US Review of Books - Book Review Service

US Review Blog GoodReads Facebook Twitter Linked-In Instagram

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 post the results each year.

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. The Eric Hoffer Project respectfully requests that you give fair use when quoting their award winners. Please use: "-The Eric Hoffer Award."

 

2014 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.

The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrpreneurs, Kevin D. Johnson, Johnson Media, Inc. - Eric Hoffer spent a lifetime dissecting and analyzing the motivations of groups of people. Business owner and publishing innovator Kevin Johnson delves into the mind of an entrepreneur, and like Hoffer, Johnson delivers succinct and up-to-date answers with a somewhat iconoclastic approach. That's a good thing if you consider the creation and expansion of any new business to be unorthodox and groundbreaking. This isn't just another manual about how to set up shop. Johnson is concerned with the why as much as the how, and to do this, he explores the very make up of the entrepreneur. While the dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone who assumes the risk of business, Johnson rightly defines him/her as a fearless oddball, who puts business ahead of family, is unwed to a standard business plan, and often positions himself as the dumbest person in the room (i.e. surrounded by smarter people). And no matter what car or clothes he arrives to work in, the entrepreneur is always a salesman of himself and his business, and he loves every minute of his life. Johnson's book slaughters many of the sacred cows (i.e. the old school rules of corporate America), not because he's trying to be cheeky or sensational, but because the one hundred characteristics and habits highlighted in his book are the truth—a truth any successful owner/operator of business knows subconsciously if not outright.

back to top

 

Montaigne Medal

The Montaigne Medal is awarded to the most thought-provoking books.

Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism, Salim Mansur, Mantua Books – Salim Masur examines the effects of the multiculturalism movement on liberalism. In classic terms, liberalism implies that all people are created equal and deserving of equal treatment under the law. However, multiculturalism asserts that all cultures are equal, and when wrought through democracy, it demands equal treatment for all cultures, even if that culture is diametrically opposed to liberty and freedom. The author purports that what began in the latter part of the previous century as a good idea has resulted in a self-inflicted wound that allows splinter groups or individual cultures in search of equality to override a fundamental principle of democracy: the rights and freedom of the individual. Today, citizens of "free" countries are regularly oppressed by the thought and speech police from both government offices and powerful secular groups. Under the guise of "tolerance," anti-democratic factions thrive. The ultimate goal is unity, but it is ironic that many "included" cultures would take a swift and decisive axe to the mere budding of democracy within its native borders. Delectable Lie explores the roots of this national implosion, which is currently happening in other western nations as well, and the growing recession of liberty which has been underway for decades.

Where You Become True is the Place of Truth, Woo Myung, Cham Books – Myung's latest spiritual guidance book begins by taking on the world of perception: Each of us lives in a room full of recordings of our experiences, which may but mostly do not connect to reality or bring us closer to the truth. For example, the memory of a frozen Niagara Falls is a lie, while the actual Niagara Falls as it exists now is the truth. Lies skew reality and harm us when understanding hinges on perception. Truth, or the search for it, is a central tenant of Myung's philosophy, which at times attempts to span all beliefs and perhaps transcend them as well. To discover Truth, Myung says, requires that we lose the self entirely. In doing so, we become Truth, and only then can we achieve completeness or heaven. The axiom here, taken directly from scripture is: Blessed be the poor in spirit, for he achieves the kingdom of heaven. Whether or not one accepts this precept as fact and chooses to go on living within the human construct, Myung's meditations help peel away the false complexities of humankind and will assist anyone along their steps toward spiritual evolution.

back to top

 

da Vinci Eye

The da Vinci Eye is awarded to books with superior cover artwork.

A Slant of Light, Laurence Carr and Jan Zlotnik Schmidt (editors), Codhill Press (cover by Alicia Fox; oil painting Dusk Revistied by Amy Cheng)

A Song of Praise for Shifu, Susan J. Byrd, The Legacy Press (cover by Cathleen A. Baker; materials by Kyoko Yamazaki, Kazuyo Kajiyama, and Sadako Sakuri)

Distance of Touch, Kristina Freeman, Booklocker (cover by Kristina Freeman; photo Dead Tree by Jess Wiberg)

Paddling to Winter, Julie Buckles, Raven Productions (cover by Jill O'Neill; photo by Bob Gross)

So Long Polyester, Deborah Rise McMenamy, Labello Press (cover by Maciek Wieczorek; art by Deborah Rise McMenamy)

The Expedition, Jason Lewis, Billy Fish Books (cover by Kevin Jones)

back to top

 

First Horizon Award

The First Horizon Award is given to superior work by debut authors.

A Song of Praise for Shifu, Susan J. Byrd, The Legacy Press (see coverage in Micro Press winner)

Beat Your A-Fib, Steve S. Ryan, PhD, A-Fib, Inc. (see coverage in E-Book Nonfiction category)

Don't Stop Dreaming, Dr. Russell Tomar, MavenMark Books (see coverage in Health category)

Gray Girl, Susan I. Spieth, CreateSpace (see coverage in E-Book Fiction category)

I Am Another You, Priya Kumar, Embassy Books (see coverage in Legacy Nonfiction category)

Journey Proud, Carolyn Fleming, Trafford Publishing (see coverage in Legacy Fiction category)

Map of the Spirit, Michael F. Cantwell MD, MPH, Hillhaven Press (see coverage in Self-Published winner)

Sophia Rising, Monette Chilson, Bright Sky Press (see coverage for the Small Press winner)

The Bees Are Waiting, Karina Borowicz, Marick Press (see coverage in Poetry category)

The Entrepreneur Mind, Kevin D. Johnson, Johnson Media, Inc. (see coverage for the Hoffer Grand Prize coverage)

Young Soldiers Amazing Warriors, Robert H. Sholly, Stonywood Publications (see coverage in Memoir category)

back to top

 

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.

Where I Am Now, Robert Day, BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City - This collection of stories successfully marries simple ideas with beautiful and even profound prose. The events that make up this book are both remarkable and mundane. A man and his father meet annually to swim a horse across a river, or at least to plan such a swim. A father mourns his daughter by cutting wood, all day, every day, and refusing to sell it. A doctor swims laps at a club, befriending another man who he will later see dead in the ER. The reader comes to know these people through their own voices, as most of the stories are told in a ruminative monologue. But these very human voices lend weight to the simple plotlines like snow on tree branches until finally, gradually, they slide to a satisfyingly substantial end.

back to top

 

Small Press Award

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

Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom Through Yoga, Monette Chilson, Bright Sky Press - While the mystery of creation and the role we play within it may be beyond our total understanding, the author gives us a new view of Christianity that goes beyond theism and ties it more closely into the understanding of Bliss as it relates to the Divine. The practice of yoga is traditionally seen through the eyes of Christians as part of an Eastern philosophy; at best a form of exercise and at worst, the worship of a God outside of Christian faith. But here, we're shown the basic similarities between what Christians know to be an unquestioned connection through faith and a very real connection achieved through focused attention on the Divine during yogic postures. The book brings Christians back to the original intention of Christianity—to worship or seek God in a state of pure submission brought about by the childlike bliss of non-duality.

back to top

 

Micro Press Award

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

A Song of Praise for Shifu, Susan J. Byrd, The Legacy Press - Susan Byrd began her exploration of oriental art as an art student. Captivated by Japanese paper-making, her interest extended to handmade paper cloth: shifu. Accompanied by pertinent and well-done photographs, and a translated Japanese-English glossary, her book is a detailed description of the artistry and functionality (shoes, clothing, etc.) of weaving paper with other natural fibers such as cotton and silk. Shifu, however, is more than art. It is an integral part of Japanese culture and history, and after taking us through that history from the Edo period (1603-1868) to the present, Byrd introduces us to the people, resources, and international aspects of paper cloth—for example, France and Korea have their version—that leave us sharing her dismay at the dearth of handmade paper makers and appreciative markets. Byrd has proven herself an excellent weaver of words, pictures, and personal experience with facts and directions.

back to top

 

Self-Published Award

Map of the Spirit: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Spirit, Michael F. Cantwell MD, MPH, Hillhaven Press - Sickness can have its root in the body, the mind, or the spirit. Patients usually turn to medical doctors for the first and mental health professionals for the second, both of which can be hesitant to speak of spiritual things and ethereal concepts. Cantwell presents a universal, simple framework for helping professionals to be more at ease with treating an individual holistically. Graphs help readers visually understand four stages of spiritual development and vignettes about various patients the author has treated help underscore the concepts discussed in each chapter. He concludes the book with a comprehensive questionnaire to ascertain an individual's level of spiritual seeking, satisfaction, resistance, stress and experiences. The more intune the practitioner is of the patient's spiritual awareness and preferences throughout treatment, the more drastic the positive impact on that patient's sickness.

see the review in the USR.

back to top

 

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

Soul Exchange: The Paintings of Dennis Paul Williams, edited by Philip Gould, University of Louisiana of Lafayette Press - Artist and musician, Dennis Paul Williams creates images that are both active and embryonic. Swirling with life, color, and spirit, his subjects are predominately human, but the spotlight is always the spiritual context of piece. The subject of the portrait typically has eyes shut, as if on an inner journey seeking truth, while smooth architectural lines circumnavigate the flesh. The pieces in this collection are often mixed media, although the oil on board paintings are among the most exuberant. For the most part, this beautiful coffee table book lets the artwork do the talking, and it is a solid body of work held in a joyous presentation that represents the developing life's work of an artist in growing experimentation. He captures the style of being alive. "I am not the kind of artist locked into a style," states Williams. "My art is more directly connected to my emotions and faith."

First Runner-Up

Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great (1762-1796), Asen Kirin, Georgia Museum of Art – Asen Kirin presents the art collection—sometimes utilitarian grand—of Catherine the Great, but the undertone of this book is the intertwined lives—albeit centuries apart—of the famous Russian empress and the heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post who acquired several Catherine objects during her lifetime. Both women were boardroom giants, so to speak, as well as stylish heroes of their home domains, who learned how to navigate a man's world with grace and flair. Heavily discussed and annotated, this oozes with Kirin's deep study of and devotion to this particular time period. As a result, this exhibit companion book reveals the grandeur of a time when artist and artisan converged to create glorious everyday—and sometimes not so everyday—objects that reflected both Russia's history and aspirations.

Honorable Mentions

Alice Steer Wilson: Light, Particularly, Janice Wilson Stridick, Southbound Press – This gorgeous collection of Alice Steer Wilson paintings is posthumously presented and edited by her daughter Janice. Reading Wilson's biography, it creates little surprise that the painter had a positive effect on her world. Wilson's watercolors breathe sun and life onto the page. Most plates are of southern New Jersey with a number of portraits—mostly family sketches—mixed in, but it is her depictions of Cape May's landscape and architecture that form their own facets within the gem of the Jersey shore. Like Matisse's Moroccan period, a definite brilliance and contrast of color exist beneath the wash of light and a touch of abstract.

Dances Through Glass, Polly Norman, Avant Circle Publishing – Photographer Polly Norman presents her hand-crafted images inspired by form and motion. Using a combination of camera and block glass, the artist delivers abstractions of line and movement whether it be dance (primarily ballet) or nature ( primarily flora). This is not still life or captured moments. The images tend toward conceptual and color enhanced without fully diverging from their subject source, even if that source is sometimes incomprehensible to the viewer. Occasional untouched black and white images of dancers ground the series. Certainly a feast for the eyes, this collection harkens Picasso's cubist period.

Manifest Joshua, Katie Rottner, Super Classy Publishing – Sometimes the book itself is a work of art. Sometimes it's cleverly off the beaten bath. Katie Rottner's story/art collage is a happy collision of both. This beautiful boxed-set contains a hard-bound short story about a doomed egg race and a potentially talking egg. The egg knows all or at least just enough about human desire. A dozen plates are also included in the box, depicting story scenes or whimsical relations to the book, and an egg in human role play is at the center of each plate. There's more than just a hint of an inside joke at work here, but it hardly matters whether you get the point or not. Manifest Joshua is just plain fun wrapped up in a super-sexy-artsy case. So what's Rottner going to do next?

More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte, Martha R. Severens, University of South Carolina Press – Painter Mary Whyte is interested in people, and perusing this stunning collection of southern-based watercolors, it shows. Although the collection contains occasional photos, a slow and tight metronome swings the painted images from photographic exactness, through softer edges toward slight abstractions, but never losing true focus. Art historian Severens compares Whyte to Monet, Rembrandt, and Renoir. Like those masters, her subject matter is well-explored and her color palette is extraordinarily unique. Rarely does fantasy enter her canvas, for the real-life images are fantastic on their own.

back to top

 

Poetry

The Poetry category contains poetry or highly stylized prose.

Winner

The Bees Are Waiting, Karina Borowicz, Marick Press - Though we may know nothing of Siberia or Beijng or Antarctica, Borowicz acts like a photographer, using words as her medium. With images so gently but deftly drawn, she calls our attention to the simple things in life: the "hiss of cicadas," the "red fist" of an amaryllis that "defiantly opens" and words that scatter like "seeds floating out/ from your center/ on filament wings." In poems that reflect the universal condition, were we as observant as she, Borowicz wonders over the lives of gas flames that burn themselves out after the tea pot boils; posits that humans, though tamed, still search for the "remains of holiness;" and cites her father, so "thinned out" that he has become transparent. This collection leads with her childhood and ends with "The Way Back," that so quietly calls to sit and explore otherwise unnoticed elements in our world—a treasury of delights, once we take notice

First Runner-Up

Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine (readers), Alice James Books - Tsvetaeva's poem, "I Know the Truth," demonstratea the tight-fisted tenacity of a street-fighter poet, while each of the poems in this collection bear witness to her strength and unique ability to carve poetic insight out of a difficult life. Tsvetaeva speaks out in each poem as if taking her last breath—refusing to let any of her words be small. Quite apropos then, that this compact reader features new English translations of her work and packs a punch inversely proportional to its size. Conceived with an elegant cover, an introduction by W.S. Merwin, a brief contextual history of the poet, and an accompanying CD that includes a recitation of each poem in their original Russian, this is a fitting paean to this giant of 20th Century Russian Literature. Kaminsky and Valentine have done a valiant job of bringing this survivor of the Moscow famine and the Russian Revolution to life.

Honorable Mentions

Easy Math, Lauren Shapiro, Sarabande Books - This collection of poems shows the mundane moments of real life through the slanted lens of fairy tales and fables. The book begins with a series of meditations on the simple strangeness of contemporary life, "The Conversation," "Botanical Garden," and "ESL Students." These first three poems tell about direct realities, but as if they were foreign and fantastical. The book continues to delve into a stranger world of inner thoughts and fantasies, juxtaposed with mundane realities and genuine comedy. A prime example is the poem "According to The Magazines Lindsay Lohan is Very Lonely These Days," which weaves through a rabbit-hole of thoughts from Chinese takeout, to a Rubix Cube, to 1830's Australia, to a plastic doll buried in a cake. Ultimately the book ends with a series of examinations of the relationship to memory and story, and how our own lives are often fairy tales we tell ourselves.

Corn Exchange, Helen Vitoria, Wild Chestnut Press - Invoking Anne Sexton's brand of highly personal, confessional verse, Vitoria's tragically intimate collection fearlessly attempts to reconcile ideas such as fear, suicide, family, commitment, pornography, memory, and experience through the binary elements of sight and touch. Vitoria shows a clear understanding of the safety existing in the eyes, in the act of seeing and observing, and in its inherent physical distance that the hands cannot and do not carry. Not until there exists a trust able to reconcile that physical distance and, as Vitoria explains, "spread the body, [using] thumb and palm and say: here, be happy."

Believing the Line: the Jack Siegel Poems, Mark Silverberg, Breton Books - The poems appear on the left side with drawings opposite, a few which are in color with each poem catching the essence of a drawing of the artist, Jack Siegel (1915-2007). Included are two pages about the artist and how the collection came to be. The first poem, "Two Women," is about the book cover, a simple line drawing of two women sitting on a bench. The mostly short poems (some only 5-7 words) never leave the art, categorized by "Just Lines," "Lines of Sorrow," "Believe the Line," and "Let Go of the Line," but these universal poems capture the people, who the artist portrayed, perhaps as the artist first observed them. This revelation of their inner lives is accomplished with the same crafted and unforgettable economy that the artist employed to unmasked the characters.

Box of Blue Horses, Lisa Graley, Gival Press - If you have fallen deaf to wonder or been cast out of relationship to your muse, Lisa Graley has herein supplied the sacred embrocation prepared especially for your resurrection. Her blue horses gallop, shudder, and snort across forty-four fields of such divine epiphanies that one can't help be swept into their healing energy. "Once upon the back of a blue horse/ full tilt, the edges blur/ with vibration/ that rattles/ the ocular nerve riding rough-shod/ in the cranium..."—she writes in her 38th meditation on Franz Marc's remarkable painting, The Large Blue Horses—and later concludes "as there is heavy breathing, yours or mine, I cannot tell." Bearing a seminal force, Graley's blue horses drive forward with D.H. Lawrence-like energy, supplying the poet with a contextual landscape of desire that is full of metaphysical surprises—even to the author herself. In 33 she writes "...for who can hold/ a blue herd of horses/ unless she box/ the shadow of the universe?" Who indeed, but the brave and audacious, Graley, who, apparently, is fearless enough to try.

Calendars of Fire, Lee Sharkey, Tupelo Press - At the center of Sharkey's collection lies the question: Can the languages of time, of history, of memory and nature be reconciled by the languages we hold onto in our mouths, in our thoughts, in the pen and ink from our hands? Or were they destined to be sounds meant only to be listened to and never to be imprisoned by any language? Is language a distraction? Sharkey asks, "Where is the maker now that we are branded/ with what we call his voice" Whether assuming the role of prisoner or inquisitor, what is revealed is how when we speak or "write [of] the prisoner [we are] speaking of the ministry," of the soul-sounds that came before the flesh and the skin of language. What this collection offers is an opportunity to listen to those sounds while choosing to remain speechless without distraction.

The Rattling Window, Catherine Staples, Ashland Poetry Press - The thirty-nine free verse poems are grouped into the parts: "Coming & Going," "Into the Green," and "Like Breath on a Pane of Glass." The Atlantic Ocean, the rural life, farmers, animals, are the topics of a poet familiar with hearing the wind. One who has lived with acorn caps, goldfinches, trawlers, pastures, old sills, foghorns, and life in old houses. A few poems refer to Michelangelo and Persephone but the poet especially knows the timelessness of "mallards descending two by two" and the reeds they stir. The astonishing beauty of the world she creates lingers after reading, making one want to return for another whispered, layered, lyrical pass.

back to top

 

General Fiction

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

Winner

This is Between Us, Kevin Sampsell, Tin House Books - Told in a series of short vignettes, this first person narrator chronicles a love affair from year one to year five. These lovers meet when they are both married to other people, each one bearing a child from that broken marriage. Year one reveals the passion and lust of a new couple and the excitement and nervousness that accompany blending families and lives. The years that follow explore the struggles of maintaining that passion, the inevitable failures, and the surprising way in which love can still grow and evolve despite those failures. Each moment reveals a new intimacy and insight that often goes unspoken in even the most private of moments.

First Runner-Up

Badlands, Thomas Biel, Three Towers Press - The author is a master storyteller in the tradition of Mark Twain and Garrison Keillor, creating characters that readers care about through the unexpected twists and turns of events. His stories stretch playfully like a rubber band, then unexpectedly snap with new understanding, emotion or consequences. Narrator Matthew Davis relates boyhood hijinks with his best friend, Idaho Wells in a small town near the Montana Badlands. Beneath the situational humor, there's truth—sometimes painful, sometimes awkward or uncomfortable, but always reaching into the guts of humanity. Davis' father is a Presbyterian minister who's lost his faith; his brother is a draft dodger; another friend, "Mona Lisa," is suspected of being gay, but his reality is a bigger secret. Each chapter stands alone, but are also part of the larger fabric of the book. The book is funny, dramatic, tender, and sad, with characters so real you forget that they are fictional.

see the review in the USR.

Honorable Mentions

The Biology of Luck, Jacob M. Appel, Elephant Rock - This is a modern love story for the Internet age, a powerful meditation on the ways in which contemporary Americans appropriate romance and find each other—or not—across a vast social expanse. With New York City and its environs as the novel's setting, Appel draws upon a complex structure involving a novel-within-a-novel that presupposes the primary narrative thrust. It is a deft trick, indeed, that Appel pulls off with great skill, owing, in no small part, to his sense of humor and spate of unforgettable characters, including late twentysomething Starshine Hart and idealistic tour guide Larry Bloom. Appel's novel is the way we live now.

Belle Vue, Barry G. Gale, AuthorHouse - Narrowly focused on a single summer day at the Belle Vue resort located in the countryside near Vienna, the author's nuanced description of the interplay between the young Dr. Freud, his wife Martha, her younger sister Minna, and accompanying mother-in-law are slowly composed as in a realist still life. The realism is only based on a supposition, a thesis that the founder of psychoanalysis was involved in a twenty-year affair with his wife's sister Minna. The possible historicity of the narrative achieves bold outlines, the language of the internal and external dialogue reflecting the fin de siècle nineteenth century's fascination with analysis and rationalism. But the writer's skill shows how even Freud, in his bold attempt at applying analysis to the dark energies of irrational emotion, repression, and dreams, himself succumbs to an overarching need for a purely subjective romantic love. Denied by Freudians, this books message is subtle in its language of emotion vying with reason, quietly humanizing the giant of psychoanalysis, cracking the iron mask of Victorian sensibility.

The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works, Ron Riekki (editor), Wayne State University Press - This anthology set in and inspired by Michigan's Upper Peninsula, or the U.P., is a tribute to the landscape and people that make up this distinct region. Comprised of new poetry, short stories, and essays from more than forty writers, both new and established, Riekki's collection introduces readers to this extraordinary northern territory through an array of subject matter, writing styles, and perspectives. From the guarded secret in Sharon Dilworth's "The Possibility of Wolves" to the unresolved suspicions in L.E. Kimball's "Deadfall," the intimate tales in this collection not only draw the reader into the complex lives of their characters, but skillfully illustrate the challenges and rewards of their stark and beautiful setting.

My Life With Wings, Hal Marcovitz - Even though his wife has left him and taken everything but the house, one day a man sprouts wings. Not metaphysical wings, real ones. There's some talk about consulting doctors, getting the wings surgically removed. He never gets around to it. Of course, he can't go to work: One can hardly show up at the office with wings. Medical emails are exchanged and friends visit. One wants to write a book about the winged man and offers to split the royalties. A literary agent gets involved, and publishing houses want to bid for the rights. Screenplay details need to be worked out. His wife returns, just in time for the auction party. But the man with wings has his own ideas. He climbs out of the attic window and gets up on the roof... This imaginative and even brilliantly written book will leave you hanging, like that man, from the gutters on the roof line, believing it might be possible to fly.

Song for Chance, John Van Kirk, Red Hen Press - Keyboardist Jack Voss is an aging seventies rock musician who finds out his estranged daughter, Chance, has committed suicide in a pact with two other boys, one of whom survives. To complicate matters, he finds out they has been listening to the rock opera "Enchanted Pond" that he had penned as a result of a frustrating love triangle in his own youth. The work had propelled him and his friends to overnight rock stardom, but a wave of suicides following the recordings' release in the mid-seventies sullied the purity of that experience for Jack. Now he must take stock of his life and attempt to come to terms with his daughter's death. Cutting back and forth between his biographical story and the various threads that extend from there into present day, Voss attempts at drawing some line of reason, some map of what had gone wrong in his family, in his life, in his need for love. He somewhere learns that performing music has truly been his number one love.

back to top

 

Commercial Fiction

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

Winner

Back to Jerusalem, Jan Surasky, Sandalwood Press - Jenny dreams of escaping to collage, using her artistic talents to make a new life for herself, but in the 1970's, girls don't follow their hearts; they obey the wishes of a mother who demands her daughter marry the richest boy in town. Jake, the poor Mennonite who's her best friend, has ambitions of his own and can only wish her well. The marriage is a disaster. When violence touches Jenny, she divorces and, with her son, moves to New York. She struggles but rediscovers her talent and creates a successful career. A challenging event involving a helpless man brings Jake, now a high-powered attorney, back into Jenny's life. Working together, they right a wrong and come full circle in Jerusalem. The author has woven a fast-paced powerful story. Strong characters and the impact of timely events are brilliantly crafted in this story of love and justice winning out.

see the review in the USR.

First Runner-Up

Shutterbug, Buz Sawyers, Savant Publishing - The author keeps readers on their toes in this thrilling adventure about a Texas photographer who finds himself on the wrong side of a political scandal. Ex-thief, Brian Braun, spends his days making coffee table photo books to pass the time and resist the temptation to revert back to his old ways. A call from U.S. Senator Fagan, asking Braun to photograph his impending assassination, changes the photographers life. Brian's photographic evidence of this high profile murder send him on an adrenaline charged chase, trying to stay ahead of a private political assassination team. Follow Braun as he faces his moral conscious and decides if he's going to dispose of what very well could be a record of history in the making.

Honorable Mentions

The Last Desperado, Rebecca Rockwell, Outskirts Press - As the Old West era comes to an end, there are still a few renegade outlaw gangs running wild. One such group, The Wild Bunch lead by Bill Doolin prefers robbing trains, but when times are lean, banks and stagecoaches aren't safe either. This novel showcases outlaw Doolin's rise from a simple cowboy working on cattle ranches to a notorious outlaw. Torn between wanting to settle down with a family and leading his loyal band of fugitives, he must choose his path. Based on historical fact, the book brings to life the struggle and desire for a normal life as a man's life spins out of control.

Spellbound, Jennifer Adele, Synthesis 365 - Vera Norton's life takes many twists and turns into the dark world of magic, mystery, and mayhem, leading her down distinct paths of danger and dread following the death of her friend and neighbor, Lillian Thompson. The loss of someone so close to Vera sends her reeling. Her moments of contemplation take place beneath a large oak tree at the center of the Thompson gardens. But when Lillian's strange sister, Elizabeth, moves into the Thompson house, horrific things began to happen—ghostly encounters, curses, and spells. Breaking the curse is the only thing that will allow Vera to return to a normal life.

Beautiful Evil Winter, Kelly K. Lavender, First Edition Design - Sofia and Ethan are apprehensive as they begin their adoption adventure. Already they are being told by their coordinator in Russia that adoptions are getting risky and the mob is watching. Despite this they are off to what they hope is an uneventful experience, despite Sofia's nerves. She has a tendency to worry, even about her husband's calm nature. What they encounter in Russia is worse than they could have feared and pushes them beyond what they thought they could endure. The author does a wonderful job of creating a cast of complex characters who are understandable, if not always likable. The book is difficult to put down, enticing you to read a few more chapters before bed. In the end, the book leaves the reader satisfied, but the story never fully leaves your mind.

Warpworld, Kristene Perron, Joshua Simpson, Mint Publishers - This science fiction-fantasy saga creates two worlds that are different but with similarities of power stratification and revolution. Ama's earthlike world is a theocracy of repression, a caste system, slavery, and rigidity, against all of which Ama rebels. Segkel's world, threatened by the natural phenomenon called the Storm, must find "vita" in off-world spiritual sites to repel the Storm and power their planet where political repression, a caste system, slavery, and rigidity rule. In his survey trip, theorist Segkel teams up with sea captain Ama to change her planet by armed attack and rebellion. This complex and rich tale, told with good pace, interweaves plot lines (i.e. a love story, family conflict, political intrigue, military planning, revenge, and impossible choices), engaging characters, and escalating tension. The result is a satisfying culture-conflict tale well told.

Steel's Treasure, Nick Auclair, On the Fence Writers - Finding the right blend of historical fact and action-packed fiction is a tall order, but the author rises to the challenge and delivers with this novel. The protagonist, Captain William Steel, a US Air Force Intelligence officer stationed in the Philippines, is searching for billions of dollars' worth of gold believed to be buried by the Japanese during WWII.  Alongside Jo-Jo, a tough, well-educated Filipino, Steel embarks upon an adventure that will take him deep into jungle and mountains, places almost as treacherous as the city where the mere mention of this legendary treasure stirs up both political trouble and mercenary interest. Set against the lush landscape of the Philippine's and cold-war era political realities, such as the battle between the US-backed Marcos' Government and the New People's Army, the novel is well-informed, fast-paced, and evokes a rich cast of characters. This is a smart novel with plenty of punch, one readers will enjoy.

The Devil's Breath, Richard Hicks, Xlibris - Retired San Diego police chief, John DeSilva, is a widow who hasn't gotten over the loss of his wife despite the help of his psychologist and lover, Pauline. When he gets the chance to mount a cold-case investigation into the wildfire that put a firefighter, the brother of the current police chief, in a coma, he closes in on the serial arsonist who calls himself Moonlighter. With the help of a bowling-addict cop and an agoraphobic, computer-savvy, long-time tracker of the arsonist who killed her brother, DeSilva identifies his target. Too bad Moonlighter, dying of a rare medical condition, has become driven—for a grand finale fire and for revenge against DeSilva, his mother, and his grandson. Hicks writes with confidence to give us engaging characters, convincing dialog, and a well-paced mystery tale with satisfying resolution.

back to top

 

Children's

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

Winner

The Man with the Violin, Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, Annick Press - Based on true events from January 12th, 2007 at the Plaza Station in Washington, D.C., this book tells of a little boy, named Dylan, who fell in love with beautiful music played by one of the world's best musicians dressed as an everyday street musician. Dylan was engulfed in the beautiful sounds of that day and yearned to enjoy and celebrate them. However, the adults around him, including his own mother, pulled him away and hurried along with their day, ignoring the music around them. The creative illustrations of the story accent color and artistic motion at just the right time so we can almost see the music being played on the pages. It is a story that truly teaches us to just stop and listen to the music around you.

First Runner-Up

Voices From Pearl Harbor, Sherry Garland, paintings by Layne Johnson, Pelican Publishing - This book is filled with character’s recollections of Pearl Harbor; memories that start before the surprise attack On December 7, 1941 and go through the months just after. The events are told through a combination of voices that are both historical and fictional characters. It highlights events by connecting the reader with characters that make this historical event both understandable and real. The paintings in this book are incredibly vivid and capture the crux of Pearl Harbor and reflect the author’s words by depicting specific events. At the end, a historical note and glossary are included to aid readers in deeper understanding.

Honorable Mentions

The What if Book, Teresa "T" Sammarco. illustrated by Carol Curley, HenschelHAUS Publishing - This colorful book challenges the reader to always ask "what if" to encourage learning and deeper thinking. Children will be attracted to the layout and pictures. The whimsical font, typed in various shapes, sizes, and styles attracts attention to key words or ideas. While easy to read, it sends a solid message to never stop asking questions--never stop learning--with fun and attractive pictures and eye-catching layout. The ideas in the book are a little off beat and out of the ordinary, which deepens the message that anything is possible, if you just ask what if?

Ariel Bradley Spy for General Washington, Lynda Durrant, illustrated by Joe Rossi, Vanita Books - This historical book offers the true story of Ariel Bradley, a nine-year old spy for George Washington. Young readers are given the chance to relive history and understand how a young child entered enemy camps to gain important information that helped win the Battle of White Plains, in New York. Children will connect with the young spy and be encouraged by the bravery and strength he showed. The glossary at the end helps define difficult words without asking a young reader to find another source for meaning. The general layout and easy-to-read font make this a book that various levels of readers will enjoy.

Franny's Rescue, Crystal White, illustrated by M. W. Adams, Grass Hopper Publications - This tale is about a stray dog and her experiences of surviving on the street. She doesn't trust anyone but is curious of the kind human woman who takes care of other dogs. Trust is obviously an issue for this pup because she doesn't let the woman get too close. Through out the stray's day, she gets yelled at, shooed away and almost attacked by another dog until the same kind woman from the beginning of the story rescues her and gives her the name, Franny. There extra pages that go beyond the story to stress the importance of reading everyday while also giving specific examples of what you can do to help a child become a better reader.

Once Upon Alaska, photography by Mark Kelly, verse by Nick Jans - This photographic book takes you on a journey through Alaska's landscape. Along the way, you meet many of the animals living there as well as explore the scenery. The rhyming verse on each page flows smoothly but actually acts as the backdrop to the detailed pictures. The vivid photographs are what truly tell the story of the wildlife and nature in Alaska. In the back of the book they have also included a fun fact section. In this section you can learn about every animal and landform that are pictured in the story as well as learn fun facts about them.

The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen, Diana Prichard, illustrated by Heather Devlin Knopf, Little Pickle Press - This story is a great lesson on farm to table foods. A little boy named Patrick walks into his kitchen one morning to find a cow right in front of him! When his father strides in after him Patrick realizes that he is the only one who can see the cow. Dad decides to make French toast and asks Patrick to get the ingredients for him. Every time he gets a new item, the actual animals appears such as a chicken in the refrigerator for the eggs, the cow for milk, and even maple trees for the syrup. Patrick becomes very excited about his discoveries and wakes up the next morning eager to see what animals/ingredients will be waiting for him during breakfast.

Johari's Joy, Boots Hensel, Kimber Court Press - Johari, the rhinoceros, spies all of the other animals having fun with each other, but Johari is sad and alone. Joy is a pig that is looking for a friend in the same habitat because she is also sad and alone. They are put together in the same pen, which thrills Joy, but Johari's mind is clouded by his own self-pity and doesn't see what a good friend Joy could be. He only sees a bothersome, stinky pig. He trots off to find himself a new friend but no one seems to fit. He comes back with open mind and sees that, even though Joy is a pig, they really do have a lot in common and can be companions. The end of the story includes a list of interesting facts about rhinoceroses as well as rhinoceros jokes.

back to top

 

Young Adult

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

Winner

The Field, Tracy Richardson, Luminis Books - This novel is a rare combination of science fiction, sports, and teenage angst which should appeal to teens and adults alike. Protagonist Eric struggles with the same issues most boys his age face: meeting girls, fitting in with the crowd, making the soccer team. The characters are well rounded and full of depth and energy which keeps the reader going. While the sports bent may not be compellin for some, the book has qualities that should appeal to a wide range of readers. It allows a sneak peek into the head of the teenage boy with all its twists, turns, highs and lows, and leads the reader on Eric’s journey of self-discovery while remaining entertaining and engaging.

First Runner-Up

Sign of the Throne, Melissa Eskue Ousley, Castle Garden Publications - From the first chapter to the last, this novel holds the reader's attention with a suspenseful story of a child-king kidnapping from one reality hidden in the reality of the present. Abby, a teen character, will grip the heart with her wits and wisdom. She is the only one that can lead David Corbin to see he has been shielded from the real truth of who he is and his destiny. The two are attracted to each other and give strength to one another beyond both their worlds. The author does a wonderful job of developing the main and supporting characters. With only days before the dark reality is released into present day reality, Abby must shake David from the veil of lies to reveal his true identity and power.

Honorable Mentions

Reaper, L.S.Murphy, J. Taylor Publishing - This is the story of high school girl, Quincy, as she learns of her destiny to become a Grim Reaper. Her life is continually interrupted as the current Grim Reapers stop time in order to teach her about her new job. Although this can sometimes get in the way and slow the momentum of the story, the characters are believable and fleshed out. The setting could be any high school in America. This book could have easily stood on its own as a coming of age story without the Grim Reaper element. It touches all the timely topics for this age-group: feelings about belonging, popularity, doing the right thing, etc. A great story culminating with a nice plot twist near the end.

Montooth 3: Red Cross of Gold, Robert Jay, Cloverleaf Corp - The third book in the Montooth series finds Carty Andersson and her crew anticipating graduation and attending college. Sally, the Canfield Witch from book one, is present for their big prom-like dance. As she is prepping Carty and her roommate, Elana Rafferty, for a grand night out, she displays her gifts generously. Carty and the crew begin college. When a professor is murdered by archery, Carty becomes a suspect as her friends rally to prove otherwise. Elana heads to Cuba, but joins forces with Fidel Castro before he takes power. Sally reveals the ancient family history that leads to the origins of her wealth. As their paths all cross again, the reader will never foresee the events that bring this story to fruition.

Third Willow, Lenore Skomal, CreateSpace - Chronicling the adventures of four unlikely friends during the summer of 1954, the novel visits difficult themes of prejudice, abuse, isolation and war while remaining a poetic and exciting reflection on this coming-of-age time. For adult readers, the book will remind them of the joy and angst of growing up. For younger readers, the story will help them explore their own changing lives and provide a sympathetic page to lean on. The power of friendship and the perseverance of youth remain the focus throughout the intense and riveting story and makes the reader long for an escape from reality where freedom and friendship reign supreme.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, D. Robert Pease, Evolved Publishing - This book follows Noah Zarc and his time traveling family on a quest to repopulate Earth with animals. Set in the future, after humans have destroyed Earth, the Zarc family travel back and forth through time collecting animals on their special ship, the ARC. The plot involves a standard villan attempting to destroy Earth for animal life, and the play on words in order to reference Noah's Ark and the time travel lingo can be distracting, but the characters are well developed and it was an interesting choice to have the main character in a wheelchair. There is excitement to hold the reader, while providing a subtle enough to dovetail the next book.

Dark Talisman, Steven M. Booth, Azimuth Books - Kudos to this author for creating a non-heroic female lead character. Altria is a dark elf that is not fitting in with the others. When she robs a local sultan and obtains a magical necklace, her world changes. The necklace, which she hides from her peers, gets her banished, but after seeking shelter in a dwarf city in a mountain, Altira discovers the necklace protects the wearer and sheds secrets that can change the world. Fans of high fantasy will enjoy this journey and will be thankful there is more to come in this series.

back to top

 

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

Confusing the Enemy, Dr. Scott A. Weiss & Paige Stover, Acanthus Publishing - Cus D'Amato rose from a street-fighting, poor Bronx background to become one of the most respected boxing manager-trainers of all times, specializing in building men, not just fighters. Despite his prominence, Cus was a secretive man, refusing Norman Mailer's request to write his biography and even sealing his hospital records for eternity. Cus' almost paranoid obsession with privacy makes this thorough and honest novelized biography a minor miracle, performed through arduous research and desire to understand both the man and the genesis of the unique D'Amato Style. Kunsterman, a fictitious journalist, narrates and transforms potentially dry research into a juicy, sizzling story, propelled by direct dialogue and intimate insights into boxing greats, from Floyd Patterson to Jose Torres to Muhammad Ali, culminating with the Mike Tyson phenomenon. Cus D'Amato, the Yoda of the boxing world, is lovingly resurrected and dissected in this candid tribute to the "sweet science."

First Runner-Up

The Compassionate Warrior, Elsa Marston, Wisdom Tales - Abd-el Kadar, a man who has been called the George Washington of Algeria, is little known to Western readers today. Author Elsa Marston expertly explores the life of an Arab hero who led the fight in Algeria against the French in the 1800s. She presents Abd-el Kadar as a military strategist and Muslim political leader, who championed the rights of his people while upholding principles of mercy and humanity. Abd-el Kadar, a celebrity in his own time, was also a scholar, a devout follower of Islam, and a proponent of peaceful coexistence among those of different faiths. While the author is known for works aimed at young readers, this book succeeds as a portrait that is compelling and enlightening to present-day readers of any age.

Honorable Mentions

Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos, Karen Coates, photos by Jerry Redfern, ThingsAsian Press - Between 1964-1973, the US military, and its allies, dropped 260 million cluster bombs on Laos, amounting to 2.5 million tons of munitions over the course of 580,000 bombing missions—the equivalent of one B-52 bomb-load, every eight minutes, 24 hours a day. A ton for every man, woman, and child, living across one tiny Southeast Asian nation. More than a "cluster bomb" of historical statistics to the villagers, farmers, scrap-metal hunters, and people who make and use tools from harvesting the remaining one million tons of unexploded ordinances (UXO's), it is their lethal inheritance of the killing and maiming of thousands of their people. As told by Karen J Coates' compassionately written first hand narratives and as seen via her husband, Jerry Redfern's, magnificent photographs, the perilous life stories of two generations of Laos people, living among 35,000 square miles of bomb-contaminated land, no longer remains secret.

The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love, Gilles Herrada, SelectBooks - The author sets out to revisit many aspects of homosexuality but to do so with a novel intention: "to find out how it all fits together and begin to create a richer picture of same-sex love supported by an open-minded pluralistic and open-minded discourse." His well-written, comprehensive text examines the origins and importance of same-sex relations in the evolution of the human race and discusses homosexuality in the context of history, biology, science, culture, and myth. Because of this interdisciplinary exploration, the book brings great depth to its complex topic and offers the reader a fresh approach to the study and understanding of homosexuality.

Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes, Nilda Callañaupa and Christine Franquemont, photography by Joe Coca, Thrums - In the Andes of Peru, weaving provides utility, income, and standards of excellence and beauty. This "slow cloth system," involving face-to-face exchanges among elders who weave, is unfurled in loving detail through stunning photographs and intimate narrative that detail the historical, socioeconomic, global, and local context of weaving in nine communities in Peru. Weaving provides essential income, especially for widows, which makes it all the more remarkable that elders are willing to share weaving knowledge across communities. Personal profiles show how weaving spins kinship through shared threads of anger, joy, and despair using techniques dating back 2000 years. A glossary of weaving terminology and Quechua and Spanish terms lends clarity. Brilliant fabrics and stunning aged faces deliver visual candy, while informed narrative captures soulful human lives in this beautiful glimpse into the past that is also the present for nine communities of weaving elders in the Peruvian Andes.

Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State, Jesse J. Gant & Nicholas Hoffman, Wisconsin Historical Society Press - Well-written and researched, this is a comprehensive history that examines how cycling contributed to the identity of Wisconsin while also managing to tell the story of how the freedom and speed offered by the bicycle helped to revolutionize transportation in the United States. The authors discuss the bicycle's early years and show how reluctance to expand the bicycle's reach beyond white middle class men in the 19th century made bike-riding a political act: Wisconsin women of the late 1800s became heavily involved in cycling, seeing it as tool of women's liberation. Bicycle manufacturing as a key industry in the state during cycling's boom years, as well as Wisconsin's position today as a mecca of cycling culture, are thoroughly explored. Interesting photographs, newspaper extracts, and historical documents break up the text and engage the reader.

The Chappy Ferry Book, Tom Dunlop, photos by Alison Shaw, Vineyard Stories - Tom Dunlop, a self-proclaimed Chappy Ferry lover, and former editor of Martha's Vineyard Magazine, delivers an attractive and fact-filled chronicle of America's shortest, oldest, and most unusual ferry, notable not only for its diminutive traverse of only 527 feet between the tiny island of Chappaquiddick and Martha's vineyard, but for its rich New England history and trivia. Augmented by a rich collection of historical data, illustrations and photographs, Dunlop's Chappy Stories include tales of the blind skipper who piloted the Chappy Ferry, the sea plane that struck it in 1937, the Dike Bridge tragedy, and the role ferry played in the filming of the movie Jaws in 1974. A coffee-table delight, with broad cultural content and historical appeal, that travels beyond the shores of the tiny island of Chappaquiddick.

back to top

 

Memoir

The Memoir category captures specific personal experience.

Winner

Young Soldiers Amazing Warriors: Inside One of the Most Highly Decorated Battalions of Vietnam, Robert H. Sholly, Stonywood Publications - This is a first hand account of a soldier's daily life in the combat zone during the Vietnam War. The reader is immersed in the youthful courage that permeates our hero's actions and the humor that helps him survive the mayhem. His job is not an ordinary one; flirting with death often happens well "before 9 o'clock when civilians at home were just getting to work." Intertwined with the author's recollections are interviews with fellow fighters and commanders, as well as excerpts from their letters home, completing the picture and ensuring the accuracy of events. The difficulties of transitioning from combat to civilian life are emphasized by the author, whose ultimate wish is granted "if one person reading this, reaches out to a veteran and thanks him." Consider it done, Colonel Sholly.

First Runner-Up

Short Leash: A Memoir of a Dog Walking and Deliverance , Janice Gary, Michigan State University Press- This is a book about leaving fear and pain behind and finding the joy in life while hanging onto the leash of a beloved dog. Barney is a delightfully rambunctious big black dog that drags his damaged owner along the path to healing, taking her on long walks to the place of renewed hope. The book is so beautifully written, loaded with extraordinarily vivid descriptions of places and emotions it will grab the reader by the collar, inspiring and daring them to take courageous steps to similar life changes. She is a gifted writer, and her work is a gift to the reader.

Honorable Mentions

Off My Rocker, Kenny Weissberg, Sandra Jonas Publishing - Concert promoter Kenny Weissberg offers a fascinating perspective on the music industry after four decades as an entertainment insider. In his riveting and well-written memoir, Weissberg takes the reader from his hazy first years as a Boulder, Colorado, radio disc jockey—at a time when DJ's ran the station and spun only vinyl—through his various stints as music critic, musician, and, eventually, concert promoter for the acclaimed Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay series. Weissberg offers more than the obligatory, behind-the-scenes stories of rampant drug use and overblown musician egos; instead, he stays focused on his compelling and sometimes deeply personal interactions with various entertainment icons. He does it with humor, unflinching honesty, and wistful reflection. Perhaps most appealingly, Weissberg's deep and abiding love of music shines through this memoir and, as a result, will likely inspire readers to think differently about music as both art and business.

Wil of God: Embracing the Relentless Love of a Special Child, Carrie Wilson Link, CreateSpace - Carrie and Ed, an educated, professional couple are already the parents of a baby girl. But they are also faithful believers in God's will, and when Carrie is again expecting, they choose to forgo any unnecessary prenatal testing. Their son Wil seems normal at birth aside from his unexpected and unnaturally large size; he resembles a three-month old rather than a newborn. By eighteen months, it's clear that the non-stop crying which started at two weeks, and has yet to cease, is not just colic. Wil's still not walking or talking—severely developmentally delayed, but there is no easy label for it. Wil's mother painstakingly but passionately chronicles the daily, hourly, often minute-by-minute trials of caring for this unique child she loves dearly but whose neediness is wearing her out and putting a strain on the whole family. This heartfelt narrative is compelling and thought-provoking.

Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome, Romy Wyllie, CreateSpace - People with Down syndrome remain marginalized in our society. Written by a mother of a man with this syndrome, this tender memoir dispels many related myths. Many of us remember the time when these children were called "mongoloid" and institutionalized for life. Not so for Andrew. The book follows the progress of the parents' rearing and of Andrew's passage through life. He learns to read and write; he rides horses; he drives a car; he holds a full-time job; he travels overseas several times. He lives to be 52, shorter than the expected age of those with Down syndrome, which is around 60, although, like many with D. S., Andrew suffered from other ailments in later years: schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. As his proud mom writes, "The purpose of this book is to give a full account of the challenges and rewards of bringing up a child with a disability."

see the review in the USR.

Betty's Child: A Memoir, Donald R. Dempsey, Dream of Things - Almost one million children experience maltreatment at the hands of those they love and trust each year in the United States, and more than seventy-five percent suffer from parental neglect, as did the author of this memoir. This book contains the story of Dempsey's moving, inspirational life's journey. Using very real and honest language (and leaving very little to the imagination concerning the darker side of existence), the author tells the reader about how it felt to live with his neglectful mother and her string of abusive boyfriends. The author did what he could to escape the hopeless life those who should have been helping and protecting him carved out for him, and he helped his brothers escape it too. His personal tale is raw and emotional, and his style helps the reader connect with him in a very real way.

see the review in the USR.

The View from Casa Chepitos: A Journey Beyond the Border, Judith Gille, Davis Bay Press - Seattle store owner Judith Gille visited San Miguel de Allende, a picturesque town in central Mexico, and impulsively purchased a second home in a rundown Mexican neighborhood. Through their years at the house named Casa Chepitos, the Gille family gradually integrated into life in the Mexican alleyway, and grew especially close with the neighboring Cordova family. Against a colorful historical backdrop, the author shares poignant stories of modern Mexican life, whether through a birth, a wedding, or an attempt to emigrate to America. Gille's tone is exceedingly respectful of her Mexican neighbors, but transparently cynical when it comes to her references to United States' immigration policy. Regardless of the reader's political leanings, this book is appealing because Gille's strong writing and descriptive prose highlight the struggles and concerns common to all women, including children, relationships, or the future.

Double Happiness: One Man's Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China, Tony Brasunas, Torchpost - This is a beautiful book of discovery, the discovery of a young man on the long road to maturity, as well as an intimate view into the life and ways of a country most of us only know as an abstract, far away place, a name, or a menu. The author's vivid description of the people, the homes, their cities, their lives and the long roads of this ancient world is poetic. As a young teacher living in a strange new world, he writes from the heart, about himself and his adventures in a warm and revealing way. Along that way the reader will gain new insights into a beautiful and fascinating world—so valuable to understanding each other on this ever smaller planet.

back to top

 

Business

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

Winner

Trust, Inc., Barbara Brooks Kimmel (editor), Next Decade - While many factors can affect the success of an organization, a work force that is engaged and committed is critical to its sustainability. This is accomplished by building trust through its key stake holders, the employees. Kimmel, editor of Trust Inc., has led a successful career in helping organizations build trustworthy business practices. In 2012, she was named one of "25 Women who are Changing the World," by Good Business International. Her book is a compilation of valuable insights from over thirty expert thought leaders. For example, take Ken Blanchard's unique perspective: "It often takes a long time to build—and yet you can blow it in a minute," or Stephen M.R. Covey's and Greg Link's observation: "As a society, we have become very good at measuring the risks and costs of extending too much trust, but we're not good at all at measuring the risks and costs of not trusting enough." Anyone responsible for managing a team should be required to read this book.

First Runner-Up

What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?, Tony Juniper, Synergetic Press - Many books have been written on the importance of protecting our environment. Juniper's opens our eyes to the relationship between Earth's natural resources and economic gain. There are negative consequences from the continued expansion of business capital, without regard for the impact on natural capital, along with a tangible economic cost to the depletion of natural resources. Oceans, forests, soil, and coral reefs have all been comprised by our eagerness to chase economic richness. Hurricane Katrina's $81 Billion price tag is one example of this. However, all is not lost. The association between economic gain and protecting our valuable resources is not mutually exclusive. The author points out that "commercial success will, in the future, depend on building intelligent relationships with nature." Businesses need to adapt a more long term view of this and make investments now in building a more harmonious relationship with nature.

Honorable Mentions

The Terrible 10: A Century of Economic Folly, Burton Abrams, The Independent Institute - Americans have the basic right to elect officials who will represent their best interests. When government policies are put in place for special interest purposes, the very people who have placed their trust in these elected leaders suffer disastrous consequences. History has shown numerous examples of this. IN Abrams' fascinating book, he identifies ten of the worst economic policy decisions that were made during the twentieth century. Each of these major economic debacles, including Prohibition and The Great Depression has had a catastrophic impact on society. Abrams provides a detailed analysis of "The Terrible 10" in a witty, yet analytical manner and shows us that history can be a great teacher, if we pay attention to the mistakes of the past.

Loopholes of Real Estate, Garrett Sutton, Esq, RDA Press - With all the chatter of the Gold Bugs, real estate and the ownership of this tangible asset, can play an important role in any well-diversified portfolio, but to be a truly successful real estate investor, one must think well beyond the notion of buying and selling properties for short-term gain. Sutton provides valuable insight into the world of wealth building through real estate. Strategies for utilizing both tax and legal loopholes to protect and grow wealth are detailed in a clear manner. This will prove helpful for either a first time or experienced real estate investor. This comprehensive book covers a vast amount of topics ranging from asset depreciation to the benefits of leveraging, property management, and the use of trusts. "Becoming a successful real estate investor is within most investors' reach," according to Sutton. This is a great handbook for anyone interested in this time-true investment strategy.

Power of Understanding, Karen S. Walch, PhD, Acanthus Publishing - Negotiations occur nearly every day of our lives. Successful negotiations require a set of skills that allow the negotiator to fully understand how to advocate for themselves as well as others. When any negotiation is based on lies, coercion, and deception, trust cannot be sustained. Without trust, we fail to motivate others and, therefore, fail to achieve our long term goals. Walch, an established educator and consultant in the field of communication and negotiation, teaches us that in order to thrive in any organization, one must gain the support of others. This requires a deep understanding of our own motivations as well those around us. By doing so, one is more likely to be flexible, make concessions and achieve the goals of everyone involved. This book is a great resource for anyone within an organization who desires to improve upon their collaboration skills and build teamwork with others.

In Search of the Fun-Forever Job, Ellis Chase, Bacon Press Books - The idea of a job search can be so overwhelming that one may put it off, even if unhappy in a current position. The ability to put oneself out there and deal with rejection can be very difficult. Career expert Ellis Chase explains that finding the right job is an evolutionary process that can take time to achieve. This comprehensive handbook provides us with the tools to manage our own careers, covering everything from networking to successful salary negotiations. Chase guides us through such varied topics as dealing with unexpected job loss, pointing out that one shouldn't panic but should take the "time to absorb the events, prepare for a job search, and put the best possible marketing spin on your situation." Effective self-marketing, emphasizing the importance of the "two-minute pitch" and winning interview strategies are also covered.

back to top

 

Reference

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

Winner

A Fresh Look at Judging Floral Design, Hitomi Gilliam AIFD and Kathy Whalen AIFD, BCFL - This book is at once practical and artistic. The novice will quickly understand the fundamentals of floral art. The expert will be refreshed by easy to find key concepts, the extensive index, sources, and recommendations on further reading. The book is an attractive volume organized in an accessible form as a workbook, educational piece, and reference. Engagement is fostered through descriptive language, an eye to the larger aesthetics of art, and the practical exercises that involve the reader in the content itself. The text takes to its topic with great practicality, achieves its stated purpose, and is as comfortable on the coffee table or on a computer screen via the included CD, as it is in a reader's lap.

First Runner-Up

Everyone's Universe: A Guide to Accessible Astronomy Places, Second Edition, Noreen Grice, You Can Do Astronomy - Grice has taken a two-fold approach to making astronomy more accessible. The first part of the guide focuses on giving advice to those that run things to do with astronomy, from planetariums to informal stargazing clubs, and looks at both physical accessibility and accessibility for people that, for example, have autism. The second part of the guide focuses on providing concise, clear, and relevant information to those that can only visit accessible astronomical places due to their own needs or the needs of a loved one. This guide includes a number of real-life accessibility success stories and astronomy institutions from around the United States.

Honorable Mentions

The Fundamental Force, Len Kurzawa, Trafford Publishing - Using plain language, graphs, diagrams, and formulas, Kurzawa discusses the four known "forces" that explain how everything in the universe works: gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear power, and strong nuclear power, presents an easily followed, albeit complicated, path of scientific inquiry. Read the chapters sequentially, Kurzawa advises, and having explored mysteries at both an atomic and galactic scale, what will emerge in Chapter 34 is a new understanding. For example, we learn gravity is not force, but an effect. "…space determines the notion of matter, and structure is itself an effect directed by its own contraction and expansion…" Gravity occurs because "…all matter attracts all other matter in the universe." Force is an excellent edition for sci-fi writers and readers, as well as the scientifically challenged.

John Ford: Poet in the Desert, Joseph Malham, Lake Street Press - This book provides both a deep factual history and a rich view into its subject. Cross-references between periods of the subject's life seem always to have a purpose in driving the story forward. Even when repetition is needed, new insight is provided through the author's engaging narrative. Seemingly ordinary events that had meaningful impact on the subject are raised to their proper importance through effective use of metaphor and simile, both applied with care and never with over-use. This, and the active, urgent prose with which the author writes brings the man to life. At the same time, the book provides an exhaustive history of the successes and failures of a man and his art, one that can be read as a reference book on the one hand, and as a human interest story of a major figure in motion pictures on the other.

Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment, Nadine A. Block, Center for Effective Discipline - Block seeks to highlight that school corporal punishment is still legal in many places and to help people in those locations who are trying to pass laws to make it illegal. To reach these goals, Block discusses her organization's struggle to pass a law outlawing it in Ohio, their eventual success, and many tips and suggestions from her organization's experiences. Others can learn from their successes, setbacks, and roadblocks. There are also many examples of the counter-arguments that people seeking to outlaw school corporal punishment can expect to hear from those in favor, including responses that people and organizations can make to these counter-arguments. The book is supplemented with tables and extensive endnotes.

back to top

 

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

Greek Revival from the Garden, Patricia Moore-Pastides, University of South Carolina Press - Many Americans today live a very fast paced life. It is often easier to make food choices based on convenience rather than health and well being. The idea of eating healthy, let alone gardening, is much more than some can handle. Greek Revival from the Garden makes a compelling case for "garden to table" healthy living. The book, which is designed for beginners, provides step by step guidance into the world of organic gardening, cooking, and embracing a healthier way of life by following the Mediterranean Diet. It is broken out into sections that include why food choices matter and how to get started in both the garden and kitchen. Stand out recipes include, Zucchini, Almond, and Mint Pesto over Pasta and Radicchio and Fennel Salad with Shrimp, Avocado, Fresh Parsley, and Lime. If the argument for living healthier isn't enough, the delicious yet simple recipes and beautiful photos in this book can convince anyone to consider making a change, for the better, in their diet.

First Runner-Up

Visionary Kitchen, Sandra Young, Beyond Carrots & Kale - Most of us are aware that a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can promote good health. A diet loaded with micronutrients and essential fatty acids can also provide strong ocular health. Visionary Kitchen is a distinctive cookbook that focuses on the foods, herbs and cooking methods that support good vision. Optometrist, Sandra Young teaches us that eyes have "unique nutritional needs," which can be met with the proper combination of nutrients including, but not limited to: Omega-3 fatty acids, Lutein+Zeaxanthin, Vitamins A, C, &E as well as the regulation of blood glucose levels. The book discusses common eye diseases and their prevention, such as Macular Degeneration. Dr. Young shares with us wonderful recipes that are easily adapted into our everyday lifestyles. It is hard to believe that recipes, such as mouthwatering as Roasted Asian Wild Salmon and Coconut, Garlic & Ginger Mussels, could be packed with so much nutritional power. This is a book that changes the way we think about food and nutrition.

Honorable Mentions

The Seasoned Gardener, Carolyn Singer, Garden Wisdow Press - Many of us who live in climates with harsh winters, only think about gardening in the spring and summer; missing out on the enjoyment of gardening year round. A veteran gardener states that one does not need to move to a tropical climate to enjoy year round gardening. Singer, an expert in the field of horticulture, has dedicated a lifetime to teaching, gardening, and writing on the subject. The book is based on a column written for many years by Singer, who points out that there is always something that can be done in a garden, even in the harshest of months, including mulching, irrigating, and pruning. The book is full of practical advice, anecdotes, and beautiful photos based on her experiences. Varied topics include: "Gardening between storms, and "August heat? Bitter vegetables?" If gardening is not a part of your daily life, it may be after reading this book.

A to Z Character Education for the Classroom, Sherry L. Hoffman, Ferne Press - Character building begins at an early age. Many parents and teachers work hard to guide the children in their lives to grow into caring and responsible individuals. Hoffman, provides a fun method for teaching children social skills with the goal of building character. Through the use of poems and engaging activities, such as drawing, word searches, and writing exercises, she creates a method of learning that appeals to both children and adults. A wide range of themes are covered including friendship, humor, personal space, and even drama. These valuable life lessons lead to a foundation of respect, caring, and empathy that will last a lifetime.

Living off the Sea, Melinda Fager, Vineyard Stories - The island of Chappaquiddick, a lovely island near Martha's Vineyard, is full of nature's bounty. Author Melinda Fager, in collaboration with her husband, Jeff, have enjoyed vacationing and living off of the island for many years. They have shared their love of the island and sustainable living with us in this collection of family recipes, photos, and essays, which invites us to experience this delightful place with them. When in "Chappy," Jeff provides the daily catch for the family meals, and together, he and Melinda have developed simple yet delicious recipes such as Grilled Stuffed Grape Leaves, Pan-Seared Bass, and Blue Dogs with shredded cabbage or fennel. The recipes combine local produce, like Fire-Pit Veggies, with lovely essays and photos, offering a wonderful glimpse of their special island.

Parents in Highschooland, Karyn Rashoff, BarkingDogBooks - Raising a teenager during the high school years can test the patience and resolve of any parent. Teens are spreading their wings and need to assert their independence with successful outcomes. At times, parents have difficulty finding the right balance between being an active parent and letting go. Author Karyn Rashoff shares with us her thirty-three years of experience as a high school counselor, working with parents, students and teachers, and reminds us that we are not alone. The book serves as a valuable guide for parents and students alike and provides practical advice on common areas of household distress, including, homework, grades, and preparing for college. In the "Parents: Don’t do These Things!" section, Rashoff points out that it is not helpful to be a nagging and overbearing parent. Encouragement is much more helpful and appreciated, underscoring that teens need to be given responsibility and space with rewards for positive outcomes. This valuable handbook reminds us of the common sense approach to parenting that is so often forgotten.

back to top

 

Health

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

Winner

Don't Stop Dreaming, Dr. Russell Tomar, MavenMark Books - Tomar eloquently reminds of us one of the most frightening periods in the history of American medicine, when bias and irrational fears shredded the ethics of some members of the health care profession. Russell Tomar found himself—no, he placed himself—on the front lines of the battle against HIV/AIDS in a time when the disease caused panic, denial, and prejudice without precedent. Tomar tells the story on multiple levels. His book reads as a scientific mystery, as a saga of social and political struggle, and as a tale of careerism and opportunism that complicated the search for the cause of the disease and for the treatment. Don't Stop Dreaming stands with the classic My Own Country by Abraham Verghese as a memoir of this period.

see the review in the USR.

First Runner-Up

Darwinian Happiness, Bjørn Grinde, The Darwin Press - This book offers both an approachable introduction and robust education in the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. Author and mental health scientist Bjorn Grinde maintains that humans posses free will, andhe does not default to an absolutist view of the nature versus nurture debate. Rather, he presents a survey of man's ancestral environment and encourages the reader to consider humankind's ancient history and not look solely at environment to explain all human behavior. Familiar writing and engaging topics, such as love, sex, society, and even music, team with tight, source-laden arguments. This book functions as both textbook and page-turner, excellent for readers never before exposed to evolutionary psychology or for those determined to read all they can on the topic.

Honorable Mentions

Where Two Worlds Touch, Jade C. Angelica, Skinner House Books - Books about Alzheimer's disease seem to proliferate with the fecundity of rabbits, so it can legitimately be asked whether another such volume is needed. The answer is a resounding yes in the case of Where Two Worlds Touch. The Rev. Angelica has achieved the Herculean task of telling us some new things about Alzheimer's and about her dealing with her mother's struggle with the disease. The reader rapidly becomes absorbed not just in the story of a parent with Alzheimer's but the more general tale of a mother and daughter over the course of a lifetime. The author writes with a delicate, plain-spoken prose style that makes the book a joy to read. Most important of all, she applies a stark, sometimes startling honesty to her memories of this time.

Simple Qigong: Exercises for Health, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, YMAA Publication Center - The author reveals the methods and benefits of practicing the ancient Chinese exercise, akin to tai chi. Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming gives an intriguing and detailed history of qigong as well as explaining the health benefits, both physical and emotional. Alongside concise written instructions, illustrations as well as numerous images take readers step by step. Simple Qigong posits ways to include the physical training into readers' exercise regimens and tight daily schedules. Writing not just for martial artists, Dr. Yang also incorporates general Chinese philosophies to enhance the practice and arouse the spirit. A handy glossary and valuable references aid those wish to pick up where the book leaves off.

Life After 50, Paul M. Valliant, Mill City Press - Readers desiring a quick fix for old age should not read this book. This book should, however, be read by those who seek a comprehensive and achievable agenda for making the most of the latter half of one's life. Dr. Paul Valliant acknowledges the tempting shortcuts to a pleasant longevity, and he doesn't deny hope for the myriad magic bullets undergoing study, but he calmly dismisses them as practical options at this time. Instead, he recommends a wise strategy that includes the usual suspects: exercise, moderate diet, interaction with others, intellectual stimulation. Valliant's book may not contain much that is new, but it doesn't contain anything that the author will need to apologize for in the future. That's a claim not all books of this type can make.

The Disenfranchised, edited by Peggy Sapphire, Baywood Publishing - The collection of deeply personal accounts of loss and grief is specific to those who have been affected by the death of an ex-spouse. Editor Peggy Sapphire shares her own experience as a divorcee of the terminally-ill father of her children, but also adds meaningful, researched insight to summarize each story. This furnishes value both in the connection readers make with the storytellers and guidance on how to cope with such loss and move forward. This book does not deify the departed or suggest that grief one step removed by a previously dissolved marriage is somehow invalid. Instead, the pages are brimming with everything from clinical research and acute observations about psychology to poignant poetry.

back to top

 

Self-Help

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

Winner

How to Marry the Right Guy, Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz, Briarcliff Publishing - The authors, Dr. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz are marriage experts whose 30 years of research and clinical experience resulted in a novel approach to a successful marriage: "Marry the right guy in the first place." The book begins with true/false quiz of thirty-three statements designed for women who are considering marriage. The authors show how the results of the quiz can determine the chances of success (or failure) of a future relationship. The questions help the “love-blind” woman to rationally assess her readiness for marriage, as well as the potential for success with a particular man. The book is built on the premise that people have personality characteristics which will not change as they age. In other words, the person you are as a young adult is basically the person you are your whole life. Therefore, the authors believe, a woman must truly know her potential mate and not expect that he will change after marriage. This is a fascinating and practical relationship guide that will have a lasting impact on one of the most important decisions in a woman’s life.

First Runner-Up

Biblical Beauty: Ancient Secrets and Modern Solutions, Rachelle Weisberger, Anbern Press - Who knew the Bible was full of "beauty secrets?" The author features a woman from the Hebrew Bible or Apocrypha in each chapter on skin care, sun care, makeup, hair care, fragrance, jewelry, healthy aging, motherhood, and leadership. Chapters begin with the ancient secrets practiced long ago and end with the "modern solutions" women can use today, interspersed with tips from the author who is a licensed cosmetologist, makeup artist, and skin care specialist. Citing sources as varied as The Chicago Tribune and The Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, readers will be hard pressed to find a page where a wealth of information isn't available and presented in an engaging manner. History never read so much like a beauty magazine.

Honorable Mentions

No Fear, No Doubt No Regret: Investing in Life's Challenges Like a Warrior, Robert Omilian, Ferne Press - Omilian's memoir of raising a son with the debilitating disease of muscular neurological myopathy is both moving and instructive. In spite of this extreme challenge, the author's son, Alan, managed to live a life of meaning and inspiration. The book's title comes from a phrase the author hears in his son's voice the night after he has passed. Omilian identifies nine motivational insights based on how his son chose to respond to adversity. Each chapter examines one insight in relation to Alan's life story. For example, "Live your dreams, not your troubles." The author adds thoughtful "takeaways" for parents to consider. There is much to be learned from this emotional journey: the path of resilience, the will to live, letting go of regret, and the power of love to transcend illness and death. This is a touching and inspiring story of living a meaningful life after loss.

see the review in the USR.

Making Advances: A Comprehensive Guide for Treating Female Sex and Love Addicts , Marnie C. Ferree (editor), Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health - Men have long been the focus of research and literature about sex addiction, but in this collaborative effort, authors direct the microscope toward female sex addicts. For such a cornerstone text, steeped in research, it reads easily without bogging the reader down in overly clinical language. All aspects of providing services for this special population are presented, including diagnosis, assessment, and treatment considerations. Professionals will be able to directly translate the book's suggestions for various populations into direct clinical practice, as the collaborators take pains to cover vast amounts of treatment factors, such as trauma, attachment, sexual orientation, intimate partner violence, and how to best engage and intervene with partners and children of female sex addicts. This book fills an important gap in the available literature, and should be on the shelves of counselors and other helping professionals.

Suddenly Single: A Guide For Rediscovering Life After Tragic Loss, Ruthann Reim McCaffree, Langdon Street Press - McCaffree's poignant memoir tells the story of her devastation and gradual healing after the loss of her sixty-one-year old husband to a tragic accident. After forty years of happy marriage, Ruthann faces the challenge of being suddenly single. She must learn to cope, to recover, and to revise the future she had planned with her husband. The author shares her painful story with great honesty and insight. We feel her shock, confusion, anger, and grief. Yet this is more than just a memoir of loss; it serves as a survival guide to help those who have experienced a loss in their own lives. Throughout the book, the author provides thoughtful questions for the reader to consider. There are also survival tips such as "What you focus on ahead is the direction your life will go. It's true behind the wheel of your car and equally true behind the wheel of your life."

back to top

 

Spiritual

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

Winner

The Mourner's Book of Faith: 30 Days of Enlightenment, Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., Companion Press - Drawing from many different religions and spiritual traditions, the author offers both comfort and words of practical advice to people who are suffering bereavement. Each of the thirty days offers inspirational quotes and a set of physical, mental, or emotional steps to take, which might include journaling or meditating about their thoughts or even taking a walk. The reader is encouraged to write their reflections in the spaces given throughout the book. Whether a person belongs to a traditional church, draws spiritual strength from communing with the natural world, or finds hope in something beyond or in between, this excellent little volume may help them get through their grief.

First Runner-Up

The Rose of Sharon: The Lily of the Valleys, B. S. Poh, Good News Enterprise - This thought-provoking book explores one of the books of the Bible, "The Song of Solomon," as an allegory of Jesus' love for the church. It goes through "The Song of Solomon," chapter by chapter, verse by verse, which is seemingly about romantic love, and expounds on deeper spiritual meanings. Such topics as communion with Christ, the gift of assurance, and Christ's love for the church are underlying themes of the biblical book. The text demonstrates God's love for His people, even when they are weak or fickle. This well-written book would provide an excellent source of discussion for Bible Study groups or a preaching tool.

Honorable Mentions

Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story, Donna Mebane, Starshine Galaxy - A teenager goes to bed and dies unexpectedly and inexplicably in her sleep. Her mother sets aside her grief to write a young adult novel, imagining the adolescent's point of view as she discovers the afterlife. What she finds affirms the value of the human connections we make. You might think the author's vision of the afterlife is the result of a major case of wish fulfillment. Everything seems to turn out well for the teen and her brokenhearted family. However, the author avoids lapsing into a maudlin sentimentality, yet, even a hard-bitten reader would have to keep the tissues close. For the young adult audience, Mebane presents a great alternative to the scores of vampire novels in which no one ever dies.

Better Than We Believed: How to Apply the Vision that is Faith to the Struggle that is Life, Robert J. Cormier, The Crossroad Publishing Company - Uncompromised faith is something with which many people struggle. We're all plagued at one time or another with sins of the spirit that keep us from our potential and drag us through life with shame, hatred, or depression. In a straight forward manner, the author takes us through the lives of several people and how they broke through to the other side of their doubts, fears, shortcomings, and human failings through the edification of the spirit. He gives us conversations with real life people with honest human experiences, in situations we can all relate to, and shows us a world in which faith, viewed through the proper lens, is there for all us to experience. Whether you're a devout believer or new to faith, you'll be uplifted by the deep humanity and resultant over-arcing sense of joy woven into each paradigm.

Seeking Christmas: Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions, Renee Robinson, CrossLink Publishing - This book deals with celebrating the true meaning of Christmas with families. Ideas are provided for starting holiday traditions such as beginning the day with a special breakfast on Christmas morning or neighborhood drives after supper to look at decorated homes. Seven days of activities which focus the attention on that first Christmas and the birth of Jesus are nicely organized into categories. Children and adults read a portion of the Christmas story and reflect on its meaning with discussion questions. Interesting background information for some of our holiday traditions are given as part of daily discussions. This book would also provide an excellent resource for Sunday School lessons leading up to the holiday.

The Apostles' Creed: Knowing, Living, and Sharing the Gift of Faith, Rev. Monsignor Laurence J. Spiteri, JCD, Ph.D., World Library Publications - Intended to aid those in the Roman Catholic Church who teach converts as well as candidates for baptism and confirmation, this slender book can help any Catholic understand better the Creed he or she declares and the faith professed by that Creed. Although there are many scholarly treatises available, including the venerable and somewhat daunting Catechism of the Catholic Church, the author has made understanding the words of the Creed itself, and the historical and Biblical beliefs behind them, accessible through clear and straightforward language. He has further managed to make what could be a dry, boring text both interesting and inspiring.

back to top

 

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

Journey Proud, Carolyn Fleming, Trafford Publishing- The time is 1933 and the place is Baxton, Georgia. The Randolphs are a proud southern family. Jason Randolph is cousin and best friend to David Leigh. Eleven years have passed since Jason was home. No one is really sure why he left, but now that he has returned, new questions supplant the old: Why he is back, and who is the mysterious silver-haired woman driving all over town in her Pierce Arrow? Fleming delivers an outstanding rendition of the south with similar heart stirrings of Hickman's Millwood Hollow series. Eloquently rendered and passionate, the author's writing is based on memories, bringing to light Depression-era south That is uniquely told through the eyes of David Leigh, his wife Allyson, and nine year-old daughter Sunny. The wisdom taught from Eldora, the black woman who works for the Leighs, is both poignant and profound, teaching the moral of the story to Sunny what it means to be "journey proud."

see the review in the USR.

First Runner-Up

Gandy Dancing, Jean Sands, Antrim House - In this powerful, heart-rending collection of poems, the author takes an evocative journey through life where emotions of love and childhood innocence slowly give way when sorrow and fear break through to erode trust with betrayal and brutality. Vividly written, each story unfolds with poignancy and humanity. The secret of an uncle's touch. A child's dread of her father's thick brown belt: "...at night it hung over a chair where it waited like a snake ready to strike."Watching her ex-husband smooth the hair from her granddaughter's face and remembering how she escaped him in the middle of the night with the child's infant father in her arms. The waiting while a mother lies dying. Sands courageously shares her experiences with unflinching honesty, bringing to the page images that will remain long afterward.

Honorable Mentions

Line by Line, Barbara Hacha, MediaMix Productions - Growing up during the Great Depression with an alcoholic father and a weak, distant mother, Maddy Skobel finds solace in the unlikely world of hoboes. Finding her strength in the hardships she faces, she flees her home town and "rides the rails," searching for her place in the world. A gifted artist and hard worker, Maddy discovers her own resiliency through the many hardships she faces along the way. With the help of some special people along the way, Maddy finds her place in the world, but never forgetting those that helped her along the way. The story is beautifully written with rich characters that carry the reader through Maddy's emotional journey toward love and a self-fulfillment.

Flames in the Ruins, Gerald Holt, Trafford Publishing - The backdrop is the bombing of London by the Nazis. As the story opens, twelve year old Tim Athelstan lives with the memory of having been nearly buried alive two years earlier, during the war, when his house was hit by a shell. Tim's father, a major in the British Army, has been assigned to post-war Germany, and the family brings Tim to join them from his English boarding school. Tim learns about the unfairness of life. He is taunted by the bully in his new British school in Germany, and the sadistic teacher sides against Tim. However, Holt's tale is uplifting. While trying to help a starving German orphan, Tim meets the old German who had been sending coded messages to the British during the war, informing them who had been captured. Tim's father had been one of those prisoners.

Heart & Soul, Brenda Meister, Trafford Publishing - In 1835, Lara takes a bold move, agreeing to spend the weekend with Kyle. Lara is enthralled with Kyle's proposal of marraige, until it is revealed that Lydia Randall is her aunt. Aunt Lyddie, the madam of Charleston, has raised Lara. Kyle has his career to think of and in anger they go their separate ways. Lara moves to Savannah with the pain of loss love, only to discover she is pregnant. She gives birth to a beautiful boy, determined never to let Kyle know. However, five years later, her aunt passes, and she must return to Charleston, face her buried anger and scorned love to reveal to Kyle the secret she has been carrying. This is an epic romance so deep and rich that it is reminiscent of Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. With characters that are not rushed, Meister writes with a passion from deep within, delivering a poignant and powerful story of loss love, forgiveness, and redemption.

By Proxy: A Final Good Deed, Doug McCall, Xlibris - Brent Musso leaves his doctor's office reeling from the diagnosis he is dying. Estranged from family, he faces the end of life alone, uncertain how to spend his remaining months. He goes to a seaside resort, hoping to relive happier times, and he meets a young family. He's attracted to the lovely wife, but appalled at her husband's abusive, suspicious behavior. When the media reports the husband is being sought for murder during a major drug-deal gone bad and sixteen million dollars in missing drug money, Musso makes a noble, albeit immoral, decision. He plots to kill the husband to protect the mother and her daughter from the grim aftermath of the crime, thus saving them from a notorious cocaine dealer seeking revenge. The twists and turns of this skillfully written mystery will intrigue and challenge the reader until its surprise ending when the missing money accomplishes a final good deed.

Blue Turquoise, White Shell, Virginia Nosky, Treble Heart Books - Nosky opens in the Pacific Islands of the World War II arena. Corporal Cabot W.W. Chase has enlisted in the Marines straight out of Harvard Medical School and serves as a medic. His buddy, a Navajo recruited as a radio signal man to the elite band of code-talkers, dies saving Cabot's life. To repay his debt, Cabot spends one year at the Ft. Defiance hospital on the Navajo reservation. This epic story slips effortlessly back in time to the 1800s when an earlier member of the Chase family is a physician in the cavalry at Ft. Defiance. Then the action slides forward to 1992 when retired physician Cabot W.W. Chase holds his Harvard medical graduate granddaughter, Lily Cabot Chase, to the deal they made: He paid for her tuition, and she has to put in one year at the hospital on the reservation. In the process she meets Nicholas Nakai, who is running for office and hopes to be the first Navajo in congress. With one culture juxtaposed against another, these two discover they have a common ancestor.

back to top

 

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

Sacred Desire: Growing in Compassionate Living, Nancy K. Morrison, MD & Sally K. Severino, MD, The Templeton Foundation - The authors, both psychiatrists, enlighten the reader to how events that take place during our upbringing can fracture our psyche and mold and shape who we become. The author's refer to an anomaly named Resonant Attuning, which describes the bond between a child and caregiver. "The experience of resonant attuning in infancy—and the sense of security and safety that accompanies it—remains with us as we grow older." Further, the idea of differentiating personalities according to the "physiology of love" we receive early on are defined by the physiology of the neural pathways formation due to either having resonant attunement or the splitting of from our "sacred desire" or Dissonant Attuning. When the neural pathways are formed in the first years of life, this is what shapes how we behave and treat other people. According to the author's, we do have the power to change our attuning. and then and only then is it possible to attune to universe. The author's support with evidence of prominent changes in neural pathways when they attune to spiritual consciousness.

First Runner-Up

I Am Another You, Priya Kumar, Embassy Books - Ms. Kumar relates her experience of finding herself through the spiritual practices of the Shaman of the Netherlands. Most people can relate to her realizations if not to her experiences. Through her experiences, she is able to let go of the negative feelings she has about herself and her concerns of what others may think of her and become a better happier person. As the author relates her experiences with the Shaman, you will wonder if you would have the courage to endure some of the rituals she takes part in. However, as the author tells of her feelings and thoughts after each ritual, you will see meaning in her experiences that you can relate to your own life and realize that only you can make yourself unhappy. By relating her experiences through this book, she subtly leads you through the changes you can make in your life to become you a better, happier, and more productive person.

Honorable Mentions

Educating America 101: Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms, Paddy Eger, Tendril Press - Even an inexperienced teacher knows that adult assistants in the classroom is a mixed blessing, but anyone reading Eger's well-laid-out and concise strategies, from the first word in the preface to the last word on the final page, will be enthralled by the messages contained within. The assistant can go from awkward addition to asset. The illustrations did a marvelous job of adding to the text. The author creates checklists to make learning each technique less overwhelming. She even provides support forms for interested readers to download from her website. This book is a highly-recommended addition to any educator's bookshelf.

Friends for Life: Strangers Brought Together by the War in Iraq , Patti Donahue & Jennifer Mackinday, Sandy Island Press - The true story of two members of military families who meet online is juxtaposed with the actual instant messages they receive from their soldiers fighting the war in Iraq. The mother of an Army medic and the sister of an infantry soldier are separated by thousands of miles and are years apart in age. Yet, they develop a friendship built through communication and support as they try to encourage their family members fighting in one of Iraq's most dangerous cities. The result is an inspiring story of hope and courage in the face of uncertainty. The book will serve as a guide for military families facing deployment.

Thinking Places, Carolyn and Jack Fleming, Trafford Publishing - This book takes you to places you never knew existed. The authors have traveled extensively to many of our best known author's homes, birthplaces, and "thinking places." It is a delightful description of the places where authors like Twain, Dickens, Hemingway, and many others drew inspiration for their classical works. Not only do they describe the places of the great authors, and an insight into their everyday lives, they also describe their own journeys and how these places made them feel: full of wonder, reverence, and sometimes humor. Not only is the book itself a delightful read for any literary enthusiast, the forward by Elliot Engel is equally delightful.

The Terrible Loyalty, Sandy Moss, Mossy Cove Publications - It began as an adventure. Two lifelong friends set off in a 20-foot sailboat from Southern California on a trip to Hawaii, armed with only a sextant and the stars to guide them. They expect an uneventful trip, where they can enjoy the ocean and each other's company. Instead, it turns into a battle to survive as a violent storm puts them off course and in perilous danger as they fight the elements. This true story follows the men as their relationship develops over the years and as they face the ultimate test of friendship and survival on the churning seas of the Pacific Ocean. In a boat nearly too small and without sophisticated tools to guide them, these friends must rely on each other and their superior navigational skills to beat the odds.

Weathered Wisdom, William R. Jackson, Ph.D., Jackson Research Center - This day by day devotional has it all. A compilation of works, from poetry, to art, to wisdom at its finest. If one were to read this one day at a time as designed, they will have acquired thirty-five years-worth of wisdom in one year. William has compiled a wealth of information, poetry, stories, and fine art pieces into one glorious Magnum Opus. Particularly stunning is the poetry that each day fails not to intrigue the senses. This book is designed to be contemplated daily for maximization of value and elevation of awareness.

back to top

 

E-Book Fiction

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

Winner

Gray Girl, Susan I. Spieth, CreateSpace - It's the early 1980s and Cadet Jan Wishart becomes an instrument for change at an institution that wants to remain the same: The United States Military Academy at West Point. A sexual assault is the catalyst for Cadet Wishart pushing against the grain of this patriarchal institution. This fast-paced book is easy and enjoyable to read, yet is smart and heady in its delivery by shining a bright light on the virtues of honor and friendship. This entertaining novel on cadet life illustrates the power and importance of storytelling by documenting a culture of institutional misogyny in hopes that history does not repeat itself.

see the review in the USR.

First Runner-Up

The Witch of Maple Park, Robert Tell, RTP Press - This Harry Grouch mystery takes place in Detroit, Michigan. The year is 1993. The day is Christmas Eve. The situation: Polly Marlowe allegedly picked up an axe and murdered two of her relatives and was dubbed "The Witch of Maple Park." This double homicide is not to be confused with another that happened 150 years earlier to the day after Polly Bodine picked up an axe, murdered two relatives and was dubbed "The Witch of Staten Island." Despite the lapse in time, the question presents itself: Is this just a coincidence? That's where Harry Grouch and his lovely assistant, Judy Pacas, step in to answer the question. This creative reimaging of one of our country's most gruesome murders is a pleasure to read.

Honorable Mentions

Poisoned by God's Flesh, David E. Knop, Bookbaby - Cochiti Pueblo Police Officer Peter Romero gets called to a disturbing homicide. The victim, 16 year old Rachel Quintana, is the daughter of Romero's former love interest. Romero, a former marine, is tough, tenacious and determined not only to solve this case, but to prove his own innocence, which comes into question, in the process. This Southwestern thriller combines good old-fashioned police work with Native American mysticism. This book has it all: snake-bites, gunfights, shamans, helicopter crashes, drug cartels, terrorists, mythological coyotes, kidnappings, reservations and 'shrooms, also known as God's skin, used as murder weapons.

Thieves Never Steal in the Rain, Marisa Labozzetta, Laura Gross Literary Agency - This powerful collection of linked short stories follows the lives of five different cousins. These cousins hurt; they lose children and weight; they experience marital discord; they are, in one sense, normal, and yet they are in the presence of ghosts and miracles and magic and the supernatural. Make no mistake about it, these fragile cousins also experience and celebrate earthly matters, such as food and sex. Sadly, though, they seem to be in a constant state of suffering and recovery, and death is always nearby, lurking in the shadows. Of course, in these stories, reincarnation is a definite possibility.

see the review in the USR.

The Voices of Heaven, Maija Rhee Devine, Seoul Selection USA - This love story between Gui-yong and Eun-chun begins immediately after the Japanese occupation of Korea and right before the beginning of the Korean War. Although they get married without having seen what the other looks like, they fall very much in love. Unfortunately, Eun-chun is unable to bear Gui-yong a son, which is necessary for his soul to enter into heaven. Ultimately, Gui-yong gives into his mother’s demands and takes a second wife to bear him a son. Eun-chun tries her best to accept this second marriage, but the strains of this arrangement and living in this patriarchal society during a time of war puts their love and family bonds to the test.

back to top

 

E-Book Nonfiction

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

Winner

Beat You’re A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding a Cure, Steven S. Ryan, PhD, A-Fib, Inc. – Cardiac issues are among the most common health concerns, and A-Fib is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (i.e. heart rhythm disorder). Many factors ranging from genetic predisposition, life style choices, and aging lead to A-Fib. Normally A-Fib isn't life threatening, but it can lead to stroke, and if that doesn't scare the patient, he or she may already be dead. Dr. Ryan does a layman's job of outlining the disorder and its approaches toward a cure. The latter point is important, since many patient-oriented manuals on medical conditions can quickly bury themselves in jargon that the patient will never absorb. Each section of Beat You're A-Fib is laid out in a cogent, eye-catching format that will leave the reader better informed and more confident in his future. This book does everything good found in an effective guidebook: It outlines the problem, covers the landscape of treatments, brings the patient through an identified cure, and provides additional resources for investigation.

First Runner-Up

The Fourth Demand: The Story of a Father and Son Journey, Andy Solomon, BookBaby – Lord Chesterton once said "The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." Sometimes the foreign land, the discovery, is the interior places of the soul. This is what unfolds in Solomon's memoir of a cross-country motorcycle tour with his newly college-graduated son, Marty. The bond between the single parent and child is strong and road-tested, and in all the right ways, the journey had begun many years ahead of that first mile, with the steady hand and stewardship of the father. Like touring life in reverse, their journey includes memorable landmarks and visits with close associations that spur recollections of the past. However, a final lesson rises somewhere between Clearwater, Florida and the nearly ten thousand mile return: The father learns to release his son into the world.

see the review in the USR.

Honorable Mentions

You Should Only Have to Get Rich Once, Russell E. Holcombe, River Grove Books – Holcombe wants you to get rich and stay rich, but statistics show the following: Many highly talented and motivated people believe they will never fail even when the odds are against them, and when they do succeed, many develop amnesia about their rise and bungle the fruits of their labor. Most successful entrepreneurs have one winning idea during their lifetime—one business that maximizes their income, makes them a millionaire, and hopefully creates a perpetual income stream. And if there are a million ways to make a million, there are two million ways to lose it. Holcombe has assembled thirteen simple rules that keep you alert while making your first million, awake once it arrives, and happy and reasonable about living with (and spending) your fortune.

Traveling the World with Mike & Barbara Bivona – Part One, Michael Bivona, iUniverse – Part memoir and part travel journal, the first installment (of a planned trilogy) begins with the author's youth when he is raised within the rich culture of Coney Island. Soon he finds himself in Japan with the Air Force and his love of travel is seeded for life. There is an engaging, conversational tone to this book that is a hallmark of better travel writing—not just the dry facts and figures of passing events, but a flavor of the human experience. Bivona knows that the journey to the destination can be one of the more interesting aspects of the trip. With his wife (and fellow writer) at his side, the couple learn to tango in Buenos Aires and dance through Paris. Next, things begin to heat up—literally. The Bivonas reach a series of warm destinations—New Orleans, Florida, the Caribbean, and Hawaii, and this is where the journey ends at least until the next adventurous installment is published.

see the review in the USR.

back to top