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Fantasy and UF

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Couple of books I've read recently that I'd like to add to the list of books I enjoyed by indies.

Illegal Magic This one is wacky, but fun. Decent read with some cozy elements (crazy family).

Stained Glass Monsters This is a five star fantasy read. Really enjoyed it. It's got all the necessary elements for "epic" without going into long descriptions or boring sides. Two great protags, this was an awesome adventures.

In the UF category I have to mention The Man Who Crossed Worlds Good stuff. This one is so futuristic in nature, I didn't really categorize it as UF until I talked with someone else about it. Yeah, I guess it's UF. This is tough guy UF--and the guy could stand to eat more. :>) I enjoyed this a lot and am eagerly awaiting the next book.


message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
HOW could I forget Blade Song (Colbana Files, #1) by J.C. Daniels by J. C. Daniels? Yeah, it's violent. It's still one of the best books I've read all year. This is a must read.


message 3: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Read another very good one:

Confessions of a D-List Supervillain
by Jim Bernheimer

This is a comic book superhero type of novel. Was very well-written, funny in spots and a fun read.


message 4: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Also Illegal Magic by Arlene Blakely -- not deep literature and leans a bit to the cozy side...was a good read.


message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Read probably the best indie UF I've ever come across--
Demon Hunter and Baby (Aisling McKay, #1) by Anna Elliott by Anna Elliot. Yeah, it probably has one of the worst covers I've ever come across too, but don't let that put you off. It's an awesome read!


message 6: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Another decent UF read Graveyard Shift. Could have used a bit of tweaking on word use, but was a good story.


message 7: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
I haven't mentioned All the Paths of Shadow in the past because it was originally published by a small publisher. That publisher is no longer in business and the author is now handling publication of the novel.

Frank Tuttle has numerous works out, some by small publishers and some self-published. There isn't a bad one in the lot. Wistril Compleat is a self published anthology--and a good intro to Tuttle's humor and skill as a storyteller. His Markhat series is published by Samhain (I think all of them) and is a fantastic and imaginative series. Love it. Dead Man's Rain is a good place to start the Markhat books.


message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Adding a very good new adult (YA, but college-age) UF:

Chance in Hell

Definitely worth a look. Some bad puns (very bad) but pretty much in keeping with the age-group. Some of the characters were something else. :>)


message 9: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Want to add Heretic by Nassise. Good UF with a military bent. Tough guy kind of fiction.

Also Hollowland by Amanda Hocking. Dystopian YA --page turner. Great characterization.


message 10: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments For steampunk fantasy you could read Lindsay Buroker's The Emperor's Edge I haven't read the sequels yet but the first was very good.

Also for a time travel kind of romantic fantasy you could go with Out of Time which also has a sequel that I haven't read yet. Hm. May have to get on that.

Anyway, for adventure fantasy starring thieves, there is always the The Crown Conspiracy book one of six. Has humor, sort of a buddy bromance, lots of hithering to and fro stealing and hiding and whatnot for good or ill.


message 11: by Lindis (new)

Lindis (northernlindis) | 8 comments Maria wrote: "HOW could I forget Blade Song (Colbana Files, #1) by J.C. Daniels by J. C. Daniels? Yeah, it's violent. It's still one of the best books I've read all year. This is a must read."

OK, how did you get the cover pic in there? You have magic powers!

I read this and was blown away, then re-read it after I read book #2 in the series. And at the 2nd read I was more dubious - she still had me hooked (and I am so looking forward to book #3) but I was really annoyed by Kit! Something about the interaction with the H had me itching to give them both a piece of my mind...


message 12: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
NorthernLightsLin wrote: "Maria wrote: "HOW could I forget Blade Song (Colbana Files, #1) by J.C. Daniels by J. C. Daniels? Yeah, it's violent. It's still one of the best books I've read all year. This is a must read."

OK, how did yo..."


When you post, look at the top of the post box. There's a addbook/author link. You click that, enter the author or book name. At the bottom of THAT box, there is a selection to put either the link or the cover! Magic!

I don't know that the first would stand up to a second reading...and I am putting off book 2 until book 3 is out. The description sounded like Book 2 would be full of stupid angst. And I am harsh on angst (mostly feels like a contrived plot to keep two people apart who are obviously attracted to each other...)

What was your take on that? Was book 2 a bit contrived? Or just...what?


message 13: by Lindis (new)

Lindis (northernlindis) | 8 comments Contrived? No, not really - the lines are there all along, it seems like it's consciously plotted and it's not all a "let's throw some trouble at them so we can have lots of make-up drama" either. I'd say she is really going for a wham-bang third book, there are a lot of dark clouds piling up on the horizon, this on top of the beating Kit took in book 2. (Not really a spoiler, that - I was worried about reading it as the author kept tweeting responses she'd got about how bad she was to the h in the book.) (Violent, yes. OTT, no, not really.) And not too much of a cliffhanger either, though I do want to read book 3 the moment it drops into my kindle:)


message 14: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Hmm. Now I want to read it even more. I hope she hurries with Book 3. I do not want to start it until book 3 is out. I haven't checked her blog lately. I hope she's not off on summer vacation or anything silly.

The blurb for book 2 made me think that Kit was going to play everything really stupid and not utilize her partner's strengths in book 2. I will hold out hope that is not the case...


message 15: by Lindis (new)

Lindis (northernlindis) | 8 comments I get from Twitter that the author is working as fast as she can, but the release is scheduled (Nov?). I'd say you can read it now, but that's just me. Anyone else read it and can chime in?


message 16: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
NorthernLightsLin wrote: "I get from Twitter that the author is working as fast as she can, but the release is scheduled (Nov?). I'd say you can read it now, but that's just me. Anyone else read it and can chime in?"

We are the only two in the universe who have read the series...


message 17: by Lindis (new)

Lindis (northernlindis) | 8 comments Must be. Just re-read book #2 with your comments in mind and am really looking forward to your take on it:)


message 18: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments I found The Puppet Maker's Bones to be very entertaining. It's got a bit of urban and a bit of historical and it has some darkness in there too.

Meant to be eventually part of a series, but I wouldn't be put off by that. I thought it worked very well as a standalone.

Writing - very good
Story - interesting and it felt fresh
Shade - fairly dark

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Alisa has also written another book that I liked a lot despite it uses a storytelling technique I'm not particularly fond of. Under the Looking Glass. It's not a fantasy, more a surreal psychological mystery.

Both books have been reviewed on my site if you're looking for more details.


message 19: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments I recently finished Game of Souls which I can recommend. I don't know if I would say it's sublime, but it was enjoyable, had an interesting magical system and didn't inundate the reader with info dumps.

It's the first in a series/trilogy and I'm not sure how long it will be until the next is out. The author seems busy on more than one parallel project so it could be a while. Although there are some resolutions it clearly leads towards a second episode.


message 20: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Caleb wrote: "I recently finished Game of Souls which I can recommend. I don't know if I would say it's sublime, but it was enjoyable, had an interesting magical system and didn't inundate the reader with info d..."

This sounds less dark than the first one. I've followed your blog off and on. Is it safe to say you lean towards the dark side in your reading?? :>)


message 21: by Caleb (last edited Jun 29, 2013 09:44AM) (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments I guess I do prefer darker fiction. It's not that I don't like happy things, it's just that they need to be surrounded by sadness and despair. ;)

Actually, I didn't mention Pale Queen's Courtyard and The Whitechapel Gambit two quite different fantasy stories from the pen of Marcin Wrona. One is a more traditional fantasy set in a fantasy world modelled after Mesopotamia and the other was a Victorian Steam/Clockpunk work. I enjoyed both and will be reading more from this author.


message 22: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Caleb wrote: "I guess I do prefer darker fiction. It's not that I don't like happy things, it's just that they need to be surrounded by sadness and despair. ;)

Actually, I didn't mention Pale Queen's Courtyard ..."


I know someone on this forum who happens to love steampunk! I take it it's not really too dark?

Oh good, we'll make sure and make suggestions for you that have despair...gah!


message 23: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments I checked out The Whitechapel Gambit and the description is so annoyingly vague. I might have to give it a try at some point.

Just finished Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic which I believe is small press. I liked it, even though it hit some of my pet peeve buttons. Good main, interesting (if a bit vague) magic and werewolves and a vampire to boot. Not to mention all sorts of cupcakes and chocolate.


message 24: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
But it is an interesting description. Is Squeak a mouse? Or just an odd little worker? Hmm.

Now I find myself craving cupcakes and chocolate. Dang it.


message 25: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
I think that cupcakes one is indie, not small press. If I had to guess...it sounds cozy. Would I like it?


message 26: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments I wouldn't say it is cozy - don't let the cupcakes throw you off. I think you might like it, yes. Not positive of course, you're so finicky...;-) There is a mystery - who is killing people by draining out their blood? - and some interesting interaction with the local werewolf pack who are investigating and the enforcer vampire who is working with them to find out the murderer. The main is dimmer than I like but pretty decent as they go.


message 27: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
As long as she isn't TSTL...


message 28: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments No, she wises up a bit.


message 29: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
April wrote: "No, she wises up a bit."

Oh that's good. I'll add it to the wish list.


message 30: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments April wrote: "I checked out The Whitechapel Gambit and the description is so annoyingly vague. I might have to give it a try at some point.


One of the best things about this book is the world the author created. It really is quite fascinating. It's not a thick book so it's not lavishly detailed, but I still enjoyed it.

It's dark in the sense that all Victorian-style societies tend to have quite a bit of darkness - and the main character is a young, small lad who becomes rather quickly destitute, so you see some of the seedier sides of the city.

I think I remember there were some parts of the story where the action was a little confusing as you actually have some time jumps between older and younger Squeak.

But I definitely enjoyed it overall.


message 31: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Caleb wrote: "April wrote: "I checked out The Whitechapel Gambit and the description is so annoyingly vague. I might have to give it a try at some point.


One of the best things about this book is the world th..."



I started this and it's actually quite good. The character is done well and the whole thing is unique. Kindle somehow lost my place for me at the moment (and really threw me for loop with an age change!) I think overall it may not have enough action to keep me glued to the book, but it's enjoyable, different and intriguing.


message 32: by Maria (last edited Jul 12, 2013 11:34AM) (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Finished Crimes Against Magic. This is a good book. It's more violent than I will usually put up with and the James Bond "every female can't wait to hop in the sack with me" is overdone--but no more so than a lot of books with the female main who "suffers" from the same problem.

I feared it was going to leave the ending hanging for the next book, but it was a satisfactory ending.

I would have preferred that the same old tired legend not be used for some of the characters/background but that is because if I never have to read any of that same legend again, I would be happy. I happen to loathe most retold fairy tales of any sort and this one in particular. The author certainly has the imagination to put together unique world building without relying on such.

Characterization is quite good and varied. There are lots of characters/types and that kept things interesting.

My only real complaint is that the battles became rather endless--just kill the guy/other guy/that guy. I'm tired of seeing you fight the same old guy and one or the other of you gets away. It's a common theme in books of this nature (think Robert Crais, Lee Child, Clive Cussler -- only the UF version). I began to skim battle scenes.

The tension and storytelling was well-done, but a few less battle scenes would have made the book a stronger read for me overall. A constant "upping" the ante was used and generally with good skill, but it did wear on me mostly because this story was at the edges of what I'll read rather than the type of story I hunt out.

Romance: The character doesn't know the meaning of the word, so no, there isn't any. Okay, okay, the character thinks there is some, but I still deny it. The hopping into bed was the other part that was overdone for me, although the author was clever about providing plot reasons and even at times the main character suspected he might be being setup. Let's hope if there is another book the author doesn't use the same trick and that the protag gets smarter. I think it worked in this book (not to say it didn't annoy me) but like with female protags who are too well loved by every male (Charlaine Harris, I'm looking at you) that theme wears thin.

There were minimal typos, but several run-on sentences where two sentences were joined by commas. This wasn't all that frequent and was most often done during dialogue so it may have been done on purpose in some places.

Overall I think the writing and plotting could be 4 stars, but I probably won't rate the book that high because my personal preferences of what I like in a story aren't quite that high.


message 33: by Maria (last edited Jul 18, 2013 05:26AM) (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Finished Lady of Devices I don't know where to put this one as it isn't a fantasy, nor a mystery, nor a romance. I'd say it's closest to the the romance genre in writing style/themes/patterns. It's similar in setting and style to Soulless but could have used a mystery to carry some of the beginning, which, after a nice explosion was quite slow and predictable. I assumed a certain plot line (destitute, finds man, finds job) and was pleasantly surprised when it didn't go that direction.

Of course, it's terribly implausible much like Susanna and the Spy but has quite the character set to make it enjoyable. The ending was the best part with a nice set up for book 2.

The writing was flawless, the words and accents of the characters just enough.

This is NOT my normal genre, but it is well-written for what it is. If you're looking for a light read to pass the time pleasantly, this book fits that bill.


message 34: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Finished Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective Wow. Just wow. Quite possibly the best UF I've read this year, and certainly for a while. This is right up there with the very best UF out there.

From what little I can gather the author has a small publisher that handles the print copies. I'm not sure how the ebooks come about.

This story is a MUST READ for anyone who likes UF. I absolutely loved it.


message 35: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments Will put that one on my list!


message 36: by Lindis (new)

Lindis (northernlindis) | 8 comments Maria wrote: "Finished Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective Wow. Just wow. Quite possibly the best UF I've read this year, and certainly for a while. This is right up there with the very best UF out there.

F..."


On the list it goes!


message 37: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments Caleb wrote: "I recently finished Game of Souls which I can recommend. I don't know if I would say it's sublime, but it was enjoyable, had an interesting magical system and didn't inundate the reader with info d..."

Just an update on this recommendation. I completed a formal review on my site. If you're interested in what I thought about it, here's the link: http://papyrus.calebblake.net/2013/07/19/game-of-souls-by-terry-c-simpson/


message 38: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Caleb wrote: "Caleb wrote: "I recently finished Game of Souls which I can recommend. I don't know if I would say it's sublime, but it was enjoyable, had an interesting magical system and didn't inundate the read..."

Good, in-depth review. You put a lot of thought into your reviews. I found the comparisons you made interesting although I've read neither book. I love it when an author masters "info" versus "info dump." :>)


message 39: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments Just read the prequel novella Raw Deal which leads into the Bite Back series. I very much enjoyed it and am now going to look into getting the first in the series Sleight of Hand. Anyone who likes good UF with good characterization and an interesting mystery should give this one a try.


message 40: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
April wrote: "Just read the prequel novella Raw Deal which leads into the Bite Back series. I very much enjoyed it and am now going to look into getting the first in the series Sleight of Hand. Anyone who like..."


Cool. I just listed Raw Deal in the bargains and freebies section!


message 41: by Lindis (new)

Lindis (northernlindis) | 8 comments April wrote: "Just read the prequel novella Raw Deal which leads into the Bite Back series. I very much enjoyed it and am now going to look into getting the first in the series Sleight of Hand. Anyone who like..."

Nabbed it - thank you!


message 42: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Raw Deal - Decent read. I hope she develops some friends in the next book. She is one lonely investigator. Good book. Little more violent than necessary. What do y'all think of the covers?


message 43: by April (new)

April (dwndrgn) | 33 comments I like the covers - none of the standard painful poses in inappropriate clothes. Nothing to write home about artisic-wise, but decent with nothing to put someone off at first look.


message 44: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments I'm the opposite. I really hate that style of cover. But it does follow the trend of Urban/Paranormal Fantasy covers of today, so it's doesn't seem fitting to be too critical.


message 45: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Caleb wrote: "I'm the opposite. I really hate that style of cover. But it does follow the trend of Urban/Paranormal Fantasy covers of today, so it's doesn't seem fitting to be too critical."

I like the model, but I think it could be blended better so she fits into the scene a bit more. But I'm hypercritical of those things.

Trust me, Caleb, those covers sell better for UF than other styles. They are an instant marker of the genre for most readers. They know what to expect. The more traditional fantasy type cover art, well, it has been branded as fantasy so UF readers may well overlook a good UF because they assume it's epic fantasy. YMMV.


message 46: by Maria (last edited Jul 28, 2013 01:50PM) (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Shara and the Haunted Village was a cute little adventure/fantasy. I enjoyed it. Not epic, not rocket science but good characters and a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.


message 47: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Blake (caleb72) | 13 comments I recently read The Takers by R. W. Ridley. They advertise it as a cross between Stephen King and Wizard of Oz - but I'm not so sure that was a great comparison to make.

I did like the story. It's more YA than adult, but still fairly dark. The story itself moved along well and I did get into it. It has a few mechanisms I don't usually like in stories - one obviously triggered the comparison to Wizard of Oz. However, overall I enjoyed it.

It's part of a series of six books so far and I already own the first three so I'll probably progress to the next when I have a gap in my reading schedule.

If you don't like any YA feel at all, I'd probably skip it, but if you don't mind a blend of darkness and YA, this IPPY award winner might be worth a go.


message 48: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Caleb wrote: "I recently read The Takers by R. W. Ridley. They advertise it as a cross between Stephen King and Wizard of Oz - but I'm not so sure that was a great comparison to make.

I did like the story. It's..."


Interesting. I've been reading a lot less YA lately and partly because so much of it is dark. I also have a relative who is very into the dramatics lately...which some YA overdo. And some relatives overdo...

Thanks for the writeup.


message 49: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
I finished Stage Fright by Michelle Scott and I can recommend it if you like UF leaning to the darker side. It's a little more intense and sometimes gorier than I prefer. Scott does a lot with 'temptation' always putting her main characters in these moral and shaky positions. Not in a preachy way either, more in a survival way, as in, "gosh I shouldn't accept this present from this guy because he's going to expect something, but I sure do need a job..." kind of thing. And so there you are reading and wanting to smack the main because even though she is legitimately desperate, you and the main know that no good will come of it. Her characters are very human in this regard and it nearly kills me to read about them. I'm a lightweight, I admit it. I like my heroes to be stoic and though tempted, I cringe when they go ahead and "take a chance." ARGH! :>)

So yeah, she does a good job with tension and in this story, all the other pieces are there too--a good plot/mystery, pacing and some interesting characters. I couldn't totally empathize with a love of theater (not at all if you must know. I don't watch movies or show or dramas or theater. I read.) Some of the analogies for one's spirit and soul were so spot on that I found myself nodding.

It's not really your standard UF, but I can't place my finger on why that is. Maybe because the heroine is so *normal*. She's not a chosen one, or kick-ass or particularly rich or lucky. She's just getting by acting, waitressing two jobs, etc.


message 50: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) | 187 comments Mod
Adding Modern Sorcery to the list of rec'd UF authors. Ignore the ugly covers. I don't like a one of them. The formatting leaves a bit to be desired because there are double spaces between paragraphs, but you get used to that flow. Good story.


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