In this month’s look at the best-reviewed self-published titles, we highlight contemporary fantasy, an oral history of the great migration, a tongue-in-cheek whodunit, and a whole lot more.

Holding Out for a Zero

Heather Wardell

Synopsis: This is a riveting novel about childhood trauma and the harmful neuroses that can arise from unresolved guilt.

PW’s Takeaway: This book’s warning about how unresolved traumas can manifest in devastating ways will appeal to a wide readership, and the author’s authentic voice will prompt chills, chuckles, and empathy.

Comparable Titles: Some Women

Sample Line: “But being friends is a mistake. As bitter experience has taught me, getting too close to people is never a good idea.”

Read the review.

Strangehold

Rene Sears

Synopsis: Sears’s debut is a contemporary fantasy in which human magic wielders and magical fae live among mortals.

PW’s Takeaway: The author balances worldbuilding with solid characters and skillful descriptions. These elements, combined with a bit of romance, will enchant fantasy fans.

Comparable Titles: Karen Marie Moning’s the Fever series

Sample Line: “The general human population had been able to forget that Faerie had ever been real, that Faerie ever existed. Those of us with magic never had.”

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Gertrude, Gumshoe: Murder at Goodwill

Robin Merrill

Synopsis: Gertrude stumbles upon a murder victim during a shopping trip.

PW’s Takeaway: Readers who enjoy tongue-in-cheek whodunits will find themselves grinning.

Comparable Titles: Schlock Homes

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Shadow Mountain

Tess Collins

Synopsis: The son of the Watcher who protects Shadow Mountain finds himself called upon to rejuvenate the sacred peak.

PW’s Takeaway: Through narrative tension and vivid characters, Collins’s new series starts strong.

Comparable Titles: The White Queen

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On a Burning Deck

Tom Jones

Synopsis: An oral history of the great migration told via the stories of the author’s family.

PW’s Takeaway: Jones’s book gives insights into the lives of white Southerners who migrated north before the Depression.

Comparable Titles: The Warmth of Other Suns

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