I get asked quite often which I prefer- Indie authors, self-published authors, or traditionally published authors?
And the answer is this…I love them all!! No matter the path the author chose to take to get their novel out into the world, I am going to check their novel out if it sounds and/or looks intriguing. With the technologically advanced world we live in, it is easier than ever to peruse authors from all publishing backgrounds. In fact, I found some of my favorite self-published and Indie authors right on social media! I swear, Twitter and Facebook have me pegged- the powers-to-be on these social media platforms know just the right advertisements to toss into my newsfeed- books. From all types of authors. I’m going to be honest- I NEVER scroll past a book advertisement. NEVER. That’s considered sacrilege in my world.
And the best part about loving novels from Indie authors, self-published authors, and traditional publishers?
I have MORE books to choose from! I’m not limited to just one subset of novels. I’ve perused the shelves at Barnes and Noble, Mr. Paperback, Borders, and Book-a-Million and have, on occasion, walked away frustrated because they didn’t rotate their stock- I have already seen everything there is to see there. So, I’ll jump onto Amazon, Goodreads, and my social media sites and start digging- and bingo! I “walk” away with a treasure trove of novels I want to read- with a majority of them being from Indie and self-published authors.
I also get asked- Are Indie and self-published authors as good as traditionally published authors?
And the answer is YES! Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes! I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been blown away by a novel written by an Indie or self-published author! For example, just recently I read a novel titled Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer by M.J. Rocissono (see my review here). I have always been a fan of young adult adventure/fantasy stories. In fact, back in grade school my future was based around which magical house I would join at Hogwarts and whether or not I wanted to be an auror and fight Death Eaters or work at the Ministry of Magic- as you can probably guess, I was a HUGE Harry Potter fan. And while I never received my acceptance letter to Hogwarts, I still find time to satisfy my thirst for action and adventure by losing myself in novels such as Beyond the Wicked Willow. The author weaved a story that was JUST as engaging to me as Harry Potter, and the writing was beautifully done. There is also the Dissent Renegades by R.J. Furness (stay tuned for my review!), a novel I’m currently reading and unable to pull myself out of (well, just long enough to write this post). Dissent Renegades satisfies my thirst for action, adventure, strong and relatable characters, and phenomenal writing!
Beyond The Wicked Willow by M.J. Rocissono
dissent: Renegades by R.J. Furness
I am just as likely to pick up a book by nationally acclaimed Veronica Roth (the author of the Divergent trilogy who is traditionally published) as I am novels written by some of my favorite Indie and self-published authors. So, for me, as long as the story is well-written, has an engaging and feasible plot, and has well-developed characters, then it doesn’t matter how it was published.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you shy away from Self-Published or Indie authors, or do you dive right in? I’d love to know what you think!
FRANKIE FRETINI has had a horrible year. And, just when he thinks things are looking up, well...all heck breaks loose. It happens in home-ec class just moments after the girl of his dreams, Jenny Moran, invites him to the annual town carnival. Still dazed from the unexpected invite, Frankie accidentally plasters the face of school bully, Brick McDuddy, with a giant scoop of chocolate mousse.
Embarrassed, and fuming mad, Brick plots to deliver his painful revenge at the carnival. When Frankie, and his pals, Sam, Beef, and Bookworm show up to meet Jenny, Brick and his nasty bootlickers, Harold “The Horrible” Dunson and Billy “Scat” Pile, chase them into the eerie tent of an old Gypsy fortuneteller named Mala. Trapped with nowhere to run, Frankie makes a pact with Mala not knowing that he and his pals would be swept through her crystal ball to Medieval Italy. Now, their only hope to return home rests in Frankie's hands. He must kill the evil Italian witch, Il Strega Diavolo, and rescue Mala's twin sister, Tsura. But, can Frankie find the courage to face the Strega?
Review of Beyond the Wicked Willow
Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer is a novel by author M.J. Rocissono. The story follows Frankie Fretini, a fourteen-year old boy who, unbeknownst to him, is destined to find and destroy an evil witch named Il Strega Diavolo. Frankie, still struggling with the death of his father who was killed in Iraq, spends a great deal of time with his best friends- Sam, Beef, and Bookworm. When they’re not all picking on each other and harboring secret crushes (though, I wanted to shake Bookworm a few times when Sam drops obvious hints for her affection), they’re dodging the bullying tactics by Brick McDuddy and his cohorts. It is during one of their mad dashes to get away from Brick at a carnival that they stumble across a fortune teller’s tent and are met by a mysterious, magical gypsy.
This gypsy, Mala, ends up thrusting Frankie and his friends 800 years into the past to medieval Calabria Italy where they are charged with finding her sister Tsura and defeating Il Strega Diavolo- thus ending the evil witch’s reign of terror. As the story progresses, fascinating characters are met, and some even join Frankie and his friends on their quest. For example, there’s Ambroggio- an older, one-eyed man who rescues them near the beginning of the story from wolf shapeshifters (who is harboring a secret of his own), and Capricia- an orphan girl with some serious fighting skills and spunk who is looking for revenge on the wolf shapeshifters and Il Strega for murdering her family. There is also an awkward, and sometimes cowardly knight Giacomo (who grew on me steadily through the story and seriously redeemed himself).
I loved the dynamic between Frankie and his friends. Their bond was strong, and I enjoyed their interactions. Sam, being the only girl among her three friends, is tough and confident. She jumps into the fray, is loyal, fierce, and knows how to hold her own in a fight. Bookworm got his nickname for a good reason- he frequently makes references throughout the story to different facts and tidbits of information- his total randomness was refreshing! Beef was a favorite of mine. He has a HUGE love for food (which, right there, endeared him to me) and is the proud inventor of the snack- S’meeps. I was secretly joyful by the blooming feelings between Beef and Capricia- they are just adorable. Finally, I enjoyed Frankie’s journey- mostly from an emotional and mental standpoint. I watched him grow from an unsure, hesitant boy who has not come to terms with his father’s passing, to a strong, confident young man on the cusp of finally healing. When he met his father in his dream and was told to relay a message to Frankie’s Mom…cue the waterworks!
Beyond the Wicked Willow was a complete emotional rollercoaster and a thrilling, addictive adventure! There were monsters galore spattered throughout the story- I’m talking terrifying spiders and snakes, werewolves, vampiric creatures, ogres, cursed warlords, pirates, and flying beasts. There were moments that made you laugh, moments that made you cry- seriously though, I won’t be able to look at a cypress now without getting teary-eyed, and moments that made your heart pound from the intensity. By the end of the story I already wanted to flip back to the beginning and start the adventure over. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Frankie and his ragtag crew.
Finally, this quote here completely struck a chord with me:
“You must listen, boy. Life is a crucible. It brims with fierce trials. You must either surmount them or submit to them. A third choice does not exist. There are some things in life that simply cannot be changed.” -Ambroggio to Frankie Fretini.
I have a history of picking the wrong guy. Gay? Player? Momma’s boy? Check, check and check. Now I can’t stop fantasizing about one of the customers at the coffee shop I work at between classes. It’s just a harmless crush, right? It’s not like I ever see this guy outside of the coffee shop. It’s not like I’m going to see him while attempting to get birth control at the student clinic. While wearing a paper gown. While sitting on an exam table. Because he’s the doctor. Shoot. Me. But what if, for once, the man I’ve had the dirtiest, most scandalous fantasies about turned out to be everything but wrong? Wrong is a full-length, standalone novel by Jana Aston
Review of Wrong
Wrong is a standalone contemporary romance novel by New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston. The story follows Sophie, a college senior who works at a coffee shop named Grind Me. For weeks she has been crushing on an older, attractive, and distinguished man by the name Luke who stops there occasionally for coffee. However, he barely seems to notice her. This lack of notice ends abruptly when Sophie visits with the campus volunteer gynecologist in order get birth control- only to discover that Luke is Dr. Miller when he strolls into the room to give her a pelvic exam. What ensues is a merry and hilarious chase as this awkward encounter turns into a string of interesting, albeit spicy, encounters.
Luke is the head of obstetrics at the hospital near the college and, though cold, calculated, and sometimes serious, allows Sophie to bring out the playful side of his personality. While Luke is conflicted about his age, his desire for Sophie, and his strained relationship with his family, Sophie struggles with her confidence, determining her place in Luke’s life, and how they can have a future together when they come from two very different worlds. Amid all these internal struggles, Sophie encourages Luke to experience many of the things he lacked from his own childhood. It was entertaining to see a man who is usually so calm, collected, and reasonable figure out how to use an Elf on the Shelf.
Wrong was an unexpected pleasure! I found myself laughing out loud, having to toss the book down and cover my face in mortification for the heroine, and fanning myself from all the extra hotness blasting from the pages. Some of the situations in the book were so comical I found it difficult to finish reading the pages due to all the tears clouding my vision. Just thinking about some of the situations Sophie found herself in makes me bust out into gales of laughter!
I read Wrong during a two-day trip to Boston. It was the perfect story to distract me from the 2-hour long train ride to and from Boston and Maine. So, if you’re looking for an entertaining contemporary romantic comedy, I suggest you give Wrong a try!
On a narrow, unassuming road within the bustling, chaotic streets of Boston, the Brattle Book Shop stood quietly and welcoming. As I leapt from the warm interior of our cab, I raced through the rain and stepped through the book shop’s doors. The second I took in the perfectly lined shelves stacked high with books, and the winding staircase that led to the two stories above me- also filled with books- I couldn’t contain my excitement. In fact, I’m certain I positively glowed as I gazed gleefully around me. I remember feeling this way when stepping into a brightly-lit candy shop as a child and inhaling the temptingly sweet aroma of all the colorful candies and chocolate. Only this time I was inhaling a scent much richer and tempting- that of old and well-loved novels. I trailed my fingertips along the worn and colorful spines as I winded my way down each aisle, my mind racing as I imagined all the wonderful stories being played out within those covers. I knew I wouldn’t be leaving empty-handed, but I needed to pick the one. But how to choose in a book shop this big?
I slowly made my way to the top floor of Brattle’s where the rare and antiquarian books were located. I froze at the top of the staircase- my gaze falling upon novels and tomes that have clearly been around a lot longer than I have. I took in the faded leather bindings and pages browned with age and inhaled the euphoric scent of antiquated novels. Oh yeah. I was in bookworm heaven! To say I lost myself in enjoyment and pleasure as I gently and reverently picked up novels in every genre imaginable, from centuries long-past, would be an understatement. I just knew the one I was looking for was located on this floor…and it took me quite a while to find it.
I found “the one” while ambling past the section labeled “Civil War”. A small, unassuming brown novel with the faded words “The Female Spy” on its spine was tucked away in the looming shadows of much larger novels. I can’t exactly say what made me pause and pick it up. Maybe it was the interesting title? Or the soft brown fabric with the unique floral design? I still honestly don’t know. I flipped the cover open and saw that it was printed in 1864 in Boston and was written by S. Emma E. Edmonds. The full title was “The Female Spy of the Union Army. The Thrilling Adventures, Experiences, and Escapes of a Woman, as Nurse, Spy, and Scout, In Hospitals, Camps, and Battle-Fields.” It was quite the title- and my interest was instantly piqued. I found it intriguing that the publisher basically apologized for some of the alarming and unnatural content- such as the descriptions of the female author having to dress as a man! (how risqué!). They went on to say that the author’s morals should not be questioned as everything was done for patriotism and for a good cause. My how the times have changed! It made me chuckle to think of all the warnings that would need to be placed in modern literature. Can you picture this 19th century publisher reading Fifty Shades of Grey? I envision the Foreword reading something like:
The content of this novel does not reflect the beliefs, opinions, and morals of this publishing house. Some of the content (most of it actually) may be disturbing to readers. If you do not wish for your delicate sensibilities and own moral fortitude to be otherwise discomposed, we ask that you heed this warning- this novel depicts a young woman placed in a somewhat binding and disturbing relationship with a more mature, though sadly spiritually conflicted, man of a much higher standing in society. Should you be offended by any of the following, we ask that you do not proceed beyond the Foreword. These topics of debauchery will be thoroughly addressed and demonstrated: the loss of virginity outside of matrimony, a contract of a darkly sexual manner, and the use of devices to stimulate a physical response from its recipient.
I then proceeded to read the first chapter and was instantly hooked! Though the price tag on the novel made me shudder a bit- I knew I had found a lovely little gem that would keep me entertained. Learning that it was a first edition was equally thrilling. After stepping out of Brattle Book Shop with my bag clutched happily in my hands, I found myself missing the shop’s comforting interior. It truly is one of the best places to visit in Boston if you find joy in books the way I do.
"Utterly unique and absolutely riveting—I couldn't put it down! What a marvelously cool world."—New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. MaasFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling White Rabbit Chronicles series comes book 1 of a brand new series in which life as we know it is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.
Tenley "Ten" Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she'll live—after she dies.
There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.
In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she's drawn to isn't where the boy she's falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…
Review of the book Firstlife
Firstlife book is the first book in the Everlife series by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter. The story follows Tenley “Ten” Lockwood a seventeen-year-old girl struggling to choose which realm to enter when she dies. On Earth, also known as the Land of the Harvest, humans are busy living their first lives- however, before they die they must pledge their allegiance to either Myriad- a dark realm of indulgence and pleasure, where only the strongest rise to power and privilege, or Troika- a realm of light where love, justice, and truth are cherished, and everyone is considered of equal importance. Unfortunately, both reals are embroiled in a vicious war and fight to convince humans to pledge their allegiance to their realm and cause.
That’s where Archer and Killian come in…
Archer, of Troika, is charged with convincing Ten to pledge her allegiance to their side as she is believed to be a “conduit”- someone capable of tipping the war in their favor. Killian, of Myriad, is charged with seducing Ten to their side as well- as they too believe she will bring victory to their realm. Unfortunately, for both guys, Ten is determined to remain “unsigned” as she doesn’t truly feel like she fits into either realm. She is told, however, that if she does NOT choose either realm, her soul will be sent to suffer in the Many Ends- basically, hell.
As Ten struggles to pick a side, she finds herself placed in a perilous position as someone is intent on ending her life. Amid this, Archer and Killian hold a temporary truce to protect her. The dynamic between both guys is interesting- I enjoyed Archer’s sense of honor and justice- he is so easy-going and likable (although there were times I almost thought he was too good). Killian…oh, Killian…this Irish charmer with the wicked tattoos, bad-boy persona, and devilish sense of humor instantly shot his way to my #1 spot for current book boyfriend. I’m seriously not surprised, however, as Gena Showalter creates some of the most tempting love interests in her novels.
There were many underlying themes and parallels drawn in this novel- you have two realms who hold two very different views, though neither of them is entirely wrong in their beliefs, who will do anything to trump or decimate the other side. They try desperately to convince people that their side is the “right” one- their egos overruling their actions- causing irreparable damage. One side even promises money, riches, and status to push their agenda, where another side hides their motives behind poetic words of honor and justice. I enjoyed watching Ten, with her quirky obsession with numbers, work through which world she felt more inclined to join.
Firstlife was a fast-paced, sizzling page-turner that kept me sleep-deprived.
It’s teeming with action, adventure, and romance- three of my favorite things! The dialogue was fun, the characters layered and dynamic, and the plot was thought-provoking.
I discovered my love of reading at an early age and spent a great deal of my time devouring books- from mysteries like Nancy Drew, whimsical fantasies like Harry Potter, and eventually the turbulent and passionate stories in the romance genre, I found myself engrossed in a completely different world than this one. I believe it is through my experiences and the books I read, that I have developed a keen interest in a myriad of things. For that reason, The Vagaries of Us represents multiple areas of interest
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