I discovered a ton of new favorite authors this year!

Those who know me know that I enjoy a wide range of genres. I’m intrigued by writing that’s unique: new concepts, subversions of expectations, genre blending. Interestingly enough, most of the books that fit my preferences this year came from independent authors.

This list covers a range of genres. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title instead of numerically. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2018.

Continue reading “Favorite Reads of 2018”

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Cover of Dark by Paul L Arvidson

Paul L Arvidson’s Dark is an unexpected hybrid, part science fiction and part heroic fantasy. The residents of the place known as the Dark inhabit a labyrinth of pipes and drains surrounding a central aqueduct known as the River, and readers will quickly realize that it is a created world rather than an organic one.

Dun, a budding shaman, and his boisterous friend Padj, along with a clever alchemist named Tali and their mysterious guide, Myrch, are tasked with following the River to its source and finding out what has become of their clan’s upstream neighbors.

Continue reading “Review: Paul L Arvidson’s Dark”

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Don't be one of many. Names matter.

Something came to a head recently that’s been bugging me for a long time: we (Westerners, especially those in the United States) need to get a lot more creative with our names.

Recently one of my employees pointed out the ridiculousness of creepy old men who demand to be on a first name basis with the people who work the front counter. In terms of accountability or identification, a first name means next to nothing. At my company alone, if you were helped by “Jessica” that could be Jessica in Cargo, Jessica in Fuels, Jessica in Accounting, or Jessica in Parts & Acquisitions.

This is a problem.

Continue reading “Names Matter”

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Cover of Grounded: A Dragon's Tale by Gloria Piper

Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale follows a young dragon named Manycolors who has been burdened with the care of a flightless sibling. The narrative takes short breaks to focus on a human youth named Hote, who battles a mysterious illness as he works with the Watchers studying the dragons’ planet.

With its themes of misfit youngsters, youthful rebellion, and the looming threat of greedy poachers, I quickly formed suspicions regarding how the story might turn out. I’m thrilled to report that the author broke out of those tropes to create something unique, intriguing and unusual.

Continue reading “Grounded: A Dragon’s Tale Review”

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Ruhanna's Flight and other stories book cover

Within the pages of Ruhanna’s Flight and Other Stories, author Jeanette O’Hagan spins tales of shapeshifters and seafaring peoples, youthful struggles, first loves, enduring loss, and incredible courage. All but a few of the stories are set in the world of Nardva, and some of the characters will be familiar to readers of O’Hagan’s Akrad’s Children.

Continue reading “Review: Ruhanna’s Flight & Other Stories”

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Cover of Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves

Today on the author blog, Leland Lydecker reviews the first novel by author S.D. Reeves.

Curses of Scale is an unusually somber tale of love, fey magic, and cursed dragons. It follows Calem, a druid who made a bargain with the fey Oberon in an attempt to break the curse on his wife; Niena, an aspiring bard with a head full of dreams; and Marny, an old soldier and grandfather to Niena.

Continue reading “Curses of Scale Review”

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Akrad's Children cover

The first book in the Akrad’s Legacy series, Akrad’s Children follows siblings Dinnis, who always believed his father would return to save him, and Ista, who embraced the teachings of the cruel sorcerer who held them prisoner. Caught up in their story is Mannok, the siblings’ half-brother, crown prince of Tamra and heir to the throne of Akrad’s enemies.

While I’m not generally a fan of stories about young adults struggling to find their place in the world, this tale is so beautifully written and the characters so adeptly portrayed that I found myself really enjoying their story. I would even go as far as to say that Akrad’s Children is a classic in the making.

Continue reading “Akrad’s Children Review”

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Welcome to the Holy City at Summer’s End. The border with the Otherworld is razor thin. Shadowfest is coming. Malevolent spirits and monsters roam. Dark forces are plotting to seize power. The past has come back to haunt Brona the Apothecary and Aurelian the Investigator. Revenge can be a double-edged sword, as Morven the Mage once discovered. And Death may be the least of their worries…

In Shadowfest, author D.J. Reid spins a clever murder mystery out of Celtic and Greco-Roman myth and folklore. It’s a delightfully complex tale, with endearingly well-rounded characters, hidden motives, eldritch magic, and mythical creatures galore.

Continue reading “Shadowfest: More Than Meets the Eye”

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It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Ursula K. Le Guin, one of science fiction’s most influential authors. I grew up reading her work, and her death hit particularly close to home.

My first taste of her fiction was the novelette Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. In it, a lost child tumbles into the world of Southwestern US desert folklore and lives for a while with the trickster Coyote. As a young person fighting to survive in a disturbing, chaotic world, the tale really resonated with me.

Continue reading “The Passing of a Legendary Author”

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Danger: Bad Advice Ahead

There’s a never-ending flood of writing advice out there for aspiring authors. Some of the best I’ve heard is also the simplest and the most universal, like this bit from Stephen King’s On Writing:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

On the flip side, there’s tons of advice aspiring authors could probably do without. Today I’m here to tackle the misconceptions and one-size-fits-all solutions, and explain why they really aren’t helpful.

Continue reading “On Questionable Writing Advice”

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