Under the Reader’s Radar – celebrating the quiet novel

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Only a small percentage of those make it to the best-seller list. That doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t worthy of reading. It may be that they are written by self-published authors who don’t have the marketing knowledge or a small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word. Even the larger publishing houses have a limited marketing and publicity budget so can’t promote all the novels they publish to an equal degree.

So in each post I’ll aim to highlight a couple of titles that may have been missed from your reading awareness. Hopefully you’ll discover a treat or two. And please do let me know if you have any books you’d like to suggest.

The first suggestion today comes from Heleen Kist. Her novel, Stay Mad, Sweetheart, was published by Red Dog Publishing on 13 November 2019. She has chosen Brace Yourself by S. E. Smart.

Brace Yourself is a light-hearted look at the atypical life of ‘nice’ Lizzy, who doesn’t understand why her body and her men always let her down. Looking to regain control of her life in this rom-com with a twist, will Lizzy’s bright-side attitude finally attract the perfect partner?

We join Lizzy on her humorous journey through a series of painful disasters. With bad choices, bad men and bad Doctors behind her, can Lizzy finally brace herself for a comfortable life?

Here’s what she had to say:

“I want to shine a light on S.E. Smart’s ‘Brace Yourself” which was self-published around the same time as ‘In Servitude’. The author suffers from debilitating chronic illnesses and has written a very witty and endearing semi-autobiographical novel set about a very flaky Lizzy and her immensely patient teenage son.”

The second book today was chosen by Asia Mackay. Her latest novel, The Nursery was published by Zaffre on 5 September 2019. She has chosen Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton.

If a tree falls in a forest and Jon Bon Jovi is with you when it happens, is it still a figment of your imagination?

Haunted by the idea that he is somehow broken, the narrator – a depressed, heartbroken, thirty-something writer – embarks on a journey through his own mind with his spirit guide, Jon Bon Jovi, for company.

From the redwoods of California to a crumbling New York City, they travel the highways of our narrator’s memory, an imagined America, where his thoughts are tangled with fragments from the songs and movies that shaped him, and where he can’t help but replay scenes from his doomed relationship.

When his ex-girlfriend turns up demanding that he forget her, he must decide whether he’s ready to let go…

Here’s what she had to say:

“Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton. Love, life and heartbreak compellingly covered on a journey you don’t want to end. Beautiful and brilliant writing.”

So there we have it, two books I’ve still to read but have now decided I must add to my TBR. Have you read either of them? Do you have a quiet book you’d like to shout about? Do let me know.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kath says:

    That’s the second recommendation for Johnny Ruin I’ve seen. Frizbot liked it very much, too.


  2. This is such a great idea. So many good books do fall under the radar. Some I’ve recently enjoyed include The Sacred Combe by Thomas Maloney—wonderful atmosphere, books, history, sense of place—and The Boy who could Keep a Swan in his Head by John Hunt—moving coming-of-age story with a quiet but compelling mystery.
    And, if it’s not too crass to mention it, there’s my own novel, Inscription, actually called “a bit too quiet” by one editor. A two-thread story, set in ancient Italy/Britain, and in the modern day, about exile, and children lost and found, among other things. It finally won a tiny indie’s prize, and they published it. No marketing clout, so it too is below the radar, although those who have read it like it. (Happy to send you a free copy, Jane!).
    Thank you for celebrating the quieter, little-known books.


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