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Self-Help / Relationships

  • Finalist

    Stress Wisely: How to Be Well in an Unwell World

    by Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot/Idea: The concept behind Stress Wisely – that, rather than eliminating stress from our lives (which is impossible) we learn to cope with it better --- is a novel yet practical argument that the author convincingly backs up with data.

    Prose: Stress Wisely is written in a warm, authentic tone that finds an ideal balance between professionalism, empathy, and humor. Dr. Hanley-Dafoe's professional credentials infuse the prose with a comforting level of authority.

    Originality: While the book does not necessarily contain a single "aha!" moment, part of its brilliance and originality come from the author's novel – yet perfectly relatable – argument that stress is unavoidable. The author takes the time to define terms like "burnout" within a clinical setting and explain practical steps to minimize its impact on our daily lives.

    Character/Execution: The author's argument is novel and convincing (because of the author's credentials and the data she includes), and the reader especially appreciates the frequent care taken to acknowledge racial, gender, and economic factors that can increase stress and strain. 

    Blurb: Hanley-Dafoe's Stress Wisely is a nuanced, research-based book that encourages readers to acknowledge and work with the inevitable stress in their lives.

  • Semi Finalist

    The Good Daughter Syndrome

    by Katherine Fabrizio

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot/Idea: Aimed at helping daughters nurture healthy, reciprocal relationships with their mothers, Fabrizio’s guide breaks down the different factors that influence mother/daughter relationships, helping readers reflect on their own maternal interactions in a holistic, supportive manner. Fabrizio pays heed to individuality, respecting the uniqueness of each mother/daughter relationship while promoting empowerment and healing from hurtful family dynamics.

    Prose: Fabrizio writes fluidly, delivering striking prose that both comforts and confronts readers, always in a gentle and encouraging way. 

    Originality: Fabrizio’s approach—in some ways, normalizing personality disorders to make them more understandable and easy to address—is unique and lends the guide usability in addition to valuable insight.

    Character/Execution: Despite the gravity of Fabrizio’s topic, she manages to make the material appealing and opens the door to curative self-reflection for both mothers and daughters. 


  • Semi Finalist

    Achievement Addiction DETOX

    by Elena Rand, JD, MSW

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot/Idea: The author offers up a well-reasoned and well-presented assessment, along with a concrete course of action to help break adverse behavioral patterns. She recounts client stories that encapsulate her main themes, and several of them—particularly those illustrating what achievement addiction looks like in real life—will resonate with readers.

    Prose: The author is able to simultaneously educate, entertain, and hold reader interest with a friendly, familiar style that comes across as a dear friend sharing cautionary tales and offering solutions to like-minded readers.

    Originality: This is a new—and relevant topic—with a plausible, logical approach that melds straightforward advice with action-oriented activities.

    Character/Execution: The author lays out her ideas and experiences while still maintaining a positive and visible presence. Hands-on materials, including personal assessments and self-reflection prompts, bolster the guide's practicality.

  • Semi Finalist

    Say Anything

    by Fiona Jefferies

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot/Idea: Say Anything is a creative, hilarious, and practical guide to knowing what to say (or not say) during trying and/or awkward conversations. The concept is novel, yet the author's witty prose will draw the reader in, making them feel as though they are getting the advice of a close friend.

    Prose: While there are moments when the humor walks the fine line between 'done' and "overdone,' Jefferies ultimately succeeds at a very hard thing: balancing that humor with genuine empathy, a feat that she effectively translates into advice for readers.

    Originality: Say Anything hatches a totally original concept – one that goes beyond the confines of pure humor into social commentary and, in moments, even activism.

    Character/Execution: While some of the humor becomes heavy-handed, this slim volume packs a big punch. At a time of great polarization, Jefferies finds a common humanity, acknowledging the challenges of navigating social interactions while advocating for empathy and understanding.

    Blurb: Jefferies' Say Anything is a sharp, witty, hilarious, and heartfelt guide for anyone who has ever found themselves tongue-tied in an awkward, hard, or otherwise problematic situation. 


  • Quarter Finalist

    Plot/Idea: This is a creative, eloquent book that transforms the concept of children's stories into usable, healing life lessons for younger readers. Sears offers 25 powerful tales, each centered on weighty themes and accompanied by a detailed explanation of the story's lessons, as well as questions for further discussion and recommended activities to build on the story's premise. The end result is a credible and purposeful resource for children and their adult readers.

    Prose: Sears balances writing on a children's comprehension level with providing text and resources geared toward adults; despite this significant challenge, the text is an ideal fit for both audiences.

    Originality: The Magic In Metaphor overflows with originality. Each story, character, conflict, and emotion was obviously crafted with a great deal of thought and imagination, and Sears ensured individual story plots perfectly match themes and built-in lessons for additional reflection. The added section at the end for adult caretakers, parents, teachers, and others is a special, considerate touch. 

    Character/Execution: Sears's execution is practically flawless. The book is well-organized, methodical, and inspiring, though a subtitle may offer readers more specific information on the guide's purpose.   

  • Quarter Finalist


    by Craig Copeland

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot/Idea: Copeland rebrands the idea of innovation, referring to it as disruptions in thinking, and relates the distractions of today’s society to the scarcity of revolutionary thinkers. He deconstructs the term "genius," differentiating it from a high IQ, and outlines eight attributes shared by disruptors as a springboard for readers to achieve personal and professional success. The idea may not feel groundbreaking, but Copeland's affable, practical presentation brings it to life.

    Prose: The prose is direct and easy to understand, and Copeland's straightforward approach is well-thought out and tirelessly researched. He clarifies an intriguing concept, making it thought-provoking while sharing his own experiences as illustrations. 

    Originality: Copeland creates buzz around the idea of disruption, helping outliers introspectively improve their cognitive habits. The unique delivery will recharge readers and inspire them to hone their critical and creative thinking skills. 

    Character/Execution: Copeland commits wholeheartedly to laying the groundwork necessary for reader understanding; extraneous information somewhat bogs down the execution in the beginning, but his eight attributes are clear and well-executed. 


    Blurb: A refreshing guide that not only motivates but creates buzz around critical thinking.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Plot/Idea: Young educates readers on how moving a senior into a different living arrangement is unique, offering useful pointers to streamline the process. The guide is well-structured, with a wide array of functional advice readers can use as needed. The inclusion of worksheets, checklists, and other practical tools upgrades this from a run-of-the-mill handbook to a valuable instrument.

    Prose: The prose is down-to-earth and accessible, bolstering the guide’s functionality. Young writes at a graspable level that makes the material transparent and straightforward—a blessing for families coping with transitioning a senior member to new housing.

    Originality: Young’s guide takes the guesswork out of housing transitions for seniors and their families; the pages are filled with sensible, organized instructions and feasible exercises that transform this into a critical and well-rounded handbook. 

    Character/Execution: Young carefully details her recommendations, laying out suggested steps in an easy-to-follow format and including real-life examples that bring clarity to the material. The hands-on resources included throughout make the guide adaptable to a multitude of situations.

  • How to Talk to Porcupines

    by Allegra Birdseye-Hannula

    Rating: 8.75

    Plot/Idea: Birdseye-Hannula's field guide offers practical advice for anyone who works with young people, especially those who have erected barriers to forming personal connections. The author's approach is direct yet full of compassionate understanding.

    Prose: The author's prose is warm but concise; readers will value the balanced integration of case studies, the author's own experiences, and contextual advice.

    Originality: While certainly not the first book to advise youth workers on handling difficult communications, Birdseye-Hannula's field guide offers a refreshing combination of empathy and advice that is welcome (for instance, the chart on inclusive language stands out); the author's awareness of gender, race, and economic barriers that can exist between adults and the kids they work with is especially valuable.

    Character/Execution: A short, to-the-point guide, How to Talk to Porcupines is a welcome addition to any caregiver's toolkit. Despite its many strengths, and the author's inclusion of helpful anecdotes from her own experiences, the reader may still crave more of her perspectives -- a strengthening of the bond between reader and author would be welcome.

    Blurb: Birdseye-Hannula's How to Talk to Porcupines is a concise guide filled with practical advice to help people who work with young people better communicate with them, especially in "prickly" situations. 


  • Reconstructing Reality

    by Amy L. Rosner

    Rating: 8.75

    Plot/Idea: Readers looking to reprogram their thought patterns through hypnotherapy will find this to be an intriguing and frequently eye-opening book. Rosner provides powerful examples, both personal and professional, while also conveying the science behind rewriting the brain’s reality. 

    Prose: While the writing is engrossing and Rosner's tone is comfortably relaxed, the work may benefit from more scaffolding and restructuring. Some compelling examples are overshadowed by the author's research and contextual ideas.

    Originality: Rosner urges readers to understand the programming behind thoughts and habits rather than relying on medication or more traditional therapeutic paths. The author's professional insights and extensive background lend credence to her assertions.  

    Character/Execution: Though Rosner’s points are engrossing, the immensity of the book’s ideas may sometimes overwhelm readers and cause valuable insights to be overlooked. Regardless, Rosner provides ample experience and detailed methodology to back her intentions.

  • The 7 Pillars of Successful Caregiving

    by Dr. Eboni Green

    Rating: 8.75

    Plot/Idea: The 7 Pillars of Successful Caregiving explores how caregivers can develop their skills and mindset in a physically and mentally challenging environment. The book provides journaling exercises, strategies to utilize, and is littered with pertinent real life stories and anecdotes that underline the principles of providing effective care.

    Prose: Green's text is professionally presented and offers practical advice for caregivers to develop their skills in relation to empathy, self care, empowerment, kindness, patience, communication, and active listening. The text provides detailed descriptions of terms like "burnout" and offers useful tips for overcoming stressful and potentially challenging situations.

    Originality: The 7 Pillars of Successful Caregiving is a book that caregivers will cherish, providing them with a neatly devised framework to refer to when needed. The text is clear, well organized, accessible, and contains great tips for confronting anxiety and depression.

    Character/Execution: Green's academic narration and presentation works perfectly for the content, which is bright and informative. The use of personal experience and anecdotes helps create a more intimate connection with the reader, as does the detailed look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, analyzing how it applies to caregiving.

    Blurb: An excellently written guide for caregivers.

  • Plot/Idea: Written with poise and determination, Raven and the Hummingbird explores Joan's Multiple Personality Disorder in an affecting and powerful manner. The years of abuse and molestation she has suffered are brought into sharp focus.

    Prose: Caldwell's text vividly explores Joan's MPD, allowing Joan's 52 alternate personalities to delve deep into the unimaginable trauma of Joan's childhood. This is a tough, uncompromising, and enlightening read.


    Originality: Caldwell enables the reader to experience Joan's triumphs and setbacks on her grueling journey to recovery. She takes a headlong dive into one person's vulnerability, resulting in an extremely powerful text for those interested in psychology, therapy, and personality disorder manifestations.

    Character/Execution: Over the course of Raven and the Hummingbird a profound connection develops between Joan and her therapist, which is captivating to observe. The presentation of Joan's alternate personalities (or "alters" / "parts" as they are referred to) is incredibly moving, especially when dealing with dark characters like Shadowman or protectors like the titular Raven.

    Blurb: A stark and powerful portrait of a tortured mind.

  • The Connection Playbook

    by Andy Chaleff

    Rating: 8.75

    Plot/Idea: The Connection Playbook is an enlightening and potentially transformative book that delves deeply into how humans connect with one another. Chaleff's all-encompassing and forward-thinking book draws on his own personal experiences to guide people in establishing meaningful bonds and relationships.

    Prose: Chaleff's comforting and informative tone strikes a neat balance that is endearing and inspiring.

    Originality: The Connection Playbook has the potential to help people forge stronger relationships and embrace their inner emotions. The balance struck between engaging storytelling and useful practical exercises is a powerful combination, resulting in an insightful, interactive and educational text.

    Character/Execution: Chaleff has a knack for highlighting people's feelings and identifying how to make transformative improvements. He excellently draws on real life situations that help illustrate potentially complex issues.

    Blurb: A compelling and comprehensive study of the human connection.

  • Plot/Idea: Super Mentors is an empowering exploration of modern mentorship and how mentoring can help us tackle the most important challenges and struggles we encounter. The text dips in and out of conversation with Adam Saven, the CEO of PeopleGrove, to delve deeper into the potential of successful mentoring and the power of embracing the unexpected.

    Prose: Koester's text is neatly divided into specific sections so readers can pick and choose the areas that most interest them. Super Mentors is detailed, thoroughly researched, and connects to readers in a dynamic and conversational manner.

    Originality: Koester's book is a brilliant guide for recent graduates or those looking for a career change, primarily extolling the benefits of super mentors who provide opportunities and problem-solving strategies.

    Character/Execution: Koester passionately highlights the benefits of mentorship in a world that is quickly becoming more dynamic, more connected, and more transparent. 

    Blurb: A revealing guide to the benefits of mentorship.

  • The Empty Nest Blueprint

    by Anthony Damaschino

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot/Idea: The Empty Nest Blueprint is an eye-opening guide for parents dealing with children moving on to new pastures. The book aims to help parents embrace the positives of this transitory phase, ensuring that they decide, define, and drive their futures as a consequence of this change.

    Prose: Damaschino's text is well-crafted and insightful, giving parents great advice to prepare for the tricky transition of children leaving the family home. The book is relatable, easy to read, and well researched, presenting its findings in a clear and concise fashion, often reinforced by simple and effective exercises to help parents deal with Empty Nest Syndrome.

    Originality: The Empty Nest Blueprint not only benefits from compelling storytelling, but warm and reassuring narration that gives useful advice on how to stay connected and create a workable family structure. It articulately explores how we confront the big milestones and transitions in our lives in a detailed and compelling manner.

    Character/Execution: Damaschino is a likeable narrator who feels passionately that parents are more heavily involved in their children's futures than ever before. Children's feelings of disengagement and nostalgia coupled with parents' loss of identity and marital stress are key factors in the development of Empty Nest Syndrome, which Damaschino exposes with clarity and nuance.

    Blurb: A detailed and useful guide for parents when their children leave home.

  • Magic Source Codes: The Craft of Reality

    by Cat Howell

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot/Idea: Offering a wondrous mix of intimate personal stories and helpful how-to tips, Magic Source Codes acts as an invigorating guidebook to recovering a central life-force by embracing magical practices. 

    Prose: With beautiful metaphors and vivid imagery, Howell reveals deeply personal moments and discusses her struggles with raw honesty.

    Originality: Howell provides helpful insights into basic, holistic magical practices and includes authentic examples taken from her own life that will inspire readers to embark on their own journeys. 

    Character/Execution: Howell discusses magic in a practical way, decoding many of the elements that mystify modern audiences. By clearing up common misconceptions, Howell lights a clear pathway for readers to see how magic can be personally transformative.


  • Plot/Idea: The Enemy Within skillfully addresses the need for a reassessment of Black American conflicts and struggles, suggesting ways they can be addressed. Williams's book will undoubtedly help spark conversation about the social, political, and economic welfare of generations of Black Americans. 

    Prose: Williams's text is written in clear and concise language, the academic approach effectively exposing the perception of Black Americans in a wider social context. The book benefits from a brutal honesty which is refreshing and pertinent. Williams examines the demeaning of Black Americans over the ages, and the lasting impact of the internalization of such messaging. 

    Originality: The Enemy Within is unique in its candid approach to addressing problems facing the Black American population. Williams exposes the nature of racism in a thoroughly thought-provoking and intelligent analysis of the Black American psyche.

    Character/Execution: Williams puts sharp focus on historical oppression of Black Americans and its effect on generations. He integrates illuminating personal anecdotes and detailed studies of key figures from Black American history that further help reinforce his convictions.

    Blurb: A candid critique of the evolution of Black American society.