January 2016: Top Reviews of Self-Published Books from BlueInk Review

In Book Review by Guest Contributor

Our monthly selection of reviews from BlueInk Review, a service which reviews self-published books.

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.


Danding with the DeadDancing with the Dead by Charles Freedom Long: Set in a future where the inhabitants of Earth are attempting to become members of an interstellar alliance, this ambitious science fiction thriller — about a jihadist whose mission is to destroy two space stations and a thriving city on the moon—is visionary as well as topical. The themes that Long explores — what is truth, the power of love, etc. — are profoundly moving, making for a unique, fast-paced, and utterly readable book that comes highly recommended. Author’s current residence: New York. Read review.


Yiayia Visits Amalia, by Maria G. Mackavey: In this gorgeous picture book, Mackavey tells a simple but enduring story about the trials of a grandmother traveling to visit her granddaughter. Yiayia sets out to visit her granddaughter Amalia, only to get stuck in traffic, nearly miss a train, and lose her suitcase. The hard-earned reunion of Yiayia and Amalia on the last page will remind readers of why their own families make the effort to gather and is a perfect payoff to YiaYia’s traveling challenges. Simple storytelling done right, this is a book children will enjoy returning to again and again. Authors’current residence: West Stockbridge, MA. Read review .

The following books did not receive Stars but were highly praised by our critics.


Two TalesTwo Tales of the Moon, by Jennifer Sun: In this unique novel, Lu Li fondly remembers hearing her grandmother’s legend about a moon fairy when she was a little girl in 1960s Shanghai. Meanwhile, longtime friend Sage Donovan—who learned a slightly different version of that moon folktale as a child—puts Lu in touch with Sage’s twin brother Will, whose company is being purchased by the Chinese company Lu liaises with. Their attraction proves to be instant and strong, and as the tale unfolds, it blends romance and ethical intrigue in a story that should please readers who appreciated Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians and Sarah Howe’s Loop of Jade. Author’s current residence: Vienna, VA. Read review.

Saving Nia, by G.B. Jones: The writing is spot-on in this story that revolves around Nia, who is taken from her drug-addicted mother at birth and placed with a loving foster mother. At age 6, however, the courts decide Nia should be “reunited” with her birth family. With Nia’s birth mother still unfit to parent, she is placed with her Grandmother Vern, who is happy to receive money from the state for her care but is mean and abusive.  As the years pass and tragedy consumes the family, Nia begins a quest to find her foster mother again. Capturing the characters’ plights in ways that are both touching and heartbreaking, the author leaves readers with a thought-provoking viewpoint: Sometimes children do know best. Author’s current residence: Wilmington, DE. Read review .


Driven West, Taken East, by Vilnis Bankovičs: This highly readable memoir details the horrors the author endured in WWII as Latvia went from independence to being ruled by Russia and later succumbing to German occupation. Conscripted by the Nazis, the author was captured and imprisoned when the Soviets marched west and overran German positions. He was then shuttled between labor camps, his freedom not truly achieved until April 1950, when the Soviets finally released him. Bankovičs’ memoir provides the precise detail that comes only from experience and presents an invaluable account of wartime life in the Baltics. Author’s current residence: Bloomingdale, IL. Read review.


Middle Passage: The Artistic Life of Lawrence Baker, by Louis B. Burroughs, Jr.: This biography blends the often-raw memories of classically trained artist Lawrence Baker with a revealing history of African American life starting in the 1700s. Baker’s work has appeared in juried competitions across the U.S. and in exhibitions and permanent collections throughout Ohio. Burroughs deftly depicts the artist’s struggles, triumphs and street smarts with startling detail. Like a canvas brought to life with rich colors and shapes, lightness and shadows, stark close-ups and muted backdrops, the book entertains and enlightens and should appeal to a wide audience. Author’s current residence: Cleveland, OH. Read review.


Business Exit Companion by Koos Kruger: With 25 years of experience as an exit planner, Kruger thoughtfully and thoroughly presents the facets of this discipline, detailing the need for such a plan; the professionals involved in creating it; the process of assigning a dollar value to a business, and the improvements that make a business more attractive to potential investors and more. The author clearly knows his audience and presents valuable information with a clear and crisp writing style. Owners of small- to medium-sized businesses, particularly those with companies heavily dependent on their founders, will appreciate this guide.    Author’s current residence: NSW, Australia. 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. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine, a review publication that reaches 60,000 librarians.

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About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.