Seal of Excellence Recipients

Spiderworld

Spiderworld
Publisher:
Published: June 15, 2015
Author's Twitter: @RichardBunning
Not even the time-lord, Orlando Oversight, knows everything. But speculation can turn into a real future, and the Lush Star system, where spider-like beings treat humans as we do animals, isn't so very far in the future. Do Jack Baker, the self-styled 'Spartacus', and his followers have a chance to become more than meat and slaves? Will Athalie have the life she hopes for with her hero? And will the 'spider' Boklung hold his business together while funding and organising the Arcraft's voyage across the Milky Way? Spiderworld is another of Richard Bunning’s quirky, speculative, science fictions. Other sentient life forms are out there, planning their own strategies for survival. Other sentient species also run short of space and time.

The Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature has been awarded to Spiderworld by Richard Bunning! Read a brand new review of Spiderworld below!

In Spiderworld, a quirky sci-fi novel by Richard Bunning, Orlando Oversight, a time-lord, space historian, and adventurer, using Bunning as a vehicle, tells us of a future that is yet to happen. In Orlando’s version of the future, Earth has been invaded by an octopedal species, the Aranian ungolian, who have transported most of the planet’s humans to their home planet as slaves—and a food supply.

Through the author, Orlando tells how an escaped breeding yeng, which is the Aranian word for the human slaves, Jack Baker, manages to maintain his freedom against the physically superior spiders. Central to the story is Bokung, an Aranian slave breeder, who is maneuvering to get a special project launched, a project that has the potential to change the destinies of homo sapien and octoped alike.

The author does a masterful job of describing an eerie alien environment in which humans must struggle against aliens and each other. As fanciful as it is, it also paints a fairly accurate picture of what happens when a relatively unsophisticated race encounters a technologically advanced group.

Spiderworld has a bit of everything: religion, slavery, romance, greed, and advanced technology, along with the interpersonal and social dynamics that exists between different groups. Despite some gory descriptions of Aranian eating habits, it also has a touch of humor, so you have here a story that should appeal to a broad range of reading tastes. That’s shorthand for, you’ll like this book.

 

 

Then She Was Born

Then She Was Born
Published: January 9, 2017
Then She Was Born is more than a novel. It's an international human rights awareness campaign supported by eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. Based on an inconceivable reality for many in the world today, Then She Was Born combines the drama and redemption of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner with the spirituality of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. A child is born and the joy of her parents turns to horror. The child is different, in a way that will bring bad luck to their superstitious community. The tradition should be for her to be abandoned, but Nkamba, the grandmother, is allowed to care for her. Naming her Adimu, Nkamba raises her as her own. Adimu is constantly marginalized and shunned by the community, although her spirit remains undiminished and full of faith. But when she encounters the wealthy British mine owner Charles Fielding and his wife Sarah, it is the beginning of something which will test them all. As Charles Fielding's fortunes wane, he turns in desperation to a witch doctor whose suggestion leaves him horrified. But as events begin to spiral out of control he succumbs to the suggestions and a group of men are sent on a terrible mission. The final acts, of one man driven by greed and another by power, will have a devastating effect on many lives. Cristiano Gentili's glittering prose and vivid imagery will have you captivated from the first page.

 

Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili has been awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature! Check out our first assessment of this riveting work below!

In a little Tanzanian village a child is born, but her parents’ joy quickly turns to horror when they see that she’s different in a way that brings bad luck to the entire village, for she’s an albino. In many African cultures, albinos are objects of scorn and hatred, neither human nor animal. The father rejects her, refusing even to give her a name, and the villagers want her taken to the forest and left to die. But, her grandmother, remembering her own terrible experience when she gave birth to an albino child that was left to die, begs to be allowed to take the child and raise it.

Through a rare stroke of luck, the grandmother, Nkamba, convinces the village chief and the shaman and is allowed to take the child, which she names Adimu. Adimu grows up suffering the scorn of the village until she meets Charles and Sarah Fielding, a wealthy white couple who own a mine near the village. A bond develops between them, but Charles, a man consumed by the desire for wealth, suffers financial loss and falls sway to the village shaman, who covets power, leading him to make a decision that imperils Adimu’s life, his relationship with his wife, and his sanity.

Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili is a profound, thought-provoking novel that highlights the plight of albinos in Africa through the life of one such individual. The characters are brought to life on the pages, as is the physical and cultural environment and its impact on the people inhabiting it. The author could have preached about the terrible treatment inflicted upon albinos, but instead does a masterful job of ‘showing’ the reader through Adimu’s encounters with other villagers, with the gangs who hunt albinos for their supposed magical powers, and the relationships between black and white Africans, people who are united by a common culture while at the same time divided by race and class. Character motivations are also shown by their reactions to events; for instance, the shaman’s obsession with power as he puts his traditional beliefs up against the lure of Christianity, brought to Africa by the white missionaries, but carried on by local converts. At the same time, the way locals carry two belief systems and reconcile them in their daily lives, and the conflicts this causes, is highlighted. Throughout the book, the strength of the human spirit, and its ability to redeem is abundantly apparent.

The cover, a simple graphic showing hands of different colors clasped, highlights both the conflict and cooperation that exists in the story.

Without preaching, the author highlights the plight of Africa’s albinos more effectively than all the UN pamphlets or political speeches.

Another great strength of this book is that, though it was written originally in Italian, the English translation is so smooth, it’s not at all apparent that this is a translation.

Most westerners are unaware of the problems faced by albinos in traditional African societies, but after reading this book, can not only become aware, but might just be called to action to help do something about it.

I give this book five stars for theme and execution. A compelling read.

 

 

 

Lucifer, Eve and Adam

Lucifer, Eve and Adam
Published: November 15, 2016
When the actual existence of the human race is threatened by Eve and Adam's refusal to mate,The Creator orders her #1 angel-in-training, Lucifer, to earth to solve the problem. But with the clock running out on Eve's fertility and Lucifer's own profound fear of intimacy impeding any progress whatsoever, it's going to take more than a miracle for the inept, bumbling angel to bring the apparently incompatible and far-too-human Eve and Adam together. Lucifer Eve and Adam is a funny, fast-paced romp through the Garden of Eden. Inspired by Eve's Diary from the incredible Mark Twain, this "absolutely true" and "completely honest" story of Creation transforms the dark and dreary myth of universal mortality, the subordination of women, and the shame of original sin into a brand new narrative that reflects the joy of life, the strength of equality and togetherness, and the power emanating from the very first story of love.

Assessed  

5 Stars

Lucifer Eve And Adam by Peter Wilkes and Catherine Dickey Wilson tells the first love story from a unique perspective while injecting it with enough humor and wit to keep you laughing from the first page to the last. Fans of the movie Dogma and those who appreciate quick, biting, Monty Python-esque repartee are in for a treat! While I believe this book could be enjoyed by everyone, it should be noted that this a humorous interpretation of the story of the Adam and Eve, and those who might be sensitive to satirization of the Abrahamic origin story might not have a good time. The authors use the Christian mythology here to satirize modern gender roles, and they do so in a way that is entertaining and relevant to modern society.

After a clever introduction and a brief dramatis personae, the story begins with The Creator and Lucifer monitoring the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve have an argument about, what else? Sex. The Creator insists that the story be told in the form of a movie script, and the format with which the reader is presented information is unique. Part film script, part theatrical play manuscript and part novella, the authors are certainly not afraid to play jazz with the conventions of novel and screenwriting, but the experimental approach never took away from the way the scenes and interactions are related to the reader. With help from The Creator and Lucifer, Adam and Eve evolve from using rocks, fruits, vegetables and animals (if Adam could catch them) to stimulate themselves to learning the important aspects of life: Happiness, Sadness, Trust, Science and Love. Surprised to see “science” in the list? Lucifer Ever And Adam makes clear the importance of logic and pragmatism, even while playing in the sandbox of a fantastical origin myth, and surprisingly handles it well.
The story is charming and sharp from beginning to end, and while this will be a short read for most, it is the kind of story that one can easily imagine seeing again in another format. The authors clearly had an independent film or a feature-length stage production in mind when they set pen to page, and this piece has enough great lines to warrant an adaptation. Both funny and romantic, Lucifer Eve and Adam by Peter Wilkes and Catherine Dickey Wilson is easily a 5 star work.

 

 

 

Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan

Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan
Published: January 22, 2016
Author's Twitter: @CindyRMarsch
We meet Rosette in 1888 as she revises the wedding-day page of her journal. In lush detail, in the voices of Rosette and others, the novel traces how we both choose and suffer our destiny, how hopes come to naught and sometimes rise from the wreckage. Why did she edit her wedding-day journal? Almost-spinster schoolteacher Rosette Cordelia Ramsdell married Otis Churchill on a Michigan farm in 1857. Her real-life journal recounts two years of homesteading, history hints at the next six decades, and the novel explores the truth. We meet Rosette in 1888 as she revises the wedding-day page of her journal. In lush detail, in the voices of Rosette and others, the novel traces how we both choose and suffer our destiny, how hopes come to naught and sometimes rise from the wreckage.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delivering Virtue

Delivering Virtue
Published: November 7, 2015
Author's Twitter: @briankindall
Poetic rogue Didier Rain is hired by The Church of the Restructured Truth to deliver a baby – Virtue – to be the bride of the Prophet Nehi at his church’s new settlement in the wilderness territories. A picaresque novel set in the American frontier of 1854. “It’s 1854 in the American West and Didier Rain – rogue, poet, and would-be entrepreneur – is hired by an upstart church to deliver a child bride to the sect’s prophet across a frontier fraught with perils.” Delivering Virtue is a picaresque novel set in the American frontier of 1854. A poetic rogue by the name of Didier Rain is hired by The Church of the Restructured Truth to fulfill a prophecy. He is to deliver a baby – Virtue – to be the bride of the Prophet Nehi at his church’s new settlement in the wilderness territories. The story is an account of the trials Rain endures on this journey, attempting to adhere to the contract he signed prescribing his sacrosanct behavior throughout, while wrestling with his more base animal inclinations. As he walks this precarious line between the sacred and the profane, Virtue remains Didier Rain’s guiding miracle, showing him the true meaning of salvation by journey’s end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten

The Forgotten
Author:
Publisher:
Published: May 18, 2012
Author's Twitter: @Dragonwriter12
What do you do when you discover an extradimensional plot threatening the safety of the entire world, but you can’t tell anyone because literally anyone on Earth could be part of it?   When Alastair Stone is asked to question a disturbed child who’s committed a horrific act, Stone has no idea what kind of rabbit hole he’s starting down. He uncovers more instances of appalling crimes, all committed by people with no history of violence. Before long Stone crosses paths with Jason Thayer, a young man searching for his runaway sister who might be a victim of the same bizarre affliction. Stone and Jason are embroiled in a network of odd homeless people, strange symbols, and deadly danger. Even if they find Jason’s sister in time, there’s no way to know if they can help her – and it’s soon clear that the problem’s a lot worse than they originally suspected.

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

5 Stars

This is a wonderful urban fantasy. Great characters, different story line and no vampires! Wonderful. Worth it’s Seal of Excellence.

 

 

 

 

 

Flank Street

Flank Street
Author:
Published: May 15, 2015
Author's Twitter: @ajsendall
A man with a buried past. A woman with a compulsion for danger. Together, can they con the Sydney underworld and get away with cold-blooded murder?   Flank Street is written from the distorted reality of Micky DeWitt, a shiftless career criminal and world sailor. Micky arrives in Sydney, Australia on his rundown boat, broke and on the lookout for opportunity. He takes a job as barman in Sydney’s red light district, where eventually he’s approached by a woman who needs something stolen from a lawyer’s safe. Nothing is what it seems, as Micky falls into a honey trap that spins his life out of control and pushes him to the edge of insanity.

Reviewed by S M Spencer

5 Stars

Well, well, well … What a read! I decided to read this book because it was recently given a 5 star review by Awesome Indies, which is a pretty good recommendation. That, and it’s set in Australia. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed! This book has intrigue, romance, mystery – and it all takes place in the famous Kings Cross district in the heart of Sydney. The main character and narrator, Micky Dewitt, is the most likeable thug I’ve ever encountered, and his story kept me engaged from start to finish. Well written in every respect.

Well, well, well … What a read! I decided to read this book because it was recently given a 5 star review by Awesome Indies, which is a pretty good recommendation. That, and it’s set in Australia. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed! This book has intrigue, romance, mystery – and it all takes place in the famous Kings Cross district in the heart of Sydney. The main character and narrator, Micky Dewitt, is the most likeable thug I’ve ever encountered, and his story kept me engaged from start to finish. Well written in every respect.

 

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire
Will they or won’t they? Should they or shouldn’t they? It’s the summer of 1977 in a small college town, and physics professor David Asken has just lost his young family in a plane crash he somehow survived. Sixteen-year-old neighbor Molly Carmichael used to be the babysitter, but now will be keeping house for him while he recuperates. David’s quietly planning to end his life just as soon as he can drive again. Molly’s trying to cope with being known as Tampon Girl, thanks to a sculpture by her notorious artist mother, but she will have to deal with much worse after a drunken teenage party. In this engrossing coming-of-age novel by the author of The Awful Mess, both man and girl must grow up the hard way, and it’s their unexpectedly tender connection, fraught with potential scandal, that may just help them do it. This provocative novel asks: Is there ever a time when doing the wrong thing might be exactly right? Warning: Offers adult themes, bad language, violence, and a blistering feminist critique of how men always leave that crap in the bottom of the sink. May also keep you reading way too late into the night.

Reviewed 

 

The AI Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature has been awarded to The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire by Sandra Hutchison. Read our brand new five-star review of the book below!

A coming-of-age novel set in America in the late 70s, Sandra Hutchison’s The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire centers on the relationship between David, a physics professor in his 30s, and Molly, the teenage girl who used to babysit his daughter. Molly doesn’t babysit for David anymore because his wife and daughter recently perished in a plane crash. He is too overwhelmed by grief to take care of himself, so his estranged sister hires Molly to keep house for him.

Molly has problems of her own. Her parents are divorced. Her father loves her but now has another wife and children, a family where she has a marginal place. She mostly lives with her mother, a notorious and uninhibited artist who commemorates Molly’s first period by constructing the figure of a girl with tampons and, of course, exhibiting it publicly. Molly’s schoolmates call her Tampon Girl.

The physics professor doesn’t seduce or become obsessed with the teenager, nor does she have a girlish crush on him. While David struggles with grief and survivor’s guilt and Molly negotiates the minefield of adolescence in the 70s, they develop a friendship that’s hard to categorize but easy for people in their small town to misinterpret and condemn.

Sandra Hutchison writes beautifully transparent and unpretentious prose. She creates complex characters and a vivid sense of place. Most of all, she tells a compelling story full of sorrow and humor with a benign detachment that leaves room for readers to draw their own conclusions. In other words, she’s a first-rate writer.

Some readers might be offended by Hutchison’s frank depiction of sexual situations and nonjudgmental treatment of behavior that is usually condemned. They may dislike the somewhat open ending. But if you don’t read fiction to find emotional security and have your beliefs validated, if you’re just looking for an excellent book, I strongly recommend The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire.

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Reviewed by K. J. Farnham

5 Stars

Recovering both physically and mentally from a plane crash that took the lives of his wife and daughter, college professor David Asken is a mess. His sister hires 16-year-old Molly from across the street to help out with cooking, cleaning and making sure David takes his meds, eats, pays bills, etc. Due to David’s depressed state of mind and Molly’s somewhat neglectful parents, the two form an unconventional and rather controversial relationship. But the development of their relationship is only one of many thought-provoking topics covered in this novel.

The attraction David and Molly feel for one another is made obvious through their actions and inner dialogue. While I knew it would be wrong for a man in his thirties to hook up with a teenager, the prospect became more acceptable to me as their relationship deepened. Aw hell, I’ll just admit it, by the end I was rooting for a romantic HEA for the two of them. But before you judge me or the author for crafting a story filled with such taboo, read the book to find out why the idea of them being together didn’t disgust me.

Kudos to Hutchison for tackling several delicate subjects with candor, realism and punches of humor. Also, her writing is smart and seamless

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Reviewed by Leah

4 Stars

David survives a plane crash that killed his wife and daughter. Molly, his next door neighbor and his daughter’s babysitter, is hired by his sister to be his housekeeper. Like most survivors, David is struggling with guilt and is even contemplating suicide. Molly, aside from dealing with the grief over the death of David’s daughter Emily, is dealing with issues of her own – one of them being the daughter of a sexually uninhibited artist. The title of this book would probably make you think this is some sexy explicit romance of sorts – that was my first impression until I read the summary – but it’s really not.

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire is an interesting book about a teenage girl dealing with issues that come when you’re just starting to cross over from being a child to a young woman, and a young man dealing with the tragic loss of his family. Life throws them into each other’s lives and they develop a strange relationship. The book is essentially about how they deal with their circumstances and how one significantly figures in the healing of the other.

The book is well-written and is actually not too difficult to read. It’s not a light read, by all means, and it may be hard to read for some because of the sensitive topics that it touches on, but it doesn’t go over the top or becomes too graphic. It doesn’t sugar-coat either and sometimes you have to read between the lines. The characters are interesting, are not one-sided, and work well together. The story also flows comfortably – it didn’t feel too slow or rushed. By the way, the title is a line taken from a work by Virginia Woolf and is mentioned in the book. The ending doesn’t exactly give straight-up answers and may even leave you with more questions, but I find that it’s just fitting to the story.

Overall, this book is a good read and I think anybody who likes unique stories and likes to keep an open mind would appreciate this book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to provide a positive review. All views are my own.

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Reviewed by Vivian

4 Stars

Painfully real, very well crafted, beautifully written. I really liked the hero, which was great. Many times the hero is just a jerk.

Yes, I too rooted for an HEA for the unlikely couple. To be honest I didn’t find see much of a taboo in the relationship.

 

Daemon Seer

Daemon Seer
Author:
Publisher:
Published: February 24, 2015
Author's Twitter: @Dreambeast8
As a teenager, Lu Darlington attracted national attention when she and her friend Lisa escaped a sadistic killer known as the Professor of Death. She never told anyone about the daemon who saved her life that day. Ten years later, Lisa shows up at Lu’s door, fleeing another psychopath stalker. But Lisa’s not the only one seeking Lu after all this time. One by one, the daemons descend: Voracious Chama. Sinister Black Claw. Beautiful Talion. Chama wants Lu, but Talion claims her. The women of Lu’s family have always belonged to Talion—and they’ve suffered deeply for it. As the human threat draws closer, Talion demands that Lu bind herself to him in a harrowing ceremony that will destroy an innocent man and change her forever—but might save Lisa’s life. Can she navigate the violent intrigues of the daemon world without being consumed by its terrible, all-consuming demands?

Reviewed  

Get that third eye ready, Daemon Seer is a rollicking, dark thrill tide through the mind of one Luanda Darlington, aka the woman who ended the serial murder spree that electrified and terrified the nation. She’s avoided the spotlight, but for how long? The Professor of Death might be dead, but his ghost still haunts Lu in the form of the bestselling nonfiction book detailing Conrad’s exploits. And the writer responsible for the book… he’s haunting her as well.

Lisa, the scarred survivor of the Professor’s final lesson is in the picture too, on the run from an abusive cop. The same cop currently combing the entire lower 48 states to bring Lisa back to a punishing world of sex, drugs and degradation. Lisa arrives at Lu’s door with nothing, except an annoying case of telepathy with Lu.

Plus, it’s about this time that the gorgeous, seductive and irresistible daemon Talion shows up.

Stylistically, Daemon seer flows at a fast pace, with bits of back story stuck into it like bloody shards of glass into a voodoo doll. The narrative is tense, active, and stripped for speed. There are a few points where the speed actually overtakes the reader’s ability to keep up, but keep reading: the thing you’re confused about is going to be explained soon, either next few paragraphs or the next page. If there’s one continual source of confusion, it’s the amnesia box. Not entirely sure how it was developed, how it works, and how at other times it doesn’t.

The characters are realistic as human beings, with description painting them as individuals rather than dialogue.

It was awesome to see the plot progress, and to see how intense the action got. Most impressive is how I thought the various events would be the climax of the story, but then I thought to myself, ‘that can’t be right, there are 60 more pages left’ and lo and behold, the actual conflict continued on to later smash me with another great climactic scene.

The book ties up very nicely, without leaving the reader at a cliffhanger, yet sets up further books in the series well. I’d be intrigued to read the following book in the series and see how events and characters develop, notably with Galen, Lisa and Chama.