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The Eric Hoffer Award for Books

The US Review of Books supports the Eric Hoffer Project by publishing the results of the annual Eric Hoffer Award for Books. The Eric Hoffer Award is judged by a separate panel, under direction of the Eric Hoffer Project, and is not influenced by The US Review of Books. We simply post the results each year. The Eric Hoffer Award does compose a grand prize short list of finalists on their official website. In addition, the Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about category finalists, but they are also listed on their official website.

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."

 

2016 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 Green Stick, Reg van Cuylenburg, Blue Palm Press - One of the best things about a truly good read is that the book introduces the reader to new places and new ways of thinking. Furthermore, a solid memoir is built upon excellent storytelling skills, so that even a common life is told with exceptional intrigue. Fortunately, Reg van Cuylenberg's life story has all of these factors going for it, and he lived no common life as well. His memoir is lyrical, literary, even romantic. It begs a comparison to Michael Ondaatje’s memoir, Running in the Family, about his childhood, also in Sri Lanka. However, van Cuylenburg(1926-1988) has gifted us a memoir that is most assuredly his own. In this gentle, artful story, he tells of a genteel time, a time in which a young boy learned to paint and box, played with animals, learned the art of conversation, had few worries (except when WW II broke out and they housed soldiers from around the world), and sought out and listened to older male mentors who showed him how to be a kind and well-balanced man. He brilliantly recreates these quirky, complex characters. This is a posthumously published memoir that sets a standard for all lives put to paper.

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Montaigne Medal

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

Project Lives, Goerge Carrano, Chelesa Davis & Jonathan Fisher (editors), powerHouse Books - Perception is primarily defined by various media outlets. In regard to city housing projects, the perception is stink-hole, crime-ridden mayhem where life is cheap. And perception trumps reality. Enter the nonprofit Developing Lives program, where fifteen people of various ages were given basic photographic training and disposable cameras and sent out to capture life in their Harlem housing project. The hope was a glimpse of reality. Certainly there is crime, but predominantly one sees how normal most people’s lives are, tempered with the various personalities that populate any neighborhood in the world. The residents of "the projects" want to be happy and prosper, and they reflect a bit of their culture and the place and city in which they live. The victory of this thoughtful, poignant photo essay is not the sensational headlines that their neighborhood sometimes generates, but the everyday beauty of its occupants.

The Wisdom Generations: Using the Lessons of History to Create a Values-Based Future, Tieman H. Dippel, Jr., Texas Peacemaker Publications - Any moral code needs an occasional updating or at least an interpretation for the times, but that is not to say that morality should be broken up or reinvented to fit the times. All times—successful periods in any civilization—require order through central values that are instilled at youth. All brilliant people, even those who work at the edge of their chosen careers, are anchored in a core belief. These beliefs belong as much to the now as they do to the future. In The Wisdom of Generations, Dipple explores the necessity and power of morality, which creates a certainty in a time that promises little stability. A world without a moral compass creates free-flowing decisions that serve the moment and lead to decay at best and disaster at worse. The Challenger Disaster and the war in Iraq are two of the numerous examples of situations and societies that have lost its moral footing. While Dipple’s book is an island of logic in tumultuous world, it's also a legacy for our children. This book should be read and studied by our elected officials and public leaders before attempting to lead us into the future. As the author points out, everything that lives either changes or dies, but the way a nation or a person changes will enable that person or nation to survive and continually renew itself or create its own annihilation.

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da Vinci Eye

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

Fresh Tastes from a Well-Seasoned Kitchen, Lee Clayton Roper, MLC Publishing (cover by Agency Off Record & Rick Souders)

Jewels of Allah, Nina Ansary, Revela Press (cover by Morteza Pourhosseini)

Journeys, Karen Roberts & Dana Simpson, Tim Hauf Photography (cover by Kurt Nielsen)

Skin Music, Dennis Hinrichsen, Southern Indiana Review Press (cover by Zack Weigand)

The Wynona Stone Poems, Caki Wilkinson, Persea Books (cover by Sara Eisenman & Carrie Guss)

Timeless Vietnam, Cảnh Tăng, Red Rock Press (cover by Cảnh Tăng)

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First Horizon Award

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

Adrift in a Vanishing City, Vincent Czyz, Rain Mountain Press (see coverage in Fiction Legacy)

Featherbone, Erica Mena, Ricochet Editions (see coverage in Poetry)

I'll Run Till the Sun Goes Down, David Sandum, Sandra Jonas Publishing House (see coverage in Micro Press)

Jewels of Allah, Nina Ansary, Revela Press (see coverage in Culture)

Sacred Earth, Planet of Light, Ernest L. King, Silver Bear Press (see coverage in Spiritual)

Saving Jake, D'Anne Burwell, FocusUp Books (see coverage in Memoir)

The Havana Papers, Michael Daly, BookBaby (see coverage in E-Book Nonfiction)

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Academic Press Award

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

The Illustrated Courtroom, Elizabeth Williams and Sue Russell, Cuny Journalism Press - When cameras cannot appear in the courtroom, the court artist enters the picture. Known throughout the world and sometimes parodied in comic sketches, these hand-drawn courtroom scenes complete the journalist’s coverage with gripping stills of the action and emotion emerging during a trial. Its chalky, penciled style is instantly recognizable. Williams and Russell guide us through the form and some of the most famous trials of the century, illuminating the narrative as history comes to judgment. From Patti Hurst to the Son of Sam through OJ Simpson and the more recent bombshells of Wallstreet and terrorism, this book offers a glimpse into the artist and times.

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Small Press Award

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

Adrift in a Vanishing City, Vincent Czyz, Rain Mountain Press - Set In cities all over the world, characters in this novel contemplate their existences, distill within themselves love, art, myth, spirituality, and the past from which their geographical cities are all but disconnected. One character binds these points of view, a shapeshifter and force of nature who goes by the name of Zirque Granges, with lovers from Mexico City to Paris. The book opens with the heartbreak of the small-town Kansas woman who waits for Zirque to return from his world travels and who lives amidst a cast of characters that seem to morph and show themselves in other parts of the world. The book is about connectivity. It’s power lies, in part, on Zirque’s influence on people and places across the globe, but the real revelation is in the way in which cities exert an almighty influence on the characters who live in these places and exude the personality of the cities in which they live. In Adrift, we see our lives as fossilized, revealing how a place exerts as much influence on us as does the single person we tried once to love and who managed to shape us most.

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Micro Press Award

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

I'll Run Till the Sun Goes Down, David Sandum, Sandra Jonas Publishing House - This is a ground-breaking book that is visually stunning, psychologically hard-hitting, and emotionally mesmerizing. The stiff labels of PTSD, Panic Attacks, and Depression are brought to life within the state of being immobilized by fear and panic, for example being unable to leave bed and drag a comb across your head. Many of us are aware of someone who is mentally or emotionally "unstable," but often the mentally ill are treated like people with character flaws, instead of individuals with a real medical condition. Sandum explains this painful, debilitating odyssey with uncompromising candor. As much as the author presents beautiful and telling artwork (both his and the work of other artists), as well as the relief that the creative process brings to his life, he learns unequivocally that he has an illness that cannot be eschewed away by just "thinking differently." The book helps us understand the many phases of his illness, how he copes, and what effect this has on his family and career. Uplifting in segments, the book reveals beauty in its unapologetic truth, while glimpsing into the stuff of artistry. Eventually Sandum moves forward, living an authentic if not always joyful life. It's a stellar journey into the harsh reality of mental illness, the resilience of the human spirit, and the healing power of art.

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Self-Published Award

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

Mirror of Intimacy, Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss, Center for Healthy Sex - Set to a calendar year, the book blends insight on relationships and sex with quotes and bulleted daily acts to develop readers' sexual and emotional literacy. Presenting as much about reflection as physical intimacy, the authors leverage their decades of experience writing and teaching about sex to construct an accessible but rich collection of exercises and philosophical prompts. Many of the reflections tend more toward parable than instructional. Though designed to be read over a year, the book explores such a wide range of topics—from dancing to promiscuity—that readers will be tempted to flit about the pages and return to their favorite sections in perpetuity. The authors challenge readers not only to break destructive habits (physical and emotional) but also to explore a wider spectrum of what it means to connect with oneself and with others.

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Art

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

Winner

Stages: The Art of David Maxim, Vol. II, Nicole Blunt (editor), The David Maxim 2002 Revocable Trust - With superior draftsmen’s skills and an eye for merging the linear world with the natural, Maxim’s work crashes, explodes onto the page. His early work was alive with color and icy realism that understood its milieu and revealed the parts we missed. Like someone roaming the landscape, his work shifted and grew through the decades with increasing abstraction, but it’s his portraiture, with its minimalist and exacting sketches, that ties everything together. In this second volume exploring the artist’s work, editor Blunt has assembled a stunning collection of plates, kick-started by a series of commentary and dialogues between Maxim and collaborative artists. This is exactly what a coffee table book should be, to sit and wait to be savored on a rainy day.

First Runner-Up

Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity, John Gallagher, Wayne State University Press - One of the goals of an art book can be to illuminate a person or project that might be right under our noses but left unrecognized. Gallagher does both in his study of architect Yamasaki's life and his unique structures mainly in and around Detroit. Although most famously known for The World Trade Center, he left an indelible fingerprint on the Motor City that always excites the eye. In fact, looking at this retrospect the architect's midwestern buildings makes one appreciate and understand those beloved, missing towers all the more.

Honorable Mentions

Edisto River: Blackwater Crown Jewel, Larry Price (photographer), Rosie Price & Susan Kammeraad-Campbell (authors), Joggling Board Press - Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and many others taught us that to preserve a piece of nature that it has to be loved. Photographer Larry Price and his wife Rosie love the Edisto River, one of the longest free-flowing blackwater rivers in North America, flowing down through South Carolina to the Atlantic Ocean. This large-sized assembly of fine art prints cover the Edisto and its tangential landscape and wildlife. Alder tree golden tags dangle like corn husks. Duck weed float as if in a Japanese garden. Tree trunks plunge into the river like fists. A catalogue of insects and birds occupy the water and a variety of flora. Price’s pictures capture the river’s seasons as if stealing the moods of nature.

Eilshemius: Peer of Poet-Painters, Stefan Banz, JRP - Stefan Banz has assembled an in-depth study of the artist Louis Michel Eilshemius as welll as his influence on Marcel Duchamp. The painter Duchamp first encountered Eilshemius’ work in New York and later championed it in Paris, thus bringing further attention from greats such as Matisse. The artwork is organized by genre rather than timeline, but certainly the artist’s progression toward the abstract and fantasy, for which he became more widely known, is evident. To many, Eilshemius is not as recognized as his contemporaries, but thanks to Banz, the hundreds of pages of essays, facts, and plates in this heavy retrospective should complete a missing piece of American art.

Wonness, Claire Won Kang - Gorgeous is the only way to describe Kang’s floral arrangements—a word that does no justice to her craftsmanship that bridges art. Orchids cascade from bowls. Bamboo towers of roses rise from vases. Chrysanthemums suspend in the air. The photography alone is stunning, as plate after plate race across this coffee table book, accented by the occasional dedication or poem. Kang’s book of floral collage will take you by surprise and hold you to the pages.

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Poetry

The Poetry category contains poetry or highly stylized prose.

Winner

Featherbone, Erica Mena, Ricochet Editions - This is an innovative long poem in three parts that continually creates intense imagery with very economical language. Throughout, the tension between lush image and stark language is the driving force. The poet uses a wide array of techniques—white space, changes in type, odd footnotes, and more—to give the impression of something discovered, rather than something crafted. That’s what it feels like to read Featherbone, like each page is another discovery, as if the reader is leafing through some strange and beautiful journal left behind in a dusty attic. The images are heavy, visceral, and organic, yet never feels oppressive or overwhelming. There is a swinging dynamic that moves through lightness and weight, sound and image, and sense and nonsense.

First Runner-Up

The Collected Poems, Paul Petrie, Antrim House - Honest, without conforming to a furtive confessional tone, void of poetic trends and "school movement" safety nets, Petrie's collection is as stated in his own words to be "all the poems which I consider worthy of saving." An American poet and professor emeritus of English and creative writing, Petrie is ironically most notable as a "non-conforming" non-conformist. Formally, his poetic works were arranged as he wished in this large volume, which written over six decades and appeared in over 100 literary journals and magazines. The poems cover a wide range of subject matter, with both formal and free verse, but colloquially speaking, Petrie turned life into words, thereby giving life to his words, and his death.

Honorable Mentions

Hive, Christina Stoddard, University of Wisconsin Press - Right from the beginning, the reader must keep up with the speaker’s assertive breathless quality. A poem’s title is often in conversation with the poem itself or the title serves as a placeholder for the first line. In “I Ask My Father If the Green River Killer’s Victims Go to Heaven,” the poem begins with “Because we are not equally loved on this earth.” Stoddard understands she can utilize the title for explaining the necessary exposition to the reader. The speaker’s tone is letting the reader in on a collective safeguarded secret within a blue-collar Christian world. In “Abby’s Mother Shows Us Where Ted Bundy Signed Her Yearbook,” the poem flawlessly moves from explaining Bundy’s cordial “Nice knowing you” message to “Their skin unpeeling / into darkness and clouded ground.” This transition is distinctive and haunting. Indeed, this sentiment is true for Hive as a whole.

Honest Engine, Kyle Dargan, University of Georgia Press - Dargan’s fourth poetry collection is an intervention invloving ownership, not in the form of control, but in the form of self-acceptance. Through his relentless, enduring voice, we will ourselves to learn about taking ownership of one’s existence, especially when everything else is cosmically destined to crumble around us; and even if there aren’t any witnesses. He astutely points out how “no one is looking at us,” because witnessing was never meant to be a property of existence, the same way that acceptance was never meant to exist without the “self” coming before it. “Do not sink. You must/ be buoyant. When rescue is slow to arrive.” Whether it does arrive or not, the insoluble properties of self-acceptance and self-ownership are ultimately what keeps us alive and kicking.

Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts, Lawrence Raab, Tupelo Press - The beauty of a poetic line seems difficult to define. Yes, we can list elements: an easy grace, musical and measured symmetrical cadences, an elegant refined diction, syntax both arresting and passionate, the complete consort dancing together, like a flash of wings in sunlight, a vibrant shimmer half-hidden by a leafy branch. We can walk through a forest of books for days without seeing such a rare bird. But when we glimpse it, there's little choice: We must pause, enter into the beckoning world, revel in the meaningful dexterity, the skillful overthrowing of all we'd known, all we believed poetry could be. Raab, the poet of these songs reinvents our perceptions, remakes our conceptions of enchantment, and refigures what the figures can mean. These poems happen when craft moves beyond craft, when the bird sings towards evening, and we respond with recognition and gratitude. The moment overcoming us, inescapable and welcome, splendid, sumptuous, sublime.

What Snakes Want, Kita Shantiris, Mayapple Press - Two snakes intertwining are a symbol of fluidity in their undulating movements (per this book’s cover) and provide an apt metaphor for this delightful first book of poems. Full of new surprises and wondrous moments of discovery, the individual pieces feel not so much written as divined—the dousing rod dipping, almost dripping, to roar—in one instance, elegantly, about the effects of abusive relationships: The H is silent in Hermes./ All those silk tongues/ in your father’s tie rack./ Not like the S in scream. Yours/ when you found your mother/ asleep in a tub of red water. Throughout the book, Shantiris, a psychologist by trade, brings her depth of the psychoanalytic experience to bear on every poem’s subject in a personal and heartfelt manner. In her poem, "The Fall," her opening lines belie the felicity with which she dives. In "Girl’s Hobbies," she compares horseback riding to female sexuality, where gratification finishes with lustful conclusion. In "The Builder," Shantiris unfolds her devotion to cosmic unity. Time and again, she teases us with syntax, rhythm, and metaphor, and like Emily D., she leaves us feeling grace-filled and divine.

What Makes an Always, Jessica Tyner, Tayen Lane Publishing - The poet has managed to make the reader feel as though her whole life is pressed between the covers of this book. The title comes from a poem buried in the section that deals with her life, “as it is now” but tells us that when things are good, how easy it is to think of the time when it will all end. “One day one of us will miss this, and there is no telling which one…” From a childhood of realizing that she would never look like her Native American heritage, through lovers, losers, and anorexia. Through pain, both self- and other-inflicted, into love that has lasted, the language is open, accessible, powerful, and startling. With vivid images the author invites readers into her life, seeming without drawing curtains over any of it.

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Chapbook

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

Winner

The Witness, Kelly Fordon, Kattywompus Press - Fordon’s powerful prose was written in response to the 10,000 pages of testimony against the Catholic Church gathered by the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). You won’t learn this fact until the end, but along the way, you will see and feel, not visceral details on the page, but a suppressed confession bursting at the seams. Fordon captures essential aspects left in the wake of abuse—the humiliation that lingers and the compartmentalized emotions that grow like cancerous tumors—all handled deftly, artfully, lastingly.

First Runner-Up

After, Fatimah Asghar, Yes Yes Books - Asghar mines the dust in the wake of broken human connection—the morning after, the breakup, the unavoidable memories. When I finally reach the end of him/I fault him most for his plain name./The way it shows up everywhere, dirtying/the party, tracking in mud from parks... While the immediacy is all too familiar, her prose is fresh, honest, and direct. It reminds us all that in love there are dreams stolen and bargains lost.

Honorable Mentions

Black Achilles, Curits L. Crisler, Accents Publishing - On the surface, Crisler tracks the travails of a former athlete who is hobbled by a torn Achilles tendon, but the struggle is deeper and more universal—the common fear that cuts through life, fortune, and flesh. The thinking Could I have done this without/ the surgery? The scared you own. Feeling your/ Jesus-forsaken woe. ... It’s difficult to argue with the cold facts that impugn the soul—the place that feels invulnerable, yet comes crashing down when it meets with the earth.

Memos, Susan Terris, Omnidawn Publishing - This clever collection of prose forms sticky notes to the world: “Memo to the Deadbeat Dad,” “Memo to the Former Child Prodigy,” “Memo to Self.” The poems run the gamut from joyful to sad, from praise to scorn, from deference to irony. “Memo to the NRA” If I tell you I need an assault rilfe/to explode watermelons     would I be sane... Terris plots the course of human epiphanies with deft precision and comic turns. Memo to Ms. Terris: Job well done; see you next time.

Tiktaalik, Adieu, Lynn Pedersen, Finishing Line Press - Tiktaalik is a species that predates man, known only by fossils. In Pedersen’s collection, it’s not the unknown life of the species that matters, it’s the impression that all lost beings leave behind. Even Darwin becomes a study, as she investigates loss. The poet recognizes that life is temporary, and as a species we constantly say good-bye—to places, to loved ones, to our own past selves. Where have they gone? Who grieves for them?

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General Fiction

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

Winner

A Work of Art, Melody Maysonet, Merit Press - Maysonet’s novel offers a powerful tale of love and betrayal, as shy artist Tera contends with the long reach of a painful and beguiling family history. Juggling a budding relationship with rebellious musician Joey, Tera must confront the demons of her past as she attempts to find her sense of self in order to plot a new future. Well-written and finely-plotted, Maysonet’s novel is a vital work about the troubling moral fissures of our times, and the ways in which the pull of our childhoods inevitably impinges upon our capacity for transcending the sins of our familial pasts.

First Runner-Up

Juventud, Vanessa Blakeslee, Curbside Splendor Publishing - Set near Cali, Columbia, during the brutal drug wars of 1999, the book brilliantly juxtaposes the idealism of youthful peace activists, and the violence of those who benefit from the cocaine trade. Caught in the middle is Mercedes, fifteen, the daughter of a wealthy landowner who has had ties to the cartels, and an American mother whom she’s never met. Mercedes becomes romantically involved with an older peace activist, a member of the La Maria Juventud (church youth group) and is asked to “spy” on her father." Her youthful searching for truth about her family makes her vulnerable to judgments and assumptions leading to painful life-altering decisions that one day must be undone. She must return to Cali after years of success and loneliness to confront the past. Well-developed characters dramatically reveal that “Sometimes lies are what we tell ourselves in order to survive, a substitute for faith.” And occasionally faith becomes a substitute for truth.

Honorable Mentions

Between Families, Karin Mitchell, CreateSpace - From the beginning of this story, the reader is pulled into the out-of-control life of twelve-year-old Seffra and her drug-addicted mother, Linda. Seffra longs for love and acceptance, but is baffled by her mom’s erratic behavior—affectionate one minute, angry and abusive the next, often leaving her for days at a time to fend for herself. The powerful narrative and unnerving dialogue are so well written you feel the child’s fear and desperation as she struggles to survive—shoplifting, stealing money for food, even stabbing Linda’s drunken lover who attempts to rape her. Unable to cope with the guilt that she may have killed him, Seffra tries to end her life. But escape isn’t so easy. She ends up in a residential treatment center forced to face her insecurities and work through the indelible impact of abandonment, abuse, violence and shame.

Hidden Shadows, Linda Lucretia Shuler, Twilight Times Books - After her grandmother's passes away, Cassie Brighton flees the memory of her husband's untimely and violent death; images she will never forget. She fulfills a deathbed promise to the old woman and moves into her family's home in Texas Hill country. Straddling the genres of women's fiction and romance, Cassie must heal from the loss of her husband and adjust to rural life. She discovers her family's buried secrets and dares to love again. The author is adept at bringing depth to her main characters, fleshing out idiosyncratic secondary characters, describing the Texas landscape, and bringing to life Native American traditions.

Hush Now, Don't Explain, Dennis Must, Coffeetown Press - Author Must follows a trio of unlikely travelers, a young man who is almost just a boy, a girl, and an old man, as they pursue their musical passions while in reality searching for meaning, purpose, and a rightful place in the world. While music is at its center, it is also off to the side of the question “Who am I?” that each desperately wants answered. Their physical travel in post-World War II America is driven by lyrical prose and the journey is at once necessary and terse. It is necessary to grow, evolve, and become what destiny may have in store for them, and it is terse in the evils of an imperfect society which is visited upon them. The temptation to abandon their quest and return home to the plain and ordinary bosom of the matriarch they left behind tempts them over and over. At the end of the day, that staid place is as changed as they are, and destiny, as is often the case, lay right in front of them.

The Boys from Eighth and Carpenter, Tom Mendicino, Kensington Publishing Corp - A family crime saga combined with the tale of a changing city to create a riveting story featuring colorful characters. These diverse actors are made more interesting and more human through their mixed motives and unpredictable reactions. The author avoids the Dickens trap of characters being all good or all bad, which few people are in real life. This compelling drama evokes real tensions between different religious, ethnic, and political factions in 1960s Philadelphia, which were representative of urban America at the time and are still playing out on many levels in our current civil discourse. An atmospheric and well-constructed page-turner with clean, engaging prose and a story that packs an emotional wallop.

The Kittridge Manuscript, Don Meyer, Two Peas Publishing - An army buddy leaves Jeff Morgan a manuscript that propels him into the mystery and suspense of trying to find out the reason for the unusual bequest. Along his journey to find answers he takes along Professor Lori Hathaway to help him decipher the clues. Along the rough road being traveled, people are drugged, knocked unconscious, photographed in compromising positions, and even killed before they find the reason that was so surprising that President Lincoln tried to cover it up. It is fun and refreshing to find people in their fifties and sixties, middle-aged, as lovers and heroes. Meyer really knows how to keep the reader spellbound in this page-turner.

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh, Jean Davies Okimoto, Endicott and Hugh Books - Dr. Paugh is a veterinarian in his sixties who has just sold his clinic right after suffering a heart attack. His long marriage then suddenly comes to an end when his wife announces that she is leaving. Cast adrift, Paul struggles to acclimate to retirement and bachelorhood, a task he finds quite daunting. Set on Washington State’s Vashon Island, the rural setting becomes a colorful backdrop to Paul’s adjustment. Bonding with his dog, Bert, Paul’s move to an even more rural cottage house on Baker’s Beach provides him the companionship of other retirees, who welcome and help him adjust. He finds new love and a sense of purpose with the help of various dogs, women, and a therapist. Themes include major life changes and the necessary adjustments we have to make, but also the possibility of starting over and finding even greater happiness. The author’s skill in portraying her character’s psychological states is superb.

Walking Home via the Appalachian Trail, Michael Herrick, Xlibris - The main character leaves his wife and children to walk the Appalachian Trail North to South, going against the conventional direction. Along the way, he encounters many hikers, physical challenges, and, most importantly, his unadulterated self. By turns humorous and dark, clever and straightforward, this book engages its reader from start to finish with a growing intensity, not unlike the way the trail itself becomes an obsession to the hiker, a task sometimes painful, often funny, and always compelling. Walking Home is not the first book about the challenge of the Appalachian Trail, nor will it be the last, but it seduces its reader as it moves along the path, with wisdom and insight, and not a few blisters.

Wilted Dandelions, Catherine Ulrich Brakefield, CrossRiver Brewster - If you’ve ever been the one "not picked" you’ll fall in love with this story. Rachel Rothburn has never felt pretty. She’s too tall, too thin, and no man has ever loved her. She’s poured her desire into becoming a missionary, but she can’t go unless she is married. Her father arranges a marriage for her but will there ever be love between her and Dr. Johnathan Wheaton? It’s an enduring read about trust, following God’s desire, and battling the wild terrain and indigenous people of America in 1837. This author gives us history mixed with fiction making the past come alive.

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Commercial Fiction

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

Winner

The Darkest Side of Saturn, Tony Taylor, iUniverse - Harris Mitchel, spacecraft navigator, and Diana Muse-Jones, an astronomer bent on breaking the record of new asteroid sightings, are star-crossed young colleagues married to unfaithful spouses and passionately in love with science. When Harris and Diana jointly discover an asteroid on a potential collision course with the earth, they must fight against their own vehement disagreements as well as the scientific establishment, political inertia, and religious extremism in the form of the Reverend Doctor Ernest Farnsworth, radio evangelist. Attempting to attract public attention to the threat of the asteroid in order to save millions of people, Harris must violate the conventions of his profession and allow himself to be packaged as a cult figure. Deftly juggling sly satire, romance, suspense, and metaphysics, the author, a former NASA navigator, offers fascinating insight into the procedures and politics of space exploration.

First Runner-Up

The Stranger Box, Pamela Cuming, CreateSpace - Abandoned as a baby, Eden grows into a complex character fueled by the desire for revenge. She is influenced by Leila, the Haitian Voodoo priestess housekeeper, who teaches her the uses, for good and evil, of black magic. Eden has all the tools she needs in the "Stranger Box" Leila helps her create. Katherine Blair (Caitlin Byrne) boards a train a month after Eden is born and never looks back. Fate insures their paths cross, and the self-centered Katherine fears the resourceful sixteen year-old will discover who she is. Both women's lives are on a collision course with unpredictable consequences. Cuming brings readers a psychological thriller that will both shock and entertain. This is a suspenseful, surprising, and well-written story with many layers, great character development, and an ending leaving deep entanglements. Readers will hope for a sequel to bring the tale full circle.

Honorable Mentions

Before the Court of Heaven, Jack Mayer, Long Trail Press - Set during the tumultuous years of the first half of the twentieth century, Mayer’s book follows the tortured, violent life of Ernst Techow, a young man whose life takes him from war to terrorism, from self-discovery and crime to war once again. Throughout we see a rendering of the life of a young man whose path is intertwined with violence and suffering, while being framed with a growing desire for absolution for the violent crime in which he participated. Vividly rendered and grippingly told, Mayer’s novel demonstrates the lengths people sometimes have to go to obtain forgiveness for the sins they commit.

Bookish Meets Boy, Dianna Dann, Wayward Cat Publishing - Sophie Childers is content with her simple life running a bookstore with her grandfather and caring for the town’s stray cats. When she accidentally drops a pile of books on the head of the gorgeous Reese Fuller, he shows interest in her that she doesn’t know what to do with. With a small town of quirky characters cheering them on, Sophie bumbles her way through romance. But when she learns Reese bought the abandoned building that her stray cats live in and plans to renovate, she has to decide what truly matters. With the help of her town that really is like family, she learns change isn’t horrible and can be pretty nice. This story is delightfully humorous.

The Conciliators, James J. Kaufman, Downstream Publishing - This financial thriller is the final book of Kaufman’s The Collectibles Trilogy, and it features both CEO Preston Wilson, who was introduced in Book One, and reporter and Wilson’s long-lost daughter Katherine Kelly, who was introduced in Book Two. For its part, this novel reads well as a standalone and is easy to enjoy, even without benefit of having read the first two books. Katherine has written a story that has made Preston Wilson headline news after a friend he trusted for a very long time betrayed him and the company. Now he has the FBI practically knocking down his door. Worse than that, though, the Russian mafia is after him, in addition to numerous creditors. And he’s not the only one in danger. They’re going after his wife Marcia, as well. Will Wilson be able to clear his name and protect his family, and the special group of Collectibles he was charged to look after by his trusted mentor? Or will he finally succumb to the immense external pressures and lose everything he cares about?

The Piltdown Picasso Robin Richards, Matador - Matthew “Fax” Fairfax is a man with a past—one that he’s happy to escape. When he arrives back in London after several years, he’s immediately drawn into its lush fine arts community. It’s not long, however, that Fax finds himself in hot water yet again. Mika Slade, a celebrity who purchases a questionable Picasso, is gunned down and Fax is the prime suspect. But he can’t clear his name until he identifies the murderer—and that means diving deep into the underbelly of the London art scene. The Piltdown Picasso is populated by well-drawn characters, so lively that they jump off the page, in this smart and intricate mystery.

The Thing Is, Kathleen Gerard, Red Adept Publishing - Meredith is a woman suffering from intense loss. Instead of moving on, she lives in a time capsule never leaving her home, not letting anyone close to her and spending her time getting extensions to write her next book. That is until a unique therapy dog, Prozac, enters her life. Prozac has a regular schedule of visits to various retirement homes. There Meredith is forced to rejoin the land of the living—and there she begins to open herself again to relationships. Through humor and strong character development the book leads the reader through the struggles of Meredith as she learns to allow people in her life again. The book has a strong opening with characters that immediately engage. As these characters interact with each other we begin to truly understand how unique Prozac is. The book continues with growing friendships—and a bit more loss—and ends with a surprising, though satisfying ending.

The Tomb of the Honey Bee, L.B.Hathaway, Whitehaven Man Press - In this continuation of the Posie Parker mystery series, we leave London for a not-so gentile Cotswold estate where a mystery writer is found murdered after asking to meet Posie—possibly to divulge the secret of why the estate’s family is in such disarray. The adventure expands when Posie traverses Europe in pursuit of the missing and handsome explorer Aleric Boynton-Dale. Hathoway ramps up the verbiage on biscuits and sherry to include canolies and strong coffee as Posie leaves London to travel by train through France to Italy and then by plane to Egypt. She also increases the number of dead bodies littering Posie’s path, but our detective gets to the answers, justice is served, and a new man enters Posie’s life with the promise of more exotic adventures. In another compelling and fun read, Posie could become a great friend to return to again and again.

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Children's

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

Winner

Sing Freedom!, Vanita Oelschlager, Vanita Books - This is a truthful historical story about the small country of Estonia and how their people came together to regain their freedom after Russia took over during World War II. The story is told in a way children can understand without compromising actual facts and also has a timeline to help with understanding the events that take pace. Readers learn of the struggles in which Estonians suffered, including loss of their jobs and religious freedom. The story continues to show how the Estonians fought back through, "The Singing Revolution," to show their strength in unity. It was a start of a long road to freedom, which occurs at its compelling conclusion. The illustrations show such vivid detail, revealing the emotions of the characters and events taking place. The book includes a map and glossary to give an even more in depth understanding of the story.

First Runner-Up

The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, Elizabeth Lorayne, White Wave Press - This adventurous story of Piratess Tilly, her seven adopted brothers, and her koala friend, Yuki, as navigator will inspire young minds to travel and explore the world around them and beyond. Inspired by the works of Beatrix Potter and Charles Darwin, Tilly sails her classroom ship, the Foster, to the Galapagos Islands to study the wildlife native to the islands and log her discoveries. During her journey, she is alerted to the kidnapping of giant tortoise babies and must do what she can to save them from their kidnappers. She works with Yuki and her brothers to accomplish her mission. Written in haiku, this story will inspire young girls to explore sailing, biology, and geography. The strong role model of Tilly will be a favorite character for many girls, and the gorgeous illustrations of animals will inspire more research into blue-footed boobies, humpback whales, iguanas, tortoises, and more. The pictures alone will make this an oft-requested read.

Honorable Mentions

Little Miss History Travels to Mount Rushmore, Barbara Ann Mojica, Eugenus Studios - This is a series of delightful children’s books that both entertain and inform. The author has created an energetic character, Little Miss History, which takes readers to locations and events important to the development mankind’s history. She makes history interesting to both young and old alike. Both the impressive illustrations on each page and the main character’s witty sense of humor keep the reader turning the page to discover more. This series is a fun way for children to learn interesting historical facts, while having a blast traveling with the very likable narrator.

My Forgotten Self, Lynyetta G. Willis, PhD, Inner Pathways Publishing - This work provides the reader with several lessons about interaction with others while experiencing the curiosity of growing up to become a productive member of society. A young girls’ journey through childhood introduces her to various occupations and potential careers. As she experiences her possible choices, each is struck down by a pessimistic individual who tells the girl that she cannot succeed and why. As the girl sinks into depression about the lack of direction, she is softly awakened by an inner voice that instructs her on self-love, as well as the creator (I Am) of all that is and how anything is possible. The illustrations support the emotional content of the pages. The author suggests that we have forgotten who we are, that each of us is special as an extension of the creator, and that each of us bears unique gifts.

Snap!, Hazel Hutchins, Annick Press - This is the story of a boy named Evan and the magic disguised within a new pack of crayons. When Evan accidentally breaks one of his brand new crayons, he is upset at ruining their perfection, but that event is what goes on to inspire his color journey. Evan is able to express his creativity in vivid color and drawings and make new discoveries through his experimentation and misfortune. He learns about color, texture, and mixing all while his crayons gradually disappear. The rainbow of colors throughout the book will inspire little hands to find their own creative outlets. The creativity inspired by the accidental snap of one crayon is beautifully illustrated throughout the story. Evan also uses creative problem solving in his attempts to regain lost crayons and find ways to continue his colorful fun. Parents should be ready to find their children using every last bit of crayon after reading this imaginative tale.

The Rabbit Rescuers, Cindy Howard, No Rabbit Left Behind - When ten year-old twins Kate and Zack's parents decide to move the family from Vancouver to Richmond, the children don't want to leave their friends or school. Nevertheless, no amount of complaining could change their parents' minds. After moving, the twins decide to explore a nearby park where they meet their neighbors Paityn and Marijane, who show them the secret places where the abandoned rabbits live. Realizing these animals need help, the children start their own rescue called the "Rabbit Land Club" and set out to save the rabbits. The author has a wonderful way of teaching children about the daily dangers and hardships facing abandoned animals. This delightful chapter book also shows how we must all do our part and be responsible pet owners. Beautiful illustrations add to the charm of this exceptional rabbit tale.

The Reading Promise, Troy Kent Mascot Books - This is a heartwarming fictional story of a mother’s willingness to provide the best life she can for her child. First-time mother, Katherine, couldn’t buy her son, Daniel, fancy clothes or toys, but she could give him the gift of reading. She made him a promise that she would read to him each night and end with a kiss. She stuck to this promise even when he became too old to read to at bedtime. Daniel loved not only reading but learning as well. Katherine would visit places with Daniel so he could make real life connections to what he learned from the stories he read. Later, when Katherine becomes ill, it is Daniel who ends up reading to comfort her, proving that she gave him a gift to last forever. After Katherine passes, her son carries on this gift and reads to his little girl each night ending with a kiss. Some of the best gifts you can give do not cost anything, but are the most valuable in the world.

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Young Adult

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

Winner

Alchemy's Daughter, Mary A. Osborne, Lake Street Press - Any fan of historical fiction, will not want to miss this story of young Santina who develops into an inspirational character for any age. The novel takes the readers back in time to a medieval village in 14th century Italy. Throughout the pages, the history of female physicians, alchemy education, and survival are experienced first-hand through seventeen year old Santina. The journey from her first love (her tutor, Calandrino) to her determination to follow the steps of Troutula (the town midwife) in a time of crisis is an alluring and enduring tale. Osborne creates a hero that is steadfast through challenges and provides hope that true love can surface and win in the end.

First Runner-Up

Diego's Crossing, Robert Hough, Annick Press - Diego’s Crossing gives a realistic portrayal of the desperation of life in a small town in Mexico through the eyes of seventeen year-old Diego. There is no future for Diego and his family in their town, but they don’t have the resources or energy to move and try for a better life. One of the only people to make it out is Diego’s brother, Ernesto. He returns to a hero’s welcome because it seems that he has found success. What he has found is drug-running. The characters are strongly written, from the mother who refuses to acknowledge her oldest son’s occupation, to the drug deal at the other end of the exchange that Diego is forced to make to save his family. Throughout the novel, you can feel Diego’s frustration and fear as he is forced to do something that he had vowed he would never do. The novel may be small in size but it tackles a large topic beautifully and draws the reader in to the life of its characters.

Honorable Mentions

Epic of Ahiram, Michael Joseph Murano, Candle Bright Books - Murano digs deep into the enduring spirit of Ahiram, a twelve year-old boy sold as a slave and struggling for survival and freedom. Years later, Ahiram is subject to cruelty and pain, but searches within himself for the will to fight back and win his freedom in the Games of the Mines. This vividly depicted world feels familiar and the fluid, well-paced dialogue and deeply developed characters make it an enjoyable page-turner. Through Ahiram, we experience struggle, sorrow, but— most importantly—hope as this young boy transforms to a man and survivor. The story ends with intrigue and leaves us wanting more.

Jacqueline, Jackie Minniti, Anaiah Press - A namesake with so much meaning and a promised fulfilled is the basis for this touching novel. The author's father was stationed in France during WWII and his heart was changed by a young French girl. It is the mind and actions of this brave young girl dealing with the effects of war and Nazi rule that makes for a timeless tale. Her attachment to the doctor provides help for a family in need and yet so much more provides the hope she clings to. With so much tragedy is woven in the threads of life for each character in Jacqueline's French village, the readers will be touched by how even young people can survive with a sustaining strength.

Magic Teacher's Son, David Harten Watson, Pen-L Publishing - Magicians and Sorcerers are at war in Wastson's tale. As a young boy and son of a Magic Teacher who runs the school in which he is pupil, Pran sneaks out of the house one evening to experience dark magic with his friends. This sets in motion a series of events that pull the struggle to his front door and brings Pran to the center of his kingdom’s survival. The subsequent journey tests Pran in both expected and unexpected ways. He learns to harness the knowledge gained from his father’s teachings and expand his knowledge and skills to include his own instinctual gifts as a young magician.

The Essence, Vel Grande, Crystal Wolf Publishing - When Alyssa is left in charge of her two younger brothers while her parents take a short vacation, she is determined to do a good job and make her mother proud. Imagine how she feels when a mysterious portal opens in her youngest brother’s bedroom mirror and spirits appear. When the trio try to investigate what is happening, both brothers get sucked into the portal leaving Alyssa on the outside trying to get them back before her parents return. This is a two pronged story. One thread follows Alyssa’s anguish and her efforts to retrieve her brothers. The other story line follows the brother’s adventures in the land of spirits.

The Sower Comes, Melissa Eskue Ousley, Castle Garden Publications - The third book in a series, this installment continues the saga of the Solas Beir, David, and his friends as they try to defeat Darkness with Light. Even though it is book three, it was easy to jump right in to the trilogy. The author does a fine job bringing the new reader up to date with the adventures in the previous two. The plot is easy to follow and somewhat predictable but still enjoyable. THe story calls for creatures of different species to come together with humans in the epic battle between good and evil or in this case, Light and Darkness. Teen readers with a taste for the magical touched with a bit of romance will find this a nice addition.

When the Music Stops - Dance On, Paddy Eger, Tendril Press - Marta had a lifelong dream to dance as a professional ballerina. She worked hard, was accepted by a dance company, and was living her dream. Then an unfortunate accident ended her new found career. What was she to do now? She returns home to recover from her injury and decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Back in her hometown, she re-ignites her passion for dance and finds, not only a way to continue, but discovers herself and new love at the same time. This is a story of courage, hope, and determination.

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Culture

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

Winner

Jewels of Allah, Nina Ansary, Revela Press - This is a well-researched and well-written study of the role of women in past and present-day Iran. Ansary begins with Western misconceptions about Persian women and then proceeds to demonstrate how these popular narratives have generated an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of Iranian society. Author Ansary, a well-known and outspoken feminist, walks the reader through women’s history in Persia from ancient times to the twenty-first century and introduces many strong female thinkers and leaders along the way, from theologian Tahirah, who was strangled in the 1800s for appearing in public unveiled, to engineer Anouseh Ansari, Iran’s first woman in space. By so doing, she succeeds in achieving her objective of revealing “how a full-blown feminist movement developed and grew in the patriarchal climate of post-revolutionary Iran.” But while the misconceptions of Persian women exist to this day, fully evolved Persian women, like Ansary, predominantly live in exile from from their native lands.

First Runner-Up

Family Resemblance, Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov, editors, Rose Metal Press - This collection moves beyond the tidy categories we call genre, helping the reader explore uncommon mash-ups: critical essay and short story, poem and poem submission cover letter, prose poem and scripture, and others. The result is a diverse, engaging, and informative read. Preceding each piece is an author introduction to provide context and sometimes much-needed explanation. The works included are by turns arresting, relatable, and laugh-out-loud funny. Some are strange and difficult to decode; however, as one of the authors in this anthology asks, “But really, aren’t they in the end all made of words?” Although geared to an academic audience, readers of literature in all its varieties will find something to enjoy in this book.

Honorable Mentions

Heroic Children, Hanoch Teller, New York City Publishing - The horrors of the holocaust have been well-documented over the years, however never as poignantly as through the eyes of nine children who remind us of a part of history we would like to forget. It’s difficult not to be drawn in by their heart-felt and courageous stories as the author shows us, through the eyes of these nine innocents, how they lived in a situation that most adults could not endure. Yet they survived and moved on to live happy, useful, successful lives, able to put the terrors of their childhood behind them, bringing hope to the reader and to a world in desperate need of it.

Leon Patterson: A California Story, Gerald W. Haslam & Janice E. Haslam, Devil Mountain Books - Leon Patterson was a 1950's track and field star, an Olympic hopeful excelling at discus and shot-put, who died of kidney disease at the age of 21. On first glance, this biography could be dismissed as just another book about a young athlete cut down in his prime by a tragic illness, but authors Gerald and Janice Haslam have succeeded in elevating their subject with strong writing and thorough research, while avoiding sentimentality. Moreover, it's aptly subtitled “A California Story,” and in exploring Patterson’s life, the authors also depict the struggle of poor migrants in the first fifty years of the twentieth century. Their hardships laboring in oil and agricultural fields in California are an important backdrop to the compelling personal portrait.

No Place for Normal, Clifford Browder, Mill City Press - This is a compilation of posts from author Clifford Browder’s blog about “everything and anything New York”— the good, the bad and the ugly of both its past and present. The City is depicted from many angle, including a brief sketch of the late 19th-century elite dining experience at Delmonico’s Restaurant, a tribute to Central Park, a foray into Greenwich Village, a look at the Gay Pride Parade, and a summary of the street-fair experience. Many of New York’s unnamed “characters” make an appearance. The author’s fascination with the quirkiness of the City permeates every page, making this great reading for those looking for an introduction to New York as well as for those who already consider themselves diehard New Yorkers.

The Hillary Doctrine, Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidel, Columbia University Press - Gender equality and the security of a nation may seem like separate issues to some. However, Hillary Clinton has long held the view—now known as the Hillary Doctrine—that equal rights for women are inextricably tied to the stability and security of nations. The authors use case studies, political history, and reports from those personally involved with policy formation and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish the validity of The Hillary Doctrine. Their investigation also reveals the Doctrine to be unevenly promoted by Clinton herself and sometimes grossly distorted in its application. Often gender issues are ineffectively served by hollow programs created to satisfy the requirements of the funding bureaucracy. There are, however, bright spots and reasons to hope that the needs and perspectives of both genders will be reflected in future political policy making and peace negotiation in the future.

The Myth of Black Anti-Intellectualism, Kevin Cokley, Praeger - The African-American student group has been studied for years in hope of promoting better college graduation rates. The author introduces the reader to his own experience as an African-American student, beginning in elementary school, and gives examples of the obstacles and prejudices he and others have faced in their educational journey. He explores self-esteem as a possible root cause of lower grades and tells of his first days as a kindergarten student and his early introduction to prejudice. He challenges the myth of Black Anti-Intellectualism as being the result of victimhood and separatism, as well as the sense that educational excellence is something blacks can never achieve. This creates a promising resource for educators and other professionals interested in digging deeper into the reasons for low academic achievement among black students.

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Memoir

The Memoir category captures specific personal experience.

Winner

Saving Jake, D'Anne Burwell, FocusUp Books - Powerful and insightful, this book describes the devastating impact addiction has on a young man and his family. Overcome by guilt, grief, and powerlessness, a terrified mother understands that addiction is a disease, not a choice—and she is determined to cure it. Our society still has to uniformly grasp that fact. This book helps pave the way one story at a time. In addition, it captures the essence of the struggle every parent of a teenager faces: to intervene and rescue or to hold back and let events unfold. After all, the author concludes, "our children's lives are not ours to live ..." This book is an important and necessary addition to our society's conversation about addiction and the efforts to defeat it. Burwell believes there is plenty of reason for optimism.

First Runner-Up

Almost Anywhere, Krista Shlyer, Skyhorse Publishing - Selling everything you own so you can road-trip across America is something many of us fantasize doing. In fact, it's stronly entrenched in American folklore. The author, along with her dog and best friend, make it real for us. In a book, that feels more like an immersive tour than a naval-gazing memoir, the author does more than just go on adventures across the landscape of America. She confronts the grief of losing the love of her life. She contemplates the stars. She writes about universal human experiences in a powerful, relatable way, moving seamlessly from funny to profound to informative. The author manages to paint a beautiful picture of an unusual year, while connecting to readers in a we’re-all-human kind of way.

Honorable Mentions

Angels in My Foxhole, Richard A.M. Dixon, Plicata Press - Dixon’s absorbing memoir, chronicles his life as a boy born during the Depression in Boston’s South End all the way through his successful career as a United States Army officer and special forces soldier, but the real draw is Dixon’s ability to tell gripping stories with a real-time feel. He ably conveys the practical realities of war. He lost friends, witnessed horrific events, and had four helicopters shot out from under him. Yet with humility and a take-no-guff writing style, he portrays the courage of soldiers battling in the central highlands of Vietnam, the wonder over his encounters with villagers living under extreme duress, or the terror inflicted by a tiger marauding local villages. Dixon recounts a fascinating story about his decision to speak up over the senseless mutilation and slaughter of the wild elephants of Vietnam. Dixon’s service as a paratrooper and elite Ranger allows him to portray not only the grit and reality of war, but also the stories of people and animals impacted by the events there. As gritty and realistic as his stories are, Dixon leaves room for the supernatural—the times where he and others shouldn’t have survived, but inexplicably did.

Escape Points, Michele Weldon, Chicago Review Press - When Michele’s husband abandons her and their three young sons to go on a spiritual quest across the globe, she works longer and harder. She accompanies her sons to their wrestling practices and matches, cooks, cleans, and gets cancer. Weldon’s memoir details the daily, even hourly, struggles and frustrations she endures, as she raises her sons and supports them in their aspirations no matter what. Despite seemingly never-ending legal wrangling with her deadbeat husband, chemotherapy, and teaching more than a full load of university classes, the recounting doesn’t seem designed to elicit pity or evoke anger. It’s matter-of-fact; what mothers do. There’s no jump up and down happy ending or tear-jerking one either, but Weldon’s memoir grabs the reader and does not let go until the end.

Into Exile, Elin Toona Gottschalk, Evershine Press - The horrors of war are exemplified in this compelling memoir of a young girl and her family. Young Elin, her mother, and grandmother are swept up in the mass exile from Estonia during World War II. As Germans and Russians battle over Estonia, Elin and her family are forced to flee the country or be deported to Siberia. They use any mode of transportation available to arrive in a refugee camp. They spend months trying to find a way to immigrate to England, the land of promise in their eyes. Arriving, they find that all is not as they thought it would be. Mother and Grandmother are assigned to cleaning duties at a hospital and Elin is sent to an orphanage. As they struggle to stay together as a family and retain their heritage, they rely on each other while learning independence and perseverance. Artfully written, the author provides the reader with a detailed and compelling story of hardship turning into triumph.

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Business

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

Winner

No Ordinary Disruption, Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, & Jonathan Woetzel, Public Affairs - In a world of constant change, it is critical to stay on top of current trends. Change is occurring at a momentous rate. To be successful, leaders must recognize new trend indicators and adjust accordingly. This book provides an undeniable analysis of the speed in which change is occurring and illustrates how we must think differently in this current global economy. Our beliefs and intuitions about how things are supposed to work may be incorrect. The explosive manufacturing growth in emerging markets, coupled with consumerism and competition from these countries, demographic shifts, urbanization, and technological advancements, will all have a significant impact on how we do business. While we can’t predict the future, this book helps us to prepare for it by taking a good look at the forces that are in play today and teaches us that to survive, we must embrace the interconnectivity of the world.

First Runner-Up

Meetings Matter, Paul Axtell, Jackson Creek Press - Most people believe that meetings are an unproductive use of time. An enormous amount of meetings occur in the workplace, and people find that attending takes them away from doing real work. What if meetings could actually be useful? Axtell looks at meetings in a different light and points out that if done correctly meetings can provide many benefits to an organization, as well as to the individuals who are participating. Critical components of a successful meeting include conversation, listening, and the building of relationships, which ultimately lead to trust, engagement, and productivity. Axtell supplies eight powerful meeting strategies, including “Master Effective Conversation” and “Decide What Matters and Who Cares.” These strategies may seem quite simple to achieve but may take years of practice to master. If done correctly, meetings which were once plagued with anxiety and mistrust can become effective tools to accomplish an organization’s goals.

Honorable Mentions

Dream, Dare, Deliver, Priya Kumar, Embassy Book Distributors - Being a successful business leader is not just about profits. It is about inspiring, motivating and respecting those around us. Author, Priya Kumar takes us through the incredible life’s journey of Subhasish Chakraborty, a man born into difficult economic circumstances, who built a life and multi-million dollar company on his inherent entrepreneurial skills and a commitment to improving the lives of those he touches. DTDC, an express delivery company, the largest in India, was founded by Mr. Chakraborty. The company was not only created by hard work and passion but also by a genuine concern for the success and well-being of others. Kumar captures the essence of the life and struggles of this remarkable man through interviews with Mr. Chakraborty and quotes including: “one moment of glory stands on a million moments of hard work” and “happy people perform better.” This story is one of great inspiration.

Magnitude, Boyd Ober, Success Productions - To be an effective leader in any environment, one must be present in every sense. This presence includes mentoring, motivating, and inspiring those around us. Often times, organizational leaders are too distracted by the end results of the bottom line. Author and Consultant, Boyd Ober, provides insight into the key elements of successful leadership, as told through the story of Merton Financial, a fictional company. Merton‘s story is one of initial successes, followed by challenges caused by breakdowns in communications among leadership and staff. Ober teaches us that in order to be successful, a true commitment is necessary on the part of leaders to embrace a five layer model of leadership presence. This includes: “style, etiquette, communication, gravitas and character.” Through this presence, we can begin to build an environment of respect, communication, and trust. Ober clearly believes in the potential of others and shows us how we can all become better leaders.

Up in Smoke, Richard L. DeProspo - Americans are facing another financial crisis. This one is different than the devastating crisis of the financial markets in 2008, yet equally as dire. Americans are approaching retirement with less means to sustain their remaining years. The last of the Baby Boomers turn 65 in 2030 and some will not be able to retire. Investment Banker, Richard L. Deprospo, provides a staggering analysis of the perfect storm that is the retirement system. Unfortunately, as Deprospo points out, the causes of this storm are not limited to one: Americans are saving less and retiring with smaller nest eggs. Social Security, which many rely on, is set to run out of funds by 2033. Corporate and public pension plans have become a benefit of the past and those that remain, are being unwound or are running out of funds. Solutions do exist, but the government must commit to overhauling these broken systems.

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Reference

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

Winner

Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston, Denise D. Price, White Dharma - Who doesn't love a pop-up book? Author and artist Denise D. Price must, because she's created a captivating tour of Boston’s Freedom Trail that will be treasured by child and adult alike. From the Massachusetts State House to the Old North Church, famous Revolutionary landmarks and monuments rise from the pages, surrounded by the type of secret pockets and envelopes one expects in the finest of pop-up books. It is an interactive work that is ideal for families who would like to learn more about Boston history or relive a trip they took there. It’s a walk through history. It’s great fun, and it’s also a work of art. Bravo.

First Runner-Up

The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law, Randy Chapman, Esq., Mighty Rights Press - IDEA (the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) has changed public education in significant ways for students, parents, and school districts and their personnel, although few know how to navigate the legal maze, created by disabled student advocates who used the courts to force school districts to provide ever-increasing services to challenged students, to advocate for their own child. For example, courts have ruled that school districts must train aides to handle service dogs that accompany students who have seizures, train personnel to give diabetic student insulin injections, reimburse parents for a private school placement if the parent decides the school is not providing all the student requires, and accommodate “inappropriate” classroom behavior, including violent behavior, if it is determined that the behavior is related to the student’s disability. Chapman, an admitted disabled student advocate who, according to his bio has represented more than 18,500 disabled people in Colorado, makes the evolution of disability law comprehensible to the lay person without sacrificing legal specificity. Using statute and case law he explains the rights of disabled students and recourse for parents who must deal with school boards and administrators that are also trying to comply with laws and regulations along with tight school budgets. Appendices include a sample letter to request student records, a sample of a complaint notice, a glossary of acronyms, and an list of Federal Circuit Courts in addition to an index.

Honorable Mentions

Organics: It’s All About the Money, Hiram M. Drache, Hobar Publications - Drache explores the America’s infatuation with healthy eating from an economic viewpoint. What began as a reaction to agribusiness and the demise of the family farm has become community garden plots, farmer’s markets, and small scale local food production and distribution, but has now unfortunatlely been appropriated by big business. Using historical biological data, he makes the case that the pursuit of nutritious food production and consumption is driven more by anti-corporate Liberal ideology, whose roots were established in the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s, rather than a scientific evidence of efficacy. In addition to the huge profits realized from slapping an “organic” label on food when there are no standards for the term, the abandonment of farming practices such as pesticide usage is making it more difficult to achieve the production necessary to feed the world’s population. Affluent Americans are letting their emotions and faddish inclinations to drive their food choices at the expense of sound scientific farming improvements, Drache concludes, which is alright for individuals except where it dictates a scarcity of food resources for large numbers of poor people, including poor Americans.

Reaching Higher: The Simple Strategy to Transform America’s K-12 Schools, John Baylor, John Baylor Prep - In a time of increasing frustration among educators and apathy among students, most schools lack a clear strategy when it comes to preparing would-be graduates to compete and succeed in the “knowledge economy” of the twenty-first century. This book offers a refreshingly simple, effective, and concrete plan to address the issue on both an individual and institutional level. The author’s thesis as to why such a plan is necessary is both compelling and uncontroversial: “American students face a future where they will compete for employment with fellow domestic workers, inexpensive foreign ones, and intelligent machines.” Similarly, the core solution advocated by Baylor effective and sensible: to motivate students to go on to complete a two- or four-year degree with minimal debt. To this end, the book includes numerous tactics for educators to implement a paradigm shift within their school and community that will change the way students view post-graduation challenges and opportunities while providing strategies for them to succeed.

Rowdy, Christopher Madsen, CPM Publishing - Upon first sight of the beautiful, old-fashioned cover, one may get the sense that Rowdy was a labor of love, which the introduction confirms. Rowdy is the meticulously researched story of an antique boat and the people associated with it. Madsen’s narration follows these people wherever their stories led them, including the Argonne battlefield and early Hollywood. Rowdy recreates the world of a century ago, helped by many old photos, and those interested in historical reading are likely to find this work a fascinating glimpse into the past.

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Home

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

Winner

Fresh Tastes from a Well-Seasoned Kitchen, Lee Clayton Roper, MLC Publishing - Cooking a memorable meal for family and friends can be an intimidating task. Best intentions, often inspired by mouth-watering photos, do not always turn out as recipes intend them to be. Author, Lee Clayton Roper does it again with her follow-up cookbook to the award winning A Well-Seasoned Kitchen, which was co-written with her mother, Sally Clayton. The book is filled with delicious recipes, such as Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Peppers and Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Tomato Mango Salsa. The book’s straightforward approach to cooking includes recipes that utilize local in-season ingredients, while providing helpful tips to get the most flavor out of each recipe. One tip points out that a canned item may provide more flavor than a fresh out of season version, such as winter tomatoes. The photos throughout are enticing and worthy of placement on any coffee table, but these recipes belong in the kitchen.

First Runner-Up

Walking to Woot, Jackie Chase, Adventure TravelPress - When thinking of a mother and daughter bonding together, images of shopping, dinner, or a visit to the spa come to mind. The last thing one might think about is an exploration across the New Guinea jungle, which is exactly what author and photojournalist Jackie Chase and her fourteen year old daughter Katherine did. Giving up all of their modern comforts on this journey, they visited many indigenous tribal villages on the adventure of a lifetime. They faced with numerous threats including cannibalism, sickness, insects, language barriers and unknown tribal customs, while learning a great deal about each other, survival, and cultures far different than one could ever imagine. The book’s narratives and photos provide a glimpse into the essence of this experience, while sharing a perspective on self awareness and inner reslolve.

Honorable Mentions

This Book Cooks, Kerry Dunnington, Artichoke Publishers - In today’s fast-paced environment, many of us are constantly on the go and have little time to prepare high quality meals at home. Choosing from an array of unhealthy quick meals is often the common choice. Author and Food Columnist, Kerry Dunnington provides over 200 recipes that are simple to prepare, delicious, and utilize local in-season ingredients. Some highlights include: Soba Noodle Salad with Pears & Pork and Layers of Summer’s Harvest. She also provides a fresh take on classics like lasagna, with her Spicy Spinach and Polenta Lasagna recipe. The book also serves as a practical guide with tips on everything from removing flesh from mangoes to proper storage of onions and eggs. She speaks of the importance of buying local seasonal produce and suggests referencing home state harvest charts. Thanks to Dunnington, nutrition and taste do not need to be sacrificed in spite of our busy schedules.

The White House in Gingerbread, Roland Mesnier with Mark Ramsdell, White House Historical Association - Mesnier and Ramsdell have assembled a holiday tour of the White House, centering on but not exclusive to, the gingerbread house. The book runs through several administrations, reaching back to the Reagans. It is not so much a history lesson, but a collection of family memories­first family memories­while celebrating the yuletide season. The gingerbread houses form gorgeous structures with meaningful reflection for the Presidents. While the latter half of the book focuses on scrumptious holiday desserts, the book never loses its appeal as a scrapbook, supplying ample photographs of the kitchen staff at work. This is a holiday treat unto its own.

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Health

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

Winner

Where's MY Book?, Linda Gromko, MD, Bainbridge Books - Even as society has evolved toward greater acceptance of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, the transgender and gender nonconforming individuals remain less tolerated and respected as full human beings. Dr. Gromko brings her years of experience as a family practitioner with a particular interest in transgender patients to this comprehensive and enlightening volume. Where’s My Book? works on many levels: It is a text on gender as biological and a social category. It is a reference work for individuals and families. It is passionate appeal for those often marginalized by a hetero-normative society. The jargon-free prose makes it accessible to younger readers, a particular population of interest to the author, while never compromising on scientific accuracy and completeness.

First Runner-Up

Near Death in the ICU, Laurin Bellg, MD, Sloan Press - The book collates numerous personal stories from patients who have experienced near death in a clinical setting. The author is a critical care doctor, but relays these accounts as a gifted storyteller. While the subject matter seems narrow, there is enough relatable content to attract a broad audience. Readers facing terminal illness or who have experienced near death will find succor in the stories, which span a broad horizon from the familiar to those which stray from archetypal near death narratives. The greater appeal comes from the approachable prose and the work's overarching positive tone, which avoids cliché but instead treats death as the natural conclusion to life. That the title refuses to condemn either secular readers or grounded, even parochial viewpoints on death only extends its charm.

Honorable Mentions

The EMDR Revolution, Tal Croitoru, Morgan James Publishing - A novel approach bearing the awkward name of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing has proven remarkably effective in the treatment of many psychological disturbances. Individuals with a diverse range of problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety have experienced dramatic and rapid relief after undergoing EMDR. Even more remarkable is the contribution EMDR has made when added to traditional drug or psychotherapeutic interventions for such complex conditions as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dissociative states. The author describes the theory and practice of EMDR and supplements the text with first-person accounts by people who benefitted from this technique. The elegance and simplicity of EMDR combined with the low likelihood of untoward side effects would predict a wider application of this intriguing therapy.

When Your Child has Lyme Disease: A Parent's Survival Guide, Sandra K Berenbaum, LCSW, and Dorothy Kupcha Leland, Lyme Literate Press - The book opens with the authors' experiences with Lyme Disease: a mother seeking a diagnosis and a therapist stricken with Bell's Palsy, a well-known Lyme calling card. The chapters continue to blend the authors' different perspectives, weaving a narrative applicable to anyone touched by the disease. While personal, the book contains myriad facts and a top-down view of the disease and its current impact in the US. Because of professional dogmatism, poor detection, and even financial interests, Lyme Disease remains an ailment confined to the shadows, making sufferers (especially parents) reliant on social support as much as medical protocol. In this way, the title complements the growing online communities of afflicted and affected people. Sections tackle everything from diet and exercise to mitigating the disease's impact on a child's social well-being. It effectively straddles the de facto faith in mainstream medicine and the often more personal and intuitive insights of alternative medicine.

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Self-Help

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

Winner

Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach, Lisa Quast, Career Woman - Preparation for a successful job search should not be done arbitrarily. Finding the right job requires goal setting, discipline. and patience. It is a well defined process. Author, consultant, and former Fortune 500 Executive, Lisa Quast, shares her years of experience and insight, while providing valuable information to land the desired job. Quast brings us back to basics and advises beginning with an evaluation of career aspirations. Discussions on resume creation, enhancing one’s image on social media, and preparing for a job interview (including role playing) are included in order to provide confidence before and during the interview. When interviewers ask open-ended questions, Quast recommends using the S.T.A.R. approach, a clear and concise method used to ensure that questions are answered effectively. This excellent, well-written book is packed with tips and advice about putting your best foot forward during job searches.

First Runner-Up

Journeys: Healing Through Nature’s Wisdom, Karen Roberts & Dana Simpson, Tim Hauf Photography - This collection of insightful and sensory essays document their friendship and journey to healing chronic illness from Lyme disease and multile sclerosis. The authors’ reflective words offer hope and encouragement to readers dealing with illness. The writing is poetic, passionate, and honest. The stunning nature photographs by Tim Hoff that accompany the essays evoke feelings of peace, harmony, and beauty. The reader follows the authors’ journeys from California to Colorodo to Equador and back. This gorgeous hardcover book would make a lovely gift to anyone looking for healing and inspiration.

Honorable Mentions

Grief: The Lonely Road, Marvin G. Petsel, Embers4Growth Publishing - This book deals specifically with a widower's grief. Men grieve differently from women. Men usually don't deal well with feelings so they tend to throw themselves into their work. The "couples" mentality of most social scenes don't know how to treat single people and either may set you up long before you're ready or stop inviting you to parties. The author, a widower, writes of mental and physical challenges many men face while grieving. Petsel also mentions the well-meaning folks who make unhelpful or hurtful comments, while trying to comfort the mourner. He advises to treat them kindly. Petsel writes as one who has walked in the widower's shoes.

The Queen of Distraction, Terry Matlen, M.S.W., New Harbinger Publications - Pyschotherapist Matlen shares her personal experience living with ADHD, as well as her clinical experience to help readers find focus. Matlen includes both the explanations of the science of attention as it applies specifically to women, as well as practical advice for dealing with everyday tasks such as housework and and meal preparation. The book also explores how ADHD can impact parenting and spousal relationships. Readers will appreciate Matlen’s humor and honesty. She combines professional insight with practical advice resulting in a book that distracted women will have no trouble finishing.

When Nobody's Home, Michael S. Oden, M.A., AuthorHouse - The author, a Deputy Probation Officer, has interviewed over 8,000 drug abusers in the course of his job. He shares his many insights in this book. He noticed a pattern of absent fathers during childhood and includes statistics on behavioral disorders linked to fatherless homes. The author explains how The Whole Brain Thinking Model, which analyzes four different ways of thinking, aided his interview process. Citing examples from his vast experience, the author shows how he invites clients to probe deeper into their past to find the core reasons for drug abuse. He then guides them on the path to Self-Development.

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Spiritual

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

Winner

Sacred Earth, Planet of Light, Ernest L. King, Silver Bear Press - Imagine a picture book that proves the existence of an intelligent design in nature, examines it in detail, and explores its implications “for the future of humanity and all life in the cosmos.” Pair these stunning photographs of nature with perspectives from the world’s great scientists, poets, theologians, philosophers, mystics, and naturalists. Present them with a poetic, intelligent narrative that connects science, visuals, and philosophy with enviable clarity, and you will understand that you, literally, are the earth. We were formed from stardust, as was the tree that fathered civilization―from shelter, ships to paper. We are stardust-birthed silicon dioxide and the microchipped information age. Every thing living or dead in our cosmos is connected by the same web of living consciousness. A former off-the-grid homesteader, King creates a brilliant case for intelligent design and the consequences of abusing the Earth: destroying the outer world destroys the inner self.

First Runner-Up

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science , Culadasa, Dharma Treasure Press - Given that meditation is a practice of training the mind, trying to understand brain science and cognitive psychology makes a great deal of sense, yet the three haven’t been traditionally linked in available books. Now, anyone from a complete novice to an expert can follow the simple roadmap to meditation contrived by the Buddha and presented by Dr. John Yates. Metaphorical sketches add increased comprehension to the ten stages outlined in the manual. Yates also includes the goal of each stage, as well as common obstacles, skills, and how to gain mastery in that stage. Even more fascinating is how Yates makes complex brain science processes accessible to readers. You don’t have to be an expert to benefit from their knowledge and experience. This manual is literary proof.

Honorable Mentions

Blue Skies Buddha, Liz Lewinson, Mystic Buddha Publishing House - A biography of the spiritual leader, Rama, this book details the life and teachings of a man who not only brought his followers to a keener awareness of mysticism, but also urged them to take an active role in the contemporary world, urging participation in activities such as digital software development and even presidential politics. The book provides varied stories from students, family members and associates. Some recount seeing light flow from his hands, others saw him levitate, and yet others tell of his practical nature. Rama, whose legal name was Frederick Phillip Lenz, cautioned his students not to view him as a teacher, but to see everything in life as a teacher.

Dancing Light, Tao Porchon-Lynch, Janie Sykes Kennedy & Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Power Living Media - “There’s nothing you cannot do” is the driving motto of Porchon-Lynch, who at 97 is the world’s oldest yoga teacher. Her life is fueled by vibrant yogic principles: The power of the universe lies within you, breath is the melody of the rhythm of life, age doesn’t matter, worry clouds the mind, and fear weakens the positive energy flow. Motherless upon birth in 1918, Porchon-Lynch was handed to an enlightened uncle and raised in French-Indian Pondicherry, India. Her spectacular life of activism, acting, modeling, dancing, and yoga includes marches with Gandhi and Martin Luther King, French Resistance espionage, friendship with Marlene Dietrich, and training with B.K.S. Iyengar. Porchon-Lynch’s story thrills like a racing car, rocket-fueled by positivity and the search for purpose, with few emotional detours. Terrific call-outs, photos, glossary, and index amplify an adventurous journey guided by creative navigation of life’s speed bumps and the beacon of truth.

Drop by Drop, United Conference of Catholic Bishops, Loyola Press - The book gives a delightful account, as told to a classroom of students, of a village child and her desire to go to school. She must collect the family’s water each day, but because the river is some distance away, it takes the better part of the day. One day, a missionary surprises her with a cart to make lugging the heavy jugs of water easier and faster. When she arrives home, each member of her family asks her to help with their chores because now she has extra time, so she still cannot go to school. Finally the day came when the missionary told her family that their village had been chosen to receive a well. Now she would be able to go to school! The classroom of students hearing the story makes the decision to collect money for people who don’t have access to fresh water.

Holistic Tarot, Benebell Wen, North Atlantic Books - Reading tarot cards is generally thought of as a tool for fortune telling, but the author quickly explains to us that the practice of tarot is a science of the mind, one in which we must look to ourselves to find the answers we need. The cards are simply facilitative. They help us develop creative solutions to our problems or experience breakthroughs. Tarot simply aids in decision making. It does not foretell doom or predict the future. It is the individual who effects the cards, not the other way around. The book gives us a detailed description of each of the seventy-eight cards in the deck, including their meaning, shuffling, laying out, and how to interpret them. It’s easy to follow and is fully illustrated, but does not take shortcuts, so the reader can gain a basic understanding of the practice of reading tarot

Saint Peter: Flawed, Forgiven and Faithful , Stephen J. Binz, Loyola Press - This book forms a tour guide of the geographical, archeological, and historical regions and monuments associated with St. Peter, offering alongside the physical excursion, passages from the bible, and traditional stories of the man whom Jesus chose to be the first Pontiff. The book focuses on God's forgiveness and Peter's faithfulness, in spite of his flawed human nature. Each chapter challenges readers, by means of formal discussion questions, not only to understand the papal role of Peter, but also to identify a part of their own discipleship in the life, challenges, and responses of the first Pope.

The Grace Impact: A Devotional, Nancy Kay Grace, CrossRiver Media - Nancy Kay Grace has been captivated by grace for a long time. We should be, too. Grace can have a ripple effect in our lives and consequently in the lives of those we touch. Using an almost exegetical approach to 2 Corinthians 9:8, Nancy divides this devotional book into four sections that follow the outline of the verse. Using personal stories and engaging anecdotes, she expounds on the traits of God that reflect his grace to us, as well as how God’s grace recharges us when we are discouraged, exhausted, fearful. The longest section explores how in all things and in all times we can depend on God’s presence through the daily grind of life. She concludes with a section on how to live our faith journey with confidence and how blessed we are to be a blessing to others.

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Legacy Fiction

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

Winner

Grace Period, Gerald W. Haslam, University of Nevada Press - The book explores contemporary, multi-cultural California through the lens of illness, angst, and faith. Prostate cancer takes center stage, sometimes uncomfortably so. This is the real life, it seems, that lurks behind headlines and statistics: personal struggles to heal are played against church scandals involving priests and pedophilia. But through many short scenes that move the plot along efficiently, strong characterizations, and excellent dialog, the author draws us into his hyper-personal world smartly. His narrator struggles to find a new life resonate in a compelling narrative that makes much of the mundane. In car rides, restaurants, park walks, waiting rooms and other small, transitional scenes, his narrator grows resolutely into a fragile foil for the real hero here, his new wife, also cancer-stricken. Out of this “can’t win” scenario, he finds that love endures.

First Runner-Up

Getting Lucky: New & Selected Stories 1982-2012, Thomas E. Kennedy, New American Press - This sometimes shocking, always entertaining, and certainly unique collection of short stories is completely deserving of all the awards and honors that they have previously received. The reader is introduced to fascinating characters, all male, almost always familiar, led down beautifully written passages, filled with twists and unexpected turns into endings that the reader could not possibly imagine. Some of the work borders on fantasy, although a reader will not recognize it until they hit that last paragraph. Other pieces are beautiful studies on human nature at its shining best, and then again, at its most hopeless, hapless worst. The author’s literary style varies with each story, becoming as much a part of the story as the actual plot. This collection was totally enjoyable and highly recommended.

Honorable Mentions

Counters, Tony Taylor, iUniverse - This book is destined to become a classic. The story is told by a young Air Force pilot caught up in the Viet-Nam war. He takes the reader, both mentally and physically, inside the minds and bodies of young men on the battlefield. The reader will fully sense how it feels to fly a F-4C Phantom II fighter jet. The vivid description of battles fought in the air, and also in barracks and clubhouse on the base where these young men live come to life. It’s a searing question of survival. The reader will finally deeply understand the camaraderie, as well as the life-long brotherhood of young men who have lived through a war together. The author is an extraordinarily gifted writer, who claims to have navigated spacecraft to every planet in the solar system. He makes that claim almost believable

Letters from Italy, 1944, Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely, Antrim House - Flipping through this poetry collection, starting at various places and working various directions, one discovers that the majority is a tribute to a woman’s husband and father. Menedy’s vantage point, although not uncommon, is likely not shared by many people. The daughter of a World War II veteran, she went on to marry a veteran of the Vietnam War. While some of the poems are too sentimental for a battle-seasoned male of the species, the poet’s courage and commitment speak plainly and in a vulnerable voice about what is left of home and family after a man, the man of the family, goes off to war and then, by some miracle, returns. If there were ever a time for all of us to try and understand the changed lives of veterans, it is now.

Princess of the Blood, Brigitte Goldstein, Xlibris - History comes to life in the many telling details the author brings to this tale from the latter stages of the French Wars between Catholics and Protestants. Superstition meets religious zealotry and fanaticism in rural France, as a young peasant woman falls in love with a Catholic soldier; when she’s arrested for witchcraft and winds up in a nunnery, he disappears back into the fray. Their struggle to reunite is set against the conflicts and political intrigue of a larger stage that’s effectively illuminated by the author’s use of period dialog and description that fits the narrative perfectly.

Rob the Vatican, Robert Gallant, iUniverse - A well-told caper yarn, the book follows the exploits of international jewel thief Craig Reynolds as he plots the heist of precious gems locked away beneath the Vatican. Reynolds is a thief who drives a Ferrari, speaks a half-dozen languages, and hops from European capital to European capital, staying one step ahead of relentless Interpol agent Von Meier. As he arrives in Rome to pull the job, Reynolds finds himself smitten with stunning raven-haired beauty Darlena Aldonzo while the ruthless Cardinal Lastavis plots to seize the papacy. Reynolds is a throwback to the suave gentleman thieves who populated books and films a generation ago, among them characters played by Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and David Niven in The Pink Panther. The author has crafted a fun thriller, as thin as the sand on the beach, which is where it should be read.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

The Dash of Dr. Todd, Howard E. Adkins, Xlibris - The author has provided a fictional account of the life of his great-grandfather, 19th century frontier physician Daniel Todd. (The “Dash” in the title refers to the mark of punctuation found on gravestones: the dates on the stone represent the birth and death of the deceased while the dash represents the intervening years—the life.) After being cast out of his Connecticut home for refusing to follow his fundamentalist father into the ministry, Todd attends medical school at Harvard then heads west. Along the way he survives a shipwreck, works as an oarsman aboard a whaler, and finds a job stitching pantaloons. Todd also manages to practice medicine, amputating a leg, setting a prostitute’s broken arm, and treating a case of conjunctivitis. The book provides a glimpse into a rugged past populated by gruff sailors and gold miners and of the gentle soul whose medical skills became indispensable to them.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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Legacy Nonfiction

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

Winner

Birth, Sex, and Abuse, Beverley Chalmers, DSc, PhD, Grosvenor House Publishers - This book presents a little-understood facet of the Holocaust: the manipulation of reproductive planning by the Nazis during World War II. The author delves into gritty and heartbreaking detail with a clear and focused academic eye to chronicling yet another set of horrors of the war and its preceding events. Chalmers methodically takes the reader through the myriad ways that Nazis victimized not just Jewish women and families, but German women and men who were forced to be vessels for the furtherance of the Aryan state. The author includes a significant amount of original research that is both informative and deeply disturbing.

First Runner-Up

Italy Invades, Christopher Kelly, with Stuart Laycock, Book Publishers Network - Students of history interested in the military adventures of Italians throughout the world, both past and present, will marvel at this amazing book. It begins with Italy's martial involvement in ancient times and goes all the way into modern day events. Using the conveniently inserted maps and photographs, the reader can follow visually the Italian’s conquests. The book is arranged alphabetically by country, allowing the reader to explore it in nonlinear fashion. This is not a typical history text book containing listless prose and dull facts, but contains instead is filled with fascinating and well-organized stories, delivered in an easy-to-read conversational style. .

Honorable Mentions

Brotherly Love, Dalton Giesick, Trafford - This book tells the story of two brothers who were torn apart long before their time. It lovingly catalogues a man’s memories of his now departed brother without tarnishing the anecdotes with reflection. The author tells the story from the perspective that he experienced them from, a child’s, which truly allows the reader to understand just how special his younger brother was. We go with them for weeks to grandma and grandpa’s house, we play with them in a fort they built, and move to their new hometown before tragedy strikes. These early stories make the loss at the end heartbreaking.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

My CIA, Katherine McCord, Telling Our Stories Press - This book is an interesting memoir by the daughter of a CIA agent. Her journey to reconcile her father's identity that she knew with the identity that she did not know makes for a fascinating read. The author presents the story in a non-linear literary style that reveals her disordered feelings and creates emotional strain that jumps from the pages. She questions her memories: What do remembrances mean when their foundation is revealed to have been not at all what one thought they were at the time? The author does not force an answer, yet leaves it for us to decide.

The Kingdom Within, L. E. Madden, iUniverse - This thought-provoking read employs the eternal question: Who is man and why is he here? Madden presents a wholly realistic idea of what and who God is and man’s relationship to God. The author surmises that God is the energy or synergy through which all life is created and processed and through study the author eventually experienced a spiritual enlightenment that surpassed all understanding.. The author speaks of becoming a part of the light and knowledge that encompasses the fullness of God. The book attempts to awaken the reader to the miraculous wonder of calming peace that one meets as this state of being comes into fruition.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Twice Heroes, Tom Graves, Nassau & Witherspoon - The 442nd Division of World War II and the Korean War is one of the most decorated and one of the least talked about. From within a racially segregated unit, these Japanese men fought valiantly. Author Graves spent a decade interviewing and photographing these men, so that their stories would be heard long after they’ve gone. Like the Indian Code Talkers and Tuskegee Airmen, the Nisei soldiers entered armed forces not only to serve their adopted countries in a unique way, but to prove their dedication to a questioning nation. In addition to their stories, the individual biographies make this an excellent reference volume.

Your Career, Your Way, Lisa Quast, Career Woman - Quast's guide for creating and developing personal strategies in order to implement a plan for a successful and rewarding working career is essential for navigating past meaningless career positions. The author describes various pitfalls of menial tasks that can cause a working person no end of feeling ungratified and useless. The book contains detailed plans to begin the process of how to compile an in-depth analysis of a person’s assets and liabilities. It continues with easy to follow instructions on how to evaluate a variety of relative subjects such as what makes a worker different from others, how to determine who are the competitors, and obtaining feedback information. The book also provides easy-to-use charts and graphs to assist in creating and initiating a well-developed strategic plan for staying focused and achieving satisfactory goals throughout a working career.

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E-Book Fiction

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

Winner

A Cold and Distant Place, Bill Mesce, Jr., Endeavour Press - This book tells the stories of soldiers and civilians during World War II who find themselves unexpectedly caught up in a poignant drama that ultimately defines them for the rest of their lives. This novel begins with a grim and haunting portrayal of life on the front line of the battle to take Hill 399 in the Huertgen Forest in Belgium. We continually revisit this battle in various contexts throughout the rest of the novel—from the perspective of a court martial to prosecute alleged injustices committed during the fighting; through the eyes of soldiers called in to litigate at the trial; from the perspective of the soldiers who almost captured Hill 399; and, of course, through the eyes of the journalist who narrates the tale. The author adeptly uses the backdrop of World War II to evoke poetic and profound truths about the human condition that will likely stay with the reader.

First Runner-Up

Impact, David E. Stevens, Cambridge Free Press - Navy fighter pilot Andrew “Fuzed” Logan is given a second chance at life after a fatal crash, but only if he agrees to prevent the Earth from being obliterated by an undetectable comet due to arrive in a few short years. Reborn as Josh Fuze, he starts from the ground up, befriending the hospital staff who rehabilitates him and eventually infiltrating multiple branches of the military using inside knowledge from his previous life to build his team and secure the necessary resources. The novel is well-paced, building gradually to its intense race-against-the-clock ending. The author does a grand job of crafting the tale and delivering his real-world warning without being heavy-handed.

Honorable Mentions

About Anna…, Sophia Michelle Delanner, Infinity House - This book’s Soviet-born author successfully re-energizes genre fiction that portrays life in America as the twentieth century immigrant nation. Reminiscent of classics like The Deer Hunter, this novel tells the tale of a young Russian émigré. After she and her fiancé sign official agreements to leave the former Soviet Union with no right of return, the subsequent newlyweds are filled with hope and see much success and promise in their early travels and adventures. But soon the protagonist’s life settles into the grim reality of day-to-day events in a rent-controlled apartment in a “shabby-chic” New York neighborhood. As her fortunes diminish, the walls close in, and her friends, enemies, family members, and allies succumb to a seemingly endless parade of urban perils. She nonetheless persists in her inspired struggle to overcome the existential trap of conditional relationships into which she has been thrust. This novel offers refreshing and vital twenty-first century updates to the cultural bulwark its genre represents.

Drunk on Peace and Quiet, Becky Hatcher Crabtree, Fathom Publishing - Stella Francis Boswell has lived the majority of her long life in a quiet town in West Virginia where her days are consumed with volunteering at church functions, selling wares at arts festivals, hiking with her dog Sugar, and occasionally sneaking into cemeteries after dark to catch flower thieves. When the abusive, money-hungry brother she fled from decades ago when she was Penelope Ann Davis shows up at her church, she has to fight to keep her world from falling apart amid accusations of embezzlement, assault, and murder. Though sanity prevails, Stella’s brother isn’t the only opportunist in the family and she turns out to be quite the unreliable narrator.

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E-Book Nonfiction

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

Winner

The Havana Papers, Michael Daly, BookBaby - Daly’s memoir is about a flaneur of sorts—turista as self-described by the narrator. Losing his cumbersome typewriter to the brute hands of a Cuban customs officer, the narrator is then forced to observe rather than write, thus providing the intriguing, twisting, and often quite beautifully detailed and picturesque verbal photo essay of a society withering under an old regime with bygone ideals, misplaced hopes, and amplified fears that provide a rich foreground and backdrop for the narrator’s wandering soul. He is greeted at every turn with the smiles and hospitality of a people who despite their dilapidated infrastructure and frayed and flecked lives, having little or next to nothing, offer him their very best: themselves. More than mere reportage or ramblings of a writer on the move searching for a subject to explore, Daly’s book is a love letter to the Cuban people, their culture, and their place in the world.

First Runner-Up

Woody Allen: Reel to Real, Alex Sheremet, Take2 Publishing - Shermet provides a detailed view of Woody Allen's films and the criticism surrounding the auteur's career, personal life, and how they are juxtaposed and weighed against each other usually due to the detriment of the art. Shermet provides unbiased and profound analysis for each of Allen's films, their reception at the time of their release, and how they have fared years later. He points out how Allen's critics by and large have been unfair toward the director, either focusing on one portion of his career while ignoring others; however, Shermet's microscopic analysis of the entire body of work is an appraisal of all the director's talent, and considers but is not swayed by popular opinion and trends.

Honorable Mentions

Las Vegas Insider's Guide, Titus Nelson, Silverview Publishing - Nelson's travel guide is for the wise and the wary to drink in Sin City and all its elixirs. Nelson provides practical advice and tips for those seeking out the good and the bad. The author details the very best of the city, and also does not shy away from exposing its open wounds and sores. Links embedded in the text provide readers further background on the history, characters, stories, and headlines Nelson mentions. He reminds his readers that Las Vegas’s cornerstone is money, and the way it keeps its position is through money, and money comes from the industries that feed, define, and tear away at this foundation with each roll of the dice.

The Best Gig in Town: Jazz Artists at the White House 1969-1974, Edward Allan Faine, IM Press - Faine’s book is a fun and exciting showcase of the jazz musicians who played at the White House during Richard Nixon’s administration. With pictures and anecdotes of all who strummed, crooned, and played for the president and his guests, Faine places the reader in a coveted spot where the turmoil of the outside world in the early 1970s did not invade nor impinge on these gatherings. Although Nixon was a classical music aficionado, he understood the importance of jazz being a wholly American invention, and its promotion was equal to platforming himself and the country. Faine’s writing is bold, insightful, and an absolute pleasure to read.

Weight Training Without Injury, Fred Stellabotte and Rachel Straub, MS, CSCS, Regalis Publishing - Stellabotte's training guide is the perfect self-help manual for those, novice or expert, who wish to exercise properly. The text provides the framework for establishing as a clear cut path for anyone wishing to improve their health while keeping their developing physiques safe. Stellabotte and Straub’s book covers all aspects of weight training, even before one ever enters a gym; from the creation and development of a personal weight training program and its on-going maintenance and enhancements. It features charts, graphs, and a step-by-step process using pictures to demonstrate how and what to do.

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