Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Top 10 Indie Reads of 2015

Refracted (The Celadon Circle Book 2) by Nicole Storey is the much anticipated and thoroughly riveting sequel to Blind Sight (The Celadon Circle Book 1).

I had read Blind Sight a while back and could not wait for the next installment in this well-crafted and superbly written series. Ms. Storey has delivered a sequel that will keep you on the edge of your seat and carry you through every emotion you could possibly have as she spins this latest tale of Angels, Demons, Heaven and Hell.

When Blind Sight ended, Jordan was taken by her demon father, Aamon to live with him and Jordan's half-siblings. Jordan's brothers (Nathan and Quinn) and her uncle (Casen) will stop at nothing to get Jordan back from the clutches of evil. But, when their Guardian Angel, Gabriel is replaced by another (Illyria) to watch over them, Jordan's brothers and uncle face a difficult time in trying to rescue Jordan.

Jordan must come to grips with her newfound powers of good and evil along with reconciling the fact that her real father is a demon. Jordan is torn between her demon family, her human family and what the Celadon Circle wants from her. All the while, Jordan matures by leaps and bounds to save not only herself, but also those she loves - even if she must die trying.

I absolutely adored this book! Blind Sight was great, but the author has definitely knocked the ball out of the park with Refracted. It is one book that I will read again - which is something I seldom do, so that speaks volumes on how much I loved it.

I would recommend this to those who like fast-paced, no holds barred fantasy and coming of age stories.

Very well done, Ms. Storey!

Thompson Road by Scott Wyatt is a wonderfully written, fast-paced and heartfelt story of love found and love lost with moments of happiness and grief thrown in for good measure.

The main love story of Raleigh and Mona could happen during any decade, but the time period of the 1930's through the 1950's is a perfect time for the setting of the novel. Not too give too much detail here, Raleigh grows up and lives his life and Mona also goes on to live the life of a mentally challenged young adult with many decisions in life forced upon her by other adults.

Both characters went through so much during the timespan of the novel that I laughed, cried and experienced every emotion in between. The realistic twists and turns that were dished out kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. Many parts of the story had me reaching for tissues, but all in all a highly recommended read.

A Life Interrupted by Lauri Fern is an inspirational and endearing coming of age story from the perspective of a teenage girl who has to move from NYC to Florida.

Sophie does not want to move, but she has no choice. She is a teenager and her dad has a new job in Florida. Teenage angst is in full-bloom as Sophie refuses to like the idea of living in hot, humid Florida when all she has ever known has been the bright lights and big city life of NYC.

Once in Florida, her parents try to get her to mingle with the locals, but Sophie is stubborn. Her mom convinces her to get outside and get a life during summer vacation before her next year of school begins. Finally, Sophie relents, then checks out the beach and serendipitously gets "surfed" into by a cute surfer guy, Trent. One thing leads to another and the two are brought closer together by fate and by wildlife rescue volunteering.

I could completely relate to Sophie's story, as I too was transplanted from the New York area to Florida as a kid. Some of the insights from Sophie made me recall what it was like for me when I had to move to Florida due to my dad's employment - did not like it one bit, but then adjusted to it.

The details of Florida were spot on from a teenagers point of view and it was great to see Sophie adjust and grow up a bit throughout the story. The authors' knowledge of bird rescue and Florida came shining through each page, in vivid detail. I could see the beach, the birds and the beach side communities jumping from the pages as I read.

I would definitely recommend A Life Interrupted to those who like Young Adult stories. Just one caveat - there is a bit of profanity in the book, but it does not take away from the storyline at all. Looking forward to more from this very talented author.

Cold Water Bridegroom by B. Brumley is a markedly fresh and new fantasy tale from the shores of San Francisco to the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

The story centers around Calder Brumen, an artist who is drawn to the ocean and to painting it in all of its beautiful splendor. He is captivated by the memories of a mermaid named Gaire who he swears is too realistic to be only a dream. He feels he might be going insane until he finds sand in his bed one morning after an all too real sensual dream of the wayward mermaid. Confused and in need of some friendly reassurance, he meets up with Mike Love, his wealthy friend and cohort for some drinks and a guy's night out on the town. Life as they both know it from that point on will never be the same ...

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella from the cover page to the fine details which included nautical symbols throughout each chapter. The events in the story were well-paced and the story-line flowed so seamlessly that I had read over half of the book in one sitting before realizing it.

Although the subject of mermaids is not a new one, Ms. Brumley breathed new life into it and made this story unique and enjoyable - something that is at times hard to do when writing about folk lore and fantastical creatures that have been written about before.

For a debut offering, Cold Water Bridegroom is one I will not soon forget. I am hoping to see a sequel in the future of this wonderfully woven tale.


Charlie Robot by Benedict Martin is everything you would expect and much, much more in a science fiction tale of artificial intelligence gone haywire.

Charlie is one of three scientists who create Steven, the first robot of its kind - one that is self aware and constantly adapting to his environment. Doug, the lead scientist mistakenly leaves a door unlocked and Steven escapes. Naomi, the third scientist allows Charlie to stay at her home, as Charlie's home was destroyed in a fire just prior to Steven escaping from the lab. Doug convinces Charlie that he must pretend to be the robot or their funding will be taken away. Charlie reluctantly agrees and finds himself being poked, prodded and made a spectacle of at various company sponsored events.

All of this leads to Charlie becoming angry and embarrassed. He threatens to expose to the investors and the public that he is a human and that Doug is trying to defraud them, but not before he threatens to go to a competitor and divulge other secrets. Before that can happen, a juicy tid-bit of information is given to Charlie that will shatter his view of reality and stop him from ruining his life.

From the first chapter to the very end of the book, Charlie Robot kept me fascinated and enthralled with the numerous twists in the story line. Some parts were laugh-out-loud funny and some parts were very sad, but overall a very good read.

If you like light-hearted science fiction, I highly recommend Charlie Robot.

Her Imaginary Husband by Lia London is a sweet, funny and squeaky clean romance novel.

The story begins with Nikki Fallon during her last few days as a deli counter worker. She is happy to leave the deli job and start her full-time career as a new teacher at the local high school. Once she starts her new job as a teacher, two eligible bachelors at the school take a keen interest in her marital status. Having been broken-hearted before, Nikki decides to wear a wedding band and tell everyone that she is married to avoid any attention from these new men in her life. But, of course, that initial lie leads to other lies and Nikki is left juggling stories and trying not to let the truth come out. From one hilarious moment to the next, Nikki fumbles through the first few weeks of school and learns the ropes of being a new, young teacher in a school filled with teenage trials and tribulations. But in the end, a positive outcome is had by everyone.

I absolutely adored this story and could see it at a movie. The characters were believable and I enjoyed the journeys all of them led me on in the pages of this book. I loved the ending!

Ms. London weaves a great, fun, sweet story and I look forward to reading more from this very talented author.

Middlesettlements by Basil Pearl is a short story that will touch your heart and make you believe that miracles do happen - even in the harshness of the wild west of the frontier days.

Zee is alone on the frontier after her husband dies. She also grieves for her child, who was lost in the wilderness on their trek to the west. With a resolve of steel, Zee endures the loneliness of prairie life and keeps her farmstead running without a husband. She is, in fact part of a larger settlement and not truly alone - thus the name of the book, Middlesettlements.

Zee and her faithful dog keep one another company until one day when a couple of men break into Zee's cabin. The story gets really good at this point as an Indian protector comes on the scene and the turn of events changes Zee's life forever. Since this is a short story, I cannot give much more of the plot away, but suffice it to say that the ending has a unique twist that will give you goosebumps.

For a debut offering, Middlesettlements is a very good read - one that is filled with heart-tugging emotion, love and hope in a harsh environment. Looking forward to more from this talented author.

Main Street Murder by Linda Crowder is the second installment of the Jake and Emma Mystery series and one that is just as good, if not better than the first book, Too Cute to Kill.

This second book begins with a May 1st blizzard in Casper and a murder while the roads are closed in or out of the city. Jake and Emma are never far from the action and when one of their closest friends is named a suspect in the murder, they go above and beyond to prove her innocence. As one other reviewer noted, the ending was not closure, so be prepared to read the next book for unanswered questions in this second installment.

I loved the backdrop of Wyoming for this story, as with the first book, the sights, sounds and feel of the area jumped from the pages as I read through the story. The author is a great story-teller and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Return to Return to Finian Jahndra is a wonderfully enchanting sequel to Lenadra's Enchanted Flute and a story that will make you believe in miracles, hope and love.

Leandra is back, but much has changed in her life since helping to save Finian Jahndra from the canker over four years ago. She is grieving a great loss of family and friends at the beginning of this story and must endure a recurrence of her own cancer along with chemo treatments. The future does not look very good for both Leandra and Finian Jahndra - but both must fight a brave battle again and hope that a miracle happens before it is too late.

The author did a great job in the continuing development of the main characters of this book - Leandra is grown up now and must face adult issues, Prince Aspen must mount an offensive against the newest threat to his homeland - an invading army and Songcatcher is a well-crafted character that make the story that much more fun and enjoyable to read.

I devoured the first book in this series and could not wait to read the second book. It was well worth the time as it is one that is full of hope, love, magic and miracles. I would definitely recommend it to those who are lonely or suffering as well as those who like a good fantasy story with a happy ending.

Only a Kiss by Ines Bautista-Yao is a sweetly written story of first love that follows the couple from childhood to adult and all points in between.

Katie and Chris are best friends, they do everything together. But Katie has decided in her nine-year old mind that she wants to marry Ethan, who is the older brother of Chris. Katie makes it her life's mission to find a suitable partner for Chris to marry.

From this one point forward, life unfolds for both Chris and Katie in sometimes funny and sometimes unhappy ways. I could feel the raw emotion of the two characters from the very first page. Both Chris and Katie have heartaches and heartbreaks from childhood to early adulthood and both are there for each other as best friends, nothing more until they are adults.

Not only was the writing exceptional in this short young romance story, but the illustrations on the cover and throughout the book were exceptional as well - beautiful illustrations to go with a beautiful story with a wonderful and happy ending.

This book made me smile. I will definitely read more from Ms. Bautista-Yao.