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Dystopian prisons, courtroom dramas, a revenge story, love in a time of political persecution: they’re all subjects that pop up in our list of the Best Overlooked Indie Books You Shouldn’t Miss. Diverse and vibrant, this list features books, all of them either starred or recommended by our critics, told from outside mainstream publishing. Check it out! 

 

 

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star 1.11CAPTAIN NO BEARD 1.11 Captain No Beard

An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life
by Carole P. Roman
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“Roman charms with an imaginative, whimsical picture book that will entertain even the oldest pirates.”
Debut author Roman pens a picture book about an imaginative boy who transforms his bed and stuffed animals into props for a marvelous pirate adventure.

 

star 1.11MAKING A LIVING, MAKING A LIFE
by Daniel Rose
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1.11 making a living “A wise, well-honed collection of speeches that address vital issues with fresh, penetrating insight.”
A real estate developer and philanthropist presents a masterful debut collection of exceptionally cogent and timely speeches and essays.

 

 

 

star 1.11BENEDICTION FOR A BLACK SWAN1.11 benediction for a black swan
Poems
by Mimi Zollars

“A set by a brilliant new poet, featuring exquisite emotional nuance and an impressive mastery of craft.”
A debut collection of poems exploring love, art, and loss.

 

 

 

star 1.11IMAGES AND WORDS1.11 Images and words
by Vroni Hovaguimian
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“Delightful, magical, and beautiful—should be a classic.”
This lovely book shows children how different cultures and times have depicted simple concepts—rain, cat, chair, etc.—in works of art.

 

 

STAR CHAMBER BROTHERHOOD 2 starchamber brotherhood
by Preston Fleming
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“A full-bodied thriller relayed by a consummate storyteller.”
Fleming’s (Forty Days at Kamas, 2013, etc.) latest dystopian thriller, the second in his Kamas trilogy, tells of a prison-camp survivor enlisted to assassinate the camp’s last remaining warden.

 

 

EXILE HUNTERExile Hunter 2
by Preston Fleming
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“Pure energy in print form, whether the characters are being pursued or simply talking; Fleming has proven himself a craftsman.”
In Fleming’s thriller, set in the not-too-distant future and the final in the author’s Kamas Trilogy (Star Chamber Brotherhood, 2013, etc.), a man sent to a labor camp plots to help a family whom he believes he’s betrayed.

 

 

NIGHT BIRD CALLING2 nightbird calling
by K. W. Ryan
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“A forceful indictment of American slavery, full of lyrical beauty and shattering loss.”
A nuanced historical novel that pits the bonds of family and friendship against the horrors of slavery.

 

 

something is rotten SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN FETTIG
by Jere Krakoff

“Enough jabs at law and criminal justice to make a point, all packaged in a courtroom drama that’s pure entertainment.”
Krakoff’s debut satire delivers the tale of modest kosher butcher Leopold Plotkin, whose simple act of smearing mud on his shop window leads to a grandiose trial.

 

 

REQUIEM SHARK2 requiem shark
by W. E. Burnette
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“Strong characterizations and realistic relationships help make this shark tale a satisfying, accomplished read.”
A quest for vengeance after a tragic death turns a ragtag group of strangers into a family in Burnette’s (Christmas in Sunny California, 2011, etc.) adventurous narrative.

 

 

THE SHOEMAKER'S DAUGHTER2 The Shoemaker's daughter
by Helen Martin Block

“An engaging story of love in the worst of circumstances.”
Block, in her debut novel, tells the desperate tale of a couple attempting to survive the horrors of Nazi occupation.

 

 

 

THE GENEROUS DEAD2 the generous dead
by Sandra Mann
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“A smart and emotionally sound sci-fi novella whose timely moral questions and determined characters make an old premise relevant and intriguing.”
Earth is visited by an alien race with questionable motives in Mann’s sci-fi novella.

 

 

CAFÉ NOIR2 cafe noir
by Ross C. Hardy
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“A fairly small portion, but don’t be surprised if this bitter brew keeps you up all night.”
Consumerism runs wild in a chaotic, violent future dominated by the corporate superpower Krater Koffee. After an attack on his franchise, employee Argo Jones goes from frontline server/soldier to company commando.

 

 

DEAR PRUDENCE2 dear prudence
The Story Behind the Song
by Prudence Farrow Bruns

“A moving, spiritual account of a search for meaning through meditation.”
A woman depicted in one of the Beatles’ most famous songs tells her story.

 

 

THINGS GRAK HATES2 things grak hates
by Peter J Story

“An amusing, occasionally sobering look at how evil can spring from unexpected wells.”
A humorous debut novel about the surprising consequences of one man’s intense distaste for olives.

 

 

CLOUD OF EXPECTATION2 cloud of expectation
From the "The In America Series" series, volume 1
by Mike Westphal

“An accomplished, lyrical vision of a locality over several generations.”
Westphal, in his debut, reanimates the small Arkansas town of his youth in this new volume of poetry and prose.

 

 

WHO'S THE LUCKY GUY?who's the lucky guy
by Samuel Muggington
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“Not the most simpatico protagonist, but continuous mishaps make for a gloriously absurd tale.”
A recently unemployed and terminally ill man’s scheme to make millions growing saffron inadvertently sparks an international incident in Muggington’s (Pomroy’s World: Alone, 2015, etc.) droll comedy.

 

 

GOODBYE, MISS EMILYgoodbye, miss emily
by Martha Sibley George

“A close look into a bygone society and one man’s difficult life, well-suited for fans of the forgotten South.”
A man struggles to rebuild his life after the untimely death of his young wife in George’s debut historical novel.

 

 

BEYOND THE GREAT WATERbeyond the great water
The Story of John Jacob Astor's Determination to Defeat British Fur Trade Interests in the Untamed Wilderness of the Pacific Coast
by Frederick Kuri

“An engaging, sometimes-wondrous work of historical fiction.”
Kuri’s debut historical novel tells of a venture to control the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

WAKING UP BLIND2 waking up blind
Lawsuits over Eye Surgery
by Tom Harbin
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“A compelling story of medical tragedy.”
Harbin (The Business Side of Medicine, 2012, etc.) investigates medical misadventure and malpractice at the top of the ophthalmology profession.

 

 

AUSCHWITZ #342072 auschwitz
The Joe Rubinstein Story
by Nancy Sprowell Geise
 
“A riveting, well-documented account of survival that’s harrowing, inspiring and unforgettable.”
Debut biographer Geise (The Eighth Sea, 2012) tells the remarkable story of Joe Rubinstein, a survivor of the Holocaust.

 

 

THE CANDY STOREthe candy store 2
by Michele Poague

“An engaging, bittersweet saga about finding a place to belong.”
An orphaned 1980s teenager travels through time to the Jazz Age to discover the mystery of her identity in this sweetly confected historical fantasia.