3rd Place Winners
“Bullet Verse” by Matt Humphries— Outstanding! Matt Humphries is a true artist, and he has painted a thought-provoking masterpiece in “Bullet Verse.” The reader will be challenged to take a much more intricate look at things he or she may have previously taken for granted. You think you know how the world works? There are deep questions in this book that would be great for discussion groups. This is not entertainment for entertainment’s sake but entertaining in a way that compels the reader not to “check-out” but to “tune-in” and understand what truly is going on in the world around them. Every idea, every pensive question proposed by Humphries begs a hundred others. From “Home,” to the fitting conclusion, “Courage,” readers will be asked to take “baby steps” in “seeing the whole picture” and finding their own.
Bella & the Orbaphone by Charline Crous–”It was a beautiful day for a walk on the beach,” but it only got better for one tiny little girl named Bella. Meeting an unusual man with an unusual instrument, Bella is asked if she would like to try to play the orbaphone. “Oh yes,” she exclaims with child-like enthusiasm and so begins a magical journey to an enchanted world. Readers, young and old will dare to dream with Bella and like her may find their own metaphorical “orbaphone.”
Broke Girl by Larry Yoke–Senior Detective Gloria Ramos is a tough Texas gal, but as we learn, everybody has a “breaking point.” This story starts with a bang (literally), and there is action and suspense on almost every page. Ramos and her partners battle the drug cartel on the border which leads them into a Mexican “war zone.” It’s an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride full of surprises right to end. But there’s much more, beneath the tough exterior, Gloria Ramos is deeply compassionate and forms a sincere bond with a 14-year-old troubled youth caught up in the mayhem. The reader comes to root as much for Enrique to reform as for Gloria to “survive and cope” in this compelling drama.
New Frontier: Same old Story by Chris Westmoreland–This futuristic thriller will make you think not only about what might be possible in the physical and metaphysical sense but more importantly, what is morally and ethically right in an elaborate “brave new world?” Dex and Trina and husband and wife despite the fact that one is human and one, well something different. Yet, their relationship is intense and meaningful, loving equals and loyal to the death. They strive to fight evil and protect the innocent in an increasingly complicated universe, and they do it while maintaining their deep emotional and physical bond. It’s a captivating adventure with some great laughs especially from a character named Jade. Enjoy!
Priceless by Lisa Hazen— Hemingway may have been correct that “Every true story ends in death,” but Lisa Hazen is out to prove him wrong. “My story: Priceless” is a “true story” that “ends in life.” Inspiring is an understatement as we read of a couple’s struggle against the ever-growing problem of infertility. From the assumption of “total control” to a humbling realization and depression to “God showed up,” we agonize and rejoice with Hazen along her journey. She asks the most poignant question, “Can you put a price on your baby?” Then in painstaking detail, helps answer the question for others. Of course, the best answer of all comes in the “priceless ending!”
Second Chances by Larry Yoke–Hunter O’Conner has a rough childhood, to say the least, so it’s not surprising when he begins to go down the wrong path. Growing up with an abusive father, we can’t help but feel sorry for him and wish, as he does, that “Mr. Wilson was his father” instead. He’s not, but this father figure does help teach Hunter some lessons that will ultimately help him turn his life around when he does get that proverbial “second chance.” It is a captivating story that teaches us it’s never too late to change and do the right thing.