The 2022 winners are here, after a hard fought “battle of the books!”
The judges on the IRDA panel included top people in all areas of the publishing industry, in concert with IndieReader’s trusty reviewers.
Judging was based on the quality of writing and the originality of the story. There was a first, second and third place winner in each of the fiction and non-fiction categories, in addition to winners in various sub-categories.
Without further ado, IndieReaders, meet this year’s winners and see their acceptance speeches here!
A stunningly fresh take on the Queen’s Gambit ‘savant-in-training’ premise, Dima Novak’s PUSHING PAWNS pairs an unforgettable protagonist with an animated cast of zoomers and a smart, contemporary plot for a YA masterpiece that belongs on every teen’s smartphone—an instant classic.
The Cypress Club
A weekend-long celebration slowly unravels in this nuanced, expertly paced family drama. THE CYPRESS CLUB balances complicated emotions and toxic family dynamics with witty observational comedy in a page-turning narrative style. Big personalities, a seemingly idyllic retirement community rife with gossip, and heart-wrenching third act twists make it an unputdownable read.
STONES CORNER, written by Jane Buckley, is a political novel that chronicles daily life during the 1970s in troubled Derry and Londonderry, Northern Ireland, via individual stories. The brutal struggles of the Irish are written with historical accuracy that details the horrors of discrimination, oppression, and state suppression the Irish experienced during the dark years when the irregular war ensued. Excellent novel for political thriller fans and history buffs alike.
The Original People
Gregory Vizzi, Chief Dick Quiet Thunder Gilbert
THE ORIGINAL PEOPLE by Chief Quiet Thunder and Greg Vizzi, is a beautiful book filled with stories, poems, prayers, and traditions that explores the history, geography, and traditions of the Lenni-Lenape, and teaches “the sacred obligation to protect the Earth.” Personal recollections are skillfully integrated into the larger tapestry of the culture, its relationship to nature, and its spiritual alliance. Chief Quiet Thunder has a gentle, wry humor, and is a master at weaving history, science, and spirit into his stories. His style of teaching is so fused with his style of living that simply being in his presence (even on the page), supports learning. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, drawings, and maps, this beautiful history deserves an honored position on the bookshelf, where it can be read and re-read over and over again.
Evolve: A Children’s Book For Adults
Drawing upon a trio of biblical passages in an effort to answer life’s biggest question, Jean-Pierre Weill’s EVOLVE (A Children’s Book For Adults) is the rare example of a ‘book’ that defies description. While the appropriately thought-provoking text is worth the price of admission alone, it’s the stunning, hand-rendered illustrations that elevate this title to ‘work of art’ status.
Built from Broken
Complete, detailed, and backed by research, Scott Hogan’s BUILT FROM BROKEN, helps readers resolve joint pain and dysfunction thanks to its clear guidance and thorough training program (the author is an NCCA accredited Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Orthopedic Exercise Specialist).
The Path of the Vestal
J D Easterling
J.D. Easterling’s THE PATH OF THE VESTAL is a romantic high seas adventure with captivating battles on land and sea and the awakening of a strong female heroine. In addition to its vivid action and exploits, the tale equally delights with modern and historic courtship, with characters and readers alike asking themselves what sacrifices they would make for enduring love.
Category: Best First Book (Fiction)
but, he spit in my coffee
BUT, HE SPIT IN MY COFFEE, Keri Williams’ gripping memoir of adopting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), is a heartbreaking portrait of a family in crisis—and the child welfare and mental health systems that fail them again and again. Presented with raw, unguarded candor and masterful storytelling skills, BUT, HE SPIT IN MY COFFEE is a harrowing and unforgettable reading experience.
Category: Best First Book (Non-Fiction)
Alpha Max: An Existential Romp through an Absurd Multiverse
Mark A. Rayner
In ALPHA MAX Mark A. Rayner tells an absurdly amazing story about self-discovery during a multiversal adventure to save every universe. Told with a blend of adult humor, slapstick and a dose of seriousness, this riotously entertaining read is loaded with many compelling and complicated subplots and a perfect read for fans of weird yet captivating science fiction, offering a fantastic spin on tales of alternate universes and time travel.
Category: Best Cover Design (Fiction)
Voices of Cancer: What We Really Want, What We Really Need: Insights for Patients and the People Supporting Them
VOICES OF CANCER tells about the journey that people with cancer and their loved ones go through. Author Lynda Wolters brings intimate details from her own experience with the disease and delves into how to support others stricken with the illness. She writes about the tough subjects – like how relationships change after a diagnosis, the wrong thing to say and much more – in an accessible way that shares the stories of other patients and caregivers.
Category: Best Cover Design (Non-Fiction)
Trine Fallacy: The Kinderra Saga: Book 2
The second novel in the Kinderra Saga, TRINE FALLACY continues the story begun in TRINE RISING with energy, intensity, and a few breathtaking plot twists that will engage and enthrall the reader.
The Smooth River
Richard S. Cohen
THE SMOOTH RIVER (Finding Inspiration and Exquisite Beauty during Terminal Illness. Lessons from the Front Line) by Richard S. Cohen, is a moving medical memoir about a husband and wife’s unorthodox approach to coping with her pancreatic cancer. Readers will marvel at this guide that goes beyond advice on how to prepare for death–but how to live a rich, meaningful life in the time one has left.
Category: Aging/Death & Dying
Hearing Other People’s Experiences
More than simply a collection of college anecdotes, the personal stories that make up HEARING OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCES (H.O.P.E.) College Edition forge a powerful connection between recent graduates and the young people following the same path. Representing a rich diversity of voices and perspectives, these authentic narratives not only offer guidance and inspiration to new students, but are a moving affirmation of the strength that an encouraging community can provide.
A comprehensive biography masquerading as a ‘must-read’ page-turner, Ellis Oswalt’s TESLA’S WORDS recasts the woefully-underappreciated inventor (Nikola Tesla) in a bold new light, highlighting the inner workings of a ceaseless mind.
Cyberjutsu: Cybersecurity for the Modern Ninja
Ben McCarty’s CYBERJUTSU: Cybersecurity for the Modern Ninja is a fascinating and important guide to identifying, preventing, and stopping cyberattacks, with techniques developed from ancient ninja scrolls. A must-read for modern warfare in today’s cyber arena.
Nothing’s as it Seems
NOTHING’S AS IT SEEMS is a humorous and intriguing story about a young lady’s journey through dating, job hunting and emotional recovery that captures the struggles of women finding work in a male-dominated industry and finding true love in a world filled with crazy men. It’s filled with exciting family moments, weird dating encounters and funny, fascinating character fantasies.
In The Mirror
IN THE MIRROR by Fabian Ferguson is an educative children’s book that encourages self-worth and positivity. Illustrator Alisa Aryutova has created realistic and capturing pictures alongside Ferguson’s impeccable writing to inspire young readers to dream, recognize their potential, learn from their failures, and never give up.
Category: Children’s (Board books and Pre-reading)
Brenda Faatz, Peter Trimarco
Colorful illustrations by Peter Trimarco help Brenda Faatz’s NOW WHAT? light up a child’s imagination, as Lizzy and her new friend discover new things by asking that important question. With rhyming text and descriptive (and sometimes silly) words that bring the story alive, curiosity and exploration are rewarded with the idea that happiness is now, and not to worry about later. NOW WHAT? is a sweet bedtime read, recommended for kids ages four to eight.
Category: Children’s (Early to intermediate readers) – Tie
A different way to tell the classic “night before Christmas” tale, Debra Westgate Silva’s BETHLEHEM BARN is a charming and original children’s book that looks at what might have happened after the Christ child was born. What would barn animals say if they could talk? How would they react on this blessed morning? Bound to be a family favorite for years to come.
Category: Children’s (Early to intermediate readers) – Tie
Meggan Larson’s ability to capture the heart of readers shines in her Interesting and impossible to put down ADOPTED, the first book in the Adopted Trilogy about a teenage girl struggling to find a place to call home.
What to Know Before You Get Your Dog
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GET YOUR DOG is a book every child—or adult, for that matter—should read before bringing home a new puppy. Author Margrit Strohmaier presents a concise guide to the daily responsibilities of dog ownership, from bathing and exercise to picking up doggy poop, with simple, easy-to-read rhymes illustrated with adorable drawings by artist Claudia Gadotti. This charming book is both a delightful read and an invaluable resource for any conversation about adopting a new pet.
We Never Knew Just What It Was … The Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio
A nostalgic remembrance of the seminal folk group, WE NEVER KNEW JUST WHAT IT WAS…The Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio is a gift for fans of the 1960s folk scene. Author Mike Murphey’s affection for the group and the era shines from every page with warmth and humor. Those familiar with the Chad Mitchell Trio will appreciate the book’s detailed history, but Murphey’s knack for storytelling makes for a compelling read for anyone curious about this musical period.
Nostalgia Is Heartless
NOSTALGIA IS HEARTLESS is set in 2050 where the polar ice caps have mostly melted, resulting in atmospheric changes, environmental refugees, population decline, food shortages and war. With impeccable world-building, readers get to explore an intriguing blend of Earth’s climate catastrophe with the super-advanced technology world of cyborgs and AI. Though set in the future, the characters still share features typical of the human condition: the endearing and relatable plight of impending motherhood and a fascinating cyborg with symptoms of depression.
The Sword of Saint Isidores
David Thomas Kay
THE SWORD OF SAINT ISIDORES is a fascinating tale of pillaging, conquest, religion and destiny in Norway during medieval times. David Thomas Kay is a remarkable storyteller and weaves together spellbinding sub-plots and captivating characters that intertwine to form a beautiful, mind-blowing twist of fate and destiny.
Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is
Sue Stevens’ PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR HEART IS is a comprehensive, thoughtful financial guide that takes into account, not only how to maximize wealth and minimize loss, but also the real life goals that people want to save money for. The author offers informative, clearly-written guidance that addresses real human needs, like the desire to start down a different career path, provide for descendants and valued charities, and in general live a life that is healthy and meaningful. Stevens clearly understands that money is a means to an end and not a true end in itself, and encourages the reader to think about what they want their money to accomplish for them and for their values.
Category: Finance/ Investment/Economics – Tie
Financial Planning Diagnostics
Sue Stevens’ FINANCIAL PLANNING DIAGNOSTICS offers specific, detailed guides to help readers figure out where they stand financially, what their goals in life are, and how to get there. It includes guidance on everything from assessing one’s own current financial standing to planning for life goals–offering advice on events both unexpected, like sudden job loss–to the more predictable, like the needs of aging parents or college-aged children. The language is clear, simple, forthright, and easily understood by the layperson, with well-designed checklists and worksheets to help the reader clarify and analyze their own financial data.
Category: Finance/ Investment/Economics – Tie
The Financial Bridge
Sue Stevens’ THE FINANCIAL BRIDGE takes the clear, effective guidance provided by her other two books (Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is and Financial Planning Diagnostics) and applies it to end-of-life planning. It encourages the reader to really think about what they want to leave behind as a legacy, and how they can plan their estate and inheritance well and thoughtfully to ensure peace of mind for those they leave behind.
Category: Finance/ Investment/Economics – Tie
In DARK CLOUD, a futuristic graphic novel, the title refers to the female protagonist created by Sandra Wolff. With grit and stoicism Dark Cloud lives off the land while defending her home in the American West from mercenaries and other threats. Her daily existence only worsens when she learns that a neighbor, General Stone, now has a nuclear bomb. With her companions, engineer Ricardo de Castile and the robot he created, Klaatu, Dark Cloud seeks to create a better world. The art by Jared Barel, who also wrote the story, creates a grim world that vividly illustrates Dark Cloud’s sadness, pluck and determination.
Category: Graphic Novel
A Therapist’s Garden
In A THERAPIST’S GARDEN, master gardener Erik Keller shares memories and activities from his 20-plus year career as a horticultural therapist. Using the power of plants, Keller helps people of all ages overcome cognitive, emotional, and physical challenges. Keller’s writing style evokes feelings of comfort, patience, and encouragement and is bound to imbue readers with an interest in the connection between inner peace and their relationship with nature.
Category: Home & Garden
A Hole in the Head
A HOLE IN THE HEAD tells a story about the far-right political view of South American Immigrants with a nice dose of humor, action and mystery. It features a load of delightful and hilarious conversations, a detailed narration of action scenes and a dysfunctional family that produced two estranged brothers with national heroic deeds. John Eidswick portrays in this installment an intriguing dimension to the fight against prejudice towards Mexican immigrants and people of same-sex attraction.
Category: LGBTQ+ (Fiction)
Let’s Talk Vaccines: A Clinician’s Guide to Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy and Saving Lives
Gretchen LaSalle, MD
LET’S TALK VACCINES by Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, MD takes readers into the history and nature of vaccines, to help allay the fear and confusion surrounding them in the COVID-19 era. Doctors, patients, and laypersons alike will benefit from this well-researched, anecdote-infused, easy-to-read analysis.
The Prisoner’s Apprentice
THE PRISONER’S APPRENTICE, by Cheyenne Richards, is the perfect book for fans of psychological dramas. This true crime story involves an 1800’s genius serial killer and his young mentee. This darkly poetic novel will captivate readers from beginning to end with a compelling plot and rich, in-depth characterizations.
Category: Historical Fiction
Knell of the Union
Lorrie Nimsgern’s KNELL OF THE UNION is a vivid account of the formation of these United States of America and the forces that led to the Civil War that almost tore the fledgling nation apart a century later. The author brings the Founding Fathers and other key players to life in this compelling narrative history.
The Dark and Darker
J.L. Hickey weaves a spine-chilling mystery through multiple time periods and into the lurid depths of a small town’s buried secrets in THE DARK AND THE DARKER, a grisly and relentlessly creepy tale of multigenerational horror. Hickey’s evocation of the darkness at the heart of middle America is energized by propulsive, high-octane storytelling that recalls the unruly intensity and complex, layered characters of Ryan C. Thomas and Stephen Graham Jones.
Here We Go Loop De Loop
William Jack Sibley
With a cast of eccentric, funny Texas characters trying to make sense of their crazy lives, William Jack Sibley’s HERE WE GO LOOP DE LOOP is a surprisingly sweet family saga and a delightful dive into the intricacies of family annoyances and affections and the complications that ensue when brave, passionate people fight for themselves and each other.
Throwing Thunder: Awakening the Forces of Nature in Every Woman
In THROWING THUNDER, Kendra Ward–a skilled acupuncturist and herbalist–has written a challenging, healing, empowering book filled with resources, exercises, journal prompts, and encouragement for self-discovery. She uses archetypes and cultural touchstones to decimate the way women have been taught to be ashamed of what makes them extraordinary. A well-written, well-crafted and well-researched book that is both challenging and relatable.
Category: Inspirational/ Spiritual
The Bedtime Book
Bedtime can be a tough adjustment for young children, especially after a busy and eventful day. With dynamic and colorful illustrations, the simple rhyming text of THE BEDTIME BOOK by Kayla Floyd speaks to young ones who learn how to “relax their way to sleep.” Adults can take a lesson too; simple meditation may help them enter Dreamland.
Still the Night Call
A young dairy farmer details what he plans to be his last day on his family’s failing Missouri farm in Joshua Senter’s STILL THE NIGHT CALL, which features a profound, honest, and wrenching narrative that shares the bitter reality of those hopeless in the heartland, and offers a rare perspective on what resilience may mean for the backbone of America.
Category: Literary Fiction
COTTON TEETH is a raw and unflinching cancer survival memoir from comedian Glenn Rockowitz. The page layout is designed to resemble poetry, and interspersed throughout the narrative are sets of black pages where Rockowitz confronts his memories of his childhood sexual abuse. The book is written with a hypnotic and lyrical style, which gives the prose an entrancingly poetic rhythm, while Rockowitz’s bleak humor highlights the emotional range of his experiences and brings to life the way his feelings of fear and hopelessness can coexist with moments of joy and love. COTTON TEETH is a haunting mixture of beauty, sadness, tragedy, and resilience that demands to be finished in one sitting.
The Zee Files
Tina Wells’s THE ZEE FILES is a story about Mackenzie Blue, who relocates to the UK and thereby experiences a new culture, makes new friends, and faces the realities of long-distance friendships. Brimming with energy and charm, and accompanied by wonderful illustrations by Veronica Miller Jamison, this book will warm the hearts of young readers.
Category: Middle Grade
Michael J. McLaughlin
Michael J. McLaughlin’s EXTINCTION is a tour de force that accentuates the depravity of certain scientific pursuits, the filmy corners of morality, and the greatest threat to the survival of all life - the human. The novel is an explosion of sites, senses, voices, impulses and merciless enigmas wrapped in succulent prose that is further elevated by the story’s complex character development, turning the interweaving narratives into a spinning kaleidoscope of horrors.
Blue Sky Gone
J.S Farmer’s BLUE SKY GONE is an unrelenting yet hopeful fictional novel that intertwines multiple experiences to paint a pitch-perfect picture of a fateful day in America’s history. Prosaic writing is exact and harmonized with the characters’ perspectives resulting in a brilliant piece of impressive proportions.
Category: New Adult
Money for Nothing
Julie Tetel Andresen
Julie Tetel Andresen’s second installment of the Shapeshifter Series, MONEY FOR NOTHING, is a truly tantalizing murder mystery and fantasy novel complemented with a bit of romance. The work is as charming as it is entertaining, as it has all the elements of great storytelling—interesting characters, a fast-paced plot, and a satisfying resolution.
Breakthroughs in Parenting Children With ADHD While Reducing Stress
Tony J. Bell
Tony J. Bell’s BREAKTHROUGHS IN PARENTING CHILDREN WITH ADHD WHILE REDUCING STRESS provides parents and caregivers with definition, understanding, realistic goals, and structure. Simply organized in bite-sized nuggets, this book is a comprehensive resource for dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and how to develop a happy home life for the whole family.
Category: Parenting (Child Care/Family)
When it comes to “disagreements” with the federal government, the average American has quite a battle in getting bureaucracy to see a simple tree among the forest. BEYOND FEAR by Ted Giovanis chronicles his experience in trying to fix a multi-billion dollar error committed by the United States government when it came to determining Medicare reimbursement rates to small hospital systems. Complete with detailed explanations about how the Medicare system works (on paper), this is an inspiring story for readers who go to war against a brick wall.
Category: Politics/Current Events
A.I. Fabler’s AGENDA 2060: The Future as It Happens is a fictional account of today’s politically correct world of cancel culture, identity politics, and woke epiphanies. Tinges of sly-smile humor are woven into a detailed story of science, Artificial Intelligence, human nature and technological know-how — leading readers to wonder what life really could be like in the years ahead.
Category: Popular Fiction
The Ultimate Anxiety Toolkit
THE ULTIMATE ANXIETY TOOLKIT is a practical workbook that challenges the reader by prompting reflection to apply each tool into daily scenarios. Utilizing relatable, real life examples for overcoming the mental battle with anxiety, author Risa Williams creates material that is truly absorbable and not easily forgotten one the book is set down.
Category: Psychology/Mental Health
Jesus Christ Divided
Michael LaFond has written a thoughtful, detailed, and thorough argument with some startling but surprisingly plausible conclusions. Whether readers agree with him or not, it’s certainly a fascinating read for those interested in early Christian history.
The Certainty of Chance
Through relatable, meaningfully developed characters, Jacquelyn Middleton’s THE CERTAINTY OF CHANCE poetically blends heart-wrenching events with heartwarming relationships, providing hope for those learning to live on with grief.
From Under the Sun
FROM UNDER THE SUN by Kordel Lentine is an impressive and instantly intriguing story that follows the adventure of Terrence Brown—a brilliant high schooler whose near-death accident encounter sets off a chain of events that changes his life and, ultimately, determines his future. This is a time travel tale told in an epic manner and is full of thrills, twists, and turns that will keep readers turning its pages in rapid succession.
Category: Science Fiction
Esta G Bernstein
CHANGING HORSES by Esta G. Bernstein is an enlightening and empowering book of personal growth centered in the world of horses. Whether a passing interest in the equine universe and want to know more about them, or simply love them and want to explore the amazing physical and spiritual connections we have with them, readers will be enriched and entertained by this author’s insights.
Category: Self-Help – Tie
A New Now
In A NEW NOW, author Michael Goddart outlines the ways in which any person can experience enhanced awareness, heightened intuition, and improved happiness. According to Goddart, a better “now” can be found immediately and while the methods discussed in the book are not necessarily groundbreaking—some are as simple as maintaining a sense of gratitude and setting clear priorities—but they, along with Goddard’s philosophy, light the way toward how to lead an authentic, empowered existence.
Category: Self-Help – Tie
Are You Okay?: The Carryover of Kindness
Anthony S Drayton
Anthony S. Drayton’s ARE YOU OKAY?: The Carryover of Kindness is a well-written, gripping memoir that offers a vivid and memorable look at the author’s college and post-college life, as well as the process of dealing with mental and emotional issues and learning to love oneself.
Add Cyanide to Taste
Karmen Špiljak is a wonderful, welcome voice to culinary noir with ADD CYANIDE TO TASTE, a collection of delightful, delectable, twisty short stories and a cross-genre foodie delight. All built around food, the themes travel the gamut from love to revenge to curses to a very special kind of bar to call home. There are even recipes in the back (although the author cautions not to add cyanide). The stories feature strong, interesting characters, imaginative situations that range from funny to terrifying to everything in between, excellent plot twists, beautiful writing to please the senses, and great integration of the culinary aspects.
Category: Short Stories
The Sterling Gospel
THE STERLING GOSPEL, by Atticus Mullon. is an intriguing, entertaining sci-fi tech novel about the cultivation of a new Messiah in the year 2085. Poetic language, intricate plotting, and compelling characters elevate this what-if story to an above-average read.
We All Wore Blue
WE ALL WORE BLUE by Emerson “Skip” Robbins is the true story of a youth soccer team made up of children from many different countries, races, religions, and cultural backgrounds who came together for the good of the goal. Coach Robbins presents an inspiring account of commitment, positive attitudes, open-mindedness, dedication, and the lessons of true brotherhood. Soccer— and other sports — are powerful tools for teaching young people how to get along and work together, even under trying circumstances. This informational tale also gives readers a lesson or two about the game, and why fútbol is celebrated around the world.
Wine lovers can take their own grape-led journey while reading Greg Viola’s easy-to-read guide, CROATIAN WINE, where the vineyards, regions, history, and art of wine-making – along with various bouquets, tastes, and spices – come to life.
The Sound of Wings
Vivid scene-setting, a riveting plot and a trio of captivating characters collide in Suzanne Simonetti’s meticulously crafted debut, THE SOUND OF WINGS, an undeniable page-turner that practically dares you to set it down (from an author who just might be the industry’s best kept secret).
Category: Women’s Fiction
Match: A Medical Murder Mystery
Amy S. Peele
A bi-coastal whodunit, exhibiting a real sensitivity to women’s issues. Two characters occupy main stage: Sarah Golden, a San Francisco nurse transplant expert, and Wyatt Larson, a possible kidney recipient. Snappy dialogue quickly moves readers from one crisis to the next; characters are sympathetic – and the plot, intriguing. How to learn about the inner workings of transplants – and, simultaneously, to enjoy a good mystery.
Category: Women’s Issues
Naiya and the Foxdragon
Naomi VanDoren’s NAIYA AND THE FOXDRAGON is a beautifully crafted coming-of-age story about self-discovery and the world of magic and is replete with exceptionally well-done illustrations in which the free-spirited Naiya and her friend navigate the treacherous jungle to discover her inner strength and save her world.
Category: Young Adult