Maria’s Indie Bookshelf

Hi everyone, welcome to my Indie Bookshelf! I thought I’d set up one handy place where I can share with you what I’m reading. I’ll still post book reviews on my blog, but I post about a variety of topics and I don’t do an extra blog review of every book I read.

PS – if you’re viewing this page on a computer and it looks like some of the text is chopped off, try zooming in on the page! Some of the text appears cut off if you’re zoomed out quite a bit.

I love reading indie books and supporting other indie writers. I have found some truly fantastic reads, too! My main go-to genres are historical fiction and fantasy, but I quite enjoy contemporary mysteries too.

The books are organised below by date. Just click the arrow next to each title for a mini blurb about each book. There’s also Amazon links if you fancy checking them out further. I also provide a link to the ones I’ve reviewed on my blog.

PS – thanks for dropping by! You might also fancy checking out my published books and a bit more about me as an author. Why not sign up for my newsletter? You’ll get a free preview of my fantasy novel, ‘Lottie’s Locket’, when you subscribe. You’ll also receive a free preview of my first historical fiction novel ‘The Boy from the Snow’ with every edition.

So, without any further ado, here’s my Indie Bookshelf!

Every reader is allowed their favourites, right? 😉 The links below will send you to my absolute favourites on the shelf.

Osbert by RA Currier – Historical Fiction

Empire’s Legacy Trilogy by Marian L Thorpe – Historical Fantasy/Alternative Historical Fiction

A Fatal Finale by Kathleen Maple Kalb – Historical Mystery

Of Shade and Shadow by Niamh and Rebecca Schmid – Fantasy

The Borrowed Boy by Deborah Klee – Drama/Women’s Literature

November 2021

Storytellers is an epic read that takes you on an adventure. I was hooked instantly by Gunnar, the grumpy blacksmith who just wants to be left alone, when an injured Sigurd arrives with money and a story in exchange for ‘no questions asked’.

The story is then excellently structured between the present exploits and struggles of Gunnar and the ‘story Sigurd tells him. Full of wonderful characters, a gripping plot stunning writing.

This stunning novel is set in Tudor era England and tells the story of Bess, a girl who comes to the court of Henry VIII as a minstrel. As well as a fly on the wall for the wider historical scene, the novel shows Bess’ own journey into adulthood. Breathtaking writing with wonderful character development.

October 2021

This is the second novel from Deborah Klee, following her superb debut, The Borrowed Boy.
This is a wonderfully-written story about the main character, sales assistant Bea, whose carefully constructed life begins to crumble around her. The characters are memorable and relatable and the book tackles head-on the important issue of homelessness. The book also handles topics around self-esteem and being yourself extremely well. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and am excited for the author’s next read.

The GhostMaker is an amazing read! It grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. Like with the previous book, the worldbuilding is breathtaking and immersive. Although in an entirely different setting, characters and plot to the debut novel, the distinctive writing – including a good dose of sassy humour – marks this as another brilliant Schmid book.

If you’re looking for superb writing, breathtaking imagination and rich worldbuilding that never overwhelms this reader, then this is the book for you. It’s immensely readable and as it is completely separate from the first book, could be read as a stand-alone. Of course, though, I highly recommend Of Shade and Shadow, too! Looking forward to the next in the Schmid series. Check out my blog review below!

September 2021

I can’t tell you too much yet about this ARC read, but it was fantastic! I’m looking forward to shouting about it from the rooftops when it’s nearer to the author’s publication schedule.

In the meantime, you can check out the blog post below discussing more about ARC reads and why they’re a great way to support authors. Plus you get free books!

Marian L Thorpe’s latest book in her alternate historical fiction series.

Wow. What an amazing read – the beautiful descriptions, worldbuilding and excellent character development will be of no surprise to regular readers of this series. The chapters are short and electrically charged, alternating between Cillian and Gwenna’s points of view like xache (chess) pieces.

Gwenna, her father Cillian and the family are summoned to Casil with Gwenna as a potential bride for the Empress’ son. The political scene is far from peaceful, leading the characters to watch their backs at every step. All the while they remain on their guard, the family are also processing grief and loss. Above all, even as Gwenna considers marrying, there’s an even greater love she is desperate to protect. If you’re looking for a superbly written alternate historical thriller, then this is the book for you – but maybe read the others first! 

August 2021

Diva Ella Shane has made her operatic career famous by her ‘trouser role’ performances by playing the male leads. After the first night of their production of ‘The Princes in the Tower’, Ella finds basso Albert Rueter leaning over a dead body in his dressing room.

It was wonderful to dive into this second book. Once again Ella’s voice is refreshing, feisty and poignant as our ahead of time heroine re-joins the centre stage. Kalb treats the author to the world of opera, the streets of 1900s New York and an important focus on women’s issues and women’s rights.

This is one of my favourite indie series and reads in general. It really made m fall in love with reading again and gave me back a passion for indie books.

This is a trilogy of three novels – Empire’s Daughter, Empire’s Hostage and Empire’s Exile. The series is set in a speculative/alternative Dark Ages, following the journey of Lena who lives in the coastal village of Tirvan. The novels show Lena having to make difficult choices to protect her home and serve the Empire, as the threat of a wider war looms in the distance.

Lena is gripping from the first page to the last. It is her that is Thorpe’s greatest triumph, as we see her humanity shine in how she explores human relationships, bravery in the face of war and integrity and love in the midst of difficult ethical choices. Lena’s journey ends with a powerful and moving conclusion, with my heart thumping in my chest and a few tears pricking in my eyes. Whatever your preferred genre, I recommend everyone pick up this book immediately!

July 2021

One minute Princess Josselyn is considering suitors ahead of her 18th birthday, the next she and her bodyguard Alex are fleeing her home. Josselyn fights for her kingdom and her life. Can whatever magic lurking within her birthmark help?

Gripping YA fantasy with a great blend of action, adventure and romance with a dash of magic along the way. Extremely well written, following a feisty young princess with a great sense of humour, battling evil tyrants and her own heart. Highly recommended for YA fantasy fans.

A race known as ‘The First Ones’ gather outside Solitude’s gates. If she and her apprenticec Arlo hae any hance for survival, Mage Zanna must look to her estranged daughter Calene for help. However, soon Calene is fighting her own battles…

I devoured this book in the last few days. Right away, the story and the excellent writing grabbed me. In Solitude’s Shadow has a great balance of fast action scenes and wonderful character development. I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Zanna and her young apprentice Arlo. Zanna’s estranged relationship with her daughter Calene was brilliantly depicted, drawing on grief, anger and hope.

If you enjoy light-hearted fantasy, this book may not be for you. It has one or two gory scenes which is not normally my cup of tea- but the excellent story and fantastic writing kept me gripped.
Would recommend In Solitude’s Shadow for any fans of dark fantasy or LOTR. A few shades darker than my normal read, but enjoyable from the first page to the last. Check out my fuller blog review below.

June 2021

A contemporary, comedic thriller. Main character DeLuca is asked to help track down her old school friend, Millar, who has gone missing. Soon DeLuca becomes embroiled with gangsters and isn’t sure who to trust, but her sass and resourcefulness keep her going.

This is a good story with plenty of twists and turns. The writing style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea but the fun and quirky main character kept me reading. Would recommend to readers who are after an edgy, fresh thriller with a fun and unique main character.

This wonderful book sweeps you back in time to Regency England in this charming Pride and Prejudice variation. Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet are guests at a house party thrown by mutual friends, the Kendalls.

The Kendalls hope that both Elizabeth and Darcy will find suitable matches – but in the true style of this beloved couple, it seems they are not suited at each other, at least at first. All the while, news of a killer in the area shocks the party, especially after the gentlemen guests – including Darcy himself – are accused as suspects. This read is wonderfully written in an Austen-like style and both poignant and gripping. Really recommend to historical fiction lovers, especially to fans of Pride and Prejudice.

May 2021

This story was fantastic! After Starla gets abducted she wakes in the worst possible place – on the outskirts of the city. Starla is found by Ari, who has made her living in the wasteland and knows all too well that anyone who leaves the city never comes back. Together the two unlikely friends make a deal and have to learn to trust each other to survive.

A gripping plot, wonderful character development and plenty of twists and turns. Highly recommend for science fiction lovers or if you’re new to the genre. Looking forward to following this up soon with the sequel, ‘Ari goes to War’.

A woman named Jasmine discovers she has inherited a cottage from an apparent stranger. The cottage is full of writings from this ‘Anna’ and Jasmine isn’t sure what is fact and what is fiction. Has a more formal, perhaps older style of writing. It started out well and the memoirs are written excellently, but the pacing of Jasmine’s present life seemed a bit slow and not everything was resolved by the end. Also I wasn’t expecting a couple of the more explicit scenes which were a bit uncomfortable to read. All in all a good read, may appeal to older readers.

This is book 5 in Marian L Thorpe’s amazing series (including a novella) and the start of the second trilogy. It’s set across a dual timeline, from the point of view of bard, Sorely. The past timeline is set almost immediately after a crucial battle and the actions of the characters in creating peace across their lands. The future timeline is of Sorely attempting to explain those actions to teenager Gwenna amid new conflicts.

Meanwhile throughout Sorely’s discussion of politics and war, at its heart this novel is a love story, exploring the complicated love between Sorely and other beloved characters Cillian, Lena and Drusius. These four characters are this novel’s beating heart, with raw poignancy and superb worldbuilding.

It was reading the first book in Marian’s intelligent, wonderful immersive series that made me fall in love with reading again. You could jump into Empire’s Reckoning here, but I’d recommend starting with the first novel, Empire’s Daughter, as otherwise you risk missing out on the wonderful depth of characters and the world Marian has written about so far. Hit the button below to jump to the trilogy on the shelf!


April 2021

Book 4 in Marian Thorpe’s Empire series. This novella takes place immediately after the battle that takes place at the end of the third novel. It bridges the two trilogies together and introduces the narrator of Sorely, a different main character to Lena, who narrated the first trilogy. This novella explores the characters’ grief and hope while they await the fate of another and also begins the process of peace which is picked up on in Empire’s Reckoning. Again, I’d recommend grabbing the amazing Empire’s Legacy Trilogy first – hit the button below to jump there on the shelf.

This book gripped me right from the start. The writing is stunning, with such clear description that I really felt I could be walking on the beach alongside Angie and Danny, following them on their journey. The characters are colourful and substantial.

In particular, the author’s use of the past to tell the story of Angie’s earlier life is done brilliantly. This book is also unafraid to give an honest look at the world and the dark issues still facing us today. Really recommend this fantastic read!


March 2021

Very enjoyable fantasy! Epic read. For me the best parts were near the beginning. Thomas is a very well written main character and it was fascinating to see him travelling to another world and try to adjust to the people and places he finds himself in. All the while he battles with trying to get back to Earth and questioning whether he is ‘the one’ a prophecy talks about.

If I had one little criticism it would be sometimes all the details and myth/history of the world get a bit overwhelming at times. However Thomas’ journey and very human reactions definitely kept me engaged. Thought the pacing towards the end was excellent too. A very enjoyable read and I recommend to any lovers of epic fantasy.

Meet Astra, a princess struggling to recover a year after the war ended, unable to control her strange powers. Soon she has no choice but to team up with reluctant ally Louko, a prince from another land. Despite his cutting sarcasm, the two form a begrudging friendship. Astra still believes an old enemy to be at work and suddenly, Astra and Louko must work together again in order to survive.

This is an amazing fantasy with wonderful character development, stunning world-building and lots of sass. I really recommend it!


February 2021

It is New York in 1899. Diva Ella Shane is an opera singer famous for playing ‘trouser roles’ – playing the male leads.

When the Juliet to her Romeo drinks real poison at the end of a performance, at first everyone believes it’s an accident. However, after a dashing duke comes all the way from England with unanswered questions, Ella starts to suspect foul play.

This book has been amazing from start to finish. A brilliant balance of real mystery combined with one of the best developments of friendship in fiction I’ve seen since Jane Eyre met Mr. Rochester. Not to mention truly stunning description and turns of phrase, as well as rich historical details interwoven into the story. I recommend to all lovers of historical mystery.

This book is masterfully written and the plot is utterly captivating, with use of both the present and flashbacks that give you a great insight into the relationship between Laura and Sean.
I highly recommend this book. While the mystery puts this book in a darker world than Holland’s previous two books, at its heart it is a love story. It makes the reader yearn for whether Laura will find Sean and whether, if he is alive, the two can reunite and have a future together. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it for romance and suspense fans.


January 2021

This edition actually contains two novels, ‘I, Richard Plantagenet: Loyaulte me Lie’ and ‘I, Richard Plantagenet: Tante le Desiree’. Both books explore the life of Richard III from his first person perspective.
These books were a fascinating read. Both are written wonderfully, with the perfect blend of gorgeous description, captivating insights and reflections from Richard and fast paced, realistic action and battle scenes. I recommend for lovers of historical fiction and those interested in trying out the genre.

Stunning poetry that eloquently describes the highs and lows of life, with beautiful imagery alongside. Relates to many different stages of life and experiences. I’m looking forward to discovering more poetry by this author.

This fantasy novel was a brilliant read. Beautiful writing and Matthew is a character we can all root for. The pacing is excellent, with plenty of twists and turns but without it becoming overwhelming. I also really liked the character of Simon and how their friendship develops. The alchemists and their order were written with flair, with enough distinctives between them. The scenes detailing the gruesome antagonist were particularly vivid.

This novel was exciting from start to finish and was like a cross between Harry Potter and The Magician’s Nephew. I highly recommend for older children and adults and I’m looking forward to reading any other books in the series, or from the author in general.


December 2020

I’d recommend reading this after the first book, ‘Vintage Bookshop of Memories’ but as it follows the character of Katie, it can also be read as a stand alone.

Katie is visiting her friend Prue (the main character from the first novel) for Christmas in the idyllic village of Ivy Hatch. Katie arrives in emotional turmoil, having recently broken up with her ex and also being without a home or a job. However, with the help of Prue’s friendship, Christmas spirit and not a few glasses of gin, Katie slowly begins to heal. There may even be a new love interest on the horizon, but Katie isn’t sure she has recovered yet from all that has happened to her recently. This charming romance is perfect for Christmas!

I really enjoyed this book of poetry. The author’s use of language was poignant as it described so many different experiences in the highs and lows of life. Very evocative description that led to crystal clear images in my mind. Recommend to poetry lovers.


November 2020

Right from the first page, I knew Skyview was going to be epic. The story starts with meeting our hero William Ward, an employee who works at the family business, the Interlaken Beer Company (IBC). William’s bloodline dates back to the original Ward, one of the IBC’s founding members.

After a work party, William discovers that there is a fortune, his ancestor’s share of the IBC He embarks on a quest to trace his ancestor’s movements through history and find the treasure of his inheritance. Not only that, but he is also leading new friends, the descendants of the other founding members, who try to support William to find the treasure.

If you are looking for a fantastic blend between an epic historical fantasy with the global scope and punchy feel of James Bond, I’d recommend you read this Skyview! I really enjoyed it.

Charming story with a lovely main character you can really root for as she seeks to live a quiet & peaceful life. Prue has a very particular fashion style & a great love for reading. I loved the descriptions of the bookshop in particular. I recommend for all lovers of romance!


October 2020

Wonderfully written charming read, with a determined & compassionate character to really root for. This has gorgeous descriptions as the author interweaves seamlessly between past and present before driving to a satisfying & heartfelt conclusion. Highly recommend!

This book is a great thriller but also a very captivating drama. It goes flawlessly to edge of your seat moments with the main character, Becky, uncovering clues and pondering moments- but then it slammed right back into real life with a very honest depiction of grief and pain.

This is an extremely well written debut, following the journey of Masinissa.
I knew little of the time period or about Carthage, so it was fascinating learning about this. Edmunds interweaves much research into every page, so that I found it educational as well as enjoyable. I also really liked the philosophical aspects to the book as Masinissa muses while on his journey, especially his thoughts of life & death. The pacing in the action scenes was excellent. Recommend to historical fiction fans.

September 2020

becoming-a-warrior

This book was an incredible read. This gripping historical fantasy follows the journey of Amaria, a young woman from an Amazonian tribe descended from a warrior bloodline. Amaria is beginning her final training quests that, should she succeed, will deem her worthy of picking up her shield and becoming a true warrior of the tribe.

Fast paced and packed full of action, but with enough moments of stillness to reflect upon Amaria’s journey and growth. It is also immensely readable, with a beautiful blend of the historical and the mythological. Highly recommend to all lovers of history and fantasy 🙂

This is one of my favourite indie series and reads in general. It really made m fall in love with reading again and gave me back a passion for indie books.

This is a trilogy of three novels – Empire’s Daughter, Empire’s Hostage and Empire’s Exile. The series is set in a speculative/alternative Dark Ages, following the journey of Lena who lives in the coastal village of Tirvan. The novels show Lena having to make difficult choices to protect her home and serve the Empire, as the threat of a wider war looms in the distance.

Lena is gripping from the first page to the last. It is her that is Thorpe’s greatest triumph, as we see her humanity shine in how she explores human relationships, bravery in the face of war and integrity and love in the midst of difficult ethical choices. Lena’s journey ends with a powerful and moving conclusion, with my heart thumping in my chest and a few tears pricking in my eyes. Whatever your preferred genre, I recommend everyone pick up this book immediately!


Older Reads

Beautiful & evocative novel. Very well written & immensely readable. Rebecca is a captivating & complex character & there are some truly gorgeous lines of description.
The author has researched this novel meticulously but it never feels like an ‘info-dump’ but is carefully woven into scenes to really bring Victorian Wales to life. Recommend to historical fiction and romance readers.

This was an amazing read telling the true story of Aethelflaed, nicknamed in the book as Teasel, daughter of King Alfred the Great. The book spans decades, detailing Teasal’s journey from a child terrified of Vikings to becoming the queen of Mercia.

This novel has been meticulously researched by Whitehead to make for a fully immersive read, splashing colour on an era of history that was largely unknown to me as a reader. It is extremely well written with characters that are very gripping.

Another of my favourite indie reads of all time. Right from the start, from the very first page, I was hooked. The novel tells the story of its main character, Osbert, a shepherd living and working on his father’s farm in 13th Century Northern England. The novel goes through a few weeks in the shepherd’s life, alongside his cousin Tolly.

To put it simply, Osbert is stunningly good. It has wonderfully complex characters, a beautiful story and with amazing description and detail. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to imagine so clearly the world of a novel. Furthermore, I’m not sure I’ve gotten to know a character so deeply since Jane Eyre. Currier puts you right in Osbert’s world, so clearly that I can easily feel I am walking with him and Tolly into the nearby town to trade, or alongside him as he rides his horse. I recommend everyone read this book!

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