A Year of Reviewing Indie Books 2020

What more can be said about a year as historically disruptive as 2020. With a COVID pandemic that inflamed divisions within and among countries, the norms of exploration, economical developments, and the social aspects of gathering with friends and family were upended. It disrupted the standard marketing opportunities for me to promote my two self-published works, pushed back on my grander travel exploration plans, and upended the processes for my HOA board of which I am the current president to help maintain and improve the community. One would think that I would have more time to read and review more of my fellow indie author works during these homebound times, and I did read a few more than the previous year, but I feel the uncertainties of the past year reduced connections with other fellow authors, which is one of the reasons that I was only able to read and review fifteen books for the year. I did rate one novel at 5 stars and had rated two novels at the 2 star level, putting most of the books in the 3 to 4 star level. Basically, it was an enjoyable year for reading.

Now to reiterate my review standards from the past years postings, I had to be open to all genres and not let a genre type affect the rating and review of a work. My focus was on whether the story was told well, the characters were relatable, the plot functional and understandable, and the pieces fit together. If I could follow an enjoyable tale while pushing aside the typos, grammatical errors, and historical or cultural anomalies, the book landed within the 3 star zone. If I could feel more emotional attachments to the characters and find myself drawn into the plot action with less distractions from errors, then the book was landing into the 4 star zone. When character and plot all came together nearly perfectly within the genre I was reading, and editing was well-done, it was a 5 star effort.

The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland, the one novel that reached that 5 star effort last year was an interesting historical fiction based on an eleventh century epic poem about an heroic figure in a battle during the conflict between Charlemagne’s empire and the Muslim realm in Spain. The skill in fleshing out the characters and building up strong storylines leading up to the main battle actually led to the book being mentioned in the final paragraph of the Wikipedia article about the original classic poem on which the novel is based.

Five of the novels landed in the 4 star zone, including the second book in Doug J Cooper’s time dimension series, Bump Time Meridian. When he reached out to me in 2019 to beta read the opening book in the series, I informed him that I was tougher with time travel stories due to the basic time travel conundrums that are difficult to gloss over. Doug continues to prove excellent writing skills with interesting story lines and entrancing characters. However, dealing with the time travel mythology added a bit more complexity in the reading, but the suspense and thrills were still enough to entice sci-fi action readers.

Three of the other four star novels land within the mystery genre, with two of them set in earlier historical times. One focuses on an investigative reporter in 1926 New Orleans looking into the murder of a wealthy businessman, adding a touch of the roaring 20s creole in the mystery. The other historical mystery brings a dark civil rights view in the 1960s Deep South, as a few parties seeks the truth behind the murder of a black musician and fellow band member, as the white mayor and police chief tries to brush the case aside with a false story. The third mystery is set in current day with a member of a police consulting firm being asked to help out the local police with a murder case while doing undercover work in a local bakery. The last four star novel is a romantic drama set during the Vietnam War when a pair of lovers is separated by one being drafted in the army and then going MIA after an ambush on his unit, another strong tale set back in recent history.

The seven works that landed at the 3 star level were in multiple genres. Three were mysteries, one under a police murder investigation that develops a conflict of resolution, while the other two focuses on main private eye characters. Two fell under the medieval fantasy fiction with a Game of Thrones persona. One was another sci-fi time travel story that focuses on a hidden human race within modern culture with the secret ability to time and space shift within their life spans, while the last work was a short story collection in the horror genre.

The two works that fell short in the two star range dealt with struggling characters, one battling hidden shadows and the other dealing with personal demons from alcohol to the death of a friend which he caused. In both works, a complicated plot structure and the difficulty in finding empathy within the characters made the stories difficult for me.

It basically was a good and enjoyable year for reading. With my two self-published works, I hope readers feel they live up to the standards I have used to judge the works of my fellow indie authors. If avid readers do check out Legacy Discovered and Disappeared and Found and decide to purchase and read either or both of them, I hope they decide to let me know if they liked it and why through Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sharing sites. Good honest reviews are an indie author’s best friend.

My reviews can be found on my Goodreads Author page at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6491046.Kerry_Reis.

 

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