Posts tagged: Indie Gems

Destinies by Karleene Morrow – An Indie Gem Featured Book

Dear Readers,

Today I have the very great pleasure of introducing our first Indie Gems author and book. Karleene Morrow and her splendid book Destinies kick off my new feature. The purpose of Indie Gems is to give fine independently produced books the recognition they deserve. Indie Gems has a few rules, to which I will adhere.

Without further ado, my review of Destinies follows. Karleene Morrow will add a note of her own.

Sandy Nathan
Indie Gems of Your Shelf Life


Destinies by Karleene Morrow

Destinies by Karleene Morrow


Brilliant, Astonishing, and Impossible to Forget

I finished Destinies yesterday and feel like I’ve lost an old friend. I’m in that floating period that comes after finishing a good book: I’m mulling over its scenes, characters, and settings. I’m also wondering what on earth I’ll do until I find another book that carries me away so completely.

Destinies is an epic of sweeping scope that reminds me of famous works about Russia, Dr. Zhivago, for instance. Destinies presents a very original twist on life in Mother Russia and is remarkable in its originality.

It’s the story of a group of German peasants who leave the Rhineland at the invitation of Tzarina Katherine (the Great). Life is rough in the Rhineland. They’re tenants, not landowners, and at the mercy of pretty near everyone in their German life. The village decides to take advantage of Katherine’s gracious offer to bear the expenses of their traveling to Russia, and to set them up with their own farms and all that would be needed to run them: houses, horses, farm implements and seed. Sounds like a good deal, especially when compared to being exploited unmercifully by their landlords and local nobles in the old country.

The tzarina’s plan is to modernize Russia. She intends to settle her new citizens on eastern lands beneath the Ural Mountains, an area undeveloped, sparsely populated and invaded by marauding robber bands and wild tribes. Thousands of individuals—families and whole villages—heed the call. Morrow wisely focuses on one Rhineland village, giving the reader a close-up view of village life and introducing characters that I will never forget.

This book is intricately plotted, but isn’t confusing. It moves like a freight train; the pace being fast and exciting. Right from the beginning things begin to go wrong. I think this work could also be put in the suspense genre. It had me on the edge of my seat and reading into the night.

The plot alternates between the trials and tribulations of the German immigrants and the court life of the tzarina. I wanted to slap that woman. While communicating with Voltaire and the literati of France, and thinking of herself as an enlightened monarch, big (and growing bigger by the day) Tzarina Kate squeezes her own serfs almost to death, which incites a revolt she doesn’t understand.

The book bears the stamp of many hours spent researching everything about her characters, sites and the world around her work. The author presents detailed descriptions of the colonists’ difficult journey to Russia and what happens afterward. For instance, the way that Morrow describes the experience and sounds of the deep Volga ice breaking up during the spring makes you feel as though you’re right there. I can hardly wait to read more by Karleene Morrow.

Sandy Nathan, Indie Gems

ANOTHER BOOK BY KARLEENE MORROW: Karleene has written another book, FICTION WRITING: How to Write Your First Novel. (The paperback book is linked here.) The book has only one purpose – to guide the new writer toward producing a first class novel. Experienced authors have found this little gem so valuable that they keep it next to their computers. Its size is perfect for tucking into a laptop carrying case. It is a no-nonsense, easy to read book packed with the nitty-gritty of creative writing; a cut-to-the-chase work that will become your fiction writing bible.

FICTION WRITING: How to Write Your First Novel:
Paperback edition on Amazon
Kindle edition on Amazon
Smashwords eBook Edition Note: FICTION WRITING is on sale for $1.99 through January 1. Use the Coupon NX73H when you check out to receive the discount.

Soon on Amazon, Kobo, Sony, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and other online stores

Karleene Morrow

Karleene Morrow

A Note from Karleene Morrow:  You asked where I got the inspiration for Destinies.  My grandparents were Germans who immigrated to the U.S. from Russia. They spoke very rarely of ‘the old country’ so I knew little after they were gone. When I started into genealogy, researching my family, I found myself wishing, like every genealogist, that I’d asked my grandparents a hundred questions. The more I researched though the more ideas percolated in my head. When I bumped into Catherine the Great then, of course I had to research her, too. I started all this before genealogy on the internet was much of anything, Cindy’s List was about it and even that was new and extremely limited. was constantly pressing researchers for information. Now they sell that information to new genealogists.

Destinies ended up being loosely based on the family history I was able to find, particularly an ancestor who was a founder of the village of Krasnoyar.  Of course that was in the 1700s and Russia is not very cooperative with her information, being the secretive country she is, so the novel is fiction – but fiction based on fact.  There is an organization in Nebraska called the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.  I was able to learn a great deal about the Europeans who answered Catherine’s call and made the incredible trek to Russia. One of the things I did was to read 20 years of their professional journals and “Clues” magazine and researched books in their library. I can’t begin to say how I felt when I finished that epic novel of drama and history and held it in my hands as an actual book. It was an emotional moment, misty eyes and the overwhelming feeling that the labor pains were worth it.

Sandy, I want to thank you for the marvelous review of Destinies and of course for loving it. And special thanks for inviting Destinies and me to your Indie Gems feature.  Destinies is available as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes (Apple), Kobo, Smashwords and as a paperback at Amazon, Create Space, Barnes & Noble, and from my website, discounted and autographed.

Karleene’s Website

Indie Gems––Fine Independently Published Fiction Selected by Award-winning Author Sandy Nathan

A few posts ago, I wrote about my plans to feature the terrific independently produced books that I’ve been reading. This is that presentation: INDIE GEMS. It’s going to be a regular/irregular part of Your Shelf Life. I have to give the Amazon KDP free books program some of the credit for this. I’ve been downloading free books like crazy.

THE RULES/STUFF TO KNOW: Indie Gems has a few rules. They’re set up for my sanity and well-being.

1. I’m presenting Indie Gems and will continue to do so as long as it’s fun. I am an author 90% of the time, not a reviewer. I’m doing this bit for my own pleasure, and to share books I really like with you. So many people are hungry for reviews that they could gobble a person up. Not this person. I don’t charge for the evaluations I write, though I may accept a complimentary copy to review. I don’t want to tie myself to producing reviews on schedule. When I get a bunch of books I want to write about–or even just one–I’ll do it and announce it on the social media.

2. Please do not send me your book to review. Don’t include a note saying that our writing styles are so similar that you’re sure I’ll love your book. I’ve already set out my position on reviewing books for Your Shelf Life. I find the books I review myself, or my good friends refer them to me. No exceptions.

3. I give  most of the books here five stars. I won’t put a rating on Indie Gems, but I will post the reviews on review sites with a 5 star rating. What I write here is my estimation of the book’s worth. My evaluation may differ from yours. Why all 5 stars? I don’t bother reviewing books that I don’t really like?

4. The format of Indie Gems will vary. Some times, I’ll post three or four short reviews and that’s it. No photos, covers, etc. Other times, I’ll have a full review, interview with the author, the works. This will depend on my schedule and if I can contact the author and how much he/she wants to participate.

This is a place to have fun, so let’s have fun! Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan is a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author in Metaphysical Fantasy and the winner of thirty national awards.
Sandy’s  books can be found on her Amazon Author’s Page.
Here’s her Facebook Author Page. 

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