Top Ten Self-Published Books 2019

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We've seen some cracking self-published books this year 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:

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Copernicus! What Have You Done?: ...and Other Interesting Questions by Don Behrend

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Hello! Would this review be okay if I simply said I LOVED THIS GLORIOUS LITTLE BOOK AND SO WILL YOU. FIN?! Because I did. And you will.

But I suppose you will be requiring more than that, so here goes...Copernicus! What Have You Done? takes famous figures from history and celebrates their notoriety and achievements with a short stanza in humorous light verse and a delightful little cartoon. There are scientists, writers, explorers, composers, painters, even mathematicians. The whole thing is utterly captivating. Full Review

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Bucket Showers and Baby Goats: Volunteering in West Africa by Christine Brown

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In the summer of 2008, this book's author was spending her days working in an office job in the USA while spending her nights dreaming about being somewhere else, doing something else. Long story short, she ended up volunteering in Ghana, West Africa. Now coincidentally, in the summer of 2010, this review's author was spending her days working in an office job (albeit in the UK) while spending her nights dreaming about being somewhere else, doing something else, and she ended up just 3 countries away, volunteering in Sierra Leone, West Africa. So you can see why, when this book came up, said reviewer was delighted to have the opportunity to read and critique it. Full Review

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Live Forever Manual: Science, ethics and companies behind the new anti-aging treatments by Adrian Cull

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For many years now I've (half) joked that I intended to live forever and that so far, it was working out OK. Time has passed though and although I'm a great deal fitter and healthier than most people of my age there were a few nagging health problems which were tipping my life out of balance. It was time to look for a new approach and as so often happens, the reviewing gods brought me the book I needed. Live Forever Manual: Science, ethics and companies behind the new anti-aging treatments seemed like the answer to my problems - only you get so much more than just 101 tips. Full Review

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Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

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After his entire family is killed in a shuttle crash, one that he was piloting no less, Aaron Sheridan enlists in the Martian Fleet, fully expecting to die in the ongoing Rim War. Instead, he winds up on Corinth Station, the Fleet's command school. At first, he is apathetic towards the brutality and scheming of the students and staff, but after standing up for his only friend, he becomes a target for the dreaded Caelus Erik, the most feared cadet on Corinth. Scared that any further actions will put others on his flight team at risk, Aaron shuts himself off from everyone. But, when he discovers that the staff on Corinth have a motive other than training officers, he begins to realise that risking his all might be the safest thing he can do... Full Review

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Painting Snails by Stephen John Hartley

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

It's very difficult to classify Painting Snails: originally I thought that as it's loosely based around a year on an allotment it would be a lifestyle book, but you're not going to get advice on what to plant when and where for the best results. The answer would be something along the lines of 'try it and see'. Then I considered popular science as Stephen Hartley failed his A levels, did an engineering apprenticeship, became a busker, finally got into medical school and is now an A&E consultant (part time). I found out that there's an awful lot more to what goes on in a Major Trauma Centre than you'll ever glean from Casualty, but that isn't really what the book's about. There's a lot about rock & roll, which seems to be the real passion of Hartley's life, but it didn't actually fit into the entertainment genre either. Did we have a category for 'doing the impossible the hard way'? Yep - that's the one. It's autobiography. Full Review

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Deadwood Hall by Linda Jones

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In late December Dylan Beaumont and his sister Emily were on their way to spend the week before Christmas at their grandfather's house. It was snowing heavily and you could sense that their parents were becoming annoyed at the bickering in the back of the car. Emily was rather brusque with her nine-year-old brother's behaviour, but then that's your prerogative when you're a grown-up eleven year old. The snow was getting heavier and the journey longer when Emily opened the car window just a couple of inches. There was a dreadful smell and Dylan saw a horrible, snake-like figure clawing at the car window. Full Review

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The Very Rude Toytoise by Peter Lynas and Andy S Gray

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It was one of those blissful days in the forest. Mrs Rabbit was collecting carrots because she wanted to make a cake. Mrs Blue Bird was gathering twigs to build a nest. Mrs Spider was busily spinning a web to catch juicy flies. Mrs Squirrel was piling up acorns. And Mr Bear sat comfortably in a chair, fishing for lunch. What could be better? And then... Full Review

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War and Love: A family's testament of anguish, endurance and devotion in occupied Amsterdam by Melanie Martin

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Melanie Martin read about what happened to Dutch Jews in occupied Amsterdam during World War II and was entranced by what she discovered, particularly in The Diary of Ann Frank but then realised that her own family's stories were equally fascinating. A hundred and seven thousand Jews were deported from the city during the war years, but only five thousand survived and Martin could not understand how this could be allowed to happen in a country with liberal values who were resistant to German occupation. Most people believed that the occupation could never happen: even those who thought that the Germans might reach the city were convinced that they would soon be pushed back, that the Amsterdammers would never allow what happened to escalate in the way that it did, but initial protests melted away as the organisers became more circumspect. It's an atrocity on a vast scale, but made up of tens of thousands of individual tragedies. Full Review

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I Can't Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North

5star.jpg Women's Fiction

When we first meet Dani she's about to get an offer that would appear to be all too easy to refuse. She's Alex Cambridge's agent and the indications are that he's about to make the big time. He's good looking, charismatic and appealing - well, he's an actor so that's part of the spec - but his suggestion that he and Dani should start a relationship is hedged by a statement that he's got no intention of leaving his wife and three children. So, what's in it for Dani? No, there's no need to answer that. Dani understands the situation all too well and tells him so. Full Review

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The Resurrection of Jesus by Yancey Williams

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

In March 1990 two police officers entered Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They left with thirteen famous paintings by Rembrandt, Degas and Vermeer. The frames remain empty to this day: whilst there might have been rumours about the whereabouts of the paintings, even promises that the case was about to be solved, the paintings are still missing. Yancey Williams has a theory, which he elaborates on in his novel The Resurrection of Jesus, and whilst his suspects might seem unlikely, who's to say that he's wrong? Forget the assertions that it was down to the Mafia and meet Jésus Ángel Escobar and Hiram Johnny Walker Quicksilver. Full Review

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Disbelieved: Skin and Bone CSIs by Beth Webb

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Anelise sees crimes before they happen, but no one believes her.

Joe solves crimes. But the police don’t believe him either.

When Anelise sees a cyclist plunging into a quarry she rings 999, but when help arrives there’s no cyclist and no bike. The following week the accident happens for real. The cyclist survives, but did someone mean to kill him – and why? Full Review