book reviews

3 More Wonderful Indie Novels

Here’s a great selection of Indie novels from a variety of genres:

  1. Julia’s Violinist–a powerful story about love in the shadow of WWII
  2. Lightning Crimes–what better time to stalk someone than in the middle of a freak lightning storm
  3. Songs of Heartstrings–poems of gratitude and beatitude–not a novel but just as addictive

–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

Julia’s Violinist

by Anneli Purchase


Anneli Purchase’s Julia’s Violinist (2013) is the story of a girl coming of age during Germany’s rise to power, how life doesn’t always work out as you’d hoped but it does seem to get you where you need to be. Julia’s life, like so many others around her, is ordinary and safe with dreams of a husband and family. She falls in love with Michael, a boy who plays the violin like an angel and loves her like she’s his life. When his father dies, he must take over the family’s bakery which means he has no time to court Julia. She ends up marrying another boy, begins a family, but loses him to the War. As the war ends, she is a widow with small children at the mercy of the angry victors. She must now protect her children, herself too if she can, feed them, and give them hope for the future. It’s not easy but she never gives up, nor does she forget her love for the boy who made her feel like life was beautiful every time he played the violin.

I was drawn to this book because I played violin for years. There aren’t a lot of novels that feature this sweet instrument so I wanted to hear its story. And it’s a wonderful one, about lives lived in the shadow of WWII, with a wrenching plot that is touching, resilient, and hopeful. If you like WWII historical fiction, do yourself a favor and read this one.

Lightning Crimes

by Chrys Fey


Chrys Fey’s Disaster Crimes is one of the more unique series out in the reading world. Each book deals with a different natural disaster–hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis for example–that besets the characters, always in such multi-sensory detail that you’re sure you’re right there, in the middle of the catastrophe. Here’s an example:

“She joined Donovan at the rail and peered at the black, bubbling clouds. They devoured the muted colors of the twilight sky.”

“…approaching storm was like a monster hiding under a bed, waiting for the lights to go out.”

Can’t you feel the visceral fear, the cold and drenching air? In Lightning Crimes, Beth and Donovan are enjoying the feeling of life settling down after their propitious initial meeting in the middle of a hurricane and then getting to know each other as they survived an earthquake together. But fate has other plans and a lightning storm of epic proportions lands on their doorstep. As they hunker down inside the four walls of their home, strange things begin to happen. For example, the front door stands open though Beth is sure she locked it, and then a rock slams through the window, giving the raging storm free access to their house. Someone Beth didn’t know had threatened her life and now, she wonders if this is him, picking this violent storm as the perfect time to carry out his threats.

As in all the books in this series, the vagaries of nature take center stage.  Though this one is short, it sets us up for the next in the series when we’ll surely see what this stranger has in store for Beth. If you’ve enjoyed the other books in this series you will love this one.

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

by Miriam Hurdle


Miriam Hurdle’s Songs of Heartstrings (2018) is a beautiful collection of poetry, inspired by music and nature, focused on thankfulness. She masterfully blends the two, at times, in the same poem, other times, simply under the same theme. Which works oh so well. I’m a fan of both music and nature (I’m a retired violinist and an armchair naturalist). There’s a resilience and honesty to both, a desire to tell the truth in their very essence. Miriam touches all corners of these worlds, from the grand outdoor sweep to the work of the tiny hummingbirds. Each poem in the collection (or most? I confess–I didn’t count, just noticed lots) includes not only Hurdle’s gorgeous words but a picture to inspire those more attuned to the visual, often taken by Miriam herself.

And as I lost myself in the feelings of her poems, I realized she was often sharing personal stories that shaped her life.

“The lessons I learned from nature give me hope and provide strength for the tired feet.”
“Nature has a great capacity for healing and surviving devastating destruction.”
“When the night is nigh he starts his day. Spins his web again, again. Again!”

Miriam organizes her poetry into categories like Songs of Nature, Songs of Dissonance, Songs of Physical Healing, Songs of Marriage, and more. Each category includes a multitude of poems. For example, under Songs of Challenge, the poems include Heart’s Desire, Roses, Mortal, Dancing, Stories, and Autumn. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Serendipity It was serendipity we met. Summer had not started yet, it was the final week of school. I went to this group of people who met at a home. We chatted, we snacked. You asked what I did for fun, I smiled, didn’t answer the question, then flexed the arms to show my muscles; under your shirt were bigger muscles. You looked at me with a smile, you worked out also for quite a while. The whole night, I didn’t see other guys’ faces, you occupied my entire mind’s spaces.”

I read this one to husband. His response: “This is life changing verse.”

So grab a copy and read it slowly every time you need recentering.

View all my reviews

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, Laws of Nature, Fall/Winter 2021. 

67 thoughts on “3 More Wonderful Indie Novels

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  4. Hi Jacqui, thank you so much for your thoughtful and wonderful review of my poetry. Very much appreciated. Anneli Purchase’s Julia’s Violinist and Chrys Fey’s Disaster Crimes are interesting in different sense. Do you have recordings or videos of you playing violin? I would like to hear you play!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not big into poetry, so that one isn’t for me, but the other two, are. I’m especially drawn to the violin story (I’ve been reading a few books set in that era lately).

    Liked by 1 person

      • Then I will recommend one to you, Jacqui. Shadow Music by Elisabeth Rose.

        When Australian violinist Nina Lee finds a piece of old sheet music at a rummage sale, she quickly discovers the music is imbued with a supernatural power. Strange dreams of a handsome, passionate, and commanding man playing a beautiful melody on violin haunt her nights and gradually consume her thoughts.

        Time-traveling minstrel Piers de Crespigny demands that Nina help him in his ghostly quest to be reunited with his lost love Miranda. Obsessed with playing his music, seduced by its power, and half in love with Piers herself, Nina is afraid she will do anything for him. Then equally obsessed Englishman musician Martin Leigh walks into the music shop where Nina works—looking for her.

        Desperate and frightened for their sanity, they join forces to travel back to England together and break Piersʼ hold over them. But how can a determined spirit be laid to rest when his beloved died tragically more than a century ago?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. All three books sound interesting. I am now curious about how the first book ends and it is always good for us to read books written from the perspective on the other side (“All Quiet on the Western Front” is one example, but about WW1. “The Burmese Harp,” a book about a Japanese unit in Burma at the end of WW2 is another). Chrys loves those scary scenes. I have been out in enough lightning storms to know it can be haunting (especially here with the spanish moss). And that last book of poems sounds like a delight.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the wonderful review of Julia’s Violinist, Jacqui. This is a book that is dear to my heart. It is fiction but based on a lot of truth and I cried many a tear as I wrote it. They were harsh times – so harsh I pray we never have to endure anything like this in our lifetime. But of course, love and hope carry us through.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the violin! I never realized you played. How wonderful 🙂
    I really enjoyed Miriam’s book,and I have been meaning to start reading Chrys Fey’s disaster series. Using catastrophic weather occurrences really appeals to me. Great reviews, Jacqui!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jacqui – Chrys’ book … I bet is a really good series of stories. The other two sound fascinating – particularly as you obviously related to them via your love of music – especially the violin: interesting to find out about! Take care – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great to see Anneli and Miriam’s book here, Jacqui. I’m not familiar with Chrys Fey. I’ve read several of Anneli’s books, but I don’t recall Julia’s Violinist. Thanks for the reviews! By the way, I didn’t know you were a violinist. Now I’m curious what other hidden talents you have.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Julia’s Violinist has been out for a while but of all her books, I had to red that one. It will twist your emotions. I saw the lives of so many people in her words and scenes.

      I loved violin, was good at it, but life changed and it was put aside. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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