26 Books in 2017: Book 26 examples of excellence in self-publishing

The last book in the 26-books-in-52-weeks challenge has to be a self-published book. I’ve read many first-class self-published books, so as has been common throughout this challenge, I won’t be choosing just one.

First of all in the interests of full disclosure – I myself am a self-published author – or to use more up-to-date terminology I’m an indie-author.

But call them what you like – self-publishers, or author-publishers or indie-publishers – such authors are a growing presence in the world of publishing.

I would also say don’t be put off reading a book that is indie-published. Yes, there are some poor quality ones that have not been professionally produced, but there are also many diamonds.

The best indie-publishers have a completely professional attitude towards their books. It’s a given that they must be good at their craft. But they will also usually hire an editor and a proofreader at the very least, and sometimes both a book and a cover designer as well. Indie authors have to be commercially minded, they are in effect running a small business. So they will also have to spend time marketing, seeking reviews, and generally building up and communicating with their loyal readers.

So, below, in no particular order, I’ve listed some of my favourite indie-published books:

First of all three novels in the romance-plus genre (definitely not chick-lit):

  • Midnight Sky by Jan Ruth the first in a wonderful series of three. This author’s Wild Water trilogy is also well worth a read. 
  • Who’d Have Thought It? by Christine Webber. This was a most enjoyable story and Christine has a new book out in January.
  • The Good Sister by Maggie Christensen. This is the latest novel by this prolific Australian author. It’s a truly heart-warming read.

Then in crime fiction:

  • Behind Closed Doors by JJ Marsh the first in the marvellous Beatrice Stubbs series of detective novels set all over Europe and so amazingly original and entertaining.

And finally in historic fiction:


And that’s it – book(s) number 26 brings the challenge to an end. Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the trouble to read, comment on and publicise these posts.


So for one last time in this challenge, it’s over to you.

  • Does it matter to you how a book has come to be published?
  • If you haven’t tried an indie-published novel then has this post maybe encouraged you to try one?
  • If you have read a book from this category, what did you think of it?


26 Books in 2017 Book 25: Memory and Straw by Angus Peter Campbell @aonghasphadraig @LuathPress #books #amreading

Book 25 has to be a book that has won an award. No stipulation as to year or type of award has been given – so this is another broad category.

For my own sanity – and yours – I decided to set my own somewhat narrower criterion. So I kept the choice to awards won this year.

What surprised me as I began my search and trawled through the many longlists, shortlists and award winners was the fact that I hadn’t read many of them. I don’t know if that says more about me or the lists.

So in the end, although I was able to pick one to be my book number 25, it’s actually one I haven’t read yet. But the only reason I haven’t is that I hadn’t heard of it. I wasn’t aware of its release or its prizewinning status before my research. And, although I didn’t set out to pick a Scottish based award or a Scottish author, it’s a wee bit of a bonus that it worked out that way.

It’s a book by an author whose work I love. I’ve read and reviewed (click on the book titles to read my reviews) both Archie and The North Wind and The Girl on the Ferryboat by Angus Peter Campbell, so I was delighted to discover he has a third novel out. It is called Memory and Straw and it won the 2017 Saltire Society Literary Award for Fiction. It looks every bit as magical and beguiling as Campbell’s previous books and has now been added to my to-be-read pile.

Here’s the back cover description:

A face is nothing without its history. Gavin and Emma live in Manhattan. She’s a musician. He works in Artificial Intelligence. He’s good at his job. Scarily good. He’s researching human features to make more realistic mask-bots non-human carers for elderly people. When his enquiry turns personal he’s forced to ask whether his own life is an artificial mask. Delving into family stories and his roots in the Highlands of Scotland, he embarks on a quest to discover his own true face, uniquely sprung from all the faces that had been. He returns to England to look after his Grampa. Travels. Reads old documents. Visits ruins. Borrows, plagiarises and invents. But when Emma tells him his proper work is to make a story out of glass and steel, not memory and straw, which path will he choose? What s the best story he can give her? A novel about the struggle for freedom and personal identity; what it means to be human. It fuses the glass and steel of our increasingly controlled algorithmic world with the memory and straw of our forebears world controlled by traditions and taboos, the seasons and the elements.

You’ll have to watch this space to see what I think of it after I’ve read it.

And so, readers, over to you now – what award-winning book would you choose – and what criteria would you apply to your choice?


26 Books in 2017: Book 24 #amreading #MondayBlogs

Book number 24 in the challenge has to be ‘a book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year’.

There’s not a lot of this year left and I don’t plan on going anywhere far away or exotic before 2017 ends. However, I am planning to visit Edinburgh at least once to catch up with family and friends before the end of December.

So, let’s just go with Edinburgh – although strictly speaking it’s only an hour away by train from where I live – and visiting the city itself won’t be the main purpose. I hope that’s acceptable.

And for a book set in Edinburgh I’d have to go with any of Ian Rankin’s crime novels. Narrowing it down to one, I’d go with the one I read most recently – Rather Be the Devil.

This one, like its predecessors features the now retired, former Detective inspector, John Rebus. And although retired Rebus can’t quite give up getting involved in criminal investigations. I love that Rankin’s novels are set in the city where I was born, grew up and raised my own children. Rankin depicts a grittier more realistic version of this sometimes over-glamorised and romanticised city. Like any urban area it has its darker side. But Rankin does it with affection and he does it justice.

If the book 24 challenge had been ‘a book set somewhere you’ll be visiting next year’ then that would have been truly a visit. Next year I’ll be going to Australia. The main purpose will be to visit family, but we also plan lots of sightseeing too.

So I’ll bend the rules here a wee bit and include three of my favourite books set in Australia.

Firstly a book I read and loved when I was at high school – A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute.

Secondly, a book I read a couple of years ago – the fabulous – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

And thirdly, a book I read very recently and reviewed here – the romantic and heart-warming Champagne for Breakfast by Maggie Christensen.

Can you come up with any books fitting category number 24? And yes, we’ll allow places you’ll be visiting in 2018.

photo of Edinburgh by Photo by George Hiles on Unsplash