Friday, May 18, 2018

Self-Published Favorites

Hey'a, all! As you may or may not know, Indie e-Con is coming up fast— the scavenger hunt and Facebook party are tomorrow, and then the con proper begins the Monday after! For those who aren't aware, Indie e-Con is basically an online convention of indie and self-published authors and readers. Authors post about their experiences and advice, and there are contests, critique opportunities, free stuff . . . it's awesome. And because of Indie e-Con (and a helpful comment from my sister), I decided that this would be a good time to spotlight some of my favorite self- and indie-published books.

Self-Published Favorites

1. Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight. Ask most fans in the Christian-self-publishing circle about their favorite books and the Ilyon Chronicles will probably pop up somewhere on the list. I'm not quite as obsessed as some of them are, but, y'all, Samara's Peril is good. The character development is great (and pushed us past one of the things that kept me from loving other books in the series quite as much as I might have), the conflicts span the scale from small to epic, we learn stuff about a certain character's history that made me so happy . . . Plus, Samara's Peril contains, in my opinion, the best-handled Christ figure in Christian fantasy since Aslan and Narnia, along with one of the best extended battle sequences I've read outside of a Sanderson novel. Basically, it hits all the right buttons for me to count this my favorite self-published book I've ever read.

2. Lady Dragon, Tela Du by Kendra E. Ardnek. Y'all knew this one was coming; I've certainly talked about it enough. There's no Second Book Syndrome here, just a straight-up awesome plot, a pair of main characters who I love both as a couple and in their own rights (snarky practicality+dependable dreamer+childhood best friend romance= happy Sarah), an excellent villain with an equally excellent arc, and an emphasis on family. Oh, and a complete lack of unrealistic warrior prodigies, which is just icing on the cake. (As a bonus: Kendra's upcoming book, Worth of King, is just as good, or very nearly so, even though it has a very different feel. It comes out in August and I can't wait.)

3. Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag. This is a heavy book, both physically and emotionally. However, the weight doesn't make it less awesome. The writing style is the type of beautiful you usually don't find in modern books, a type of beautiful that can only come from an author who's willing to take her time with a story (and expects her readers to do the same). Yet despite a relatively slow pace (think The Lord of the Rings for comparison), the story never sags or grows dull but holds your interest all the way through. Granted, names and battles are sometimes confusing and overwhelming, and I got lost once or twice— the main reason this isn't second or even first on my list. But for the patient reader, this is a delight. Also, it has a Dammerung. Dammerung is awesome. I don't even know how to describe him without giving away too much, so I won't try, but yeah. He's one of the best parts of the book. Read it and you'll get what I mean.

4. Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I'm not sure if this quite counts as self-published? I mean, yes, Anne Elisabeth published it herself, but she also created her own small publishing house that publishes other people's books, so . . . yeah. That's the only reason why this isn't at the top of the list, because in terms of how much I love this book, well, let's put it this way: Tales of Goldstone Wood is one of my favorite series in the world. It's on par with The Lord of the Rings and most of Brandon Sanderson's work— honestly, it probably ranks slightly higher than a lot of Sanderson novels. And Golden Daughter is one of my two favorites in Goldstone Wood. It's just so unique, from the plot (twisty and unpredictable) to the setting (magical and magnificent and based on ancient Asia!) to the characters (Sairu is a contradictory delight). It balances humor with heartbreak, pain with promise. It answers questions and asks new ones. It's everything I love about Goldstone Wood wrapped up in one book.

5. The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Schultz. And now for something completely different . . . The Beast of Talesend is a short, steampunky spin on one of my favorite fairy tales featuring a detective main character who makes his living debunking magic . . . at least until he's magically transformed into a monster. (Not a spoiler; it says so in the blurb.) It's not an epic tale by any means, but it still grabs your attention and doesn't let go 'til the end. It also has a healthy dose of humor, especially in terms of character banter, and a pair of awesome brothers whose relationship is one of my favorite bits of the book.

6. An Earthly King by Hazel West. Clean, solid urban fantasy is hard to find (I should know; I've looked), which is one of the many reasons why I love An Earthly King. The fact that the fantasy bit is primarily based on Celtic/Irish mythology just makes it even better, and it has a really nice blend of the urban and fantasy elements (as opposed to the first book, which felt more heavily fantasy). Plus, we've got fun brotherly relationships (both between actual brothers and between friends-so-close-they're-almost-brothers) and an actual mystery what is this.

7. Magician's Trial by H.L. Burke. I officially need to learn to reserve judgment on any self-published trilogy or series until after I read the second book because something along the lines of the following consistently happens:
Me: Ok! *reads book one* Oh. That was pretty good. Not amazing, but not bad either. 
Me: Uh-huh. *procrastinates on book two*
Me: *finally reads book two*
Me: What the pumpernickel, that was SO GOOD.
Friends: WE TOLD YOU SO.
And, yes, I may be referring particularly to one specific friend who does this a lot, but, yeah. Basically, that's what happened with the Spellsmith and Carver series. The first and third books are good, but the second is the absolute best. Steampunk mystery is right up my alley (especially when it's an actual mystery), and this involves a magnificent blend of science (specifically engineering) and magic that I really enjoyed.

8. The Sky Riders by Christopher Hopper. We can't have a favorite-self-published-books post without a mention of one of the books and authors that first drew my attention to self-publishing in the first place and gave me one of my first experiences with steampunk. I gave this book five stars the first time I read it— looking back, I'm not sure I would do the same now. (I was a proofie on it, so there might be some sentimental attachment going on.) However, it's still a good book with an exciting plot and a fascinating world. My only real caution is that it ends on a cliffhanger and the second book is, well, nowhere in sight. Ah well.
What are your favorite self-published books? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. A few of these have been on my read-later list for a long time, but others I've never heard of. They look really cool! I really need to get to them someday.

    1. You definitely should! Which ones are new to you, out of curiosity?
      Thanks for commenting!

    2. Lady Dragon Tela Du, An Earthly King, the Beast of Talesend, and Spellsmith & Carver. :)

  2. I need the third Spellsmith and Carver book. I loved the others.
    (Though the part of my mind that's slightly suspicious of fantasy, and tries to analyze everything isn't sure what to do with the world.)

    1. The third one is good. Better than the first; not as good as the second. I hope you can get it soon!
      (Really? In what way?)
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Ooh I love some of the covers for these! And I do want to read Plenilune sometime because I used to read Jennifer's blog all the time and she's so nice! I also read the bessst self-pubbed trilogy this year 😍and the last book is on my top-of-the-year list so that was really awesome! (It's called The Foxhole Court.) Anyway it's awesome that there's this e-con to support indie authors!!

    1. Aren't they gorgeous? :D You should definitely read Plenilune. I think you'd enjoy it— you'd enjoy Dammerung, anyway.
      I didn't know The Foxhole Court was a self-pub! I remember seeing you talk about it a bunch!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.