A Year of Reviewing Indie Books 2021

Last year, 2021 started out in a scuffle with the breakdowns from 2020, then began to project hope with positivity through the summer until COVID and world political disruptions arose again to bring concern back to broad populations. Marketing opportunities for my two self-published books were still tampered down with COVID uncertainty, and political rifts even reached down to my community HOA board which disrupted projects and maintenance procedures, but the summer calm did give me a chance to take on a road trip around the Midwest states, fulfilling one goal of claiming to have visited all fifty states in the United States. At the same time, the same uncertainties I faced in 2020 in connecting with fellow indie authors once again lowered the number of works I was able to read and review from the previous year. Last year, I only had the opportunity to read twelve books during the year, but it was a good year for reading, as I only rated one book with 2-stars, three books at 3-stars, seven books with 4-stars, and finished out the year with a 5-star reviewed book.

Now to reiterate my review standards from the past year’s 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.

To start out, the one work which I rated at the 2-star level hinted at a suspenseful mystery thriller, but severe plot errors, blended with the grammatical and typographical errors, could not reach the promise of fulfilling the suspenseful thrills. The three 3-star works provided basic enjoyable tales in multiple genres. In the procedural mystery, a private investigator, who is a former police officer, takes on a missing person case that turns into a job of protecting an innocent from a Russian cabal. The horror story has a couple leading their neighborhood in a battle against a zombie pandemic. The sci-fi fantasy has new residents of a future domed colony on Titan, one of Jupiter’s moons, discovering their family history has a more mythological, extraterrestrial foundation.

In the 4-star zone, one of the works was introduced to me by my neighbor, who was friends with the indie authors of the tale. The epic Bermuda Triangle yachting saga reaches across several genres from gambling thrill and heroic defense against villainy to legendary sci-fi fantasy to create an impressive adventure for readers who can keep up with the multiple themes within the epic. The other six 4-star books stretch across a broad range, including one historical non-fiction psychological comparison of Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley, and late 1800s American mass murderer, Anton Probst. The fiction works include a tough romance between a teacher getting out of an abusive relationship and one of her recently-paroled adult students working to get his GED, a murder mystery investigation novella based in London during the early height of the COVID pandemic, a romantic thriller between a teen sci-fi author and an artificial-intelligence entity who join up to fight a villainous business tech exec, a sci-fi thrilling start of a trilogy where a group of friends begin to deal with the news of an asteroid heading toward earth, and an action adventure treasure hunting tale with a recovery gang trying to solve the clues of a Knights Templar map while defending their actions against another group seeking to take the same treasure.

The last book I read for the year turned out to be the one 5-star book in my reviews. Innocent Bystander by C.A. Asbrey is the third book of The Innocents Mystery Series. Set mainly in the 1870s American Wild West, the leader of a train robbery gang and a female Pinkerton detective agent connect to track down the agent’s sister who has run off to San Francisco to marry a man that has a history of marrying wealthy women who mysteriously die shortly after the wedding. Normally, I would have started with the first book of the series, but the first two books of the series had already achieved a sizable number of good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and since my goal is to help fellow indie authors, I decided to read the first book of the series that was still light in reviews. Of course, the excellent reviews for the first two books were a good indicator of how excellent a storyteller I was about to experience and prove deserving of a 5-star review.

Even as it was a light year of reading, it was a good year of reading and enjoying the creativity of fellow authors. 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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