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Colorado Book Awards

Readers' Cafe

Go Ask Fannie
Mister Tender's Girl
While Gods Sleep
Mad Boy
500 Words or Less
Mile High Stories 25 Years of Our Best Writing
Tragedy Plus Time A Tragi-comic Memoir
The Doggie in the Window How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man's Best Friend
The Woolly West Colorado's Hidden History of Sheepscapes
Ghost Of
Rough Riders Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill
The Man Who Thought He Owned Water On the Brink with American Farms, Cities, and Food
Coyote Valley Deep History in the High Rockies
Breaking Wild
Go Ask Fannie / Elisabeth Hyde

Winner of the Colorado Book Award for Fiction, 2019

When Murray Blaire invites his three grown children to his New Hampshire farm for a few days, he makes it clear he expects them to keep things pleasant. The rest of his agenda--using Ruth and George to convince their younger sister, Lizzie, to break up with her much older boyfriend--that he chooses to keep private. But Ruth and George arrive bickering, with old scores to settle. And, in a classic Blaire move, Lizzie derails everything when she turns up late, cradling a damaged family cookbook, and talking about possible criminal charges against her.This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a time when they were a family of six, not four, with a father running for Congress and a mother building a private life of her own.

Mister Tender's Girl / Carter Wilson

Winner of the Colorado Book Award, Thriller. 2019

How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender? At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn't exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, nothing more.Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but he is never far behind.Addictive and chillingly surprising, this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller will have you transfixed until the very last page.

While Gods Sleep / L. D. Colter

Colorado Book Award, Science Fiction/Fantasy, 2019.

The first time Ty died he was five, the second time he was seven. He's always believed his third death will be the final one, and now he may find out.

Greece, 1958. More than twenty years after his near-death experiences and the visions of terrifying gods that came with them, Ty leads a quiet life as a locksmith. His ordinary existence is shattered when he's persuaded by a client to play an ancient game of throwing bones. Entering the world of obsessive gambling that he's despised since childhood, he soon finds himself deeply in debt and his life hanging in the balance once more.To repay his money-lender, Ty is forced to descend to Erebus, a mid-world that lies between the surface and Tartarus. His task is to steal an item from Eros' daughter, but to do that he'll have to find a way to survive the demi-goddess as well as monsters he'd believed existed only in myth.

Mad Boy / NICK ARVIN

Colorado Book Award, Literary Fiction, 2019.


Young Henry Phipps is on a quest to realize his dying mother's last wish: to be buried at sea, surrounded by her family. Not an easy task considering Henry's ne'er-do-well father is in debtor's prison and his comically earnest older brother is busy fighting the red coats on the battlefields of Maryland. But Henry's stubborn determination knows no bounds. As he dodges the cannon fire of clashing armies and picks among the ruins of a burning capital he meets looters, British defectors, renegade slaves, a pregnant maiden in distress, and scoundrels of all types. Mad Boy is at once an antic adventure and a thoroughly convincing work of historical fiction that recreates a young nation's first truly international conflict and a key moment in the history of the emancipation of African-American slaves.

Entertaining, atmospheric, and touching, Mad Boy will transport readers with its cast of vivid characters, its masterful storytelling, and its poignant tale of a young man burdened by an outsized undertaking.

500 Words or Less / Juleah Del Rosario

Colorado Book Award, Young Adult Literature, 2019.

A high school senior attempts to salvage her reputation among her Ivy League-obsessed classmates by writing their college admissions essays and in the process learns big truths about herself in this mesmerizing debut novel-in-verse, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and Sonya Sones.

Nic Chen refuses to spend her senior year branded as the girl who cheated on her charismatic and lovable boyfriend. To redefine her reputation among her Ivy League-obsessed classmates, Nic begins writing their college admissions essays.

But the more essays Nic writes for other people, the less sure she becomes of herself, the kind of person she is, and whether her moral compass even points north anymore.
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Mile High Stories: 25 Years of Our Best Writing / 5280

Colorado Book Awards, Anthology/Collection, 2019.

5280, Denver's award-winning city magazine, celebrates its 25th anniversary with a collection of its best longform writing in Mile High Stories. From the haunting tale of a detective searching for a lost girl, to a profile of an eccentric billionaire, to an investigation that was instrumental in helping a man get released from prison, these artfully-crafted narratives paint a vivid picture of life in Denver and Colorado over the past quarter-century.

Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-comic Memoir / Adam Cayton-Holland

In the tradition of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Truth & Beauty - from one of Variety's "10 Comics to Watch," a poignant tragicomic memoir about the author's beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking relationship with his younger sister and the depression that took her life.

Adam Cayton-Holland went from a painfully sensitive kid growing up in Denver, Colorado, to a writer and performer with a burgeoning career in comedy. His father, a civil rights lawyer, and his mother, an investigative journalist, taught Adam and his two sisters to feel the pain of the world deeply and to combat it through any means necessary. Adam chose to meet life's tough breaks and cruel realities with stand-up comedy; his older sister chose law; their youngest sister, Lydia, struggled with mental illness and ultimately took her own life.

This devastating tragedy strikes the Cayton-Holland household at the same moment Adam's career is finally getting off the ground. Both a moving tribute to a lost sibling and an inspiring guide to navigating grief and pain, Tragedy Plus Time is a heartbreaking, honest, and darkly funny memoir about trying your hardest to choose life in the wake of a terrible loss.

The Doggie in the Window How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man's Best Friend

Colorado Book Award, General Nonfiction, 2019.

When journalist Rory Kress met Izzie, she didn't think twice about bringing her home. She found the twelve-week-old wheaten terrier in a pet shop and was handed paperwork showing Izzie had been born in a USDA-licensed breeding facility -- so she couldn't be a puppy mill dog, right?

But a few years later, as Rory embarked on her own difficult journey to become a mother, her curiosity began to tug at her. Sure, Izzie was her fur baby, but who was her dog's real mother, and where was she now? And where did Izzie pick up her strange personality quirks? Like so many people, Rory had assumed the young puppy was a clean slate when she bought her. Those questions led Rory -- with Izzie by her side -- on a nationwide investigation, the first of its kind. From a dog livestock auction to the laboratory of one of the world's leading animal behavioral scientists all the way up to the highest echelons of the USDA, they sought answers about who we're trusting to be the watchdogs for our pet dogs.

The Woolly West: Colorado's Hidden History of Sheepscapes / Andrew Gulliford

Colorado Book Award, History, 2019.

In The Woolly West, historian Andrew Gulliford describes the sheep industry's place in the history of Colorado and the American West. Tales of cowboys and cattlemen dominate western history - and even more so in popular culture. But in the competition for grazing lands, the sheep industry was as integral to the history of the American West as any trail drive. With vivid, elegant, and reflective prose, Gulliford explores the origins of sheep grazing in the region, the often-violent conflicts between the sheep and cattle industries, the creation of national forests, and ultimately the segmenting of grazing allotments with the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Deeper into the twentieth century, Gulliford grapples with the challenges of ecological change and the politics of immigrant labor.

Ghost Of / Diana Khoi Nguyen

Colorado Book Award, Poetry, 2019.

Ghost Of is a mourning song, not an exorcism or un-haunting of that which haunts, but attuned attention, unidirectional reaching across time, space, and distance to reach loved ones, ancestors, and strangers. By working with, in, and around the photographs that her brother left behind (from which he cut himself out before his death) , Nguyen wrestles with what remains: memory, physical voids, and her family captured around an empty space.

Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill / Mark Lee Gardner

The first definitive account of this legendary fighting force and its extraordinary leader, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Lee Gardner's Rough Riders is narrative nonfiction at its most invigorating and compulsively readable. Its dramatic unfolding of a familiar, yet not-fully-known story will remind readers of James Swanson's Manhunt.

Two months after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898, Congress authorized President McKinley to recruit a volunteer army to drive the Spaniards from Cuba. From this army emerged the legendary "Rough Riders," a mounted regiment drawn from America's western territories and led by the indomitable Theodore Roosevelt. Its ranks included not only cowboys and other westerners, but several Ivy Leaguers and clubmen, many of them friends of "TR." Roosevelt and his men quickly came to symbolize American ruggedness, daring, and individualism. He led them to victory in the famed Battle at San Juan Hill, which made TR a national hero and cemented the Rough Riders' place in history.

Colorado Book Award, Biography, 2018.

The Man Who Thought He Owned Water: On the Brink with American Farms, Cities, and Food / Tershia d'Elgin

The Man Who Thought He Owned Water is author Tershia d'Elgin's fresh take on the gravest challenge of our time - how to support urbanization without killing ourselves in the process. The gritty story of her family's experience with water rights on its Colorado farm provides essential background about American farms, food, and water administration in the West in the context of growing cities and climate change. Enchanting and informative, The Man Who Thought He Owned Water is an appeal for urban-rural cooperation over water and resiliency. When her father bought his farm - Big Bend Station - he also bought the ample water rights associated with the land and the South Platte River, confident that he had secured the necessary resources for a successful endeavor.

Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies / Thomas G Andrews

What can we learn from a high-country valley tucked into an isolated corner of Rocky Mountain National Park? In this pathbreaking book, Thomas Andrews offers a meditation on the environmental and historical pressures that have shaped and reshaped one small stretch of North America, from the last ice age to the advent of the Anthropocene and the latest controversies over climate change.Large-scale historical approaches continue to make monumental contributions to our understanding of the past, Andrews writes. But they are incapable of revealing everything we need to know about the interconnected workings of nature and human history. Alongside native peoples, miners, homesteaders, tourists, and conservationists, Andrews considers elk, willows, gold, mountain pine beetles, and the Colorado River as vital historical subjects.

Colorado Book Award, History, 2017.

Breaking Wild / Diane Les Becquets

In captivating prose, Diane Les Becquets tells the story of one woman missing in the Colorado wilderness and another bent on discovering the missing woman's whereabouts, in an unforgettably moving and thrilling literary debut.

It is the last weekend of the season for Amy Raye Latour to get away. Driven to spend days alone in the wilderness, Amy Raye, mother of two, is compelled by the quiet and the rush of nature. But this time, her venture into a remote area presents a different set of dangers than Amy Raye has planned for and she finds herself on the verge of the precarious edge that she's flirted with her entire life.

When Amy Raye doesn't return to camp, ranger Pru Hathaway and her dog respond to the missing person's call. After an unexpected snowfall and few leads, the operation turns into a search and recovery. Pru, though, is not resigned to that. The more she learns about the woman for whom she is searching, and about Amy Raye's past, the more she suspects that Amy Raye might yet be alive. Pru's own search becomes an obsession for a woman whose life is just as mysterious as the clues she has left behind.

As the novel follows Amy Raye and Pru in alternating threads, Breaking Wild assumes the white-knuckled pace of a thriller laying bare Amy Raye's ultimate reckoning with the secrets of her life, and Pru's dogged pursuit of the woman who, against all odds, she believes she can find.

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