*Christmas music plays in the background* No, really. I have Christmas music on as I write this, because obviously!
It’s the holiday season, and that means gifts for friends and loved ones…and maybe a few for yourself. You did all that shopping and decorating and brainstorming gift ideas, after all; you deserve it. 😉 Perhaps you’re looking for gift ideas for yourself to tell your family. Or maybe you’ll end up with a gift card in your stocking and will hoard these ideas for after Christmas so you can immerse yourself in a read over the weird Twilight Zone that is the space between Christmas and New Year’s. (Bookmark this page to make it easy to find again!)
Whatever your reason for looking, thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll enjoy checking out these 25 hand-picked indie published and small indie press published books and series.
First, a few notes..
I (Selina R. Gonzalez) write romantic fantasy and that’s mostly what I read, because it’s what I love, so this list is majorly skewed toward fantasy and romance, but there are a few non-fantasy and/or non-romance books. I also read mostly clean books, so none of these have a content level higher than a high PG-13 rating. These are all books I’ve read or are on my TBR.
And, finally, the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make any purchases. (However, this post is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the authors, except myself, although several of them are friends/acquaintances.)
Now, choose your own adventure by clicking on the image/category that applies to you or the person you are gift-hunting for, or just keep scrolling or click here to jump to the list of recommended indie books (alphabetical by title)!
NOTE: You will likely get the best experience on a desktop rather than your mobile device.
Shopping for someone who is…
Selina’s Indie Book Holiday Gift Guide 2021
The Cursed Queen
Author: Colleen Forbes
Genre: YA Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy
This book is: For dog lovers, cute, feel-good, unique, surprising
Queen Ravenna of Lyra doesn’t believe in true love. After suffering from a broken heart, she curses herself to protect her heart and her country from undeserving suitors. While she waits for someone to break the curse, she is content to honor her parents’ legacy by creating an alliance with all of the countries in the known world hoping that this will help improve her peoples’ future by giving access to the best scholars outside of Lyra.
Author: Bryn Shutt
Genre: Adventure Fantasy
This book is: Novella, intriguing, character-focused
Get it: ebook https://amzn.to/3DL9ruL (paid link)
Light creates shadows, better to die in the dark.
Once, Lilias Khove was someone else, a dancer revered and applauded. Now, she guards a city.
Once, Prevecost was something other, a city strong and renowned throughout the world. Now plague stalks her streets and steals her citizens.
Author: Hope Bolinger & Alyssa Roat
Genre: Superhero fantasy
This series is: Enemies to lovers, unique format, quirky, humorous, emotional, reminiscent of Megamind or The Incredibles for teens & adults, or reminiscent of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-long-Blog sans musical
Cortex and V need a new nemesis.
Up-and-coming teen superhero Cortex is on top of the world–at least, until his villain dumps him. If he’s going to save his reputation, he needs a new antagonist, and fast.
Dragon Keep Chronicles (2 books)
Author: C.M Banschbach
Genre: High fantasy
This series is: Celtic-inspired, intense, action-packed, character-driven
A lost brother.
An unwilling outlaw.
A rising enemy.
An unusual alliance.
Elven Alliance series (5th book Dec 10, 2021)
Author: Tara Grayce
Genre: Romantic fantasy, high fantasy
This series is: For elf lovers, cute, emotional, romantic, political (as in, secondary-world machinations), entertaining
Essie would do anything for her kingdom…even marry an elf prince she just met that morning.
The human kingdom of Escarland and the elven kingdom of Tarenhiel have existed in an uneasy peace after their last wars ended with both kings dead. As tensions rise once again, desperate diplomacy might be the only way to avert war. If only negotiations between elves and humans were that simple.
The Firebrand Chronicles (trilogy)
Genre: Young Adult Portal Christian Fantasy
This book is: ADHD rep, unique, fun, fantastical
Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands.
The Herbwitch’s Apprentice
Author: Ireen Chau
Genre: Middle Grade/YA low fantasy
This book is: Regency-esque, fun, whimsical, feel-good, magical
Strange things are happening in the palace. Pigeons flock the chandeliers. Mice lurk behind bookshelves. Swans turn belligerent. And in the midst of it all, the queen falls ill.
In the kingdom of Olderea, dabbling in witchcraft is a sure way to the guillotine.
Legends of Abreia (3rd book – Dec 14, 2021)
Author: Kenley Davidson
Genre: Romantic fantasy/high fantasy
This series is: Slow-burn, romantic, political (as in, secondary-world machinations), twisty/surprising, great worldbuilding, magical
He’ll protect her with his last breath…
Until she becomes his next target.
Leisa’s ambitions used to be simple. Guard the princess. Hide her magic. Wait for her family to return.
A Little Beside You
Author: Jenni Sauer
Genre: Romantic comedy/fairy tale retelling in space
This book is: Happily-ever-after, comedic, emotional, cute, has a dangerous cinnamon roll
“You make me feel safe, Bender Cole, when you absolutely shouldn’t.”
Thanks to her father’s legacy—and her rose tattoo that symbolizes it—Cori Kasmer has never had to fear the gangs that run rampant in the city, even years after her father’s death. And she’s always stayed away from that life, until Bender Cole passes out on her doorstep.
The Maiden Ship trilogy (book 3 in 2022)
Author: Micheline Ryckman
ON SALE! Get the ebooks for $.99 until Jan. 1, 2022!
Genre: Young Adult high/epic fantasy
This book is: For lovers of the ocean, imaginative, big cast of characters, set at sea, magical
There’s a time to hide, a time to run, and a time to fight.
Dain Alloway was only nine years old when he began a new life with his father, sailing aboard The Maiden. Eight years later, the aristocratic city-boy turned merchant-sailor feels like he lives with one foot on land, and one foot in the sea. Life floats smoothly by until the night he wakes to find a mysterious woman in his cabin.
The Mercenary and the Mage (5 books)
Author: Selina R. Gonzalez
Genre: Romantic fantasy/sword & sorcery
This series is: Medieval-inspired, romantic, intense, action-packed, character-driven, a little dark but hopeful
She could be his light…if his darkness doesn’t destroy them both.
Find magic, romance, found family, dastardly villains, medieval tournaments, humor, dire situations, and hope in The Mercenary and the Mage: The Complete Series!
This ebook boxed set contains The Mercenary and the Mage duology, two companion novellas, and a short story.
Former mercenary with a heart of gold Lord Regulus and feisty mage-in-hiding Lady Adelaide struggle to make a relationship work despite societal disapproval and a sorcerer bent on destruction and conquest—even if he has to go through Regulus and Adelaide to achieve his goals.
The Music Maker series (3 books, incomplete)
Author: A.K.R. Scott
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
This series is: Music-powered magic, imaginative, complex, entertaining, inspiring
A twist of fate stole her home. Magic could help reclaim her voice… or cost her everything.
Nadja has no choice but to leave the only home she’s ever known. She flees her small village when a brutally violent deed upends her betrothal ceremony. Hunted by her former love, Nadja begs refuge at a Music Conservatory she once thought only existed in stories. Inside its ancient walls, the magic of a long-dead race lives on… in the rhythm of musical instruments.
The Obsidian Throne (first in planned duology)
Author: Rowan Wright
Genre: Young Adult Urban fantasy
This book is: A monster-hunting competition, humorous, romantic, twisty, page-turner, imaginative, cliffhanger
As the daughter of the Lord of the Underworld, Ember Ashworth knows she will never have a normal life. While other kids her age are preparing for college and going on dates, Ember constantly struggles to keep her regular life on the Surface separate from her role as a princess in the Underworld.
Author: Austin Ryan
Genre: Time Travel Romance
This book is: Emotional, romantic, feel-good, cute, pirates
Falling in love with heroes emerging from books was supposed to be the safe choice.
The Coast of New England, 1725:
Captain Charles Seewell and his crew of pirates have just battled a storm on the open ocean.
New England, 2019:
Librarian Treasure Hayden has just escaped to the basement floor to avoid an emotional battle with her ex.
Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Genre: Epic & Military Fantasy
This series is: Thick, intense, character-driven, epic, great worldbuilding, complex, twisty, political (as in, secondary-world machinations)
He can save her life—if he sacrifices those he swore to protect.
When the artifact intended to end an interdimensional war is damaged, a mage is trapped on the other side of the rift with her servant—and only bastard soldier Shianan knows the cheery young boy with her is really one of the monstrous enemy, disguised as a human. Ariana is one of Shianan’s few friends, but rescue requires treason and betraying his people to attack.
Steel and Fire series (5 books)
Author: Jordan Rivet
Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy
This series is: Sweeping in scope, great worldbuilding, complex, action-filled, romantic
A champion sword fighter. A handsome prince. A kingdom in peril.
Dara Ruminor is a competitive duelist in Vertigon, where athletes live like kings as long as the crowds love them. She’s good with a sword but can’t figure out how to charm the spectators like a true champion.
The Steel City Genie series (book 3 Nov 29, 2021)
Author: Janeen Ipolitto
Genre: Urban fantasy/a little PNR
This series is: Unique, imaginative, fun, surprising, magical, sexy (but not explicit, clean-ish)
FREE PREQUEL NOVELLA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08B9YZJSP
So I accidentally killed a shifter. On purpose.
With genie powers I shouldn’t be able to use, thanks to my curse-mark.
Author: Joanna Penn
Genre: Non-fiction for authors
This book is: Helpful, inspiring, encouraging, interesting
Being a writer is not just about typing. It’s also about surviving the roller-coaster of the creative journey.
Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer’s block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more. When you’re going through these things, it can feel like you’re alone. But actually, they are part of the creative process, and every author goes through them too.
The Supervillain Rehabilitation series (5 books)
Author: H.L. Burke
Genre: Superhero fantasy
This series is: Quirky, fun, has romance, entertaining
FREE PREQUEL NOVELLA HERE: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088LTTTP6
See also: Supervillain Romance Project series (2 books): What happens when an undercover villain and a hero fall for each other? Check it out here: https://amzn.to/30L99Wi And the Supervillain Rescue Project series (2 books): A related Young Adult series about super-powered teens. Check it out here: https://amzn.to/3cC4QiG (paid links)
Once a villain, always a villain?
Tales of Nottingham trilogy
Author: Savanna Roberts
Genre: Fairy tale retelling, Dystopian fantasy
This series is: Blends fairy tales and legends, character-focused, intense
The outlaw Robin Hood wreaks havoc on the industrial city of Nottingham, but he doesn’t just steal riches.
Bit by bit he takes away the Sheriff’s power and control, and none of the Sheriff’s advisors can stop the thief. As the daughter of a nobleman and one of the Sheriff’s colleagues, Marion has always known her place – be a great hostess, but let the men do the work. Until a chance encounter with Robin Hood makes the Sheriff realize the outlaw has a weakness for damsels in distress.
A Thieving Curse
Author: Selina R. Gonzalez
Genre: Fairy tale retelling, high fantasy
This book is: Romantic, humorous, political (as in, secondary-world machinations), happily-ever-after, uplifting
She must marry a prince for the good of her kingdom…but the man cursed with dragon features who saved her life is the wrong prince.
Raelyn would love a simple life getting up to mischief with her brother and being valued for herself, not her title, but she’s a princess with the weight of a peace treaty on her shoulders.
To Slay a Curse
Author: Rae Graham
Genre: Young Adult Christian Fantasy
This book is: Unique, symbolic, uplifting
A parasitic monster. A timid young woman. A deadly inner world.
Giselle is cursed. A monster lives within her, preying upon her mind. She sees no hope for her future when thoughts disappear as they form, and every small pleasure is met with a fit of pain. Then her closest friend offers her a single, harrowing chance at freedom. Terrified that failure is inevitable, but desperate for the life stolen from her, she sets out to slay her curse armed with a magical talisman.
Now, the girl who can’t do anything right must defeat the beast within before her dreamsnare fills, or risk dying trapped in her own mind.
Trusting God When You’re Struggling
Author: C.E. White
Genre: Christian Non-Fiction
This book is: Challenging, encouraging, thought-provoking
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
The world is full of things that undermine our faith. Too often, we push and scramble through life, allowing our feelings to control our decisions, attempting to accomplish things in our own strength, and trusting in worldly wisdom rather than God. This leaves us frazzled, overwhelmed, and grumbling through every difficulty like the Israelites did in the desert.
The Windward King
Author: K.T. Ivanrest
Genre: High Fantasy
This book is: For cat lovers, unique, original, whimsical, uplifting/feel-good
He can change how he looks—but not who he is.
All his life, Shara has struggled to keep up with the rest of his shapeshifter clan. A poor shifter with little talent and even less confidence, he excels only at inadequacy.
When his determination to prove himself results in the brutal injury of a clanmate, Shara flees his home in shame. Taking refuge in the human capital city, he resolves to become as inconsequential as possible—until the prince regent is abducted days before his coronation and Shara is forced to take his place.
Yesterday or Long Ago
Author: Jenni Sauer
Genre: Romantic comedy/fairy tale retelling in space
This book is: Fun, cute, whimsical, twisty, happily-ever-after
“They’d write about her in books she’d never be allowed to read.”
Rinity Garrick isn’t allowed in the Liosi Royal Library, but that hasn’t stopped her from sneaking in every chance she gets. It’s there she meets Tov, the Librarian whose brown eyes are easier to get lost in than the stories she loves.
Things get complicated, however, when Rinity discovers the Librarian is actually the Crown Prince. And his friend, Royal Advisor Gibbs, never seems to be far from the Prince— and seems to have taken an interest in Rinity’s best friend.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope something caught your eye, and I wish you a wonderful holiday season!
–Selina R. Gonzalez