Top Ten Self-Published Books 2014

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It was quite a struggle to pick our top ten self-published books of 2014: what impressed us, time and time again, was the sheer quality of the books we'd seen, but here are our top ten, in alphabetical order by author:

The Ultimate Guide to Writing and Marketing a Bestselling Book - on a Shoestring Budget by Dee Blick

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I've always thought that NANOWRIMO is a brilliant idea. The nights are longer, the weather uninspiring: what better time to get the first draft of your novel written with support from a lot of other people who are all trying to do the same thing? There is a downside for reviewers though: far too many people think that this is the end of their labours and the fledgling manuscript is uploaded onto Kindle and there's disappointment when the book is either not well received or doesn't sell - or sometimes both. Knowing which book it is that you have in you is a great start - but after that you need a structured plan of action and sound advice as to what you need to do to turn your work into a bestseller. Full review...

Vortex by Matt Carrell

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Andy Duncan's father offered him the money to travel the world for a year, but first he must do a three-month internship with Berwick Archer, an investment company based in Hong Kong. It would be decent experience to put on his CV. But when Andy got to Berwick Archer he liked what he saw - and stayed. Before long he was second in command at the firm's new Bangkok office and had a talent for what he did. There was even a girlfriend, Caroline Chan, who seemed more permanent than those who had gone before her. Caroline was a dealer, but not in a big way - although she was well connected to a very influential businessman. Full review...

After Helen by Paul Cavanagh

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Irving is lost in a morass of grief after the death of his vivacious, vivid wife Helen. Helen's larger-than-life personality had swamped Irving, a mild-mannered history teacher, from the first time he saw her in her father's bookshop. And now she's gone, life seems beige and bleak. The only thing penetrating the fog of bereavement is Irving's teenaged daughter, Severn. Severn is angry: angry at Helen for dying; angry at Irving for surviving. And no matter how he tries, Irving can't seem to help her. Full review...

I Will Eat The Moon (Tiny the Giant) by Dom Conlon and Nicola Anderson

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We first met Tiny when he was but a young giant and determined to prove that he was big. When all seemed lost he was proved to be right and the day (as well as his pride) was saved. This time he's taken on an even bigger task. He knows that giants need big things to eat and he's got his eyes on the moon. Actually, he's licking his lips, but it doesn't impress the moon... Full review...

Stalemate by Alan Hamilton

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In the summer of 1930 Walter Bruce was told that he had an incurable illness. With nursing care and an easier job he might have a few more years to live - but without them he had a matter of months. The solution would seem straightforward but Bruce had a wife - and she demanded to be kept and was far too selfish to be his nurse. Life might have continued much as it was, but Bruce discovered that his wife had been deceiving him about her age and background - and with two of his business colleagues. The solution was obvious: he would devise the perfect murder and then live out his final years in comfort. Bruce was a chess player and he approached the problem much as he would a game of chess - but even the best plans rarely survive contact with reality. Full review...

Blazing Obsession by Dai Henley

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When our story starts we know that events are going to be cruel to James Hamilton. We might be envious of his high-end car business, with multiple dealerships and (as we later find out) a home in one of the nicer parts of Blackheath, but a couple of years down the line he'll be visited in his office by two policemen who tell him that his holiday cottage went up in flames the previous night and there are three bodies in the shell of the building. James won't believe that he's lost his wife, Lynne, stepson Georgie and daughter Emily. He was going to leave shortly to join them, so obviously there had been a mistake... Full review...

Decay: 2 (Tesla) by Mark Lingane

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The city has been rebuilt for war. The waves of cyborg attacks are just the beginning – what follows is more devastating. Not only that but also the flood of refugees surging in daily is as much of a problem as a resource. Actually in one or two cases the word 'problem' is a bit of an understatement. In the middle of this hell Seb and Melanie are doing their best to fight and survive, although survival doesn't look like an option once they realise they have to go into the enemy's hive and bring the battle to the cyborgs. Full review...

Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams

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When I was young I remember Speedway being a regular item on Saturday sport programmes on television. My father was an aficionado and loved the noise, the risk and the sheer energy of the sport - my mother less so and she quoted the noise and the strong possibility of there being 'a nasty accident' when the riders slid their motorcycles sideways. It is still on television but I'll confess to not having watched for many years and it was for this reason that Jeff Scott's Strictly Shale achieved the unusual feat of both being an eye opener and bringing back long-forgotten memories. Full review...

Stand and Deliver: A Design for Successful Government by Ed Straw

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Confidence in politicians is at an all-time low. In fact, an alarming number of Britons express outright contempt, not just for their leaders, but for the entire political class - for the politicans themselves, for the civil servants standing behind them, even for the Westminster bubble of commentators and policy wonks. We vote for them in ever-decreasing numbers and even those who continue to vote often do not feel represented. Worse still, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be politically disengaged. We're in danger of losing an entire generation from the political process. How can this be good for a democracy? Full review...

Snug by Matthew Tree

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The Boy - we never do know his name - fancied Lucy something rotten, despite the fact that she was two years older than him - and that's quite a gap when you're only twelve. He was absolutely delighted when Lucy's parents wanted to take Lucy and three other kids on holiday to the Isle of Wight with them, along with Lucy's brother Simon, a teenager who was in the army. They'd rented a house in Coldwater Bay, a tiny village on the southern coast of the island. All went well, if even a little boringly, for a few days until Mrs Whitebone set off to take the children to the Needles and found the road blocked by tree trunks which had obviously been sawn for the purpose. Then it seemed that the telephone lines had been cut. Full review...

Voyage into Limbo by Patricia Watkins

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Colwyn Yeats, veteran of the war in Afghanistan and top-class sailor found himself at a loose end over the summer months. A planned research trip fell through when he'd already rented out his apartment. It seemed fortuitous when an acquaintance approached him to skipper himself and two friends across the Atlantic, in aid of a charity. Yeats had his doubts when he realised that his 'crew' weren't kitted out for the trip (flip flops? I mean, honestly!), they didn't appear to get on with each other particularly well and despite what he'd been told they didn't seem to know much about sailing. But - it was only a few weeks, when he'd nothing else to do, wasn't it? Full review...

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