By Leslie C. Halpern
In addition to writing books, poetry, and movie reviews, I’m also a book reviewer for several online publications, including BlueInk Review and IndieReader. Although I have a special fondness for romance, science fiction, thriller, autobiography, poetry, spirituality, and entertainment industry nonfiction books, my editors (and sometimes publishers and authors) send me just about anything to review, so I’m exposed to a variety of genres throughout the year, from traditionally published books to small presses to self-published platforms.
The following list represents (in no particular order) new books I most enjoyed reading in 2014.
- The Wisdom of Money: Listening to the Spiritual Message of Your Finances by Dr. Alice Bandy. (Paperback) Silver Tree Press, 144 pages. 978-0615745138. Although most financial guidebooks crunch numbers rather than inspire souls, this wise and wonderful book approaches money from an entirely different perspective. Complete with personal anecdotes, inspirational quotations, and enlightening exercises, The Wisdom of Money enables readers to see the connection between their finances and their emotions, beliefs, and behaviors.
- Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers) by Daniel Jones. (Hardcover) William Morrow, 209 pages. 978-0062211163. As editor of the “Modern Love” column for The New York Times, the author draws upon his experience with his advice-seeking letter writers, plus his own long-term marriage to form conclusions about love. With humor and compassion, he provides entertaining observations on love in the computer age.
- How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating and Publishing Your Personal Story by Roberta Temes, PhD. (Softcover) Reader’s Digest, 192 pages. 978-1621451457. The author approaches memoir writing from more of a therapeutic than a writerly perspective in this helpful new book. After completing 30 memory-based writing exercises in 30 days, readers may find their memoir (relationship, animal, illness, religious, business, travel, romantic, tell-all, disaster, coming-of-age, or call-to-action) partially developed or near completion, depending upon their skills, focus, and dedication.
- Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization by John J. Ratey, MD and Richard Manning. (Audiobook) Read by Dan Woren. Hachette Book Group. 9 hours on 8 CDs. 978-1478977292. Citing historical data on early hunter/gatherers and numerous research studies on some of today’s more primitive cultures, this book concludes that modern life with its carb-rich and high-processed diets is making us fat, sick, and stupid. Harvard Medical School Professor John Ratey MD and journalist Richard Manning make a strong case for living the Paleo lifestyle, a “wilder” approach to eating, moving, thinking, and behaving.
- The Pound a Day Diet by Rocco DiSpirito. (Audiobook) Read by Rocco DiSpirito. Hachette Book Group, 5 hours on 5 CDs. 978-1478900689. This audiobook provides excellent background information about embarking on a 28-day carb-corrected menu plan designed by celebrity chef DiSpirito. He cites the latest nutritional studies, provides his own unique recipes, and shares personal struggles with his weight.
- Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac. The Autobiography by Mick Fleetwood and Anthony Bozza. (Audiobook) Read by Martin Dew with Mick Fleetwood. Hachette Book Group. 10.5 hours on 9 CDs. 978-1478957201. Readers expecting gossip, trivia, drugs, sex, and rock and roll won’t be disappointed with this fascinating and introspective look at the life of Fleetwood Mac drummer, Mick Fleetwood. He’s candid about his mistakes and achievements, presenting an extraordinary life as if it were an ordinary tale of love, loss, and ambition.
- Lying With Strangers by Jonnie Jacobs. (Hardcover) Five Star, 348 pages. 978-1432827311. Filled with surprising plot twists, this intriguing mystery-suspense novel contrasts the lives of two vastly different women: a lonely teenager trapped by poverty and desperation, and a financially stable older woman with two children and a loving husband. A violent crime unexpectedly brings them together repeatedly until they form a mutually beneficial bond that keeps readers engaged from beginning to end.
- Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park. (e-book) CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 336 pages. 978-149964702. The third book in a series, this imaginative coming-of-age story portrays a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome adjusting to changes in her family, school, and social life. Though primarily aimed at young adult readers, the touching story and laugh-out-loud humor allow this book to appeal to readers of all ages.
- The Drop by Dennis Lehane. (Paperback) William Morrow Paperbacks, 224 pages. 978-0062365446. Based on a short story adapted into a screenplay (recently shown at movie theaters in a film of the same name), The Drop focuses on the illegal activities of Cousin Marv’s, a seedy Boston bar owned by ruthless Chechen gangsters. At the center of the story, a lonely bartender adopts an abused pit bull in an attempt to make a loving connection in this intriguing crime thriller.
- Gull Harbor by Kathryn Knight. (Paperback) The Wild Rose Press, 268 pages. 978-1612178363. In this paranormal romance, the love story and ghost story work well independently and eventually together, as they become intricately entwined. There’s a perfect blending of clues, hints, and foreshadowing as Claire, a medium who evicts ghosts from haunted houses, delves into the past (including her own) to solve today’s mysteries.