book reviews

5 Indies I loved (Just in Time for Valentine’s Day)

If you like the variety and the uniqueness of Indie novels, here’s a great selection for Valentine’s Day. They aren’t all romances, just all good:

  1. Jock of the Bushveld–one of my favorites reads all year: an amazing story about a dog and his man
  2. Warning Signs–a serial killer analyzes his reasons and we get to watch
  3. Oh Baubles–an unexpected romance just when it’s needed
  4. The Inn–a supernatural detective must solve a mystery helped or hindered by a passel of other supernatural beings
  5. Examining Kitchen Cupboards–Doing the right thing isn’t always right–or safe

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

View all my reviews

Jock of the Bushveld

by Patricia Furstenberg


Patricia Furstenberg’s Jock of the Bushveld: Africa’s Best-loved Dog Hero, Book 3 of Africa’s Bravest Creatures, is a heart warming real life story of a dog named Jock and the man who adopted him. Together, they travel throughout Africa, sleeping under the stars, visiting everything that strikes their fancy. They need no one but each other to make their lives complete:

“Underneath a blanket of stars, listening how wildlife’ roars. Yet none was afraid, none was ever lonely, Dog loved his man, man”

“…cherished his dog; together it felt homely.”

This is a children’s story, filled with wonderful pictures of Jock, and perfect for adults who love dogs. It’s only 17 pages and is as much poetry as prose. By the time I finished, I sure wished it was a lot longer. Highly recommended.

Warning Signs

by Carol Ballawyder


Carol Ballawyder’s Warning Signs (2019) is the saga of Niko Nishevsky, aka Eugene Monroe, a twisted serial killer who is driven to murder vulnerable teenage girls and then examine why he does it. His reasons for killing seem similar to other famous serial killers but maybe not exactly the same:

“I feel no pleasure. No sorrow either, not at the time of the killing. My mind goes into a trance in which the feeling of empathy overwhelms me. It’s not as if another person has invaded me and I have no control over that person. I never feel so much in control as at that moment.”

When the police seem unable to stop him, Niko reaches out to them with a series of notes, hoping to educate them in a way that might assist in their efforts to find him. Unexpectedly, he finds himself drawn to a twenty-something woman who he sees as outside of his pathologic drive to kill, which becomes part of his research: Why others but not her?

As I read this book, I realized it was a completely unique story. Never before have I read the story of a serial killer who dispassionately analyzes his own illness. Ballawyder cites the best literature on the subject, educating me as Niko educates himself on the broken mind of a serial killer:

“He continued with his list. Lack of remorse or shame. “Yes, that’s me. But how does that explain the work of a psychopath?” he asked himself.”

Ballawyder’s writing style is similarly analytic which manages to place me at arm’s length from many of the most disturbing aspects of serial killers. Because of that, where I often have difficulty reading psychological thrillers–because they put me too much into the horrid actions–in this story, I managed to stand aside and watch, away from the blood and horror. I’m not sure I’m saying this as well as I might but the end result was that I found the story easier to read and more enjoyable than many others in this genre.

Ballawyder always writes engaging drama. This book is highly recommended for fans of murder mysteries and psychological thrillers. (Couldn’t get the review up on Amazon so I posted to Goodreads).

Oh Baubles

by Harmony Kent


In Harmony Kent’s Oh Baubles (2019), Charlene is struggling to recover from a car accident that killed her husband and left her an amputee. Her injuries are severe but the affect on her life is much worse. She lost her job, gained so much weight she lost her self respect, and struggled to find any value to her ongoing life that would justify her husband giving his to save hers. Oddly, in her recuperation, she faces unusually unsympathetic and inept medical professionals:

“The nurse started off by putting the false leg the wrong way around. In the end, even patient Emily got annoyed and took it from her.”

…with the exception of her physical therapist whose job it is to help her adjust to the physical changes and begin her life after the accident. He sees something in Charlene that is so buried she can no longer BF er find it. Doesn’t hurt that he’s a hunk and has an amazing smile. What happens next will make your heart sing. This is a delightful fun read for romance lovers.

The Inn

by Ronel Janse van Vuuren


In Ronel Janse van Vuuren’s The Inn (2019), Book 2 of the Dark Court Sisters, Kelly, a Hunter for the High Council of Faerie, must investigate who is responsible for the odd disappearances that center around the Inn at Bremerton. If this was caused by humans, it might be easy, but Kelly must contend with fae, goblins, gargoyles, phouka, faeries, halfings, and any number of other non-human characters who make her job–let’s say, challenging. But she is the right choice for this complicated job:

“She was Pack and she was a Hunter for the Council. She was a daughter of the Wild Hunt and of the cold High Fae. She held the shadows of the Dark Court and the merciless judgement of the Bright Court. She was the worst nightmare of wrongdoers in Faerie.”

Ronel is at her best writing about the supernatural. In this story, she does a masterful job of weaving a story filled with other-world hero’s and bad guys. If you love fantasy you won’t want to miss this.

Examining Kitchen Cupboards

by Stevie Turner


In Stevie Turner’s latest novel, Examining Kitchen Cupboards (2019), Jill Hayes takes on a new job In a college exam administration office. She had hoped it would lead to a career but quickly discovered it was much too technical for her skillset. As she struggles to learn the complicated tasks that would allow her to succeed, she stumbles upon illicit activities that she feels honor-bound to report. No one will listen–not the newspapers, the college, or even the agency responsible for the exams–until finally someone does. Things don’t work out as Jill had hoped.

This is a well-told story of a whistle blower’s efforts to fix a serious problem. It is told from various perspectives which adds to the depth of understanding about how complicated it can be to report actions when lots of people don’t want to admit there’s even a problem. It was at times difficult to read but the importance is significant–which is why it earned the 5/5.

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 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 NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

81 thoughts on “5 Indies I loved (Just in Time for Valentine’s Day)

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  4. Thank you so much, Jacqui, for your lovely review of Jock of the Bushveld. Such an honor being featured on your blog, and in such great company!
    I apologies for being so very late to comment. I somehow missed this post, despite your warm invite.

    Thanking everyone for their interest in my poetic approach to Jock’s life story. Some books on this post caught my attention and I added them to my TBR list.

    Blessings, Jacqui. Thank you once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some great reviews here, Jacqui! Thanks. And I already have Oh Baubles on my Kindle. Since Valentine’s Day is our 34th anniversary, I think it’ll make extra good reading right about now! 🙂 Shared!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you so much for showcasing my book today, Jacqui. It’s such an amazing honour to be listed along with these great books and writers. I’ll be adding these to my TBR. Apologies for not getting here sooner, but I’ve been unwell. This post and your awesome review have cheered me no end.

    I’ll reblog this when I’m back on my computer … hopefully tomorrow. Hugs, Harmony 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jacqui, five superb and thoughtful reviews! I read ‘Oh Baubles’ before Christmas and it was delightful. Carol’s book sounds captivating and fascinating and already on my Kindle! Patricia’s book sounds adorable and deep … and I can well imagine it feels like it could be a lot longer! Happy Reading & Reviewing! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: 5 Indies I loved (Just in Time for Valentine’s Day) | Stevie Turner

  9. I read Oh, Baubles by Harmony Kent and really enjoyed it. As you said, it makes for a great Valentine’s Day read.

    It’s interesting what you said about psychological thrillers—I love them for the very reason that they never seem to have blood or gore. I always find them more about head games. But I have a problem reading books with serial killers because of the blood and gore. With the exception of books by Preston and Child. I think that’s because they rarely ever go deeply into the killer’s head if at all. The older I get, the more difficult I find it to read books with violent crime. Sounds like we’re on the same page with that one!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Jacqui – must comment on Jock of the Bushveld … just a brilliant story … it’s only set in South Africa and covers their journeys up and down the escarpment with oxwagons to the coast etc …wonderful descriptions of the veld, the steep ascent/descents … just a lovely story for everyone. Cheers – happy memories for me … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 4 people

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