Indie Reviews

So, let me start by saying I’m a huge Historical Fiction fan. My first two books are both historical pieces, although they are fantasy stories with historical backdrops. When I found Krondtadt!, by Kim Aaron, I was excited to pick it up! Then I realized it is situated in the “Alternative History” genre. It is extremely important to know this before picking this one up. I do wonder if the story isn’t exciting enough without the need to take it in another direction.

In terms of historical accuracy, this one is hard to judge. For one, because well, it’s “alternative” history, which allows the author some leeway in the actual events. However, that doesn’t mean Aaron can throw accuracy out the window, if they would have had soldiers running around with M-16s or fighter jets, we would have had a serious problem. In that respect, I think the accuracy of this book is excellent! The little details of the 1920s come to life, complete with Russo-Baltic Type K vehicles (whatever those are…I want one with an electric motor), to the weapons, and style of dress. Note: military or police never use the term “over and out.” Okay – I’m really nitpicking here.

Another reason it is hard to judge for historical accuracy: I think I speak for most people in saying that this event (at least the details of it) are relatively unknown to most people. At times I had difficulty knowing when history was being replaced by the alternative. This might be a positive note – as I ended up Googling more about Kronstadt.

The writing was good. At times exceptional. Every once in a while I was thrown off by the change in narration. Sometimes we see things through a character’s eyes, sometimes through an omniscient narrator. But the transitions were smooth, and they never interrupted the enjoyment of the story. Little things did bother me like, “general pandemonium ensues,” which kind of reads like a script.

The characters were well thought out. They were the highlight of the story. Alexander’s letters to his wife were the best parts for me, as they seemed to summarize the loss, sacrifice, and hardship these men put in for their failed revolution. In fact, I feel the letters portray more emotion than the story itself.

Critiques: The characters are often portrayed as the exaggerated trope of the “fat-bellied” Russian bureaucrat, almost comically so. They undermine what otherwise should feel like a very serious subject matter.

Another issue, which I suppose is in the author’s favor, is that I wished it were longer! The fall of the island, especially the brutal way in which the Red Army dealt with the island, was probably the most exciting part. I read that thousands were killed! However, this was glossed over very quickly, told in a long info dump, while all the scenes leading up to it were very drawn out.

These are all minor gripes, however – I gave the book a well-deserving 5 stars. Kudos for finding such an interesting piece of history and bringing it to light. I highly recommend this to any historical fiction fan!


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Never have I ever seen an industry preying upon itself the way the book publishing industry does.”

So, I’ve recently read a book that I think all indie authors should read…something about writing a sizzling synopsis. “The $1.99 Author” might be just as important of a book for upcoming indies. Actually, I wish this book would have been around before I started my self-publishing career, it would have put things into perspective.

First of all, it’s hilarious. I mean it is generally funny, especially for anyone that has experience in this field. Secondly, its pessimism is like a breath of fresh air compared to all the smoke that has been blown up our indie asses by all the so-called self-help publishing gurus. On second thought, it’s not pessimistic. It’s actually closer to the truth than any other book about self-publishing.

I don’t know if the author gets it 100% right, there are actually quite a few people making a good living from selling books on “damazon” (sham-a-zon might be better…ssshhh they’re listening) – a lot fewer people than are advertised, but certainly more than a handful. And I’m not sure everyone is in it for narcissistic reasons, quite a few people I know couldn’t care less about recognition, and would take money over fame any day, (ME!).

One thing the author does get right is his scathing criticism of social media and the way in which it has everyone convinced it is the only way to sell indie books. I don’t think there is anyone who can say they have made PROFIT selling books via social media unless they have a Ph.D. in “disgracebook” marketing or they are an exceptionally gifted individual in the looks department. (link to my only fans below…)

As for chasing the dream to be traditionally published. I am not 100% sure about this one either. The author fails to mention that over 80% of traditionally published books run at a loss or break even. Picture that! Getting trad published is all cool and all, but the idea that the gatekeepers are the savior to a well-earned writing career is false. There are plenty of examples of trad published authors getting out of that mess to join us in the trenches.

In conclusion, I say bravo Mr. Barker – you have bravely said what few are willing to. I thoroughly enjoyed this.


Soldier Boys: Tales of the Civil War

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Soldier Boys is a collection of wonderful short stories told in the setting of the American Civil War. The perspective changes with each story, some are told in the third person and others in the first person. I found the stories that used first-person narration to be far superior. The author’s style in the first person really got in the mind of the soldiers, and his historical knowledge of the era made it impossible to tell if these were real memoirs or fiction.
“We were soldier boys, pure and simple, which meant that all we had to know was how to load and shoot and drink whiskey and brag and maybe learn how to stay alive by eating the dirt off our boots.”
So many Civil War era stories and films center around their great, charismatic generals. It was refreshing to read a different perspective— grimy young grunts who had to suffer through the thick of war before antibiotics and modern medicine. People often forget how simple injuries required amputation back then, it’s captured here in gruesome detail.

PLOT: 9/10 – Every single story in this collection had something to tell. Most are not really “war” stories in the traditional sense, they tend to be focused on the characters and the emotions of the horrors surrounding them. This was a pleasant surprise, as with all “war” stories, it isn’t the action that we remember, but the characters in the action.

CHARACTERS: 9/10 – I honestly was convinced that some of the characters in these stories were real people. If you love historical fiction or are a Civil War buff, this collection is for you, because the characters are flawless in terms of realism. The character voices were so authentic, I felt like I was laying right there in the field alongside those poorly equipped and sickly young men.

WRITING: 9/10 – Love the use of colloquialisms and old-time metaphors! Didn’t like so much the author’s use of “then” to begin sentences. But there is really nothing to fault, the writing is descriptive and each story had its own unique voice. The writing was three-dimensional, often using war as a clever backdrop to explore deeper themes regarding the soldier’s/human condition.

CONCLUSION: I really enjoyed this collection. I would recommend this to anyone interested in war dramas, and if you have a passing interest in the American Civil War— buy this now! Among my favorites were “The End of Whiskey,” Here Lies Billy Talbert, Dead and Gone,” and “The Silver Link,” which was a collection of letters between a Private and his would-be sweetheart back home, and “The Killing of Old Mortality,” which was as close as you will get to an “action” war story. Some of these will stay with me for a long time, and I feel like going back and re-reading some Michael Shaara books!


Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is the 2nd installment in the Season’s Detour I’ve read, and it was just as good as the first! The story revolves around Bailey, who has been chosen as bridesmaid and assistant in organizing her friend’s wedding. A curveball is thrown when she falls for a hunk who happens to be the brother of the groom. The problem is, Bailey has been hurt and betrayed by the men in her life. Getting over her trust issues is where the heart of the story lies.
The writing was great, Hayleigh Sol’s easy style and fast pace always keep the pages turning quickly. There is never a dull moment. The dialogue is great, although sometimes Bailey’s internal dialogue breaks up the flow of the conversations, her witty mental remarks were hilarious.
The characters were well-created, you can tell the author has really fleshed out everyone’s life and personalities, which gives an extra layer of depth to the story.
As with the first book, the obstacle for the main character is an internal one. For Maya in Summer Flame, it was her passivity. For Bailey, it is her trust issue. How these characters grow throughout the novels in order to overcome their obstacles in order to find love makes these stories a cut above your average romance.
Summer Flame was, like summertime, more of a fun, holiday outing. Fall for You takes place after the summer fun ends. The holidays are over and the temperature has dropped. How the themes of these books match the season is brilliant. I can’t wait to see how the winter novel captures the love and spirit of the season!

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