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Top 5 Indie Discoveries (Five Fall Favorites 2023)

Happy Thursday, and welcome to the fourth day of the Five Fall Favorites blog party!

You can find all of the information about the Five Fall Favorites blog party by seeing my first post (click HERE), or by going to our wonderful host, Kate Willis’s, site (click HERE).

For a quick recap, each day this week, bloggers (me included) are each sharing their five favorite books under a variety of prompts – the goal being for us all to find some great new reads!

This week’s theme is all about who and where we’ve gotten our books from.

Today’s prompt is another one that I’ve been looking forward to: indie books!

I’ve been notoriously bad at reading other indie books the past few years, as I’ve been writing my own, so I’m trying to pursue more of them. There are so many hidden gems waiting to be read! And in general, I find that the ratio of indie books that contain my values is higher than with traditionally published books. At least in the circle that I usually read in (I know that’s a huge generalization).

This year, I’ve been blessed to read several ARCs and free copies, and be introduced to a lot of new indie authors that I don’t think I would have looked into otherwise. It’s been a very rewarding adventure, and I can’t wait to share five of those new reads with you!

So let’s jump in! (I’ve reviewed many of these in more depth on Goodreads, so if you’re interested in reading my thoughts – or just other reviews in general – you can find the Goodreads link under each book, or by clicking on the book’s title).

Like a Ship on the Sea

Author: Kellyn Roth

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Target Audience: Mature YA and above (16+)

What Stuck Out to Me:

This is the first book of Kellyn’s that I’ve read, as romance is a step outside my usual genres. I’m so glad I gave it a try! I was concerned that I wouldn’t understand everything, since this relates to her previous stories, but that wasn’t the case at all. This stands on its own.

Overall, the characters were my favorite part. They each had real and relatable passions, struggles, desires, thoughts, and dreams. I could relate to almost all of them, and quickly became attached. The romance was sweet and well-done, even for a rare romance reader.

The settings were beautiful and precise, and I don’t have a clue how Kellyn kept all of the spot-on historical details straight, but they all made perfect sense to me. Her descriptions were vivid, and I could picture each of the locations easily. The Christian themes were prominent from the very start of the story, but not obnoxiously so. I could respect and relate to the characters’ faiths without cringing at how it was portrayed, and she handled extremely difficult topics with tact and grace. I definitely recommend this one!

Tricky Content: infant loss/miscarriage, discussions of suicide, depression, kisses, one brief and vague discussion about physicality in marriage.

I’d Recommend It To: Older teens and above that like historical regency-style romances with fascinating characters and strong Christian themes.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

Generations 2

Author: Kenny Sargent

Genre: Christian Political Thriller

Target Audience: Mature YA and above (16+)

What Stuck Out to Me: I don’t read many political thrillers (they usually go over my head), but while interacting with the author for a project, I read it through in one day, and was super impressed! I haven’t even read the first novel yet, but I didn’t need to in order to understand the story.

It had enough action to keep me interested, enough meaning and deep themes to leave an impact, and enough focus on the characters and their growth to make it memorable. I thought I knew where a certain plot twist at the end was headed, but turns out, I was completely wrong – and happily so!

The Christian themes were strong and well-done, without being too pushy or cringe-y, or the opposite, too vague to even call a Christian novel. It covered a large number of heavy and difficult topics with grace and truth, and even handled some controversial spiritual aspects carefully, and I felt they were portrayed biblically. I highly recommend it, and will be sharing more about it next year!

Tricky Content: One character intends to commit suicide and is stopped, vague discussions of a pre-marital event and past abortion, deaths, fights.

I’d Recommend It To: Young adults and older readers that enjoy fast-paced political novels that don’t shy away from the hardest topics, and champion strong Christian themes throughout.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

Held Captive

Author: Grace A. Johnson

Genre: Christian Historical Pirate Romance

Target Audience: Young Adult (YA)

What Stuck Out to Me: Caveat first: this is in the process of being completely re-written (something I’m excited to read!), but all of my thoughts are about the original version, read in 2023.

Obviously, I’m in a pirate-stories phase right now, and this was one I’ve wanted to read for a long time! Written by the sweet author when she was young, I was super impressed with how much depth it had! From the plot to the characters to the strong Christian themes, I enjoyed it, and am planning to continue on with the series.

I had a lot of fun reading about the protagonist, who started out so rough, and admirably grew a major amount over the course of the story. The characters in general were relatable and well-developed, and I did enjoy most of the romance elements as well. The plot moved along well, and kept me interested, and wow those themes. She did a wonderful job at portraying Christian struggles with heart and truth.

Tricky Content: Drinking/drunkenness, violence, typical pirate brutality, strong romance. The romance and physical attraction aspects were more than I’m used to reading, but would still be considered clean.

I’d Recommend It To: Teens and above that enjoy strong characters, pirate stories, sweet romances, and prominent Christian messages.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

Operation Lionhearted

Author: Maribeth Barber

Genre: Christian Science Fiction

Target Audience: Young Adult (YA)

What Stuck Out to Me: Although I’m not usually a big science fiction reader, I’m a fan of this sweet author, and I’m so glad I gave this book a try!

It was very character-forward, which is great because the characters were my favorite part. They were interesting, sympathetic, and wrestled with a lot of real issues that helped me understand why they acted the way they did. The romance subplot was sweet and completely clean, which I really appreciated.

The world-building was also done well, where I could picture and follow along with everything. The author balanced the fast-paced action, political intrigue, and slower meaningful moments wonderfully, giving the story some naturally great pacing. There was never a point where I lost interest. And of course, the themes, while not explicitly Christian most of the time, were beautifully-written and powerful.

Tricky Content: It’s been a while, but war-type violence, and some ethical dilemmas (as war tends to bring).

I’d Recommend It To: Teens and older that enjoy action-packed, political science fiction reads with strong characters and great themes.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!


Author: E. B. Roshan

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Target Audience: Middle Grade and above

What Stuck Out to Me: This was a huge step outside my typical genres, but the author offered a complimentary copy and I was happy to give it a chance! And while it’s still not my preferred kind of story, I thought it was very cute, and worth the read!

First, the illustrations were a very fun addition to this little story (novella-length). They broke up the text well, and gave the story a middle-grade feel. Even the plot’s main mystery seemed to be on a smaller scale, something that younger readers could enjoy. That said, the characters’ dialogue wasn’t child-like. The setting was meant to be a Steampunk alternative to Victorian England, and the dialogue reflected that era, being older and more flowery.

The characters made for a fun cast of characters, with realistic sibling relationships, a villainous twist, and a lot of dry wit and humor from the protagonist. Even the bits of romance were short and sweet. In such a short story, the Steampunk elements of the worldbuilding didn’t show too much, but the setting worked and was easy to follow along with anyway. All in all, this was a quick, quirky, and entertaining read!

Tricky Content: I honestly can’t think of any. It was very clean.

I’d Recommend It To: Middle grade readers and up that enjoy short, illustrated historical reads with a fun cast of characters and a unique mystery plot.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

We’ve reached the end of day four of the Five Fall Favorites blog party! What are some of your favorite indie books? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

Again, check out Kate’s host blog here, for additional information, an awesome giveaway, and so that you can find even more book recommendations!

See you tomorrow for some more bookish fun!

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