Top Ten Self-Published Books 2018

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Choosing the top ten self-published books we read in 2018 was difficult as we're constantly surprised at just how good some self-published books are. Here's our final top ten in alphabetical order by author:

The Fraternity of the Estranged: The Fight for Homosexual Rights in England, 1891-1908 by Brian Anderson

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Originally passed in 1885, the law that had made homosexual relations a crime remained in place for 82 years. But during this time, restrictions on same-sex relationships did not go unchallenged. Between 1891 and 1908, three books on the nature of homosexuality appeared. They were written by two homosexual men: Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds, as well as the heterosexual Havelock Ellis. Exploring the margins of society and studying homosexuality was common on the European Continent, but barely talked about in the UK, so the publications of these men were hugely significant – contributing to the scientific understanding of homosexuality, and beginning the struggle for recognition and equality, leading to the milestone legalisation of same-sex relationships in 1967. Full review...

The Man Who Came to London by A S Cookson

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In 1948, the first set of Caribbean nationals arrived in Great Britain on a ship called "Empire Windrush". They struggled to find housing. They worked as labourers. They faced open discrimination, forcing them to quickly form their own community. Decades later, Freddy makes the same journey.

Does he find a place to live? Does he face stereotypes? Has Britain moved forward?

Freddie arrives in London in the early 2000s, answering the call for teachers. He thinks about his own Jamaican education, based on the British system, and the way he was taught English nursery rhymes and about the River Thames. He thinks about the love of cricket and football, shared by both countries. And he thinks of the generations of the diaspora who came before him. Freddy does well in his job in East London but he does have to face down some stereotypical attitudes from his pupils - all Jamaicans smoke weed, don't they? Everybody knows that! Full review...

Precept: A Novel by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

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Nathan Whyte is tremendously excited about the arrival of Frederick Douglass in Ireland. And even more excited that his Quaker father, who is publishing the British edition of Narrative, Douglass's memoir of his life as a slave, will be accompanying the famous black American abolitionist on his speaking tour. Nathan is deeply impressed by Douglass, who is a charismatic figure and a gifted orator. But Ireland will have as big an impact on Frederick Douglass as Frederick Douglass will have on it. We watch him through Nathan's eyes as he sees for himself the beginnings of the horrors of the potato famine and meets and befriends the famous Irish nationalist, Daniel O'Connell. Full review...

The Coming of the Spirits by Rob Keeley

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In Victorian England, young Edward Fitzberranger is about to be infected with scarlet fever and die. Further back still in time, Sir Francis Fitzberranger is about to marry Tina, the love of his life. In the modern day, Henry and Luke are getting on with life. And in an alternate timeline, Ellie is working for a resistance movement and struggling under a Britain ruled by the Nazis... Full review...

The Dragonfly Story: Explaining the death of a loved one to children and families by Kelly Owen

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The Owen family were feeling sad. There used to be five of them. There was Mum, Dad and three children: Abi, Jenny and Joe. But then Abi died. Now there were only four of them. Life felt very strange without their sister, and they were all very unhappy.

How does a family cope with the loss of a beloved child and sibling? The Owens go for a picnic in a park they haven't been to since Abi died. And there, Mum tells the story of the waterbug nymphs who live in water and who climb the stems of plants into the sunshine and light and where they turn into dragonflies, never to be seen again by their siblings still below the surface. The Owens agree that something similar has happened to Abi and they are comforted by the thought that she has gone to a place where she can be peaceful and happy. Full review...


The Indomitable Chiesa di Santa Maria by Daniel Peltz

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When we first visit the Chiesa di Santa Maria we're in the company of Molly Cavendish who is a part-time guide at the Museo di Santa Maria, which is what the ruins of the Chiesa - a chapel - have now become. Crowds flock to see its centre piece, a renaissance fresco with a history which grabs the attention of young and old. Molly uses the history to entertain the tourists, but there's more too it than she knows, particularly as the history of the building is also the history of the Vannini family, who helped in building the chapel some six hundred years ago and one of whose descendants is the director of the museum. Full review...

Keep Your Health and Fitness For Life: Don't Let Age Be A Barrier by Stuart Roberts

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My birth certificate might suggest a higher figure, but I know that I'm only 42. I learned a long time ago that I could retain that feeling by keeping my life in balance. This meant eating sensibly, getting quality sleep and having regular exercise which I enjoyed. There was an added bonus too: I was juggling four chronic conditions and living this way meant that I could keep three of them in the background. Then a silly mis-step meant that the hip problem flared up. The only way I could get more than an hour or two asleep was to take pain relief and the duodenal ulcer started to complain. Because I was masking symptoms I didn't dare to exercise - and the black dog of depression prowled along behind me. Full review...

Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella

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The USA, early 1980s. Charlie (or Charles, if he's feeling belligerent, and he often is) is being taken back to his home by his drop-out, slutty mother. The home is called a Cottage, and while the book doesn't guide us to understand it perfectly, it seems to mean he has a private room in a large self-contained bungalow, on a gated compound with round-the-clock adult supervision. There's a paddock with horses for the kids to ride, their own school – and all the adults are armed with Thorazine to calm the kids down. Charlie, despite his obvious bookish intelligence, is struggling to get to grips with why and how he's ended up where he is, but it must have something to do with his single parent mother being violent, and the fact he is no longer allowed to stay with his grandfather. This book is a slightly woozy look at his thoughts, as he tries to build a relationship with a girl in a different Cottage, and work out his lot. He certainly has a lot on his plate for a thirteen-year-old. Full review...

G Engleheart Pinxit 1805: A year in the life of George Engleheart by John Webley

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George Engleheart was one of the leading portrait miniaturists of Georgian London, with a career lasting from the 1770s to the Regency era. He was also one of the most prolific, painting nearly 5,000 works altogether (over twenty of them being of King George III). Throughout most of that time he carefully recorded the names of each of his clients, and subsequently transcribed them into what is referred to as his fee book. Full review...

Gillie Can Share by Sarah-leigh Wills

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Gillie the rabbit is baking cookies with Daddy. We might think they look most appetising (they're shaped liked carrots and rabbits, you know) but Gillie is really taken by the way that they smell. Lips are being licked. Does she dive in and eat them? No, she doesn't There are eight cookies. Two - a carrot and a rabbit - are for Grandma and Gillie hops off to deliver them. Another two are for Grandpa and then there are two for Mummy. Now there are just two left and Daddy gives them to Gillie, but Gillie is a kind, generous and thoughtful rabbit and whilst she eats one cookie, a rather scrumptious-looking rabbit is offered to the reader. I wanted to hug her! Full review...

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