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The Eric Hoffer Award for Books

The US Review of Books supports the Eric Hoffer Project by publishing the results of the annual Eric Hoffer Award for Books. The Eric Hoffer Award is judged by a separate panel, under direction of the Eric Hoffer Project, and is not influenced by The US Review of Books. We simply publish their results each year, and therefore the following commentary cannot be attributed as an official review from The US Review of Books. Instead, the Eric Hoffer Project respectfully requests that you give fair use when quoting their award winners. Please use "-The Eric Hoffer Award."

The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer. In addition to the grand prize, Hoffer honors are bestowed by press type and category, and also through the Montaigne Medal, da Vinci Eye, and First Horizon Award.

Coverage of the the Hoffer is updated in May when the results are released to the public. You can view the Hoffer Award announcement schedule on their official website. They also post a grand prize short list of finalists. We publish their list of category finalists with links to the books we've reviewed in our pages.

 

2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award

 

Official Sponsor of the Eric Hoffer Award

 

Hoffer Grand Prize

The Eric Hoffer grand prize is the highest distinction awarded each year.

Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzales, W.W.Norton - Unfazed by its promising title, this eloquently written and well researched investigation of survival through crisis entertains, informs, and incites. From the flawless landing of a military jet plane on a moving ship in the dead of night, to the miraculous drifting to safety through shark infested waters, one act of survival after another is described in minute detail. The author embarks on an ambitious quest to unearth the essence of survival and to understand its mystery. A perfect balance of emotion and reason is at the core of it, Gonzales observes. It’s not what’s in the mind or in the pack that separates the living from the dead; “It’s what’s in your heart,” he concludes. The book makes an important contribution to the survival literature from both an academic and a practical standpoint, as it incorporates fact and humanity, science and soul. Not only valuable reading for individuals engaged in high risk activities, it's for all who will face emotional, physical, or financial distress at some point in our lives. And what type of life is it if you do not? As Eric Hoffer once said, "The remarkable thing is that it is the crowded life that is most easily remembered. A life full of turns, achievements, disappointments, surprises, and crises is a life full of landmarks." A crowded life also brings danger, even crisis, and those who survives is not always obvious.

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Montaigne Medal

The Montaigne Medal is awarded to the most thought-provoking books. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about Montaigne Medal finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)

Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzales, W.W.Norton - Accidents cover a wide spectrum of often life-threatening scenarios. On the surface, survival appears random or at the very least circumstantial, but the survivors or top performers when challenged are often those that use logic in harmony with inbred animal instincts or emotions, and they never follow the rules, not even their own. Author and journalist Gonzales offers a comprehensive examination of the path through living and dying in crisis. The answers aren’t singular or predictable. Just the stories alone, as retold by Gonzales with passion and a journalist's conciseness, are worth the read, and they are intermittently supported by science and research to complete the picture. The book is divided into two parts—accident and aftermath—and it’s the latter, the stories of survival, that are even more compelling, as well as illustrative of the human experience and the way the mind operates with instinct and logic. This updated edition has been appreciated by a wide array of people and careers. It just might change the way you think.

Eyes and Spies, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Annick Press - You are being watched. Your family is being watched. Your kids are being watched. At work, home, and play, your images, data, and very position on the planet are being collected, stored, collated, sold, and often stolen. That’s just the beginning of your violations of privacy hidden beneath the guise of comfort and protection, and much of it we submit to willingly. In their engaging and broad-sweeping cultural look at modern surveillance, authors Kyi and Wuthrich question the line between security and privacy by revealing the many ways we are monitored and tracked. If you carry access to digital payment, you are being tracked. If you use the Internet, you’re being tracked. If you own a cell phone or WIFI device, you’re being tracked, and not all of these trackers are obvious and have the best intentions. While there are clear benefits to creating cicumstantial records, Eyes & Spies also highlights the many ways your liberties have been compromised in the modern world.

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da Vinci Eye

The da Vinci Eye is awarded to books with superior cover artwork. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about da Vinci Eye finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)

Driving without a License, Janine Joseph, Alice James Books (cover by Michelle Blade)

Four Seasons of Loneliness, J.W.Freiberg, Philia Books (cover by Kathleen Lynch)

(See additional award coverage in the Health category.)

Illegal, John Dennehy, Cotopaxi Publishing (cover by Alisha Moore)

Pecking Order, Nicole Homer, Write Bloody (cover by Dania Frink)

(See additional award coverage in the Poetry category.)

Prose Architectures, Renee Gladman, Wave Books (cover by Renee Gladman)

The Redhead, H. M. Howington, AuthorHouse (cover by H.M. Howington)

(See additional award coverage in the Commercial Fiction category.)

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First Horizon Award

The First Horizon Award is given to superior work by debut authors. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about First Horizon Award finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)

A Spiritual Hypothesis, Daniel Punzak, P.E., AuthorHouse (See additional award coverage in the Spiritual category.)

Cast, Jen Townsend & Renée Zettle-Sterling, Schiffer Publishing (See additional award coverage in the Art category.)

Calling a Wolf a Wolf Kaveh Akbar, Alice James Books (See additional award coverage in the Small Press Award.)

Exploring the Lanscape of the Mind, Stephen S Clark, Xlibris (See additional award coverage in the E-Book Nonfiction category.)

Given Away, Kate Anne Kang, CreateSpace (See additional award coverage in the Memoir category.)

Immaculate Consumption, Deena Solomon, Wheatmark (See additional award coverage in the Self-Help category.)

Pecking Order, Nicole Homer, Write Bloody (See additional award coverage in the Poetry category.)

The Greatest Wish, Amanda Yoshida, Mascot Books (See additional award coverage in the Children's category.)

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Academic Press Award

The Academic Press Award is given to a book from a press with an educational institution affiliation, such as a college, library, or museum.

Women's Human Rights and Migration, Sital Kalantry, University of Pennsylvania Press - Within the scope of international human rights and the continuing dialogue dealing with protecting women’s rights, other complex cultural issues, such as, veiling and sex-selective abortion come to the front of the author’s focus. The current trends of increased mobility and migration raises questions about competing cultural issues or “cross border” practices. Women who leave their country of origin, for various reasons, might be expected to bring their cultural and religious traditions with them. Suppositions and assumptions must be revisited, quantified, and understood before creating legislation. Rather than promoting a viewpoint on women’s issues, the author develops a framework to evaluate each issue. Concerns about the urgency to enact universal legislation to protect migrant women are premature, until the legislators and principle players can receive valid data to prove the laws will perform as intended.

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Small Press Award

The Small Press Award is given to a book from a press producing twenty-five books or more per year.

Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar, Alice James Books - The book weaves the speaker’s alcoholic and Iranian-American selves into one gripping report. “Do You Speak Persian?” uses the distance between stars as a metaphor for the speaker’s emotional separation to his homeland. In “Portrait of the Alcoholic with Home Invader and Housefly,” the speaker wakes up “into a blade” where he remembers his boyhood housefly pet. The insect’s death serves as a contrast to the speaker’s physical altercation. After the speaker’s hospital recovery, he struggles with attaining and maintaining a sober life. As he seeks “the flower behind God,” he “ask[s] God to slide into [his] head” and stop a relapse. Yet “in Fort Wayne,” he drinks “Old Milwaukee.” Despite admitting in “God” that “I am ready for you to come back,” his addiction has metaphorically “stranded alone on a desert island.” The speaker asserts the God's absence when “the boat I am building / will never be done.” We're excited to see more from this debut poet.

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Micro Press Award

The Micro Press Award is given to a book from a press producing twenty-four books or less per year.

The Swap, Nancy Boyarsky, Light Messages Publishing - A transatlantic condo swap results in mutifacted murder and intrique. From the first line, the author pulls us firmly in to the life and adventure of Nicole Graves, and while Nicole anticipates a relationship renewal, anything but that happens. Well developed characters in a rich English setting brings ample twists throughout and all the way to the final pages. While the story moves quickly, it isn’t so fast that it feels like one car scene after the next, rather the strongly character-driven adventure takes us on a process of discovery until its satisfying ending.

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Self-Published Award

The Self-Published Award is given to a book that was financed by the author and/or not by the publisher, regardless of press size.

Hidden Blessings, Jett Psaris, Sacred River Press - Dr. Jett Psaris offers a deep and insightful exploration of the midlife passage in adulthood—“the turbulent stretch that separates the life we have lived from the possibilities of going forward.” Dr. Psaris, drawing upon her clinical and personal experience, uses psychological and developmental theory, spiritual thought, and philosophy to guide us through this potentially transformative period. She guides those struggling, with the harsh realities and angst of midlife, to view the passage as a metamorphosis. While acknowledging the singular experience, the author focuses on the shared elements of this journey. Psaris divides the midlife passage into twelve stages beginning with the recognition and shock of our life change and ending with the "emergence of the new." Written in a friendly and reassuring tone, this is an invaluable and innovate guide to reclaiming and transforming ourselves in the second half of life’s journey.

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Art

The Art category captures the experience, execution, or demonstration of the arts, including art, fine art, graphic art, architecture, design, photography, and coffee table books.

Winner

Cast, Jen Townsend & Renée Zettle-Sterling, Schiffer Publishing - Dedicated to the art of casting, this exquisite coffee table book examines the creation, application, and meaning of the historic practice. What appears to be simplistic at first blush becomes rich and complex upon understanding. Authors Townsend and Zettle-Sterling reveal the countless manifestations of the cast, mostly manmade yet not all. While typesets, tools, and concrete forms for example are practical and common, each can be elevated to an art form, and then there are the natural casts wrought from the victims of Pompeii as yet another example that occurs throughout history. The materials and results are endless. The scope of this project is both dizzying scope and ingenious concept.

First Runner-Up

Dream of Venice Architecture, Riccardo De Cal, photographs, Bella Figura Publications - Venice is a charmed city of legendary and mythical claim. There is perhaps no better way to appreciate its unique architecture and environment than to visit, although photographer DeCal does a noble job in this collection. Each photograph is accompanied by an architectural essay that illuminates this one-of-kind place in the world. Whether it’s St. Mark’s at dusk, a unique ally or doorway, or a place more personal, hardly a square foot of Venice responds to time. It is more likely that the city will change you.

Honorable Mentions

Expanding Tradition, Shawnya L. Harris, Georgia Museum of Art - There’s no accounting for taste, some people say. However in the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection, we applauded it. With an obvious emphasis on African American art and experience, the Georgia Museum of Art has made a painstaking effort to organize this eclectic body of work by time, meaning, and medium. If a primary function of a museum is to reflect who we are, then this book as a representation of the Thompson Collection is a job well done.

Icescapes, Thomas Pickarski - Often singular subject photo essays become monotonous, but this is hardly the case with Pickarski’s collection of the majestic and abstract form revealed in arctic icebergs. The effort alone is commendable, but the results are the essence of art wrought through photo composition. The clean and crisp presentation suits the work. Great.

Stages: The Art of David Maxim, Vol I, Nicole Blunt editor, The David Maxim 2002 Revocable Trust - The first in a planned two volume retrospect of the artist reveals breadth of this artists paintings, often referred to as constructed pictures given their three-dimensional aspect. Much of Maxim’s work contained in this excellent coffee table offering is earthy and visceral yet always tangent to life.

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Poetry

The Poetry category contains poetry or highly stylized prose.

Winner

Pecking Order, Nicole Homer, Write Bloody - An intense book, a long meditation on Race, this could be Motherhood and Fear in the 21st Century. The book feels very immediate, even urgent, from the first poem, "The Overlap," about the often-unspoken anxieties of pregnancy, Nicole Homer writes simply and directly about what is most complex and difficult in life. Lines like "Motherhood is like/ being pecked/ to death/ by my/ favorite birds" illustrate worry and sacrifice, but also a kind of uneasy hope. The poems also bring in the difficult reality of race in the United States and of the specific anxieties of Black Motherhood and of being parents of bi-racial children. These anxieties (laced with hope) are told directly and unflinchingly.

First Runner-Up

The Mauled Keeper, Lynn Marie Houston, Main Street Rag - This poetry collection explores human relationships through animalism. Throughout, the author portrays the behavior of animals as nothing short of our own. Titles seem as invitations into the speaker’s modern-day world. Poems render vivid depictions of varied locations the poet has been and traveled through: farmlands with rusted tractors, a hospital room, a mountain top in Virginia, and a Gothic abbey in Scotland, to name a few. We learn much about the author through scenic imagery, but we come to know her innermost thoughts by way of the wild animals moving through. Creatures that present themselves briefly or boldly on the page. Animals that made their presence known, for they have come to teach the poet (and us) something important. Whether metaphorical or actual, this collection reveals our own animal instincts—our species, the things we do to each other, the ways in which we hurt and love.

Honorable Mentions

Between Two Gardens, Laura Quinn Guidry, Alamo Bay Press - These are moving lyric and narrative poems informed by grief, but not overpowered by it. The poems courageously confront the loss of her son and the despair that threatened to undo her, but at every turn also affirm life and conjecture about what the world might still have to offer one who has suffered so profoundly. Guidry has the rare ability to distill her pain into words that read like redemption: "At day’s end, a procession of tugboats pushing barges./ A dredge spews dark hillocks of silt/ The moon, veiled in a shroud of clouds, drifts/ in and out on the lazy lap of water./ Time, like the river, floats, bends." The language in these poems is pure, unadorned, and moving—unforgettable.

Dots & Dashes, Jehanne Dubrow, Southern Illinois University Press - This book celebrates a love, one pressed into a pattern of separation and return, one in which the beloved must live within the strictures of a military life and a dual commitment, one to the poet and the other to the Navy and perhaps to a competing love of the sea. In clear, simple, but singing language, the poet takes us into her life, into the times of leaving, the long deployments, the work of a poet while waiting for her love’s return, and the return, only to be followed by another leaving. In "A Row Of Ribbons," she speaks of what medals signify, how they describe the places of deployment and the achievements attained and “how every sacrifice already knows it’s place.”

Every Room in the Body, Kerri French, Moon City Press - Gaining lyrical intensity through the repetition of theme, image, and phrase, the poems in this collection tell the story of a high-risk pregnancy and all the emotional extremes that accompany it. Not knowing whether or not her body is a fit home for her baby, the speaker takes refuge in language as another sort of home, one through which she can explore all the rooms of psyche and possibility, working through the grief that comes with fear. This is a book with its heartbeat in its throat, a book that anyone who has experienced any kind of intense difficulty will relate to, recognizing in themselves the speaker's inability to look away or think of anything other than the many facets and potential outcomes of her situation.

Poetry of Presence, Phyllis Cole-Dui and Ruby R. Wilson (editors), Grayson Books - Poems are careful things. If done well, every sound and word has something to say. This truly unforgettable anthology is filled with astute and lyrical observations of the world. In so doing, the multitude of poets from all walks of life pack an emotional wallop. Most all it motivates us to reach out for something more substantial, more magical than anything found in the here and now. Addressing mindfulness, these poems encourage us to look, not only inward but outward, to become more aware of how we are, or can be, more thoughtful in all aspects of the only life we have to live. The editors offer a book to saver, read slowly, smile at, sigh over, and cherish always.

The Cowherd's Son, Rajiv Mohabir, Tupelo Press - The range and scope of this book is luscious. From a first glance at the bold red cover to the musical rendering of his poetics, this book stands out. It demands to be picked up, and not just read, but savored. The shifting geographies are relevant especially relevant today, and so we [dis]locate ourselves via India, Guyana, Trinidad, New York, Orlando, Toronto, and Honolulu linking myth and truth perhpas. And so "Ganga, the river goddess,/ drowned her seven sons as infants...." And then, what indeed is illness—the world—as disease?  "An angel nests in your lungs/ clawing holes into the pink."  The details, the imagery, impact, and quest that identity is—and furthermore—makes this book not only teachable, but one that serves as poetic inspiration. It is poetry as its contemporary best.

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Chapbook

The Chapbook category contains books with 40 pages or less, with typically some form of saddle stitch binding and/or artistic assembly.

Winner

The Passion of Woo and Isolde, Jennifer Tseng, Rose Metal Press - The term "flash fiction" betrays the effort necessary to do it well. Like poetry, good flash fiction is compact and singular in concept, even if its illuminations are multifaceted. Such is the case with Tseng's accomplished and incisive collection that raises the ordinary to rarified air. Presented in three acts, Passion explodes with vignettes of life itself. The language is rarely obfuscated, but contains resonant depth for the form.

First Runner-Up

O, But in the Library, Susan Stevens, Finishing Line Press - Stevens' poems are both lush and compact—a seemingly impossible balancing act wrought over and over throughout her collection. Sneaking up on you with each turn of the page, the stanzas plumb a core depth with visceral and poignant thought. This is a poet of confidence and vulnerability.

Honorable Mentions

Dipped in Black Water, Kate Peper, Finishing Line Press - Some poets capture slices of life so slim that they resemble only part of a moment. It's like when the truth kicks in and you suddenly see—the millisecond you realize how things are. Peper does this and more in stark and revealing prose.

River of Solace, Gary Lark, Flowstone Press - Not quite an epic poem, River maps the narrative arc of the Oregon coast, including the people who both conquered and were conquered by its majestic landscape. Spanning more than a century, Lark's poems reveal trials and triumphs in accessible and memorable language.

This American Ghost, Michael Wasson, YesYes Books - What is a ghost if not an impression that lingers unmoored from its familiar place and time. Specifically, Wasson paints impressions of American consequence—that mark left by liberty and choice. We can create, love, and lose it all. We can be reborn. In Ghost, the poet roams our spirit, as well as the page, entirely.

The Politics of Division, Emily Jo Scalzo, Five Oaks Press - Scalzo's a bit of an elbow-thrower. She nudges Jefferson and Whitman in the side. She pushes at the boundaries that hold us right and wrong. She shoves at the heart beneath our ribs.

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General Fiction

The General Fiction category contains non-genre specific fiction, including literary, short story, and mainstream.

Winner

Fortnight on Maxwell Street, David Kerns, Bay Tree Publishing - Becoming a doctor is never an easy journey. In the spring of 1968, rotations delivering infants on the kitchen tables of inner-city Chicago’s slum tenements were a common practice for medical students. This author quickly connects us with Nick, the main character interning at the local clinic. Each outing is so well described that the tension can be sensed as delivery comes to light in one of the most dangerous communities in history. Intriguingly, the author offers views inside the thoughts of Martin Luther King’s murderer as he plots to reach his goal. Mr. King’s murder sets off a chain of events in major cities like Chicago that cause the young medical student to make decisions that threaten his life in more ways than one. All of this plays out, while we question every step Nick makes with each challenge he has to face on the night Chicago shuts down.

First Runner-Up

Last of the Annamese, Tom Glenn, Naval Institute Press - This compelling book tells the story of one of America's darkest chapters, the fall of Saigon. We’ve all seen the news footage and read about what happened during the final years of the Viet Nam War, but to experience the pain of the fall through the eyes of several carefully crafted characters is another thing altogether. Your eyes may misted over several times during the reading, as you come to care for the characters. The descriptions allows bring forth the smells, voices, and tastes of this South Vietnamese city. Knowing what ultimately happened, makes this a stolid and bracing read, but it is a period of American history of which all should be aware.

Honorable Mentions

A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, Tim Weed, Green Writers Press - A collection of thirteen short stories all about young men encountering the world, adulthood, nature, and often supernatural phenomena that hint at a larger, unseen set of rules. A controlling and discipline-obsessed father's son defiantly commits an act of violence against nature that shows the fissures between them. A resort town local is paid to take a typical east coast big shot fly fishing whose childish temper tantrums cause the local to "break." A college student encounters life's tenuous hold on certain men who buck at it. The writer evidences skill at weaving language and plot together that possesses a musicality and dramatic tension that is distinctly male. The language is rich, evocative, and full of sonorous pleasure. The emotional landscape of the male psyche is here given a fearless exposure that illuminates its unique vistas in an original and valuable way.

Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons, Jocelyn Cullity, Inanna Publications - The elegant tapestry of the book, based on tragic events of 1887-88 in India, sweeps us into sensory experiences of Lucknow—just before the horrific takeover by the English East Indian Company. Amah, an Ethiopian female military guard protecting the royal family, observes the invasion. The pigeons are symbolic of the end of an era. As the royals retreat, Amah sees among the debris an aviary of golden-green, silk-winged pigeons....The birds are quietly dying. "Amah strokes the birds' silky heads with her finger, stretches her hand over a green, silk wing... Too weak, the pigeons do not startle. They do not move their black eyes. None of them try to fly." The city will never recover either. The author's research includes family history (from five generations living in India), and a diary from a great-great-great-aunt who was among the English living in Lucknow during this Afro-Indian resistance. The prose is poetic and unforgettable.

Girl, World, Alex Poppe, Laughing Fire Press - Timely, honest, and deeply literary, these stories are deceptively addicting. Settings include war-torn and third world countries with characters striving for meaning in the worst of circumstances. Those set in America are caught between its modern shallowness and the experience of other-world suffering. Young people don't understand the trials their parents survived but find their own resolution. Characters face large and complex issues yet every story has its own form of hope. From a girl raised in America facing life in a Muslim country, to a beauty queen caught and disfigured in a terrorist bomb, each story is written with the honest human reactions of anger and disappointment, yet are filled with compassion. Narratives are lyrical and fetching, and characters are flawed and engaging. The stories enter dark places yet find hope. The writing is often subdued but with stunning metaphors that expose the deeper subtext which lingers long after reading.

Healing Maddie Brees, Rebecca Brewster Stevenson, Light Messages Publishing - This tale of physical and spiritual healing unfolds as a combination of current struggle and meaningful back story. The novel relates the tough process of recovery from cancer, misbelief in God, disbelief in God, alienation in marriage, and doubt. Perhaps the biggest battle faced by Maddie Brees is the need to be healed from a perverse self-centeredness. The superb writing conveys present and pass with compelling images, beautiful words, and a lovely and relentless pace, even while skillfully confronting questions that belong in a theology class. The result is a story of wonderful characters who act so human in overcoming the pitfalls of life, love, and belief without the blatant miracle.

Malagash, Joey Comeau, ECW Press - Sunday’s family travels to her father’s childhood home in Malagash because he is dying. Each time Sunday leaves his hospital bedside, they declare it’s goodbye forever. It’s this idea of forever and never again that compels Sunday to record her father whenever they are together. She records every one of his words and embeds them in a computer virus. This way, he’ll live on. Except she has only captured one version of her father. He is a different person with her brother and yet another person with her mother. Soon she is recording every possible moment, even the most private ones, to capture him before she must let him go.

Nine Facts That Can Change Your Life, Ronna Wineberg, Serving House Books - “How could someone go forward in life without touching the hand of the past?” a relocation expert blindsided by her husband’s abandonment asks. The deeply felt stories in this collection explore the ever-present shadow of history in a complex world of relationships among friends, lovers, and families. At turning points such as the collapse of a marriage or the departure of a child to college, the protagonists—most often urban, middle-aged Jewish women—struggle to overcome the gaps of generation, religion, tradition, ethnicity, and gender that separate people as they cope with failures of love and the loss of loved ones. Fulfilling the debts owed between parents and children and finding meaning in the past and the present are unifying themes of these rich and memorable stories.

Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, Peg Alford Pursell, WTAW Press - The author chooses to use as few words as possible to express her feelings and thoughts about varied subjects. The events of her life gave her an opportunity to voice her innermost insights about death, dislocation, holidays, growing up, and every day life. Her thoughts are pulled from her soul and written on paper for the world to see. It matters not to her that you agree with her, only that you open your mind to perhaps see what she sees. The book is a collection of narratives that paints a memories as well as stories.

Silwan, Philip Graubart, InkWater Press - The insecurities of the protagonist Judah Loeb, his difficulty in trusting and his second-guessing of even those closest to him, are what initially draw your into the narrative. Gruabart establishes an edgy atmosphere that promises and delivers mystery and adventure. A true-crime writer, the main character, Judah, is hired to write a book on Israel and Palestinians, and he and his teenage daughter Hannah travel to Silwan where he reconnects with old college friends including Ilana, his former girlfriend and wife of his best friend Moshe Weinstein whi is a bit of a loose cannon. Written in the first-person, Jonah’s voice is authentic even as he doubts his own motives, he holds our attention through darkened streets and hostile neighborhoods as he tries to make sense of his own circumstances in a country rife with tribal conflict.

The Loss of all Lost Things, Amina Gautier, Elixir - This book is a very interesting collection of stories, which together depict the realism of anguish, pain, and suffering from loss. The author adroitly depicts with compassion and empathy pictures of losses whether emotional, physical, or financial that often have devastating effects, but sometimes great and often healing self-enlightenment for the sufferer. For readers interested in understanding the emotional effects of loss of innocence, of freedom, of loved ones, of abilities to care for themselves or other losses, this book has great value. How one reacts to loss can be either healing or ruinous; humans have choices in most cases.

The Painter's Apprentice, Laura Morelli, The Scriptorium - The daughter of a master gilder, Maria Bartolini has been apprenticed to prominent painter Benvoglio Trevisan in order to expand her knowledge of colored pigments and possibly the future of the family trade. However, there are other motives behind her father’s arrangement. Separated from her lover, the battiloro Cristiano, Maria desires only to return to her family home and his waiting arms. But when an outbreak of the Black Death spreads throughout their neighborhood, prompting quarantines and street closures, Maria is unable to reach them. Training with Master Trevisan poses its own challenges, as his greedy servants threaten to expose Maria and the secret she has barely admitted to herself.

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Commercial Fiction

The Commercial Fiction category contains genre specific titles, including mystery, thriller, suspense, science fiction, romance, and horror.

Winner

Roland, Timothy Freriks, CreateSpace - An intriguing story of a boy's coming to age during the War of 1812 is inspired by true events. This author’s sense of adventure brings to light a forgotten story that ensured our freedom at a time America was on the brink of destruction. The intense irony that the fate of a young country could be in the hands of an unlikely cadre of patriots and pirates includes a young boy entrusted with a valuable secret. This author builds unlikely friendships, loyalty, sacrifice, and heroism in this afflittng tale when conspiracy and murder threaten the secret Roland must contain from those intent on its discovery. Readers will not be disappointed and perhaps a Roland fan forever.

First Runner-Up

The Redhead, H. M. Howington, AuthorHouse - When Charlie McQuillen retired from the United States Army in World War II, he planned to spend his days in Los Angeles. He was a PI earning a few hundred bucks a case, here and there, until the day the redhead walked through his door. Charlie knew he shouldn't trust her, but he didn't care. He knew a lot of guys could get in trouble just knowing a woman like her. It was the people she knew and the places she went that bothered him the most. Though questions abound, the answers are few, when it comes to her past and present. The truth remains just out of reach, just like the redhead.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Honorable Mentions

Alone on the Shield, Kirk Landers, Chicago Review Press - This book surprises and delights—well written and edited, with interesting settings, forgotten history, nuggets of truth, and compelling characters. “I hope you get drafted and you go to Vietnam and you get shot and you die there!” Those words ended a young romance. Forty years later, the antiwar activist and the Vet who fought now find they share a love of canoeing. They agree to meet on a remote island in the far wilderness of Canada. Disaster ensues reminding some of Deliverance, but this book is so much more. It’s about love, courage, honor, and redemption. It’s about overcoming inner demons and past betrayals. After World War I, we had the lost generation. After WW II, the greatest generation. This is about the betrayed generation. The left and the right were both betrayed. This novel could start a new genre.

I'll Remember April, Jean Murray Munden, XlibrisUS - When Louise's granddaughter, Lulu, expresses concern about being attracted to another man while engaged to fiancé, Bruce, she is surprised to learn that her grandmother knows more about such things that she might have imagined. Is it possible to love two men at the same time? Louise recalls a time when she was faced with a similar situation, when Lulu's grandfather was not the only love of Louise's life. In the early 1900's, after Jeremy leaves for the war, Louise meets his cousin, Johnny, and they fall in love. Before revealing her feelings to Jeremy, word arrives that Johnny has been killed in a plane crash. Louise decidedly marries Jeremy. She is happy and has a fulfilling career, a loving husband, and is ready to start her family. When a case of mistaken identity reveals that Johnny is still alive and comes back into her life, things get complicated.

Lost Time (Between Two Evils #2), D.L. Orton, Rocky Mountain Press - Diego wakes up twenty years in the future, naked in a tree outside the protective biodomes where the rest of the Earth is living to avoid the dreaded Doomsday Virus that Diego was supposed to have prevented, except his time machine messed up. And it's still messed up. In fact, it's nowhere to be found. An attractive female doctor and her teenage daughter find the naked man and take him inside the bubble in this second book in a dystopian/time travel science fiction trilogy. And they both end up falling in love (or at least lust) with him. No big surprise, since there are only about 400,000 people left alive in the entire world and fewer than 300 live in their biodome. Romantic options are limited. But, unfortunately for them, Diego is still very much intent on getting back to his own time and his old love, Isabella.

River's Child, Mark Daniel Seiler, Owl House Books - Mavin is a midlevel technician working inside a cavern deep within a Norwegian mountain. His project’s purpose is to preserve the world’s seed supply as climate change threatens to wipe out global agriculture, but something goes wrong, and Mavin finds himself alone, trapped inside the mountain. He emerges 987 years later, evidently placed in suspended animation by the project computer. He finds a very different world—mostly desert and wasteland—as he embarks on a mission to deliver seeds to the surviving members of human civilization. He is led on the year-long journey by Simone, a Wonder Woman-esque character whose beauty, intelligence, and spectral powers captivate Mavin. The author has spun a gripping tale of adventure that is particularly salient in the controversial era of global warming. Seiler paints a dystopian view of the future.

The Crocodile's Tail, Robert B. Boeder - Wilson Smith hasn’t seen his daughter, Alison, since she was seven, when his wife left him because of his relentless drinking. Now Alison is all grown up and Smith has conquered his drinking problem. To his immense joy, she has found him in Thailand, where he runs a lucrative detective business with his friend, Punya. Alison is in Thailand to sort out the death of a popular American celebrity who died during a deviant sex act. Alison suspects, rightly, that the death was no suicide. As father and daughter attempt to learn the truth, they are pulled into the dangerous Thai underworld which traffics in the products of endangered animals and ruthlessly promotes fixed muay thai fights. The author gives us much more than a thriller. He knows Thailand, and it is a pleasure to share his descriptions of foods, locations, and the culture of this complex country.

The Intaglio Imprint, Lior Samson, Gesher Press - A mother dies in an auto accident, but her child, Paolo lives. The author traces Paolo from a young boy to teen years—through his aloneness, writings, relationships and finally marriage to his drama teacher. In a parallel story, Danny Bradman, a reporter searching information about a foundation, follows leads to the estate of Arturo Dermott. Danny discovers that some documents have disappeared, but finds a cryptic note signed by Arturo Dermott that take him further into Dermott’s life. The story ends with a clever, unexpected twist, but entirely logical. The author puts his characters through one complication after another with unanticipated but logical twists and turns. The story is ripe with skillful use of conflict, tension, and suspense. There are also ements of modern science, religion, and ethics, but the emphasis is on Paolo and his parents, Danny, and Dr. Cahners.

The Ticket, Fred Shackelford, Black Opal Books - With a Hitchcockian sense of humor, the author presents a race to the finish with a full cast of characters: the cheating-conniving husband, the innocent undeserving wife, the ex-cop who is self-serving but evolves, a bumbling henchman, and various victims spiraling around a plot to score a winning lottery ticket. The husband buys the winning ticket but must rid himself of his wife in order to claim the entire prize. He hides the ticket in his wife’s book collection, but does not realize that he will come home to find her, and all her possessions gone when she is finally fed up with his philandering. Where did she go? Not like a classic puzzle for readers to guess the missing pieces and guess the red herrings, the author instead creates more of a puzzle game, where the reader must keep pace with every character’s thoughts and next moves.

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Children's

The Children's category is for young children's books, including stories and picture books.

Winner

The Greatest Wish, Amanda Yoshida, Mascot Books - This well-illustrated activity book is full of fun and thought-provoking ideas. The illustrations are bright and pleasing to the eyes. Individual tabs with numbers allow choices between two options to determine who the reader would like to be. Once they choose, they then discover the reality of their choice. The story changes with each decision. A young reader could spend hours enchanted, while learning at the same time. In the end, the reader discovers that the best choice is being themselves. This is a book every child should read.

First Runner-Up

I Love My Purse, Belle DeMont, Annick Press - This is beautifully written and illustrated account of a young boy who loves to pack what others consider a very odd accessory. Charlie loves his purse. Because Charlie is willing to embrace something a little different and unexpected, he is also able to inspire the other people in his life to try something a little different and add things they love to their own lives. The characters challenge conformity to find what makes them happy. The beautiful and colorful illustrations match the prose well and encourage the reader find their own version of "fabulous" even if it goes against the norm. This book will encourage all children to explore their own individuality and look for uniqueness in their friends and family.

Honorable Mentions

How to Turn Your Mom into a Monster, Aurora Whittet, Wise Ink Publishing - Told in the perspective of a child, this story follows a little monster who gives very specific directions on how to turn a mother, any mother, into a monster by the end of the day. Throughout the story, little by little, the mother’s patience dwindles. However, it does seem that the child knows that once that monster comes out, he can snuggle up to her and turn her into a cuddle monster. It even comes with a fill in the blank reason chart to avoid going to bed, which is a fun way for the reader to interact with the story. Although this is told through the eyes of a child, this story is also easily entertaining to any parent who has lived through the toddler years with their own children. The illustrations are bright and attractive and the font and layout of the words keeps you hooked throughout the story.

The Inn at the Edge of the World, Jeremy Gritton, Mascot Books - Gritton captures the spirit of the economic structure of capitalism and spins it into tales of vivid imagination within a context that any working adult can relate to. The opening iterates the daily grind of each parent’s job and a stinging distaste for it shown through the color grey. Fed up with the monotony, mom and dad sell everything and move to become self-employed by buying an “inn at the edge of the world.” The family promptly moves. Imagined patrons—leprechauns, witches, wizards, dwarves, trolls, and dragons—consist of a vivid mind’s eye for the illusory. The illustrations are well done and amusing. A sure-fire way to remove the doldrums of daily living and provide a bit of color instead.

The Perfect People, Cathi D'Avignon, Mascot Books - In children’s worlds of magical dreams, little girls are princesses and must oversee their vast kingdoms. Caitlin is no exception as her mother calls her princess and where sleep takes her to a magical world of possibilities. Her dreamland father is king of Hamilton and sends Caitlin in search of the perfect people to fill a list of positions needed in the palace. In Caitlin’s search, she doesn’t look on outward appearances, but looks upon heart and passion. The author has not only written a magical fairytale, but has created a beautifully inspired story that teaches children not to look upon the disabilities or outward appearances as a lack of ability, but to look upon the heart. Whimsical illustrations only add to the charm of this delightful tale about seeing disabilities as abilities.

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Young Adult

The Young Adult category is aimed toward the juvenile and teen markets.

Winner

The Disappearance, Gillian Chan, Annick Press - Mike, a tough abused boy, takes on the protection of Jacob, Matt, and Adam, the smaller boys in the group home. The four have planned carefully how to get Jacob “home.” When Jacob disappears, Mike becomes the prime and only suspect of foul play. The story is told from the prospective of Mike, who is being questioned by the police about Jacob’s disappearance. Mike knows that any charges will not stick because there is no body to find, as the police believe. The three boys have simply helped Jacob return to his home in another time. This is a very good read. The author manages to weave the stories of how the boys ended up in the group home and how each manage to survive seamlessly into the story of the disappearance of Jacob without distracting from the story itself.

First Runner-Up

Painted Hives, Jay Ebben, Six Degrees Publishing Group - A perfect coming of age story that follows Wilbur Jansen as he literally follows his dreams to true love. His love for a girl named Sasha sends him across the globe to study bees in Slovenia, the country that continually appears in his dreams. In reality he is immersed in the study of life and love as he tries to find his dream girl. The author invites interesting characters in to the story to help Wilbur on his quest and does a wonderful job of intertwining their stories with each other. It is a delightful ride as we follow Wilbur on his quest for the mythical squash field where he is destined to find true love.

Honorable Mentions

Crisanta Knight: Inherent Fate, Geanna Culbertson, BQB Publishing - Crisanta Knight has a lot on her hands. She's fallen through her world into Germany where she saves several children, and then ends up in another world where she meets her evil grandmother who has been banished, This after-the-fairytale series follows the princess daughter of Cinderella, who is a flawed yet relatable character. Culbertson, a talented young author, demonstrates excellent storytelling technique, building not one, but several story worlds, each one quite believable. She has the skills to make each of those worlds understandable and yet different enough from each other so that the reader does not get lost. Through surprising plot twists, the author does excellent work with the growth of her characters throughout the story. Crisanta’s not afraid to take on the tough tasks to find out how to change her future. 

Permanence, Preta, BookVenture Publishing - Young people doing young things in a young and modern world, this initial installment of a coming of age fantasy drama strikes effective lines along both teen and older readers. At the core is a world driven by the belief of cyclical relationships where a person discovers and reattaches to the same soul again and again in sort of an eternal soul mate coupling. However, this cycle can be interrupted by an unanticipated death. Thus, begins the story, which also explores themes of normal and fitting-in. This story became a story contender within the young adult category.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

The Book Knights, J.G. McKenney, CreateSpace - When police arrive to burn shelves and shelves of hidden books in their home, Arti Penderhagen flees to the Isle of Avalon. Her former home is a place where the act of reading and book ownership have been outlawed and her parents subsequently condemned to death. Arti channels her inner strength as she vows to return and save her parents from this dystopian police state with the help of an ancient text and new friends by her side. This dynamic, fast-paced story begins on page one with punch and intrigue. Just a few pages with Arti and we are fully invested in her struggle, her spirit, and her fight against the Corporation.

 

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Culture

The Culture category contains nonfiction books demonstrating the human or world experience, including multicultural, essay, women's issues, sexuality, gay, lesbian, aging, travel, recreation, true crime, social commentary, and current events.

Winner

Tides, Jonathan White, Trinity University Press - In this book, the author travels across the globe and through hundreds of years of history to explore the mechanisms and meanings of ocean and river tides. He gathers mussels at low tide under the cover of ice in northern Quebec, chases monster waves with California surfers, braves the “Silver Dragon” (a powerful river tide) in China, and pilots his boat through the tidal rapids at Skookumchuck, B.C. Along the way, he clearly explains the eternal relationship between the moon and tides, documenting how human understanding of that relationship has changed through history both from a scientific and philosophical/religious perspective. The result is an informative and truly eloquent study and meditation, one that reminds us of the importance and beauty of the tides and their lunar mistress.

First Runner-Up

Volcano, Neil Mathison, Bauhan Publishing - Linked by geography and geology, eight short essays comprise this collection that blends history, science, and deeply personal tales about the author's own past and family. From growing up in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, in the title essay, to the break-up of his marriage at Lake Tahoe, in "My Tahoe," and his nephew's horrifying boating accident in the remote waters of British Columbia's Desolation Sound in "Twenty-two Ways to Lose and (Maybe) Regain Paradise," we are drawn into sharing the author's fear and pain, while at the same time seeing love of life itself. Throughout, it is a consciousness of place and awareness of the beauty of his surroundings that provides the emotional thread connecting the stories to each other, as well as the reader to the stories.

Honorable Mentions

Hands On!, Shirley L.T.Pearman, Dept. Community & Cultural Affairs, Hamilton, Bermuda - Pearman’s volume of hand-crafts, includes precise directions along with appropriate photographs and a sprinkling of history. This colorful volume explores the art and handicrafts of the people of Bermuda, both historical and modern. It is organized by season and includes detailed descriptions of the holidays, traditions, and crafts associated with each season in Bermuda. Each craft project includes clear instructions and color photos. No special tools are required for any of the projects, and many of the needed supplies can be found in one's own backyard (sticks, leaves) or recycling bin (boxes, newspaper). This book is not a mere collection of instructions and supply lists. It includes descriptions of traditional games, introduces specific Bermudian artisans, highlights important island flora, and touches on island architecture. This is a perfect book for home and school, if not a much-needed throwback to the tradition and satisfaction of creating beauty with your hands.

Nap Time Paintings, Jennifer Hynes, XlibrisUS - The quotidian demands of existence are the bane of every musician, every writer, every artist. So much chaos all around us, and so much emotional energy spent dealing with, simply, life: dirty linens, the laughing questions of children, the demands of 'the outside world.' The biggest loss is often time, the empty time an artist needs to be able to create, the time it takes to follow a path that may lead nowhere, the time required to complete even the outlines of an intuitive idea. How much time is enough, and how can we carve it out of a day filled with even the most joyful mundanities? The author discovers that even 30 or 60 minutes can be enough, if we leave our habitual self-consciousness and our critical mindset behind, and enter into the freedom of a creative space.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Yoga Mama's Buddha Sandals, Donna Stewart - "I needed a freefall adventure." Not exactly a Kierkegaardian leap, nor even the appeal of the void. The author writes of something more than that, reminiscent perhaps of the last voyage of Ulysses in Dante. In this case, it's not a journey through the western gates into the open ocean, instead it's a trip across the border into parts of Mexico most Americans have never imagined. The author plunges into her discovery, even though she doesn't know Spanish, doesn't have much money and has little understanding of the political situation. One almost expects her to proclaim, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers!" But we don't discover anything through comfortable situations. The unimaginable is sometimes difficult, but as Baudelaire said: “through the unknown we'll find the new!"

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Memoir

The Memoir category captures specific personal experience.

Winner

Given Away, Kate Anne Kang, CreateSpace - A six year-old Korean girl is forced to start life over with a new family in a new land and with a new name. Too young to understand, she only knows the sadness, anger, and frustration of abandonment, as she waits for her mother to return for her. But her omma is on the other side of the world, and she will not see her again for more than two decades. While she has a caring adoptive American family, she craves a closeness that doesn’t exist for her with them. When she and her mother are finally reunited, she discovers the reason she was put up for adoption. This is a heart-wrenching story beautifully told.

First Runner-Up

Self-Portrait with Dogwood, Christopher Merrill, Trinity University Press - The author masterfully weaves his life experiences within the fabric of historical or geographically significant environments, all with the common thread of the dogwood tree, a talisman of sorts. Part memoir, part something else entirely, his writing reveals only a small distinction between poetry and the narrative form, rendering even his descriptions of siege conditions in Sarajevo, or the death of his best friend from cancer. Merrill’s vast literary awareness and knowledge shapes his perceptions, which he expertly uses to demonstrate beauty in places damaged by the oftentimes wrong choices of humanity. Each chapter unfurls in unexpected ways, leaving us both engaged and in awe of creation itself.

Honorable Mentions

American English, Italian Chocolate, Rick Bailey, University of Nebraska Press - Rick Bailey’s collection of essays on life are hilarious, poignant, and wonderfully observant. Although he draws on memories of his youth growing up at a specific time in America’s midwest, he consistently touches the nerve of common experience and celebrates a universal compassion and unerstanding that we can all relate to. His keenly observed study of people mixed with his dry sense of self-deprecating humor coupled with a true appreciation of the English language makes for a hilarious and touching celebration of life.

Bullets to Bandages, Mark Terris, M.D., XlibrisUS - A pleasing mix of history, politics, religion, and culture from the 1970s. Well-written and relatable to someone with no prior knowledge of the Israel Defense Forces or even Middle East governments and policymaking. The author does a good job at capturing the human side of conflict along with the challenges, hardships, and rewards of being a soldier. There are also lessons to be learned about leadership in a complex organization, particularly when it comes to life and death situations. Because the author lived in the US until age 11 and focuses on the experiences of himself and a few friends, the book is more accessible to Americans than one might originally think. The young men are training as medics and that should be of interest to people who practice medicine on the fly such as paramedics or those who just enjoy hospital TV shows.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Caring for Red, Mindy Field, Vanderbilt University Press - This is a thoughtful daughter’s memoir of her 97-year-old father’s last days. Red led a fascinating life, active in many ways—acting on the stage, writing plays, teaching and working as a union leader, and he was much admired. He was also a somewhat difficult man to live with, full of passions and not always able to financially support his family. The memoir is a reflection and a celebration of his life, being more upbeat than many such accounts. It is also a song of praise for the excellent care he received at an assisted living facility in Buffalo, New York. This facility’s care enabled the author to suffer less caregiver burnout than many children of elderly parents.

Deep into Yellowstone, Rick Lamplugh - The author ushers us an epic journey that brings one closer to the true nature of what it means to go deeper into the wild. Undergoing a one year journey into the heart of Yellowstone, the author has offered a work that touches on highly important topics that not only relate to Yellowstone National Park, but to the greater ecosystem in general—an epoch that juxtaposes man and nature—a book that provokes the the question "can they coexist?" From park overuse, gold mining, predator and prey debates, to the removal of animals from the endangered species list, the book covers a plethora of controversial topics that will leave us with important questions to ponder.

The Chicken Who Saved Us, Kristin Jarvis Adams, Behler Publications - Meet Andrew, a boy with autism whose best friend is a chicken named Frightful. He also has a rare disease—"My body is trying to kill me," he tells Frightful—that stymies the medical community. Told through the lens of Andrew's mother, this heart-wrenching memoir invites us into a truly unique world, one where doctors don't have all the answers, a chicken is an honorary member of the family, and where a young boy fights for his life with the help of his pet chicken.

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Business

The Business category involves applications to today's business environment and emerging trends, including general business, career, finance, computer, and the Internet.

Winner

Non-Obvious 2018, Rohit Bhargava, Ideapress Publishing - Many of us wish that we had a crystal ball and could magically see into the future. We know that this is not possible, but what if we could open up our minds and see things through a different lens—one of awareness, creativity, and growth? This is the premise of Rohit Bhargava. In his well written book, Bhargava discusses having a “curator’s mindset,” one that is curious and observant, as well as fickle, thoughtful, and elegant. This type of mindset allows us to see trends that others may not and to capitalize on those trends which will inform our decision making. The book is a valuable tool for business leaders or for anyone interested in expanding their way of thinking.

First Runner-Up

Getting to "Yes And", Bob Kulhan with Chuck Crisafulli, Stanford University Press - The word “improvisation” usually brings to mind visions of a comedian or group performing onstage. Author, educator, and performer Bob Kulhan teaches us that the techniques, which have been used in successful comedic improvisation, are transferable and can have a powerful impact on many day-to-day business activities. Having a keen focus and thinking quickly and creatively is essential in the ever increasing competitive landscape that exists today. Kulhan provides many tools for creating a respectful dialog including utilizing the words “Yes, and...” The use of these simple words can foster great collaboration and dialog in the workplace. This is an innovative book and provides important business lessons.

Honorable Mentions

Navigating a Life, John Herron & Mary Ann Wynkoop, BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City - During World War II, there were many brave men who served our country. One of those men was Henry Bloch, whose decision to join the Army changed his life in immeasurable ways. Much is known of Henry’s successful career as the founder of H&R Block, but not of his military career and how it laid the foundation for his business accomplishments. Herron and Wynkoop tell a fascinating account of the man who was an Army Air Corps B-17 navigator in the Eighth Air Force, flying in over thirty-two completed missions in Germany and other countries during the war. Every day was a matter of life and death. These experiences instilled in Henry a work ethic, entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to take risks, without fear of failure, that led him to build a business that had revenues in excess of $1.3 billion in the 1990s. This is truly an inspiring story.

Ride the Wave, John Wessinger, Wise Ink Creative Publishing - Complacency in the business world can ultimately lead to failure. Conditions are constantly evolving in today’s marketplace. In order to be successful, skill sets need to continually develop. Wessinger creates a unique analogy between surfing and the business world by drawing on his own personal experiences. Wessinger learned to become a risk taker and realized that by "adopting a surfer’s mindset," he could develop a process for success, both personally and professionally, while gaining a valuable perspective. The book outlines three main process principles, including embracing the conditions, adopting a progression-based mindset, and utilizing risk as a compass. These principles will help overcome many challenges, but “success takes time.” This book is a valuable resource for anyone that wants to look at industry trends and market conditions with a new lens.

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Reference

The Reference category involves traditional and emerging reference areas, including history, psychology, biography, education, sports, recreation, training, travel, and how-to.

Winner

America Invaded, Christopher Kelly & Stuart Laycock History Invasions Books - In these days when many students cannot name the combatants of the Civil War, Kelly and Laycock have produced a reference book that demonstrates just how fraught with conflict American history is. Every state has experienced it, sometimes for extended periods of time. It took King Kamehameha thirteen years of war to unite the Hawaiian Islands, for example, and few people know it was attacked by the Japanese twice: in 1941 and 1942. In addition to brief historic timelines, the book contains maps, lists of historical sites, and introduces people unknown outside the state. New Hampshire’s Hannah Duston, for example, was captured and then fought, and scalped ten Native Americans before she and two companions escaped. Full of facts and photos, this visually interesting book is an excellent choice for any tourists who want to explore America.

First Runner-Up

Blood on the Stage, Amnon Kabatchnik, Rowman & Littfield - The second in a series of annotated repertoires, this book provides an overview of stark, violent productions written and produced between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Focused on documenting noteworthy presentations of the most enduring dramas, the book is organized around concise yet detailed treatments. Each featured drama is synopsized with great detail before delivering an exhaustive list of every major production of the work in question from the time of its release up to the present day as well as biographical information about the author. Eschewing dry prose for robust description, the book remains rich in scholarship including reception of performances, historically contextualized adaptations, and even discusses later works clearly informed by those in focus. Overall, the book is a well-researched historiography that is written with energy and enthusiasm and is a valuable resource for scholars, critics, and artists.

Honorable Mentions

Federal Prison Handbook, Christopher Zoukis, Middle Street Publishing - For any guidebook to be truly useful, it must be both comprehensive and written with authority. Anyone incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons should expect nothing less. Providing an organizational overview, as well as the intricacies of day-to-day operations, this handbook exists as a much-needed resource for federal prisoners and their families. Well organized and vast in scope, this book delivers essential information on prison culture, its rules and regulations, and both the sanctioned and illicit goods and services available to prisoners. For example, the book contains detailed explanations of the inmate economy, work assignments, available health services, and the rituals and routines of different housing units. More importantly, this handbook explores the intricacies of navigating the federal system and provides incarcerated individuals with a resource to make informed decisions, steer clear of avoidable situations, mitigate problems as they arise, and, quite possibly, provide strategies to survive the ordeal of serving time.

Turning Numbers into Knowledge, 3rd Edition, Jonathan G. Koomey, Ph.D., Analytics Press - Numbers are intimidating, which is why people rely on and trust that computers can do everything, from computing loan interest to reconciling a bank statement, and help us avoid what is a necessity of modern life: understanding how numbers are used and abused. It needn’t be so. Koomey provides the tools for problem solving that includes such things as establishing a filing system, keeping a conversion table handy, knowing how to make a quick estimate, how to read a graph, and how to challenge conclusions and sometime hysterical claims by “experts.” Readable, concise, and a must-read for those seeking a way to cope with the overwhelming and sometimes intentionally misleading data. Knowing which numbers to use to solve which problems is the key to problem solving success. But there’s a caveat. Never forget some problems are not quantifiable.

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Home

The Home category has practical applications to home or home-related issues, including general home, gardening, cooking, parenting, family, interior design, animals, pets, and home-related crafts.

Winner

Boathouses of Lake Minnetonka, Karen Melvin & Melinda Nelson, Big Picture Press - A boathouse is the stuff of whimsy and dreams, inviting both retreat and the launch of adventure. Lake Minnetonka, a 160-plus year history of settlers and their camps upon the edge of its shores, are explored by Melvin and Nelson. With mostly, yet not exclusively contemporary photographs, this charming collection includes history, secrets, stories, and recipes. At some point in this exploration, you will want a Minnetonka boathouse of your own.

First Runner-Up

Woozie (AKA Grandmother) Wisdom (About Life, Sex, Love), Lynn Hubschman, iUniverse - Life has many ups and downs. We don’t always have all of the answers to get through some of life’s daily challenges. In Woozie Wisdom, Hubschman provides us with helpful ways to look at life and relationships, based on her forty years of experience as a licensed therapist, mother and grandmother. The book, which is comprised of essays from Hubschman’s blog, addresses a wide range of topics from “How to Grow a Person” to “When You Are Having a Bad Day.” Hubschman’s advice is positive, uplifting, and arranged in such a way that one can read a few essays at a time; however, it will be a challenge to put the book down.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Honorable Mentions

Parenting Errors, Dr Kerby T. Alvy, XlibrisUS - Most people would agree that parenting is one of life’s most challenging, yet rewarding jobs. It is not always easy to make the right decisions for our children or handle every situation perfectly.Dr. Kerby T. Alvy, helps us correct some of the slip-ups that inevitably go with the territory as parents. Of paramount importance is being able to relate to our children. The author utilizes an approach to solving errors called AAR, which stands for admit, apologize, and restitution. Understanding that we are not perfect and admitting our mistakes to our children is not always easy, however, this book is a valuable resource in improving our relationships and becoming better parents.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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Health

The Health category promotes physical, mental, and emotional well-being, including psychology, fitness, and sex.

Winner

Four Seasons of Loneliness, J.W.Freiberg, Philia Books - A social psychologist and practicing lawyer, the author chronicles years-long relationships with an interwoven element of loneliness. Four cases tied to the four metaphorical seasons of life reveal the disheartening yet relatable lives of a former prisoner, a truck driver, a professor, and a troubled teenager. The author is a natural storyteller and among an inviting narrative are lessons about how life in general and modern life in particular can often succumb to loneliness is some form and what ignoring this systemic reality costs society. While often somber and even sad, the book’s tone returns to hopeful, encouraging a wisdom from these four tales and for us to both recognize loneliness in our own lives but also to maintain those all-important connections we share.

First Runner-Up

Pain on Trial, Jane Z. Gassko, M Graphics - The opioid crisis has become one of America’s greatest threats to public health and has led to greater scrutiny of physicians who prescribe these drugs. Pain on Trial tells the story of what happens when this scrutiny turns into persecution. Gassko gives us a novelistic treatment that she says is factually true in all respects. Dr. Ben Holden, a respected physician, finds his life turned upside down when he stands accused of pill pushing. In a Kafkaesque series of events, he finds himself at risk of losing not only his savings and his practice but also his liberty. Pain on Trial shows us the genuine consequences of prosecutorial zeal and how medical professionals stand at risk.

Honorable Mentions

A Friend Indeed, Amy Florian, Corgenius - Addressing a role many people find themselves in but for which few prepare, the book covers how best to offer support for those who’ve lost loved ones. As with most unforeseen events, offering real and useful aide to those grieving or who are facing down inevitable loss is a skill few hone or even know how to apply. The author writes with such readers in mind—ones who could make use of this overlooked facet of true friendship. With advice often as specific as suggesting go-to phrases and framing up when and how to communicate with the bereaved, the chapters progress into specialized means of helping, adn they are complemented by clear, direct prose and numerous resources to further one’s education specific to the many challenges that disease and death can bring to those left behind.

Being a Surgeon, Asad J. Raja, Trafford - After practicing as a general surgeon for more than three decades, Dr. Raja has seen and done nearly everything imaginable in his field. In Being a Surgeon, he uses that vast experience to contemplate the demands of the profession, its practical wisdom, and the ethical dilemmas that come with the job. In this slim volume, Raja humbly reviews his triumphs and his disasters, showing that he has learned from both and that he has much to teach his colleagues, especially those at the beginning of their careers. It is easy to imagine this book as a welcome addition to the locker room or lounge of hospital operating theaters.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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Self-Help

The Self-Help category involves traditional and emerging self-help topics.

Winner

Immaculate Consumption, Deena Solomon, Wheatmark - The commitment to lose weight is a lifelong challenge for many people. The book gives scientific and psychological reasons for the failure of conventional diets. The author walks the us through the experience of her clients who have been successful in changing a lifestyle not just sticking to a diet. We can see the logical changes that must be made in our thinking and beliefs about weight loss. Simple steps such as writing down what a person eats and managing food cravings are discussed. Techniques for eating when hungry and stopping when sated as well as coping with stress related eating as a permanent lifestyle change are presented by the author. We learn of a contract we can make with ourselves at the beginning of this lifestyle change to keep themselves on track. An easy guide to attaining a lifelong, healthy weight.

First Runner-Up

I Know Now, Cinda Stevens Lonsway, new72publishing - The book chronicles a violent attack on the author while in her teens. The book is divided into three sections—The Attack, The Healing, and The Awakening. The thoughts and emotions of an innocent teen when a violent man breaks into the apartment make this book a page turner. The attacker makes it clear this is not the first time he has attacked a woman. Though he flees, he continues to stalk the victim, who comes face to face with him again. Emotional healing from the violent attack does not begin until years later. The process that brings healing comes in a series of emotional storms. The passage of time and distance gives new perspectives to evaluate the events in a new light. The awakening comes even later as the author begins to understands missed signs in a deeper evaluation of events.

Honorable Mentions

One Mindful Day at a Time, Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., Companion Press - Living in the "now" is not easy with all of the day to day distractions and stress of work, finances, and family. The book is a great guide to the practice of slowing down and enjoying the blessings of each day and each experience. The author gives inspiring meditations to take us through the day and teaches the habit of mindful living. Each day brings a useful quotation from a famous philosopher adding his own wisdom and experience. The author enables us to determine what is important and how to live a purposeful and "now" centered life.

The Joy of Creative Discovery, Pasha Hogan, Emerald Flame Publishing - Drawing from lessons learned through her ten years of giving Discover Creativity workshops, Pasha Hogan has written an elegant yet simple guide to engaging our creative selves—the “healing artist within”. In a clearly designed workbook format, Hogan presents 10 practices that cultivate playfulness, gratitude, well-being, wholeness, and self-love that allow us to unleash our creativity. Interspersed throughout the self-reflection exercises, healing activities, and meditations, Hogan offers spiritual thoughts, ancient wisdom, inspiring quotations, and illustrative examples from her workshop experience. Through integrating body, mind, and spirit, Hogan’s practices helps us reclaim childlike curiosity and enthusiasm, thereby releasing the stress and anxiety of adulthood.

When Will I Be Good Enough?, Barbara Ann Jaffe, Ed.D., Lisa Hagan Books - The author’s poignant story actually begins before her birth. Her toddler brother’s death led to her parents’ decision to have another child. The author always saw herself as a “replacement” child though never quite measuring up to the one lost. Her mother even told her that she wouldn’t have been born had he lived—her inability to cope with her son’s death led to insecurities and self-esteem issues in the author. The failure to please her mother led the author to eating disorders. The path to healing from being a replacement child is gripping, well-written, and emotional. Readers who experienced difficult childhoods may find solace in the author’s journey.

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Spiritual

The Spiritual category involves the mind and spirit, including religion, metaphysical, and mystical.

Winner

A Spiritual Hypothesis, Daniel Punzak, P.E., AuthorHouse - This book explores the notion that humans have both a soul and a spirit. It provides a balance of anecdotes, case histories, and research findings associated with near-death and end-of-life experiences, as well as after-death communications. What makes this study unique, however, is it's exploration of psychological disorders that might be related to spiritual phenomena. Dissociative Identity Disorders, such as ESP experiences, hypnosis, and amnesia, are considered as well as schizophrenia and gender identity. Concepts related to Eastern spirituality, shamanism and mystical experiences are also provided in this rich exploration of phenomena that many have experienced, but few have understood. The text offers an essential and necessary discussion for our times.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

First Runner-Up

Walking with Dogs, Marti Healy, The Design Group Press - Healy invites us to contemplate over twenty meditative reflections on life, accompanied by man's best friend. Beautiful illustrations adorn the pages in a subtle sepia-tone, adding a touch of whimsy to this coffee table-style book. As the author found spiritual connection walking with her beloved companions, Teddy and Sophie, so she believes you will as well. The author ponders how God might look upon humans as humans look upon their dogs. Are we obedient all the time, or only when it suits us? Have we been so mistreated so that it makes it difficult to form connections in the future? Dogs just might be fighting the same battles as their owners. Reading this refreshing, poignant book reminds one to keep their eyes open to seeing the extraordinary within the ordinary and shifting one's ground-level perspective to a heavenly one.

Honorable Mentions

All Our Relations, Eugenia Koukounas, Full Court Press - Many believe there is more that governs life than the mere physicality we see and feel around us. Some believe the doorway to freedom lies in our experiences and the way we choose to use them, as well in the deeper consciousness where we must pilot our way, traversing our own wisdom and the wisdom of our personal ancestors until we come to enlightenment of a sort that we can apply to this life. Like any endeavour, if we are to excel at it, we must first go through preparedness and learn to master the idiosyncrasies of that path, and this is what the author teaches us, specifically and exactly, guiding us through her own experience of mastering spirit so we may learn and use that to propel us blessedly in this life.

Echoes of Scripture, Richard B. Hays, Baylor University Press - The treasure of this book lies in its applicability to people at all levels of biblical scholarship—the new convert, the theology student, and the pastor preparing a sermon. The organization of material offers ease of use, while the extent of scholarship used in its preparation is reassuring and reliable. More than just an intensive study on Old Testament prophecy and its fulfillment in the four Gospels, this book is a clear and solid scholarly response to the school of criticism determined to undermine confidence in scripture. The author offers a valuable and reliable defense for those with shaky scholarly foundations, when responding to those who try to reduce scripture to the level of fable and myth. This book took years of research and dedication. It's well worth the effort to both write and study it.

The One Apart, Justine Avery, Suteki Creative- The story of an uncommon child with an even more uncommon spirit, this is a novel about the love of family, belonging, and navigating the ineffable. In this book, a child is born with the full wisdom of hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of past lives. In the cosmology of the author’s creation, we come to understand that becoming an incarnated being is a choice—that there is something in each life that is given to us to learn. Once the we take this idea to mind, it’s difficult not to consider what our daily challenges have to teach us. Reading this work, you may find yourself wondering why you would have chosen the challenges in your particular life, which has the fascinating effect of rearranging your entire worldview, for as long as you allow it to.

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Legacy Fiction

Books in the Legacy Fiction category are fiction books over two years of age which hold particular relevance to any subject matter or art form. Unlike many in the industry, we think good books last longer than one season.

Winner

Now We Will Be Happy, Amina Gautier, University of Nebraska Press - The linked short stories bring to life the hearts, minds, bodies, faces, and cares of the people and community that overlaps with an island some have left behind and a few who have returned. A grandmother devotedly cares for her grandson, as she holds her hurts inside and longs for her son—a son who left his behind for her to raise. The dignity she manages helps to choreograph her day from early morning to bedtime with her grandson. One of the most captivating stories involves the once-battered, once treasured young woman as she navigates the emotions forming from two men in the course of an afternoon to evening. The author’s delicious prose, exploring the woman's experience, leads to the numbed heart of what it feels an hour after your husband hits you: “This is the price of looking.”

First Runner-Up

Jell-O and Jackie O, T.D. Arkenberg, Outskirts Press - The story seamlessly moves decades from the 1960s to the turn of the century, exploring Tad Aldenburg's coming of age in a time when change is occuring fast for America. WIth his two siblings and parents, he experiences all that the 1960s has to offer, from the assassination of JFK to the moon landing, while becoming fixated on Jackie Kennedy Onassis and all that her elegant life and travels represent for him as a boy trying to navigate the struggles of his own family. By 1999, a grown Tad focuses on his childhood and how it impacts his relationships with both his mother and current boyfriend. By weaving flashbacks into the 60s with the current day, Tad attempts healing by rediscovering the boy of his past.

Honorable Mentions

Red Clay, Heather Flor, CreateSpace - This book provides a glimpse of a world that few know or experience, what it is like to live and work in a country full of conflict and clashing cultures. After losing her husband, a young woman by the name of Tea seeks to blot out the chaos in her life by running away to Nigeria. She volunteers as a teacher, providing workshops for teachers to use in the classroom. This first-time author paints vivid pictures of what it is like for a young woman to confront war first hand, survive in a culture alien to her own, and come to terms to all that she has left behind.

Shakedown, Andie Ryan, Lenox Road Publishing - The book begins with a thrilling attack, and the pages keep turning through and through. The realistic characters leave an unforgettable impression. The story is relevant to today’s corporate government control and will continue to be so for years to come. While the plot is fairly straightforward, the confidence of the story makes for an easy, entertaining read. The author’s corporate Wall Street experience shines throughout, providing glimpses into just how far companies are willing to go to protect their stock prices.

Vendeka's Creed, Anthony Aquan-Assee - The likeable Jesse Biggsee is a scrawny computer genius in Toronto trying to survive bullies in a football-centered high school and win his third international computer competition. When his tormentors’ father, the Minister of Defence, implants all Toronto residents with Mr. Vendeka’s DNA-based “smart tag” computer chip, Jesse’s world changes. The author’s creative plot and sympathetic characters plunge into a near-future world of fatal privacy invasion and government-sanctioned bullies. Skillful pacing propels this believable and scary journey into the future, where those with “cyber shielded” privacy rule and threaten to crush the individual and humanity’s spirit of love. Parallels with real-life technology render this an uncomfortably entertaining read.

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Legacy Nonfiction

Books in this Legacy Nonfiction category are nonfiction books over two years of age which hold particular relevance to any subject matter or art form. Unlike many in the industry, we think good books last longer than one season.

Winner

Running from the Mirror, Howard Shulman, Sandra Jonas Publishing - This compelling memoir has begins at the time of the Shulman's birth, when an infection destroyed part of his face and his distraught parents abandoned him in the hospital. The story moves through his orphaned childhood and adolescence, his multiple surgeries and unkind classmates, and on to adulthood. He manages to treat a difficult subject without sentimentality or self-pity, discusses his mistakes and shortcomings unflinchingly, and moves through the key events in his life with a keen sense of pacing. He avoids dwelling on painful encounters but presents enough of them to give a first-hand look at the fabric that has made up his life. The book provides a memorable reading experience, as well as an education.

First Runner-Up

Over Exposed, Terri Muuss, JB Stillwater Publishing - In discarding the traditional trappings of memoirs, Terri Muuss has bent form to perfectly coincide with concept. In this fearless probing of a traumatic childhood marked by poverty, sexual abuse, and substance abuse, Muuss alternates expertly between prose and verse, not to be experimental for the sake of experimentation, but to capture the nature of trauma and memory as they live on inside the body as fragmented, non-linear, sporadic glitches threatening to obliterate the entire machine of consciousness. It is clear Muuss has worked as tirelessly and meticulously on putting this book together, as she has her own psyche. Any book that speaks truth to trauma without vicariously traumatizing its readers—all the while offering beauty, clarity, and ultimately a sense of hope—is indeed a gift to the canon of creative non-fiction.

Honorable Mentions

Candlelight in a Storm, Naveen Sridhar, AuthorHouseUK - Amid the current international political atmosphere, replete with the rise of autocrats and anti-immigrant sentiment, this beautifully revealed tale of Sridhar’s wife and her experiences growing up in Germany before WWII offers a robust reminder of how between malfunctioning notions of “good” and “bad” there is untold complexity. As Sridhar confidently unravels the wonderfully specific and vibrant moments of his beloved’s journey, it becomes clear to that what one individual or family or neighborhood can perceive at any one time is never the larger picture, and when that larger picture is one they could not have imagined, we must take note and recognize how easily their experiences could become ours. Still, as historically charged a memoir as this is, it is, too, a long love letter, a rich and vibrant tale of a single life told by its greatest admirer.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Focus on Survival, Julie Bayl, XlibrisAU - This does not pretend to be a work of art. Its value lies in the captivating storytelling and the historical significance. A Dutch family of photographers navigates the inhospitable period of Nazi occupation with courage, perseverance, and love. Fighting hunger, surviving aerial bombardments, and dealing with the debilitating disease affecting two of their children, Em and Ben Bijl find the strength to support the underground resistance as well. Their story exemplifies the determination of the Dutch people in the face of foreign occupation and their understated contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. Well selected archive photographs complete this remarkable account. This account is a worthy effort to preserve an important piece of family history, thereby securing its deserved place in the book of World War II narratives.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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E-Book Fiction

The E-Book Fiction category holds fiction books published in an electronic format.

Winner

Pancake Money, Finn Bell - With a knowledge of self and human behavior beyond his years, Bobby Ress is a homicide cop investigating the murder of a priest. And yet, it’s no ordinary murder. From the beginning, this story has unexpected twists and turns. With all the heart-stopping adrenaline of a thriller and the detailed process of a police procedural, it has the added bonus of excellent character development. Where the author really stands out though, is in the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual journeys experienced through this book. Set in New Zealand, you feel like you’ve actually been there. It’s a fantastic ride of a tightly woven plot that doesn’t let up until the end. Sit back and enjoy.

First Runner-Up

Then She Was Born, Cristiano Gentili, #HelpAfricanAlbinos - Gentili offers a stark glimpse into the lives, customs, and cultures of the people of Africa. In the village of Ukurewe, Tanzania, Juma, the wife of Sefu, has finally given her husband a child. After two miscarriages, Juma’s successful delivery seems to have restored peace to the clans of the village. But the newborn is afflicted with albinism. The clans, who traditionally regard albinos—or zeru zerus—as non-persons and omens of bad luck, descend once more into conflict. The novel tells the story of the infant’s journey from a nameless outcast to Adimu, the adopted daughter of her grandmother Nkamba, then to her first hope of escape, and finally to a normal life via a liaison with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fielding, a wealthy, African-born English couple, and a human trafficking organization posing as an educational institute. This novel portrays how the struggle for freedom from oppression has been transformed.

Honorable Mentions

Dead Lemons, Finn Bell - Wheelchair-bound Finn moves to a small-town community looking for a quiet place to wallow after his accident and his wife leaves him. The house he moves into thrusts him into the town’s decades-old mystery: A girl and her father have disappeared a year apart, leaving the girl’s mother to go insane. The protagonist quickly suspects the odd neighbors had a hand in the disappearances and starts digging, interrogating lifetime locals and searching newspaper archives. When his cats turn up dead, he wakes to find intruders in the night and his home falls victim to arson, he knows he’s in too deep to turn back.

Of Castles and Kings, Gry Hala, Taheerah - This is a poetic and sweeping epic tale of twentieth-century big-city America. Paulus Dean, a native of the American South, and of African and indigenous descent, seeks to escape the tyranny of brutal post-slavery discrimination by migrating to prohibition-era New York City to work the “numbers rackets” with bootleggers, immigrants, and financial criminals. Mr. and Mrs. Victor Elay, along with their young daughter Vanessa, are poverty-stricken immigrants from the West Indies. Victor and “The Madam” have set themselves up as bosses in Harlem. During their first encounter with Paulus, they are impressed with his tenacity and ferocity and take him under their wing. What follows is the graphic tale of their rise to power through violent crime and high-level corruption. The tragic story is offset by Vanessa’s efforts to steer Paulus toward a better life after giving birth to his son. A period piece, this novel’s authenticity and impressive prose also shed light on the superficiality, futility, and despair resulting from contemporary corruption.

The Time Seekers, D.A. Squires - Delightful, whimsical. Opening this book, readers feels as if they’ve stepped into another world, and yet one that feels familiar. Alexandra and her blue Macaw Taco live in Chadwick Manor. But this year she is dreading going to The Pine School, where students are only allowed to ask two questions a day, and her teacher is Miss Blueberry. Strange and magical happenings sweep Alexandra and her companions on an adventure for all ages of friendship, persistence, and redemption. In the tradition of Stuart Little and A Wrinkle in Time. If you like fairy tales that blur the line between today and happily ever after, this book is for you.

Vivir el Dream, Allison K. García, CreateSpace - Dreamer Linda Palacios has played by the rules her whole life, living in fear of being deported. She’s almost done with college, but knows that even with a degree, getting a job without the right paperwork will be difficult. She doesn’t know what her future holds after graduation. Through romantic setbacks and discoveries, social engagement, and friendship, Linda is just beginning to find her way when a selfish act gets her deported to a Mexico she’s never known. The future she thought was forming is ripped away and Linda must start the process anew, but not alone.

 

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E-Book Nonfiction

The E-Book Nonfiction category holds nonfiction books published in an electronic format.

Winner

Exploring the Landscape of the Mind, Stephen S Clark, Xlibris - This book seeks to explain and provide insights into how the complex human brain and mind works by borrowing from literary and philosophical inspirations such as Marcel Proust, Blaise Pascal, Thucydides, Herman Melville, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Aristotle. While the writing relies on scientific explanations and facts, the literary and philosophical works cited in the book provides further interpretations of our mortal existence in relation to the workings of our minds. Questions such as the neurobiology of happiness and the identity of a self are discussed in the aim of appreciating happiness and the idea of being relevant to others. The work is well-researched, and the writerly voice is balanced.

First Runner-Up

Lady Yoga Superhero, Laurie Searle - This is a collection of graphic nonfiction essays, illustrated by various artists, fleshing out the ancient discipline refreshingly interpreted and recast by Searle, who is a fitness instructor in greater Los Angeles. As her animated persona, Lady Yoga, she and her sidekick, a small sneaker-clad blue Ganesh, ever-ready to participate in seemingly impromptu exercises and stretches, that on second glance radically enhance the lives of individuals the pair encounter in their adventures. They spread goodwill by imparting knowledge and physical techniques to relieve pain and stress affecting those around them. She encourages simple stretching and breathing anyone of any age can do, and learn to incorporate participant’s everyday environments to enhance their experiences, whimsically depicted by little blue Ganesh stretching in bed. Not solely focusing on yoga, the ebook tackles tough subjects such as eating disorders, and sexual assault then provides defense tactics inspiring readers to become superheroes themselves.

Honorable Mentions

Dual Mission, Nino Perrotta, Outskirts Press - This book reads as a memoir of a former Secret Service Agent and how his family life and growing-up years as a second-generation Italian-American shaped his decision to attend military services while in college and eventually to serve his country as a Secret Service Agent. Most of the book centers on his experiences during his assignments abroad—for example, Bulgaria and Romania—relating the adventures and personages he had encountered during the perils and excitement of his work. The most interesting chapter is the last, with a telling title, "Kill the Informant and If You Can, Kill the Agent as Well." Although at times the prose might read as "self-congratulatory," it is a sincere and honest account based on autobiographical evidence.

Sketches of a Black Cat, Ron Miner, Riverdale Press - Starting from inside the cockpit of an airplane leaving the coast of Australia and traveling across the South Pacific, this is a story that has heart, action, and is in constant flux. The author's tone is one that feels close to the reader, honest, and inviting. His style of prose is quite an elegant element, in contrast to the military themes and settings. Accompanied by photos and sketches, this book feels like a scrapbook. There are images of notes and letters acting as hypertext referring to the content, as with the pictures depicting scenes further illustrated in the text. A touching memoir reflecting the life of military man and, moreover, a human story of the transformative effects of war and separation.

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