These books are recommended by BlueInk Review, a fee-based re- view service devoted exclusively to self-published books. Every other month, BlueInk will compile a list of their favorites for Booklist, as a
service to librarians hoping to incorporate self-published work into their collections. BlueInk was founded by Patti Thorn, former book review editor of
Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, a literary agent
who represents several best-selling authors. The company delivers professional, unbiased reviews of self-published books written by critics drawn
largely from major mainstream publications and by editors from prominent
publishing houses. Booklist is happy to bring this curated collection of the
best in self-publishing for adults and youth to our audience.
Self-Published Books Showcase
Auschwitz #34207: The Joe
By Nancy Sprowell Geise.
2015. 328p. Merry Dissonance, paper, $17.95
This memoir follows Rubinstein from childhood to old age, from Poland to America, and
from barefoot prisoner in Nazi death camps
to successful designer of
high-end women’s footwear.
Although the broad strokes
of his Holocaust ordeal are
familiar—ordinary lives upended, acts of unspeakable
cruelty—the particulars of
Rubinstein’s concentration-camp experiences are no less
harrowing: piling corpses into mass graves,
clearing snow and ice with bare hands, enduring 25 lashes from a whip made more lethal
by a jumble of wire. Rubinstein’s story is told
in the first person, not by him but by author
Geise, whose extensive research fleshed out
the account Rubinstein provided in interviews. The resulting narration is both vivid
and authentic, balancing the immediacy of
his ordeal with the values that helped him
survive it. The last third of the book presents
chapter notes, a time line, a glossary, discussion questions, and quotes from Rubinstein.
It’s an unusual presentation, but it doesn’t
detract from the power of Rubinstein’s story.
The ranks of witnesses to these atrocities are
thinning. In sharing Rubinstein’s story, Geise
makes an invaluable contribution to the literature of the Holocaust.
I Do: A Wedding Planner Tells Tales.
By Lynda Barness.
2015. 193p. iUniverse, $17.95 (9781491761793). 395.
After a decade of wedding planning and
more than 200 weddings, Barness has seen it
all. Here, she dishes dirt about overanxious
mothers, weepy brides, flaky grooms, ugly up-
dos, rude priests, and uncooperative weather.
The result is a rollicking reflection on human
nature and the dangers of focusing more on
meaningless details than on
the joy of the occasion. (One
was ruined, for example, by
chairs tied with the wrong-
colored ribbon.) Barness
organizes hundreds of an-
ecdotes into chapters about
family squabbles, vendors,
clergy, and mishaps, introducing each with
a tidbit of sage advice. Along the way, she
establishes herself as an ingenious problem
solver, but nowhere better than when listing
the items in her emergency kit: chalk to cover
grass stains on white shoes, duct tape to help
buxom bridesmaids squeeze into tight bod-
ices, thong to tame a bridesmaid’s panty line.
One quibble: The author begins on a self-
promotional tone by introducing her business
and including praise from former clients, but
readers will easily overlook this and be treated
to a rich feast of behind-the-scenes details.
I’ll Always Be with You.
By Violetta Armour.
2015. 328p. iUniverse, paper, $19.95 (9781491768303).
“I never meant to kill my dad.” So begins
this touching tale, which unfolds initially
from the point of view of young, remorseful
Teddy, who was eagerly learning to drive with
his dad, Stan, when their car was broadsided
by a drunk driver. When
Teddy’s grieving mother,
Mary, decides to move the
family to Stan’s small In-
diana hometown and live
with his Bulgarian mother,
Teddy struggles to fit in at
school. But soon he finds
comfort from a book his
great-grandfather brought to America from
the old country. He also receives unexpected
guidance from an impish, brainy girl; a se-
verely burned teen with wise insights; and a
perceptive graveyard caretaker. Meanwhile,
Mary seeks support from Stan’s high-school
sweetheart, who, she is surprised to learn,
had much more than a casual relationship
with Stan. Armour’s gem of a story is po-
tent in its small moments. The well-drawn
characters realistically represent the pain and
confusion felt when tragedy strikes. A final,
nice touch is the addition of old-country
recipes from the author’s own “Baba.” In all,
this beautifully crafted novel offers tender
wisdom across generations.
YA: Teenage Teddy’s struggle to grapple
with insecurity and deal with family
tragedy will resonate with many YAs.
Ladies in Low Places.
By Mary Ann Henry.
2014. 271p. South Light, paper, $12.95
This charming story collection captures
southern women from the Low Country—
the coastal region of South Carolina and
Georgia—in all their quirky glory. The 18
stories are enhanced by
sharp writing and dialogue
and a strong sense of place:
characters may meet the
same challenges as the rest
of us, but they cope in ways
unique to their southern
heritage. In “The Basket
Maker,” for example, the
premier wedding planner in the Low Country is traversing the Charleston Market for “a
bridesmaid’s gift that just screams the Low
Country.” Soon, she’s reexamining her life
through the help of a basket seller and the
seller’s therapeutic rocking chair. In “The List
of Lasts,” the now-elderly Hattie tells readers
how she began to keep a book of “last times”
after the death of her baby. “I bought a notebook and started with . . . the last time I held
Hope . . . . And then I waited, knowing the
list would grow.” As she logs the last time she