Top Ten Self-Published Books 2020

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In this strangest of years we've been delighted by the self-published books we've read and they're all books which compare well with traditionally-published books in the same genres. We really couldn't narrow the choice down any further - so this year's top ten consists of eleven books and here they are, in alphabetical order by author:


Review of

I Dreamed You by Justine Avery and Ema Tepic

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

It is always a pleasure to review a new book by Justine Avery and I Dreamed You carries on the tradition beautifully. This little book is the perfect exemplar of our category name, For Sharing. It is a mother's love letter to her child, told in rhyme form. Full Review


Review of

Nine Ways to Empower Tweens by Kathleen Boucher and Sara Chadwick

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

9 Ways to Empower Tweens is a self-help book for tweens, setting out to show them vital #lifeskills. Don't groan! I know there is a market glut of such books for we grown-ups and for young adults too, but there is a needful space in an increasingly technological world accessible to younger and younger children for material for tweens too. Full Review


Review of

The Inspiring History of a Special Relationship by Nancy Carver

4.5star.jpg History

The church of St Mary Aldermanbuy had existed in the City of London from at least 1181, when it was first mentioned in records. Sadly, the original church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was rebuilt in Portland stone from a design by Sir Christopher Wren soon after the fire and then survived for centuries until World War II, when it was again ruined by bombs during the Blitz. But that wasn't the end of its story: after a phenomenal fundraising effort, the stones from the church's walls were transported to Fulton, Missouri. There, in the grounds of Westminster College, the church was rebuilt and today serves as a memorial to Winston Churchill. Full Review


Review of

Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Who can forgive a mother who poisons her eight-year-old son? Even if it was an accident.

Tasha's mother was dying of cancer. Her job as a nurse was demanding. And her relationship with her husband wasn't at its best. But Tasha thought she was coping. She wasn't. And her growing dependence on painkillers turned into disaster, when her young son Jake got into her stash, and almost died.  Weekend Pass covers Tasha's first weekend visit home from her rehabilitation facility. Her husband, Baker, has understandably banned her from coming home and a court order dictates that she can only see Jake during a supervised visit at a family centre. Will she cope outside in the world again? Can she ever repair her relationship with her son? Full Review


Review of

Jamie's Keepsake by Michael Gallagher

4.5star.jpg Teens

When we first meet Alex Hannah, he's just being released from the Southern General Hospital. The nurse thinks he'll come back to visit the other patients but Alex has no intention of doing that: he's been there for a year, on the same ward where his brother died and now, with his hair all shorn off, he's going home in his dead brother's clothes. He wants to get outside and back with his friends: his brother, Forbes, says that the fresh air will do him good and his mother tells him that he's not to mention TB and to say it was tonsillitis. Good luck with that one, Alex. Full Review


Review of

The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

5star.jpg General Fiction

I suppose the odd fleeting sense of loneliness is a price all truly successful people must pay for our gifts. I tell myself that I do so willingly.

Tennessee Greenbecker. Isn't that a name to conjure with? There are hints that it might not have been the name he was given at birth, but many of us have moved on, so far as names go, from the one we were originally saddled with. Greenbecker's life is one of constant reinvention. He tells us that he's the foremost chess player never to have been world champion, and it does seem that he has some considerable talent as far as chess goes. He's determined that he's going to fulfil what he sees as his destiny. He just needs to do some study to be able to beat the current players ranked at numbers one and two in the world. Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana will not stand in his way. Full Review


Review of

The Treasure in the Tower by Rob Keeley

4star.jpg Confident Readers

A school trip to historic Deanchester becomes more exciting when Jess and her friends discover the city hides a secret treasure. Local historian Dr Joseph Pyrite left a series of clues scattered aroundDeanchester’s landmarks, which Jess, Mason and Kessie are determined to solve. But they only have three days. And they have competition. A series of increasingly cunning tricks await Jess and her party as they try to beat Perdita and Thomas to the treasure.

Rob Keeley is back! Hooray! We here at Bookbag Towers are always happy to read a new adventure from Rob - his stories combine fast pace and lots of action, an easy to read style, an unerring eye for children's friendships and rivalries, and always a good dollop of naughty humour. They're all present here, in The Treasure in the Tower. The chance purchase of a book during a school trip sparks the whole adventure. Who can follow the clues best and find the treasure? Jess, her brother Mason and their friend Kessie through sheer persistence? Or spoiled brat Perdita with her money and tech gadgets and willingness to cheat? We know which team we're rooting for, of course! Full Review


Review of

These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere

4star.jpg General Fiction

2006 is a tumultuous year for the Catholic Church. Reports of horrific sexual abuse are becoming widespread. Monsignor Steven Trimboli is troubled. He worries for the future of the church—and rightly so. A new crime will soon reverberate throughout his church and hit closer to home than he ever imagined.

As ageing priest Steve Trimboli begins to try to make sense of the child sexual abuse scandal that is rocking his beloved Catholic church, he discovers that one child in his own parish has been abused by a priest sent by his bishop. And this isn't just any boy: this is Steve's grandson whose mother is the offspring of a long past relationship between Steve and a gangster's widow. Steve is determined to seek justice for this boy and all children victimised by priests who have been protected by his church. But he must also face up to his own failings, going right back to his breaking of the celibacy vows. Full Review


Review of

Single, Again, and Again, and Again by Louisa Pateman

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

You can't be happy and fulfilled on your own. You are not complete until you find a man.

This was what Louisa Pateman was brought up to believe. It wasn't unkind: it was simply the adults in her life advising her as to what they thought would be best for her. It was reinforced by all those fairy tales where the girl (she's usually fairly young) is rescued by the handsome prince who then marries her so that they can live happily ever after. Few girls are lucky enough to be brought up without the expectation that they will marry and have children. It was a belief and it would be many years before Louisa would conclude that a belief is a choice. Full Review


Review of

The Sheltering Tree by Fiona Taylor

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Elizabeth, friendship is a sheltering tree. It will protect you from the searing rays of the summer sun and from the cold downfall of the sharp winter rain.

That was how George Standfield explained one of the principles by which he lived to his thirteen-year-old daughter. It was the autumn of 1833 and the first meeting to form a union of agricultural workers was held under the sycamore tree in the village of Tolpuddle, just seven miles from Dorset. Action was needed as Squire Frampton had reduced the farm labourers' wages to six shillings a week and the men could not support their families on so little. They already had little in the way of clothing, lived in cramped conditions with a shared privy and their food was decidedly short on nutrition. Full Review


Review of

Guess What I Found in the Playground! by Victoria Thompson

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

Tilly is excited. She's just come dashing out of the classroom, pigtails flapping behind her and a big grin on her face. Dad's come to collect her and her brother and he has to try to guess what she found in the playground today, although she concedes that he will never guess. Dad wants to know how school was, but obviously that's not important. Could Tilly have found more collectable things for her scrap box? (Isn't that so much more sensible than a scrap book?) Well, actually, Tilly did find exciting stuff. There are sequins, glittered paper and all sorts of other things in her pocket, but that's not what she wants Dad to guess. Full Review