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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Top Ten Indie Books of 2012

Hello hello!

Well, 'tis a new year and time for lots of lovely new books to read. There will be a Bioshock series review within the next week to explain why I'm currently aglow with admiration, but I couldn't pass up the chance to share the stage with more indie buddies.

I love books. I read like a demon and I love to talk about them, share opinions on them, and learn new things. In my driven efforts to improve as an author, I came across some really wonderful books last year. I could tell you about the classics I've read--such as Jules Verne's canon (read in English, not French), Les Liasons Dangereuses by de Laclos (ditto, and it was still gorgeous and erotic), or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but they are books known and well-loved. They don't need the extra press (though I urge you to go to the cheap classics section of Kobo or Kindle and load it up. You'll love me for it.) but I will probably do a short monograph on classics I love anyway. However, today belongs to the independent authors.

In addition to my own two new babies, And the Stars Will Sing and The Stolen: Two Short Stories, I'd like to list my top ten indie books of 2012. These are books that changed my perception of their genres. I laughed and cried and shivered in fear. Do not miss these. If you ignore every other list, you have to read these books.

In addition to generally good prose, they are also mould-breakers--characters are realistic, plots are good, and social justice issues are addressed in a readable way. This is the future of indie writing--katooey girls treated normally, fantasy novels that turn cliches on their head on purpose, new magic systems, and genre-bending style and panache. I can't wait for more from these authors, so get your credit cards and browse the list. You won't regret it. Oh, and don't forget to leave a review after you've fallen in love--they'll thank you for it, and you might inspire someone else to check out this awesomeness.

More information can be found on the reviews I left for the books--under 'SciFiMagpie' of course--but here's a quick rundown of why I loved these.

image credit goes to the Amazon page, obviously. Believe me, this book is so much more than an urban fantasy with a hint of romance. So very much more.

The Top Ten Independent Novels of 2012 

 1. Chris Shields' Fae Journals series. http://www.amazon.com/The-Steward-Weald-Fae-Journals/dp/0615691560/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

I loved this because of the protagonist, Maggie O'Shea. I won't lie--I picked it up and expected a crappy warmed-over urban fantasy novel where Downtrodden Girl gets the boy, the friends, and the magical powers. NOPE NOPE NOPE. Real character development, faults, a bit of humour, and (sigh of relief) a mythology system that was logical and didn't make me want to punch babies make this series a sure-fire winner. I predict that it'll be a modern classic eventually and urge you to read both The Steward and its even-better sequel, The Changeling. Maggie is a great role model and--I say this rarely--a person that I would really love to meet and hang out with outside her book.

2. JC Eggleton's Brookhaven. http://www.amazon.com/Brookhaven-Book-Fate-Series-ebook/dp/B0091DX32O/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Those of you who follow the blog know that I interviewed the wonderfully creepy and clever JC Eggleton earlier in the year. Eggleton's eerie prose and cut-throat writing style offers new hope for the horror genre and I cannot wait for the next installment.

3. Clinton Boomer's The Hole Behind Midnight. http://www.amazon.com/The-Hole-Behind-Midnight-ebook/dp/B005Z8G08S/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

I really liked this one. It has an atypical but sympathetic protagonist who still manages to be a dick, some of the BEST exposition writing I have ever seen, and probably the best system of magic I saw last year. Delightful, and another book that will be getting a series, to my relief. Did I mention that until these writers, series of novels used to irritate me?

4. Richard Long's The Book of Paul. http://www.amazon.com/Book-Paul-Paranormal-Thriller-ebook/dp/B0088QYXGA/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

This one is another beacon of hope for the horror genre. I'd have to say Long's prose is some of the best I read in an indie book last year. Everything is slick and tight, and the gore has that special touch of just being under-described enough to really freak you out. It does get very dark and gritty, but it's so compelling. I really did hate myself a bit for liking the eponymous protagonist...but this will be, no kidding, a classic of horror in years to come.

5. J. Damask's Wolf at the Door series. http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-At-the-Door-ebook/dp/B004V51E0K/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

I generally hate urban fantasy that revolves around vampires and werewolves. This is one of two books on the list that has singlehandedly helped to redeem the genre and convince me to give it another shot. The dreamlike prose can be hard to follow, but the main character is realistic, sympathetic, and relatable--and again, I love this author's prose style. The sequel, Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye continues in the same vein and is even more badass. This gives feminist writers something real to aim for--not just crappy 'strong independent stereotypes'. Also, it's set in Singapore, and you will learn things about the country. How cool is that?

The pretty girl on the cover is only the tip of a dark and dirty iceburg. 

6. John Dolan's Everyone Burns. http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Burns-ebook/dp/B008I6GXM2/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

The wicked humour in this dark noire novel is matched only by its twists and turns. Dolan is another writer with really tight prose, and his descriptions of a small island off the Thai coast will make you sweat. Filled with beautiful katooey bar girls and plot-relevant educational info about Buddhism, the motifs in this book make it a literary-quality read with the deliciousness that pulp books aspire to. I usually dislike mystery novels, but I am dying for more from this author.

7. Travis Luedke's Nightlife series. http://www.amazon.com/The-Nightlife-York-Series-ebook/dp/B0090P1MIU/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

I hate vampires most of the time. I enjoy erotic content, sure, but erotic vampire novels usually give me the vapors and make me start looking for my crucifix, stake, and garlic. Dirty sex, a hardboiled crime plot, and the ability to take cliches balls-on and make them work characterize all three of Travis' novels. Shockingly, the vampire stuff works well and he understands the predatory nature a vampire is supposed to have, needs to have. Add in the fact that he captures the spirit of his cities pretty well, and that he doesn't write watered down, 50 Shades style BDSM. Finally, how about some characters with actual development and realistic relationships? I thought so. Get down with your bad self and buy it.

8. Jim Wright's New Yesterdays. http://www.amazon.com/New-Yesterdays-ebook/dp/B008JV98IM/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

The prose on this one has a few wobbly moments, but the written style is just too charming to pass up. I loved the warm Southern style. This is one of the only two truly YA friendly novels on the list, and the topic this author wrote about is even more daring because of its audience. What if the genocides perpetrated on First Nations people had never happened? What if they had been warned? The ending was NOT what I expected, and I am looking forward to the sequel to see where it goes from here.

9. Robert Carter's Sheer Purgatory. http://www.amazon.com/The-Nightlife-York-Series-ebook/dp/B0090P1MIU/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

I love British humour and this is a glittering example of the style. I really got plenty of thinking-material out of the moral system here, and I won't spoil it by going into detail. I will say, though, that it had a delightful way of confirming my feelings about god, the great bloody trickster.

10. Gary Dolman's Eighth Circle of Hell. http://www.amazon.com/The-Nightlife-York-Series-ebook/dp/B0090P1MIU/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

This book is about child rapists and the dark side of Victorian society. You have been warned. It's another book with literary style and proper use of motifs, and it is a damn hard read. I haven't had so much trouble getting through something since Eli Wiesel's Night, which almost broke me in gr. 12 English. However, I really think that other steampunk enthusiasts and fellow Anglophiles need to be aware of this painful and hidden chapter of history. It's ugly and it's dark, but the ending will make you tear up. Considering how many children are victimized to this day, this is a definite must-read.

BONUS--I know I said 'top ten' but I couldn't bear to leave this off.

This book will not go where you're expecting it to. You have been warned. You're welcome!

11. Robert Eaton's The Hero Always Wins. http://www.amazon.com/The-Hero-Always-Wins-ebook/dp/B005CMGZAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1357527689&sr=1-1&keywords=the+hero+always+wins

When I first started to read it I was very suspicious. I even rolled my eyes. Not another epic fantasy, I thought. When I hit the madness descriptions, I was intrigued enough not to drop it. Prepare for all the cliches to be ruthlessly turned inside out as well as embraced with the proper epic style. Don't miss this one--it deserves your attention and I guarantee you'll be surprised.

Well, that's the run-down...tune in next week for Bioshock analysis and more awesomeness!


Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. Expect the usual hijinks--reviews, previews, some thinky-thinky bits where I get all societally analytical on your asses, and even some nerdgasm content. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!


  1. Way to go John Dolan! I read Everyone Burns and loved it! I'm so happy it made this list! Well done!!

  2. I'm glad you agreed! Welcome to the blog, Sandy--would you like to leave a few of your favourite indie books' names here? I'm sure my readers would love it as much as I would!


As always, be excellent unto others, and don't be a dick.