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The Eric Hoffer Award for Books

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

View the Eric Hoffer Book Award sponsors.

 

The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer. In addition to the grand prize, Hoffer honors are bestowed by press type and category, and also through the Montaigne Medal, da Vinci Eye, and First Horizon Award. Coverage of the the Hoffer is updated in May when the results are released to the public. You can view the Hoffer Award announcement schedule on their official website in the spring. They also post a grand prize short list of finalists. We publish their list of category finalists with links to the books we've reviewed in our pages.

 

2024 Eric Hoffer Book Award

CATEGORY AWARDS

Adult Fiction

Nonfiction/Trade

E-Book

Legacy

 

Official Sponsor of the Eric Hoffer Award

 

Hoffer Grand Prize

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

Alithia Ramirez Was an Artist, Violet Lemay, Michael Sampson Books - A life itself can be a lasting image. Alithia Ramirez loved to express herself through art and share that passion with others. In fact, "her art voice was love." She dreamt of studying in Paris and worked hard to become a better at her craft. This vibrant picture book combines the author's illustrations with young Alithia's original drawings, while honoring this gifted child and the love, color, and creativity she brought into the world. It was written with the support of Alithia's parents, who lost her in the Uvalde school tragedy. The book does not however focus on the tragedy, but instead tastefully mentions Althia's death only in the postscript. This could simply be avoided for the youngest audience or at least presented in the way of the parents' choosing where death is part of life itself. It's not easy for a children's picture book to outscore expert works of fiction or heavily researched nonfiction. This book was wonderfully arranged, poignantly delivered, and brilliantly executed.

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Montaigne Medal

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

Is Social Justice Just?, Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger, and Christopher J. Coyne (editors), Independent Institute -What is justice? It is not about convicting the guilty, but more appropriately involves protecting the innocent. When justice becomes punishment, it goes off the rails. Furthermore, social justice is not civil justice. It is not the law, although laws are often created to implement social justice principles. Is this a good idea? These nineteen essays attempt to define social justice and determine if government intervention is the right course to help society. The contributors introduce various forms of social justice and different approaches to both successful and damaging intervention. Along the way, we examine our own views about government support, those who need it the most, and to what extent we are willing to hand over control to authorities in order to restore a sense of fairness.

The Tuttle Twins Guide to True Conspiracies, Connor Boyack, Libertas Press - As long as one group gathers an imbalance of power, as long as humans remain tribal, conspiracies will never leave us. One tribe, albeit a political party, social group, or bastion of wealth, will eventually attempt to assert its will over others by clandestine means, and the rest of us will discuss it in whispers, outrage, and wild speculation. In this easy to read book aimed at middle readers, Boyack separates emotion from fact to review twenty famous conspiracies that range from societal abominations to historical game-changers. Each conspiracy is profiled through public perception, followed by an attempt to extract the facts. In hindsight, arguments for learning from each events is presented.

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da Vinci Eye

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

No Evil is Wide, Randall Watson, Madville Publishing (cover by Charles Moody)

On Borrowed Breath, Karen Campbell Wilkinson (cover by Jude Mag-Asin)

The Codex of the Endangered Species Act, Vol. I, Lowell E. Baier, Christopher E. Segal, Rowan and Littlefield (cover by Enterline Design Services)

The ForestGirls, Sissel Waage, Lulu (cover by Ana-Maria Cosma)

See additional award coverage in the Children's Category.

The Palisades, Gail Lynn Hanson, Slippery Fish Press (cover by Christine Kettner)

See additional award coverage in the Commercial Fiction Category.

Work Jerks, Louise Carnachan, She Writes Press (cover by Lindsey Cleworth)

See additional award coverage in the Business Category.

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First Horizon Award

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

All the Memories That Remain, E.M.Liddick, Warren Publishing (See award coverage in the Memoir category.)

Dismantling the 3rd Dimension, Antonia, Real Chimera Books (See award coverage in the Self-Help category.)

Finding Waypoints, Terese Schlachter and Colonel Gregory Gadson, Schaffner Press (See award coverage in the Spiritual Nonfiction category.)

Luz, Debra Thomas, She Writes Press (See award coverage in the Legacy Fiction category.)

Malice Aforethought, Avree Kelly Clark, Novanglian Press (See award coverage in the Mystery/Crime category.)

Richard Nixon: California’s Native Son, Paul Carter, Potomac Books (See award coverage in the Reference category.)

The Once Upon a Time of Now, Hope West (See award coverage in the Spiritual Fiction category.)

The Palisades, Gail Lynn Hanson, Slippery Fish Press (See award coverage in the Commercial Fiction category.)

The Sound of Undoing, Paige Towers, University of Nebraska Press (See coverage in the best Academic Press Award.)

We Bow to No One, Vera Sirota, Bottlecap Press (See award coverage in the Chapbook category.)

Work Jerks, Louise Carnachan, She Writes Press (See award coverage in the Business category.)

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Medal Provocateur

The Medal Provocateur is given to to the best on the frontier of poetry—the experimental, the innovative, the daring and stunning, the impromptu in technique and voice.. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about Medal Provocateur finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)

The Devil's Workshop, Xavier Cavazos, Cleveland State University Poetry Center -This bold, frightening collection's verses read like a demonic exploration of the self's limits, the soul's darkest and heaviest chains, and the world's blasphemous cares. The daring structures emphasize the speaker's despair, struggle, and reflection. At times magical and at times like stepping directly into a contemporary version of Dante's Inferno, these poems force readers to confront the pitch black corners of their literal and metaphorical existences. Experimental forms and voices disintegrate and melt, blend and coagulate to create a reading experience that marries the horrific and the surreal. Cavazos establishes an entirely new genre of psychologically challenging, morally bending, and absolutely terrifying poetry.

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Academic Press Award

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

The Sound of Undoing: A Memoir in Essays, Paige Towers, University of Nebraska Press - Sound is something we often do not give a lot of thought. But as Paige Towers says, "Sound can heal. Sound can touch." It can also erode, degrade, destroy. In this collection, Towers traces the texture of sound—minute sound, inner sound, ambient sound, the absence of sound, shattering sound—in her own life and, in some cases, the lives of us all. She comes at her subject at times directly, at times obliquely. Sometimes conjuring, with close attention, the feel of being in the world. Sometimes extending a stirring polemic, a cry to us all to recognize the impact—on us, on our fellow creatures, on all the earth, of the insatiable, the seemingly unstoppable noise that extends now nearly everywhere.

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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.

The Diabetes-Free Cookbook & Exercise Guide, John Poothullil, MD and Chef Colleen Cackowski, New Insight Press - A third of Americans suffer from diabetes and pre-diabetes, and while nutritious eating for health maintenance and disease prevention is widely discuss, it's a far-off goal for many. With detailed descriptions of wholesome recipes, this book delivers simplicity and availability of ingredients, backed up by quality photographs depicting savory meals. The addition of brief exercises augmenting the dietary advice helps illustrate the disease process in lay terms. By combining these elements, this guide becomes indispensable to anyone determined to avoid the irreversible and lifelong metabolic calamity called diabetes.

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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.

Shoot the Horses First, Leah Angstman, Kernpunkt Press - This collection of short stories forms a whirlwind tour of historical periods and places. The frustrations and suffering of women, the ordeals of slaves, menial workers, the impoverished, and the disabled are vividly rendered, as are the horrors of pain and illness before modern medicine. From polite East Coast society to frontier life, from early periods of Western history to the more recent, the breadth of this collection is truly astonishing. One can only marvel at the amount of research that went into this work. Angstman captures the settings, idioms, and diction of earlier English, solidifying the prose in time, while the stories harken not only human cruelty, evil, and suffering, but also the love, compassion, and resilience that see us through.

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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.

There Go I, Bill VanPatten - Thirteen short stories plumb the depths of the character in Central Valley of California. Journey to the grocery store where inner thoughts about a hardened woman lead into an introspective about childhood abuse. Later on, uncover a deep secret that the narrator has yet to tell their spouse. Wonderful prose and top shelf imagery rules weave throughout this collection. With a look into some of the worst and best of his characters, this collection explores what it means to be human throughout the challenges in life.

See a 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

Furnishing the White House: The Decorative Arts Collection, Betty C. Monkman, William G. Allman, Lydia S. Tederick, Melissa C. Naulin, The White House Historical Association - In this lavishly produced coffee table book, the authors chronicle the storied history of the White House through its vast and glorious decorative arts collection. With ample illustrations, the book describes in engaging detail how each American president and his wife has, throughout the past 200 years, made their individual contributions to the legacy of The People's House. The book illuminates the fascinating histories of selected furnishings and objects, along with the ever-changing decorative styles of the White House's many residents, while highlighting the continuing restoration efforts that have ensured the preservation of these historical materials. As White House curators, the authors offer an uniquely compelling insider's view of a national landmark that is both a public house and a private home.

First Runner-Up

Very Fantastically Arranged, Caragh Thuring, The MIT Press - This beautiful volume features artwork presented in a classic museum catalog fashion—large reproductions of the artwork accompanied by the title and year in a simple sans serif face at the bottom. This feat of simple elegance is accomplished professionally and effortlessly. A featured section in the middle of the book displays full page close-up images of different parts of a painting and the details are gorgeous. The quality of the photographs throughout is beyond reproach. The text is minimal and gathered mainly at the end of the book, letting the artwork speak for itself while presenting a single point of reference. Overall, this book celebrates the life and work of a wonderful artist.

Honorable Mentions

Lessons on the Road to Peace, John Noltner - In 2020, the author/photographer and his wife set out on a 93,000-mile nomadic journey throughout the United States, seeking to collect the perspectives and portraits of Americans who were directly affected by various social issues that compose the national debate. The resulting book—a hybrid photo essay, oral history, and travelogue—illuminates the creative solutions and change that real people attempt to effect, either in their own lives or their communities. These encompass addiction, climate change, discrimination, housing insecurity, immigration, and marginalization. The authentic voices and images offer a compellingly hopeful blueprint for bridging the American divide.

The House of the Future: Walt Disney, MIT, and Monsanto's Vision of Tomorrow, David A. Bossert, The Old Mill Press - If you were around in the 1950s and visited a theme park in California known as Disneyland, your eye was undoubtedly caught by an exhibit featuring a contraption known as a video phone. In the era of dial telephones and switchboards engineers conceived that in the future, people would actually see each other while talking on the phone. In fact, the video phone was among the many weird but ultimately dream-come-true features included in an exhibit known as the "House of the Future." Through text, sketches, and photographs, the many pie-in-the-sky ideas that were included in the House of the Future, including widescreen color TVs (known as observascopes) and a "packaging toilet," which didn't use water and instead packaged human waste for delivery to a composting site. Of course not all ideas survived into the future, but then again the space program would eventual invent their own version of a compact and efficient toilet out of necessity.

Unplugged Voices: 125 Tales of Art and Life from Northern New Mexico, the Four Corners and the West, Sara Frances (editor), Photo Mirage Books - When one thinks of artists' colonies, the Four Corners region—where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet at a single point—does not come immediately to mind. This anthology of Four Corners artists, poets, writers, architects, craftspeople, photographers, filmmakers, and others provides an informative history of how the region and nearby communities—most notably Taos, New Mexico—serves as home to unique American talents. Punctuated by colorful photographs of their work, the anthology moves through personal stories of these creative people, ranging from the landscapes of watercolorist Leon Loughridge to the poetry of Andrea Doray. Few are known beyond the Four Corners region. Perhaps this volume will help the world discover their truly magical work.

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Chapbook

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

Winner

We Bow to No One, Vera Sirota, Bottlecap Press - Intimate yet relevant, this bold collection transports readers into the female experience of living during war time—enduring horrific loss, processing generational trauma, and finding the strength within one's self to overcome the seemingly impossible. Brave female figures witness and endure a brutal invasion. They call to their ancestors for strength and guidance. Each poem reads like a song or a prayer. Nature sings. A defiant voice cries out in the darkness against misogyny and violence, and each word of every poem resonates with bravery. This is a chapbook that could not arrive at a more appropriate time in history.

First Runner-Up

Our Wolves, Luanne Castle, Alien Buddha Press - In this bold recasting of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, a traumatic adventure unfolds, and the expectations one has for reality are shattered. An air of mystery pervades each poem, but beneath that mystery, worlds of forced silences exist. Some poems shock. Some poems awe. Some remind readers that the wolves one should fear most are not those roaming the forests.These poems also explore the myths and legends, symbolisms and mysticisms, which comprise the folk tales with which so many are familiar, and breathe new life into these well-worn tales. This retelling forms a narrative for a modern age.

Honorable Mentions

Forgotten Frequencies, Brendan Stermer, NDSU Press - An observant speaker celebrates the smallest gifts nature has to offer—a cornfield's philosophical whispers, the "muddy gentleness" a moment of togetherness offers. Rivers are more than large bodies of water. They are sacred places that help define a person from the earliest stages of life. Other poems request the time to "walk each night / beside that rising sea of swaying corn" and "feel those rural muses taking flight." As the collection concludes, the strains of rural music span barren fields and souls, and rural solitude borders the urban, where "green lawnmowers whine / like children woken early / to complete some dull assignment."

Listening for Low Tide, James P. Cooper, Choeofpleirn Press - In these metaphysical yet modern poems, the boundaries between dreaming and waking blur, and so do the borders incurred on maps and within human existence. These verses remind readers about the value of solitude and silence in this ever busy and confusing world. This collection asks for a moment to "hear / the wintering geese before eight / of them glide onto the far shore." Place is deeply important, presenting deep reflections about cities, roadsides, rural spaces, and personal ranges that gently evoke remembrance of how even the darkest train track can shape a person's life.

The Emptying Earth, Daniel Lassell, Madhouse Press - Elegant in both structure and verse, this beautiful hand-stitched chapbook introduces a Transcendentalism perfect for a new age in literature. Nostalgia collides with the current realities of climate change, unsustainable consumerism, and humanity's encroachment on natural ecosystems. It asks difficult questions like "who's wealthed us into existence?" and "Is non-existence so bad?" Each poem is a quiet environmental manifesto, reminding us about the delicate balance in their everyday actions, that they have the power to tip in the wrong direction. This is quietly rebellious, deeply contemplative, philosophically speculative, and exceedingly timely.

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Children's

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

Winner

The ForestGirls at the Edge of Land and Sea, Sissel Waage, Ana-Maria Cosma (Illustrator), Lulu - The unnamed girls quickly become the best of friends. Through their shared love and appreciation of coastal habitats, they form bonds in their efforts to preserve and restore delicate ecosystems. Vibrant watercolor illustrations take readers all around the world, from the api-api merah mangroves of Malaysia, to the southern bull kelp forests of New Zealand, and to the sea grass meadows of Venezuela. Each two-page spread lovingly depicts these exotic locales, along with the wildlife that depend on their health and preservation. These girls from all around the world remind readers that everyone can do their part to help the earth.

First Runner-Up

The Woodpecker's Song, Marnie O. Mamminga, Mary C. Parks (illustrator) - This is an inspiring message to parent and child alike about the value of getting into nature and just being. The small child in this story acts intrinsically, while following an inner voice and ultimately discovering a much deeper meaning to life. Amazingly the noise of a woodpecker disturbing the silence can bring one quickly back to their surroundings. We are never truly alone. In the end, life is an adventure, lived to the fullest while reveling in the marvels of the universe.

Honorable Mentions

Annabelle Bee and the Butterfly Tree, Debra Raso O'Connor, Stephen Lomazzo (illustrator), Brown Books Kids - O'Connor captivates with the story of an uncommon friendship between a bee and a butterfly. Annabelle wishes to be just like the butterflies and meets one early on in the story. As they go about their daily activities together, they find themselves in dangerous situations. They choose to help each other and as a result, a beautiful friendship begins. They enjoy each other's company and learn to appreciate their differences. As they continue to grow closer, one big problem continues to loom over their heads, and they need each other to solve it. This is a beautifully illustrated story about friendship that also includes bee facts at the very end. It is both informative and entertaining.

Baby Dragon Finds His Family, Sheryl Bass, Remesh Ram (illustrator), Be-Kind Publishing - This lovely and enchanting book is a heart-warming tale of a young dragon's journey to find his family and the place that he truly belongs. The story focuses on themes of friendship, kindness, acceptance, and the importance of family even when you have to create your own. The illustrations are a beautiful expression of the story, with characters coming to life on the pages. The message about embracing individuality and sharing kindness wherever you go is powerful and uplifting, reminding that it is truly the most important quality to foster.

Gona's Halloween Hunt, Carla Crane Osborne, Gona Publishing - In this delightful tale, two young girls named Gona and Kelley enter an exciting Halloween adventure on their family farm. As they explore the eerie landscape at dusk, they encounter seemingly scary sights that turn out to be familiar farm objects by daylight, like an orange cat mistaken for a scary black cat. With courage and curiosity, they navigate through their fears and make it safely home to join their family in celebrating Halloween festivities. A special Halloween recipe for popcorn balls is revealed, as well as an "I Spy" style illustration, adding a festive touch to this spooky adventure.

Oscar and Otto: Troll Tales and Other Stories from Grandma's Cottage, Betty Cetas, Ugar Kose (illustrator), Windy Sea Publishing - Cetas utilizes humor and suspense to engage children and draw them into the story. The main characters include a troll who enjoys nature and fishing and a fish who is witty and likes to eat. Surprises and unexpected situations enliven the plot. The troll and the fish reveal what is most important in life, as well as the true meaning of kindness and friendship.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Piper Joy and the Grand Old Tree, Kim Scharf, Joyful Sound Books - The author of this lovely picture book uses rhyming words to reveal the wonders of life through the eyes of young Piper Joy. Under a towering old tree in her backyard, Piper discovers life is full of magical things. She finds joy in airplanes passing through the clouds and tree leaves dancing as they fall to the ground. Wonders are all around us if only we'll take the time to see them. The joy spreads as she shares her findings with others.

What Do You Want to Be?, Tara Pionkowski - When a father asks his child what she wants to be when she grows up, she answers straight from the heart. As she shares her dreams and wishes with her father, she hopes for his approval, and he gives the perfect response. It's a story for people who dream of a better future for all and who desire a kinder world. Told in lovely poetic fashion, the daughter's words of wisdom works for children of all ages.

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Middle Reader

The Middle Reader category is aimed toward the pre-teen market, including chapter books.

Winner

Walk with a Stranger, E.E. Kennedy, Ellen Edwards Kennedy - As two men walk down a road after the crucifixion of their friend Jesus, suddenly a third man joins them and begins to speak, sharing deep knowledge of Old Testament. This is a creative retelling of Luke 24:13-32. At first, the men do not recognize that the man with them, but as night begins to fall, they invite the stranger to share dinner with them. As Jesus begins to break bread with the two men, they recognized Him and He disappears from sight. The story ends with the friends discussing how they need to go to Jerusalem to inform their other friends about seeing Jesus resurrected just as prophesied.

First Runner-Up

AnnaGrey and the Constellation (The Laéth Realm Adventures), Lindsay Flanagan, Roan & Weatherford Publishing/Young Dragons - While hiding from a bully, AnnaGrey encounters a magical creature named Iris. Iris asks AnnaGrey to enter her world in order to create a potion that will change Iris into her human form so she can find the Constellation, the true heir. Unfortunately, they both get captured during a rebel plot against the king. In order to save Iris and discover the truth about her own life, AnnaGrey must agree to get the king's long-lost son, her tormentor, to return. The threesome gains allies and enemies, discovers new abilities, and unearths family secrets en route to solving the prophecy.

Honorable Mentions

Bass Reeves: Legendary Lawman of the Wild West (Crossing Time Series Book 5), Billie Holladay Skelley, Crossing Time Press - Bass Reeves was born a slave in 1838, but became one of the most inspirational heroes of the Wild West. As a young boy, people worried that his fascination for guns would transform him into a robber. However, Bass always had a strict moral code and believed in helping others. During the Civil War, he escaped from his master after a fight and hid in Indian Territory, learning many skills from the Creeks and Seminoles. These skills allowed him to become a legendary Deputy U.S. Marshall. Although he still experiences racism due to the laws of the time, he always respected the legal system and the importance of being a responsible citizen. His life has inspired movies, games, and memorials, not to mention other lawmen.

Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm, Kimberly Behre Kenna, Black Rose Writing - Sixth grader Jett Jamison is quiet and creative, mourning the loss of her grandma. She tries her best to organize her life despite the voices in her head, a somewhat chaotic home, and a not quite supportive family. Suffering from guilt, anxiety, and something more sinister, she finds help in a local librarian, an understanding nun, and good friends. On her journey, Jett discovers a book that may help, but learns the town means to censor it. Jett is determined to keep that from happening. Through her fight against book banning, she finds the courage to help herself and others heal from trauma.

The Faithful Dog, Terry Lee Caruthers, Black Rose Writing - Inspired by a true story from a 1862 newspaper article, the author writes the unique Civil War story of Louis Pfeif and his loyal dog, Barchen. Despite his wife's worries, Louis feels compelled to re-enlist in order to defend the country that has given him many opportunities and freedoms. Upon hearing of his master's decision, Barchen is determined to follow Louis and protect him. Barchen proves to be a valuable asset to Louis and his fellow soldiers, even after facing great tragedy. Thoroughly researched, the author includes the newspaper article that inspired the story, as well as telling of his personal connection to the story.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

The Fantastic Fables of Aesop, Rob Crisell, Jamie Nicole Jones (illustrator), Deportola Press - In a retelling of familiar Aesop's fables, Crisell not only revisits the fables in clever poetic form, but reaffirms the moral in a new and fun way. Geared toward children, they are written in an engaging way for all ages. Children will be drawn by the rhythm and rhyme with matching illustrations.

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Poetry

The Poetry category contains poetry or highly stylized prose.

Winner

Anchor, Rebecca Aronson, Orison Books - The poet stands in wonder, in awe even in the midst of life, scanning memories and moments, the people who are gone now. And for some of those, her the mother, there is a kind of slowing down of time against the truly swift flow of time to consider, witness and be. So intense in fact are these moments that it seems the poet exerts great effort to pull out. Therefore, alternately, repeating poems directed at gravity address the immediate, the temporal, the existential dilemma, as much as they seem to bring the poet back to an excruciating present.

First Runner-Up

To The Boy Who Was Night, Rigoberto González, Four Way Books - This is essentially about boys and men; specifically fathers with and without sons, and even more so the latter. The poet confides in us his lifelong regret about not having a son, due in no small part to the messy and complicated relationship he endured with his own father, especially in a culture which places undue emphasis on boys who do and do not develop the uber-masculinity often expected of them. Within the title poem, he imparts "I want to tell you, dear one, that light / doesn't only come from above. It also / Comes from within." Indeed, it's a reflection of the poet's inner strength that as much buoyant light exists in these poems as does, where even imprisonment in another man's heart translates to personal ecstasy as in "Crooked Man."

Honorable Mentions

- 30 -, Dan Silverberg, Conflux Press - This highly refined, beautifully crafted collection moves through California nature, war sites, prison cells—the never ending whole world in turmoil. With uncompromising eyes, the poems exist in a world full of contradictions, pain, and suffering human condition, suggesting the only way to continue is to write poetry and find our own voice. The opening and ending pieces summarize that the life goes on no matter what.

Homelight, Lola Haskins, Charlotte Lit Press - Fierce and tender, uplifting, sometimes disturbing, this poet packs together love and loss. Haskins' writing has been molded by life experiences, travel, and an in-born eye that peers into the depths of all she encounters. "...if this means you have to set fire to your country, do it." from "Bear"—set in Ukraine. For all the poet's ease in giving fleeting images of her world, past and present, her vision is always clear—weathering all the ups and downs, smiles, and scars with eyes wide open.

Live in Suspense, David Groff, Trio House Press - Groff has crafted a lyrical memoir-in-verse that poignantly navigates the early days of the poet's sexual awakening to the AIDS crisis and the horror of watching loved ones waste away as well as the perpetual fear of contracting the ruthless disease. Juxtaposing these memories is the post-crisis world, where young LGBTQ+ people live openly without worry. Of course, everyone must navigate the boundary between life and death. As this collection progresses, the poet is visited by those who've departed, reconciles as much as possible with family members, and envisions a peaceful afterlife infused with compassion and love.

North Wind, Natalli Amato, Kelsay Books - It is the specificity of place, both geographically and within the span of memory, that set this collection apart. It draws us to take up the journey and reflect on one's friends, travels, and travails. There are no words that insist upon themselves, and no images that take the breath away, yet in that simplicity dwells the kind of honesty and clarity that goes missing in more affected work.

Orders of Service - A Fugue, Willie Lee Kinard III, Alice James Books - Fugue has dual meanings: either a melody or phrase within a musical composition, or a psychological loss of awareness of identity as related to one's environment. Kinard employs both while exploring queerness and gender through chorus and hymn. Miles are marked by insects and musicians, the former infused with metamorphosis. A chorus of fireflies returns to re-caption the previous poem while in "Automation" erasure poetry repeats to introduce new identity to a poem about bees. Family becomes "A Tangle of Gorgons," abusive toward the lesbians in the apartment upstairs and the speaker until such behaviors become mirrored, but not without consequence. "Snakes won't stop coming out of my face now," the author writes. This ambitious collection weaves myth, monster, and memory, deconstructing family and self to rebuild in language and song.

Resurrection Letter: Leonora, Her Tarot, and Me, Rikki Santer, Julia Lipovsky (Illustrator), Materialist Press - This meditation on the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington is told through a series of poems and illustrations that correspond to the major arcana of the Tarot. The poems are concerned with dreams, magic, and the potential transformative power of art. The poet considers her life alongside Carrington's life and work. While it is broken into sections, this book is, really, one long poem, framed as a letter to the deceased artist, with the author, essentially, asking for a roadmap to life. It is illustrated in golden yellow with drawings, and the book itself qualifies as an art object, with all elements, the paper, layout, printing, binding, working together to support the work in classic chapbook form.

The Animals of My Earth School, Mildred Kiconco Barya, Terrapin Books - How clearly do we see the world around us? We need to relearn our vision, and for that we need teachers. What better teachers could we find than the creatures we share the world with? Not the usual creatures, but locusts, coccinella, and giant stag beetles. A young herder watches egrets riding a great white-humped bull, but the bull disappears. We delight in wild turkeys and wonder who we'll find in paradise. This collection is filled with surprises and transformations.

The Fight, Jennifer Manthey, Trio House Press - This tightly woven exploration of interracial adoption and motherhood in America ranges from 1864 to present day. Poems in the voice of Varina Davis (the wife of Jefferson Davis who briefly adopted a black boy) are interspersed with poems in the voice of a contemporary woman. The current day speaker adopts a black child from another country, finds the truth "slippery... difficult as history," and worries about the injustices he faces. "Minnesota Nice" deftly critiques social justice fatigue. "Poem I Don't Want to Write" examines the speaker's own complicity in a country that "works the way it was designed." The issues raised are appropriately left unresolved as are the speaker's feelings about the things she is unable to give her adopted son.

The Ledger of Mistakes, Kathy Nelson, Terrapin Books - "Why remember the dead?" forms the opening line to a poetry collection that embraces the writer's lifelong relationship with her mother. Memories of trying times, cherished moments, youth, aging, final hours, and eventual loss—form a vivid landscape to tread across, stop and observe, pause and feel, and relate. This is honest terrain. Perhaps this is why the dead should not be forgotten. They are embedded in us. What they have given us and what they leave for us, we have become. As the poet writes: "gone now / she inhabits me—".

Turbulence & Fluids, karla k. morton, Madville Publishing - Beginning from the perspective of water, these poems delve into dire modern adversities and the belief that humanity can prevail, mesmerized by elements of the natural world. Morton demonstrates tempestuous emotions, between the fiery will to be daring in greatness and the desire for grounded serenity in contemplation. One rages and relishes speaking to all that is humanly possible in embracing the current world, in awe of its ancient earthly wonders. Legend, legacy, and wisdom bear a fearsome and enchanting weight upon the genuine regard for formidable historical ancestral figures. The poet's aspiring course to self-empowerment lies in navigating the adequate waterway from ferocious tides to more gentle open seas embodying kindness, conscience, and admiration.

Whale Aria, Rajiv Mohabir, Four Way Books - The poet excavates his own ineffable, spiritual, and vibrant world through a metaphorically luminous journey into oceanic depths. He weaves the scientific and personal into a cloak of isolation and misunderstanding. What humans disavow, the poems suggest, including the poet's own father, amounts to their tragic disassociation from what is true and holy. Mohabir pays tribute to his misconstrued whale-ness repeatedly—"a wrong catch/ hurl me overboard/ you will hear my strains echo"—noting how small a place has been made for him and others pushed to the outskirts of what is deemed socially acceptable. Mohabir reflects the mystery, beauty, and disorienting power of the sea, pleasuring the reader with sublime verse, then pulling away and careening off the page. Equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring, this forms a fitting testament to the poet and the animal he adopts as metaphor.

What Small Sound, Francesca Bell, Red Hen Press - Bell confronts the trauma lying in the body of America: rape, guns, a 24 hour news cycle, violence, and addiction—all while holding light to the beauties and complexities of motherhood, family life, friendships, and love. She loves even the pain of trauma in the world and our relationships when she writes, "I've loved you/ through even the rub/ of the raw years./ I held my hand steady/ in the water's reassuring scald,/ trying and trying/ to save you." Bell remains open and fearless even after loss and brokenness, after bullets from mass shooters, or the pain of fractured memory. "...the empty that exists, when something has been taken" is still something we can own and touch. Bell invokes the small sounds of this world, opens them into a symphony of comforts, unpredictable tragedies, and everything in between.

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Young Adult

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

Winner

Under the Pawpaw Trees, Cheryl King, Purple Marble Press - Sixteen year old June's brother, Joseph "Josy," has been beaten to death while riding the rails looking for work. Soon, June's father commits suicide, and her mother dies. Having lost everything, she must find where she fits in an unfamiliar world. When tragedy strikes again, she turns her anger on Paul Burnett, known as the "railroad bull," who may have played a part in her brother's untimely death. June is bent on murdering Paul. This vengeful, dangerous journey takes her from Tennessee to Virginia during the Great Depression era, where she learns the truth about her brother's death. Now, she must plot a new course for her life.

First Runner-Up

Aqueous, Jade Shyback, Xeno Books - Marisol Blaise was rescued as a child to grow up in a sophisticated, underwater station deep in the Pacific Ocean, a structure that sustains the last gasp of humanity and its technological achievements. The aboveworld is a scorched ruin, and only a few thousand humans—all living beneath the oceans—still exist, or so she's told. Marisol, about to be assigned her lifelong career at the station, has worked hard to become one of the elite divers of a team called the Cuviers, so far comprised entirely of men. She's the adopted daughter of the station's leader, and it seems she will get her wish, but darker forces conspire against her, both on the station and above on dry land.

Honorable Mentions

Gemja - The Message, K.M. Messina, Nataliia Pavliuk (illustrator), Lunalore Books - A jeweled forest with a ghostly girl, a glowing gemstone, and unexpected twists and turns await Resa Stone, an introverted insomniac. Resa's sleepless nights feature mysterious dreams with Nitika, an unexpected messenger who repeatedly assures Resa, "You are the one." Puzzled by Nikita's insistence that she is the chosen one, Resa must determine what this potential role entails. She embarks on a mysterious journey with help—and sometimes betrayal—from characters such as her twin brother, as well as her friends and a surprising romantic interest. In this captivating tale, a curious teenage witch quests for the truth about Gemja, a crystalline paradise.

The Airs of an Heir, Stephanie Lane - At seven years old, Anna moves from London to the city of Valray, home to the rulers of the country of Antares, where her father is assigned a diplomatic role. Known to have mystical and mysterious energy throughout the county, Anna is immediately enthralled with this new land and its customs. Due to her father's role with the royal family, Anna has direct access to the ruling family and immediately gravitates toward the young Royal Family children. As she gets closer, she begins to understand the customs and magic of Antares better, specifically how it has manifested in the Montaire family. Though Anna and her parents move back to London at the end of her father's tour, Anna remains close with the Montaire family, learning just how intertwined her life has become with the royals.

The Golden Needle, T.J. Carroll - Adventure, intrigue, magic, and danger are the threads that weave this story. Dashi, grief stricken over the death of her friends, finds herself a pawn in the search for a magical item that when wielded can be the source of power and havoc. Along her perilous journey, she must reconnect with her sister who is so different from herself. An exciting tale of magic and daring sewn with the message of familial importance and the art of being selfless. From the opening page to the last, we are swept up in the journey.

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Commercial Fiction

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

Winner

The Palisades, Gail Lynn Hanson, Slippery Fish Press - Unfulfilled wants exacerbate the main two characters' flaws—Ruth toward sociopathic evil and Dorothy with deteriorating mental capacity. Dorothy, 83, lives in a high class neighborhood near Hollywood, thanks to her deceased husband's family wealth. She employs Ruth as a caretaker who has had designs on Dorothy's lifestyle because of a past connection that Dorothy only vaguely suspects. While the two carry on leading what seems like ordinary lives, Dorothy harbors a close connection to movie stars of yesteryear, and beneath it all, lies an intriguing darker side that fuels the story. From there, the plot of an ordinary novel of a time and place increasingly evolves into a psychological thriller.

First Runner-Up

Everybody Here Is Kin, BettyJoyce Nash, Madville Publishing - Lucille is on the brink of fourteen. Her mother, Naomi, is on the brink of a meltdown unless she has booze and pills. Lucille should be snorkeling in Key West with her two younger siblings, as promised, instead of ending up on Bone Island, Georgia, so her mom can hook up with Tom, a high school flame. In a shabby motor lodge, Lucille tends to her two younger siblings and her father in an urn. Naomi left a note and $75 before flouncing off with Tom to another island. After days pass, Lucille is forced to accept the kindness of the motel manager, Will, a young veteran with the war-weary demeanor of an old man. When a storm hits, Will and an eccentric group of islanders teach Lucille that blood doesn't define family and sometimes the most dependable people are the ones who aren't obligated.

Honorable Mentions

Controlled Flight, Mike Van Horn - Smithson, a super-hacker obsessed with video game violence, decides to make the leap into the real world as the orchestrator of a twisted, fatal scenario that forms a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Paul Hull, a former Air Force Combat Controller who has seen his share of harrowing combat operations is now medically retired after a serious injury, but pulled into Smithson's depraved game when their paths cross at the birthplace of aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright in Indiana. What follows is a thrilling three-day contest where the rules are simple: outwit your adversary or suffer fatal consequences. As Paul leverages his elite training, the playing field moves to various historic sites associated with the Wright Brothers. It's good versus evil within a backdrop of aviation's origin and history.

Glory Grove, Gary Bye, Granite Point Publishing - A stunning debut novel that showcases the lives of a multi-generational ensemble cast of small-town residents in a rural community where football reigns supreme. Brock Gallagher is a man who forfeits coaching a successful football dynasty in Seattle and strains his marriage by moving back to his childhood farm to care for his ailing mother. With the resignation of the current coach, the community rallies for Brock to head up the rookie team of Glory Grove, his alma mater. Brock runs into his high school love, now married to his old nemesis, who isn't happy to see him back. He has to navigate the challenges of interpersonal conflicts with players' parents and school administration while encouraging young ballplayers. At the same, he tried not to alienate his wife, before going headlong into the football playoffs.

The Stories We Cannot Tell, Leslie A. Rasmussen, TouchPoint Press - Rasmussen explores the intertwined lives of two women brought together by the shared experience of pregnancy and its heartbreaking derailment. One woman is overjoyed at the prospect of motherhood after years of longing. The other woman at first rejects her surprise pregnancy before embracing it. An unlikely friendship develops. As the pregnancies unfold, a looming sense of dread builds toward the inevitable loss and the notion that neither woman is destined to become a mother this time. The novel's final chapters confront the heartbreak head-on, while delivering an unexpected parting gift through an interesting plot twist. This is a powerfully moving exploration of loss, resilience, and the bonds forged between strangers.

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General Fiction

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

Winner

Magdalena, Candi Sary, Regal House Publishing - Sam's Town, like similar small towns, had its share of stories―founding fathers, heroes, etc. But Sam's Town was different. Those who lived there and died there remained as ghosts; that is, until the town's priest did an exorcism. Dottie, who loyally visits her comatose husband, meets Benjamin, but is he real or just a ghost. And then there is the wheelchair-bound Centenarian who knows much too much about Dottie. Add to this hodgepodge of characters a cranky neighbor and her beautiful but strange fifteen-year-old granddaughter, a strange gift basket of lemons, and an old Ouija Board. Dottie with the help of her neighbor's granddaughter uses the Board to locate the very much missed Benjamin.

First Runner-Up

Man, Underground, Mark Hummel, Regal House Publishing - A man who has willingly removed himself from society by building and living in a home underground is befriended by a teenage girl who rcognizes a bit of herself in him. Monika is determined to defend both his home and his perceived loneliness from the oppressive city council. The book deals with themes of contending with self isolation and loneliness through the formation of an unlikely friendship between two people who have a lot more in common than they first realize. Through sharp and quip-filled dialogue the reader can't help but find themselves rooting for the gruff narrator.

Honorable Mentions

A History of Silence, Cynthia J. Bogard, Atmosphere Press - The story takes place in a small Southern town with a second rate university and follows the stories of four women and their interactions with one man. Beginning with the murder of this man, the story works backward to shed light on the lives and motives of all four women. Bogard skillfully weaves these lives with the history of the man's family and their secrets. Universal themes of prejudice, trauma, and psychological scars emerge throughout. What is a deeply held secret if not a veil for shame?

A Persistent Echo, Brian Kaufman, Black Rose Writing - In 1897, August Simms, a well-traveled explorer, decides to go on one last adventure before he dies. He chooses Rhome, Texas, a place he visited many years before with his wife. He is fascinated by the number of UFO sightings reported in the area and wants to solve the mystery, secretly wishing for a ride in one. Instead, he is drawn inexplicably into the past, a past that includes a murder, a lynching, and the death of his wife. August visits old friends and makes new ones that love and support him in his last hours.

Crazy Mountain, Elise Atchison, Sowilo Press / Hidden River Arts - Hermits, environmentalists, artists, land developers, a movie star, and the residents of subdivisions, who live on streets named for vegetation that has been bulldozed for housing developments, form the interrelated stories of Crazy Mountain. As a wealthy resort threatens the remaining land, the history of Crazy Mountain through the decades unfolds. Kate, a seemingly wild and unfathomable woman, is the thread running through the generations. An object of scorn and admiration, she can't shake what happened when she was five. Despite tensions and greed, characters create connections with each other and, for some, new lives. The author deftly allows Mother Nature to provide revenge against the developers and a maybe even a new life for the land and those who appreciate it.

Mauna Kea: A Novel of Hawaii, Tom Peek, All Night Books - A man haunted by his past finds himself and salvation on the most sacred volcano in Hawaii. Within this haunting and beautiful setting, a cast of compelling characters fleshes out the story. Much of the story is unearthed through the main character's "mysterious past." Can he be renewed and go forward in time?

Steady Diet of Nothing, Cynthia Cruz, Four Way Books - This sparsely worded and emotionally explosive novel reveals homeless teenager Candy and her searing, burning, and eye-watering life. While the outside world worships materialism and dismisses Candy's existence, she attempts to find structure and "family," but sinks deeper into the abyss. Who or what will save her? The author's spare and poetic prose pushes onward with the hope of salvation, or perhaps something worse.

The Cannibal's Guide to Fasting, Dana Hammer, Cinnabar Moth - Hammer envisions a futuristic world in which cannibals have become a normalized part of society that are managed and controlled with alternative laws applicable to them. In the face of discrimination, a group of cannibals, led by the main character's brother, rebel and begin asserting their rights. The main character, Ivan—a cannibal with heart—stands between mayhem and order. The author creates a fascinating, humorous, and terrifying landscape in which we root for the fair treatment of cannibals and sympathize with the main character learning to love and live.

The Sea Turtle, Greg M. Dodd, Rolos Tuesday Publishing- A young boy, under deep resentment, is sent to live for the summer by the sea with his aunt and uncle. He believes his parents are trying to get rid of him. He tries to say and do things that will get him sent home, and then he meets a friend who helps him shed his anger. Throughout the summer, he learns to let go, the value of true friendship, the necessity of helping others, that one shoe does not fit all, and his true value and importance.

Water Music, Marcia Peck, Sea Crow Press - Lily Grainger is twelve, and together with her younger sister Dodie and Uncle George's daughter, Nicole, is ready to face the world. But like the rising wind speeds on the Beaufort wind scale, adults have a way of fouling things up. Lily's father is completing his dissertation and money is tight, while he illogically attempts to outshine his brother George in cottage building. Uncle George is not only mean-spirited and competitive, but brings his extra-marital partner Gloria home forcing his wife Fanny to adapt. Fanny goes mad instead, like a Hurricane unleashed. Both a coming of age story and a description of life on Cape Cod in the mid-twentieth century, this work is filled with sound and imagery drawn expertly with language.

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Historical Fiction

The Historical Fiction category contains historical fiction books.

Winner

The Map Colorist, Rebecca D'Harlingue, She Writes Press - In 17th Century Amsterdam, young Anneke van Brug works with her mother as a map colorist. An exceptional talent, she longs to draw maps of her own, taking after her father. Given an opportunity to work on the private collection of one of the most prestigious map collectors in the city, Anneke embraces the chance to grow her talents and her patronage. But she soon learns that her aspirations inadvertently embroil her in the deceptions of hidden family histories, adultery, and more. The author creates a compelling story of art, ambition, and family drama, with 1660s Amsterdam and its fame for map-making as a vibrant backdrop of the book.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

First Runner-Up

The Stone Cutter, Brock Meier, Blue Sevens Publishing - Nahor, a young man forsaken by his family, travels the world and explores every powerful emotion accessible to man in his quest for Shamir, a mystical object. Nahor experiences great love and loss at every turn, yet he persists. The reader is with him every step of the way. The power of the human soul to preserve and the powerful depiction of place and spiritualism drive the story forward and reveal not only what Nahor can endure but also how humanity as a whole must look within itself for survival.

Honorable Mentions

1871: Rivers on Fire, Paul Buchheit - Amid all of the hardship during 9th century Chicago, no one expected to live through a fire that spread throughout the city. However, that is not the only major fire. To the north and west in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, another great fire brings great peril. The inhabitants also fight for their lives, but many fall. Two young scientists, who came to America to advance their brain theory, fall in love. Liz and Robert struggle through the devastating destruction and vow to remain together even as their world comes to an end.

On the Wings of the Red-Tailed Hawk, Gail Combs Oglesby, MotownGirl Publishing - We span the lifetime of one women and her fight to make a happy home for her children and grandchildren despite the perils of a new land. Sarah moves from trust in God to waning faith, as she becomes twice a widow and is forced to accept the loss of children and grandchildren. With skill, Oglesby brings us to the very place the Puritans landed to create a new home free from religious persecution. Sarah's life is a roller coaster ride of love, loss, struggle, and achievement.

The Unstoppable Eliza Haycraft, Diana Dempsey, Bramerton Press - What gives a young rural Missouri woman in the 1840's the courage to flea her abusive husband? Family and society at the time would view twenty-four-year-old Eliza Haycraft’s decision to do just that as horrifying, but when Eliza sets off by canoe in the night and eventually made her way to St. Louis, she has no regrets. She quickly realizes that a young woman with no family, no reading skills, and no means of support is destined to become a prostitute, a terrible life with few options for a change of fate. This is the fascinating story of how Eliza becomes an infamous madam, a wily businesswoman, and an unlikely but generous philanthropist. The author uses historical facts as the framework while creating a compelling tale about a remarkable woman and the fascinating array of people involved in her life.

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Mystery/Crime

The Mystery Crime category contains mystery, crime, and true crime books.

Winner

Malice Aforethought, Avree Kelly Clark, Novanglian Press - A true crime story that has inspired dozens of podcasts, hundreds of articles, and much speculation, this book tells the story of two gruesome murders in late 1800's New England. One victim was a school teacher from St. Albans, Vermont, and the other, a schoolgirl from Pembroke, New Hampshire. Following the arrest of innocent parties in Pembroke, a French-Canadian woodcutter, Joseph LePage, was eventually tried and found guilty for the murder of 17-year-old Josie Langmaid. Scheduled for death by hanging just one day after the verdict was rendered, LePage confessed in ghastly detail to both murders. After years of research, Clark concludes with a fresh theory never before considered.

First Runner-Up

Call Me Sonny: A Bryce Chandler Crime Thriller, Steve Lazarus, Boyle & Dalton - Conway is an inmate in ADMAX, the country's only federal super max prison, and a founder of the nefarious Network. After Conway's attorney visits, Conway gives him a list of assignments, and then goes back to his cell and commits suicide. Soon, people from Conway's past begin meeting untimely deaths. In the Florida Keys, Bryce Chandler, a retired FBI agent turned private investigator, uses his skills from his former occupation to track down the Network on the dark web. Chandler simultaneously tracks an adulterous husband in what should be a nondescript divorce of an influential couple, but takes a deep dive into criminal activity that intersects with the Network.

Honorable Mentions

Bloodlines & Fencelines, D.L.S. Evatt, September Pages - The central setting, a small Texas country town, feels like a place you've visited many times with residents you won't soon forget. Death is added to the mix, when a prominent woman is murdered. Sheriff Osborne is challenged by this cast of characters, many forming viable suspects. There's plenty of humor mixed in this tale of murder and revenge.

Lacey's Star: A Lady Pilot-In-Command Novel, Kay DiBianca, Wordstar Publishing - Cassie, a young female pilot, prefers flying high above the masses, alone and away from the messy world of people below. She struggles to trust others, based upon prior disappointments. Her beloved Uncle, a large and peaceful man, favoring his relationships with his horses over people, has been attacked at his farm, nearly losing his life. Cassie must now team up with several strangers, all struggling with their own fears and trust of others, to unravel a mystery of three deaths in a small rural town and prevent a fourth death, her uncle. Each member brings a special skill to this team of misfits, all critical to unraveling small obscure clues, easy to miss to a less trained eye. Resolution and redemption come when people take risks and trust in themselves.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Womb for Rent, LJ Smith, AuthorHouse - Wanting to do something right for once, Carrie Sansone decides to act as a surrogate for an unlikable but wealthy couple with financial ties to a major fertility clinic. Vicky, the prospective mother, is creepy and controlling, and her husband Ken doesn't seem to even want a baby. Carrie's only ally at the clinic is Laura, a former high school acquaintance, but Laura's sudden interest after all these years is definitely suspicious. Carrie soon discovers she is pregnant with two babies, one of whom belongs to her and her boyfriend, Jason. Vicky's baby greed increases, as does her unhealthy obsession with knowing where Carrie is at all times. When Laura asks for Carrie's help in investigating irregularities at the clinic, Carrie is happy to agree, hoping to shrug off Vicky. However, this comes with consequences.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

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Romance

The Romance category contains romance books.

Winner

Sapphires in Snow: Buffalo Springs, Book Three, Amy Schisler - In a small town in Arkansas, the Nelson siblings arrive to help their aging parents. Jackson Nelson returned home after completing college. He is determined to leave quickly, until he realizes how much he loves his family and then he meets Cindy Kline. Cindy is visiting the Nelson home to spend Christmas. Cindy has never had a real family. Her first love was killed before their wedding. Needing to heal, she experiences love and joy with the Nelsons. When her life comes in danger, people gather to protect her, including the new love of her life, Jackson, as well as her birth father. This restores her hope for the future, illustrating the love of family, God, and between people.

First Runner-Up

Losing My Breath, J Rose Black, Black Label Press - Callan and Meridian are brought together in the same Chicago apartment building. Callan's distrusting personality is eventually exposed by Meridian, as their lives intersect as neighbors. The pull of their attraction intensifies. She wants nothing more than for him to open up emotionally, and he wants nothing more than to feel loved like he hasn't felt in years. When Meridian becomes pregnant, ex-marine Callan is forced to either confront his PTSD and grow or flee the beautiful life within his grasp.

Honorable Mentions

Love Deleted, Paul Indigo, Random Word Media - In this sci-fi romance, Cooper is presented with an experimental treatment that will erase a pivotal moment in her life. Told in alternating narratives by Cooper and the doctor interviewing her for the procedure, the story unfolds toward the truth of what exactly Cooper did and how it allowed her a second chance at love. However, an easy fix can't change the truth and how it affects those we love the most. How far will she go to forget a horrible action by one she loves and is committed to?

When I See You Again, Christine Anthony, BookBaby - Allie Cunningham is beginning a new life following a devastating divorce. Allie decides to take a road trip to where her deceased parents fell in love. Through a series of events, Allie allows composer, Lucien Dukaine, to accompany her. In Haunted Harbor, Maine. Allie decides to purchase an abandoned and possibly haunted cottage, and soon she discovers that she is not alone and in danger. Lucien decides to remain to help protect her, but will Allie and Lucien's budding love survive the mystery? Is the cottage truly haunted? This is a story about love, the love between two people, and the never ending love between parent and child.

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Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Sci-Fi Fiction category contains science fiction books.

Winner

Unleashed, Amber Kirkpatrick, Quill and Flame Publishing House - The Changed and the Non-Gifted square off in this realistic tale. The Changed are feared by normal humans, the Non-Gifted, for the power and strength they possess thanks to a major world event. The Hunters are determined to take out those who were changed, no matter age or gender. Though we may not know what it feels like to have superhuman powers like Fenris and the other gifted people, we all know what it feels like to overcome a hardship that consumes you. The book has an X-men meets fairy-tale-land vibe, but the biggest plot deals with the romance between Fenris, a coffee-loving grouch, and Sara, a woman who doesn't fit into any mold yet determined to get under his skin. When they team together in hope of protecting those who are hunted, they find a love that is stronger than their fear.

First Runner-Up

Rock Gods & Messy Monsters, Diane Hatz, Whole Healthy Group - A masterly created satire of the modern-day patriarchal workplace. Following the exploits of a low-level employee at a prestigious record label where staff must physically remove their brains at the start of each shift, a universal truth emerges: contracts, copyrights, and royalties follow paper trails rather than talent, and society places job emphasis on the absurd rather than discernible practical talent. In this world, politics trumps skills in the workplace.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Honorable Mentions

Enhanced, Candace Kade, Enclave Publishing - Urban leads a dangerous life. She dares to enjoy the life of the fabulously wealthy in Metropolis, a life reserved for the Enhanced. Her Natural status is protected, a strictly guarded secret could socially ruin the entire family if discovered. Urban plans to do more in life than follow her parents' strict regime. Going to Peking University means breaking away from her parents and learning to live on her own. It also means participating in underground motorbike races, extremely difficult classes, finding time to meet with her secret boyfriend, and somehow staying hidden from Ming Angel, the hacker who knows Urban's Natural Status.

Uncommon Scents, Bruce Berls & Jim Rowson - In the year 2053, the world is full of augmented reality. Implants have allowed the population to change how others see them and change their surroundings into anything thing they desire to see them as, so much so that the population's sense of reality is slipping. When the main character, Spiro, gets involved in a project to take augmented reality one step farther, he's excited at the idea… until he discovers his computer code might be headed for less than stellar uses. This tale of AR tech espionage raises concerns about the nature of virtual reality and digital entertainment.

Wings and Wounds: The Dragon Doc Tales, Book 1, Dr. S. K. Burkman, J.M.Burkman (illustrator), Snapdragon Publishing - Most children at some point may want to grow up to be a veterinarian, but would that child treat animals like Pegasi, unicorns, griffons, or even dragons? So very little is known of their physiology. How would you treat their sniffles or a cracked tooth? What about scale mites, an eye infection, torn wing? Here, we have a veterinarian determined to ensure her new clients get the best possible care she can provide, even if it means putting up with bad attitudes, being bitten, or having to brave the occasional fireball.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

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Short Story/Anthology

The Short Story/Anthology category contains short story collections and anthologies.

Winner

Limitless: How 27 Impact-Driven Leaders Broke Free of Their Pasts and Claimed Their Power to Shape the Future, Alok Appadurai, WorldChangers Media - These real-life stories from extraordinary leaders, businessmen, and revolutionary change-makers inspires understanding and fortitude, challenging us to pause, ask hard questions, and follow through with meaningful changes. In a world where so many quietly give up and simply settle for less, this accounting invokes daring and wisdom toward positive change. Choose to put some fire, inspiration, and momentum behind your goals and dreams, and then claim the reality you have been longing for.

First Runner-Up

Immigrants, D. Dina Friedman, Creators Publishing - This collection spans immigrants to the United States, from both recent and previous generations, from a young woman from China estranged by adoption in America to the grandfather whose Holocaust history is discovered by his alienated granddaughter only after his death. A woman tells her mother cheerful lies to endure her beloved husband's loss after his deportation and her sister's existence as a drug addict living in the subway tunnels of New York City. Losing hope of being granted asylum, a mother sends her six-year-old girl over the bridge to the United States—alone. A middle-aged couple from New York flee to Canada fearing retribution for their activism in defense of democracy. Each compelling story characterizes the struggle to redefine a sense of place in a changing world.

Honorable Mentions

Resurrection City, Catherine Browder, Willow Springs Books - Following the stories of those affected by the Fukushima natural and nuclear disasters, nine stories dig deep into the lives of survivors, creating a rich narrative of survival from not just one, but three, disasters at the same time. One story follows a doctor and her team as they walk the thin line between helping and becoming victims themselves, dealing with radiation poisoning but still returning to feed animals and visit those who remain in the nuclear exclusion zone. Challenges, frustrations, and ultimately hope shine through in these pages.

While It Lasts, Scott Nadelson, Columbus State University Press - The familiar connection between the characters and readers is the very profound and ever-present struggle to reach that next achievement, that next summit, that next spark of life. This innate human desire spans generations, ethnicities, ages, geographical boundaries, and perspectives of every kind. Time is running out. Even when we know how everything around us, and even life itself, is so very fleeting, the struggle yet remains.

You Cannot Forbid the Flower, Elizabeth Lukács Chesla, Tolsun Books - The book is a revealing and haunting account of the politics of the brutal post-war occupation of Hungary, the valor of ordinary people insisting on self-determination, the generational legacy of violence, and the bittersweet flowering of discovery. In linked fictions and excerpts from historical documents, a daughter searches for the truth of her enigmatic father: his experience as a rebel in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and his later life as a refugee in the United States. Memories of the author's brief time with her father—as a child before her parents divorced and through her adolescence and adulthood struggling to understand him as an alcoholic dying of cancer—contrast with riveting reimagined scenes of his youth and his role in the revolution as well as actual contemporary accounts.

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Spiritual Fiction

The Spiritual Fiction category contains book within the religious and spiritial genres.

Winner

The Once Upon a Time of Now: Mythic Adventures, Discoveries & Meditations in the Forest of Consciousness, Hope West - Set in Canada, Agnes stumbles upon a magical adventure when a balloon reveals a hidden map, with her loyal stuffed toy elephant, "G," by her side. Transported to a fantastical realm, Agnes and G encounter a delightful ensemble of characters, including a spider, snake, and monkey—all united on a quest to uncover the Lost Temple. They share tales and learn invaluable lessons about empathy, mindfulness, and the importance of embracing one's emotions. Infused with inspiration from Hindu mythology, the tale gracefully explores profound spiritual concepts in a light and engaging manner, enveloping readers in a world of wonder and discovery.

First Runner-Up

Until the Rising: Book 1 of the Aquila Chronicles, Amber Kirkpatrick - Over one thousand years in the future, the world has regressed into a medieval era where survival is determined by the sword. Kingdoms teeter on the edge of destruction due to constant warfare and internal power struggles. Believing his family is deceased, Tristan leaves the Shadowlands to find his last living relative, only to discover his brothers and father are still alive living in the kingdom of Aquila. Tristan's only desire is to have a peaceful home and a loving family, but as he matures, he heads into war against the Sammanon, discovering his true self worth. Beneath the constant threat of war, can he return to Aquila to marry his childhood sweetheart Princess Christiana?

Honorable Mentions

Brooke & Zelda, Journal One: The Labyrinth, Brian W. Donnelly, Mythographers Workshop - Brooke is a young girl, ten years younger than her sister Lina. In Brooke's mind, as well as her parents' outlook, Lina is perfect in every way: beautiful, sophisticated, composed, a straight A student. Brooke is pretty much the opposite. She feels she can't keep up with Lina and is frustrated and angry about it. When the day comes for Lina to go away to college, Brooke has one task while her parents pack up the car for Lina's trip: to watch Zelda, the family's beloved and mischievous dog. Zelda has other ideas and takes off into the forest with Brooke in pursuit. Together they traverse a spiritual labyrinth that teaches Brooke a lesson everyone can embrace for more peaceful and harmonious relationships.

Notes on the Next Life, Gwen Chavarria - Belinda Macomber Bering is an innocent young woman who encounters life's situations with spiritual integrity, even when those she meets do not reciprocate. Whether it be romance, marriage, parenthood, career, religion or politics, she discovers that appearances are usually deceiving. In each situation, Belinda always has the option to take the easy way out, which so many of the people she meets do. As she considers, which way to go in each circumstance, she weighs her options objectively and without malice or judgment. Each decision she makes is tailored to her own spiritual disposition and her big picture view of life. In the afterlife, each of her decisions reaps its consequences.

Woman of Valor, Lynne Golodner, Scotia Road Books - Sally Sterling, a budding journalist, is heartbroken when her relationship with her college sweetheart, John Hogan, suddenly ends. She enters Skokie's Orthodox Jewish community for work. Sally, whose mother is Jewish, approaches the assignment with curiosity. There she is warmly welcomed by the Orthodox Jewish community. Reconnecting with her Jewish Heritage, Sally meets her husband, Barry Lieberman. Although both Sally and Barry are outraged when they discover their eldest son had been abused, they clash over the best course of action. Sally reconnects with John Hogan through an online forum, seeking solace in his emails. During a late-night run along Lake Michigan, things escalate between them, leading to a moment of weakness. Deciding to fight for her family, Sally confesses her infidelity. Will her husband forgive her and continue on?

Year of Our Lord: What Would Jesus Do?, David Heeren, Urlink Print & Media - Take a journey that follows the lives of several people who make a commitment to do what Jesus would have done in the many circumstances over the course of one year. As we travel within the lives of these people, they do not have it easy living as Jesus would have done, encountering everything from weather to jail to loneliness, to blatant deceit and lies. We’re left with the feeling that this is actually the life of Christ and the crucifixion he faced while standing for justice and peace.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

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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

Work Jerks: How To Cope with Difficult Bosses and Colleagues, Louise Carnachan, She Writes Press - Work jerks are those people who engage in "consistently annoying action over a sustained period of time." Opening with a clear guide on utilizing the book's contents effectively, it ldesigns a plan for tackling the challenges presented by nine types of jerks, from the narcissist and the know-it-all to the poor-me. Each jerk gets their own chapter, as well as techniques for managing them that include worksheets with confrontation and reconciliation strategies. However, don't skip the self-reflection section. Perhaps you might exhibit jerk-like behaviors, too.

First Runner-Up

Wall Street Lessons: Overcoming Fear, Greed, and Being Your Own Worst Enemy, James E. Demmert, New Insights Press - With a pleasant font and layout, quality paper and binding, and the appropriate amount of graphs and illustrations, Demmert begins with a roadmap-like prologue that directs this focused and well-written tome. He wants you to leave behind an emotional, failing mindset and enter a more discrete and logical approach through a set of principles first clarify and then achieve your goals. By the final page, potential investors feel well-informed and armed for "the street."

Honorable Mentions

Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win–and How to Design Them, Ben Guttmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers - Begin with a well-credentialed academic who can focus a message on marketing, add a fascinating topic about simplifying messages inside a professionally designed and executed publication, and you'll create a book that embodies the message of simplicity in every aspect. Guttman employs a clear voice, simple graphics, a short, sweet, and intriguing presentation, as well as a well researched but not overly cited content. This publisher and author clearly had the perfect reader in mind.

The Culture of Burnout: Why Your Exhaustion in Not Your Fault, Kristen Donnelly, PhD & Erin Hinson, PhD, Kardia Writing and Publishing - Most professionals have experienced some level of burnout. It could be the result of impossible deadlines, unusually complex tasks, or a demanding boss who keeps advancing the goal line. The effects of burnout can be physically and mentally debilitating, but there are ways to manage the stressors that lead to burnout. The authors offer several practical tools for moving closer to a culture of balance. Among the most important points are learning the correct coping and thriving skills; understanding empathy; setting and maintaining boundaries at work; and the importance of rest, rejuvenation, realignment, and reconnection. A companion workbook is available.

To Be the Best by Any Measure: Creating and Sustaining a High-Performance Organization, Pat Magee and Marie F. Jones, Torchflame Books - The authors present a step-by-step formula to breathe new life into struggling businesses and nonprofit organizations of any size. Any well meaning business can stagnate and begin to fail. Focusing on organizational culture, ongoing leadership development, and comprehensive strategic planning as key elements, learn how to assess and adjust current business practices to achieve maximum potential, while balancing a long-term view with a strong emphasis on people. Occasionally with humor, Magee recounts his career journey and provides engaging tools, including steps so that everyone involved in an organization understands the overarching goals and how they can individually contribute to the vision.

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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

Exhibitions: Essays on Art and Atrocity, Jehanne Dubrow, University of New Mexico Press - Dubrow is the daughter of U.S. diplomats, and so her childhood was spent living in places such as the Congo, Yugoslavia, and Zaire. As an adult, she came to see that art and beauty often arise from barbarism and brutality, evoking memories of events in provocative ways. Many of these essays juxtapose horrific events with exhibits in museums all over the world, all wrapped in beautifully written language forming evocative snapshots carrying more weight than the image itself: "I was poisoned into life...", "Each time we arrived in a country, we discovered something had broken in transit...", and "...what I worry about most is a mouthful of emptiness."

First Runner-Up

To a High Court: Five Bold Law Students Challenge Corporate Greed and Change the Law, Neil Thomas Proto, FriesenPress - Taking a case to the Supreme Court while currently a law student seems a daunting task. However, this author does just that along with four other scholars. The reader follows along as witness to the inner workings of simultaneously preparing for court and learning laws and procedures while juggling law school, part-time employment, and their personal lives. The author and his colleagues battle against skilled and experienced lawyers for the Interstate Commerce Commission in the 1970s. The use of dialogue, thoughts, and ordinary language provides a sense of a compelling novel as opposed to the legalese jargon that often alienates.

Honorable Mentions

American Carnage: Carnage: Shattering The Myths That Fuel Gun Violence, Fred Guttenberg and Thomas Gabor, Mango Publishing Group - The controversial issues of gun violence, gun control, and the Second Amendment are discussed. The two authors, a criminologist and a father whose daughter was killed in the Parkland School shooting, present their expertise and experience, succinctly addressing thirty-seven myths around gun violence. This well-researched book is helpful in understanding this pervasive public safety event. A resource appendix helps round out the discussion aimed at reducing the incidents of gun-based deaths in America.

The Golden Ticket: A Life in College Admissions Essay, Irena Smith, She Writes Press - "This is a book about lofty expectations - and about the consequences of those expectations," writes Smith. Born in the former Soviet Union, she has a PhD in comparative literature and is a former Stanford admissions office. She now works in admissions with anxious and competitive high school students at a private college in California. Many of these students are immigrants, who "will stop at nothing [to be admitted.]" The book is a series of her responses to college application essay questions. She decides to answer the questions herself to see how useful and weighted they are. Simultaneously, she describes the arc of her own life and career.

The Unique Women of the Venetian Empire, Connie Spenuzza, M.S. Ed., Libros Publishing - Through fifty years of research, Spenuzza was driven by a supreme spirit of inquiry to evoke apparitions of women in a time that lacked easy-to-find threads of life and accomplishment. Her biannually voyages became pilgrimages to beauty, art, and history. A wealth of colorful oiled portraits reveals singers, painters, voices, operas, children, fame, and the words used menacingly in marginalize them.

We of Little Faith: Why I Stopped Pretending to Believe (and Maybe You Should Too), Kate Cohen, Godine - What if you care about culture and tradition, but do not believe in God? Journalist Cohen discusses the important values that come with religion and then removes the central deity. This is a personal and political story, accounting ways to stay close to identity and perhaps the world that was created while rejecting the very notion of a creator. Each generation believes that it has invented a more evolved way of thinking, but atheist philosophies have emerged throughout history. It is a conversation for the modern world and the humanists therein, which will always be at odds with godliness. Ironically it's the type of open dialogue anticipated by the prophets of old.

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Health

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

Winner

Living with Inattentive ADH: Climbing the Circular Staircase of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Cynthia Hammer, MSW, Hatherleigh Press - Hammer delivers poignantly personal and lifelong experiences of living with and finally being diagnosed with ADHD at the age of forty-nine. The symptoms of "disorganization, impulsivity, procrastination, distraction, and forgetfulness" impact her life in both minor and tragic ways. Through sometimes humorous stories, she discovers that by integrating purposeful step-by-step strategies one can thrive. Also discussed are the practical aspects of being diagnosed and the myths and facts of common symptoms and treatments. Parenting a child with ADHD requires specific strategies for living, and the author's advice will be valuable to anyone who lives with ADHD.

First Runner-Up

Which Treatment is Best? Spoof or Proof, Teddy Bader, M.D., CRC Press - The selection of the optimal treatment for medical conditions has for centuries relied on the customs, anecdotes, and personal preferences of those providing care, along with a bit of science occasionally contributing. Today we believe we have established more sound therapeutic principles, yet many of the principles are obscure to patients and even to physicians. This volume examines the history of how "best practices" going back to ancient Egypt and proceeding through the modern era.

Honorable Mentions

Keenagers: Telling a New Story about Aging, Corinne Auman, New Degree Press - The definition of being elderly is debated through various examples of older adults who are active and thriving in work, family management, philanthropy, and retirement. It is time to reconstruct the term elderly and consider a new generation of Keenagers. With older adults living longer, the author challenges that we should all reconsider the myths and assumed norms of aging. As we enter the years typically defined as elderly, we should embrace the possibilities with eagerness and not be afraid to choose a path other than expected retirement, which may redefine our final years to a higher degree of satisfaction.

Life Studies in Psychoanalysis: Faces of Love, AhronFriedberg, M.D. with Sandra Sherman, Routledge - This slim volume consists of four case studies of patients treated by Dr. Friedberg. Each person comes to him because of problems with sexuality, obsession, desire, fantasy, and related issues that contribute to dysfunction. Treatment is complicated. Duration of therapy is long. Advances are made, but relapses occur. Transference—the redirection of feelings to another—develops, an obstacle that must be overcome. All individuals are regarded with compassion and a commitment to achieve a positive outcome. Although this is written primarily for the psychotherapeutic community, the layperson will find the language and the analytic process understandable, as well as empathize with the doctor and his patients.

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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

Adoption Joys 2: Dads Make a Difference, Doris Howe, Olympus Story House - Especially for dads who are choosing to or already have adopted, but also applicable for all dads and every parent to read, this book is steeped in faith and family from a solid biblical viewpoint. Earthly fathers are appropriately typed with the Heavenly Father and the important roles fathers have in all homes, especially homes of those who have adopted. Also discussed are the viewpoints of mothers who choose to give their babies into adoption, parents who choose to adopt, and children who are adopted.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

First Runner-Up

The B.A.B.Y. Book: The Essential Parent's Hospital Guide to Postpartum Care from Delivery to Discharge and Beyond!, Karen L. Brewer, BSN, RNC-MNN, Fostering Healthcare Communications - Most baby books start with pregnancy. This book begins immediately after the baby's birth, with a focus on mother care. Beginning with the least pleasant parts of the postpartum experience, including fundal massage, perineal care, oozing, bleeding, bruising. For digestion, the author recommends practical methods such as rocking chairs and chewing gum. With appropriate humor, the author clearly outlines the first few weeks of a mother's journey, including breastfeeding, pain management, postpartum depression, and getting up and about. The author addresses serious complications and offers a post-birth acronym for warning signs. Later chapters cover baby care and screenings, visitors, as well as advice for fathers and significant others.

Honorable Mentions

Anaconda's Melting Pot Cookbook, The Anaconda Community Foundation - This cookbook beautifully preserves pictures, the early way of life, and sentimental family recipes from the many different cultures in Anaconda—a unique region of Montana. When a smelter was built in the town, immigrants flocked to the area creating a large diverse culture. The pages are delightfully sprinkled with nostalgic town photos transporting you through ages of time and immersing you in many cuisines within the homes and kitchens of locals. An index to help find specific recipes, along with a list of conversions and substitutions, eases the reproduction of these recipes.

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Memoir

The Memoir category captures specific personal experience.

Winner

All the Memories That Remain: War, Alzheimer's, and the Search for a Way Home, E.M. Liddick, Warren Publishing - As an attorney for the 75th Ranger Division in Afghanistan, the author must decide hundreds of times if his commander can legally kill humans. As a son, he must process his father's early onset Alzheimer's. As a husband, he needs to discover why he no longer loves his wife. When all three situations hit simultaneously within a ten-year period, he loses his mind. This memoir shares how he found it. Each situation is a catalyst for deeper delves into the psyche. When seemingly unrelated emotions connect, insights fuse into stark realizations about the beauty of imperfect lives.

First Runner-Up

Wonder Travels: A Memoir, Josh Barkan, Roundabout Press - When his wife decides to leave their fifteen year marriage for a man in Morocco, Josh is stunned and devastated. He can't wrap his head around how this could have happened. He adores his wife and thought they were content. He stayed home and wrote, while she traveled the world. He is obsessed with the need to comprehend, painstakingly detailing his thoughts and feelings as he tries to logically analyze this turn of events. He interviews their friends, her family, and even travels nearly 4,000 miles to meet the other man. The author's vulnerable expression of his emotional journey is uniquely compelling.

Honorable Mentions

A View through the Fog, Bob McGee, MSI Press - Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a painter of bridges, despite their protests, the opportunity comes for his dream job—a permanent member of the painting crew for the Golden Gate Bridge. Through twelve years on the job, we meet his imperfect but talented co-workers, discover secret places known only to a few, and get a feel for the job and its environment. McGee shares the amazing vistas, as well as the cavorting wildlife, tourists walking the bridge, and heart-wrenching stories of suicide. The book includes history, humor, drama, practical knowledge, great characters, and a deep love for this magnificent bridge.

Becoming American (2nd ed), Cary Lowe, Black Rose Writing - This is an engaging account of life as a child of refugees in post-war Europe, to a successful and engaged American citizen, attorney, and activist—from stories of the holocaust to the authors' fight for civil rights and racial reconciliation in his new country. It's emblematic of many new immigrants' inspiring devotion to their new home. The personal account of the author's wife and children are heartwarming, and his love for his family comes through. This will inspire other Americans to better their home country and make the American dream accessible to all.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Deep Waters: A Memoir of Love, Alaska Adventure, and Love Rekindled, Beth Ann Mathews, She Writes Press - This is a gripping story of survival and adventure in rugged Alaska. When her healthy and active husband suddenly suffers a debilitating and rare type of stroke, the author's life as a biologist, mother, and wife changes in an instant. From the stress of shifting timetables and diagnoses and the realization of a difficult recovery ahead comes a new adventure for the family that will strain the very bonds that hold them together. Her husband chooses to brave an exciting and dangerous adventure as part of his path to becoming whole again. The author must decide if she can journey with him or help him to undertake it alone.

Deeper than African Soil, Faith Eidse, Masthof Press - In this moving, and, at times, harrowing, memoir, Faith Eidse shares her experience of growing up as a missionary child in Congo. Her story feels like a front row seat to the profound changes sweeping the African continent in from 1960s to 1980s. Eidse also speaks to the emotional impacts of missionary life on the families and children, not all of them positive. Eidse recounts adventure and joy, but also astonishing accounts of illnesses, injuries, death, and despair. Some of those events were traumatic. This is an intimate coming-of-age story, lingering upon the biggest questions in life.

The Wrong Calamity: A Memoir, Marsha Jacobson, DartFrog Books - After marrying a controlling manipulative man, she is forbidden to tell anyone except for her mother and father. For a time she is coerced into relocating to Japan where she obtains a job at Mattel Toys and has two children, while continuing to battle the verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. Once back in the states, she flees, alluding the police with two toddlers in tow. Years later the author remarries, but her happiness is short lived. Her happy marriage becomes abusive when her husband begins to suffer PTSD, as repressed memories of childhood abuse begin to surface. When the second marriage ends, the author finds a path for happiness and healing.

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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

Richard Nixon: California's Native Son, Paul Carter, Potomac Books - Before Watergate, Richard Nixon was a trial attorney, World War II veteran, Congressional House Representative, and a Vice President, who served the American people with distinction. He was also a Californian. Like all people, his regional roots affected how he saw himself and how he conducted his personal and political affairs. Even his move to New York, from where he began his presidential campaign, was California-style, one might even say a Hollywoodian, approach to seeking higher office through re-invention of the self. Besides being Californian, Nixon had a Quaker upbringing that displayed itself in his beliefs, personal charity, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity long before they became politically fashionable.

First Runner-Up

The White House: An Historic Guide, The White House Historical Association Association - The sheer scale of this book is breathtaking, a massive 14lb tome containing crisp and vibrant full page photographs. Many of the historical photos are woodcuts and paintings, reproduced in a large and attractive manner. Photographs of the different rooms are described with clarity and sincerity. The end papers contain beautiful schematics of the building and the surrounding grounds that are clear and informative. Color is used effectively throughout. The text is set in an elegant serif face, the blocks well arranged and organized. The use of white space, for such a large volume, is used effectively, never distracting from the design and presentation of this engaging volume.

Honorable Mentions

Hair Loss: Options for Restoration & Reversal, Gustavo J Gomez, PhD, Halo Publishing International - Hair loss is not just worrisome for cosmetic reasons. It affects peoples' psychological well-being as well as indicating possible physical, emotional, behavioral, and hygiene habits as well. Is hair loss genetic? Yes, maybe. Is hair loss always permanent? No. In the case of pregnancy, for example, hormonal changes can effect hair growth. Even fashion fads, such as braiding and cornrows, can wreak damage on hair growth and actually cause permanent hair loss. Gomez provides a detailed discussion of the causes and effects of alopecia, the medical term for hair loss, as well a full and unbiased explanation of the advances in hair regrowth, as well as warnings of flim-flam artists who bilk the desperate out of thousands of dollars.

Horror on the Stage: Monsters, Murderers, and Terrifying Moments in Theater, Amnon Kabatchnik, McFarland - Before there were movies or mass-produced books, the monsters, creatures, and human cruelty were enacted on stage by ancient societies. We have come to know these gruesome stories as the horror genre. In Greek and Roman mythology, for example, King Minos failed to sacrifice a bull to Poseidon, who then made the King's wife lust after the bull and conceive a child with the head of a bull and the body of a man. This book chronicles stage production of cringe-worthy stories. It presents the familiar—from Shakespeare to Shelly—with stories of betrayal, murder, maiming, and mayhem, sex, and violence committed by golems, mad doctors, and even our next-door neighbors.

The Rangeland Derby: 100 Years of Chuckwagon Racing at the Calgary Stampede, Glen Mikkelsen, Folklore Publishing - The author's personal experience with chuckwagon racing fills the pages with enthusiasm and anticipation, traveling through one hundred years of history behind the Calgary Stampede. Using dialogue and narrative along with statistics and facts makes this an enthralling read. The color photos, high-quality paper, arrangement, and easy-to-read print tell stories the chuckwagon racing culture, while chronicling Calgary family heritage and Alberta's history from Old West cowboys to today. It's chcok full of excitement, feuds, and entertainment.

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Graphic Literature, Kelcey Ervick & Tom Hart (editors), Rose Metal Press - The high-quality paper and collection of color examples of graphic literature is a must for anyone interested in the juxtaposition of words and pictures. In our increasingly digital culture, graphic literature has many applications: cartoons, mangas, poetry comics, graphic narratives, literature collage, etc. Teachers have unique challenges in teaching these works in which the visual is inseparable from the text and vice versa. This guide is the next in a series of four "manuals" for writers of genres that don't fit set molds. Each essay of teachings from all manner of graphic literature genres also includes practice exercises.

Tort Law & How It is Tied to Our Culture, M Stuart Madden, Esq, Urlink Print & Media - In this fascinating, accessible book, the difference between tort law—the mechanism used to settle common disputes among people—and criminal law—the mechanism used to adjudicate legal wrong-doing—is revealed, including how tort law evolved. Tort law affects people more directly and more often than criminal law. Its purpose is to keep the peace by repairing the social fabric rather than leveling blame and punishment. While radical factions attempt to "reimagine" the justice system, this is a valuable resource in understanding the vocabulary and important concepts such as fairness, making whole, and compensating individuals in order to prevent endless rancor and feuds. Tort law is foundational for a civilized society.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

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Self-Help

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

Winner

Dismantling the 3rd Dimension: Transforming our Trauma on the Road from Tribe to Collective, Antonia, Real Chimera Books - This is a guide for individuals looking to understand pain and trauma on a deeper level. The author skillfully reflects on the purpose of an awakening experience within the collective consciousness and offers insight on how to transmute pain into growth. Understanding oneself in relation to a higher consciousness and the purpose of life is facilitated through profound concepts, which are digestible for an individual learning to heal. With advice and tools, a roadmap to the purpose of trauma unfolds a collective perspective and then moves through pain both spiritually and physically leading to transcendence.

First Runner-Up

Good Awkward: How to Embrace the Embarrassing and Celebrate the Cringe to Become the Bravest You, Henna Pryor, Ideapress Publishing - Ever high-fived your boss during an important meeting, only to find out they were just raising their hand to ask a question? This author has been there. Part cringe confessional, part professional pep talk, this approachable workplace success manual encourages us to recognize our own awkward humanity and use it to career advantage. While sharing her own humorous missteps in the post-COVID workplace, the author encourages all readers to recognize that pretending is performance and an authentic alternative is available and encouraged. This book powerfully demonstrates that putting on a show of perfection at work is not the path toward professional or personal success. Be you with curiosity, good humor, and camaraderie.

Honorable Mentions

Better Days: Tame Your Inner Critic, Neal Allen, Namaste Publications - This book is an invitation to a more compassionate relationship with one’s self. The author highlights the common phenomenon of having an inner critic, providing spiritual-like direction, guiding the reader toward a kinder way. By engaging with the inner critic as its own entity, a person can get to know why it has formed and help heal. Relatable anecdotes engage and facilitate self-reflection, while offering ideas about different ways to be in the world. The author entrusts the reader with the ability to try new things and change how they relate to their inner critic in a hopeful, wise, and compassionate way.

Focus Forward: Lessons Learned from Racing, Ted Giovanis, Amplify Publishing - Giocanis began race car diving in 1991 when he was forty-six years old. Thirty years later, he reflects on his professional career and the lessons learned on the track. Giovanis breaks down his insights into forty-seven key life lessons that apply to relationships, business, personal-growth, and decision-making. To illustrate the various themes such as teamwork, uncertainty, and passion, the author punctuates lessons with quotations from world leaders and thinkers. Some lesson titles are surprising, like: "Sometimes you can control things that do not appear to be within your control." His hard-earned wisdom addresses life disappointments, failures, and aging with both pragmatism and a forward-focus.

Pathways to Wholeness: Connecting to the Power of Now through Mindful Meditation, Janet G. Nestor, iUniverse - This is a comprehensive guide to wellness offering various viewpoints. Using meditation and mindfulness strategies, Nestor presents peaceful yet practical ideas for achieving optimum health on various levels, and then applies ideas of natural wellness methods, including walking, breathing, visualization, and more. Stimulating photographs and poems provide inspiration to creating a desire for a better life. Filled with simple, easy to read, and enjoyable information to explore, this is a valuable resource for a beginner or even a veteran to the idea of bettering their mental health and overall wellness.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

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Spiritual

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

Winner

Finding Waypoints, Terese Schlachter and Colonel Gregory Gadson (Ret.), Schaffner Press - Career military personnel have life plans, systematic ways to choreograph each step forward. On maps, they're called waypoints. In life, they're called adaptability. In a combat situation everyone knows that any assigned role can change at any moment. This book is an accounting of the redirection of life, written in narrative form by an accomplished film producer. A respected Colonel faces the initial losses and injuries of an attack, followed by excruciatingly gradual losses of his legs, with multiple episodes of crises—physical, emotional, and spiritual. He doesn't give up. He adapts. His wife and family, friends, colleagues, coaches, doctors, and his God wouldn't accept defeat. As a speaker, actor, photographer, and football advisor, he is now taking waypoints he hadn't originally planned.

First Runner-Up

Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living, Debra Band and Menachem Fisch, Baylor University Press - This book provides a unique translation, with commentary, of the full text of Ecclesiastes using an illuminated manuscript format for the sacred book of the Hebrew bible. Prior versions of Ecclesiastes translate the word hevel as the word vanity in the familiar line, "vanity, vanity, all is vanity," which portrays human actions in the world as futile and hopeless. This book, however, translates the word hevel as vapour (vapor), and the philosophical commentary proposes that using this new word throughout Ecclesiastes offers readers a concept of existence whereby life, though not determinate, does have meaning and can be lived to the full. Supplementing the philosophical commentary, the artist provides her own extensive explanations of the metaphors and symbols contained in her painted illuminations for the paralleled Hebrew and English texts.

Honorable Mentions

End the Reign of Pain: Identifying and Treating Toxic Leadership, Rickardo Bodden, Carpenter’s Son Publishing - Effective leadership is essential in any functional society. There are identifiable traits that leaders possess that set them apart. Unfortunantely, some characteristics also create friction, so instead of being an example to others, a leader can be prone to becoming toxic to the very people they wish to guide. This paradox stands out especially in a church. If not sufficiently grounded, empathy can morph into dogma, compassion into directive, and humility into arrogance and pride. Inevitably, a toxic leader will introduce pain and confusion, even if they themselves may not be aware of doing so. This book puts forth a series of checks and balances to help those in leadership to identify, avoid, and overcome pitfalls. The approach is practical, straightforward, simply stated, and very readable.

Prayerful Warrior Mom: Embracing Faith Through the Storms of Your Child's Congenital Heart Journey, Tracy A. Ripley - The excitement and anticipation of expecting a child is quickly overshadowed by abnormal test results. Relief is found when further testing reveals no abnormalities but all of that changes soon after the birth. Ripley chronicles the challenges of raising a child with a congenital heart defect. From the moment she receives the devastating news, the author embarks on a journey of faith, hope and strength, while navigating her child's life changing diagnosis, including an emotional rollercoaster of surgeries and medical procedures. The power of prayer and faith in sustained them through the darkest moments. This book is a testament to the resilience of a mother's love and the belief in the healing power of prayer.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Sacred Psychiatry, Judy Suzanne Reis Tsafrir, MD, Greenleaf Book Group Press - This is not about conventional psychiatry but rather an interesting look at the correlation between the current global, socioeconomical decline, political climate and the astrological movement of the plants in our solar system along with the growing mental and physical health issues we are facing today. This is a multidimensional approach to a myriad health issues and the lack of a connection to our spiritual self. From the author's perspective, as a licensed psychoanalyst and astrologer, she provides us with a larger view of our roles between healing the planet and alternative holistic methods of healing our minds, bodies, and spirit. A fascinating exploration of astrological movements and our own connection to healing ourselves and the planet.

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E-Book Fiction

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

Winner

The Raid, Robert HJ Rosenbaum, Urlink Print & Media - Set against the backdrop of rural Colorado, this captures the struggles of dairy farmer Jake Drummond and the prejudice toward the laborers working on his farm. The novel delves into the repercussions of a DEA raid that goes awry, weaving a narrative that questions the moral legitimacy of such government actions. The story vividly explores the arrogance of power and the challenges for justice against government entities shielded by sovereign immunity. As twists and turns maintain level engagement, this is a sobering reminder of unchecked authority and political forces determined to use it against the people.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

First Runner-Up

Shitamachi Scam: In Tokyo Land Is The Most Powerful Currency, Michael Pronko, Raked Gravel Press - In Tokyo's traditional lower city, a scam preys on the elderly. Orchestrated by Takuya, the plot unfolds near the Silver Center, where Ueno, an unwitting participant, works. Chaos ensues when law enforcement intervenes, resulting in a casualty. Detective Hiroshi Shimizu's team probes into the scam, uncovering a network exploiting vulnerable people. Their investigation reveals Takuya's operation. As the detectives navigate the scam's complexities, they encounter a web of deception. This crime against the elderly, juxtaposed with the city's veneration of tradition, highlights stark exploitation, pushing the detectives to seek justice. In their pursuit, the line between protectors and predators blurs, challenging them to dismantle the network and restore balance in a community where respect for elders is a cornerstone.

Honorable Mentions

Echoes from the Hocker House, Virginia Watts, Devil's Party Press - This quirky short story collection is filled with strong characters—mostly female—and a sense of the macabre. A kind of defiant loneliness echoes throughout the collection, never calling for pity, only the reader’s understanding. The writer’s language is precise and sometimes startling. Almost all the settings are rural or small-town, and the writer dips seamlessly into the past by referencing accurate cultural goalposts. The ending of the final story lands a punch to the gut and neatly punctuates this collection

Life... And That Other Thing, John Nieman, Gotham Books - Focusing on the topic of life and that other thing (i.e. death), these fifty-three stories bring a clear message of hope and comfort. An old favorite popular song shares a painful message regarding the loss of a child. The classic American restaurant, Waffle House, brings people together in the face of a hurricane. Love, hatred, friendship, fear, hope and desperation thread through the stories, as the characters deal with the mere experience of life and, yes, death.

Maxym, Patrick C. Nothctree, Limebury - When Max is six years old, his village is invaded by a terrorist group, killing his parents and raping and slaughtering his ten year old sister. Max survives by hiding. Max is rescued and taken away by friendly soldiers. While traveling with the soldiers, they come across the group that killed Max’s parents. The soldiers give Max a loaded gun and encourage him to revenge his family. He makes his first kill at a young tender age. During his school years, he hones his skills as a sharp shooter. After he is turned down by the olympic committee, he is recruited by a military group and becomes the worlds foremost assassin. Even as an assassin, he does good for his community and falls in love.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Peter Crane Mountan Goat: A Story of One Mountain Goat's Journey to Lead His Herd to a New Territory While Overcoming Adversity, Karen R. Maharaj, Balboa Press - Peter Crane is a young mountain goat learning how to navigate life in his home and within his herd. With encouragement from his mother, he courageously faces the daily fears and small difficulties of a growing goat. An elder in the herd recognizes Peter’s bravery and potential for leadership and asks him to lead the herd on a journey to new territory. Peter must heed the wisdom of his elders and discover the fortitude to face the challenges ahead.

Relentless: A Kate Preacher Thriller, Michael Maloof, Golden Oak Writer's Guild - Kate Preacher is a former CIA Analyst who leaves that life to work for a legal firm. When her husband Jake, a retired navy seal, is killed in a terrorist attack, Kate searches for answers. The international chase involves a conceited tech giant, the inventor of Nanovault, a device which cloaks stored information for privacy, but consequentially aids terrorists wanting to hide as well. Suspects abound until the shocking truth emerges. Kate’s sleuthing efforts help her crack the mouthed words Jake uttered as he died, but as Ukrainians cuff the murdered, Kate learns that her journey has not ended.

Stranger on the Shore, William Borak - Whan a young woman named Marisa is found barley hanging onto life, people can’t figure out how she got there. It’s as if she fell out of the sky. Meanwhile a man, Chris, is grieving the loss of his fiancé, but when he meets a woman on the beach she convinces him to meet her at a party. When he gets there, Arielle doesn’t show up, but he meets a waitress, Marisa, who looks like Arielle and knows everything about her. We soon learn Marisa’s true identity and her reason for being there. The story is full of twists and intrigue as Chris helps Marisa against evil forces.

Switching Tracks, Lena Gibson, Black Rose Writing - In a dystopian near-future of Southern California, Elsa’s life hunting for scraps in the Heap with her Granny is upended by the discovery of a mysterious tube and an encounter with train-hopper brothers Walker and Hayden. After a brief stint at a brothel to try and stay afloat, Elsa soon finds herself wanted by GreenCorps and on the run with Walker. The two of them see more of the country than she ever dreamed and fall in lover along the way. The tube leads them to long-forgotten but undisturbed seed vaults, and they discover details about their families’ rebellious pasts that might just lead to a better future.

The Girl in the Water, Joseph Howse, Nummist Media - Set in the last days of the Soviet Union, Nadia seeks a future of literature and culture. Moving back and forth between the two countries, she reconnects with lost friends and her sister, Nastya, now married to a soldier. This well-paced story journeys through the affects of the Afghan War and the Chernobyl disaster. It's pulled forward by the strength of writing, well-drawn characters, realistic history, and an ultimate sense of hope. People survive and go on with their lives the best they can under terrible duress and war, even when racked by the turbulent economic and political machinations.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

When Things Fall Apart, Alan Brenham - After a brutal murder is cast into the sea along with any identifying evidence, the victims are found by two unsuspecting fishermen. Kit Hanover has just begun her career as a homicide detective, thrust into a partnership with a crusty veteran who does not hide his racial bias. Soon Kit finds a close connection between the murder and her family, all the while the mental state of the murderer deteriorates. Strength of writing and characters form a fast-paced, tension-filled and emotional plot.

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E-Book Nonfiction

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

Winner

The New Deal's War on the Bill of Rights: The Untold Story of FDR’s Concentration Camps, Censorship, and Mass Surveillance, David T. Beito, Independent Institute - This offers a critical assessment of the presidency of FDR, in particular his dismaying record on rights and civil liberties and their systematic demolition and violation. Beito capitalizes on mostly secondary sources ranging from academic reports, reviews, articles, dissertations, law publications, and history books as documented in his Selected Bibliography. The chapters on the radio, the clampdown on free speech, and the administration’s internment of Japanese Americans make for a painfully poignant but compelling read.

First Runner-Up

Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" Help Dorothea Jensen, Past Times Press - We meet a hero of the American Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette, in the same engaging style and rhyming prose of Lin-Manuel Miranda's award-winning musical, Hamilton. Historical paintings of Lafayette's fellow revolutionaries, his family, his battles, and key historical figures of his time, complement the rich details of his life and determination to leave his native France and aid the Americans in their quest for Independence. A great resource for teachers of older elementary, middle, and high school students, the author includes a Classroom/Study Questions section to facilitate conversation and learning. A detailed Endnotes section provides additional supplemental information to Lafayette's story.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

Honorable Mentions

A Smoke and a Song: A Memoir, Sherry Sidoti, She Writes Press - Ten months into the COVID-19 global pandemic, the author’s mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. In that moment, the author foregoes her own new beginnings and travels to New York City to be at her side. What follows is a personal account of the complexities of family relationships, maternal bonds, love, loss, and forgiveness. The author revisits intergenerational trauma, questions how to process the lifetime of memories she carries within her own body, and embarks on a path to let go. The honest recounting is grounded in healing, drawing upon the author’s own study and training, and builds a journey of self-actualization.

After the Crash: How to Keep Your Job, Stay in School, and Live Life after a Brain Injury, Kelly Tuttle FNP-BC, MSN, Running Paws Publishing - This is for people who have gone through a life-changing traumatic event. The author shares practical steps and easy to apply strategies for persons who are in recovery. By walking through the suggested strategies, the author delivers a clear exploration of symptoms, solutions, and a personal applications certainly provides context of how to do so. The author’s own clinical background gives credibility to the application from a medical perspective. The book is also leveraged on several references which highlights the importance of looking after your physical injuries with care, precision, and the resources required during post-recovery.

Courageous Well-Being for Nurses, Donna A. Gaffney and Nicole C. Foster, Johns Hopkins University Press - After the horrific stories about hospital events surfaced from the Covid19 Pandemic, the information on the well-being of nurses became a passion of these co-authors. More than thirty nurses from various countries form the fabric of six core elements of well-being. Some chapters lend great advice to all humans in any profession. Others specifically deal with facets related only to nurses. Courage arises in incredible nurses driven to be a better versions of themselves despite the fear and risks.

Passion Struck: Twelve Powerful Principles to Unlock Your Purpose and Ignite Your Most Intentional Life, John R. Miles, Post Hill Press - In a world where meaning is in demand but rarely realized, following dreams or becoming passion struck is not a goal, but a process of self-realization spear-headed by intentionality. Through a thoughtful twelve-step framework of mindset and behavior shifts, with examples from well-known contemporary leaders such as Marc Benioff and Oprah Winfrey, the author outlines a method for unleashing the power within to change our perspective and ultimately our lives. For example, skils and exercises harness the anxiety we encounter to overcome challenges and meet performance goals.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

The Evolution of Human Motivations: An Odyssey, John V. Wylie, MD - Dr. Wylie explores the complex interplay between biological, psychological, and social factors that shape human motivations. Drawing from evolutionary psychology, his experience as a psychiatrist, anthropology, and neuroscience, Wylie takes readers on a journey through the history of human motivations, tracing their origins from our evolutionary past to contemporary society. The book delves into topics such as the role of emotions, social dynamics, and cultural influences in shaping human behavior. Motivations, such as survival, reproduction, and social status, have evolved over time and continue to impact our thoughts, feelings, and actions in modern life.

See a full review in the US Review of Books

The Halfways: A Guidebook for Strengthening Your Intuitive Connection, Allison Sutter, Living 360 - Sutter taps into the reader's heartstrings and echoes in the recesses of the mind, empowering us to unlocking a deeper sense of perception of our intuitive clairvoyance. In the age of deep loneliness, life's paths easily get blurred and challenges arise, and so we must evade detrimental triggers and connect to an inner compass. Personal stories provide meaningful advice on how to navigate the maze of intuition. Ultimately, we explore the power of subliminal connection while learning strategies to grasp the power of manifestation and ultimately a road map to a better life.

The Reader's Companion to the World of Jane Austen (Illustrated), Joe Giampaolo - Discover Jane Austen, starting with her parents and seven siblings, leading to Jane herself. Much of Jane’s life is known by the letters she wrote to her sister, Cassandra. By weaving together the letters with research on the Victorian Era, Giampaolo illustrates specific events, foods, and fashion that would have easily been part of Austen’s life. Finally, we are ushered into Austen’s Legacy, followed by an examination of her writing style and the works which we still celebrate today. This is a perfect primer for anyone wanting to learn more of Jane Austen’s life and the world around her when she penned her way into legend.

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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

Luz, Debra Thomas, She Writes Press - When her migrant-worker father did not return from his work in California, Alma Cruz can not accept that her father deserted his wife and four children in Oaxaca City, Mexico. Abandoning her dream to become a math teacher, Alma and her sister, Rosa, travel to the US to find their father. Through challenges, they meet Guatemalan refugee, Manuel, along the way. Love blossoms between Alma and Manuel, resulting in the birth of their daughter, Luz. Unfortunately, Luz will never know her father and her path to the US. An epilogue written from Luz’s perspective propels the story to the future.

First Runner-Up

The Growing Sweater, Jason J. Marchi, Ben Quesnel (illustrator), Fahrenheit Books – What do you do with a sweater that gets one size bigger every time you wash and dry it, instead of shrinking like most knitted clothes? This problem stumps Granny Quigley when the purple sweater she made for her granddaughter Ashley’s birthday starts to grow. Ashley passes it up to her sister, who then must pass it up to adults. Then when the sweater keeps getting bigger, they give it to larger and larger animals at the zoo. Finally it’s too huge for any creature, so the sisters and Granny start traveling to find someone who can use a gigantic sweater. The solution will delight children learning to read though this story, as well as adults reading it to children. All will enjoy the edge-to-edge illustrations in lavish colors, each of which looks at the scene from an interesting, unusual angle and includes perfectly chosen details in the background.

Honorable Mentions

Comfort in the Wings : A Novel Inspired by Love That Will Not Die, Jennifer Collins, Words in the Wings Press - Larissa, a go-getter career woman, becomes flattened by grief after losing her family through death and desertion. It inverts her into a near zombie, immune to the good intentions and caring gestures of friends. Therapy doesn’t help, either. Finally she becomes so depleted she’s ready to start gluing the pieces of herself back together. It happens through a series of small, unexpected events, ranging from a butterfly landing on her knee to a pose in yoga class unlocking tears, to encounters with strangers on a business trip she can’t avoid—even just choosing to drive instead of fly. This quiet, compassionate story can help people recover from devastating loss, as well as those trying to comfort and inspire them.

Reminiscences of an Accidental Embezzler, Howard E. Hallengren, XlibrisUS - Kurt Wenner is a young, successful businessman/investment banker who is on the path to occupying a lead position at the Swiss bank where he is employed. Unfortunately, greed gets in the way when he attempts to embezzle from a vulnerable account. Once he’s discovered, he flees to New York to avoid jail. He procures another position managing a stock fund, but again finds trouble after inflating values and diverting funds. Charged with embezzlement, he avoids jail time and flees to California. However, he eventually returns to NYC and engages another embezzlement scheme. Never enough, he returns to Zurich to recover monies from the first swindle. Will he finally be cornered and spend the rest of his life in jail?

Swim: Stories of the Sixties, Sandra Scofield, Wellstone Press - The unnamed protagonist, a young woman in the early 1960s, embarks on a journey of self-discovery across continents. Fueled by a desire for independence and a rejection of societal constraints, she navigates a world where freedom comes at a cost. The book follows her encounters in Mexico, Spain, and Greece, each location presenting a new challenge and forcing her to confront her own desires and vulnerabilities. She trades on her beauty, but longs for something more. Will she find a place to belong, or is the search for self an endless journey? This captivating story explores the yearning for freedom and the complexities of finding oneself.

The Collar of Courage (The Adventures of Flapjack), Dan Cohen, Flapjack Enterprises - This children’s story is part of a series about a young dog named Flapjack, this time being bullied at the dog park. When this bully stares down, nips, and growla at the other dogs, they would run and hide. Flapjack’s owners sees him cower as well and takes him to the store to buy the Collar of Courage. His owner tells him it will make him brave. He stands up to the bully, who then changes his ways. He even rescues a woman from a burning car. When he continues to credit his bravery to his collar, his owner admits that Flapjack possessed his own courage all along. The story and illustrations are lovely and appealing.

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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

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism, Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk, Future Horizons - This book offers definitive hands-on experience for the mother, father, spouse, or friend of a person on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, from the highest-functioning individual with Asperger's to the lowest functioning child. Comprehensive and thorough, the book includes dozens of games, communication strategies, adaptation suggestions for home to public or private school, and secrets for getting through everything from homework to bedtime routines. One of the authors parented two children with autism, giving the book a personal and relatable aspect that parents and those who care for individuals on the spectrum will appreciate.

First Runner-Up

Red Silk, Maryfrances Wagner, BkMk Press - This series of poems is an emotionally focused exploration of four periods in the author's life. The first section revolves around her early childhood as the daughter of a relatively poor immigrant family, leading through her awkward years of schooling. The second reverses the roles, and the reader sees the young girl become a teacher herself. From the teacher's perspective, the reader will experience moments of simple joy, minor regret, and lives lost too soon. In the third section, the titular poem 'Red Silk' is found, giving birth to the rise and collapse of the marriage between the poet and her military lover. Here letters from the author's ex-husband are included. Finally, in the fourth section, she navigates the death of parents, illness, and finding new love.

Honorable Mentions

Can You Get Our Attention?, Kraig Kann, Headline Books - With an eye-catching cover and documented content that captures attention, Kann delivers chapters of inspiration and guidance to identify one's purpose, how to pursue it, and a clear vision of the payoff. The author excels at combining a motivational perspective and ideas for navigating the ebbs and flows of business into one piece. All language is concise, with detailed descriptions and colorful storytelling. Structured with authentic self-growth lessons in an easy-to-follow format, we can focus without information overload. Effective communication, strategic branding, and ideal marketing suggestions are highlighted within each section to enhance the multiple steps toward a successful business career.

Back to Bremen, Cecelia Wilson, Oghma Creative Media/Meath Press - This book tells an often forgotten story from World War II, the sudden nightmarish displacement of ordinary German people as Hitler masterminded a war they didn't want—drafting fathers and teenaged sons into service and forcing families to leave their homes. These families, often made of mostly the mothers and young girls in the family, walked through war-torn cities and across borders, unwelcome everywhere. The story of Edith Ropke in whose perspective we see the unfolding of events, draws witness to the cruelty and brutal acts of war of the Germans, as well as the violence and sexual abuse offered by the Russian Allied soldiers from whom Edith and her family had to escape. Pariahs in their own country, malnourished, fatigued, hounded, and under continual fire, the Ropkes struggled to find peace in the midst of Hitler's failing war effort.

Voices from Vietnam: The Tragedies and Triumphs of Americans and Vietnamese - two peoples forever entwined by the legacy of war, Charlene Edwards, Journeys - Edwards gracefully tells the story of hardships and victories for Americans and Vietnamese. Raw photographs of Vietnam, the land, people, and war complement the abraded legacy of those impacted. This reveals the struggles of soldiers from both sides and family members anxiously awaiting word from their loved ones. Determined to seek the truth, the author immersed herself in the culture to extract facts, emotions, and pent-up anger that destroyed the lives of men, women, and children. Momentum builds through testimonies from soldiers, medical staff, religious leaders, POWs, families, and children born from the war.

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