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text 2017-10-16 21:50
Self-Pubs That Shine
The Book of Kindly Deaths - Eldritch Black
Rewinder - Brett Battles
Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper - J.L. Bryan
Paladin - Sally Slater
Haven - A.R. Ivanovich,Michelle Ivanovich
Nightfall Gardens - Allen Houston
Marking Time - April White
Slumber - Samantha Young
Timebound - Rysa Walker
Nefertiti's Heart - A.W. Exley

Most of us these days are aware of the flood of self-pubbed books and how difficult it can be to find a gem in the sea of mediocrity.  We often see reviews of the sub-par and/or reports of unethical marketing schemes or unprofessional behavior on the part of some authors.

But some of us who have stuck a toe or two into those waters have come across a few gems.  I thought it'd be good to share a few self-pubbed & small press books I really enjoyed and that I feel stand well among their trade-pubbed counterparts. 

So here are a few I've discovered that I am proud to recommend.

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review 2017-03-07 16:56
Marking Time
Marking Time - April White

Saira Elian is a 17-year-old Californian girl whose English mother disappears while Saira, a solitary parkour free-runner and tagger (hope I got that right!), is out doing her thing in “the tunnels” somewhere under LA. Faced with the Child Protection Services unless she can name a relative who will take responsibility for her, Saira reluctantly tells them about someone in England.

 

That someone was waiting for me when I stepped off the British Airways flight in London: Millicent Elian. I hadn’t seen my grandmother since I was three years old […] My mother couldn’t stand her. Not a big surprise given the way she was sizing me up, probably wondering if I was worth the effort. […] “I see you got his height.” Millicent’s tone was not flattering. “Hello, Millicent.” I knew I should be more polite and call her “Grandmother”, considering she just kept me out of foster care, but she hadn’t really earned the title. “And his manners, too, obviously.” “I wouldn’t know.” […] “I have a car waiting.” Of course she did. Millicent’s fancy gray Rolls Royce waited at the curb outside the airport, and her fancy gray driver held the door open for us. “Home, Jeeves,” she said with total authority. “Jeeves? You’re joking.” “I don’t joke.” Millicent’s expression didn’t change. Jeeves caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and very slowly, he winked. It wasn’t much, that wink, but it was something.

 

It turns out that the Elians are a family of time-travellers, and Saira’s mother, who is normally gone for only a couple of days (or that's how it seems!) is now being held against her will in Victorian London. And that, of course, is where half the story, and most of the adventure, takes place.

 

One aspect of the story that fascinated me was the love between Saira and a young man in Victorian times who had already known Saira in the future in her own time and fallen for her there – or should that be “then”? He, of course, doesn’t know about this yet, and she can’t tell him because the secret of how he came to be still a young man all those years later is just – well … I’ll leave it to you to sort all this out when you read the book, and add only, by way of encouragement, that while the ingredients may not be entirely original (there’s Hogwarts here, and Ann Rice, and Jack the Ripper, and Time Travel) the resulting dish is something different from the usual run-of-the-mill YA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

 

(Here's a different cover - I much prefer it.)

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review 2016-08-08 06:28
Marking Time (C.J. Anthony)
Marking Time - C. J. Anthony

2.75 stars rounded up

The pace felt uneven and the novella seemed more like Adam's story rather than Adam and Chase's; and while I liked the early part with Adam realizing his sexuality for the first time, as well as the talk with his Dad, but I wasn't happy with him later on.

Him breaking up with Chase because of a homophobic team mate who was already despised by others just didn't make sense. Not like Chase was part of the troop. He was all the way in the U.S. for God's sake, and Chase already said that it was okay if Adam wanted to tell everyone that Chase was just a friend with wife and kids.

I rounded up the story because of Chase's Dad (loved that guy), plus this was free as well as it seemed to be Anthony's first dip into writing for Don't Read in the Closet event back in 2012.

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review 2016-02-03 19:30
Marking Time
Marking Time - April White

Saira Elian is a 17-year-old Californian girl whose English mother disappears while Saira, a solitary parkour free-runner and tagger (hope I got that right!), is out doing her thing in "the tunnels" somewhere under LA. Faced with the Child Protection Services unless she can name a relative who will take responsibility for her, Saira reluctantly tells them about someone in England.

 

That someone was waiting for me when I stepped off the British Airways fkight in London: Millicent Elian. I hadn't seen my grandmother since I was three years old [...] My mother couldn't stand her. Not a big surprise given the way she was sizing me up, probably wondering if I was worth the effort. [...]

"I see you got his height." Millicent's tone was not flattering.

"Hello, Millicent." I knew I should be more polite and call her "Grandmother", considering she just kept me out of foster care, but she hadn't really earned the title.

"And his manners, too, obviously."

"I wouldn't know."

[...]

"I have a car waiting." Of course she did. Millicent's fancy gray Rolls Royce waited at the curb outside the airport, and her fancy gray driver held the door open for us.

"Home, Jeeves," she said with total authority.

"Jeeves? You're joking."

"I don't joke." Millicent's expression didn't change.

Jeeves caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and very slowly, he winked. It wasn't much, that wink, but it was something.

 

It turns out that the Elians are a family of time-travellers, and Saira's mother, who is normally gone for only a couple of days (or so it seems!) is now being held against her will in Victorian London. And that, of course, is where half the story, and most of the adventure, takes place.

 

One aspect of the story that fascinated me was the love between Saira and a young man in Victorian times who had already known Saira in the future in her own time and fallen for her there – or should that be "then"? He, of course, doesn't know about this yet, and she can't tell him because the secret of how he came to be still a young man all those years later is just – well ...

 

I'll leave it to you to sort all this out when you read the book, and add only, by way of encouragement, that while the ingredients may not be entirely original (there's Hogwarts here, and Ann Rice, and Jack the Ripper, and Time Travel) the resulting dish is something different from the usual run-of-the-mill YA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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review 2015-08-01 06:20
Marking Time - Marie Force

A great story about the ex-wife of the hero in previous book.  I was totally in sympathy with her dilemma. Everything was good about this story, plot, action, romance and even secondary (I must read Coming Home now where reviews say author makes this work.)  Claire must rebuild her life that fell apart during her three years in a coma.

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