Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain by J. Ivy

Dear Father is not a book anyone would expect me – an older, suburban, white woman – to read.  Author J. Ivy is a hip-hop poet and a Grammy Award winner for his work with Jay-Z and Kanye West and my musical interests tend toward Gershwin, The Beach Boys, The Temptations, and Mozart. To write this review I had to “Google” how to spell Kanye and Jay-Z. In addition I grew up in a small town with not only my father and mother but all four of my grandparents close by to rear and cherish me. So what is it about this hip-hop poet’s words about learning to forgive his absent father that resonated with me so?

First, understand how I came to this book.  I select most titles based on what publicists think I might like or on what I read in publications like Publishers Weekly. This book was different; I learned of it a few days ago as I listened to J. Ivy’s interview on NPR while heading down the expressway. By the time I got out of my car, J. Ivy had captured my heart.  I wanted to know more about his work to get children to write. I wanted to learn about his family, and I really wanted to know how forgiveness had saved him. Later that day I downloaded his book onto my e-reader and entered J. Ivy’s world.  I found myself reading his poetry out loud so his words encircled me with their rhythm, emotion, ebullience, and melancholy.

I soon learned that Ivy had transferred to the high school my children attended where he was a year ahead of my daughter. His description of moving from the south side of Chicago to the suburbs where a teacher encouraged his poetry and where he received a standing ovation in a student show reinforced my beliefs in the power of equal education for all and in encouraging everyone to use their talents.

“The school had its cool kids, its nerds, its athletes – all sorts of cliques – just like my other schools had; only difference was, some were black, some were white, some were Chinese, some were Puerto Rican, and some were Mexican. . . . It was my first time talking to white kids at length. We were actually sitting next to each other, holding conversations, realizing that some of us were neighbors. . . .  We were eating the same food together at lunch. We were learning together. . . . We were breaking down the transparent barriers that society had historically placed between us. . . . 
What I was experiencing had to be a microcosm of what the pioneers of integration lived. . . . Sitting in a classroom that used to be all white. Unifying with cultures that you had barely spoken to before this time. . . .  I finally understood what Dr. King meant by his I Have a Dream speech. I felt like a soldier for equality seeing clearly that culture was actually a prism of many different facets and many different faces that were from many different places and backgrounds. I got it, but my young mind was shocked by the discovery.”

This book made me care about J. Ivy. I was grateful for his faith and how it grounded him. I mourned with him when his father died and if I ever meet his mother she’s in for a very big hug. I’ve long been a student of forgiveness and have often wondered why it’s so hard to explain the concept to the young.  J. Ivy is reaching a generation that needs to learn to forgive.  His Dear Father Letter Writing Workshops help children learn to write away their problems and see that there’s a way out and his wisdom is for everyone. He writes:

“We all make mistakes. We all will make more. The key is not to judge but to focus on your purpose. Despite what anyone may have done in the past, you’re still standing. You’re still able to move forward in your life. You are still awarded with the ability to dream, create, and find happiness. But in order for us to find these joys, we have to forgive. And when the mechanics of our mind flash back to yesteryear, we have to remember that . . .
To forgive again,
And again,
And again,
And . . .”
Summing it Up: Read this book for a pure emotional ride that will make you glad you live in a country that values education.  Tumble into the world of words J. Ivy creates. Read his words aloud and allow them to seep into your consciousness. If you aren't sure if this is for you, watch this interview on PBS, listen to him on NPR, or read an excerpt of his book.

Rating: 4 stars   

Category: Nonfiction, Memoir, Soul Food, Book Club

Publication date: January 27, 2015

Author Website:

What Others are Saying:
“A Grammy-winning performance poet often seen on HBO’s Def Poetry, Ivy writes about his negligent father, his own life as a black male, living in a poor, rough Chicago neighborhood, his devotion to hip hop, and being in love and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. His memoir is a mixture of short, narrative, first-person chapters and some of the poems that he has performed across the country. Clever in his telling of stories, Ivy appeals to our sense of empathy and plays with our notions of fame in contrast to his own uncommon path of hard work and aesthetic endurance. What stands out most here is the redemption and escape Ivy found in language and art, in his commitment to writing poems and perfecting performance. Ivy finds solace in the title poem and in conversations with his friends and mentors, including performers Kanye West and Jay-Z, whose inspiration he shares. Ivy is a focused poet and entertainer discovering, in poetry and prose alike, the power and necessity of words.” (Mark Eleveld Booklist)

“In his book, Dear Father, J. Ivy delivers a powerful message of hope, transforming his pain into power. This book represents his life stories, and how poetry has helped him overcome adversity, allowing his to make an impactful contribution to humanity.”  Deepak Chopra

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

When life hands you lemons one of the best cures is to read a book that’s both tart and sweet just like a glass of lemonade served on an old-fashioned southern porch. The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is just such a novel.  Debut author Christopher Scotton opens the story with these assuredly simple, yet evocative words: “The Appalachian Mountains rise a darker blue on the washed horizon if you’re driving east from Indiana in the morning. The green hills of the piedmont brace the wooded peaks like sandbags against a rising tide. The first settlers were hunters, trappers, and then farmers when the game went west. In between the hills and mountains are long, narrow hollows where farmers and cattle scratch a living with equal frustration. And under them, from the Tug Fork to the Clinch Valley, a thick plate of the purest bituminous coal on the Eastern Seaboard.”
Fourteen-year-old Kevin Gilooly takes the reader back to the summer of 1985: “It had been two months since my brother, Joshua, was killed, and the invulnerability I had felt as a teenager was only a curl of memory. Mom had folded into herself on the way back from the hospital and had barely spoken since. My father emerged from silent disbelief and was diligently weaving his anger into a smothering blanket for everyone he touched, especially me. My life then was an inventory of eggshells and expectations unmet.”
So Kevin’s father drives Kevin and his mother to Medgar, Kentucky, the small coal town where his mother grew up. Everyone hopes that the town and Kevin’s grandfather, known as “Pops,” will heal them. Pops is a veterinarian, a man almost universally respected in Medgar. He’s a true hero, as courageous when standing up for what’s right as he is tireless in handling large animals and climbing up the face of vertical rock. Kevin also finds a friend in Buzzy Fink, a kid from the hollows with problems of his own. Pops says, “The Finks are poor, but they’re proud poor. Esmer runs the Hollow hard. Kids stay in school, they truck their garbage out once a week. These are solid people.” 
As Kevin heals while assisting Pops on veterinary calls and listening as Pops’ friends banter over sour mash on the porch, controversy brews.  Boyd, the evil owner of the local mine, a mine that employs a large number of the men in the area, is buying up land surrounding the town next to the National Forest. He’s already destroyed the “knobs” or tops of two mountains and poisoned drinking water nearby. Now Paul Pierce, a local businessman has information that can stop him so Boyd attempts to smear Pierce by announcing that he’s gay. To most of the town, this isn’t news but to some having it out in the open is trouble. When Pierce is brutally attacked, the question isn’t whether Boyd had anything to do with the crime, but who he used to do the deed. Soon new facts surface and Kevin and Buzzy worry.
Pops takes the boys on his annual “tramp” to climb, explore, fish, and camp the land that’s been in his family for generations. After an almost mythical climb and a dangerous creek crossing the boys feel safe, strong, and confident.

While Pops and Buzzy sleep, Kevin encounters the “The White Stag” – a legendary creature that even Pops has never seen. The imposing stag had “kind, sad eyes that seemed to carry with them the secret wisdom of the earth.”  It’s that wisdom that forms not only the book’s title but also the novel’s basic tenets – wisdom comes from being attuned to nature and from knowing ourselves and our capabilities. Soon Kevin and Buzzy will need their newly found confidence to escape a dangerous sniper hell bent on hurting one of them.
Summing it Up: If you enjoyed the mystical landscape of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, the Southern gothic feel and characters in Ron Rash’s Serena, or watching a town and a boy fight evil in Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home, then The Secret Wisdom of the Earth will have you holding your breath as you make it down the mountain alongside these authentic characters. It’s a debut novel and there are some credibility-defying actions so the book isn’t perfect but it’s quite simply an old-fashioned good read.

Rating: 4 stars   
Category: Fiction, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Grits, Book Club
Publication date: January 6, 2015
What Others are Saying:

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Mother Taught Me . . .

Today would have been my mother’s 93rd birthday.  She died almost twenty years ago and I still miss her.  When I see an egregious grammatical error, I almost expect to hear the phone ring with her calling to laugh about it.  I miss her sitting on her porch steps awaiting our arrival as she didn’t want to give up a single moment of our visits.  I miss her saying “lovely” with dripping sarcasm and accompanying eye rolls when she saw something tasteless.  She was smart; she was fun; and she epitomized what my grandfather said was our family motto: “Often wrong but never in doubt.” 

I caught my love of reading from her.  She also modeled a disdain for what she called drivel.  When she was recovering from surgery, three of her friends brought her copies Bridges of Madison County to keep her occupied.  She looked at me with fear in her eyes and said, “Jesus Katie, do they think the cancer’s gone to my brain?”

Mom would have enjoyed reading Facebook if only for’s posts.  She’d be an evangelist for the disappearing Oxford comma and would be appalled at the increasing use of “I” instead of “me” when used as an object.  She had no respect for her church’s interim pastor because he used “irregardless” as if it were an actual word and I can almost hear her asking me to give her one good reason why anyone would ever say “Where is it at?”

She’d be happy that I still love to read and write and that I share my lists of books with others. She’d be glad that the copy of Little Women that she inscribed “because you love to read” as a gift for my eighth birthday is on a nearby shelf where I can see it. She’d remind me that she reared me well then bemoan the fact that no one remembers that one raises cattle and rears children.

*The photo above is of the Wells Memorial Library, where I went at least once a week with my mother when I was a child. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I’m flat out, over-the-top, madly in love with my friends (sorry, but they aren’t characters) Theodore Finch and Violet Markey.  Finch and Violet are going to keep you up late at night, they‘re going to interrupt your work, and they’re going to make you wonder why the rest of the world is acting like nothing happened.

All the Bright Places opens with Finch standing at the edge of his school’s bell tower, six stories above the ground. He wonders if this will be the day – the day he lets the air carry him away “until there’s nothing.” The ledge he’s on is about four inches wide and he’s holding his arms out and shouting when he notices a girl, also on the ledge. He realizes that he knows who she is and says. “Come her often? Because this is kind of my spot and I don’t remember seeing you here before.”

Back on terra firma, and no, I’m not going to tell you how they got down, Finch and Violet are paired together on a geography project exploring the natural wonders of Indiana. They begin wandering and discover each other. They shouldn’t fall in love:  Violet is popular; Finch isn’t. Half the school calls him “Theodore Freak” and a good girl like Violet doesn’t belong with someone like him. Finch may be suicidal but he lives in the present and appreciates new experiences. Violet is living just to finish the school year, graduate, and get out of their small Indiana town.  She’s grieving her sister’s death and can’t embrace the present. As they wander, Violet opens up to new experiences and love and Finch’s world becomes “ultraviolet.”  

Wandering Indiana’s bizarre, out-of-the-way places leads to finding the out-of-the way places within. This reader was surprised that one of those places was the monastery and gardens just a few blocks from my home. It’s where I vote and sometimes where my walks lead me and it’s what some of us call “interesting.”  Niven’s description of it is quite simply perfect.  That she could so precisely capture this spot explained why all the other places she described, places I’d never been, seemed so real to me. I had visited them all – I saw them through Violet and Finch’s eyes.

Summing it Up: All the Bright Places is a universal love story yet it’s as fresh as biting into an orange on a cold winter’s day. As each section explodes in your mouth, you’re reminded of the beauty of simply living.  A novel dealing with mental illness, depression and suicide doesn’t usually surprise you and make you laugh but All the Bright Places will do that and more.  If you enjoy reading Gayle Forman, John Green, and Rainbow Rowell, you’ll want to read All the Bright Places. This book is simply “lovely” as Violet and Finch might say.  It makes me want to hug my kids, eat carryout from Happy Family Chinese, go on a picnic, and remember that it isn't what you take, it’s what you leave that matters. Read the first chapter and I can almost guarantee you’ll read the book.

Note: Yes, All the Bright Places will be a movie and Elle Fanning will play Violet. 

Rating: 5 stars   

Ages 15 and Up

Category: Diet Coke and Gummi Bears, Fiction, Five Stars, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Book Club

Publication date: January 6, 2014


What Others are Saying:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Best Mysteries and Thrillers - 2014

The bread pictured here is Tomato Ciabatta with Olives and Onions.  I made it this fall because Food & Wine Magazine's recipe stated that it "comes together very easily and requires no kneading."  I knew I had to try this recipe but wondered if it would really turn out well. Even after the dough doubled in size, it seemed quite dense. Still I shaped the loaves and placed them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and popped them in the oven. As the loaves baked, I resisted the urge to open the oven to see what they were doing and if they might really become bread with ingredients like tomato paste and quartered cherry tomatoes inside them. Twenty-five minutes later, I opened the oven to a delight -  a bread that was savory, chewy, colorful, and with surprises inside. I loved it. A similar experience greeted me when I read the best mysteries and thrillers this year.  They delivered tantalizing, colorful stories that I quickly devoured. The best mysteries and thrillers offer surprising twists along with good ingredients: colorful characters, plots that make you wonder if things will turn out well, and inevitably - surprises inside.  

2014 – Best Mystery
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
Dr. Tom Cage, revered as "Atticus Finch with a stethoscope,” is accused of murdering his former nurse so his son Penn, town mayor and former prosecutor (who’s appeared in three previous Iles novels), tries to help him and finds clues going back to1968 and a group more evil than the KKK.  Local reporter Henry Sexton uncovers ties to the atrocities and Dr. Cage disappears.  Is the doctor guilty and will Penn choose family loyalty over justice? 

Iles credits the investigative reporting of true crimes with inspiring the novel. Some might think the evil deeds in the book were exaggerated, but reading Iles’ research confirms their existence and why the book rings so true. As Iles himself says, he’s “telling you what it felt like to be black or white during that time." At 791 pages it’s just the right length and this reader hopes the next two volumes of the planned trilogy offer more of the same.

Note: It’s Ile’s first book in five years and comes after he almost died in an accident in 2011. Iles was working on Natchez Burning at the time of the car wreck and the emotional impact of his own survival is clear in the immediacy of his characters and their reactions to what happens around them.  

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Mysteries don’t usually elicit tranquility but A Long Way Home filled me with melancholy then peace. This novel, unlike any other mystery I’ve ever read, showed how important it is for humans to feel useful, to be brave, and to be kind. Inspector Gamache doesn’t want to leave Three Pines especially to solve a mystery or, possibly, to find that something terrible had happened to neighbor Peter Morrow. Using art and creativity as a metaphor, Penny shows how nothing great can be created without heart or without feeling. It’s absolutely perfect.

2014 – Best Suspense Novel 
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
The Farm is a psychological thriller similar to Gone Girl or Tana French’s novels. When Daniel’s father calls from Sweden to say that Daniel’s mother is in hospital as she’s psychotic and delusional, Daniel hurries to Heathrow to fly to see her. Before he boards his mother calls that she’s on her way to London. She says his father is involved in a criminal conspiracy and wants here out of the way. Who can Daniel believe?  His mother, Tilde, carefully lays out a tale packed with facts that may or may not prove her allegations. Smith, known for his espionage thrillers set in Russia, takes a new tack with this riveting tale of trolls, elk, strangely carved wood, and the darkness of Sweden.  Read my full review.

2014 – Best Thriller and Best Debut Mystery/Thriller
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
This fast-paced espionage thriller is sure to please. Scott Murdoch, “the Pilgrim,” retired as one of America’s best secret agents but duty calls him back when an extremist, dubbed “The Saracen,” plots to destroy the U.S. as revenge against the Saudi’s for his father’s beheading. Captivating side stories packed with detail and great minor characters work well. It seemed about 100 pages too long but it’s still a great read.

One of Us by Tawni O’Dell
O’Dell’s suspenseful thriller asks if psychopaths are born or bred and forces the reader to ponder the difference between evil and mental illness.  Sheridan Doyle, a famed forensic psychologist returns to the coal-mining town where he’s simply Danny Doyle, grandson of Tommy and son of a mentally ill mother.  There he confronts buried truths and a cold-hearted heiress.  O’Dell is well known for her Back Roads, an Oprah selection.

2014 – Best Mystery that Makes You Wonder if Time Stands Still
Cop Town by Karin Slaughter
Kate Murphy is the pretty, privileged new cop on the Atlanta PD in 1974.  Excellent period references especially the playing of Carole King’s Tapestry album in the background set the stage. There’s a cop killer on the loose and another cop has died. The police are racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, woman-hating creeps. They treat the law like a smorgasbord, taking what they want regardless of who gets hurt. Readers will wonder how much has changed in forty years.  Read my full review.

2014 – Best Mystery that Really Gets PTSD  
One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (published in 2011)
This is the best yet in this series. Clare Fergusson, Episcopal priest, has just returned from a tour as a helicopter pilot in Iraq and she’s drinking too much and having nightmares. This seventh title is from the hymn “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” with the words: “one was a soldier, and one was a priest, and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;” It’s an apt title as the returning soldier/priest and her Police Chief boyfriend are facing a beast that threatens their well-being. Clare reluctantly joins a support group to get a young amputee to attend and there she meets other returning soldiers trying to fight the beast in differing ways.  When one of them commits suicide (or was it murder?) the group finds that the problems of Iraq have followed them all home.

2014 – Best Mystery that Takes Place in One Day
The Secret Place by Tana French
This girls’ boarding school mystery is typical of French’s strength in delivering conflicted, believable characters. The book shares the viewpoints of a close knit group of Irish teens and the “outsider” detectives called in to investigate a year-old case when a new clue appears. The girl reporting the clue is the daughter of Frank Mackey, a detective who appeared in French’s first Dublin Murder Squad tale. She goes to Stephen Moran, Mackey’s former protégé, with the clue found on the school bulletin board. During Detective Moran and partner Antoinette Conway’s single day at the school, flashbacks and self-absorbed teens help build tension toward the denouement while Mackey’s jabs keep things on edge.

2014 – Best Mystery with Irony Sharing the Stage  
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Diker  
Quebert is pronounced Kuh-bear thus rhyming with “affair.”  Also think Stephen Colbert for a hint to this tongue-in-cheek whodunit with a famous young author’s novel coming to life in a tragic way.  It was a mega hit in Europe but the author’s childhood summers in Maine and the setting give it an American flair.  It’s a big, 643-page book you’ll probably read in one weekend because the twists and switchbacks will keep you flippin’ those pages and enjoying the wild ride

2014 – Best Mystery about Small Towns and Outsiders
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman
This cold, piercing debut in which small town newbie Nora Hamilton searches for answers to why Brendan, her policeman husband, would have killed himself is a winner. When the police and her mother-in-law freeze her out and homes are set afire she finds clues in a 25-year-old death, an autistic man’s rhymes, and a reporter’s research.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Best Books of 2014!

For me a Happy New Year means looking back at the best books of the year and thinking about all the great new books to come. Here are the books I consider the best of 2014 by category. If I've written a complete review or more than is on my annual list about any of the books listed, I’ve put a link in the title or in the section heading. Short descriptions of all the titles listed below are also here

2014 – The Best Novel

The Bird Skinner by Alice Greenway, Let Him Go by Larry Watson, Lila by Marilynne Robinson, The Painter by Peter Heller, Redeployment by Phil Klay, The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach, Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

After the Wind by Lou Kasischke, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christine Byl (published in 2013), Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans (Originally titled: Evolving in Monkeytown in 2012, reissued  in 2014), Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe, and The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less by Jana Riess (published in 2013)

2014 – The Most Important Book I Read This Year
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer

Euphoria by Lily King, Let Him Go by Larry Watson (published in 2013), Lila by Marilynne Robinson, Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, The Powers by Valerie Sayers (published in 2013), The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (published in 2011)

Runners Up:
Byrd by Kim Church, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre, Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson, and A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

2014 – Best Memoir
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson (Yes, it’s for ages 10 – 14 and it’s written in free verse but it’s just plain amazing and you’ll want to read it.)

2014 – Best Book for Bibliophiles

2014 – Best Post-Pandemic/Post-Apocalyptic Novel
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

2014 – Best Children’s or Young Adult Book for Everyone Ten or Older
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

2014 - Best Books to Help You Think about War
Redeployment by Phil Klay, Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre, Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

2014 – Best Books to Discuss in a Book Club in 2015
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer, Being Mortal by Atun Gawande, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson, Byrd by Kim Church, Euphoria by Lily King, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, The Farm by Tom RobSmith, Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre, Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson, Let Him Go by Larry Watson, Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, Redeployment by Phil Klay, The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach, The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (published in 2011), Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

2014 – The Best “Tapas” Books of the Year (short stories, novellas, poetry)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson, Incarnadine by Mary Szybist, and Redeployment by Phil Klay

2014 – Best Love Story

The Rosie Project by Dan Simsion (published in 2013)

2014 – Best Suspense Novel

2014 – Best Espionage Thriller
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

2014 – Best Mystery
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

Runners- Up
Cop Town by Karen Slaughter, The Long Way Home by Louise Penny, One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (published in 2011), The Secret Place by Tana French, and The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Diker

2014 – Best “Escape” or “Cure for a Bad Day” Books
Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman, and The Rosie Project by Dan Simsion (published in 2013)

2014 – Best Quirky Novel (Sushi with Green Tea Sorbet Category)
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

2014 – Best “Soul Food” Books (spirituality, growth, and faith)
Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge (published in 2013), Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (published in 2012), Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans (reissued in 2014), The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper, Gabi Swiatkowska, illustrator (published in 2007), Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor, and My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. (published in 2000)

2014 – Best Children’s and Young Adult Book (for everyone over the age of 10)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

2014 – Best Picture Book for Kids 9 and up
Aviary Wonders, Inc. by Kate Samworth

2014 – Best Book to Read Aloud
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

2014 – Best Picture Book That I Missed for Seven Years
The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper, Gabi Swiatkowska, illustrator (published in 2007)

2014 – Best Chapter Book

2014 – Best Debut Young Adult Novel

2014 – Best Young Adult Suspense Novel (Adults Love it too.)
The Liar’s Club by E. Lockhart

2014 – Best Young Adult Graphic Novel
Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

2014 – Best Young Adult Hybrid Graphic Novel

2014 – Best Humorous Young Adult Novel
Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge (published in 2013)