A Year In Reviews

A year ago tomorrow, I started this blog so that authors would have a place to review other works they enjoyed and admired. Over the last fifty-two weeks, we’ve published three-a-week reviews of indie titles from science fiction to mystery to romance to … I’ve lost track. That’s 156 works by indie authors that other authors recommend.

When I started, I hoped this catalog of indie works would introduce people to the world of indie novels – and the authors who read it, write it, and enjoy it. I think we’ve done a good job across a wide variety of works by a wide variety of people. I could wish for more but when you rely on volunteers the only thing to say is “thanks.”

This may be the last post because I’ve run out of works in my own reading list (600+ titles over a five year period) and I can’t read fast enough to keep posting three reviews a week of great books I’ve read. I read a lot – sometimes five or six titles a week – but some are books I won’t recommend because they’re follow-on books in a series that I enjoyed. It feels cheaty to recommend book three in a series. Some are books I didn’t enjoy enough to recommend. Not that they’re bad books – a book that can’t get me to the end of the sample, isn’t necessarily bad – but it’s not a book I’m willing to say “Yeah! This was good. You might try it.”

I don’t know what we’ll do in the future, but perhaps enough indie authors will be willing to fill in the holes going forward.

Thanks to all who’ve supported the experiment over the last year. Like a good book, we’re going to turn the page here and see what comes next.

The Alecto Initiative

A series that stands out for its characters more than its plot is always a winner with me. Hunter and O’Neill have done that with this Lorralynn Kennrakis series.

It starts out with a young girl being sold into slavery – as one does. The story takes a bit of a turn after that. One thing that never changes is Lorralynn Kennrakis and her determination to succeed against all the odds. This series stands out in particular because it doesn’t fall into the “to make a woman strong, just give her a bigger gun” trap. Oh, she has guns, but it’s not the guns that make her strong.

I thoroughly enjoyed this but don’t take my word for it. As always, why not grab a sample and see for yourself?

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Space Carrier Avalon

I’ve been a fan boy for Glynn Stewart for a while now. This wraps up his various SF franchises with the Castle Federation series. He has another series that’s Urban Fantasy, but I haven’t followed him out to that yet. No fault of Glynn. UF and I don’t see eye-to-eye.

Castle Federation – and Space Carrier Avalon – is straight up military SF in the finest tradition. I ripped through the first three books in this series in a matter of days last year but I missed the fourth book’s release. An oversight I intend to remedy. This series has enough pew-pew to scratch the itch for action and enough characterization to make you care about who gets killed. I thoroughly enjoyed these.

But don’t take my word for it. As always, grab a sample and see for yourself.

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Nice Dragons Finish Last

I don’t remember who recommended this Rachel Aaron series to me. I resisted because paranormal and I don’t see eye to eye. That was a mistake which I rectified once I got a sample of this one.

So Julius is a dragon who can’t change from his human form. This isn’t actually a problem because he lives in the Detroit Free Zone where being a dragon could get him killed. That’s just the first of his problems. They get more complicated – and often funnier – as the series goes along.

This is popcorn reading. I read the heck out of the series and loved every popcorn-minute of it. Maybe you will, too. Why not grab a sample and try it out for yourself?

ETA: Greg Lynn has some salient points to add in the comments. Because of those points, I changed the genre to Urban Fantasy.

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Star Thief

I’ll be honest. It took me two tries to get into this book. I’m not sure why. Might have been just my brain at the time. When it kept showing up in my queue, I went back for a second try and I’m glad I did.

So, I’m a sucker for a good SF/R and there’s nothing like a good action/adventure with a collection of likable – even lovable – characters. I think my initial response was based on the kid. It felt too facile, too easy. Yeah. I was wrong about that, too.

I liked this book a lot and I just spotted book two in the series. I know what I’ll be reading next. Just don’t take my word for it. Why not grab a sample and see for yourself.

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Discount Miracles

Following Clarke’s Third Law (Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.) Brand has created an interesting tale of what happens when an advanced civilization imposes itself on a lost colony.

The story tells the tale of a salvage ship that crashes on a planet where the residents have adopted some rather odd – and often xenophobic – practices. To facilitate their rescue, the crew decides to perform some services for the residents which don’t exactly go as planned. Add in some intrigue with a dash of betrayal and the story unfolds with engaging precision.

This is one of my favorite Brand Gamblin stories, but don’t take my word for it. Why not grab a sample and see for yourself.

[Transparency disclaimer: I’ve known Brand for years and count him a friend. He hasn’t asked for a review nor has he offered anything for one. I just like the story.]

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Even The Wingless

WARNING: This story is dark. Not dark like chocolate. Dark like blood. It runs – by turns – horrifying, grotesque, and utterly spellbinding.

Some time ago we had a review of Earthrise and MindTouch, both solid, feel-good stories if a bit on the offbeat side. The Prince’s Game series explores the darker side of her universe and how power binds those who wield it as much as those who are victims of it. If you want to appreciate the genius that is Maggie Hogarth, you need to read this unflinching tale of power, pain, and redemption.

As always, don’t take my word for it. Grab a sample and see for yourself – but don’t be surprised by how it makes you feel. I’ve warned you.

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Modern Girl’s Guide to Vacation Flings

I don’t know what I expected. Delight wasn’t actually on the table when I grabbed a sample of this book but I’m carving my way through Gina Drayer’s Modern Girl’s Guide series and loving it. Vacation Flings is just the first bag of chips.

So, this is the “pretend boyfriend” trope melded with “I’m not looking for love” and “Dump that cheater.” Drayer does a masterful job of keeping those pages turning. As in a lot of mainstream romance, the basic conflict hinges on the two characters not talking to each other. I expected this and found the ways they didn’t talk to each other to be as fascinating as the characters themselves. Beth, healing from her past, and Matt, hounded by family, meet in first class (where else), but both believe their connection ends at the airport. Ha.

I loved this book (and I’m loving the sequel). It’s got some steamy bits but nothing too explicit and they’re done well. But don’t take my word for it. Why not grab a sample and see if you might like a little vacation fling – at least a literary one – for yourself?

[Transparency: I know Gina virtually, but we’ve never met in person. She doesn’t know I’m reading her books.]

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Paradigm Lost

This is one of those books that disappointed me only in that the series ended at two. I don’t know what happened to Taylor that he didn’t continue. I’m sure there were other stories to tell in this universe, but be that as it may.

The story contains AIs, the threat of robot overlords, and a lot of likable characters. As I was reading this, I kept thinking “This guy knows how this is supposed to work.” Imagine my surprise when I looked up Taylor and found he has a background in intelligence and networks. It shows without being in-your-face about it.

I enjoyed this book. Looking at it now, it seems like a bit of a lost treasure in its own right. But don’t take my word for it. Why not grab a sample and start your own investigation?

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]

Forging Zero

I found Forging Zero in March, 2015, and I’ve been following Sara King ever since. Jon Brazee reviewed Fortune’s Rising last August so when I saw this title in my list, I thought it was time to go back to the Sara King file. I recently discovered that we’re both SFWA members.

The Zero story starts as an alien invasion and rapidly becomes something very different. Military SF? Sure. Alien cultures? Check. A hero who wants to do the right thing even when he’s not sure what it might be? Of course. A story that stands on its own two feet, even as it acknowledges there’s more to come? That’s rare, but King pulls it off very nicely. From ancient alien prophecy (“It’s aliens”) to nail biting combat to – yes – even a little love story, I found myself rooting for Zero ever painful step of his journey.

But – as always – don’t take my word for it. Why not strap on your heavy weapons mind-set and grab a sample to see for yourself?

About the reviewer:

NathanLowell_150x150Nathan Lowell has been writing science fiction and fantasy most of his life. He started publishing in 2007 and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Learn more about Nathan Lowell and his works at http://nathanlowell.com

[Note: You’re seeing more reviews from me because fellow authors aren’t sending reviews of the books they like. If you’re an author, consider the submitting a review about an indie book you loved. The submission guidelines link is at the top of this page.]