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California Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 8 August 2017 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Pets/Wildlife Shelf Education Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fiction Shelf Music Shelf California Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Proust and His Banker
Gian Balsamo
University of South Carolina Press
718 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29208
9781611177367, $39.99,

Proust and His Banker: In Search of Time Squandered examines some 350 letters between Proust and his cousin and financial adviser Lionel Hauser, examining links between financial savvy and artistic expression and considering the fictional characters that evolved from Proust's pen and perspective on money. Records of the Rothschild Archive and financial data gathered from the exhaustive Kolb edition of Proust's letters contribute to a survey of Proust's finances and provide important insights into the writer's psyche. The result is a powerfully absorbing survey.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

What to Expect When Adopting a Dog
Diane Rose-Solomon
SOP3 Publishing
9780985769048, $14.99,

What to Expect When Adopting a Dog: A Guide to Successful Dog Adoption for Every Family provides advice from animal rescue specialists, vets, dog owners, and experts who work with animals and gathers articles from pet professionals who provide insights on basic questions new dog owners should consider. From how to assess whether a dog adoption is right for all involved to blending a dog into a family, adapting to its needs and habits, and preparing a home to receive the new family member, this is a top, recommended guide that should be consulted before the adoption process even begins.

The Education Shelf

Differentiated Coaching, second edition
Jane A.G. Kise
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781506327754, $34.00,

The second updated edition of Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Educators Change provides a powerful survey appropriate for understanding and working with people who hold different perceptions of the coaching and education process, and adds exercises, case studies, and classroom insights to help teachers connect professional learning results to classroom activities. This edition presents an expanded, refined approach that supports the contentions of the previous book while adding much new material to round out and enhance the materials, making this new edition a fitting replacement for collections which have seen much use of the old copy, and an excellent addition for any educational collection looking specifically for not just an approach to but a framework for understanding how differentiated coaching can support classroom quality.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Vegan Air Fryer
JL Fields
Vegan Heritage Press
P.O. Box 628, Woodstock, VA 22664-0628
9781941252369, $21.95,

The Vegan Air Fryer: The Healthier Way to Enjoy Deep-Fried Flavors promotes fried foods with little or no oil: something that should attract any who enjoy the crispy taste of deep frying but don't want the detrimental results. "Air frying" fried foods can be achieved through an appliance and this cookbook, which returns crispy onion rings, French fries, and other staples to the health-conscious eater's diet. From doughnut holes and friend corn dogs to tempah, tofu, and other healthy ingredients that benefit from the 'frying' process, this is a winning approach that compliments users of the new device.

Ping Coombes
Weldon Owen, Inc.
415 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
9781681881850, $35.00,

Malaysia: Recipes From a Family Kitchen comes from a Malaysian cook who is also a restaurant owner and culinary partner to a travel operator, and offers some 100 recipes designed to introduce newcomers to the flavors and fare of Malaysian classic dishes. From a classic Malaysian Chicken Curry and Potatoes, a fairly common staple in Malaysian homes, to Butter Garlic Prawns, which requires access to fresh curry leaves (indeed, many dishes require basic Asian ingredients, from bird's eye chilies to fresh pandan leaves and jasmine rice), this is a delightful collection highly recommended for any newcomers to Malaysian flavors.

Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017

Two fine new cookbooks offer excellent recipes and attention to detail that won't be in every competing cookbook collection, and are recommended picks for libraries and cooks seeking lasting value from their acquisitions. Izy Hossack's The Savvy Cook (9781784722708, $19.99) holds three concerns: good food on a budget, maximum flavor, and minimum effort. Combine these objectives in a cookbook filled with color photos and easy dishes for a wealth of flavorful fare the busiest cook can easily duplicate. Lazy Potato Hash with Kale, Pesto & Eggs, Beet, Hazelnut & Crispy Sage Salad, and Oaty Snack Cake are only three examples of dishes hard to find elsewhere, which are loaded with ease and appeal. Diana Henry is back with Plenty (9781784723002, $29.99), a delicious production by a James Beard award-winning author which represents a reissue of her 2010 book. Those who missed this prize-winner will appreciate some 300 recipes that are easy to make yet packed with flavor, based on dishes from around the world, which often use leftovers as a basis for more. Tarts, roasts, tips for using less expensive cuts of meat, and more all contribute to a powerful, highly recommended collection packed with photos and inspirational ideas.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Gods of Sagittarius
Eric Flint & Mike Resnick
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476782126, $25.00,

The Gods of Sagittarius tells of one Russ, one of the top security specialists in the galaxy who finds himself assigned to protect a brilliant savant who is convinced that a race of ancient aliens possessed powerful abilities akin to magic. He's certain these abilities can be acquired, making his knowledge a dangerous thing. Occo, a member of an alien race, finds her home has been destroyed - and those same aliens may be the cause. Now mankind and alien are on a race against time to keep extraordinary powers from falling into the wrong hands in this riveting sci-fi adventure.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Only Skein Deep
Maggie Sefton
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425282526, $26.00,

Only Skein Deep adds another knitting-based mystery to Maggie Sefton's series and includes a recipe and a knitting pattern along with an intriguing story of fiber arts crafters, a forthcoming baby, and a young wife who is a social climber. When she's found dead, Kelly and her crew become involved in finding the killer - and all before Kelly's due date. As it becomes clearer that the killer is mentally ill, a race against time ensues in a fine addition to an engrossing series.

The Fiction Shelf

Silver Threads
Bette Lee Crosby
Bent Pine Publishing
9780996921466, $14.00,

Silver Threads: Memory House Collection is Volume 5 in a series that explores miracles, new beginnings, and a family struggling with tragedy. While it continues a saga, it also stands well alone as a powerfully evocative story of sorrow and connections and will especially attract readers who enjoy family struggles and life challenges. The tale opens with events that suggest there is a Keeper of Scales who balances the stones of joy and sorrow in each life. As tragedy plays out and individual characters struggle with the challenges and changes in their lives, they learn where their strengths lie and discover new connections each other. While prior fans of the series will find this a powerful addition, newcomers shouldn't be put off by the idea of starting with Book 5: it neatly introduces setting and characters and requires no previous familiarity to prove immediately accessible. Fans of women's literature and novels which explore positive outcomes from the greatest of life challenges will find Silver Threads a revealing, gentle read which weaves the drama surrounding death and violence with the greater story of a family's process of recovery and coming together against all odds.

Pop-Out Girl
Irene Woodbury
9780744323337, $4.88,

Pop-Out Girl will appeal to fans of women's fiction who look for stories of feisty females in difficult situations and provides the realistic story of a couple challenged when an ex-boyfriend leaves prison and begins stalking them. Jealousy and its dangerous course is one of the primary themes of the story as Jen and Colton face a dangerous convict who still has the idea that Jen is his girlfriend, despite obvious indicators otherwise - and who has no intention of letting her go. Jen's perspective isn't the only focus to this story: Jen's mother Brandi, who is a cocktail waitress, faces the fact that her first love from long ago, Jen's father, has also inadvertently become part of Zane's dangerous spree, and her involvement and perspective are also developed as one of the strong threads connecting family and love. Women who look for realistic, powerful stories of love and survival, jealousy and confrontation, and change will find Pop-Out Girl a winning leisure choice that probes troubled relationships, alienation, and the long and rocky path to home.

The Last Train
Michael Pronko
Raked Gravel Press
9781942410126, $15.99,

The Last Train presents the investigative challenges of Tokyo-based Detective Hiroshi Shimizu as he confronts the murder of an American businessman and begins work with his mentor and fellow investigator Takamatsu to unravel a string of intriguing possibilities that lead ever deeper into Tokyo's underworld. While mystery readers will relish the progress of a detective who is torn between two cultures and who harbors a feeling of isolation from both, it's the reader of Japanese literature and social inspections who will truly appreciate the depth of background and references that make The Last Train a standout story of not only intrigue, but ways in which crimes are solved, influenced, or supported: "Before Sakaguchi and Hiroshi got to the street, the manager turned to them and said, "If it's a hostess you need, I can arrange one for you." The three detectives stopped. The manager continued, "They'll tell any story, take the blame and do the time. It gets them out of debt, gets your case closed. Everyone's happy." Hiroshi turned to look at the manager and said, "It's too late for happy." "Never too late," the man said. "Plenty of other cops do that. It's not as expensive as you might think."

The Angel of Soriano
Stella Marie Alden
9781541244528, $12.99 PB, $2.99 Digital Book,

The Angel of Soriano: An Italian Romance is a steamy story set in Rome in 1489, and tells of a stormy and passionate relationship between the feisty Aurelia Nardini and Spanish heartthrob Borgia Carvajal. As The Angel of Soriano unfolds, readers receive a satisfying blend of romance and historical novel set against the backdrop of a world torn asunder by desire, political strife, adversity, and choices. From the option of becoming a man's mistress and facing the impact of that decision to how lust moves to a powerful man's desire to have her murdered, The Angel of Soriano takes many unexpected turns and keeps Aurelia on the move and on the run, bringing readers along for a feisty romp through early Roman society. Readers who want the steamy sexual descriptions of a romance paired with a powerful historical novel that embraces the social and political complexities of another world will find The Angel of Soriano offers the perfect blend of romance and action.

Fracture Point
Jeff Altabef
Evolved Publishing
9781622533251, $2.99 ebook;, $14.95 Paper,

Fracture Point is a prequel to Shatter Point and is ideally the book that should come first on a reader's list. The time is 2041; the setting is a world in which employers 'buy' help by paying for their educations, effectively placing them in thrall. Fracture Point's exquisitely drawn characters keep readers involved and immersed in the plot, even though there are a lot of them - and a lot of special interests involved. Under another hand the story line could have become confusing; but Altabef takes the time needed to create characters who are believable and whose motivations and actions are compelling against the backdrop of a bigger story, and this approach drives a thriller that proves hard to put down.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020

Two excellent titles are highly recommended, top picks for any lending library, promising attention and a solid fan base among thriller enthusiasts. Barry Lancet's new Jim Brodie thriller The Spy Across the Table (9781476794914, $26.00) provides the fourth book in a series centered around a part-time PI who is here called to the White House to investigate a murder at the Kennedy Center. The First Lady herself has a special interest in the case, and as he uncovers not just domestic but international connections to the murder, he becomes involved in an espionage plot that places him at odds with some of the major governments in the world. Can Brodie get to the truth, which may lie not in the victim's associations but the lure of investigating his demise, which could draw another victim? This powerful thriller stands well alone, both complimenting others in the series and providing a powerful read apart from it. Lee Child edits Matchup (9781500141591, $27.00), an unusual anthology which takes eleven of top female thriller writers and pairs them with eleven top male writers for a collaborative effort that matches the best of the best. These short stories are thus superior works by the likes of such top writers as Lisa Jackson and John Sandford, Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry, and Sandra Brown and C.J. Box, and are powerfully done recommendations for any who like superior thriller short stories.

The Music Shelf

The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk
Donna Marie Miller
Texas A&M University Press
4354 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4354
9781623495190, $24.95,

The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk follows the history of a local Texas establishment first opened in 1964, a mile south of the Austin city limits, which became a mainstay of good food and country music. The stage at the Spoke has seen such famous classic names as Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, Willie Nelson and others pass through its doors, and these and other acts are described in a lively survey that captures the feel of the early Austin music scene and the Spoke's owners' lives. Today the rustic building still stands as a museum, surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings and now a part of Austin proper; but this book is a top recommendation for any who would understand the evolution of the country music scene in Austin and the nature of its famous honky-tonk establishments and the Broken Spoke in particular.

The California Shelf

An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 South
Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens
Craven Street Books
c/o Linden Publishing
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721-9875
9781610352970, $26.95,

An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 South represents an unusual collaborative effort that completes the trilogy begun with An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 North and continues in Highway 1 Central, offering an exploration of California's Route 1 from beginning to end when taken as a whole. Over 130 color watercolors by Pat Hunter captures lovely landscapes, while the blend of memoir, travelogue, history and artistic impressions of highways and byways offer armchair readers a satisfying blend of art book and travel memoir that's delightfully unique and beautifully presented. No California library should be without this.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

Diane C. Donovan, Editor & Senior Reviewer
12424 Mill Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
phone: 1-707-795-4629

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