book reviews

Stories You’ll Love

I can’t wait to share these Indie books with you. I just know you’ll love them as much as I did:

  1. Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries–normal people surviving life’s challenges with a positive attitude and a will to overcome
  2. Marlie–can an isolated island community salve Marlie’s failed love?
  3. Guns of Pardition–a paranormal western like none other
–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

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

by Sally Cronin


Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet (2020) delivers exactly what the title promises–a lovely collection of real-life stories about ordinary people. They are heart warming and satisfying, showing the kind side of people despite dreary events or circumstances. There are no dark endings or dystopian themes–both I stay away from when reading because I get all the depressing circumstances in the world around me. I don’t need to read it in my fiction!

They are organized into categories–Technology, Connections, Winning Streak, Animal Magic, and Falling in and out of love. There’s one about an abused wide who’s finally had enough, another about the wife who loses a child and has the courage to try again. In one, a lonely woman finds family after her DNA reveals secrets. There’s Random Acts of Kindness, The Charity Shop, The Night Shift, and about a dozen more. All are a handful of pages that leave you feeling better than when you started. Sally’s voice is kind, empathetic, and respectful of the varied circumstances that surround people, and without fail, brings their dreams and passions to life. In fiction, there are writers and storytellers. One writes an interesting story and the other makes you feel they’re talking to you, like you can’t leave because you’ll miss something. I’ve read a lot of Sally’s books and I can tell you, she is the latter.

If you in love stories of normal people surviving life’s challenges with a positive attitude and a will to overcome, you’ll love this book.


by Anneli Purchase


Who hasn’t wished to restart their life with a fresh slate? In Anneli Purchase’s romantic drama, Marlie (Aquiline 2017), Marlie Mitchell does just that, in the village of Skidegate in the northernmost of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Marlie takes a teaching job at the elementary school in the town of Masset, a place where the people and culture are about as different from what she’s accustomed to as possible.

“Some things about this small place annoyed her and the lack of a proper bank was one of them, but it was another one of those situations she had no choice about if she was going to live here.”

That suits her fine. She has had a string of bad luck mostly she attributes to her own bad choices. Here, in this secluded island community, she hopes to leave all of that behind her. It starts out wrong when she has a flat before she even arrives at the trailer that is to be her new home. The spare tire is buried beneath everything she owns in her trunk and it’s about to rain. A hunk of a fisherman–Brent–stops to help her and I get a bit of an insight into her own responsibility for her past problems when she calls him a killer after seeing the dead deer in the back of his truck. In fact, I didn’t like her much–saw her as inflexible, unaccepting of other life styles, judgmental about anything not like her norm, wanting to view her new world through the lens of the life she fled rather than a new opportunity.

“She remembered Bob’s stained T-shirt the day he let her into the trailer.”

“She considered herself a realist and had to admit she wasn’t sure how she would manage when the novelty of Haida Gwaii wore off.”
“Everyone was working and no one seemed to care about how they looked. She guessed they had different priorities from city people.”

But then, I got to know her. As usual, nothing is as it seems. Throughout the story, Marlie faces problems with strength, a desire to make things better, and a refusal to jump to conclusions.

As we travel with Marlie in this story, we see ourselves in her. Could we start over in a world so different from our norm? Could we put the bad decisions of the past behind us, in favor of the right ones for the future? Highly recommended for those who enjoy romantic stories with happy endings.

Guns of Perdition

by Jessica Bakkers


In Jessica Bakkers’ Guns of Perdition, Book 1 in The Armageddon Showdown (2020), female bounty hunter Grace Dyer and her oversized dire wolf (not really a dire wolf but with those characteristics) Kava are tracking a ruthless killer who murdered Grace’s parents when she was only eleven. Now, she’s grown up, trained herself to be one of the best bounty hunters of demons and monsters in the Old West, and she wants revenge. She funds her search for this personal demon by capturing the worst of the magical monsters, those that often look benign but are as bad as they come. In one small town, hunting a fanged demon that looks like a beautiful saloon girl, Grace gets unexpected help from a seventeen-year-old bar cleaner, Jessie. He saves her life and she allows him to tag along as she pursues her trade despite that he is not brave, not gun-savvy, and doesn’t even own a hat to keep the sun off. Why? He confesses he has nowhere else to go. Grace, Kava, and Jessie become a fighting unit, each with their own strengths but all with one goal: justice for the murders of Grace’s parents.

Though at its most basic, Guns of Pardition is a paranormal story, it includes plenty of popular western elements–guns, bounty hunters, saloons, whores, owlhoots, and the natural justice that tamed the West.  Grace is strong, clever, and tenacious.  She doesn’t back off and has a few tricks up her sleeve that few bounty hunters or lawbreakers can match. Recommended for those who love wolf stories, Westerns, and original paranormal.

More stories

Tales From the Irish Garden

2 Excellent Story Collections from Indie Authors

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 Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. 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, Summer 2021. 


168 thoughts on “Stories You’ll Love

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  4. The characters in Sally Cronin’s stories reflect real people. Kind people. Charitable women. Women with big hearts. Courageous women. Generous women who help a young homeless young man with his own story to share about hunger.
    This is a very positive book where love, courage and charity are the winners.

    Anneli Purchase is very talented in writing about unforgettable settings. In reading Marlie I felt that I was myself visiting this fishing village alongside her – witnessing its rich aboriginal culture and beauty. But the author is an equally talented story-teller where she weaves in suspense and romance. If, you have a craving to visit a place that is unique consider Anneli Purchase’s Marlie be your guide to Haida Gwaii one of National Geographic’s must see places.

    I highly recommend both books.

    As for Jessica Bakker’s Guns of Perdition, which you gave a very succinct review, Jacqui, I cannot say anything about it (except for the catchy cover) as I have not yet read it.

    All the best to all three authors and to you, Jacqui, for your wonderful reviews. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Stories You’ll Love ~ Jacqui Murray | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  6. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    What a way to start the week.. Of course getting a new review is amazing and Jacqui Murray has been kind enough to share her thoughts about Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries.. and also Jessica Bakker’s Guns of Perdition which is an incredible read.. with a recommendation for Markie by Anneli Purchase which sounds like a wonderful read.. please head over to read the reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No worries. I usually try to warn authors when I’m reviewing their book but I’ve had a pretty halacious (sp?) few weeks too (all techie stuff). I’m glad you found it. People have lots of good things to say about your wonderful new book.


  7. I second your comments on Sally Cronin’s latest release, which has all the endless reasons of why Ms. Cronin has such dedicated readership. I read Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries and loved it for its optimistic and heartwarming sentiments. Sally writes about every day nuance with an eye for detail and finds the extraordinary in the seeming ordinary.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hey, that’s me! Yay!!! Thank you SO much, Jacqui for the awesome review of GoP! Made a pretty ordinary day turn around, you have! I loved Sally Cronin’s ‘Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story’ and am busting to read ‘Cherries’, and I don’t often do romantic drama, but ‘Marlie’ sounds like a great read. Thanks again so much!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you for sharing your wonderful reviews, Jacqui. I thoroughly enjoyed Sally’s book and definitely will check out the other two writers. All the best to you! 💗

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I have Sally’s book on my TBR, Jacqui. I committed to reading a book for the Booker awards and I didn’t realise it was 650 pages so it’s taking me some time to read it. I’ve read all her other books. I loved Jess’ book and the other one looks terrific too.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Thanks for writing these great reviews. All three authors are new to me, and all three books sound very intriguing. I’m especially interested in looking up Anneli’s book, Marlie, as I have visited both Skidegate and Masset, and lived and worked in northwestern BC for a number of years.


    Liked by 3 people

  12. Thanks for your reviews, Jacqui. Each book sounds so good. I would love to visit Skidegate in Haida Gwaii ~ but definitely not live there. The weather off the coast of mainland B.C. is too wet and grey. I have started over with nothing and knowing no one. It was the scariest thing I ever did, but I found my happy ending in Terry.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. You have whetted my appetite for kind stories and exciting tales with your thorough interviews. I have renewed my interest in reading westerns after reading the outstanding western novels by Sandra Cox. I’ll check this one out with the paranormal element. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. THANK YOU Jacqui. I finally have Sally’s book on my Kindle. I’ve been (too) distracted with work/writing lately yet I’ve been reading such great reviews on Sally’s book. It’s my cup of tea, and I can’t wait to read it, and to learn from her in publishing this kind of book of short stories, as I’m working on mine. And I love the simple yet cheery cherry cover.
    I read Marlle a year ago, and actually I’ve read all of Anneli’s books and wish more people would discover her fiction. She sets her scenes so well, and there’s always fast-paced drama in her stories. Not only is Anneli a good writer, she’s a good editor/proofreader, and in fact has just edited my latest book. I highly recommend her.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Hi Jacqui – Sally’s book will bring much solace to many … short stories to read in times of trouble always ease. I’d love to read Anneli Purchase’s book … anything to do with Queen Charlotte Islands interests me … while Guns of Pardition … paranormal will fascinate many … so good luck to all authors. Thanks for the introduction to these … stay safe – Hilary

    Liked by 4 people

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