Indie eBook Roundup #4

We’re up to the fourth edition of the Indie eBook Roundup and this edition is full of books you NEED to check out. Every single one of them is a book worth reading – though they may be very genre specific. Make sure to read through our reviews and then check out GoodReads and Amazon. You’ll be sure to find something that interests you or strikes your fancy!

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17725165Title: Debt Collector (Episodes 1-3)
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Release Date: March 31, 2013
Publisher: Self Published via Amazon
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Thriller

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Spoilers: Low
GoodReads | Amazon

I did not expect to go into the Debt Collector series and find something I actually enjoyed. That probably sounds terrible but I really had requested a review copy on a whim because the premise sounded interesting and figured I would see where that took me. Surprisingly, it brought me into a very intriguing little world pulled together by Susan Kaye Quinn. It’s still not exactly up my alley or something I’d seek out again but it was a really well-written, compelling story.

I will say up front, though, that I am glad that I was able to get the compilation of “episodes” 1-3 because otherwise – had I just read the first “episode” – I probably would have been left rather unfulfilled. The episodes themselves are short and if you’re going to get into this series it makes the most sense to at least get the first compilation because otherwise all you’re getting is about 50 pages worth of content to judge the story on. Now, I’m not a fan of this style of release and even just the 150 or so pages I got were a bit less than I would have liked.

But the story was at least worth it. The idea behind the Debt Collector is intriguing. The story is written from the point of view of a young man named Lirium (his youth was a problem for me – it’s okay to have older characters, people!) and follows him around as he performs the duties of a debt collector. In this futuristic setting life can be exchanged for financial security among other things and Lirium goes around making deals and clearing debt in exchange for life. There’s a very ‘In Time’ meets ‘Looper’ feel to the story – complete with violence and mature scenes. It’s a gritty sort of noir story with a supernatural twist that draws you in.

Usually this wouldn’t be my kind of book series but you know what? I can’t say that I don’t like it. I got drawn in despite myself even though it’s not my favorite sort of story ever. Quinn has created a very intriguing world, interesting characters, and she strings you along with the short 50 page novellas to the point where you sort of feel like you have to know what comes next. Even after finishing the first three episodes I sort of feel like I need to read the rest at some point just to finish the story. (Though considering this is a first “season” I doubt there will be much of a resolution at the end.)

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17736129Title: Armored Hearts
Author: Melissa Turner Lee & Pauline Creeden
Release Date: May 16, 2013
Publisher: AltWit Press
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Young Adult, New Adult, Steampunk, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers: Mild
GoodReads | Amazon

Color me surprised, call me a hopeless romantic, whatever. I actually really liked this book. Like, I really liked it. Maybe I’m just learning to appreciate steampunk or maybe I just appreciate having strong, disabled characters in stories. I don’t know. But this book drew me in almost immediately and I really, really enjoyed it. And you should keep in mind that when I say that I liked this that means a lot because I hate anything that has anything to do with faeries. Like, I don’t know why. I just generally hate the fae as a whole concept. Probably because it’s rarely ever done well and it’s almost always the same exact story and background with the summer courts and queens and whatever. I just don’t like it.

So Armored Hearts has become a real exception to that rule for me because it’s a lot of fun. It’s a really great story and I really enjoyed Gareth as a character. Yeah, he’s a sort of off-putting person at first but I think that you probably would be, too, if you had been crippled your entire life and shunned by everyone for it. It’s hard enough now dealing with a disability. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be in a Victorian era where men were expected to be independent and physical. I understand where Gareth is coming from there and I love that he ultimately does overcome his personal issues. He overcomes his mobility issues, too, but that’s less personal development as it is, you know, magic and stuff.

See, Gareth learns one day while watching a girl falling from a tree she had climbed that he can fly. He saves the girl and spends the next seven years more or less along, living at home with his surly and financially ruined grandfather and his aunt, Tabitha, who is younger than him and the result of one of his grandfather’s affairs. The two are close but he has a hard time letting anyone else in. This includes his spitfire of a new wife, Jessamine, who is a compelling character in her own right and who may know more about him that he realizes.

I don’t want to give away a lot of this story because it’s so worth reading. Even though I started to get a little bit iffy about it once the fae stuff started coming in, I stuck it out and I’m glad I did. I just really liked the characters and the plot. I loved the ‘flying knight’ and I really appreciated Jessamine as a character and Tabitha and Gareth’s relationship. Armored Hearts isn’t perfect but it gets high regard from me if only because it actually got me to to finish a book where ‘fae’ are an integral part of the plot.

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15812886Title: Perception
Author: Lee Strauss (Elle Strauss)
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Publisher: ESB Publishing
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): Young Adult, YA Science Fiction, YA Dystopian Fiction

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers: Low
GoodReads | Amazon

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR FREE ON AMAZON!

You have no reason not to read this book. It’s free on Amazon and you can download it right now and read through it in just a couple of days. Because it’s actually a really good book. Sure, it’s a dystopian future book and those seem like they are a dime a dozen these days but trust me here. This is a really good one and well worth a read.

The book follows two very different characters through a well desgined futuristic world that has fallen victim to climate change and other disasters. The GAP – genetically altered people – live inside a walled city safe from the outside where their wealth protects them from the way things are in the ‘natural world’. The rest of the people live outside this walled city, only able to enter as servants or if they can some how muster up the enormous amounts of money required to become altered themselves. Zoe, our primarily POV character is a GAP whose world is full of privelage and comfort until her brother goes missing, she realizes those closest to her seem to be keeping something from her, and she’s forced to look at a world she’d never really thought much about. She is joined by the anti-GAP teenage son of one of her family’s maids who leads her reluctantly into the natural world beyond the safety of the GAP stronghold.

I really enjoyed the characters in this one and the world building. Noah – the ‘natural’ boy that Zoe runs around with – is a very interesting and compelling character. Occasionally we got to switch into his POV during the book and I kind fo wish that had happened more often. I felt like the author under utilized the dual POV choices she made in the story. But I liked Zoe as a narrator, too. She was at first a hard to like character but I like that. So many of these stories open with rebellious kids who already sort of oppose the status quo. But let’s be real here. In most dystopian futures people are probably going to be pretty damned happy when they are on the wealthier side of things. So, it was good to see Zoe go from a less likeable, normal GAP to someone whose being forced to think very hard about science, morality, and how far she’s willing to go for other people.

This book is more than worth your time and the price is obviously unbeatable. It’s not hard to get into, the story is fairly good (it ends a little abruptly for me but it’s a series, so, that just seems to be the way things go these days), and the characters are really well developed and you can actually care about them.

I really do recommend Perception – especially for fans of YA dystopian fiction.

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16075905Title: After the Ending
Author: Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Publisher: 
 L2 Books
Source: NetGalley ARC
Genre(s): New Adult, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ for presentation,  ★★★☆☆ for concept
Review Spoilers: Low
GoodReads | Amazon

If we had half star ratings right now this would be a 2.5 star book for me. I really liked the idea behind it but the actual presentation was lacking at times. All in all, though, it’s a very solid book and I loved that it was squarely in the New Adult genre. The two main characters grew up together and are twenty-six years old at the time of the story. We’re not dealing with teenagers here which is nice. We’re dealing adults who had jobs and lives and at the end of the world feel compelled to hold on to what little they have left – their small groups of survivors and each other.

So basically, the story follows these two women – Zoe and Dani – as they trek across the country hoping to meet up in the middle. The story is told in first person and follows both of the women so their stories jump back and forth now and again. What isn’t told in first person directly is told between emails that the two send to each other. Which is cool – it has a sort of Allison Hewitt is Trapped sort of feel to it – but its never actually explained why these two women have constant internet access while the rest of the communications modes are cut. They at least explain it in Allison Hewitt is Trapped. In this book? Not so much.

Another issue that I had with this book was the whole developing super powers sort of thing. I mean, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me but it made the story  a bit busy. I get that dealing with other survivors going through these changes and the crazies makes the book a bit more exciting but at the same time, I don’t know. It leaves open a lot of questions and makes it seem like there was too much going on. It worked for the story, though, so I suppose that’s what counts. At least the romance wasn’t too badly written in this series though it was a bit more graphic than it needed to be or I was expecting.

All in all, great writing and great pacing are what saved this book. With a bit more polishing, it could even be pretty damned great. Its the first in a series so hopefully some of the issues with the first book will be resolved or, at the very least, some of the major plot holes and questions will be answered. The second book – Into the Fire – has a title but no release date yet. Keep an eye out, this is a series to watch.

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