Tag Archives: self-published

Phil’s Top Picks 2015

philjason loves booksThe following titles, which I prefer to list without ranking them, are my top picks among those published in 2014-2015 that I reviewed during 2015. It would be easy to find room for another 5-6 fiction titles, but I’m staying with the top 12 selected.

Some years back, the nonfiction list was limited to a “top 8” because I reviewed far fewer nonfiction titles than fiction. That circumstance changed somewhat a few years ago when it became a top 10 list, and this year’s list for nonfiction is a “top 12,” matching an expanded fiction list.

The first two lists reflect my favorites among the trade publications that I reviewed. Separately, I’ve listed 4 self-published titles that seem to me especially worthy of notice.

The order in which the titles are listed has absolutely no significance.

FICTION [trade]

Alan Cheuse, Prayers for the Living

Michael Wiley, Second Skin

Ben Nadler, The Sea Beach Line

Jonathan Papernick, The Book of Stone

Robert N. Macomber, Assassin’s Honor

Alex Kava, Silent Creed

Joseph Kanon, Leaving Berlin

Steph Post, A Tree Born Crooked

James W. Hall, The Big Finish

Lisa Unger, Crazy Love You

Robert Levy, The Glittering World

Kim Michele Richardson, Liar’s Bench

NONFICTION [trade]

Lyn Millner, The Allure of Immortality

Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapel, Lincoln and the Jews: A History

Patrick McGilligan, Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane

Joseph Telushkin, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History

Les Standiford, Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles

Patrick Bishop, The Reckoning: Death and Intrigue in the Promised Land

Peter Longerich, Goebbels: A Biography

Guy Lawson, Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History

Norman J. W. Goda, Barbara McDonald Stewart, Severin Hochberg and Richard Breitman, eds., To the Gates of Jerusalem: The Diaries of James G. McDonald, 1945-1947

Anne C. Heller, Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times

Heidi B. Neumark, Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith

SELF-PUBLISHED

Robert Lane, The Cardinal’s Sin

Kay Taylor Burnett, Ginger Quill

Mike Hirsh, Fly Unzipped

Barbara Marangon, Detour on an Elephant: A Year Dancing with the Greatest Show on

Earth

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Phil’s 2014 Top Picks

philjason loves booksThe following titles, which I prefer to list without ranking them, are my top picks among those published in 2013-2014 that I reviewed during 2014. It would be easy to find room for another 5-6 fiction titles, but I’m staying with the top ten selected.

The first three lists (Young Adult now listed as separate category for the first time) reflect my favorites among the trade publications that I reviewed. Separately, I’ve listed four self-published titles that seem to me especially worthy of notice.

FICTION [trade]

Julia Dahl, Invisible City

Lisa Unger, In the Blood

Randy Wayne White, Haunted

Zachary Lazar, I Pity the Poor Immigrant

James Lilliefors, The Psalmist

Boris Fishman, A Replacement Life

Leonard Rosen, The Tenth Witness

Michael Lister, Rivers to Blood

Beverle Graves Myers, Whispers of Vivaldi

Michael Wiley, Blue Avenue

 

YA FICTION  [trade]

Gwendolyn Heasley, Don’t Call Me Baby

Amber Hart, Before You

Rick Yancey, The Infinite Sea

 

NONFICTION  [trade]

James Webb, I Heard My Country Calling

Artis Henderson, Unremarried Widow

Libby Garland, After They Closed the Gates

Neville Williams, Sun Power

Andrew Furman, Bitten: My Unexpected Love Affair with Florida

Natan Ophir, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission, and Legacy

Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure

Joshua Muravchik, Making David into Goliath

Anais Nin, Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947. Ed. Paul Herron

 

SELF-PUBLISHED

Robert J. Taylor. Hardship Post

Robert Lane, The Second Letter

Gidi Grinstein, Flexigidity

Hélène Gaillet de Neergaard, I Was a War Child

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Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947

Edited and with a Preface by Paul Herron. Introduction by Kim Krizan. Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. 440 pages. Hardcover $34.95.

A new, unexpurgated volume of Anaïs Nin’s diaries.

Anaïs, Anaïs, my darling. We’ve waited so long to hear your full voice as you confront the threshold of early middle age. Finally, 17 years after the last section of your unexpurgated diary appeared, we are able to savor not only that transition, but also the progression from your sometimes exotic, often erotic life in and around Paris to your life in New York.

 

New York: the place where you matured from a girl to a young wife. The place you escaped on a grand adventure in pursuit of the artistic climate that you sought.New York: the place that now seems coarse and unwelcoming. The cultural headquarters of barbarian America is not the ground best suited for your continued personal and artistic growth.

 

Something is missing.Something is always missing. In your journal, which you devote largely to your love affairs, what’s often missing is the ideal, transcendent union that you always, perhaps foolishly, seek.

 

Your longtime lover Henry Miller follows you here. His coldness and rationality are quite at home in the U. S., but he is no longer the inspiration, soul mate, and passion center of your life. He has served his purpose, helping to verify your identity as a creative artist and an alluring woman. And he is growing old.

 

Hugo, your supportive husband whom you love without passion – whom you betray on an almost daily basis – has been noble in his selflessness. Still, he has been only a bank employee. What kind of mate is that? You encourage him to explore his artistic and passionate side – and he does. You steer him toward overcoming his inhibitions – and he makes progress. The reinvented Hugo becomes assertive, even demanding. He is no longer so malleable and obsequious.

 

Anaïs, sorceress, what have you created?

To read the entire “review,” as it was posted on August 12, 2014 in the Washington Independent Review of Books, click here: Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947 |

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Phil’s 2012 Top Picks

 

The following titles, which I prefer to list without ranking them, are my top picks among those published in 2011-2012 that I reviewed during 2012. It would be easy to find room for another 5-6 fiction titles, like James W. Hall’s Dead Last and Paul Goldstein’s legal thriller Havana Requiem, but I’m staying with the top ten selected.

Because I review fewer nonfiction titles than fiction, I’ve made this list a “top 8.”

Finally, the first two lists reflect my favorites among the trade publications that I reviewed. Separately, I’ve listed 3 self-published titles that seem to me especially worthy of notice.

FICTION [trade]

Julianna Baggot,  Pure

James Lilliefors, Viral

Lisa Unger, Heartbroken

Irvin D. Yalom, The Spinoza Problem

Moira Crone, The Not Yet

Roberto Ampuero, The Neruda Case [first English publication]

Randy Wayne White, Gone

Amy Hill Hearth, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society

Joanna Campbell Slan, Death of a Schoolgirl

Henning Mankell,  The Shadow Girls  [first English publication]

NONFICTION  [trade]

Kelle Hampton, Bloom

James W. Hall, Hit Lit

Les Standiford, Desperate Sons

Matti Friedman, The Aleppo Codex

Tonya Clayton, How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach

Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter

Michael Grunwald, The New New Deal

Ellen Cassedy, We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust

SELF-PUBLISHED

Allen Malnak, Hitler’s Silver Box

Noha Shaath Ismail, East of the Sun: A Memoir

Leah Griffith, Cosette’s Tribe

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