Happy April! No, it’s not a joke. Yes, it did arrive that quickly.
There is a lot of difficulty and loss in the world right now, so I want to focus first on some things I’m thankful for:
I’m thankful for the beautiful, vibrant flowers blooming all over my yard and neighborhood.
I’m thankful for forced quiet.
I’m thankful for the neighborhood cats who prowl and play in my yard.
I’m thankful for the community that has come together (metaphorically) in this time to help the most vulnerable.
I’m thankful for the Phoenix Fiction Writers, who are an endless source of support and encouragement.
I’m thankful for a clean-ish space to work and live in.
I’m thankful for books <3
Speaking of books: April is #IndieApril! This means that this is an excellent time to set aside to focus on supporting indie authors, who work tirelessly to share unique stories that are close to their hearts, and who often get overlooked on the bookshelves and Amazon browsing pages.
In celebration of the month, I have 7 books I think you will enjoy.
#1: Out of Darkness, by E.B. Dawson
In the not too distant future, the daughter of a diplomat is financially pressured into attending a prestigious leadership academy. But on arrival she finds she has been targeted by an international terrorist. Months later she disappears altogether into a dark web of international conspiracy, where nothing is as it seems and her only hope of salvation is a jaded idealist sent on a suicide mission.
Why you need to read it
If you are struggling right now, if you are scared and need the courage to face the hard things head-on, if you want to find true heroism that fights for others against all odds, if you are in need of comfort: Go read this book. Journeying with Logan/Jack through her trials, walking with her through the world she didn’t have much control over, and seeing her determination, courage, and persistence will strengthen you to stay sane and fight the darkness in whatever small ways you can.
#2: The Beast of Talesend, by Kyle Robert Shultz
Nick Beasley is a private investigator whose goal in life is to prove that magic doesn’t exist—until he gets turned into the Beast, that is. Now he has to work together with zany and unpredictable Lady Cordelia to stop a megalomaniac from taking over a world that just got a lot more magical than he ever thought possible.
Why you should read it:
When times are hard, “escapist” fiction is perhaps the best and healthiest. We all need excuses to laugh and forget our worries for a time.
Shultz writes some of the best escapist fiction there is. Talesend is a fantastic romp and will keep you guessing and laughing until long past bedtime. I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t enjoyed this story—including some very reluctant readers.
Also, you can see a fan art piece I created for this story here.
#3: Colors of Fear and Flames of Courage, by Hannah Heath
Fear. It is all around him. Wanderer sees it in the eyes of his fellow desert elves as they set out to fight a war that consumes countless lives. Hears it in his brother’s coughs as black magic slowly kills him. Feels it as strange colors appear in midair, seeking to suffocate him.
No matter how he twists it, he can only see two choices: Leave his sick brother and join a war where he will surely perish, or face his brother’s dying days and let his world be destroyed without putting up a fight.
To face one fear is to flee from another. Will he allow fear to control him? Or will he find a way to reclaim his life?
(See my fan art of CoF here.)
As a halfblood with a powerful secret, Jayel does not intend to spend the rest of her life hidden away in a desert oasis. She rejects what everyone is telling her: Halfbloods don’t become warriors. They don’t become heroes. They don’t make a difference.
One of the last of a line of royal guardians with the ability to control fire, Jayel is ready to stand against those that oppress halfbloods.
But as she leaves her small tribe behind, she finds that justice isn’t always pure and fighting alone isn’t always easy.
Why you should read them
If you’re a fan of Child of the Kaites, chances are you’re looking for more desert fantasy. These two stories are just that, and so much more. Though short, they will pull you into Wanderer and Jayel’s struggles, immerse you in one of the most creative fantasy worlds I’ve encountered, and fill you with courage.
#4: The Electrical Menagerie, by Mollie E. Reeder
The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.
To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, The Electrical Menagerie’s bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.
Why you should read it
The world is delightful, and the characters have a comraderie/partnership that you will absolutely love. There’s so much creativity in this story, yet it still feels grounded and human. I’ve rarely read a better-written story, and it is the perfect blend of wonder, mystery, and heart.
#5: The Wolf Prince, by C.M. Banschbach
When an evil sorcerer bent on destroying the faeries turns Prince Killian into a wolf to use in his diabolical spell, Killian must rely on the help of his playboy brother, Lars, and Rose, an aspiring ranger they meet on the road, to escape the sorcerer and find the faeries who can turn him human again.
There’s only one problem. Faeries haven’t been seen in over 50 years.
Why you should read it:
This is a beautiful, creative, entertaining fantasy story that has both heart and substance. The brother relationship at the heart of the story is honest and healthy. It is an all-around entertaining read.
#6: The Girl Who Could See, by Kara Swanson
Nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear “normal,” she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.
Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into her, causing catastrophe. When the city is rocked by the inexplicable, Fern’s imaginary friend might be the key to saving the world from disaster.
Why you should read it
This is a sweet story of coming of age and struggle. The relationship between the main character and her niece is refreshing, and the happy ending is something that we all need right now (and usually).
#7: Strange Waters, by the Phoenix Fiction Writers
This is an anthology of 9 incredible water-themed science-fiction and fantasy stories. Sail the Labyrinth, become a spaceship, save Mother from the pirates, disprove the archaeological community, and more.
Why you should read it
Maybe you’re not up for a long commitment to one story; these are all pretty easy to digest in one sitting. They will give you a cathartic journey through all the emotions and leave you refreshed and in a fighting spirit. Plus, you may find your next favorite author this way.
What books are you excited to read this month? Do you have any recommendations that aren’t on my list? Let me know in the comments!
I’m currently rereading the rest of E.B. Dawson’s Creation of Jack series. If revising counts as reading, you can add the last three Steward Stories to my list, as well ;) Progress is happening on those stories, my lovely readers. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. I am eager to share these tales with you.
And before we close, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my own stories qualify for #IndieApril as well.