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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 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."

 

2015 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 Year of Living Virtuously (Weekends Off), Teresa Jordan, Counterpoint Press - Twenty-First Century Wyoming is a far remove from 18th Century Philadelphia where Benjamin Franklin sat down and scribbled some notes about virtue. The author bridges this gap by attempting to live Franklin's listed virtues for a full year, while indulging in sin on the weekends. To accomplish this, she draws on a rich education of the world's great thinkers on the subject of human life. Her sketchbook includes Ashoka and Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as Ted Roethke and Joseph Brodsky. Part of this book's charm is that it treats temperance and courage with the same light hand as used during its discussions of gluttony and envy. All aspects of human life are contained in these pages. We're drawn into the author's story and find ourselves on a path leading back to the great virtues of the axial age: gratitude and forgiveness; moderation and mindfulness; and above all joy, a spirit of gladness and celebration. Here's a book Hoffer himself might have enjoyed.

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Montaigne Medal

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

Human Purpose and Tanshuman Potential, Ted Chu, PhD., Origin Press - Bob Dylan once said that man was great artistic material because of his inability to change his nature. While mankind regularly repeats behaviors, the long view suggest that we create heroes as a symbol of our ability to self-actualize and perhaps even transcend. Similarly through the centuries, we’ve worshipped gods who are immortal in this ability, while man continues to evolve in body and mind. Ted Chu suggests that it is time for the human race to transform. The goal should no longer be to maximize happiness, which simply reduces to a mere state of comfort. This is a trite and static achievement within the universe, dooming us to the aforementioned state of repetition and leading us away from a higher being and toward certain extinction. At the very least, Chu’s arguments expose the icons of our current era as being trapped in an exhausted evolutionary cycle. He predicts a new consciousness more in line with a complete understanding of the universe. This is a Cosmic Being, through alteration of the limbic brain, and it begins with a different goal, a new want so to speak, for a transhuman era.

College for Convicts, Christopher Zoukis, McFarland & Company - The United States incarcerates by far more people than any other country, and it is very expensive and likely impossible to maintain in the future. While some argue that prisons help create less crime and a higher standard of living for the non-incarcerated, the rate of recidivism is roughly 75%. However, when prisoners receive some level of high school training behind bars, their rate of recidivism falls near 50%. This percentage continues to drop proportionately with further education, reaching 0% recidivism to those who complete a master’s degree. The evidence is clear. While it’s expensive to educate prisoners, can we afford not to? Christopher Zoukis argues this case in clear and concise language, covering the history of prison education, its pitfalls, and solutions. It’s easy to understand why some might resent educating convicts while non-criminals must pay for their own higher education, but this only calls into question the outrageous cost of college system and our failed approach to higher education for our citizens in general.

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da Vinci Eye

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

Artist Spaces, Tina Freeman and Morgan Molthrop, University of LA at Lafayette Press (cover by Tina Freeman)

Beautiful Evil Winter, Kelly K. Lavender (cover by Damon Za)

Folly Beach Dances, Sheree K. Nielsen & Russell A. Nielsen, Ocean Spirit Photography (cover by Sheree K. Nielsen & Kristina Blank Makansi)

The Family Cannon, Halina Duraj, Augury Books (cover by Dave Bledsoe & Daniel Estrella)

The Year of Living Virtuously, Teresa Jordan, Counterpoint Press (cover by Natalya Balnova)

Tweeting da Vinci, Ann C. Pizzorusso, Da Vinci Press (cover by Francesco Filippini)

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First Horizon Award

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

At-Risk, Amina Gautier, University of Georgia Press (see coverage in Fiction Legacy winner)

Choices 7 Steps: Life Lessons 101, Anne Short Ph.D., Trafford Publishing (see coverage in Self-Help winner)

Conscious Millionaire, J V Crum III, Conscious World Press (see coverage in Business winner)

Life in a Jar, Jack Mayer, Long Trail Press (see coverage in Nonfiction Legacy winner)

Paleo Girl, Leslie Klenke, Primal Blueprint Publishing (see coverage in Health winner)

When Dreams Touch, Rosemary Hanrahan, SDP Publishing (see coverage in E-Book Fiction winner)

Widow Walk, Gerard LaSalle, Greenleaf Book Group Press (see coverage in Commercial Fiction winner)

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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.

Phoning Home, Jacob M. Appel, University of South Carolina Press - This book is a chambered nautilus of humor and gravity, each inward curve limned with shiny shards of insight and observation, sometimes sharp and sometimes ticklish. Smoothly, without effort, delightful hyperbole sucks you deep into the spiral, as cheap purloined toys become the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and the Manson family murders rolled into one, while lime Jell-O understudies for Alzheimer’s. These are confessions, confusions, and essays that will cause you to ponder what you've read long afterward. Appel brings us into his life as an obnoxious behavior young kid, and then drags us along as he grows into an brilliant, talented writer. His style is laid back, easy to read, and ever so easy to relate to. While an ex-girlfriend's assessed his skills as utterly minor pseudo-intellectual, this only proves just how not-so-smart she was. Appel will delight and improve your life. A little book well worth keeping by your bedside for an occasional re-read.

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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.

Leaving Montana, Thomas Whaley, Sakura Publishing - Sean Quinn and Carmella Russo marry in 1969. Sean soon becomes cruel, controlling, and ultimately abusive and full of rage. Carmella repeatedly leaves only to return to his arms. Ben Quinn is born into this family full of fear, resentment, recrimination, and anguish. Now Ben is forty and traveling from New York to Montana to visit his half-brother, Brian, the product of one of his father's numerous marital affairs. Told from Ben's first person viewpoint, the novel intersperses Ben's emotional and psychological experiences in the present with his painful past. Filled with wit and keen insight into his main character's internal life, the novel sheds powerful light on the realities of growing up in a family where abuse and instability destroys any sense of security or love. But meeting Brian and his children provide possible paths to overcoming his anger and sense of loss.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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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.

We Deserve the Gods We Ask For, Seth Brady Tucker, Gival Press - The centrifugal force produced within Tucker’s second poetry collection attempts to give agency to our collective selves by first acknowledging our existences, then trying to separate them from the likenesses we allow to be created by our "gods," whether they be politics or war, the imaginary heroes that rule our dreams and fantasies, or idealisms of romantic love. Even the conception of "art" itself is identified as yet another filler in life's "road filled with empty spaces." Ultimately, Tucker writes his poetry the only way it's supposed to be written, with an unflinching awareness of its power and its danger: "And I would dream/ only about who I was before I became who I am."

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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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.

Choices 7 Steps: Life Lessons 101, Anne Short, Ph.D, Trafford Publishing - This excellent guidebook is a home-based companion, adapted from a seven week moral reasoning  and conflict resolution program. The result is a brief, simple self-help guide for enhancing self-awareness. The steps are: communication, honesty, objectivity, intervention, conflict, emotions, and solutions. In each step, the author guides the reader through reflective questions, journaling, check lists, and inspiring quotations. This book would make a nice gift for a wide-range of individuals from older teens to senior citizens. Lessons can be applied to personal relationships and the workplace. It would also be most effective coupled with individual, cogntivite-based therapy.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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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

The Public Art of Robert Dafford, Philip Gould, University of LA at Lafayette Press – The debate about what constitutes art will rage in the minds and tastes of people through the ages, but its necessity is never truly lost and ever-redefined through the course of time. Painter Doug Dafford’s canvas is large and life-sized. It’s historical and realistic, but mostly it is the preservation of art through the reclamation of beauty. For decades, Dafford has transformed unsightly flood walls and common buildings and structures into stunning murals that remind us of our legacy while brining quality aesthetic value to the surrounding space. Most of his work is found in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, but it is not contained entirely within the borders of the U.S. Most will appreciate the warmth and charm of the artist’s work, at least subconsciously, as they go about their day, but thanks to Gould’s retrospective in this gorgeous coffee table book, the awareness of Dafford’s work has been appropriately elevated.

First Runner-Up

Canvas Detroit, Julie Pincus and Nichole Christian, Wayne State University Press - First Detroit became famous for cars, and then it became famous for abandoned wrecks of buildings. However that is only part of the story. A passionate and concerned community remains, actively salvaging the city on all levels, and nowhere is this more noticeable than in the street art. Some of the art is authorized, but a great deal is organic, homebrewed, and even anarchistic but not nihilistic. It is the voice of the new youth artist movement emerging around town, which employs what the previous generation has scrapped and left behind, to revitalize the landscape. It’s more than just hope and art mixed together; it’s really working. Pincus and Christian visit the artists and their multi-genre projects, delivering an intriguing and thought-provoking overview of what is happening now.

Honorable Mentions

Artist Spaces, Tina Freeman and Morgan Molthrop, University of LA at Lafayette Press - For years, veteran portrait photographer Freeman has been shooting artists' workspaces in New Orleans. She acknowledges the formal architecture of this French-Spanish-Caribbean melting pot, but there also exists the same sort of eclecticism that one notices in a Paris apartment. New Orleans is one of those cities that salvages everything—furniture, culture, even lives. Freeman’s collection captures this and more, and at some point, a shot is taken of the artist at ease in his or her space. The photos are gorgeous and luminous. Studio by studio, one can almost smell the artist at work, while Molthrop’s steady narrative binds this procession by providing the background of both the artists and their space.

The End of Nowhere: Stories and Photographs, Thomas Pickarski - Each year, a unique book climbs the judging ranks and takes us by surprise. Pickarski’s edgily beautiful memoir/travelogue/photo essay did just that. The black and white composition takes us to cold climates, from Norway to Patagonia. Pickarski, an admitted desert-dweller, perhaps wanted to see how the other half lives, and semiannually he took a month-long excursion into a foreign landscape for solitude and experience. Each frame is called a “postcard,” which are skillfully reproduced on the thick postcard-like pages, interspersed with story and thought. “In a split second the driver kills the engine, yells, then points, and we see two seals moving n the water. ... Time passes. The father and son finally take a breath. ...”

The Spirit Books, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, susangaylord.com - Texture and context collide in Gaylord's absorbing retrospective of collage. Consider this a chapbook-sized coffee table book of art-books or book-collages. Photographed within its pages are collages—constructed from various artisanal paper and natural material—that loosely resemble books in structure and meditative thought in concept. And like the mind, the thoughts continue. The numbered pieces are sometimes salvaged to create entries further in the line. The artwork is captivating even in this smaller format. In both a physical and conceptual way, the book harkens the smaller reproductions of Matisse's Jazz, yet with the variegated range of Gaylord's earthen, natural palette.

Tweeting da Vinci, Ann C. Pizzorusso, da Vinci Press - The author, a geologist by training, takes us through the background and to some extent the achievements of Leonardo da Vinci and his era. This gorgeous book of essays and pictures offers bit-sized facts of the times with an anchor in geology and Italy itself. It’s difficult to describe the uniqueness of this presentation, but it is definitely one of those rare books to savor over time. As the author puts it, da Vinci would have embraced modern technology, if not primarily directed its evolution. He also had a penchant for sharing and therefore inspiring his peers. If he had a Twitter account, the entries in Pizorusso’s book might be exactly what he’d post on the net.

Wine Dogs California, Craig McGill and Susan Elliott, Giant Dog - This charming honoree covers the dogs who populate California’s wine estates. Perched within the stirring landscape, McGill and Elliot’s portraiture is at times earthy and at others glamorous. Accompanying each picture is a dog bio that creates a near-miss with cutesy. Interspersed are memorable dog quotations and ode-to-the-wine-dog essays. Flipping through this collection is serious fun. Savor this collection with your favorite varietal and pet.

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Poetry

The Poetry category contains poetry or highly stylized prose.

Winner

The Tulip Flame, Chloe Honum, Cleveland State University Poetry Center - Honum presents a vision of poetry that contrasts stark language with lush imagery. Almost no word is wasted in this slim collection of poems. There is an overall sense of sudden sound in a silent empty room, the feel of half-forgotten childhood homes with dusty sunbeams blasting through the windows. Poems like "Hunt" and "The Good Kind" showcase the sparse yet powerful language of this colletion. These are contrasted by less abstract short prose pieces that are clever and jarring and are reminiscent of the work of Lydia Davis. Honum captures much of the strangeness and fear of the experience of childhood, as well as the blurry nature of memory in this collection.

First Runner-Up

Constant State of Leaping, Karla K. Morton, Texas Review Press - The poet's simple and direct, free verse draws the reader into every aspect of her life with concrete images that vibrate with emotion. When she speaks of the landscape, of the night sky, of love and sensuality, and of that snake with whom she says all women have a "history (that) is tempestuous; complicated," it is with words that paint both the picture and the person. Even something so obvious for a writer as a "pen addiction," because hers are "anticipating words—lined up like summer divers on the high board," every word resonates. Writing in another persona, her feelings ring true and reveal herself. When she comes at last to the pear tree—that she "was told not to plant"—to sunbathe in early spring, the feelings are exposed and raw and the image is clear.

Honorable Mentions

Frozen Latitudes, Therése Halscheid, Press 53 - Courageous and deep, this remarkable collection is so conscientiously wrought one feels wringed back to life—as though the author has bled her bones onto each page. This soulful collection revolves around Therese’s abiding relationship to her father, who is frozen by medical accident—left in a permanent state of dementia. When her father passes, these familial reflections are further processed through the lens of a trip to the Northern Arctic to live among the White Mountain Inupiaq people. There, Therese’s experience of a visioning process is so complete that a personal enlightenment occurs imbuing each of her words with the mysteries of the frozen landscapes and the shadow of death they represent.

Skein of Light, Karen McPherson, Airlie Press - McPherson illumines scenes of the world we all share. With a deft hand for handling language, she composes sketches that draw a distant Paris near and lament the distance between two lovers. In this life that contains both living and dead, the reader sees her, "joins" her in her attempt to "haul in every trick of light / and birdsong I can net / to keep afloat." These well-crafted, meditative poems paint pictures of everyday scenes in which McPherson's words coalesce the meaning of communication: "Now every handmade shift in my color-coded closet / is trying to dress up what you mean to say."

Vanilla Milk, Chanel Brenner, Silver Birch Press - The psychological and physical benefits acquired through the process of transforming painful emotions into words, as a means to regulate grief and distress is well documented, scientifically and via therapeutic art programs around the world. However transforming a mother’s sudden loss of her six-year-old son into an expressively accessible collection of engaging and compassionate poems requires graceful crafting and emotional intelligence. By successfully mingling the chaotic rhythms of her grief and anguish, with her vivid illuminations, the poet has brought forth a collection of narrative poems that timelessly unite reader and writer, in both grief and healing.

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General Fiction

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

Winner

The Vineyard, Michael Hurley, Ragbagger Press - Hurley turns a summer reunion of three women into an epic story that changes the trajectory of their lives. Three main characters, long-time friends, yet different as they can be, all share in a life-changing encounter with a mysterious fisherman. He saves two of the women in very different ways and earns their gratitude. But he frustrates the third who first turns against him, only then to desperately need him which sets the stage to unwittingly betray him, all of which puts her own life on a tragic course. Set in a New England summer, the surroundings of privilege and wealth are a thin veneer over the deeper deceits of imperfect humans, leaving the fisherman—an outsider of few means—with a purity that the local residents cannot begin to match.

First Runner-Up

Liliane's Balcony: A Novella of Fallingwater, Kelcey Parker, Rose Metal Press - Parker offers a brashly inventive, multi-voiced narrative that brilliantly merges the historical past of Frank Lloyd Wright's most celebrated creation with the fractured voices of present-day tourists visiting the Pennsylvania landmark. In the novella, Liliane Kaufmann overdoses in the wake of her architect-husband's legendary infidelities, setting the story into motion. Parker deftly alternates Liliane's personal tragedy with the present-day crises of tourists visiting her famous cantilevered balcony. In so doing, Parker challenges us, through her masterful prose, to consider the ways in which the pull of the past inevitably impinges upon and transforms the present.

Honorable Mentions

Cold Spell, Deb Vanasse, University of Alaska Press - This brilliant book is a study of contrasts and layers in nature and relationships, with Resurrection glacier at the center. A magazine picture of the glacier causes Ruth, a spurned wife, and mother to leave the security of home and job with an alluring young man, Kenny, and head for the glacier site in a remote region of Alaska. Her youngest daughter adapts the primitive conditions and area's wild beauty, but 16-year-old Sylvie, conflicted by her relationship with her father and her adolescent desires resents her mother's decisions and relationship with Kenny. The glacier provides economic sustenance for locals, but although it lured Ruth to a new life, she is afraid to know it, to face it, as have others who are "crazy for ice." The ice becomes a metaphor for coldness and crevasses in the complex relationships among the well-developed, unforgettable characters. The author skillfully uses glacial terms, such as "fracture zone" and "cirque" as chapter heads, to underscore the role the glacier plays.

Dreams of My Mothers, Joel L. A. Peterson, Huff Publishing Associatres - This haunting, beautifully written novel, based on events from the author's life, draws readers into the extraordinary story of two women and the child they both love. Hee Ae is a Korean woman struggling to survive the aftermath of war, abandonment, and discrimination when her infant son's GI father returns to America. Cultural isolation and extreme poverty force her into prostitution, and she turns to alcohol to escape the shame and self-loathing that engulf her. On the other side of the world, Ellen loses faith in God when her premature baby dies—until she reads an article appealing to American families to adopt a biracial child whose future amid cultural bias is hopeless. Noah begins an amazing journey to search for acceptance and personal identity. As one mother's sacrifice relinquishes him to another, renewed faith, strength, and unconditional love will guide him to exceed all expectations for success.

Once Upon a Mulberry Field, C.L.Hoang, Willow Stream Publishing - The author makes the Vietnam War take on a human side with a foray into love followed by love lost that inevitably led to the why. It is a well constructed story making the ugly realities of war a little more bearable. This passionately told story evokes sympathy from you whether you wanted to shed a tear or not. Follow a young soldier/doctor who does what is necessary to maintain himself and those around him as he endures the assignment of surviving the Vietnam War. The author allows you to see the other side of war in a foreign country.

The Delusionist, Grant Buday, Anvil Press - In four parts, the author presents an intense coming-of-age story of a young man beginning in 1962, Vancouver, British Columbia, and ending in the same city in 1995. Along the way, Cyril Andrachuk struggles to find his path as an artist while battling with his World War II-damaged family, who are refugees from Ukraine. Stalin haunts his mother and father as well as his older brother, all of whom have memories of hunger and terror, including the manufactured famine, as a result of which three million died of starvation. Despite their universal condemnation of the former wartime Allied Forces, Cyril's parents carry disturbing secrets of their time in the old country. When Cyril makes a series of drawings featuring Stalin, his mother is unable to recognize her son’s talent and decides to dispose of his art school application portfolio, ruining his chances of entry. His first great love, Connie Chow, harbors her own aspirations of being an actress and flees Vancouver for Hollywood, haunting Cyril and the novel for decades. With his dry humor, his family home perched at the edge of a cemetery, Cyril manages to forge his way into the present, New World survivor of Old World-haunted souls.

The Lion Trees, Part II, Owen Thomas, OTF Literary - A sweeping literary saga in the tradition of Dr. Zhivago, Gone with the Wind, and The Thorn Birds, this book has it all, including scandal, aspiration, treachery, and reinvention. Thomas' fiction has a fresh feel—original and stirring—delivering a tale of monumental family dysfunction, which captures interest through numerous plot shifts, quickly alternate between poignant and humorous. By turns exhilarating and exhausting, Thomas creates compelling, rich characters. The ending is just as satisfying as the beginning. At 2,000 pages, the scope of the project alone is admirable.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

The Witch's Get, Diana Janopaul, Artemis Moon Publishing - After her healer mother was murdered in the time of "the burning," Samantha, or Mancy as she's called, hides herself away from the townfolk. She is also a healer, collecting medicinal herbs and is a midwife, but she is afraid of being accused of witchcraft, an offense punishable by death. Then a young man, badly beaten, with no use of his legs, is left in her care. She not only nurses his broken body back to life, she falls in love with him. Unfortunately, there are whispers that she used her magical powers to keep him prisoner and that she is indeed a witch.

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Commercial Fiction

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

Winner

Widow Walk, Gerard LaSalle, Greenleaf Book Group Press - In the violent, uncertain days of early settlement in the densely forested, fertile Pacific Northwest, Isaac Evers and his wife Emmy establish a small colony and thriving livestock business supplying beef to the U.S. army. Against the backdrop of growing tensions between British and American militias, Isaac attempts to keep his family safe from hostile, marauding bands of Haida Indians, led by Anah-nawitka, whose rage has turned him into a remorseless killer and slaver. When Anah targets Isaac and attacks the Evers home, abducting young Jacob Evers, the limits of Emmy's resilience and audacity are cruelly tested. In prose that deftly explores the tenuous grip the novel's characters have on life, family, and land, the threads of multiple points of view seamlessly converge to reveal their flaws and terrors, merciless greed, and wild courage. Beautifully paced, poignant, and suspenseful, LaSalle immerses the reader in bold and gripping historical fiction that is partly based on fact.

First Runner-Up

Enzan the Far Mountain, John Donohue, YMAA Publications Center - In this fifth thriller in a series, Brooklyn martial arts teacher Connor Burke tries to protect his aging sensei, Yamashita, by accepting a dangerous and morally ambiguous assignment. When Burke agrees to find Chie Miyazaki, the troubled daughter of a powerful Japanese family, he must dodge the Japanese royals, a band of Korean thugs, and allies who sometimes function outside the law. In the course of a quest that takes him to a Zen monastery, Burke is battered physically and emotionally as he struggles to find "Enzan no metsuke," vision that sees the big picture, as if focused on a far mountain. The author spins an intriguing, thoroughly contemporary story packed with action, peopled by engaging characters, and rich in insight into martial arts culture.

Honorable Mentions

Athena's Daughters, Jean Rabe, editor, Silence in the Library - Mary Eloise Jackson is a time traveler who gets a camera aboard Wilbur Wright's first flight. Abigail Jameson Watts assists Scotland Yard in rooting out Her Majesty's conspirators in Egypt. Before the moon collides with the earth, Amaia Bradley heads home to be with family before it's too late. Cassidy Kincaide can "read" the history of an object by touch. She and her staff find dangerously magic and supernatural items and take them off the market before someone gets hurt. These are but a few of the Sci-fi and Fantasy stories written about strong women faced with crisis, or merely curiosity, rising to the occasion beautifully. The female authors here are cut from the same cloth—imaginative, solid writers who draw you into the possibilities of strange reality with tales worth savoring. This anthology will be appreciated by fans of both genres and readers who thought they didn't enjoy either.

Bashert, Lior Samson, Gesher Press - Karl Lustig, a computer consultant and ex-member of a college geek squad, loses his driver’s license and acquires a mysterious Jewish scroll on a trip to Germany. When the license turns up on the body of a dead man and the scroll is stolen, Karl finds himself pursued by unknown people. He must learn what’s happening before he is killed. This fast-paced thriller blends back story of a college theft by brash nerds linked by fate (bashert) with a present-day chase. The believable and intricate tale offers a strange account of how Israel became a nuclear power. The reader is treated to well developed characters and settings, a mysterious plot, and explanations unexpected and satisfying.

Cornered, Alan Brenham, Black Opal Books - The author of this book does a wonderful job of taking the reader inside the dirty underworld of human trafficking, kidnapping, and the criminal element. While this book has a plot that fans of police dramas would enjoy, it doesn't suffer from the overly dramatic scenes that sometimes characterize that genre. The attention to detail is superb and never tramples over the plot. The reader is always given enough information to stay glued to the story but the author doesn't give away key plot pieces prematurely. Matt Brady is a very human character that the reader immediately connects to. He is the type of character a reader would feel comfortable going to a game with and equally as confident to have him try to solve a case. That combined with a clearly researched plot makes a believable story and a fun read.

Night Sea Journey, Paula Cappa, Crispin Books of Chickhollow Books - This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery. In the gothic world of this novel, dreams bleed into reality, as protagonists Kip Livingston, a painter, and Raymond Kera and Father Garcia, two Roman Catholic priests are drawn into a clash between the angels and demons of Hebrew mythology. Each of these characters has visions—either nightmarish or heavenly—which seem to graft themselves into their waking lives. The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict, which is as much about finding inner forgiveness as it is about finding outward peace.

Shatter Point, Jeff Altabef, Evolved Publishing - This dystopian thriller is set in the year 2041. For years, Maggie has taken off work the same day every August to spend time alone. She appropriately calls this her "Solitary Day," but no one but Maggie understands why it's so special. It's the anniversary of the day she said goodbye to a strange boy at an upscale resort thirty years before. It's also the one day a year he chooses to contact her to remind her he's still out there... and he's still obsessed with her. When Maggie's old friend tells her he's done trying to replace her, she assumes he’s moved on, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Maggie's sons, Tom and Jack, soon find themselves in a race against time to try to rescue their mother. To do so, they'll need to enlist the help of some friends, including the doctor who's been giving Jack an experimental drug to enhance his mental capacities. Trouble is, the doctor's become disenchanted with the drug, and he and the drug manufacturer he works for are connected to Maggie's abductor in a way no one anticipated. 

What You Don't Know, Gary Meyer, Booklocker - What seems apparent in her bucolic upstate hometown is found to be entirely rooted in superficiality, false expectations and hard truths which threaten the comfortable life, marriage, and relationships of Becca Norris when she, her husband and young children return from their luxurious stint in Dubai. With well-paced dialog paralleling each narrative, a range of characters is revealed, from an ex-con trying to repair a history of bad choices, to an adulterous husband and Becca's own temptations, to embezzlers small-time drug dealers and users, Becca's often perilous navigation in the town she once belonged to, is not without soul-testing crises. The author's strength lies in firsthand knowing how small-town communities have the capacity for kindness and cruelty.

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Children's

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

Winner

Everyone Prays, Alexis York Lumbard, Alireza Sadeghian (illustrator), Wisdom Tales Press - This insightful book explores one of the commonalities between most world religions: prayer. While reinforcing the idea that every religion prays, the book also illustrates the difference in method, location, and style of prayer in various religions; the story also shows the common goal of prayer for all religions. The gorgeous illustrations show different cultures and religions engaged in prayer and add to the reader's enjoyment. The book includes a short overview of each religion mentioned in the book as well as an explanation of the illustrations to help parents or advanced readers with any potential questions. This book will encourage thoughtful and insightful questions from children as they explore various religions and compare them to their own.

First Runner-Up

My Brother Adam, Linda and Nneka Onyilofor, Henschel Haus Publishing - Carla is an active twelve-year-old girl who enjoys normal things for children her age, except her older brother suffers from schizophrenia. We learn the symptoms, diagnosis, and the life changes that this illness brings—not only to the individual but to those that love him or her. This book gives a close up picture of something few of us have to deal with. It will open the reader’s eyes and understanding of this complicated issue. Schizophrenia is no longer something to hide in the closet. Through knowledge and acceptance those going through this should be supported.

Honorable Mentions

Can You Buy Me the Wind?, Steven Schoenfeld, Lansing Press - Sammy’s grandparents come to stay while her parents are away. Most children would expect to be spoiled in such circumstances, but Sammy's grandparents have other plans in mind. Rather than shower her with gifts and everything she could wish for, they teacher her a valuable lesson. As she requests more and more things, they give her task to earn them. Through doing chores she learns that doing a little brings her the ability to earn the things she desires. The most important lesson of all comes when she ask for the wind. This book supports self-esteem building and the establishment of goals, as well as setting boundaries.

Not My Girl, Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Annick Press - At just eight years old, Olemaun left her family to attend a Christian school, where she was given her Christian name, Margaret. In only two years, she learned how to read, write, and say her prayers. Now at ten years old, she returns home to find that all she has learned has only served to alienate her from her friends and her family. Worst of all, her own mother takes one look at her and calls out, "Not my girl." Heartbroken, Margaret must find a way to reconcile the girl she has become with the daughter she wants to be. In a subtle narrative, this book touches on topics of self-esteem, ignorance, and acceptance.

Tad and the Pad, Steven Tincher, Nelson Publishing - Although Tad is different from the other frogs, he learns that different is okay and in fact can be just the thing that makes one a leader. With excellent illustrations, Tincher's message becomes very clear about how individual and unique we all are. However, he suggests how to blend in, so to speak, to increase the odds of acceptance and how to take charge of your own circumstances by observing other successful examples. This book demonstrates patience, while devaluing bullying. The book encourages a child to practice innovation and feel self-confident when trying new things.

Violet's Cloudy Day, Roz MacClean, Promontory Press - MacLean sends a powerful message to children about how one's thoughts can set intention. As violet goes through her day worried about the next event, she tends to project the image that everything is not ok. MacLean inspires a positive thought process by encouraging readers to practice awareness of thought and how it could affect outcomes. The auhtor depicts the worrisome thoughts as clouds that are dark and heavy. Instead of worrisome thoughts and the clouds they bring, Violet began replacing the thought with helpful thoughts instead. To her amazement the events of her day were transformed and her life became joyful instead of fearful.

Wayward Cat Finds a Home, Dana Trantham, Wayward Cat Publishing - Wayward cat is actually an imaginative kitten who loves to go on adventures. He is taken into his first home because his mother had just had a litter of kittens. His mother tells Wayward about a "home" and how wonderful and comforting they can be. The homeowner then found a new home for the wayward kitten; however, it was already occupied by an older cat named Squeakers whom challenges Wayward in every way. Wayward doesn't give up and tries to get Squeakers to go on adventures with him. Squeakers, usually, just ends up getting Wayward out of trouble, nut eventually they become friends. This quick-read chapter book has action on every page.

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Young Adult

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

Winner

Blue Gold, Elizabeth Stewart, Annick Press - The author pulls back the curtain on conditions around the world resulting from the huge push for bigger and better electronics, all of which is fueled by the mineral coltan, or blue gold. Through the lives of three teenagers, the author exposes horrible brutalities in the refugee camps in Africa, the unethical practices hundreds of thousands suffer through in Asian sweatshops, and the fall out of an American teen who makes the mistake to engage in sexting. This book grips the reader from start to finish, being highly illuminating, yet not preachy. After reading, if you are alarmed and convicted about some of the practices going on around the world to mine coltan, the author provides information and internet links to direct readers on how to be informed consumers of cruelty-free electronics. This is a rare work of fiction that entertains and informs.

First Runner-Up

Melt, Selene Castrovilla, Last Syllable Books - This captivating story told in creative verse introduces sixteen-year-old Dorothy and seventeen year old Joey as they meet for the first time. The reference to The Wizard of Oz is a thread woven throughout the pages connecting two very different backgrounds as the these characters are caught up in a virulent world of love and sorrow. Drawn from true events, this novel reveals the love between Dorothy and Joey as they struggle with Joey's deepest secrets. His police officer father who abuses and terrorizes his family haunts the pages. Dorothy the vibrate, good girl from a supportive family tries to help. Although in Dorothy is a temporary sanctuary from his home life, the climax reveals the evil that both of them face. This is a heart-pounding psychological drama, begging for mercy and healing with every page.

Honorable Mentions

ItGirl4Life, Tamara Branch, Heart Project Publishing - Teenagers suffer from self-esteem issues. It's a rough time for many girls as they traverse the emotional and hormonal upheaval that is high school. The last thing a teen wants is a thick self-help book to wade through in hopes of possibly gleaning a nugget or to by which to live. In this book, the author has done all the legwork for our teen-aged girls. Each page brings encouraging mantras and power statements, wrapped up in eye-pleasing graphics without long andboring blocks of text. Taken as a whole or broken up into daily quotas, teens will find themselves able to think about their lives more positively and hopefully love themselves a little more. With inspiring prose, this book celebrates femininity and authenticity.

The Christmas Closet, Richard P. Alvarez, Candescence Media - While playing baseball with his friends, the ball goes through the window of an abandoned historic house. Trampas has been warned not to go insisde. The house is structurally unsound, and some say it is haunted. When he finally overcomes his fears and gathers the nerve to retrieve the ball, he discovers a special closet where Christmas lives. Trampas struggles with many changes in his life, and the discovery of the Christmas closet is just the latest. His mother has left. He is trying to adjust to life with his father. His feelings for his bestfriend, Jenny, have started to feel like more romantic. And now, he has found a closet in which it snows even in the middle of summer. Is his mind slipping or is he just trying to find a way to cope with the multitude of changes in his life? This is a story of growing up and accepting the changes that life brings.

Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?, Ella Martin, Astraea Press - Bianca goes from being known only as the quarterlback's sister to being the sophomore surprise winner as the homecoming princess. This brings her to the attention of Dante, one of the most popular boys in the school. Rich, handsome and edgy, he swoops Bianca off her feet to the dismay of her lifelong friends. But Dante has a dark side side that begins to emerge when he gets jealous of Bianca's relationships, especially the one she has with her brother's best friend Tim. The author tackles many of the hard topics faced by teens today, like popularity and physical and mental abuse. The book delves into the silent world of the victims and their desire to keep the abuse hidden due to social pressures and social standings.

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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

A Cuban in Mayberry: Looking back at America's Hometown, Gustavo Pérez Firmat, University of Texas Press - Firmat offers a fresh perspective on an American classic. THe author looks at one of the most popular sitcoms in television history—The Andy Griffith Show—from the vantage point of a Cuban exile living in the USA. Having grown up as a displaced person, the author is drawn to the themes of rootedness and belonging that permeate the show. At the same time, as an immigrant he points out the show’s limits with regard to political and racial issues. The result is a well-written examination of why a show set in the rural south during the 1960s depicting a simple town with folksy townspeople managed to have such a strong appeal. The book works as a history of a show and an era of television production, but the author's spin on the material makes it much more than a simple examination.

First Runner-Up

Emerge! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East, Elza Maalouf, Select Books - Maalouf provides a big picture and an expertly organized look at past, present, and future of Middle Eastern culture, politics, and government. By examining how national governments form and their different levels of maturity and organization, he hopes to offer practical solutions to the complex issues that face this embattled region. A lawyer and native of Lebanon, the author gives a non-partisan view of how governments in both the past and present range from reactionary tribal dictatorships to forward-thinking democracies; how they function, rise, fall and most importantly can be changed. Maalouf shows the different psychologies and methods and gives the reader keen and thought-provoking insight into societies and governments of all kinds, not just in the Middle East. Whether or not you agree with all its points and details, this is an eye-opening look at the Middle East.

Honorable Mentions

Grace and Grit: Insights to Real-Life Challenges of Aging for Adult Children and their Parents, Fritzi Gros-Daillon, Pink Tulip Press - Ten vignettes capture perfectly the myriad family issues involved when the elderly can no longer function by themselves in their homes. The author, founder of Household Guardians, describes with compassion and sensitivity the reality of the elderly’s slow demise, which usually captures the family by surprise. Each chapter lovingly describes how to treat the elderly with dignity and respect while ensuring their safety and the highest possible independence. Common problems covered are how to disperse a lifetime of belongings that nobody wants, handle squabbling offspring, and match the elder's personality with the right community. For elders who can stay at home, ideas on elder-proofing abound, from alternative lighting to grab bars to more accessible keyboards. Helpful resources are listed at the end. Most helpful are the engaging stories, written from life, that prove end-of-life physical moves can be accomplished while fulfilling the human desire to be heard, understood, and empowered.

Hippie Homesteaders: Arts, Crafts, Music, and Living on the Land in West Virginia, Carter Taylor Seaton, West Virginia University Press - Don't we all want to get back to the land and set our souls free? We can't all be stardust, we can't all be as golden as the artists whose stories are told in this book. But it's nice to know they're out there living in the remotest parts of West Virginia, hidden from the mass media, but still producing the amazing fruits of their useful arts. This book tells their stories: a furniture maker who studied at Columbia and gave it all up for a quieter life in the hills, a spoon maker and sculptor with a Quaker background, potters who found cheap land and a haven of safety in the mountains. Forty acres and a trailer may be enough to satisfy the soul. The stories of these artists and craftspeople are encouraging precisely because they've found the fulfillment Thoreau promised at Walden and a path to peace.

Thrown, Kerry Howley, Sarabande Books - Cage fighting and philosophy are an unexpected combination, but Thrown manages to successfully interweave the two. The author herself came upon the violent world of cage fighting quite by accident: stepping out for some fresh air in the middle of a conference on phenomenology, she stumbled upon a cage fighting match. Mesmerized by the brutal spectacle, she decides to follow and chronicle the intense bouts of two fighters. Immersing herself in their world becomes her own unique phenomenological project. The philosophies of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche make appearances, and there is humor in the author's struggle to convince her graduate program of the validity of her new course of study. The book's attractive design and embossed endpapers contribute to the positive reading experience.

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Memoir

The Memoir category captures specific personal experience.

Winner

After the Wind, Lou Kasischke, Good Hart Publishing - This is one survivor’s account of a tragedy that occurred on Mount Everest in 1996. Many people died on the mountain that day, and the deadly tally almost included the author. This riveting book examines what went wrong before and during the expedition to the top of the highest mountain peak in the world, including his take on a series of ill-advised decisions just below the summit. He presents the information in a way that is accessible and interesting to the average reader. Kasischke also examines what holds true when all else fails, when survival is no longer likely. He offers a fascinatingly personal look at what he believes saved him. Ultimately, this is a survival story about love—of mountaineering, of God, and of the deep and abiding bond between a husband and wife.

First Runner-Up

Any Road Will Take You There, David W. Berner, Dream of Things - A recently divorced father embarks on a country-wide journey with his two teenage sons, in a quest for answers. This is a reflection on fatherhood, on life at its midpoint, on generational gaps and similitudes, and the importance of tolerance and love. The writing is superb, as events and thoughts are pieced together flawlessly, recounted with candor, humor, and wisdom. Mundane episodes are described with a twist, and statements with the weight of quotations are seamlessly immersed into the text. A father, the author concludes, will always encounter doubt and vulnerability. Just being around, however, represents more than half the battle. The road itself is the final destination. If you ever had a father figure or played the role of one, this memoir will enlighten you!

Honorable Mentions

Interior Lights, Richard Schain, iUniverse - It was John Donne who said no man is an island, but Donne never met Richard Schain who insists very early in this thought-provoking treatise that he has little use for family, friends, his profession as a physician or, for that matter, society at large. Instead, Schain spends his days looking inward, striving to define his soul. This book is not a memoir in the true sense of the word. It is by no means the story of the writer's life; rather, it is the story of the writer's search for the meaning of life. Readers may be troubled by Schain's brusque dismissal of established religion, material possessions and human contact in any form. He doesn't even care if anybody bothers to read his book. But those who do will spend many days and nights on Schain's journey and may well be prompted to take the ride themselves.

Peanut Butter & Naan: Stories of an American Mom in the Far East, Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson, She Writes Press - Magnuson been getting a little tired of lunches at the country club and shopping anyway, so when her insurance executive hubby is transferred from Nashville, Tennessee to Chennai, India, Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson, a sassy mother of five gamely packs up her brood and together they venture into a whole new and drastically different way of life in the Far East. Told with delicious detail and ample wit, this often hilarious narrative by Magnuson offers a close look at an American family adjusting to a slower-paced world full of strange new sights, sounds, and smells. One of the biggest shocks to them is how they are perceived by the locals—like movie stars. When the whole family becomes involved in a humanitarian project, they create the most treasured of their souvenirs—a stronger family unit with memories that will make them smile proudly for years to come.

Sundown: A Daughter's Memoir of Alzheimer's Care, Judith Harway, Branden Books - In the US, one in three elderly people die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It remains one of the most devastating diseases, both to its patient and to her caregivers. This disease affects more women than men, and the caregivers are generally women. Harway's memoir chronicles her mother's absolute decline, her father's physical decline, and her daily routines as she navigates medical twists and turns. Of course, her mom was not perfect; however, writes Harway, "By the time memory failed her so completely that the sugar-coated past melted into nightmare, I had finally learned to listen. And forgive." It is not unusual to find such memoirs today, but few are as calming and reassuring.

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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

Conscious Millionaire, J V Crum III, Conscious World Press - The traditional mindset for achieving profits in the business world is to do so at any cost. Whether it involves reducing headcount or cutting quality, a negative outcome inevitably results. Fortunately, we have become much more socially conscious, and this new attitude has begun to permeate the business community. Crum shows us that, through honesty, integrity and passion, we can have a positive impact on others, while still attaining our goals. He provides expert coaching advice, as well as his own formula for success, while sharing his personal story of how he became a millionaire in his twenties. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we need to make conscious choices, which have a higher purpose that not only impacts our own futures but that of those around us.

First Runner-Up

Getting Paid to Wait, Brian Doherty, Acanthus Publishing - Many are concerned that there will not be any money left in Social Security for future retirees, and those nearing retirement wonder are confused about the eligible age. Is there any advantage to taking retirement benefits at an earlier eligible age? Brian Doherty addresses these and other concerns while providing simple strategies to maximize one's Social Security income. Understanding the available choices and making informed decisions can have a significant impact on retirement lifestyle. The key to maximizing retirement income is to delay benefits for as long as possible. Unfortunately, many fail to realize this and apply too soon, locking in lower benefits. The author examines options for married couples and the importance of looking at the wage earning histories of both spouses. This is a valuable guide for understanding and navigating one's Social Security future.

Honorable Mentions

A Short & Happy Guide to Financial Well-being, Sherri Burr, West Academic - Our society has created a mindset of immediate gratification, where borrowing for material items is commonplace. This practice has led to the financial ruin of many, which became quite evident during the recent economic downturn, resulting in lost homes and bankruptcy filings. Burr provides solid, back-to-basics advice on improving financial literacy and increasing financial security. Many topics are discussed, including reducing debt, budgeting, saving, and investing. Ways to be frugal when considering major purchases are also explored. Through the use of entertaining characters, like “Scattered Secretary” and “Learned Lawyer,” along with personal experiences and interviews, Burr captures our attention with subject matter that otherwise could be difficult to process. This book is a reminder that when people are financially stable, they become happier individuals, leading to a more fulfilling life.

Compass - Creating Exceptional Organizations, William F. Brandt, Jr., Winter Vale Press - Creating an exceptional organization is a process that builds over time. Once, it was assumed that the self interests of an organization would also benefit society. This of course was not the case. Brandt, a successful business leader, shares essays and case studies from his own experiences and points out that the interests of an organization can be aligned with the interests of its employees, customers, and the greater community. Leaders have the ability to create an environment where shared visions, common values, and mutual respect can result in an exceptional company. By defining the culture of an organization, providing inspiration and the opportunity for growth, and by hiring those with matching values and goals, we create a culture of satisfaction, sustainability and great value, without sacrificing the bottom line.

Starting Up Silicon Valley, Katherine Maxfield, Emerald Book Co.??, ??? - Started in a California prune-drying shed in 1969, ROLM Corporation was the icon of technology, innovation, and culture change in corporate America. Maxfield explores the significant impact that the ROLM had on the telecommunications and defense industries, while setting a gold standard for employee satisfaction that is emulated by companies like Google and Facebook today. Employees experienced numerous benefits such as stock options, profit sharing, corporate parks and swimming pools, which overlapped work and play, as well as dedication and happiness. ROLM was the first to develop a mini-computer for the Defense Industry and competed against such telecommunications giants as AT&T with its revolutionary products.

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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

The Wild Horse Dilemma, Bonnie Gruenberg, Quagga Press - Despite its title and extensive scholarly references, this book addresses myriad issues surrounding its analysis of man versus nature, and our wild animal public policy. The author provides extensive paleontological, genealogical, historical, and political background, with maps and photographs, about the horse specie in America. Many people, for example, believe the first horses in North America were brought by the Spanish Conquistadors. Actually, millions of years previously, horses were here and more numerous than buffalo. That fact alone creates a vocabulary problem: Are horses indigenous or exotic (i.e. introduced into a hospitable but unfamiliar environment?) Did the Spanish simply re-introduce the specie? It matters because definitions translate into government management policy that may render the term "wild" meaningless during efforts to control herd numbers. It matters because of our emotional response to the wild horse as a symbol of our own freedom—because we love them.

First Runner-Up

Eat Smart in Denmark: How to Decipher the Menu, Know the Market Foods & Embark on a Tasting Adventure, Carol L. Schroeder & Katrina A. Schroeder, Ginko Press - An introductory guide to the traditional foods of Denmark, this book is intended primarily as a travel guide, though the detailed descriptions and included recipes will also tempt the armchair traveler. Broken into sections on Denmark's overall cuisine, regional variations, recipes, and food markets, with list of resources, glossaries, and guides at the end, this book will be invaluable for anyone wanting to delve into Denmark's culture through its traditional foods. Its maps, beautiful photographs, and additional illustrations liven the text and provide additional helpful references for readers. The included recipes are a great way for people to share a bit of their trip to Denmark with loved ones after returning home or to experience Danish food in their home until they have the ability to visit in person.

Honorable Mentions

22 Shelters: A Writing Companion, Laurie Seidler, CreateSpace - The concept of constructing a writer's companion around the twenty-two letters which make up the Phoenician Alphabet is one that's counter-intuitive. However, the author is quite successful in her efforts to dispense interesting facts and creating compelling and thoughtful fictions about each letter. The book is, logically, separated into twenty-two chapters. Each chapter begins with information regarding the etymology of the symbol and the origins of its meaning. Next, the text fluctuates between "true stories," snippets of myths, and lyrical fictions, all of which serve as meditations as to what this symbol could mean for contemporary writers. Additionally, insightful questions are embedded in each chapter that make excellent jumping-off-points for one's own writing. Writers of any genre will find the essential facts, lyric narratives, and insightful observations as inspirational as they are useful in this slim yet helpful writing companion.

Logan: The Honorable Life and Scandalous Death of a Western Lawman, Jackie Boor, Cable Publishing - The story of Sherriff Tom Logan is also the story of what it was like to live in the of Nevada at the beginning of the twentieth century during a mining boom. Utilizing official records, newspaper clippings, and personal correspondence, as factual reference points, the author skillfully evokes a rich narrative of the old west at the crossroads of great change. At its heart, the book tells the story of a western lawman who was as ambitious as he was effective and how his association with the owner of a brothel, ultimately, affected the trial of the man accused of Logan's murder. However, the book manages to transcend mere biography in its consideration of the larger historical context of this era throughout. The book can be divided into three parts, Logan's early years, his career as a lawman, the accounts of his death and subsequent trial. All the material is well-researched and compelling, but the details of the shooting and trial provide insight as to how the perception of a public figure shapes the opinion of a jury. Accordingly, the narrative of Tom Logan becomes a fascinating mirror of this time, place, and the culture of the community he served.

Restoration Agriculture, Mark Shepard, Acres U.S.A. - This book is written by a longtime farmer to introduce other farmers to his method of farming. The author farms in a way that he argues is more sustainable over the long term by better mimicking nature in a farm setting. The book discusses problems the author believes the current mainstream agricultural system has and includes many practical ideas on such subjects as crops, livestock, bees, and breeding plants and animals. The main goal of the author is to help each farm become self-sustaining while supporting natural systems and creating delicious food to sell. While primarily intended as a practical guide for other farmers, this book will likely also be of interest to others who care deeply about the future of agriculture and of the planet.

The Eternal Law, Dr. John H. Spencer, Param Media Publishing - Scientists, particularly those who study physics, seem to agree there is no objective reality or truth because, the author posits, they do not want to deal with a philosophic question: what is the nature of reality? Yet, the confrontation is inevitable. For science to work, the operations and manipulations of matter must be predictable, and therefore constant. Scientists violating reality's constants fail to yield anything useful or generate knowledge. Taking us on a historical journey through the insights of the ancient Platonists, the author argues that each discovery of new scientific laws, like quantum physics, derive from an Eternal Law; the truths of scientific discovery depends on an eternal truth that stands outside and independent of individual subjectivity, much the same way that gravity operates when a man claims reality exists only inside of himself and then jumps off a building. We ignore the nature of reality at our peril.

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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

The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook, Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo, MS, RDN, The Experiment - This is much more than a cookbook with healthy recipes. It is a comprehensive guide to health, nutrition, fitness, and over all well-being. Jones and Trujillo have created a practical manual that focuses on making smart choices. Each recipe includes the nutritional and caloric content, as well as, the amount of walking or jogging it would take to burn off those calories. The goal is to change your lifestyle in order to make informed decisions about dietary choices. Guidance is given on shopping and pantry stocking, with detailed discussions concerning metabolism, caloric needs, and cooking with flavor. This two hundred recipe book, including tasty dishes like Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Tarragon Marinade and Snapper with Olive-Artichoke Tomato Tapenade, demonstrates that healthy recipes can also taste good.

First Runner-Up

Book Smart, Anne E. Cunningham & Jamie Zibalsky, Oxford University Press - Promoting a love of reading begins at an early age. Parents play a vital role and can create meaningful opportunities to spend time with their children, while helping them to develop the necessary reading and literacy skills needed in life. Cunningham and Zibulsky have created a valuable instruction manual for parents that is filled with activities and techniques, by age, aimed at preparing children for school and to become lifelong readers and learners. Through shared reading, a term referring to the interactive process of reading with another, parents have the ability to motivate their young readers through conversation and praise. The book is loaded with tips, stories, and exercises to increase comprehension, as well as reading and writing skills, while promoting a strong impact on social development.

Honorable Mentions

Big Mamma's Italian-American Cookbook, Lee Casazza, Lee Casazza Cooking - When Italian immigrants come to America, they bring with them their treasured family recipes from the regions of Italy where they have lived. As these immigrants become immersed into American culture, their cuisine begins to change naturally to reflect the inspiration of their new way of life. Lee Casazza has compiled a cookbook lovingly filled with mouthwatering family recipes that have been passed down through the generations. The book includes family photos and untouched recipe photographs. Notable dishes include Roasted Pork Tenderloin Wrapped in Bacon, Big Mammas Sunday Braciole with Gravy, and Mussels with Tomatoes, Fennel & Wine. Helpful hints shorten the time on some dishes, and there are recipes that can be made in thirty minutes or less.

Global Home Cooking, Nancy Freund, Gobreau Press - Lausanne, a beautiful city in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland is home to many expats. Those working for international companies in the region send their children to The International School of Lausanne, and each year, the school hosts International Day, an event that highlights the cultural richness of its community. Global Home Cooking was created to share these traditions and family recipes with others. Included are recipes from over one hundred families, representing forty one countries. The recipes are ordered by country and include conversion charts, if needed. Some highlights include, Moroccan Preserved Lemons, Brazilian Cheese Bread, Irish Guinness Stew and Marinated Salmon from Sweden. This isn’t just a cookbook; it is a beautiful collection of foreign traditions.

The Marriage Whisperer, Patt Hollinger Pickett, MSI Press - Improving relationships and building marital happiness is one of the key messages in this useful handbook. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Patt Hollinger Pickett, Ph.D., shares her own personal and professional experiences with couples looking to strengthen their marital relationships. Hollinger Pickett, emphasizes that marriages can be improved overnight, through positive communications, motivation, and feedback. The book is filled with real stories, conflict resolution strategies, and tips for a healthy marriage. Anger Management, including “the big blow-up,” an unfair and unkind attack with negative repercussions, is discussed, along with Five Healthy Alternatives to Agreement: Understanding, Acceptance, Compromise, Negotiation, and Tolerance. Apologies with meaning, as discussed in Five Types of Apologies, can have a significant impact on resolving conflicts.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

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Health

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

Winner

Paleo Girl, Leslie Klenke, Primal Blueprint Publishing - This is an all-in-one guide to help young adults traverse the road to a healthy lifestyle. Writer and designer Leslie Klenke employs down-to-earth, relatable language for teens, as well as engaging photos, walking readers through her own health journey. The book also contains case profiles, a small journal to track the reader's own progress and a full chapter of recipes based on the Paleo diet. While structured for those interested in transitioning to a Paleo diet, Klenke's research and advice introduce sensible practices for any young adult. She includes detailed instructions and images on physical fitness techniques to complement a change in poor eating habits. This is rounded out further by sage advice on healthy social living, as well. Paleo Girl could benefit many teens in navigating the often-tumultuous years leading to adulthood, whether as a helpful quick read or a complete lifestyle guidebook.

First Runner-Up

Assumptions Can Mislead, Mary C. Dye, Trafford Publishing - M. C. Dye proves both sage counsel and absorbing storyteller in this collection of narratives about mistakes made in health care. Various studies have concluded that tens of thousands of deaths occur in American hospitals that are attributable to human error, and some believe that as many as half of these deaths could have been prevented. This book describes in dramatic—not melodramatic—detail how such errors can occur in a medical system that many of us consider "state of the art." The author demonstrates that assumptions made by physicians, nurses, and even the patients themselves can set in motion a series of events that leading to missed diagnoses, useless treatments, unnecessary suffering, and even fatal complications.

Honorable Mentions

Death by Food Pyramid, Denise Minger, Primal Blueprint Publishing - It begins with a needed critical inspection of America's well-known federal nutritional guidelines, examining many of the conflicts of interest and misinformation that have shaped the guidelines by which so many Americans base their nutrition. Through the lens of the growing Paleo diet, health writer Denise Minger summarizes decades of food studies to create a picture of what our bodies are designed to process and how political and economic interests have overshadowed public health. Minger explains many of the common rhetorical fallacies that tend to prevent meaningful discourse on hot button topics such as nutrition and maintains a scientific and highly researched angle in her own arguments. Death by Food Pyramid warrants reading both by those seeking to implement an ancestral diet and those simply interested in an insightful and sometimes disturbing look at why we eat what we eat.

Our Journey with Prostate Cancer, Judith Anne Desjardins, LCSW, BCD, MSWAC, Spirit House Publishing - From her perspective as social worker in a major oncology center and as the wife of a man with prostate cancer, the author presents a memoir of the hopes and fears attendant to this malignant disease. She shares her extensive knowledge earned during her many years as a professional in this field, contributing to a narrative that teaches and informs, while also conveying her heart-wrenching passage through her husband's harrowing courses of treatment. Her heavy emphasis on religious belief may not appeal to all readers. However, this does not detract from the clear and compelling story she tells and the wisdom she offers.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Partners in Passion, Mark A. Michaels, Cleis Press - Michaels delves into the risqué realm of sex, but with the ultimate goal of creating honest intimacy in long-term relationships. While sexual exploration often remains veiled in mainstream American culture, married authors Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson surface myriad aspects of sexual fulfillment without hesitation or restraint, but also sans an arbitrary or gratuitous approach. From tackling popular myths about marital sex to using numerous real-life examples to illustrate their approaches, Michaels and Johnson create a accessible narrative that could improve any relationship. While comprehensive and written with both sexes in mind, this book also provides a slew of related references and resources. Whether newly partnered or ringing in the golden anniversary, Michaels offers a positive but candid look at what it takes to maintain a healthy, amorous partnership for life.

The Healing Power of Writing, Susan Borkin, W.W.Norton & Company - What techniques work best to teach journal writing to those with physical or mental illnesses? Given the debates that rage regarding the ability to teach writing in any context, the concept of literary instruction for people experiencing disease, trauma, and addictions becomes even more problematic. The author offers a framework for writing as therapy, often employing exercises that will appear familiar to anyone who has survived a writers' workshop. Her chapter on anxiety disorders is particularly compelling for its insight and effective strategies. The author employs a prose style that is bright and engaging. She draws in her reader much as she must do with her clients, creating a warmth and intimacy that make this book a pleasure to read.

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Self-Help

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

Winner

Grow Up Your Ego, Jeannette M. Gagan, PhD, Rio Chama Publications - According the psychologist and researchers in the area of the human psyche, less than 10% of the population reaches the highest level of ego development. At that stage, a person reaches a new phase of individualism, integrating internal and external factors into a self-empowered individual, who eventually gains universal connectivity with the world. It is a far climb where many fall short. Trouble arrives when many spiritual approaches ask an individual to destroy their ego en route to enlightenment. Dr. Jeannette M. Gagan says this is a false and harmful practice. It is better to mature your ego, or “grow-up” the ego, through a series of self-examinations and practices with the assistance of a trusted support person. At the very least, Gagan’s guide provides gentle yet insightful self-examination that would push any ego along the path the fulfillment.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

First Runner-Up

A Lifetime at War, Gordon L. Ewell, Trafford Publishing - Gordon offers a vivid account of Master Sargeant Gordon Ewell’s struggle to live after sustaining severe injuries and permanent disability while serving his country in Iraq. The author, a decorated veteran with an illustrious military career, remains wounded both physically and mentally with permanent hearing, vision loss, and spinal damage. He spares no detail in his describing the impact of his horrific injuries, as well as the medical and spritial journey of healing. Gordon speaks directly to the disabled war veteran as well as the caregivers. He addresses post-traumatic stress disorder and the specific needs of the disabled veteran. With unflinching honesty he outlines the long and painful road to not only survive but thrive.

Honorable Mentions

Ace Your Life, Michele Sfakianos, Open Pages Publishing - For many, even simple and intuitive personal management skills can be a problem, and there are many more people who will prey upon this ignorance than help. Fortunately, registered nurse and life skills speaker Sfakianos has assembled a concise, plain-talk guide for most of life’s normal and extraordinary circumstances. Her assistance can be as simple as removing a stain and performing hygiene to more vital instructions such as maintaining your health and disaster preparedness. We all know someone who can use these instructions, but even if you are reasonably well-polished individual, you will find at least one or two useful sections in this handy guidebook.

Change Your Story, Change Your Life, Carl Greer, Findhorn Press - Whether we admit it or not, we all live by a certain narrative. Our past experiences and our emotional reactions to them tell our story and guide us toward the future, but while not all of life is within our control, many of us fail to embrace that we are each the storyteller of our lives. Dr. Carl Greer asks us to change our lives by altering our story. Using a combination of Jungian and Shamanism, we can tap into the subconscious energies that control us and alter their effects. For example, certain memories can be weighted to negative emotions which inhibit us. Fear and even desire can be primary obstacles to advancement. We need to rewrite these paths. Central to Greer’s approach are the techniques of journeying and dialoging—methods for exploring the timeline of our personal existence and engaging vital aspects for better understanding and changing the harmful patterns of our lives.

Healing the Soul, Bhupendra O. Khatri, MD, Henschelhaus Publishing - Dr. Khatri offers stories of courage, determination, love, and unexplainable medical miracles. He insists that a medical diagnosis and treatment must include the patient's state of mind and spirituality, demonstrating how a positive attitude in a patience can promote the healing process. Dr. Khatri is the director of the Regional Multiple Sclerosis Center for Neurological Disorders in Smilwaukee, Wisconsin. His wealth of experience with patients have taught him that treating chronic disease is as much an art as a science. Healing involves the mind as much as the body and will be influenced by caregivers, the will-to-live, technology, medical intervention, professionals, and insurance policies. The universal themes found in these stories speak to the nature of suffering, living a full life, and facing death with dignity.

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Spiritual

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

Winner

The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities, Kathleen Deyer Bolduc, Judson Press - This excellent book provides encouragement and practical advice for parents faced with the challenges and difficulties of raising special needs children, regardless of their disability or handicap, and it does so from a gentle Christian perspective, which addresses the deep spiritual needs for strength and courage amid the exhausting demands of coping with their own personal problems and those of other members of the family, as well as the requirements of society. "Reflection Exercises" at the end of each chapter detail physical and spiritual practices including prayers, imagery, exercises, journaling, or taking a walk, which help the reader to relax and regroup. Raising a disabled child takes more than doctors and advice; it takes the inner strength this book helps develop and support.

First Runner-Up

How Do You Pray?, Celeste Yacoboni, Monkfish Publishing - This book is an exceptional collection of essays from 129 spiritual contributors. The volume serves as an interspiritual prayerbook and resource guide to global spirituality. Essays are written by religious visionaries who range from former professional athletes to Christian mystics. Collectively, the book serves as a window into the meditative mindsets of varied and diverse spiritualists, providing a glimpse into the many ways we worship and offering reflection on our own methods of connecting with the things we do—or don't—believe in. A true embodiment of what it means to develop a truly spiritual text.

Honorable Mentions

Escaping The Wheel, Eric Artisan - Escaping the Wheel is a deeply spiritual and thought-provoking novel about an escaped convict who believes he must right the wrongs of countless past lives in order to escape the Wheel of Life. The characters are richly developed, and the novel explores complex issues of reincarnation, obsession, life, and death, in well-written and riveting prose. Novels that explore issues of spirituality run the risk of feeling preachy and overworked, with clear ulterior motives. But Artisan approaches the material with calculated direction. His message shifts between covert and overt. This intended to raise questions rather than grandstand specific values.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

The Five-fold Effect, Walt Pilcher, WestBow Press - This book lays out an organization plan that works well for churches or businesses by teaching the five-fold ministry gifts found in Ephesians 4:11-16. It demonstrates practical principles to apply to organizations. The author states that God gave the five-fold gifts to the church to use them in the world. He gives the example of a small business that does not use the five-fold principles. Then he demonstrates how things change when following the principles from the beginning. The author recommends discovering your gifts to find the jobs and roles you are best suited to fill. The book also outlines practical steps in getting started and becoming organized.

The Legacy Letters, Carew Papritz, King Northern Publishing - If we had the foresight to write down all our feelings before we were old enough to realize how valuable they would be to our loved ones, we would pen all our thoughts, experiences and life lessons to be passed on to future generations. Such was the case for one man, separated from his wife and two children, who longed desperately to give them all the love he possessed. And so he did, through candid letters he wrote every day for ten years, which were delivered upon his untimely death to his family. His invaluable contribution to their lives is evident, as we read these letters, with a deep rich love and understanding of human nature that goes beyond what most of us can hope to express. The letters, specifically chosen from hundreds, comprise the most wonderful gift a parent can give a child; his soul written for posterity.

The Midnight Saint, Mitchel Whitington, 23 House - The messages we receive as we go through our busy lives come from many sources, but not many people pay close attention to the messages that come from intuition or spirit. Instead, we tend to "read into" what we hear and see, justifying things to fit our needs, our world view and our experience. We jump the gun so to speak without really absorbing. We use our eyes and ears but not our soul to see and hear. In this thought-provoking work of fiction, the author creates a setting in which we must trust that which is unexplainable, not defined by the parameters of our usual course of living. We're taken through the journey of a man with little time to live, who discovers that there is much more to living and dying than the passage of time.

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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

At-Risk, Amina Gautier, University of Georgia Press - These are YA stories for adults, expertly crafted tales of contemporary teens and the worlds of yearning they inhabit just out of sight of most of the world. Their stories are full of shadows and pauses, slight hesitations where the reader knows that what comes next isn't leading to a fairytale ending. Still, the protagonists keep going, despite what readers know are against all possible odds that they'll make it out of the traps they've found themselves in, though not of their choosing. The collection holds together like a neighborhood of characters all caught in the same forlorn struggles, though each is manifested in differently nuanced narratives. The author seems to have lived all these lives and come out on the other side in a safe place that's somehow reassuring in the midst of all this darkness that manages, still, to resonate with strength and dignity.

First Runner-Up

Sardinian Silver, A. Colin Wright, iUniverse - A randy English tourist spends the summer in sexually repressed Sardinia. He falls in love, both with the locale and a Sardinian woman. Fearing ostracization, she does her best to dissuade him, but he becomes obsessed. The places and characters of this novel are written with a devotion found only in someone who has visited Sardinia in his youth and recalls it in his later years. You'll want to go there, and yet you'll feel that you already have. You'll feel the desperate angst of the lovelorn. Sadly, as the narrator reveals in the end, the Sardinia of the 1960s is not the Sardinia of today, and his understanding of love is different at the end than it is in the beginning of the novel. The obsessive longing that the main character has for his beloved symbolizes the futile attempt a visitor may have to capture and possess a culture different from his own.

Honorable Mentions

Legacy in Words, Jamarica S. Jones, Trafford Publishing - The author contemplates what she can give her family as a legacy and in return gives her readers poetry that comes alive in everyday verse with subjects rich in religion, short verse, nature, health, life, family, and lightheartedness which covers everything from menopause to squirrels. Although she pours out her heart on the written page, it is a passion that all can relate to. IT is beautifully written, sometimes humorous, witty and yet at times emotionally sad, giving the reader a well-rounded mix of verse. Jones leaves us with a fullness of connection to her family as well as our own.

The Mosaic Artist, Jane Ward, CreateSpace - As it must, life goes on and even rises anew in this exquisitely told story made all the more intimate, vibrant, and in the moment for its first-person accounts. The real love story is not between Jack and his wife Kay, but between Jack and his soon-to-be-new-wife Sylvie. Kay, a bit mad to begin with, can't cope, leaving daughter Shelley and son Mark to deal with life on their own. Young Mark is particularly damaged and enraged in the process. There are no evil characters here, only yearning ones weighing and chooseing life as best they can. To the more literal extent, Mark is the artist, smashing things, then fitting them together again, building mosaics. In their own ways, the rest of the family are turned artists, mending their lives and seeking peace amid the chaos.

This Point in Time, Gary Meyer, Booklocker - Masterfully written, the author provides a mystery/suspense containing more than long ago secrets that with exposure could destroy a family. Captured within its pages of twists and turns are powerful characters for the reader to relate to. Mitch Ambrose and his wife Melody, although in the midst of the middle age of life, become engaged in the secrets of Charleton Paginni when Mitch takes on the job of being his companion in the nursing home. With the telling of Charleton's story and his desires to find his illegitimate child that was placed for adoption, Mitch discovers his journalism skills are kicked into overdrive, causing Mitch and Melody to become amateur detectives to locate not only the child but to solve the mysterious murders along the way. A rich, poignant tale that is not only captivating, but is also awe-inspiring while showing excitement in the rekindling of romance, forgiveness, and the power of family ties.

War Stories, Elisabeth Doyle, Two Harbors Press - This is a petite volume of short fiction. Author Elisabeth Doyle does not waste words, but everyday people living authentic lives are plentiful in these heart-filling stories of tragedy, despair, hope, and dreams. Most stories have in common a long shadow from the Vietnam War: a young woman's struggle to set her life straight after her husband is wounded, a grieving father who finds closure after unthinkable loss, a wounded veteran's fantasy of a relationship with a neighborhood girl, a poignant story of young lovers who yearned to get on the road and "never having to get where they were headed." Debut author Doyle, who's work has been compared to Ernest Hemmingway and Richard Ford, delivers honest, rich, and diverse stories.

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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

Life in a Jar, Jack Mayer, Long Trail Press - Irena Sendler, a previously obscure but heroic Polish social worker, is brought to life in this engaging and emotional story. As the Nazis entered Poland and forced the relocation of Varsovian Jews, Sendler and her colleagues sensed danger. Working with an underground network of brave Jewish couriers and compassionate Poles, Sendler saved hundreds of Jewish children from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. Eventually she was caught, imprisoned, tortured, and miraculously released. She went on to live a quiet life, her deeds largely unknown in her own country until a group of high school students in Kansas chose her name as the subject of their history project. Their research led to personal correspondence with Sendler, the production of a very successful play based on her life, and several trips to Poland to meet with Sendler herself. A gripping and inspirational read, this book is highly recommended for both adult and teen audiences.

First Runner-Up

Through the Valley of the Deep Darkness: Holding onto the Ancient Testimonies, Thomas Arner, Trafford Publishing - It began as a normal Sunday morning. A minister and his wife dressed for church and looked forward to their grandson's first birthday party that afternoon. Then they received the phone call: The grandson had been killed in a fire set by his father, and the baby's mother had suffered second and third-degree burns over 70 percent of her body. The couple plunged into a valley of darkness as they experienced grief, anger, even hate, and the desire for revenge. For six weeks, they sat with their daughter as she was treated at the trauma/burn unit. Their son-in-law was charged with capital one murder, arson, and attempted murder. This true story, written at the suggestion of a grief counselor, chronicles the healing process as the two discovered rituals that lead to peace.

Honorable Mentions

A Blue Bellied Yankee, Robert Miller, Trafford Publishing - Meticulously researched and documented, this book details the movements and machinations of the 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. The author's personal interest in this particular regiment—one in which his great grandfather served—shines through on every page as he explores the wartime world of his ancestor. The reader sees Civil War combat experience through a small lens, learning of soldiers’ daily routines, small pleasures, and great difficulties through portions of their letters home. Interspersed with these personal missives is a thorough account of battles fought and combat strategy employed by this volunteer unit. The result is both highly informational and heart-rending.

Bending to the Trade Winds, Reilly Ridgell, University of Guam Press - Peace Corps volunteers first went to Micronesia in 1966. The author presents his version of stories or anecdotes creatively telling and adapting real incidents that happened to them on different islands in what was at the time known as the Truk District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in Micronesia. Twelve stories occurred generally from 1970-1975. The thirteenth, "Consequences," is the only one that is completely fabricated, and it dates from the late 1980s. They offer a range of tone and mood (e.g., humorous, sensual, frightening, mysterious). The collection is not only enjoyable but gives readers insight into the lives of Peace Corps volunteers and reveals that they learn more than they teach and are given more than they give.

Limited Government and the Bill of Rights, Patrick M. Garry, University of Missouri Press - The author traces the Supreme Court treatment of the Bill of Rights from the 1950s/1960s forward, offers different perspectives on the Bill of Rights, and distinguishes the limited-government model of the Bill of Rights from the political campaign for limited government waged by various political groups and prominent in the 2010 election. The intentions and accomplishments of the book are three: a constitutional case against the personal-autonomy or natural-rights model of the First Amendment; a layout of the Constitutional groundwork for the limited-government model; and a demonstration and explanation of how the limited-government model would work when applied to concrete Constitutional litigation. Ultimately, the writer sees the Constitution as "not about setting out moral or natural-rights claims" but "about empowering a democratic people to govern itself and outlining the boundaries and limitations of that power."

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E-Book Fiction

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

Winner

When Dreams Touch, Rosemary Hanrahan, SDP Publishing - This book tells the intergenerational story of one family's heroic, poignant, sometimes tragic, but ultimately inspiring pursuit of a higher purpose in a world that seems determined to deny such possibilities. A young couple, successful doctors present at the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, begin to experience doubts about their chosen paths in life as a result of the tragedies and injustices they witness on the front lines of the medical profession. What follows is a touching and humbling tale of the victories and defeats they encounter as they pursue personal and professional goals inspired by a genuine desire to serve the greater good. Switching between the security and comfort of America and the contrasting poverty and corruption of neighboring Haiti, the author illustrates how the unlikely bonds that give our lives meaning are also correspondingly fragile.

First Runner-Up

Anonymous, Christine Benedict, Loconeal Publishing - Set in the 1980s, the novel tells the story of Debra, whose mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, and Greg Hamiliton as they move into a new home together, making friends with their neighbors Julie and Kyle. Though Greg is happy with the home, Debra begins to have her doubts and wonders if the home is haunted. She finds dead animal carcasses, hears strange noises, and begins to question her own sanity. However, as she learns to accept her new life and sorts out her childhood, she recognizes the strong and independent woman she has become. Particular scenes strike fear in your heart.

Honorable Mentions

A Better World, Belangela G. Tarazona - Tarazona explores the lives of seemingly ordinary people whose stories illuminate world events that often go on about us curiously unnoticed. The story spans several generations and stretches from Venezuela to Denmark. News stories of fringe political groups are given life, color, and warmth and hit close to home, as we learn how so many of the world's conflicts have very ordinary beginnings. The author successfully illustrates how the generational shift from traditional, old world values to materialism and immaturity has evolved. The book answers many questions we have about an increasingly disconnected world community and portrays accurately the plight of many young professionals frustrated by their positions in society. At the same time, the author puts in context a sense of melancholy and despair and the seemingly unsolvable questions of emptiness and betrayal caused by an increase in technology and consumerism.

Days of the Giants, RJ Petrella, Wide Yard- This book portrays the strong emotions and potentially devastating consequences of the contemporary trend to administer hospitals as for-profit corporations. Young doctors passionately inspired by the mission of public health in Boston's increasingly privatized and deregulated city medical system are confronted with the selfish and corrupt financial goals of a management team who views medicine as a means to achieving personal wealth rather than as a profession dedicated to serving humanity. The characters and their intimately intertwined relationships are forever changed, as they rise to the challenge of restoring integrity to their profession and defending the culture and history of the city they love. Even when a shocking betrayal results in a tragic loss of life, they find the strength and courage to persist. Petrella successfully addresses a multitude of controversial issues in an instructive and engaging manner.

Stillpoint, Colin Mallard, Promontory Press - This novel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crisscrosses the globe in a story about perception and truth. In parallel stories, the reader learns of Samara, a young woman living in Gaza and her relationship with Nasir, a former guerrilla and mystic who guides her on her journey, David Tremaine, the president of the United States and a former professor/philosopher, who tries to broker some kind of peace, and Mera who learns of her grandfather's past life of horrors in Palestine during the formation of Israel. By the novel's end, they all begin to understand the high cost of peace and the errors repeating history. At times a fantastical read, it imagines a dream-like conclusion to eternal conflict.

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E-Book Nonfiction

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

Winner

Liberia: Emerging from the Shadows, Wayne Schoenfeld, New Democracy Productions - Born as a haven for freed black slaves and once a shining star of progress in Africa, Liberia lingers on the scrap heap in the wake of war and chaos. The suffering is largely carried by the impoverished indigenous people. In this vacuum of hope and order, Rotaplast arrives with a staff of medical experts to reconstruct faces, lives, and perhaps the future. Reading as part memoir, part travelogue, and part history book, Schoenfeld’s documentary of his mission to Liberia crafts a stunning portrayal of humanity in a place that sorely needs it. There are countless moments of pause, as one pages though this book. It excels as both a written journal and photo essay, delivering a message of survival and dignity among fellow travelers in life.

First Runner-Up

How to Become a Voice Over Artist, Natalie Roers, Amazon Digital Services - Some how-to books are so well-written and engaging that you exit feeling energized, as if you too could do exactly what was described in the book. This is true for Roer’s guide to becoming a voice over artist. Using her experience in the industry, Roers breaks down the path to a successful career, beginning with the necessary mindset, workspace, and equipment, and then powering through executing, auditioning, and expanding your opportunities within this exciting field. She is not shilling for a particular company or product, especially not add-on products later sold by herself. Instead, she provides concise and compelling steps to industry-specific information, with occasional humor, skipping over the minutia that any small business owner could learn on his own.

Honorable Mentions

Becoming a Happy Family: Pathways to the Family Soul, Susan Smith Kuczmarski, Ed.D., Book Ends Publishing - Kuczmarksi wants you to discovery, appreciate, and expand the soul of your family. In an increasingly busy world, it can be difficult to maintain and nurture connections, but it is vital to keeping family as a source of refuge, growth, and strength. Breaking the family into three fundamental roles—functional, emotional, soulful—the author explores methods and meditations to understanding your family dynamics that incorporates rituals, memories, experience, stories, and people including complimentary outsiders who bring special meaning to the structure. Somewhat a memoir of her own upbringing and experience, this warm and compassionate guide helps us to remain conscious about the family soul and celebrate its uniqueness.

Classics: How We Can Encourage Children to Read Them, Fiza Pathan, CreateSpace - We all want (or should want) the kids to read. It expands their minds, as well as their potential creativity, in unrivaled ways, but getting them to read the classics is another task altogether. Pathan, an experienced teacher, understands that individual book tastes varies as much as the books themselves. She tries to build excitement and make her students want to read them. Her guide provides methods for introducing the classics that can be applied to most other books and cover both the classroom and home. Calling upon various multimedia aids, lecture techniques, and old-fashion fun, Pathan’s comprehensive, multi-approach guide is destined to become a classic reference for the classics themselves.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

Climate Change, Land Use and Monetary Policy, Geraldine Perry, Wasteland Press - While there should no longer be a question about climate change, the debate as to its cause will rage for years ahead. Beyond the zealous polarization and outright ignorance regarding the issues, Perry intelligently examines the geopolitical history and monetary influences that have led civilization through environmental disasters, collapse, and present-day threats and kicks off the discussion of real environmental change. Our concept of actual wealth needs to be redefined, abandoning the prevalent concept of perceived wealth that is creating havoc on the planet as well as the monetary system itself. Nowhere is this insanity more demonstrated than in our agricultural model, where the true asset (i.e. the land) takes a backseat to the consumables it produces. The author introduces a new land-important agricultural model, examines its potential impact on society, and suggests appropriate monetary reform.

See the full review in the US Review of Books

 

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