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April 18, 2016
By Adam Boretz
A quarterly look at PW's best reviewed self-published books.

Welcome to BookLife’s first IndieWatch, a new quarterly feature for librarians and booksellers that highlights some of Publishers Weekly’s best reviewed self-published titles of the last few months.

The Latest Stars

In this edition of IndieWatch, we spotlight seven books that received starred reviews from PW: a standalone legal drama, the first volume of a new fantasy series, a gluten-free cookbook, a debut middle grade novel, a horror novella, a travelogue, and a memoir chronicling one woman’s spiritual journey.

Move to Fire
Michael W. Harkins. Story and Pictures, $14 trade paper (348p) ISBN 978-0-9965672-0-6
Harkins crafts a taut legal drama reminiscent of Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action in this story of a heroic lawyer’s quest for justice for the victim of a defective firearm…Harkins’s understated recounting makes a powerful argument that the government should have the authority to recall defective firearms.

Song of Blood and Stone: Earthsinger Chronicles, Book 1

L. Penelope. Heartspell, $14.95 trade paper (258p) ISBN 978-0-9909228-0-3
Penelope delivers an engrossing story with delightful characters in this fantastic opening to a promising series...The tale is infused with optimism but never cloying, and it culminates in a well-earned and satisfying ending, leaving readers impatient for the next installment of the series.

Yum: Plant-Based Recipes for a Gluten-Free Diet
Theresa Nicassio. D&D Publishing, $35 ISBN 978-0-9939156-0-4
Refreshingly free of politics and polemics, Nicassio’s book strictly focuses on the food, offering thoughtful and practical recipes such as her Best No Meat-Meat, a combination of mushrooms, walnuts, onions, and herbs used to create shepherd’s pie, as well as spaghetti and veggie meatballs.

D.E. Vollrath. Wicked Pig, $11.99 paper (280p) ISBN 978-0-692-44433-7
Evoking a sense of wonder and joy, Vollrath’s debut, set in the fictional port city of Flosston Moor, follows Eleanor Wigton as she starts her second year at the prestigious Penwick Academy.

Sour Candy
Kealan Patrick Burke. Elderlemon, $2.99 e-book (66p) ASIN B017QCGW24
Adding in a Lovecraftian pantheon of monsters, Burke creates a stomach-twisting ride through the depths of horror, breathing new life into an often-stagnant part of the genre.

To Belém & Back: Backroads Brazil With My Black Lab
Ben Batchelder. Earthdog (, $15.99 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-0-99133722-4
As in the very best travelogues, the author seamlessly combines the personal, the political, and the cultural.

Grace Period: My Ordination to the Ordinary
Melinda Worth Popham. iUniverse, $29.95 (254p) ISBN 978-1-4917-7602-5
In this impeccably written memoir, Popham (Skywater) recounts a spiritual journey launched by the dissolution of her unhappy marriage and her teenage daughter’s descent into an intractable depression.

Other Notable Titles

For a full listing of self-published books receiving praise from PW, check out BookLife’s Featured Books List.