Like last year, each reviewer here at the New Podler Review of Books picks the book (or books) which he/she feels are the very best independently published (or small press) work. Before, when it was just Podler, it was very easy to come up with one book to receive the Independent Novel Award. One reader, one judge. Getting four people with very different tastes, not to mention genre interests, to agree on one book out of thirty-three as being the very best would be impossible.
First up is S.B. Jung.
My pick for 2011 is Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson. This book is a great read that I highly recommend to anyone who loves a different kind of fantasy fiction.
Libby Cone had two picks.
I nominate Helen Smith's Being Light - a tale well-told, with interesting characters of real depth.
Gunshot Stigmata by Scott C. Rogers: It takes a great deal of talent to employ a highly unreliable narrator, explore his delusions, and keep the narrative from flying apart altogether. A very sensitive treatment of the world of a very damaged soul.
Rob Steiner picked Oathbreaker Book 1: The Knight's Tale by Colin McComb.
Vivid language, unique characters, and a compelling story combined to put it far above the other books I reviewed last year. It's the first of a planned series, so I hope to read more of McComb's work in 2012.
For me, the 2011 winner, hands down, was Mirror Shards. This anthology, about the impact of augmented reality upon society, featured a diverse array of authors. Indie author, Thomas Carpenter, assembled the stories from both traditionally published and indie writers and published it under his Black Moon Books imprint. The end result was a highly entertaining and thought provoking read.
We reviewed 33 books last year. Over 150 submissions were rejected due to various reasons. Time is a big factor. We rejected some well-written stories because we didn't have the time to stick with a book that didn't grab us right away. When we were open to submissions, we received 20-30 submissions each month. It's just too much for us to handle. We need more reviewers to handle the flood. Until then, we'll finish up the remaining submissions from 2011 before we open the submissions window for a new batch.
Thanks for reading!