I’ve been at this self publishing lark over 18 months now, and let me tell you, it is a hard slog. The greatest obstacle to overcome is the anonymity/indifference double-whammy. It often seems that no one wants to take a chance on an unknown author’s first book. Maybe you can’t blame them. Reading time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it on a stinker. But it’s a bit of a catch 22 if no one will read you cuz you have hardly any reviews, but no one will review you cuz… no one will read you :-S

With that in mind, I have decided to share a bit of Indie Love in the hope that it will help out those like me who are struggling to make a name for themselves. I don’t have half as much time as I’d like for reading, and consequently I am very picky. I haven’t read and loved that many self-published books, but from now on I’m going to share with you those I have.

Dear Bob and Sue, by Matt and Karen Smith

Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith

Dear Bob and Sue, by Matt and Karen Smith

In Dear Bob and Sue the authors, a 50-ish married couple from Seattle, decide to take a year off and visit every national park in America. The book takes the form of a series of emails from them to their titular friends back home. It is a delightfully simple concept, and works very well. The casual tone is fresh and involving. The warm, honest portrayal of their marriage is as entertaining as the anecdotes about the parks they visit.

It is an unassuming book, with many recognisable situations and laugh out loud moments. By the end I felt that I knew Karen and Matt quite well. Matt, the humorous grump (a male archetype I am quite familiar with!) constantly grumbling about… well, essentially other people living on the same planet as him. He also displays a nice sense of irony and a flair for the absurd (I particularly enjoyed him naming nuts in the style of Best in Show‘s Harlan Pepper, “Pea-nut, hazel nut, cashew nut, macadamia nut, pine nut, wal-nut, pistachio nut, red pistachio nut…” to Karen’s mortification.)

Karen frequently pretends not to know him, and has a steely determination of her own,

The ranger replied to Karen slowly, as if talking to a ten year old, “You need to remember that it will take two to three times longer to hike back up than it will to hike down.” Karen decided right then we would do the six mile hike in two hours, or die trying.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park

Up close and personal with a huge bison in Yellowstone National Park (no, I wasn’t using a zoom!)

The book serves as a great taster for America’s many and diverse national parks. They describe hikes, recommend restaurants and tours – and sometimes cocktails.

I had the good fortune in 2011 to visit Yellowstone and Glacier. Both were wonderful, and I’d love to get back to America to visit more of their wilderness areas. Thanks to Karen and Matt I now have a few locations ear-marked.

Dear Bob and Sue is a travelogue and a warmly humorous portrait of a marriage. It is not the kind of book you devour in one sitting, but is very enjoyable to dip in and out of. I thoroughly recommend it.

You can learn more about Karen’s terror of squirrels and Matt’s hatred of caves on amazon, facebook, and dearbobandsue.com.


Please note, I am not looking for manuscripts to be submitted to me for review. As stated above, I don’t have as much reading time as I’d like, and am very particular about what I read. This is just an occasional feature I will do when the mood strikes me.

  1. Pete Denton says:

    Good idea. I’d never written a review in my life, but felt compelled to share reviews on self-published books I’ve read and enjoyed. It’s the least I can do really to help in any small way I can.

    I don’t read that many books each year, but review every indie book I’ve enjoyed. Share the love!

    Happy reading and Happy writing 🙂

  2. elwoodcock says:

    Thanks Pete, you too 🙂

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