book reviews

3 More Indie Books I Loved

Here are three more great Indie novels you won’t want to miss:

  1. Heir to Ashes — a preternatural escapes from an abusive lab and tries to regain control of her life
  2. Descent — Kalin Thompson’s new job as Director of Security at Stone Mountain ski resort is a lot more complicated then she expected–and that’s only after one day
  3. Street Cred — a young man works for his town’s street department–as his father did before him–while waiting for a baseball scholarship that may never come through

A note about my reviews: My average review rating is pretty high. I’ve been asked why that is. The answer is simple: I don’t write reviews for books I didn’t like. It seems like a waste of time.

paranormalHeir to Ashes

by Jina Bazzar


In Jina Bazzar’s debut novel Heir to Ashes (Creativia 2018), first in The Roxanne Fosch Files, Roxanne Fosch (aka a whole bunch of other names) is running from her past, one not of her creation. A well-known company, PSS (Paranormal Scientists Society), kidnapped her as a young teen and experimented on for a decade in an effort to bring out her special abilities, ones they think are more powerful than most other preternaturals in existence.
“…learned to interpret people’s aura as a necessity for my survival.”
“…healed fast, faster than an ordinary human”
She escaped but they do everything possible to get her back, including having her chased down by their most potent mercenaries–everything from vampires to werewolves to others I had never heard of. They won’t kill her but will hurt her enough that they can drag her back to the lab rat life she has lived for almost half of her existence.
We meet Rebecca as she works as a waitress, trying to make ends meet. We have no idea she is not entirely human until she is attacked and all sorts of odd skills pop out. She finds an unlikely ally in another preternatural who will help her escape if she will help him rescue someone important to him that PSS has also kidnapped. That’s all I can tell you. The rest–you’ll have to read the book!
This is a wonderful story made more so because of Bazzar’s unique voice. It’s strong but vulnerable, personal but distant, with just enough humor and very little pity for the hand Roxanne has been dealt. Here are a few quotes that–for me–tell a lot about what you’ll get when you read this book:
“If I were younger, I’d pray for a miracle. Today, I just hope for the best.
“…my hand trembling as it transformed into talons and fur and a pinkish padded palm/ paw. Underneath the fur, there were soft, flexible scales, on the palm the pads were coarse, like the tongue of a cat.
Overall, this a great read about a strong female who never quits, never stops, and maintains her moral compass despite the horrors she has faced. Highly recommended.

skiing thrillerDescent

by Kristina Stanley


In Kristina Stanley’s first book in the Stone Mountain Mysteries series, Descent (Imajin Books 2015), Kalin Thompson becomes the ski resort’s new Director of Security when the former Director dies of a heart attack. Not only does she have to deal with the security of a large and popular ski resort, but she has to juggle politics, the attitudes of contestants, and worries that the guy next in line for the job didn’t get it, but now one of the top skiers is killed in a skiing accident under mysterious circumstances. The timing couldn’t have been more critical as North American and European teams are at the resort preparing for World Cup events and ski season for the public opens in a few weeks. No one wants the worry of an unsolved murder hanging over guests and professionals. Complicating things is that an old girlfriend of Kalin’s boyfriend Ben shows up to reclaim him, at any cost.

I love stories about the power of nature, that chronicle man’s best efforts to survive and thrive despite its dominance. This is exactly that story and Stanley is the perfect author to write it. She expertly unwinds the story, dropping clues as to who the murderer could be, but never enough to lower the tension and the drama. The characters are so well-developed, I feel like I know them, which works well for Book 1 of a series. Plus, Stanely put me right there on the freezing slopes of a Canadian ski respite, shivering despite my warm clothing and the 70-degree temps in my California community. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it for those who like nature stories, sports dramas, and thrillers.

book reviewStreet Cred

by Chuck Spooner


Street Cred (2018) is the story of Nich Shane Jr., a young baseball star from the working class neighborhood of Vallejo California who hopes against hope a sports scholarship will come through because he sure can’t pay those bills on his own. But, in case it doesn’t, he goes to work for the Vallejo Street Department, like his dad before him, and learns the value of doing a hard job well, the work ethic that built America, and how these men care for each other and respect the work each does.

“North Bay city of Vallejo, California, was awake before first light on this June day in 1970. Women toiled in their kitchens, eggs and bacon frying, biscuits baking, and rich black coffee steaming in heavy mugs. Their men buttoned blue work shirts, buckled worn leather belts, and laced up their boots. Lunch pails sat on countertops, packed by loving hands. A hearty breakfast, a kiss goodbye, and out the door they went.”

“His dad’s back was so bad toward the end that he couldn’t bend to take them off himself. Stay home? Take a sick day? That was out of the question. “I’m a working man,” his father would say. That’s all the explanation required.”

Along the way, we watch as one of Nick’s best friends goes to Vietnam, Nick breaks up with his longtime girlfriend, and how he finds a new one.

I’ve known the author, Chuck Spooner, for a long time and read many of his stories. He’s one of those writers that makes you want to curl into a comfortable chair, cuppa close by, and give yourself over to another world. In the case of Street Cred, much of Nick’s time in the Vallejo Street Department rang true as–also during the 1970’s–I worked in the Torrance California Street Department, another smallish town in California. The details, drama, and atmosphere of a tight-knit blue-collar job are all authentically shared with readers by a breath-takingly-accomplished storyteller who should receive a lot more attention than he gets. When you finish this book, you’ll slap yourself, trying to figure out why Street Cred is not an NYT Best-seller. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoy. I need inspiration to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, March 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

38 thoughts on “3 More Indie Books I Loved

  1. Hi Jacqui – I never seem to read these sorts of books – and probably should … yet I guess I keep going and spend reading time on more scientific, or historical topics … and articles that interest me. It’s good you’re giving readers a link across to different authors – and ones you’ve enjoyed. Cheers for now – Hilary

    Liked by 3 people

  2. All 3 books sound like wonderful reads. I’m especially impressed by Chuck Spooner’s book, Street Cred, as I had a chance to read some early chapters and was engaged by the story. Chuck has a way of making readers feel present in his stories and empathetic with his characters.

    I appreciate that the other 2 books feature strong female leads and exciting plots.

    Liked by 3 people

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