Ranging from children’s books to Yuletide horror and everything in between, I’ve squirrelled away the best in Indie Christmas Reads for you.
The books presented here have all been reviewed on this blog either last Christmas or this year.
Clicking on a book cover will take you to the review and its relevant links.
Christmas also features heavily in R.M. Gauthier’s Christmas Miracle series, in which the stories take place in Christmas Town, USA at different times of the year.
The third book in Goodwin’s The Forensic Genealogist series, ‘The Orange Lilies’ is a shorter story that focuses on Morton’s own history and the family secrets that have obscured it for so long.
Equally interesting and intriguing as the first two books in the series, this story is different in that it is far more intensely personal for Morton, and does not involve an exterior case that Morton is called upon to investigate. This story brings some well-crafted resolution to the questions Morton has harboured as a sub-plot that runs throughout books one and two, and returns him to a position of strength and resolve, from which he can approach the future and future investigations more confidently.
Morton’s exploration of his family history takes the story back to the opening months of World War I and his great-grandfather’s service as a soldier. While the discoveries he makes are fascinating, some questions regarding his great-grandfather and extended family still remain, giving a satisfying sense of continuity to the overall narrative of the series, and providing healthy anticipation for the next book.
This is an excellent read, and the series as a whole is brilliant. If you enjoy historical fiction and mystery, do not overlook this book and its companions in The Forensic Genealogist series.
This is an enjoyable collection of seven mixed genre short stories.
Some of these stories are more complex than others, offering some intrigue and good plot development before delivering a twist. One or two of the others were less involved and, while they certainly delivered a twist, it was more of a surprise ending than the fulfilment of a sense of mystery.
The retro narrative style of the three ‘Private Eyes’ stories which comprise a detective noir style series gave them a nice mystery aesthetic that worked quite well. A profound contrast is provided by the dark humour and bleak irony of ‘Halloween in Windsor.
These stories are most likely to appeal to readers with varied and eclectic tastes and an appreciation for clever and unpredictable storytelling.
The saying goes that “there is no honour among thieves”, but the protagonist of this story is certainly an exception to that rule.
This is a fun fantasy short story full of action and varied, interesting characters. Elona, the central character is clever and talented, and it is most engaging to see her adapt to the changes that happen in her life without losing her individuality or sacrificing her loyalty.
The world building is quite unique, providing settings that reveal the two extremes of life in the kingdom of Tore— the wealth of the mage’s citadel and the grunge of the thieves’ den. The kingdom has a very old-world feel, yet the characters have access to modern technology, which creates an intriguing juxtaposition
The story can be read under an hour, which makes it ideal for a lunch break or fitting into a busy lifestyle.
In a genre that is highly competitive and very well populated, it is crucial that an author finds a way to make their work stand out from the crowd.
Kayla Krantz has achieved this bu creating a vibrant, talented and engaging protagonist who has a disability, and crafting complications and one of the mysteries of the story around the origins of Lilith’s injury.
As a reader with mobility issues of my own, this gave me a point of connection with Lilith and created instant empathy for her. Her disability is presented in a genuine and realistic way, as is the mental and emotional “conversation” she has with herself because of it. Importantly, the author demonstrates very clearly and powerfully that a disability does not define a person, nor does a physical impairment limit one’s talent, character or potential for success. Lilith is clearly a witch who happens to have a disability, not a disabled witch. This is a really important distinction.
The story is well crafted, with plenty of interest and mystery in the subplots as well as the main story. The characters are varied and complex, many with intriguing backgrounds and individual motivations that contribute to the mysterious tone of the story.
Having greatly enjoyed this first book, this is certainly a series I want to read more of.
Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was the first anointed and crowned queen of England, ruling alongside her husband, Edgar, in the 10th century.
‘The First Queen Of England’ Part 2 is the second instalment of Elfrida’s story, and shows just how strong and resilient she was in a world dominated by patriarchy, politics and warfare.
Just like the first book in the series, this book is very well written and is entirely consistent with the historical context of the story, even though it is undoubtedly fiction.
It is a significant achievement on the author’s part to reanimate characters from the long-distant past in such a way that the reader feels as though they know them and can understand their concerns, cares and motivations. It is pleasing to witness the dynamics of the characters as they mature, and intriguing to observe the intricacies of the machinations and politics at court and the personal impact on the queen and king as individuals as well as rulers.
The narration by Sheila Daly Payson is most enjoyable. Her voice is pleasant and her reading is fluent. Her characterisation of the different roles is effective, and really brings the various characters to life.
As richly detailed and intriguing as part 1, ‘The First Queen Of England, Part 2’ is a most enjoyable story. This is in every aspect a very pleasurable audiobook experience, and is also available as an ebook or paperback.
‘Kennedy Awakens’ is Book 1 of the brand new Boston: An Urban Fantasy Series by Greg Alldredge.
If you love books where magical and earthly realities merge in dangerous and exciting ways, you won’t want to miss this.
Magic and Fae are real…
… Most times Kennedy wished they weren’t.
327 years is a long time for any person to keep the peace, but doing it in the body of a child is beyond the pale.
Light, Dark, Outcasts, the Fae come in many flavors, and each family syndicate pursues a different agenda.
She didn’t even want to consider the Authority and the agents ready to crack heads to keep the secret world under wraps.
If you love Urban Fantasy where spell slingers fight to keep humanity safe, you’ll adore where this tale takes you.
‘The Pursuit of Trust’ is Book 2 in the author’s Discovering Kia paranormal/urban fantasy series.
Following on directly from where ‘In Pursuit Of Light’ left off, this book continues to explore questions about not only Kia, but also the individual pasts and stories of the men who have become her protectors, Once again, these men share the role of narrator, but it is also significant that Kia has more agency in this book and communicates her thoughts and feelings through more than gesture and action.
Kia is still a mysterious character, although the reader definitely feels as though they grow to know her better throughout the second book. Answers to the questions about her nature and abilities remain elusive, however, which is also true of her companions.
It is interesting that this book is titled ’The Pursuit of Trust’ because the lack of trust, and the inability of the central characters to have absolute confidence in one another, are central drivers of the storyline. In fact, the only character who has any implicit trust in anyone is Kia herself, thanks to her innate ability to know the truth and integrity of one’s character. The different characters’ insights through their narration of parts of the story is a key means of exploring notions of trust and distrust, and the associated experiences of loyalty, jealousy and resentment that either nourish or poison the feelings of each character toward the others.
This is an intriguing story that moves at a good pace, with a satisfying balance between action, suspense and development.
While the book finishes with the very strong sense that there is more of the story to come, it also provides a brief glimpse into one of the characters’ former lives, of which he has no memory, and which raises as many questions as it provides insights. This adds further mystery and complexity to the story, and increases the reader’s desire to read on and discover the truths that underpin the nature and personality of each of the central characters.
‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance’ is the second instalment in The Dragon’s Heir trilogy, a fascinating and original blend of fantasy, paranormal romance and fairy tale that makes for a most diverting and intriguing read.
This sequel to ‘The Curse of the Dragon Stone‘ continues the story of Kirin, the dragon’s heir, and his family’s quest to overcome the curse that has befallen them.
Themes of loyalty and enmity are explored as Kirin, Tyriel and the Fabiosa sisters are set against a darker, angrier power that seeks to undo them. The inner conflict that plagues Kirin reminds the reader that each of us has choices to make about which side of our own nature we allow to control us, while the plight of his family serves as a sobering cautionary tale about the unintended consequences that one’s actions and decisions can have in the lives of others.
The events of the story create a balance of anticipation and tension that is both tantalising and compelling, keeping the reader fully engaged throughout the book. Even as this part of the story closes, the remainder of the tale beckons, leaving the reader longing for more.
Comfortably read in a little over two hours, this novella is an ideal fantasy escape for a quiet afternoon or evening.
A family’s search for a long-lost great aunt turns into a riveting investigation for Morton Farrier, a forensic genealogist with a passion for discovering the truths and intricacies of the past.
This case takes the reader back to 1911 and into the upstairs/downstairs world of a family and estate that rivals those of Downton Abbey for both prestige and drama. It is a world with which we have become very familiar through TV and film as well as novels, but in this book, the author immerses the reader in both the historical story and in Morton’s investigation with a sense of familiarity and first-hand observation that is quite remarkable.
As with the first book in this series, this is a very well written story that, once started, demands to be read regardless of other priorities. It is interesting, dramatic and suspenseful, with some completely unexpected twists.
This is a top quality, highly recommended read.