My Favorite Indie Books of 2014 (Part 2)

Last year was an amazing year for Indie writers as far as I’m concerned. In addition to launching my first book in October I checked out the works of other Indie writers. These are the next three on my list and all are available on Amazon. For the record, these books are not listed in best to last order. They are all very different in different genre’s. Each one is an example of the fine writing and imaginative story-telling of Independent Writer’s who may go unnoticed in the midst of the Stephen King’s, James Patterson’s, or Mary Higgins Clark’s in print.

Mum

http://www.amazon.com/Mum-Gifts-Your-Soul-Gratitude-ebook/dp/B00MUHCRZW

5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Inspiring As a rule I don’t read what I call “interactive books”. However “To Mum, Gifts From Your Soul” by Lexa Harpell caught my eye. Maybe it’s because my mother passed away in 1996 from complications due to Alzheimer’s. That had been a difficult time for all of us and I wish I would have had this wonderful book then.
As the author related warm memories of her own mother I began to recall special moments with my mother. In the scope of things the memories of love and gratitude may seem insignificant, but to me they captured the essence of what my mother meant to me. Gazing at Ms Harpell’s photos I decided to look for old photos of times shared with my mother, photos of things we shared, photos she had taken of me and my friends, photos of moments forgotten, pressed between the pages of old albums.
Ms Harpell left blank pages in her book where the reader can share memories of her mother and things that formed her special relationship.
By the end of the book I had ventured into my own past experiences. The story Ms. Harpell told caused me to consider my own story. What better gift can an author give to her reader then the gift of introspection? This is a beautiful book illustrated with photos slightly blurred much as memories are. Anyone who has experienced the rare and wonderful gift of being a mother or being a child will treasure this book. Inspiring and touching it is the kind of gift that can be passed down for generations. I plan to get a copy for my daughter. I can’t wait to read her memories of our time together.

These are actually Books One and Two of a Three Part Series. After reading the first one I had to learn what would happen next. Now I’m chewing my acrylic nails waiting for the next chapter. (Hint: Mr. Schimanski PLEASE publish the next Meter!)

The first two parts of this trilogy introduce the reader to a quartet of friends, Jon-Erik and his buddy Joey as well as their soon to be girlfriends, Angel and Tina. From their first meeting at the Foxy Fire Strip Club the air is thick with danger and passion. These are gritty thrillers with a no holds barred approach to story-telling. With bad guys (and these are VERY bad guys) like Boris Brotsky, Richard Rasmussin, and the mysterious Mikhail author Schimanski takes the reader through the dark underbelly of Toronto crime to international cartels bent on ruling the world.

Anita Kovacevic has packed a lot of punch in a little story. Some people are writers; a select few are “wordsmiths”. Kovacevic falls into the latter group. “The Threshold” is not a long book with thousands of overwhelming pages. It’s a compact and frightening tale of greed taken to its pinnacle. From the subtle pride of old Mrs. Poole to the massive ego of Ken Scott, Kovacevic shows how people never seem to see their own flaws however glaring. When five people win the opportunity to enter a mysterious mansion, retrieve an unspecified “treasure”, then exit and turn said item over to Ken Scott the tension picks up dramatically. Without giving anything anyway, I will say when people get a good look at themselves they are often horrified by what they see. This is a tightly woven cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for. You may not like what you get.

My Favorite Indie Books of 2014

Last year was an amazing year for Indie writers as far as I’m concerned. In addition to launching my first book in October I checked out the works of other Indie writers. These are the first three on my list and all are available on Amazon.
1.Random
“Random Lucidity” by Dave Adair http://www.amazon.com/Random-Lucidity-A-Literary-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00LLR3WA6 A fascinating read. “4.5 Stars
Portland Book Review
Random Lucidity by Dave Adair is a fascinating book with an unpredictable end. This real page turner will keep your attention and interest from the first sentence to the last. Following book’s development you may question your own life-defining decisions since moments of psychological, mental or emotional lucidity is really rare in human life.
The book’s main character, Reggie Hatcher is a loving and devoted son. Every week he visits his seventy-two-year-old father Ronnie at Honeyville Senior Living located just across a street from a funeral home. Going back to his apartment from these weekly visits Reggie often stops at his childhood home. His last visit hasn’t been an exception, but this time his feelings are controversial.
Although there are a lot of unusual turns and twists, the transitions between one storyline to another are smooth and it is easy to follow this remarkable narrative. There are no wasted scenes and all protagonists, even the more bizarre and shocking, are consistent and have vivid personalities.
The author skillfully leads Reggie through his struggles between love, loyalty, and his desire to succeed. Read the book to find out how Reggie’s miracle turns out, you’ll feel for him. – Portland Book Review”

2.assassin
“The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance” by Glen Barrera “ http://www.amazon.com/Assassin-Who-Couldnt-Dance-ebook/dp/B00OI1PFUC 5 stars
In “The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance” Glen Barrera has created a cast of characters so real you can imagine them living next door. While “Hector Munoz”, with skills developed over time, is far from the next door neighbor type his character is so skillfully created that it would not be surprising to meet him at the mall. Hector’s goal is to retrieve the keys and codes to safe deposit boxes in the U.S. that contain not only millions of dollars in cash and diamonds but also documents that would reveal corruption within the U.S. military. For Hector this is not just a journey of vengeance to find and kill those responsible for the murders of his father and brother, but also a journey to find himself. Hector’s transformation from a killing machine to a man who discovers he can still love and care for others is beautifully handled. While the ex-recon Force that holds the keys and codes have followed the “rules” that came with their windfall sixteen years earlier they are still discovered and must defend themselves against mercenaries hired by corrupt officials to get the documents and the wealth sparing no lives in the process. This is an action packed well thought out battle between good and evil with Hector as the mysterious piece who can sway the entire project either way. As a young man who has survived without a family for years he is suddenly drawn into relationships he does not fully understand and experiences emotions he does not know how to handle. His growing attraction to Lucy, a young girl who has also experienced pain and uncertainty, and her obvious feelings for him are the linchpin that finally brings the story to an exciting conclusion. This is a book that will make you laugh and cry and restore your faith in the power of love.

3.scorn
“Scorn Kills” by Suzi Albracht http://www.amazon.com/SCORN-KILLS-Suzi-Albracht-ebook/dp/B00P9VZU4Q 5-stars
“Scorn Kills” by Suzi Albracht grabbed my attention with the first sentence and held it throughout this book. A somewhat tongue in cheek examination of man’s weakness when it comes to women and money (not necessarily in that order) Albracht created a character I wanted to smack in the head. From the beginning Bill Branch is obviously an opportunist. I liked him and almost felt sorry for him when he first became entangled in the web of lies he spun. But as the story unfolded I began to lose patience with good old Bill. Without giving away too much I will say I had very little sympathy for him at the end. He is never satisfied with what he has and always seems to be looking for something better. His well to do wife has secrets of her own that make the story even more compelling. The ending was a surprise I didn’t see coming. If this story has a moral it might be “when you sell your soul to the devil, expect to get burned”.

“The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance” by Glen Barrera

The Assassin Who Couldn't DanceThe Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance by Glen Barrera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In “The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance” Glen Barrera has created a cast of characters so real you can imagine them living next door. While “Hector Munoz”, with skills developed over time, is far from the next door neighbor type his character is so skillfully created that it would not be surprising to meet him at the mall. Hector’s goal is to retrieve the keys and codes to safe deposit boxes in the U.S. that contain not only millions of dollars in cash and diamonds but also documents that would reveal corruption within the U.S. military. For Hector this is not just a journey of vengeance to find and kill those responsible for the murders of his father and brother, but also a journey to find himself. Hector’s transformation from a killing machine to a man who discovers he can still love and care for others is beautifully handled. While the ex-recon Force that holds the keys and codes have followed the “rules” that came with their windfall sixteen years earlier they are still discovered and must defend themselves against mercenaries hired by corrupt officials to get the documents and the wealth sparing no lives in the process. This is an action packed well thought out battle between good and evil with Hector as the mysterious piece who can sway the entire project either way. As a young man who has survived without a family for years he is suddenly drawn into relationships he does not fully understand and experiences emotions he does not know how to handle. His growing attraction to Lucy, a young girl who has also experienced pain and uncertainty, and her obvious feelings for him are the linchpin that finally brings the story to an exciting conclusion. This is a book that will make you laugh and cry and restore your faith in the power of love.

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Island Paradise

cook islands

As the sun began to set into the ocean I settled back against the base of the tree. Hidden from view I began what would be a short wait. I had observed them for a week and they always met in the last moments of the day when the final glow of sunlight spread across the water. Granted it was a tad cloudy this evening and the sunset might not be as spectacular as the past few days but I was certain they would show up. I could see heavy clouds in the distance but they seemed far enough away not to deter them from their assignation.

I drew the pack of cigarettes from the pouch around my waist and pulled out the half smoked samples distributing them around my feet. Frowning I wondered if they looked too neatly arranged and proceeded to stir them around in the sand, my gloved hands leaving trails I would scuff with my size twelve shoes when I was ready to leave.

Concerned, I realized it had grown darker and looking out over the gentle waves I could see the clouds looming ever closer threatening my plan. Carefully pulling back my sleeve I checked the time and was relieved to see things were on schedule and it was still early despite the deepening dusk. The weather report had indicated some possibility of showers earlier in the day but they had not appeared and I had hoped the weather-casters were wrong. Apparently the only thing they were in error about was the time of day the rains would come for a few fat drops filtered through the fronds over my head. “Damn!” I swore under my breath.

Squinting through the dimming light I scanned the beach for any sign of their approach. Suddenly in the distance I saw a figure slowly drawing closer. It was him. I knew by the loose limbed casual stride and the slightly stooped shoulders. Swinging my eyes in the other direction I caught sight of a much smaller form moving quickly.

My heart leapt in my breast at their approach. Although it was a bit darker than I had planned I could still see well enough to accomplish my goal. In my mind I urged them to hurry, to embrace, to gaze into one another’s eyes with all their passion on display. I struggled to control my breathing, slowing my heart rate.

He reached what I had come to call their love nest a few minutes before her. The driftwood they used to build their fires had gotten damp and I almost gasped aloud as he ventured toward my cover in search of drier pieces to burn. Dropping the beach blanket he always brought with him he managed to select a few pieces that had not been touched by sea or rain and began to stack them expertly on the sand. By this time she had reached the little pile of sticks and taking the blanket a bit away from the growing fire spread it on the sand. They neither spoke nor touched as they accomplished these rather homey activities and I found this troubled me more than their passionate love making ever did. It spoke of the familiarity of a loving long term relationship rather than a tawdry short lived affair. Soon they were cuddled together on the blanket, half of it pulled up to cover their backs and her shoulders. It had grown quite dark now, the sun disappearing beneath clouds and sea leaving no afterglow in its wake. With only the firelight to show their actions I watched as the blanket undulated showing the movement of their hands beneath its cover. I became aware of my teeth grinding and although they were certainly too far away to hear I forced myself to relax.

Knowing it should be their last night for some time to come I wondered how far their embraces would go. I also questioned my ability to sit silent if they crossed that thin line I had fearfully anticipated the past week. I heard her giggle, light and girlish and the blood began to pound in my brain. As he pulled the blanket over their heads I knew they could not see my approach.

I hefted the heavy bat a few times as I crept across the sand. I had spent several afternoons playing softball that week, getting my arms accustomed to a long unused activity, one I had not partaken in since my college days. It may have been that movement that caught his ear. Suddenly he peered around the corner of the blanket and I watched his eyes widen. Fortunately for me he did not connect the bat with my intentions for its use. Before he could react I swung hard connecting with his skull, snapping his head solidly to the side where it cracked against her skull. Her body fell sideways and she made a sound rather like a mouse squeaking in a trap. He tried to straighten and turned toward me again. “Madeline?” The name fell from his lips in a somewhat garbled fashion, a puzzled expression in his eyes as a thin trickle of blood trailed from his forehead to his chin. Lining up once again I took another good swing watching in satisfaction as his eyes rolled up in his head. He collapsed beside her, his head now strangely misshapen. Stepping around the blanket I saw that she was merely unconscious. Dropping the bat I turned and made my way back to our beach house.

When the police came the next morning I fell weeping into the arms of a young officer. Then I watched in secret delight as her husband was led away, hands cuffed behind his back. The newspaper headlines read, “Former League Baseball Player Held in Murder and Assault”. No one remembered the college girl who excelled at softball years earlier. After all there were his footprints and his cigarette butts at the scene.

Photo Credit: Linda Ann Ramirez
https://www.facebook.com/LindaAnnRamirez

The photograph above was provided to me along with a challenge to write a short story of between 500 and 1000 words.

“Riddle” Elizabeth-Horton-Newton

“Riddle” Elizabeth-Horton-Newton


https://www.facebook.com/Riddlenovel

Soon to be released thriller by Elizabeth Horton-Newton, Author of “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

“Near-by the sound of the river chuckling over rocks is somehow soothing. I can feel the cool breeze on my face, and the shadows of the leaves above dance on my closed eyelids. Finally I have time to reflect, to look back on the winding path that led…

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“Riddle” Elizabeth Horton-Newton

https://www.facebook.com/Riddlenovel

Soon to be released thriller by Elizabeth Horton-Newton, Author of “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

“Near-by the sound of the river chuckling over rocks is somehow soothing. I can feel the cool breeze on my face, and the shadows of the leaves above dance on my closed eyelids. Finally I have time to reflect, to look back on the winding path that led me to this moment.

river fall

My mother had always taught me to plan ahead. She instilled in me the need to think about where I was going and to design the paths I needed to follow to reach my destination. When I was ten years old my father disappeared. Well at the time I thought he simply disappeared. Years later I learned he had taken off with a woman he met at the PTA. But when I was ten it seemed he simply disappeared. My mother picked herself up and suddenly I was a latch key kid in a neighborhood of two parent families. The other mothers watched out for me when I came home from school each day. During the summer I would spend a month at camp and a month visiting from neighborhood home to neighborhood home. I never knew I attended camp on a scholarship or that our church paid a small amount to various families to keep an eye on me while my mother worked.

Once I reached Junior High School my mother moved me into the public school system. I think the church would have continued to “sponsor” me since we were still struggling financially, I was a “good kid”, and I was a VERY good student. But my mother wanted me to move out of the sheltered world I lived in undoubtedly because she was well aware she could not continue to keep me safe from reality.
bully girl

I hated my first few months at Bay Ridge Junior High School. The other kids had all gone through elementary school together and knew one another by sight if not by name. Suddenly I had to decide what to wear each day instead of pulling on the same old uniform. That had seemed an exciting change until I actually had to do it. The first couple of weeks I struggled to fit in, often wearing the “wrong thing”. Skirts when the other girls wore jeans, shirts tucked neatly in when the other girls wore loose tee-shirts.

It was Emily who first came to my rescue. Emily, popular, blond, bright, and generous of time and spirit she stopped by the table where I ate my lunch alone. “Mind if I join you?” I was certain this would turn out to be a prank on the new kid. Might as well get it over with; take the humiliation with good humor and fade back into the woodwork.
young-woman-lunch-cafeteria_1244328_inl

“Sure, have a seat, there are plenty of them.” My tone was slightly sarcastic. If Emily noticed she gave no indication.
She sat across from me and popped open the small can of orange juice she purchased from the lunch lady, Miss Mary. I tried to surreptitiously hide my milk behind my lunch box. Emily wordlessly prepared her lunch. I say prepared because it was like watching an artsy film. She removed every item from her tray and proceeded to arrange it neatly in an order I didn’t quite understand. Juice to the right, napkin folded below it, plate with one slice of pizza dead center, and in the upper right corner a small cup of what looked like green jell-o with pineapples. I looked down at the sliced turkey on wheat bread I had hastily put together that morning. A brown spotted banana lay in my lunch box, I knew I wouldn’t eat it but Mom always got upset if I didn’t eat right. Emily studied her food arrangement before smiling at me.
“It’s just more pleasant when I pretend I’m in a nice restaurant being served an exquisite lunch by a tall dark waiter with a French accent.” Looking serious she lowered her voice and said in a terrible French accent, “Ah m’amselle is everything to your satisfaction?” Then she winked and whispered, “Then he’ll say how about a kiss?”
I felt my mouth drop open. This had to be a joke. I quickly looked around the lunchroom. Most of the other students were eating and talking, although there was one table of preppy looking girls that seemed to be studying us curiously.
Following my gaze Emily continued, “Don’t mind them. I call them the Prep Patrol. They may stare and sometimes make rude comments but just ignore them and they’ll go away.”
meangirls

I hastily began packing up the remains of my lunch. “I don’t know what your game is but I don’t want to play. Tell your friends I hope that had a good laugh.”
Not waiting for a response I strode purposefully past the preps well aware of their eyes following me. I looked sideways at them with what I hoped was an expression of distaste and ran headlong into David. Laughing he grabbed my arm, “Hey slow down there!”
I felt my face grow hot as I mumbled something unintelligible and rushed from the lunchroom. That was the day I met my future fiancé and my future maid of honor.”
guy girl
The air had grown cooler and my eyes suddenly felt heavy. Maybe if I closed them for just a few minutes…
passed out

R.I.P. Michael Robbins – Prequel “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

R.I.P. Michael Robbins – Prequel “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

cabin in woods
It was the fifth day in a row he had seen the same car drive by on the road outside his house. That would not be a big deal if he lived in a city or even a medium sized town, but he was on the border of two counties. The temperature had dropped so much over the last week they had declared a state of emergency which was a big deal in a state known for snow and ice and winters that lasted from…

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R.I.P. Michael Robbins – Prequel “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

cabin in woods
It was the fifth day in a row he had seen the same car drive by on the road outside his house. That would not be a big deal if he lived in a city or even a medium sized town, but he was on the border of two counties. The temperature had dropped so much over the last week they had declared a state of emergency which was a big deal in a state known for snow and ice and winters that lasted from October through March.
black suv
Mike Robbins sipped his hot chocolate slowly feeling the warmth of the liquid travel down into his belly. The big, black SUV drove slowly past again. He couldn’t see through the heavily tinted windows but he didn’t have to. He had a pretty good idea the type of person driving.
Finishing his beverage he walked to the kitchen and rinsed the cup, placing it in the dish drainer. Taking one last look around the kitchen he nodded in satisfaction. Then he swung the back pack onto his back and walked out the back door. The cold hit him immediately and he pulled the face mask down and slipped on his gloves with the hand warmers in the palms. Adjusting goggles over his eyes he took off toward the woods that bordered the back end of the property. He had made this hike many times although in warmer weather. He’d done it in rain, light snow, in the dark, and even when it was as hot as it got in that area. However this was the most challenging weather he’d faced and he could only hope he’d make it to the river before dark.
maine-snowy-woods-brenda-owen
The St. John was no small river. It was icy cold this time of year. He had little chance of successfully making it across. He had less chance of surviving if the men caught him. As he grew older he found the freezing temperatures of the North were more than his bones could bear. He had grown weary of trudging sometimes impassable snowbound roads. If he made it through this time he would head south.
It was later in the day than he’d hoped when he reached the river outside of Fort Kent. Making his way to the fishing shack on the river he removed the combination lock and pushed open the door. It stuck slightly and he had to put extra energy which was rapidly deteriorating into shoving it open enough to squeeze through.
fishing shack
The boat was still there, gleaming in the growing twilight. Taking off his gloves he ran his hands over the smooth hull. Removing the backpack he pulled out the waterproof wallet that contained his American passport in the name of Michael Robbins. With great effort he flipped over the slightly rotten barrel that sat in the corner of the shack. Pulling a small collapsible shovel from the backpack he dug in the moist soil that still bore the imprint of the barrel. Shaking the dirt off the bag that had been buried he opened it and pulled out the waterproof envelopes that were inside. Looking through the various identity papers he chose Bill Horton. The photo closely matched his current appearance, a close beard and hair that reached his collar. Switching the driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, and credit cards with those of Michael Robbins, he proceeded to re-bury the bag. He considered destroying the other documents but there was always the chance he’s make it back this way someday and there were still two unused identities in the bag.
st john river
The twilight had deepened and the now Bill Horton briefly considered holing up in the shack over night. He couldn’t be certain they had not tracked him. Time was growing short. Straining, he pulled the boat to the edge of the river. Returning to the shack he gave one more look around. Everything looked completely normal. It was just an old fishing shack. Locking it up he went back to the boat and shoved it into the river, jumping in at the last moment. The tug of the current was strong and it took all his power to row out into the middle of the river. He allowed the current to carry him a few miles. Then he began to row strenuously to the Canadian side of the river.
icy river twi
There was no one on the river. It was freezing cold and dangerous to risk being upended wearing appropriate clothing to battle the cold. Reaching the far side he struggled to pull the boat up onto the bank and collapsed next to it breathing heavily. It was full dark now and the stars twinkled brightly in the night sky. It would be so easy to just lie on the cold ground and drift away.
Resisting the urge to close his eyes for just a few minutes the new Bill forced himself to his feet and leaving the boat where it sat he began the hike away from the river. In a few hours he should reach civilization and a hotel to stay in overnight. In the morning he would make his arrangements to reach the West Coast. Then he could book a flight back into the States and make his way south. Maybe this time they would not find him and he could finally have some peace.
distant
Setting off toward distant lights he went over the story of Bill Horton, memorizing the basics and creating the details that would make Bill come alive. By the time he arrived at a small local motel he was Bill Horton. Michael Robbins was dead. Rest in peace.

Amazon Review: “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

Amazon Review: “View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale”

View_From_the_Sixth__Cover_for_Kindle (1)
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me interested all the way through, February 5, 2015
By Dave Adair – See all my reviews
This review is from: View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale (Kindle Edition)
This was a very clever tale filled with twists and turns that you think you are able to predict, but you somehow come up short each time. I enjoyed getting to know the main characters and felt that there was…

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