 5 star learn for me. Katie and I are bonded by our mutual editor, Tanya Gold, and I used to be amazed by the world she created. It is unbelievable writing and the story sucks you in from the beginning. The tag line reads, “Two pals discover a portal to a different dimension and use this “in-between place” to keep away from the stress of their on a regular basis lives.” BRILLIANT!

Woman Unseen by Kate Ellison

This was one in all my high summer season reads. When Olivia Tithe’s greatest good friend is murdered, her mom is imprisoned for the crime. Now, she’s beginning to see his ghost, and he needs her to search out the true killer. It is a basic whodunit story, and I loved it!

New World Rising by Jennifer Wilson

Having Starvation Video games withdrawals? You and me, each. This ebook is the answer! Plus, it is a sequence, so you may get to know these characters over a couple of books. This can be a “graphic dystopian sequence” that follows the primary character Phoenix as she tries to “keep sturdy and survive.”

Tasa’s Tune by Linda Kass

Put together you coronary heart, my good friend. This Holocaust story, impressed by true occasions, will deliver you thru the ringer of emotions. What I liked about this novel is the beacon of hope provided by Tasa’s music. It is a gorgeous, robust learn.

Rise of the Six by Matt Ryan

Six kids born on the identical day are about to embark on an journey they’re hardly prepared for. This novel is the beginning of a prolonged sequence that I am excited to learn, and I like to recommend this for any followers of superhero or action-type books.

Degree Up by Cathy Yardley

That is most likely my first favourite learn of the yr. Declaring itself a “geeky rom com,” this story follows a Tessa, a online game engineer, and her roommate/potential love curiosity Adam. It is candy and spunky and simply one of the best.

Vinyl by Sophia Elaine Hanson

I fangirled about this ebook over on my February ebook checklist, and mainly on daily basis over on Instagram. Vinyl is “gritty steampunk fiction” that can take you right into a world that feels so actual that you can stroll proper into it. 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Poetry! Feminism! A bestseller! I used to be thrilled with these pages. I wished to spotlight like loopy, then return and reread all the pieces I’d simply completed. It is fabulous and to not miss. 

The way to Be Somebody Else by Rachel Del

Rachel and I are rising up as writers collectively. We’re navigating this publishing expertise in comparable timeframes, and I am so happy with this ebook. She has created complicated, well-loved characters and I learn this in a matter of days. 

A Love Letter to Whiskey by Kandi Steiner

My finale ebook to a beautiful yr of indie studying! I devoured this love story. It is back-and-forth, topsy-turvy, will-they-or-won’t-they and I could not get sufficient. I stay up for studying extra by Kandi quickly. 

And there you have got it! What ought to I learn subsequent yr? I am pondering of including extra classics into my checklist. Or possibly extra small press books? Share your ideas beneath!

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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