Indie Book Reviews
New, Independent, and Awesome
By Shelley Terrell
From the web (edited):
After the sudden death of her beloved Nana, Callie is ripped away from everything she knows and placed in a filthy, loveless home which is overcrowded with foster children. Because of her ability to feel other's emotions, she is overwhelmed by pain from the other children. Callie knows that if she is to survive, she will have to turn off her emotions completely. Then, just when she thinks she's safe, something terrible happens. Now, Callie has a secret that could get her killed. She knows that if she wants to live she'll have to leave, but she has no money, no family and nowhere to go. She tries to escape but he’s following her and he’s getting closer.
Rag Dolls: Callie's Story reads like a fairy tale: a beautiful young girl, beset by one calamity after another, manages to get by with a little faith and a little help from a variety of 'fairy godmothers'. The tone, despite some of the intense subject matter, is upbeat and hopeful and Callie is a likable main character. The pacing is good(if somewhat repetitive) and the author's voice fun. Initially, I thought the narration was too childish for the story, but this was explained later on. However, there are a few too many coincidences, lucky breaks, repetitive narration, and unanswered questions, (chief of which for me was: is Callie's talent magic or psychic?) for me to give this a five-star.
Summary: While the book could use a hefty story edit - although mostly grammatically sound -, Callie's Story was an enjoyable way to pass a few hours.
Note for younger audiences: some violence and an off-screen rape.
Lucky Code: A Guide for Winning at Life
by Gaynete Edwards
From the back: Down on your luck? Need a lucky boost? This book offers a frill-free approach that dismisses the premise that luck is attained through charms or birthright, and instead provides readers with easily digestible A to Z chapters containing powerful codes to increase their chances of success and, of course, lots of luck! Our thoughts and actions shape the course of our lives. This book teaches you to direct them in such was that you cannot lose!
Ms. Edwards provides just what she promises: an fun, fast-paced, and easy-to-read guide book to living a 'lucky' life. Each tenant is listed in alphabetically (such as Code C: Character Building, Code D: Dress for Success, or the creatively named Code I: Indebtedness - Just a Fancy Word for Gratitude), and gives the reader an explanation of the Code, actions to apply it, and inspirational quotes for encouragement. This book is encouraging while putting the emphasis on personal action: if you want your life to change, you have the ability to do so. "Luck", according to Edwards, is merely the organization of your life in such a manner as to create positive results - a definition I can really get behind.
Written with a breezy, optimistic, and no-nonsense manner, Edwards is witty, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Best read with a journal, this book is highly recommended for anyone looking to up their game in life.
For more information, visit the author's website.
Josie Kane is a "difficult" woman, a pure enigma - one who survives her abusive husband by honing her unnerving talent for playing mind games: she knows exactly how to manipulate a bully. Her one remaining refuge is in her bond with Maxine and Samantha, the two friends whom she loves like sisters. When Samantha becomes pregnant by Jack - an abuser who makes known his intentions to use the baby as a weapon of control - Josie's hatred ripens to a vengeful fury. She sets out to take on one more batterer, manipulate one more bully...
With her friends helpless to stop her - and with Samantha hanging in the balance - Josie squares off with Jack in a life-and-death, winner-lose-all battle of wits to determine which side will win Sammy's future.
Like its sequel, the equally compelling An Early Frost, Jenna Brook's debut novel, the award winning October Snow is a nail-biting thriller. Showcasing the long-term damage done by domestic violence, this book also explores the daunting legal obstacles that victims have to overcome in separating from their tormentors.
Josie and Jack emerge as the opposing dark forces that drive the narrative. Jack is an abuser who isn't about to let go of Sammy, the lost woman at the heart of the problem. Josie, a former victim and worn-out advocate, is haunted by her past, tormented by her present, and rapidly losing hope. She's holding on, if only by a thread, and even her two best friends, Sammy and Maxine, can't seem to get close enough to help. But Josie's a warrior and she's got just enough twisted smarts to bring this last bully to justice - but will it be enough?
Written with Brook's usual unflinching honesty and natural prose, this book is dark, driven, and truly gripping. With believable characters, heart-twisting scenarios, a jaw-dropping final act, and a realistic style that will leave you unnerved, October Snow is one book that will stay with you long after you put it down.
October Snow: Part 2
By Jenna Brooks
Will Remmond is a high-powered Family Law attorney who’s fed up, burnt out, and ready to walk, but two cases of child abuse keep his hand in the game: 5-year-old Alexa, whose abusive father wants Remmond dead, and Maxine Allen, the woman he’s waited half his life to find. But Maxine is a mess: Trying to recover from the shocking death of her friend stirs up old wounds from childhood, and she becomes withdrawn, even abusive. Whip-smart and angry, she falling deeper into her own personal hell even as she's falling in love with him. Remmond is determined to help her and Alexa - or die trying.
Maxine and Will’s relationship shows the long-term damage done to a abused child, playing out along-side of custody battle for Alexa, a sweet little girl who seems to be just another victim in a long and continuing line. Brooks (a former victim’s counselor) creates compelling drama, educating the reader in Family Law while exposing weaknesses in the current justice system. In doing so, however, she never fails to remind you that there is hope, even when the proverbial deck is stacked.
A compassionate and fearless look at the long-term damage caused by domestic violence, An Early Frost is fast-paced, energetic, and insightful, deftly blending romance, drama, and danger. Like its prequel, the award-winning October Snow (review coming soon), An Early Frost dares to ask the question: Who is willing to stand up and stop the cycle of abuse?
by Linda Banche
The third in a series of novellas, A Distinct Flair for Words follows the romance of Frank Wynn and Felicity White, two childhood friends who are reunited over a copy of Pride and Prejudice. When both agree that they liked Bingley best, Frank learns that Felicity has re-told the story from Bingley's point of view and hopes to publish her novels. Smitten with both her story and her charms, Frank agrees to help her find a publisher. Love soon follows, but will either of them find the courage to speak their feelings before it is too late?
Light and frothy fun, the story is a quick read and the author has done her research on the Regency period, adding such fun details as descriptions of the reading rooms and detailing the publishing process of the period. (Added plus for me: she seems to like ducks almost as much as I do.)
I picked up this book because of the Bingley angle - so many people prefer Darcy that stories about Bingley-ish characters are few and far between and I was curious about how this would turn out. While the ending wrapped up a little too quickly and easily for me, the story is goodhearted and sweet, an entertaining way to pass an hour and a half, and I'll probably be going back to read the first two entries in the series.
The Clay Lion
by Amalie Jahn
The rules are simple. If you want to travel back in time, you need to be at least eighteen years old. You can only travel within your own lifespan for a maximum of six months. And above all else, you must never, ever change the past. - from The Clay Lion
Brooke Wallace is a girl on a mission. Losing her beloved brother to a tragic decease has brought her own life to wrenching stand-still, and nearly destroyed her family. To rectify this, she decides to use her one ticket to go back and save his life, but Brooke's single-minded determination has far-reaching and devastating consequences, not only for her and her family, but also for the people around her.
The Clay Lion (the a first in a series of young adult novels) reads like a the Twilight Zone episode: it isn't so much sci-fi as it is a thoughtful coming-of-age story and Jahn keeps a good pace. The book's themes of love, loss, responsibility, trust, and learning when to let go are tough subjects to handle without slipping into melodrama, but Jahn's clear writing style and crisp pace treats the heavy emotional load with grace and ease.
Brooke emerges as a wounded, but ultimately well-rounded character that you can really cheer for, and the relationship she has with her brother is heartfelt, never cloying. With a good cast of supporting characters, an intriguing premise, and a strong, satisfying ending, The Clay Lion is one Indie book you'll want on your shelf.
Burning Down Rome,
By Melodie Ramone
Told in a brisk, take-no-prisoners voice, Ramone’s Burning Down Rome tells the story of the rise, fall, and resurrection of a Chicagoan rock and roll band, Cry Baby Jake. But more than that, it’s a coming of age story for the four band members: Kid, Joey, Cecily, and Natasha, four young adults madly in love with making music. With talent, guts, and sheer determination, they put together a band that sky-rockets to the top forty, and that’s where the story really begins.
Fame and fortune come too quickly to the little group. The foursome are each struggling with personal problems – child abuse, crippling self-doubt, personal loss, to name a few - , and use music as their outlet, only to find that the intense media attention and pressure from their record label makes the battle that much harder to fight. When one of their own succumbs to his demon, the band must decide what’s truly important: fame or family.
Ramone, who worked in Public Relations, keeps up a break-neck pace while still allowing plenty of time for character development. Snappy dialogue and thoughtful passages about life, love, and the pursuit of worth are sprinkled liberally through-out. It’s an exhausting, but ultimately uplifting story about the power of love and living the dream.
Burning Down Rome is available now on Amazon.com. Click on the picture for the link.