This year was no exception and trying to even choose the top three books to nominate in this category, was an absolute nightmare. There are some fantastic books that have missed out, but at the end of the day, that's what I'm here to do - to choose the three fantasy novels that have touched me the most this year, so without further ado, here are my nominations for Excellence in Indie Publishing for 2017, for the Fantasy category:
This book, The Heretic's Child is the debut novel of Nyasia A. Maire and frankly, it is a superb debut from a new, imaginative, and clearly very talented author. There is nothing more exciting than finding a new indie star to follow and I predict Maire will be one of those. She is already on my top-ten list of favourite indie authors and this is just her first novel.
The Heretic's Child is a fantasy novel but unlike some fantasy stories, this one is set here at home on Earth. Maire introduces us to a new race of beings, called the Rememberers. It is their job to catalogue the memories of all humans and to counsel them on the best, most peaceful course of action to ensure peace and security in the world.
Maire takes us right back, 25,000 years, to the dawn of civilization and the creation of the Rememberers and their leader the Cybele. One of the things I loved about this story was the way Maire cleverly tied in the work of the Rememberers and the Cybele into historical events. This was smart, innovative and thoroughly rewarding.
The story revolves around the current heir to the Cybele reign, who has yet to ascend to the position, Emma and her guardian and love interest, Thomas. All is not well in the Rememberers' world and for the last two-thousand years the Cybele has been brutally killed before she has had the opportunity to work her magic on the world. Consequently, humanity has descended into a morass of hate, greed, and violence. Thomas must keep Emma alive long enough to ensure she is able to ascend into the role.
Maire's writing style is short, sharp and conversational. I found her characters not only very believable but also well rounded and full of character. I was thrilled that Maire left the possibility of a sequel open and I hope we will read more of this extraordinary race of beings.
This was one of my favourite reads this year and will definitely be a contender for the "Grunter Awards" later in the year. I have found a new, exciting indie author to follow and her name is Nyasia A. Maire. A great debut and I salute you.
Oh, and before I forget, just as an aside, this is one of the best covers I have ever seen. The 3D effect is superb and I absolutely love it.
Okay - WOW! Just wow!
It's not often this writer is left speechless, but Julie Elizabeth Powell, take a bow. Your book Gone has achieved that for me.
When I first picked up Gone and glanced at it, I figured it would be a tough, angst-ridden look at the pain and suffering of a parent whose child has suffered a serious health issue that has left her in an almost vegetative state. I was fine with that as I learn so much from other people's memoirs and the ways in which they cope with the vicissitudes life sometimes can throw their way.
I couldn't have been more wrong. What Gone is, is a delve inside the imagination of one woman's view of what the afterlife might be. Although this story was motivated by the author's own experiences with her daughter, who suffered such a fate, it was an attempt to view her experiences through a different prism, from a much more positive perspective.
How to describe the story? For me, this wild ride inside Powell's imagination was a cross between Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and one of Robin Williams' lesser known films, What Dreams May Come, which also explored the afterlife.
The adventures the main character Charley undertakes in this vision of the afterlife are surreal and fantastical and yet there are so many lessons, homilies, morals and thoughts about life that each incredible encounter brings us. I particularly enjoyed the references to the power of the mind and thoughts, which aligned very much with my own perceptions and rules for living. Charley gets to experience so many things that the rest of us only dream of and in this quest is the answer to the two burning issues in her life; Why? and Guilt. Why did this horrible thing happen to her and her daughter? Also, she needs to confront the overwhelming sense of guilt she feels over her inability to care for her damaged daughter and her desires to end it all for her and take away the problem and the pain.
I have no doubt the telling of this story was incredibly cathartic for the author and allowed her to address these same issues in her own mind.
As you may have guessed by now, I was in awe of the author's imagination, her ability to weave words and the incredible story in general. I have read some amazing books by some incredible authors over the last few years, but this sits right up there with the very best.
I have now begun a fictional story by this same author and am enjoying that equally. In my mind, Julie Elizabeth Powell is an author to follow and to watch. Five plus stars for this surreal fantasy, Gone. Great stuff.
How do I write a review of Denise Liebig's Dear Maude, the first book in the Dear Maude Trilogy, that does the book the justice it deserves, without giving away too much of the plot? Ah therein lies the conundrum.
Conundrum is a very useful word in describing Dear Maude. It is full of conundrums and paradoxes, that make you think, make you pause and make you question what you know about physics, science and of course the paradox of time-travel.
The whole time-travel thing caught me on the hop. I hadn't read much about Dear Maude until I dived into it and my initial thought was this is classic chick-lit. Exceptionally well-written and enjoyable chick-lit, in my opinion, but chick-lit nonetheless. By the time I realised it was so, so, much more than that, I was totally hooked. Suffice it to say, this is the best book within its genre that I've read in many al long day and I would go even further to say this is one of the better books I've ever read. Definitely a contender for a coveted "Grunter" award at the end of this year. I often talk in my reviews about the joy of discovering fresh, exciting and new indie talent. Denise Liebig is definitely that. She puts many a big-5 author to shame, in my humble opinion.
Okay, so the story is pretty straightforward, to begin with. Emily (Em) needed a scholarship to go to University and the quid pro quo for the scholarship was that she had to agree to work for the Evergreen Foundation for four years after graduation. No big deal, right? What're four years, for a degree? WRONG! It doesn't take too long for Em to figure out she's sold her soul to the devil - and that's all I'm telling you about the plot. Read it yourself - you'll love it.
As a debut novel, Dear Maude was an outstanding success. That Liebig has been able to follow up Dear Maude with the remaining two books in the trilogy is a testament to her seriousness as an author and her consistency. I literally cannot wait to read Books 2 & 3 now.
If you like time-travel, with all its conundrums and paradoxes, or if you like a female protagonist with strength, character, and determination, you'll love Dear Maude. I sure did and give it the full 5-Star treatment. Kudos to the author and long may she continue to turn out fine books like this debut novel.
...And the winner is!
Pssssst......put your browsers on Incognito and scrunch up close to your screen, because next time, we travel to the dark side - the hot and steamy world of EROTICA (Yes, I read that too - but only for research, you understand). You won't want to miss the 2017 Grunter Award for Erotica - Coming Soon
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CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME