Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


  • No Good About Goodbye

    by CT Liotta

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot/Idea: What starts out as a fast-paced adventure ends up being so much more as Liotta proves an extremely versatile writer and tackles romance and adventure in this LGBTQ+ novel. Adding suspense throughout at the appropriate moments, Liotta always keeps the reader on their toes, wondering when the next spy is just around the corner. At times, the wavering timeline of the plot can prove a bit confusing.

    Prose: The novel is rich in dialogue and gives the reader time to get to know the characters. The contrast between the intense scenes and burgeoning romance is reflected in the pace of the writing.

    Originality: Blending a variety of genres in one book and learning that the main character’s real issue is being honest about his relationship makes for an original plot. The author delivers a strong message for those with teens in their lives.

    Character Development/Execution: Not only are the themes throughout versatile and genre-defying, but the characters are as well. The main character is able to shift between espionage and romance elements seamlessly and deliver a strong message about growing up and coming out. 



    by Rick Rosenberg

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot/Idea: Jewbilly is a fast-paced and highly entertaining coming-of-age tale. Often a bawdy narrator, Rosenberg then surprises the reader with moments of pathos.

    Prose: Told in the first person in self-deprecating tones and chock-full of cultural references to the early 1970s, Jewbilly brings to light several interwoven storylines which work well, though the novel could be shortened and made sharper by trimming some of it.

    Originality: The book feels unique and unusual, infused with the right mixture of humor and expert storytelling.

    Character Development/Execution: Yosef is imminently likable and will appeal to a YA audience. Calvin is a surprisingly sympathetic character who Rosenberg paints in shades of gray. Yosef's family members come across as distinct individuals and it was a pleasure to be able to read about their real lives at the end of the novel.

  • Sparrow

    by Brian Kindall

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot/Idea: Kindall offers readers a luscious plot that gives the impression of a daydream. There are a handful of surprises to keep readers invested in the outcome, but the novel maintains a satisfying mysteriousness throughout. Themes of belonging and destiny are lyrically revealed through the eyes of the eccentric main characters.

    Prose: The prose is a dreamy, playful reflection on classical tales and proves pitch-perfect for the intended audience. Kindall delivers natural dialogue and the extravagant descriptions generally fit the story—although a select few verge on the overindulgent.

    Originality: This fantasy story combines whimsy with a quirky, subtle humor that will entertain readers of all ages. YA stories of self-discovery are well-known, but the fanciful and offbeat scenes in this novel are anything but conventional.

    Character Development/Execution: Morris is profoundly dispirited, and his internal struggles are skillfully wrought through fanciful prose and perfectly delivered musings. Tim is equally magnetic in his own sensitive, wistful way, and Kindall manages to imbue both characters with a satisfying mix of eccentricity and familiarity.

  • The Rise of the Raidin (Standard)

    by Susan L Markloff

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot/Idea: The Rise of the Raidin is an exceptional science fiction/high fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of those genres, as well as readers who enjoy high school drama. It may verge on gruesome for some readers, especially the battle scenes which often include a lot of viscera and blood. 

    Prose: For those who love fantasy books, this work will greatly appeal. The prose is highly specific regarding battle maneuvers, injuries, and attacks that include magical beasts. Overall, the work is well written, clear, and enjoyable, and Markloff's references to pop culture and slang will make readers laugh.

    Originality: Markloff has put together a mixture of high school slice-of-life storytelling and intense dragon battles with fantasy armies. This unusual combination harkens to animes and mangas, as well as other beloved fantasy series, such as Lord of the Rings. Markloff has managed to make her book completely her own while incorporating well-worn tropes. 

    Character Development/Execution: Although the characters are clearly developed, it can be difficult sometimes to tell them apart, as there are many players here and they are introduced rapidly. That said, Markloff does a good job of representing and developing their distinct personalities.


  • Never Say Never

    by Justine Manzano

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: This creative story blends Greek mythology with teenage romance and friendship. Manzano successfully integrates genuine coming-of-age elements with the more fantastical details of the mythological premise.

    Prose: Manzano achieves a fine balance between the banter of the dialogue, exposition, action, and description. 

    Originality: While the use of Greek mythology as a basis for the story is a familiar tactic, the author offers a fresh twist in the form of a love-disillusioned character who becomes entwined with Aphrodite.

    Character/Execution: Throughout the story, characters show individual and collective growth. Emotional circumstances--catching a parent having an affair, developing romantic feelings for a friend’s boyfriend, and learning that someone you like just doesn’t share the same feelings--prove relatable and engaging. 

  • Return to the Secret Lake

    by Karen Inglis

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: Book two of the Secret Lake Mystery series returns to 1900s London for an enticing time travel adventure. The worldbuilding effectively establishes the magical dimensions of the story, allowing readers to become fully immersed in the narrative.

    Prose: Inglis's prose seamlessly captures the London setting, while dialogue and descriptions come across as authentic to both the modern and historical eras.

    Originality: Return to Secret Lake integrates a unique set of circumstances for its characters, who forge a powerful connection that transcends time.

    Character/Execution: Inglis establishes a sense of urgency for her characters, making their motivations and behaviors believable and authentic. Readers will eagerly follow Stella, Tom, Emma, Lucy, and Jack as they deepen their friendships and travel between eras.

  • Forest

    by Frederic Martin

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot/Idea: Frederic Martin seals the Vox Oculis trilogy with an explosive final installment that leaves readers hanging by a thread until the very end. In a clever twist, Martin shows how hidden secrets always find a way into the light.

    Prose: As a writer of two previous books, Martin displays great perception and skill in building suspense and tension. His prose captures the internal monologue of the characters while painting a vivid picture of each scene.

    Originality: Martin's novel as a standalone provides a unique end to a thriller trilogy that has super-human elements without veering off into the realm of fantasy fiction. It combines familiar current events with its own spin.

    Character Development/Execution: Martin does an excellent job in drawing out the backstory of the protagonist and the villains she encounters. He creates multi-dimensional characters through rich details of their inner thoughts and emotional framework.

  • The Wolf's Den

    by Elizabeth R. Jensen

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot/Idea: The Wolf's Den is an exciting, finely developed fantasy tale that will appeal to those with an interest in medieval lore.

    Prose: The author’s imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, and the details of Etria really jump off the page.

    Originality: While not all contemporary readers might find this story relatable, it is an entertaining foray into escapism with a vividly realized setting.

    Character Development/Execution: Borus, Kass, and Jules aim to become knights to serve the king, and each of them follows a different road. The characters are believable and their differences are interesting. Readers may wish for an additional layer of diversity among the cast.

  • The Firstborn (House of Heaventree #1)

    by Nicole Seitz

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot/Idea: Concise and intense with religious scripture woven into the story, this novel is both suspenseful and engaging. Seitz creates a realistic and frightening story full of finely articulated ideas.

    Prose: The author conveys the plot through the dialogue and actions of the characters. This young adult Christian novel uses scripture throughout the novel in a manner that feels integral to the development of the story.

    Originality: The author presents a rich and original work that is prophetic in nature.

    Character Development/Execution: The interactions between the characters reveal the broader societal structure. The adults are intense and it is unclear whether they should be trusted, which adds to the suspense. The young adults are clever and questioning, but their reactions to some situations feel somewhat rushed.

  • Chasing the Stars

    by Melanie Hooyenga

    Rating: 8.00

    Plot/Idea: The story of Naomi and Hunter begins with a simple question that will quickly emotionally engage readers. The idea of the popular "Three Good Things" podcast is relatable to a contemporary audience; the conversations are believable, and the challenges are realistic.

    Prose: This charming coming-of-age tale is beautifully written with alluring prose and style. 

    Originality: Hooyenga crafts a touching and relatable romance between two equally rich and nuanced characters.

    Character Development/Execution: The characters are three-dimensional, realistic, and very focused individuals doing their best to deal with their lives. Readers are likely to identify with the characters’ concerns, doubts, and struggles. 

  • Brilliant White Peaks

    by Teng Rong

    Rating: 8.00

    Plot: In this immersive and adventure-filled animal survival story, a wolf cub and his sister seek to be reunited with their pack.

    Prose: Rong's prose is clear, descriptive, and captures the perilous circumstances facing the young wolves in the wilderness.

    Originality: Brilliant White Peaks follows in the tradition of classic animal stories. While not wholly original in concept, young readers will find much to love in the tale of brave young wolves on a dangerous journey.

    Character/Execution: Rong strikes a fine balance between anthropomorphizing the characters and allowing their animal natures to shine through.

  • Potion: A Witchy Fairy Tale

    by Dorlana Vann

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: Potion is a straightforward story that, for all its magical content, conveys a heartfelt message about belonging and the power of personal strength to do what’s right. Vann integrates romance into the fantasy storyline, lending it a sweet angle that deepens the plot.

    Prose: Vann writes in a charismatic and familiar style that immediately endears readers to the story. There are minor bumps when chapters alternate between different viewpoints, but the relatable prose helps gloss over any rough transitions.

    Originality: Potion draws from common young adult conflicts and gives them a fantasy spin to create a pleasant balance of tension and entertainment. 

    Character Development/Execution: Lucas is well-defined and authentic, while Melrose fades into the background against the energy of the story’s villains. Star’s transformation is slow in coming, but touching to watch when it finally arrives.

  • Rules of Falling

    by Leslie Tall Manning

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: This young adult mystery portrays an engaging and lifelike depiction of a high school senior's struggles with an unusual condition and her navigation of friendship, romance, and right and wrong.

    Prose: The narrative is clear, authentic, and effectively establishes a sense of time and place, while building tension throughout.

    Originality: The protagonist's medical condition brings a unique element to the story, setting her circumstances apart from individuals in other coming-of-age stories. The intrigue and danger surrounding Lindsay Bennett add welcome depth to the story, as does the well-developed mystery.

    Character Development/Execution: While the story's protagonist is successfully established and sympathetic, the work may benefit from additional details relating to other characters, their backstories, and relationships. Nevertheless, Manning delivers a thoughtful, twisty novel that will have readers hooked from the first page.

  • Lost in The Ark

    by Val Agnew

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: Lost in the Ark offers a compelling exploration of belief, belonging, and the cult mentality. 

    Prose:  The author has a clear handle on story development, although the prose has a tendency to rely on exposition over truly vivid storytelling.

    Originality: Agnew provides a unique set-up, and effectively establishes a sense of uncertainty as the primary character searches for identity and a sense of personal allegiance. The work may benefit from a greater focus on the transitions between major life events in protagonist Kate's life.

    Character Development/Execution: Readers will easily root for Kate, a curious young woman who enjoys exploring new ways of learning about freedom, truth, and happiness, but finds herself in unanticipated and potentially threatening circumstances.  Overall, side characters are deserving of more development.

  • Semper

    by Peter Dudley

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: With a fast-paced, exciting opening, Semper starts on the right foot with multiple kidnappings and tense character interactions from the word go. Events become a tad less exciting when the Hamlet-inspired parts of the plot take over and story beats become predictable.

    Prose: Dane's narration is instantly compelling, bringing us in close to his perspective as the future leader of his people. Expertly balancing internal monologue and action, Dudley's writing is enthralling. Characters sometimes have more knowledge than feels accurate for three hundred years post-apocalypse.

    Originality: Both the Hamlet theme and the post-'Bomb' setting are quite common. Neither of the standard tropes of either are subverted much, though they are still written in an entertaining fashion.

    Character Development/Execution: Dane, Lupay, Freda, Tom, and others all come across as richly detailed characters with their own unique motivations and personalities. Many traits, especially for the villains, are cribbed from Shakespeare, but it's all put across so well that it's hard to mind much.

  • Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach

    by MaryAnn Diorio

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot/Idea: When 12-year-old Dixie Randolph learns of a stolen, hidden treasure that spawned a family feud nearly 200 years earlier, she faces the wrath of the thief's great-great-grandson as she risks her life to find the missing treasure and end the family feud.

    Prose:  The descriptions of the beach, along with Dixie's inner life, are well-crafted and fully immerse the reader in the story. 

    Originality: Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach follows in the path of many child and teenage detective books from the past, but does offer a fresh spin that keeps things interesting.

    Character Development/Execution: Well-written, with lovable and authentic characters, this is an enjoyable read for readers of all ages.