book reviews

More Indies–These are Amazing

Indie authors are the biggest secret in literature. If you haven’t stasrted reading this group of authors, you are missing out. Here are three more that I loved:

  1. Snow White and the Civil War–Part 2–clever take on this popular fairy tale in the best of the fractured fairy tale tradition
  2. Myth and Magic–can myth, magic and paranormal reignite a love Caith once thought was dead?
  3. Villa del Sol--how to recover from the death of a spouse
–I received a free copy of Villa del Sol in return for an honest review
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

Snow White and the Civil War–Book 2

by Cathleen Townsend

5/5

In this second of the Snow White and the Civil War duology–read my review of Book One here–readers get to know Janet (aka Gwen)’s love interest, Jack Grady. He was significant in Book 1 (maybe the Prince Charming of Snow White fame) but abandoned Janet in favor of his father’s money. I finished Book 1 thinking of him as a rogue and admittedly changed my mind as I followed him through his journey of redemption. His heart knows pretty quickly he has made a mistake. Still, he can’t return to Janet until he has enough money to finance their life together and has become a man worthy of someone as wonderful as she. How he accomplishes these two difficult tasks is clever, involved, and admirable. I’ll give you one clue to what that involves: The cliffhanger that ended Book One doesn’t resolve quickly in Book Two but it doesn’t matter. This book stands on its own as a delightful satisfying read.

OK, I’ll give one more clue. Like a the best fairy tales, this one too has a happy ending.

For more of Townsend’s books I’ve reviewed, check these out:

Bellerophon

The Golden Key

Dragon Hoard


Myth and Magic

by Mae Clair

5/5

In Mae Clair’s Myth and Magic, PI Caithelden “Caith” Lairen has been hired to unravel odd, maybe paranormal, events that take place at his family’s retreat, Stone Willow Lodge, in the woods of northwestern Pennsylvania. The retreat was known as the Warren Barrister House, where Mr. Barrister brutally murdered his wife and children on a winter night in 1873. Now, in present day, dead animals are found on guests’ beds. Ghostly apparitions appear in hallways and walk the grounds. Though Caith is estranged from his family, hasn’t had any contact for a handful of years, he’s still the best choice because he knows the most about the building’s background. The retreat is run by Veronica Kent, a high school friend who he once hoped would become much more until events conspired against them. Caith didn’t want to take the job but is persuaded to do so primarily by his son who would like to get to know his relatives. Caith decided he could be an adult, treat this simply as a job, but the deeper he digs into the mysterious happenings and his family’s power over the small town that is home to the retreat, he realizes there is a lot more going on than he originally thought. For one, Veronica is dating Caith’s brother Merlin who has never recovered from feeling intimidated by Caith.

If you like paranormal mystery with a generous helping of romance, you’re going to love this book. With an average Amazon rating of 4.5, a lot of people agree with me.


Villa del Sol

by Martha Reynolds

5/5

In Martha Reynolds, Villa del Sol (2017), Jennifer Logan is hit with that worst of all possible catastrophes: Her husband, Rhode Island’s beloved senior Senator, dies of an unexpected illness leaving her to figure out how her life will continue without him. When the book starts, we don’t know why she is so alone in her anguish that she must leave the United States for an extended stay in a Swiss villa. We do know she’s a private person, not terribly warm, and seemingly so wrapped up in her own misery that she doesn’t think about those around her. Maybe I’d be that way too. As we follow her journey to healing, we learn there was a huge age difference between the Senator and she, that their marriage wasn’t perfect, that his family isn’t close to her, and that she has few of her own friends. As she settles into her new temporary home, we see her grief is complex, that working through it will take more than time or distance. And, there’s more but I’ll keep those secrets from you, for when you read the book.

I am not drawn to Jennifer early in the book. I feel her pain but don’t necessarily want to help. She’s just too cold. Since this is a character-driven story, that is by design and it will change as the story progresses. By the time I turned the last page, I’d grown to appreciate Jennifer. That speaks volumes for the writer’s skill with weaving this tale and allowing her character to grow. Highly recommended for those who like character-driven stories and novels of redemption and growth.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as 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.

106 thoughts on “More Indies–These are Amazing

  1. Hi Jackie, and thanks again –
    Like others, I want a 48 hour day, at least half ro reading and writing. …
    Californian cousins pointed me in the right direction – How dared I turn down a Big Five request for one of my characters to do something they just wouldn’t? …
    Myth, magic, wonderful writing… Instead of rejection – indie..
    Klausbernd makes a strong case for publishing promotion and the high costs incurred, – but in the UK, covid restrictions closed the bookshops and libraries for months, banned gatherings of more than six, then for months this year, more than two.
    For now, I’ll think of my books as a message in a bottle…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi jacqui – I’m overwhelmed with books to read … but you’ve certainly tempted us … I’ve just read a book about a Cambridge student, who travels with a female companion (nothing more) in 1986 from Syria to Xanadu (Peking) … extraordinary reading … I need to re- read it … as he refers to numerous other earlier books and authors. Your three sound like fun interesting reads … thanks for sharing … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All three sound great. “Snow White and the Civil War” reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” written by Jon Scieszka. It’s written from the wolf’s point of view and quite funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading your reviews, Jacqui. And I especially loved seeing your comments about Mae’s Myth and Magic. I’m with you, she is an incredible writer! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jacquie, what a surprise and a delight to see Myth and Magic featured here with these other awesome-sounding books. Thank you so much for sharing your review of my novel with your readers. All the best to Cathleen and Martha as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Klausbernd,

    Being an indie author I wanted to be as professional a writer as those who publish with traditional houses. The reason I chose to stay indie is control of my work and income. I hired a company, Bublish.com who is owned by a former traditional publishing house editor, Kathy Meis. She has as many years in publishing as you. She and her team of professional editors and marketers have assisted me with the tools of the trade to be top notch.

    Kathy has strict guidelines with her authors. I am proud to be one of them.

    You may find indie authors with professional standards and good reading here:
    Bublish Books
    – Bublish-Books https://bit.ly/3wbRMZ5

    Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure at Bublish:
    Einstein’s Compass – Grace Blair
    – Bublish-Books https://bit.ly/3omPeEK

    My audiobook on Amazon https://amzn.to/3uPtzaN
    I would be happy to send you a free audiobook for your outdoor enjoyment.

    The Independent Book Publishers Association where you can find many good indie books. I belong to this organization too. My target market is bookstores and librarians. I advertise in IBPA’s book catalog.

    https://www.ibpa-online.org/page/aboutus

    Springtime in Europe must be splendid. Are you gardening yet?

    Grace Blair, Author

    Like

  7. Great reviews, Jacqui. I’m with you when it comes to reading indie books. They’re wonderful. I enjoyed the Snow White and the Civil War books and look forward to reading Mae and Martha’s. Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jacqui, I like that you write reviews to pique our interest with enough detail to provide flavor and a bit of background but don’t tell so much that I don’t need to read the book. All three of these stories sound like amazing reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Villa del Sol sounds interesting… and while I am not a senator, there is a large age difference (13 years) between my wife and I and that does also make it more difficult with family connections, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting, about the difficulty in family connections. I wouldn’t expect that (though my husband and I are the same age). I ponder my 35-yo daughter marrying someone older and think it might suit her fine!

      Like

  10. Good morning, dear Jacqui,
    thanks a lot for these reviews. We have to admid we hardly ever read Indie-literature as we get so many books from the big publishing houses that we have more than enough to read those. It seems to us that Indie-literature is often phantasy, is that true?
    Wishig you a wonderful week.
    Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some part of you must be looking for an escape from your daily grind of books from publishing houses. Indie authors (like me and Jacqui) have written exciting adventures. I and many indie authors have spent lots of money in professional editors, cover design to equal what the publishing houses send you. Walk on the wild side, give in to your sense of discovery. Take a break from what you are told to read and explore. Have FUN listen to an audiobook …like mine! Have an inspired day.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Grace,
        I always listen to audiobooks when gardening, cooking, or driving.
        I answered to Jacqui in detail just a minute ago.
        I am privatising but I am still interested in the book business as most of my friends are either authors, editors or publishers or teaching creative writing because I did all this for about 40 years. I don’t have to read all the books I get but I love it. My hobby is collecting books, mainly signed and first copies and running book sales (just for fun) for our community. The problem is you don’t see Indie-books if you are not in this scene.
        Thank you very much for answering.
        Have a happy week
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • And they aren’t printed as hard-cover which means they aren’t as durable, especially if swapped around. Though, Amazon has a hard-cover beta option out now. I’m one of their beta testers. Sad to say, I haven’t sold a single hard-cover of the book I formatted that way. A point of interest.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Dear Jacqui,
            we love hardcover books 🙂
            I had to invest part of my royalties for tax reasons and bought several bookshops. In one of my high street shops at Cologne our customers always asked for hardcover editions. But this is quite a while ago.
            What a pity, all the work in vain. I experienced something similar with the early eBooks. I formatted some books of mine in this way and then they didn’t sell at all.
            By the way are you happy with amazon?
            All the best
            Klausbernd 🙂
            and the rest of the gang

            Liked by 1 person

            • Are the bookstores still good business? America’s small booksellers have had considerable problems thanks to the monsters in the category.

              My relationship with Amazon can best be described as love-hate. I’m in several of their book selling options: 1)Amazon Ignite, for textbooks and school resources, 2) Amazon Advantage which is a consignment business for print books, and 3) KDP which is print/digital for general consumption. I put a ton of work in 1 and 2. Ignite has never worked well. Advantage use to sell well for me and then Amazon made changes that blew my sales up (not just me–lots of Indies complained). KDP is the only one that works well for me, both print and digital. But don’t try to get a phone call returned! That’s just about impossible. And emails are generally stock answers.

              I realize for an Indie like me, Amazon is my only real chance to get my books out there so I adopt a stiff upper lip!

              Like

            • Dear Jacqui,
              you ask if book shops are still a good business. In Germany, Scandinavia and party in the UK they are doing better than other shops (says the latest statistics). Especially the smaller bookshops and specialised book shops. Quite a lot of customer come to a book shop not only to get recommondations but also to talk. Of course, book shops have a long tradition of places of intellectual exchange (from the Renaissance). F.e. nearly all the people I know in Germany and here as well have their special person in a book shop they regularly talk to about the latest news of the book world. Independant book shops have the big advantage that they are part of the intellectual community. It’s not honourable to buy at amazon in those circles. Actually, I never bought a book at amazon except with my free amazon book vouchers I get once a month. But these are books from my list – and I do it with bad feelings as a lot of my friends do. The same applies to the chain shops. But you can see that the book shops of the big chains are moving away from offering books. The non-books take over (there is a higher profit rate).
              My 10% of the sales minus VAT were the basic income only. The bigger money was in the secondary rights, book clubs, printing parts of it in magazines and papers or using my ideas for scripts and then the foreign rights.
              Oh dear, I have to admid that I didn’t know that amazon acts as a publisher too. That’s a total different book world. I always went to the Frankfurt Book Fair – by far the biggest in the world and it’s there were you sell your secondary rights – and to Bologna Book Fair, the world leading book fair for beautiful books. I didn’t know that there is another book world too except this meeting at these two fairs.
              But I am privatising for many years now. Of course my copyrights still run and some of my books are still in print. A big problem of publishing with established publishing houses is that you can hardly change your publisher or that you can end up with a publisher that would be your first choice because the publishing house changed hands. Bad luck, if you want to change you have to pay conventional punishment.
              Well, that was our book talk. Now I go weeding our drive (for grounding).
              Keep well
              Klausbernd 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about so many books! I am auto-approved for some big publishers on NetGalley and get many of my favorite authors that way. Luckily, I don’t do much in my free time except read. You on the other hand…! You do inspire me to explore nature much more than I do.

      A few years ago, I would have agreed about Indie books but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Yes, they are hit and miss but no more so than many traditionally published books these days. And, they cover so many more topics and ideas than trad do. Where agents aren’t too willing to take a chance on niche topics, it never stops indies (of course because we publish our own!). Good question–thanks for asking it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Jacqui,
        my experience is different. It was always my agent who inspired me to write something extraordinary. The problem with Indie-lit seems to me that there is no quality control. In normal publishing you have your agent first then your editor and in the end the distribution people and the publisher. Your manuscript is changing with every step and that’s good and necessary so. As I know Indie-authors they are strangely proud of hardly changing their manuscripts. Therefore I rather read books of established publishing houses. It seems to me that Indie-authors write for themselves and maybe for other Indie-authors.
        On the other hand I only know Indie-lit as it presents itself on WP blogs or is reviewed there.
        Thank you very much for answering. Your answer make me have another look at Indie-lit (but where do I find it?). And you are right, we sometimes get books that make us wonder how on earth could a publisher publish such a text.
        I was always interested in the book business during the Renaissance f.e. in Florence. In 1471, when printing came to Florence Lorenzo de Medici’s librarian and tutor to his children complained that now the most stupid ideas can be spread. Well, I have to admit I feel a bit like him concerning the digital techniques.
        Wishing you a GREAT week and happy reading
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • I have worked with several agents. One was wonderful, so many excellent suggestions (this for one of my military thrillers) but in the end, we parted ways amicably. The other agent just wanted my book to fit in a specific format. So many revisions that lost my voice in the story. We also parted ways, again, as friends. I am really glad your experiences have been good, and I do have many friends who swear by their agents. It just didn’t seem to work for me.

          As for finding Indie lit–that’s a good question. I don’t pay attention to publishers but even writers with publishers, it could be the writers own company–as it is in my case. I set up an LLC to publish my books, for security and legal reasons. I think a lot of Indies do that.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Dear Jacqui,
            the biggest and most expensive challenge of publishing is distribution including PR. It’s more than 50% of the production costs. In the last ten years one of the main reason for selling and buying printig houses was their distribution network. I can’t see how an Indie-author can compete. You know that as well, for an author part of your contract is the amount of money your publisher has to spend for your title.
            As an Indie-author you can’t reach an interesting turn over. I would estimate you can’t make more than 100.000 but after taxes there is not much money left. Of course that’s only one side of the coin. The other side is that you easily sell 500.000 books with one of the big publishing houses but every new book has to sell better than the one before. That means more talk shows, book signing, reading/lecture tours etc. and writing is only 25% of work as an author (20 to 30% is average of a successful author).
            You sacrifice about 20 years of your life to be able to privatise for the rest.
            Getting our discussion down to earth there is the question in the end if your writing will feed you well.
            Thank you very much for our interesting discussion. It’s these exchanges why we are blogging.
            Wishing you a happy day
            Klausbernd 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • You are spot on, Klausbernd–it is the reach. I can’t reach enough people without giving up writing and becoming all about PR. Interesting about the distribution outlets powering the value of the business. That makes perfect sense. I will say I did make well over $100k before Amazon blew things up, as did other Indies I chat with. We all took a huge hit and it’s never recovered. I can’t even tell you what they did. Just one month, life was good and the next, it fell off a cliff! God’s will, I suppose.

              Liked by 1 person

  11. I always enjoy reading your reviews, Jackie, even of books that aren’t in my bailiwick (as these aren’t – just not genres that I’m drawn to).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Three excellent and insightful reviews, Jacqui and congratulations to all three authors! Many happy dances this morning! I’m soon off on a little trip so will definitely be checking some of these out for my holiday reading! Thank you for sharing with us! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • I just saw your post and commented there! Have a fabulous time … I’m just back and feel so relaxed after a blissful break by the sea whilst in the log cabin in the woods. Enjoy meeting up and connecting with your sister after such a long time. Xx

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