Thursday 23 April 2015

IAF 15 - Indie Picks #1

The Indie Author Fair is all about discovering great new books and writers. So we asked all participating authors to recommend up to three 'indie' reads. The results were exciting, eclectic and far too good not to share. Top tips from some of the most demanding readers there are.


 A Shadow in Yucatan by Philippa Rees (recommended by Mari Howard)

This is an ambitious project, a story told in verse. It’s full of amazing language, wordplay, and the writer exploits words and meanings and sounds as much as ever a poet would. And, she tells a story …
The story is an interesting evocation of the 'hippy culture' of the 1960s, the style reminiscent of T.S. Eliot. I found it slightly difficult to follow as the poetry is quite intensely packed, and I felt story-telling made a slow start. Then the pace picked up, and it got better and better as it unfolded. The contrast between what society wanted, and what the girl Stephanie wanted and decided (or drifted into) was stark. Was it better, or the same as, the emotional impact if she'd followed society? I wonder if that slow pace was, actually, part of the evocation? That would make a lot of sense: the slow, poetic setting fitting exactly the era of the ‘summer of love’.

Maggie's Child by Glynis Smy (recommended by Dr Carol Cooper)

Glynis Smy really knows how to tell a story. I defy anyone not to become totally involved in the trials and tribulations of Maggie, the feisty heroine of this book, especially if they have children. Historical novels usually put me off, mostly because of the laboured descriptions and mannered speech, but there’s none of that here. The action takes place in Victorian times, though the core of the dilemma could well apply to the present day. I can’t wait for the follow-up title Maggie’s Men. A well-deserved Amazon bestseller.

A Day of Fire by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn & Vicky Alvear Shecter (recommended by Derek Birks)

The advantage of six authors is demonstrated by the breadth of themes explored in the novel. The human condition with all its frailties exposed is given a thorough going over in this work. Yet the individual stories with all their scope for gloom nevertheless manage also to demonstrate the best of human qualities alongside the worst. The real triumph of this work is that all of this is accomplished whilst the story builds in tension and excitement. I kept thinking as I finished each story: how is the next writer going to top this? But they did!

Overall, I can’t praise this book highly enough. It’s a rattling good tale of disaster, death, resolution and rebirth. It has a diverse range of characters that are well-drawn and woven convincingly into the story.

Stocking Fillers by Debbie Young (recommended by Philippa Rees)

This delightful tray of wrapped Christmas bon-bons. You may bite into each and any and be slightly surprised at their flavours, sardonic, satirical, compassionate, humorous, and in the collection there lies an almost a Victorian antiquity, the moral admonition that too much of anything is unwise, indeed a little reprehensible. Yet it is laughingly said, fun to share and pass around. But like the wrappings in the bin they paint a subtle message that spoilt children, lonely widows, competitive exhibitionism, and dreary duty is also part of the season of goodwill. Debbie knows just how to juggle the flavours.

Zen of eBook Formatting by Guido Henkel (recommended by Chele Cooke)

I loved reading this book.
Formatting can be a pain for a lot of authors and Guido Henkel completely changes that. He walks readers through a detailed way of creating beautiful and working eBooks whilst also taking the time to explain each aspect so that, not only does formatting become interesting, but is also logical enough to progress on your own.
 If you want to get your geek on about formatting, this is the book for it.

Silver Rain by Jan Ruth (recommended by Gillian Hamer)

I don’t read much contemporary women’s fiction, I’ll be honest, and wasn’t sure what to expect. Silver Rain is in many ways a clichéd love story … but without any of the clichés. Instead there are lots of secrets, intrigues, twists and turns along the way – guided by what feels a very competent author’s hand. Also, set in North Wales, one of my favourite places in the world, location is another huge winner here for me. This author is one that I know I will return to time and again.

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