Friday, December 28, 2012

Indie Book Covers of 2012

One of my favorite parts of posting book reviews is looking at the cover art, even on ebooks.  Some of the finest art out there is on Indie Books and I am well-known for buying a book for its cover!


One of the most beautifully illustrated books I have read in a long time is Ravenwild by Dr. Peter J. Plasse. The gorgeous illustrations are by the incredibly talented Michael Longenecker. Even if the book were a dud, I would recommend it just for Longenecker's richly detailed paintings and drawings which are sprinkled throughout the book! However, this book is a very good read. I spent a snowy day in March reading this tale, and I am now a confirmed fan.  This is definitely my cover of the year, and the artwork within is awesome.

Hemlock and the Wizard Tower (The Maker’s Fire) by B. Throwsnaill. This was the best .99 that I have spent in a long while and the cover art was also fabulous.

The Sum of All Men This book was first published in 1998, but for some strange reason I had never read any work by David Farland. That omission, however, has been rectified. He isn’t an indie, but I am now a drooling fan.

Darkness Rising 3, Prism is the long awaited third installment in the sweeping Darkness Rising Series, by Dr. Ross M. Kitson. I love, love, love Hunor!

FireseedOne by Catherine Stine – this was a guest review by Alison DeLuca. An awesome book!

Northman is an excellent novel by an indie author. J.D. Hughes twists time and history into a paranormal page-turner that is one of a kind. The cover is simple and powerful, and caught my eye when I first saw it on his blog.

‘The Time Weaver’ by indie author Thomas A. Knight was an excellent first novel, and I think it bodes well for his future efforts. He also opted for a simple cover design, one that is intriguing in its simplicity.

Jeffrey Getzin’s breathtaking epic fantasy, Prince of Bryanae’ is exceptionally well covered, in a fabulous fantasy cover that is as fine as we could find on a Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson novel. I would have given this book my cover of the  year vote, if I hadn't fallen in love with Peter Plasse's Ravenwild.
Alison DeLuca's wonderful Steampunk books, The Crown Phoenix Series has three amazing covers, all of which really catch the eye, but there is something about this cover that I just love. Maybe it is that she reminds me of Wednesday Addams, only sweeter...
I was also fascinated by the simple yet intriguing covers on LornaT. Suzuki's and Nia Suzuki-White's wonderful Dream Merchant Saga. I felt compelled to pick them up and take a good look when I first saw them and I am so glad I did!
All of these covers prove that even ebooks need good covers on them, because every one of these books was a Kindle or Nook purchase, and as I said before, I usually buy a book for it's cover.

These are by no means all of the fine covers which were featured on the Best In Fantasy this year, but they were the ones with most quickly caught my eye and while I could go on and on, there is only so much you poor readers are going to put up with.


I always loved looking at the pictures as much as reading the books when I was young, and I'm no different now! 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Darkness Rising 3, Prism by Ross M. Kitson

Darkness Rising  3, Prism is the long awaited third installment in the sweeping  Darkness Rising Series, by Ross M. Kitson.

In Books 1 and 2 we met Emelia, Jem, Hunor, Marthir, Orla and Kervin.  After their escape from Goldoria, Emelia and her companions begin their arduous journey into the swamps of Ssinthor. A land ravaged by ancient sorcery, it is a place of secrets and danger. In fact, the land is in many ways poisonous, and while it affects Kervin, the toxic land affects the druid, Marthir most extremely. Emelia also undergoes a profound change, and the personal stresses between the companions threaten their cohesiveness as much as the evil which surrounds them.

Deep in the mists and unhealthy fogs of Ssinthor, an insane lizardman sorcerer wields the green crystal to devastating effect. As darkness threatens to tear the comrades apart they must somehow challenge the awesome power working against them.  It is in Ssinthor that Orla comes into her own, and we see the woman as the honorable warrior she is.

In Artoria far to the west, Aldred and his new comrades travel on a misguided mission to save his cursed father. A chance encounter with a seer throws them into a rash digression from their path, deep into the Emerald Mountains, where a terrible foe awaits. Now Aldred is set on a path, for good or ill, which affects everyone.

Hidden in the secret recesses of a ruined fort, a crystal of blackest sorcery awaits its former master, Vildor, Lord of the Ghasts. Vildor’s underlings are legion, and his reach is long. Vildor is as obsessive unforgiving as any immortal can be.

Kitson’s world is fully fleshed in both its history and social structure, but he doesn’t fall into the trap of overly descriptive prose.  The reader’s mind is allowed to absorb the tale, free to imagine the places and the people unimpeded.  We are drawn in and live the tale with intensity, feeling a sense of loss when the final pages arrive, and we emerge from the tale only to realize we must now wait until Mr. Kitson has written the next installment in this brilliant fantasy adventure.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Northman, by J.D. Hughes

Northman is an excellent novel by an indie author.  J.D. Hughes twists time and history into a paranormal page-turner that is one of a kind. 

Academically brilliant, but haunted by the memories of her dead lover, Kate Elliot struggles to find the joy in her chosen career. An archaeologist, she is assisting Dr. Weatherall at a dig near Repton, England.  An unexploded bomb left over from WWII has exploded and opened up the barrow of a Viking warrior, Thorkild, exposing his bones and that of an infant. 

The night she finds the infant’s skull, strange things begin to happen to Kate, and somehow she finds herself running though the archaeological dig, pursued by the malevolent spirit of the Viking who is determined to possess her. Rescued by Michael McLaren, a B-Movie director, Kate is troubled by several terrible events which all have a common thread – the Northman, Thorkild. Soon others are trapped in the same web of terror and together they are thrust back 1200 years into 9th century England to face the Northman.

Life and death, death and rebirth combined with an amulet that won’t stay put and a Norse god with an agenda make this book a thriller that is completely addicting from page one.  Visual, and violent, sexually explicit and definitely not for the faint of heart, Hughes’s characters draw you in, even Thorkild is fascinating, albeit in the same way a live grenade is fascinating. You can’t look away, and you have no idea where the next plot twist will take you.  I absolutely love the originality and the way Hughes combines Norse Mythology and archaeology to weave one of the best books of the year.

I gladly give this book five stars!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Dream Land, Stephen Swartz

I have long been a fan of Stephen Swartz's writing. In The Dream Land, Long Distance Voyager he has ventured into the realm of science-fiction and fantasy, and done it with his own inimitable style.
The Blurb:
High school nerds Sebastian and Gina discover a doorway to a new world. Adventure-loving Gina falls in love with the world of Ghoupallesz and wants to stay, but studious Sebastian fears losing touch with Earth, so he returns alone. Nevertheless, he sneaks back time and time again for his own adventures before finally giving it up after too many lost loves, betrayals, and war.

Years later, working night shift at the IRS, Sebastian feels the cosmic pull once more. Gina is in trouble. Again. Of course he must return and save her! Perhaps this time, he hopes, they can remain together. Returning through the inter-dimensional doorway, Sebastian must first gather his old comrades from the war, cross the towering Zet mountains, and free Gina from the evil Zetin warlord’s castle.

Unfortunately, Sebastian finds there are more questions needing answers. Is his adventure on the other side real? Or is it just the dream of a psychotic killer? That’s what the police want to know when his friends and co-workers go missing.
My Review:
Stephen Swartz has once again created a unique and believable world—both the world we live in and the world of Ghoupallesz. As always, his characters are deep and not always possessed of good intentions. Sebastian is both naïve and worldly, and he is both young and old.  Gina was never naïve, with her own agenda and is not exactly straight with Sebastian (or indeed with anyone). 

This is most definitely NOT a simple tale of boy rescues girl and they live happily ever after. It is instead a complex, richly layered tale of lives and deaths experienced, and also of dreams versus realities and the blurred line between. It’s a tale of discovery and coming to terms with one’s choices. I found it to be intriguing and not surprisingly, I found myself unable to put this book down once I began reading it.

I am definitely looking forward to Book II, Dreams of Future’s Past.