In our effort to help facilitate the discovery of new titles that might interest overseas publishers for rights deals, we offer the occasional selection of “starred” reviews from BlueInk Review, a service which reviews self-published books.
These are all books that BlueInk Review feels “merit your attention,” and “are of exceptional quality and particularly worthy of representation.”
Beyond My Dreams, by Peter Marmureanu: In this engaging, well-written autobiography, Marmureanu shares his unlikely rise from impoverishment in Communist-held Romania to the country’s tennis elite. Growing up with never enough food, clothing, fuel or warmth, Marmureanu took a job as a ball boy at a Bucharest sports complex at age 10. By 18, he was the country’s number two player. As he competed at major venues, he was forced to be a courier of top-secret documents for Romania’s counterintelligence — before plotting his harrowing defection to America. This is a riveting read: deeply interesting and informative, and blended with crisply drawn images of people and settings. Author residence: Charlotte, North Carolina. Read review.
Now Comes the Hard Part, by Sheryl Isaacson McGough: In this remarkable book, McGough chronicles with unflinching honesty the death of her husband, Jim, from Hepatitis C and her own journey as the “well” spouse. The heartbreak here is the ticking clock of realization that he is much sicker and his decline much faster than she can wrap her heart and mind around. McGough’s remarkable skill in pacing and her telling details, revealed unblinkingly and without false sentimentality, turn this into a first-class page-turner. Author residence: Des Moines, Iowa. Read review.
Where Are We Heading To?, by Thuso Kewana: This thoughtful, well-written volume is a call for dialogue and introspection. Pastor Kewana, of Heart to Heart ministries in South Africa, challenges Christian leaders and congregants to question ideas that come from the pulpit as he warns of the dangers of “prosperity preaching” — preaching that implies that God provides wealth to those who give financially to the church. Kewana succinctly presents his concerns; whether readers agree with him or not, his thoughts will be fuel for ample discussion. Author residence: South Africa. Read review.
The following books did not receive Stars but were highly praised by our critics.
FICTON – GENERAL
Redemption, by Ian Prattis: Set on a series of islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, this tale follows Callum Mor, an adventurous, happy, little boy despite the troubles looming beneath his idyllic childhood. Callum endures his father’s tragic fate, childhood heartbreaks and violence among those close to him, yet still manages to grow into a respected fisherman — until his girlfriend’s shameful secret changes him into a hard man with no regard for his own safety or that of his crews. Infused with Scottish culture and color, the novel is by turns, poetic, brutal, sorrowful and humorous, making for an enjoyable read that is ultimately about the triumph of the human spirit. Author residence: Ontario, Canada. Read review.
Flight of the Raven, by Ron Shapiera: This novel tells the story of two communities—the peaceful Inuit people, and the angry, bitter men from a village in Siberia—both struggling against the harsh conditions of their environment, and each with a different approach and mindset. When the two cultures finally clash, greed and misfortune lead to tragedy. Shapiro has clearly studied the people he writes about, infusing the book with cultural color and references. A story of good vs. evil, with a sense of foreboding established early on, the novel is likely to be enjoyed by a wide audience. Author residence: Hornsby, Australia. Read review.
FICTION – HISTORICAL
The Apostles of Satan, by F. Scott Kimmich: High-stakes political machinations and intrigue play out against the vivid backdrop of the Albigensian Crusades in this absorbing first novel of a trilogy. During a bruising religious war, Arnaud Amaury, one of the key executors of the Crusades, must also locate and destroy an ancient scroll with revelations that have the potential to damage the very foundations of the religion he is trying to protect. His battle pits him against Provencal everyman and knight, Olivier de Mazan. With its engaging story, well-drawn characters, and tight narrative pace, this is quality fiction. That it also expands readers’ horizons is just icing on the cake. Author residence: Norwalk, Connecticut. Read review.
Heaven’s Flower, by Dawn Anna: In this faith-based picture book written by the mother of Columbine High School shooting victim Lauren Townsend, an aging gardener must find renewed hope when nature destroys her most precious flower. She is eventually rewarded when the plant sends up a multitude of new blooms, confirming her belief in life and love. Written to bring comfort to those who are grieving, Anna’s efforts are so heartfelt and personal that any reader—grieving or otherwise—is sure to find comfort in her poignant words about loss. Author residence: Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Read review.
Mirror, Mirror: Reflections of Self, by Larry Robinson: This “365-Day Life Journal” by a certified counselor and reality-based coach takes readers through a daily process of self-reflection, promising positive life changes. Topics range from making relationships work to setting personal goals, recognizing fears and becoming more mindful in daily living. While many of the messages require serious introspection, a sense of playfulness permeates the pages, creating a pathway toward emotional health that many seekers will find valuable. Author residence: Lynn, Massachusetts. Read review.
IF…, THEN…: The Power of Risk Management for Busy People with Other Things to Do, by Tom O’ Connor: In this short but substantive book, O’ Connor presents a simple but complete method for developing a risk management plan adaptable to any small to medium size business. O’Connor’s Protect-Biz methodology is a straightforward process, and he does a fine job of walking readers through the considerations involved in each step, creating a book that is recommended for any manager or entrepreneur too busy working toward goals to consider the impendences to reaching them. Author residence: Simons Island, Georgia. Read review.
Venus, Don’t Go There: — What Science and Religion Reveal About Life After Death, by Michael T. Santini: A licensed pastor and one-time aerospace engineer, Santini uses both scientific facts and biblical exegesis to explore questions concerning the afterlife and whether or not places like heaven, Hades, or the biblical lake of fire physically exist. His combination of scientific and biblical evidence is strongly convincing, and the idea that the lake of fire may come to be located on Venus is fascinating. Due to his meticulous arguments, all sorts of readers will find his book intriguing—believers, non-believers, scholars, and non-scholars alike. Author residence: Pittsburg, California. Read review.
BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. We offer serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Our reviews are penned by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses.
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