Self Published Spotlight

Today’s post is all about spreading the love for self published fantasy books. I have some fantastic books just waiting to be read and so I thought I’d share them with you. Take a look at these beauties:

Firstly, two books from author Phil Williams. I read Under Ordshaw as part of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition. Under Ordshaw is such a fresh take on urban fantasy. Here is a city that looks, on the face of it, like any other and yet below the streets is a warren of tunnels just crawling with supernatural creatures. The world building is just great but, without doubt, the characters steal the show.

Now, I confess that I’ve been a little tardy keeping up with the series but I can say that this is not a reflection of my enjoyment, more a simple fact that time is sometimes in short supply and I can be a little over enthusiastic (aka as book greedy) when it comes to the number of books that I think I can read during the course of any given month. But, in the next few weeks I’m hoping to continue with the second book in the Under Ordshaw series – Blue Angel and I’m also really excited to have an advanced copy of Phil’s latest book Kept From Cages.

Kept From Cages is the first part in a new story arc in the Ordshaw world (with all new characters), and is more of a fast-paced supernatural action-thriller. It follows a gang of criminal jazz musicians who stumble upon a red-eyed child tied to a chair. While they’re thrown into a madcap chase across the Deep South, an international agent investigating the massacre of an Arctic fishing village follows a trail into the heart of the Congo, with an erratic female assassin in tow. The parallel stories converge amid corporate conspiracy, mutant animals and a cult of sword-wielding murderers. Seriously – doesn’t this sound pretty amazing? I think so.


Secondly a book that I promised myself I’d read much sooner (*headdesk*) but – well, you know what ‘they’ say about the best laid plans (a phrase that might have been coined with me in mind). Legends of the Exiles (Perilisc) by Jesse Teller. Legends of the Exiles is a book with four intertwining novellas – here’s a taster of the description over on Goodreads:

The isolated barbarians of Neather have deep ancestry and strict traditions. Four resilient women defy tribal customs as they fight to overcome their own tragedies. Abuse. Addiction. Assault. Grief. What struggles can they endure to defend their hopes and their hearts?

And here is the gorgeous cover:


Yes, I’m hoping to pick this one up soon.


My third choice is the second in a series known as the Woern Saga. A Wizard’s Sacrifice by A.M. Justice. I would point out that although this is the second in a series it can also be read without having read A Wizard’s Forge.

‘A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

And, another stunning cover:



So my next book is literally staring me in the face in the most guilt inducing fashion possible. This is an author that I really like. And I actually went out of my way to request a copy of this book – and yet I still haven’t read it. Sometimes I just can’t believe myself. *hangs head dejectedly*. I can only try and do better. Enough about my guilt. This book sounds like something I will just love. I’m expecting it to be dark and a bit brutal.

No one escapes the Pit.

At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.’

Also, just check out this absolutely drop dead gorgeous cover – no, I’m not fickle. Seriously I think Rob J Hayes has been blessed by the God of Great Covers.



The final book I’m highlighting today is one that I’m very excited about. Again, yes, I’m late to pick this one up – but a very good author once said to me that author’s want book reviews all year round, not just on publication day – and I confess that that little eye opener does allow me to feel slightly less guilty than I might otherwise feel. This book is the final instalment in the Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton – War of Gods. And oh my giddy aunt but this book is receiving some of the most glowing reviews ever. If I don’t manage to carve out some time for this very soon I may literally explode, and nobody wants that. Check out the description and believe me when I say if you love fantasy, then you need this series in your life.

From Africa to Asgard, to an invisible island in the Pacific and the Bone Road of a forgotten world, Fi and Zeke must come to grips with not only their newfound abilities but also who they are – and accept what they are becoming: wielders of ancient and dangerous powers, warriors, and maybe even heroes. But the end of worlds is coming, and time is short.

Titans will clash. Gods will battle. Monsters will swarm.

Can Peter and the Deva possibly defeat their age-old enemy in the face of overwhelming odds against them? There’s only one way to find out.

And, dare I say it – another incredibly winning and dramatic cover:


That’s all for me for the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be reviewing some of these in the very near future.


#SPFBO Guest Post: Finding Fairy Tales by A M Justice

Today, I’m really pleased to welcome to my blog the author of A Wizard’s Forge: Amanda Justice.  Amanda has written a post about the inspiration for her book A Wizard’s Forge which will be one of my upcoming reads for the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.  A Wizard’s Forge is a deconstructed version of Rapunzel.  If you know anything about my blog you’ll know I love fairytale retellings so excitement am I to read this post: 

Rapunzel4‘Sometimes inspiration is like a beacon, drawing the author toward her goal. Other times, the influence is a sleeper agent that infiltrates the subconscious and adds unexpected layers to the narrative. My SPFBO 2018 entry, A Wizard’s Forge, is a retelling of “Rapunzel,” but not necessarily one I set out to write.

Because we’re usually introduced to fairy tales as children, and we hear or read them over and over, they tend to embed themselves in our consciousness. They also frequently portray universal themes—fairy tales from different cultures all over the world often carry similar messages about compassion or justice. I think the universal nature of these stories is why bookstore shelves are loaded with fairy tale retellings. Western folk tale–inspired stories tend to dominate English-language fantasies, including modern-day classics such as Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted (“Cinderella”) and Fairest (“Snow White”) and Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern (starting with Goose Girl) as well as the recent novels A Dance of Silver and Shadow (“The Twelve Dancing Princesses”; an SPFBO 2018 entry) by Melanie Cellier and Spinning Silver (“Rumpelstiltskin”) by Naomi Novik. But fairy tales turn up in other genres too. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (Cinder [“Cinderella”], Scarlett [“Little Red Riding Hood”], etc) are set in a high-tech, dystopian future and feature cyborgs as the protagonists. Jane Rosenberg Laforge’s Hawkman (“The Bearskin”) takes place in post-WWI England and is more magic realism than fantasy. Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State (“Rumpelstiltskin”), set in modern day Haiti, is straight contemporary fiction and doesn’t contain any magic at all.Rapunzel3

“Rapunzel” nestled down in the bedrock of my psyche and from there bubbled up into the making of A Wizard’s Forge. The inspiring elements were melted and remixed in the idea cauldron, so the source material may not be as obvious as it is in other retellings. On the surface, A Wizard’s Forge is a science fantasy about a young woman’s quest for vengeance. The setting on a lost space colony is inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, and the fantasy creatures (i.e., aliens) are directly descended from 1950s sci fi films featuring giant insects (e.g., THEM!). The story deliberately subverts a lot of fantasy tropes, starting with a damsel in distress who saves herself, then tries to save a prince. In addition, Victoria, the heroine, might be a chosen one, and she’s given a special talisman before departing on a quest to defeat an evil high lord. Where the book departs from high fantasy is that the lord’s power is psychological, not magical. He holds Vic captive at the beginning of the story, and her desire to avenge herself is complicated by a case of Stockholm Syndrome. There’s also a long war, a clash between religion and atheism, those giant intelligent insects mentioned above, and a taste of wizardry, which in Vic’s world is a mysterious power that is usually lethal to those who try to wield it.

I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t sound anything like Rapunzel!

Rapunzel2But it is. Rapunzel involves a girl with very long hair who is held in isolation in a tower by a powerful, jealous person. A prince finds the tower, sneaks in, and he and the girl fall in love. Discovering them together, the enraged captor throws the prince out a window into a patch of nettles. Blinded, he wanders off into the wilderness. After shearing off the girl’s hair, the captor magically banishes her to another land. Eventually, the prince and girl find each other, and her joyful tears wash the nettles from his eyes, restoring his sight.

All of that is in A Wizard’s Forge:

  • A powerful person is obsessed with Vic and keeps her locked up by herself in a tower.
  • Vic has long hair that is central to her identity; her captor cuts it off.
  • A harrowing event centers around the tower window.
  • Vic’s sexual awakening has dire consequences for herself and others.
  • A jealous rage provides an opportunity for escape.
  • There’s a prince.
  • Someone goes blind.
  • There’s a separation and a reunion.

As Jo Niederhoff recently discussed on Fantasy Faction, fantasy and fairy tales share many common tropes and themes, such as the hero’s journey, hidden royalty, and magic, all of which turn up in A Wizard’s Forge as well. But some important differences between fairy tales and fantasy are worth noting. In his essay “Tree and Leaf,” J.R.R. Tolkien explained the idea of “secondary belief,” in which fantasy authors must construct their worlds in such a way that readers believe the story while they’re immersed in it, whereas fairy tale tellers don’t need to explain anything. Donald Haase, editor of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, echoed this idea by saying belief is the main difference between fantasy and fairy tales. Fairy tales aren’t necessarily made to be believable, because the goal isn’t immersion but instruction. The fairy tale is like a didactic lecture or sermon, meant to impart wisdom or knowledge. A fantasy, however, is a philosophical discussion between author and reader in which the reader must accept the author’s premise to understand the author’s observations and message. Fairy tales teach; fantasies enlighten.

Whoa! Enlighten—that’s a rather highfalutin notion, isn’t it? I’d argue that the fantasy genre encompasses a wide range of fiction, from purely escapist, easy reading pulp to literary masterworks. Regardless of where a book falls on that spectrum, by simply positing societies and individuals that are different from us or approach problems differently, fantasies force readers to think about the world in new ways, opening the door to epiphanies about how our world works. That was certainly my goal when I wrote A Wizard’s Forge, and I think the elements from “Rapunzel” that infiltrated the story helped me achieve it.

For more information about Amanda and her book:


A Wizard's Forge

Thank you Amanda for providing me with this great guest post.  I’m really looking forward to picking your book up and wish you all the best with the SPFBO.