Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / California Bookwatch

California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 8 August 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Travel Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf American History Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Photography Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Technology Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Holocaust Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief
Diamante Lavendar
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781982205683, $31.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 74pp,

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief gathers Diamante Lavendar's own insights on how she charted a path through grief, and pairs free verse poems that double as uplifting admonitions with prose and the author's lovely color art images. Those who will benefit most from Lavendar's approach are readers who are seeking their own paths to healing and greater enlightenment, who can accept her candid assessments of what the process of grieving leads to. Readers interested in finding opportunities from the great of adversities will keep Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief close at hand for reflection, inspiration, and ultimately transformation.

The Way of Kindness
Michael Leach,
Orbis Books
Price Building, Box 302, Maryknoll NY 10545-0302
9781626982758, $18.00, PB, 224pp,

The Way of Kindness: Readings for a Graceful Life collects inspirational examples by Anne Lamott, Jack Kerouac, James Martin, SJ, and other literary, philosophical, and spiritual thinkers. It's intended as an inspirational and religious literary gathering of short essays, fiction, poems, and reflections by various writers who consider the evolution and approaches of kindness, and is a fine recommendation for a wide audience. Those who enjoy inspirational reading and quotes but who want more depth and detail will find this filled with insights and advice for better daily living.

The Best American Newspaper Narratives Volume 5
Gayle Reaves, Editor
University of North Texas Press
1155 Union Circle #311336, Denton, TX 76203-5017
9781574417197, $19.95 PB, $15.24 Kindle, 392pp,

The Best American Newspaper Narratives Volume 5 gathers the ten winners of the 2017 Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest, an annual conference and event that profiles narrative storytelling in newspapers across the country. Readers should select this compilation for two reasons: its literary excellence, and its newspaper reporting superiority. The winning writings have a way of striking into the heart of relationships, social issues around the world, and personal experiences that are microcosms of broader issues. These newspaper narratives represent the pinnacles of media reporting excellence and should serve as sterling examples for aspiring students of news reporting and media approaches.

The Education Shelf

Student-Driven Differentiation
Lisa Westman
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781506396576 $26.95

Student-Driven Differentiation: 8 Steps to Harmonize Learning in the Classroom is arranged into three parts busy teachers can quickly digest, and examines the idea of student-driven differentiation processes and the art of planning for such a learning experience. Examples from successful real-world situations accompany theories, instructions on how to blend student participation into the differentiation goal, and how to create a collaborative environment where student and teacher participate equally in the process and its result. Educator reference holdings will find the many specifics, examples, and approaches make a strong case for student-backed learning.

Matthew Dicks
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608685486 $15.95

Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling is all about finding, crafting, and the choices involved in telling a story, and connects life events to the craft of creating, editing, and presenting content. Part of this effort's success lies in understanding the various literary applications involved in becoming a good storyteller. Why bother? Because good storytellers, in turn, become better communicators and are able to engage audiences to deliver different kinds of messages. The sections on the author's own approach and why and how it works are particularly enlightening.

Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451

Ruth Culham's Teaching Writing Well: How to Assess Writing, Invigorate Instruction, and Rethink Revision (9781625311177, $40.00) offers a different perspective on the process of revision, presents the author's work with writing traits and writing from reading approaches, and offers teaches a method of teaching writing in a way that produces measurable results. From the importance of a writing teacher's personal experience with writing in order to correctly teach its fundamentals to students to personalizing the experience of what teaching so that students will have better recall and understanding, Teaching Writing Well goes beyond the basics of teaching writing and delves into what makes for a superior effort and result. Rick Wormeli's Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessment and grading in the Differentiated Classroom (9781625310170, $40.00) appears in an updated second edition that comes from an internationally recognized expert on grading practices, who considers the special challenges of grading students in differentiated environments. Grades K-12 are covered as educators in these environments provide real-world examples and conundrums in grading processes. Sections new to this edition consider related issues from sports eligibility and honor roll to handling gifted students in differentiated classrooms, exploring best grading practices and how different standards and approaches are instigated in the classroom. Both are top recommendations educators need to make reasoned assessments to classroom management and learning effectiveness.

The Travel Shelf

100 Classic Hikes: Northern California
John Soares
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680510560, $21.95, PB, 288pp,

Now in a completely revised, updated and expanded fourth edition, John Soares' "100 Classic Hikes: Northern California" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of showcased trails that thoroughly researched and includes 13 new hikes and 80 new color photos -- and even features detailed driving directions to every trail head, including GPS coordinates! This new all-color edition offers 2 hikes in the Bay Area (including the Coastal Trail in San Francisco); 5 hikes in the redwoods and along the coast north of the Bay Area; 4 hikes in the Sierra Nevada, including two summits: Ellis Peak and Sierra Buttes; and 2 hikes in the Russian Wilderness in the Klamath Mountains. These hikes range from moderate half-day walks to week-long backpacking trips in the top wild destinations, including: Desolation Wilderness and the Northern Sierra Nevada; Lassen Volcanic National Park; Mount Shasta and nearby peaks and lakes; Trinity Alps Wilderness, Marble Mountain Wilderness and Russian Wilderness; Redwood National and State Parks; Mendocino and Sonoma County coasts; Bay Area and Wine Country hills. While especially and unreservedly recommended for all community and academic library California Travel Guide collections as an ideal travel guide planner, it should be noted for personal reading and trip planning lists that "100 Classic Hikes: Northern California" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.95).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Grantville Gazette VIII
Eric Flint & Walt Boyes
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781481483292, $25.00 HC, $5.99 Kindle,

Grantville Gazette VIII provides a selection of short stories gathered by alternate history Grantville creator Eric Flint and Walt Boyes, the editor of the Grantville Gazette magazine, and offers specific short stories based on the time-travel scenario that fills in pieces of the Ring of Fire stories that started in the novel 1632. Prior familiarity with the Ring of Fire series and the stories in 1632 and beyond will lend an extra dimension of appreciation for these pieces; many of which take a section of a prior story and build a new scenario from that segment. All are vivid embellishments on the original theme which are highly recommended for prior fans and enthusiasts of alternative history creations.

Battle at the Comic Expo
Richard Andreoli
Richard Andreoli, Publisher
9781732272415, $19.99 HC, $3.99 Kindle
9781732272408, $11.99 PB,

Battle at the Comic Expo's audience is difficult to easily peg: take dark satirical humor, blend in action/thriller sci-fi elements, and add the specter of a comic convention threatened by forces of evil that move from comic pages into reality and from a zany romp into a world replete with dangerously obsessed fangirls and explosive, emotionally complex relationships. But somehow author Richard Andreoli makes all of this work in his fascinating, dramatic and chaotic novel. Readers familiar with comic convention culture and proceedings will quickly recognize all the trappings of a real convention in Andreoli's dark, satirical production. He is clearly familiar with this realm and its quirky, passionate participants (he worked as a marketing writer at Comic-Con for years), and this knowledge imbibes Battle at the Comic Expo's events with a real-world grittiness and humor. Replete with tension, action, and anxiety, Battle at the Comic Expo's injection of dark humor permeates a gripping story that excels in the unexpected while remaining firmly based in comic culture. Readers will relish its ability to teleport at warp speed between various genres while retaining a sense of originality and drama that makes the story vivid, unpredictable, and nearly impossible to put down.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Inside Sam Lerner
Gwen Banta
9781982922542 $10.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle,

Fans of detective fiction who appreciate and look for psychological insights from their investigative reads will especially relish Inside Sam Lerner as it presents the dilemmas of a former homicide detective sidelined by his wife's death. Sam is on his way to once-familiar New Orleans; now a different world to him. Psychological depth is well-drawn and compelling, the story line offers much insight into Sam's recovery and choices, and suspense is nicely designed to keep readers on edge and immersed as Sam makes his way through a mine field of options and makes some bad decisions. All this translates to a story that is vivid, nicely portrayed, and unexpectedly filled with an atmosphere of New Orleans culture and a double-cross that holds satisfying surprises right up to the end.

The American History Shelf

Saddling Up Anyway
Patrick Dearen
TwoDot Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781493032976, $16.95 PB, $12.99 Kindle, 192pp,

Saddling Up Anyway: The Dangerous Lives of Old-Time Cowboys comes from interviews with nearly eighty men who lived cowboy frontier lives in the West before 1932, plus over a hundred fifty archival interviews and written accounts. It captures the trials, real stories, everyday threats to life, and dangerous methods and experiences of the cowboy. Plenty of books survey cowboy life; but few offer a focus on the types of dangers they faced in riding the range, from snakes to horses, the clashing horns of cattle, and the challenges of roping. The result nicely supplements cowboy history and presents a lively, realistic survey of frontier life.

The Cookbook Shelf

Gluten Free, Naturally
Caroline Byron
Kyle Books
c/o National Book Network
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781909487840, $24.95 HC, $13.99 Kindle, 192pp,

Gluten Free, Naturally: 100 Gorgeous Recipes to Transform the Way You Eat comes from a model who chose to remove gluten from her diet and alleviated many of the health issues she was suffering from Lyme disease. This is not the only disease affected by gluten; so many readers will find this gluten-free book a fine choice; especially since it's directed to new gluten-free eaters who may think the choice invoices avoiding the foods they love. Recipes focus on delicious dishes that happen to be gluten-free. Full-page, appealing color photos accompany many dishes, while the cookbook excels in such revised favorites as fish 'n chips in Fried Sole with Parsnip Chips and Tartar Sauce, Gnocci With Sicilian Pistachio Pesto, and a Truffle Risotto with Parmesan Broth. While some recipes may sound complex, most are very quickly put together; and while an investment in ingredients such as pomegranate seeds, tamari, or gluten-free pastas will be required for many dishes; others can be put together with staples from an existing pantry. The result is an inviting foray into the world of gluten-free cooking that's especially recommended for newcomers to the process who have already cultivated a taste for fine foods and international influences.

Jane Butel
Turner Publishing Company
200 - 4th Avenue North, Suite 950, Nashville, TN 37219
9781681624709, $19.99 PB, $16.84 Kindle
9781681624709, $34.99, HC, 229pp,

Fiesta! Southwest Entertaining with Jane Butel was first published in 1987 and here appears in an updated, revised edition that shares Mexican and Southwest regional cuisine for new audiences. Included here are party planning tips that embrace a range of celebrations, from weddings and Fourth of July parties to merienda-style entertaining. Recipes organized within menus for entertaining range from picnics to dinner parties, and include such dishes as Santa Fe Lasagne, Apricot and Sherried Custard Trifle, and Marinated Mexican Mushrooms. The result is a delightful entertainment-oriented collection that excels in elegant-appearing, memorable dishes.

The Photography Shelf

Masters of Landscape Photography
Ross Hoddinott
Ammonite Press
c/o Trafalgar Square Publishing
388 Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053
9781781453209, $34.95, HC, 176pp,

Masters of Landscape Photography gathers photos by sixteen landscape photographers which illustrate a diverse range of styles and approaches to the art, reproducing images that reflect each artist's process and its results. Photographers who might believe landscape renditions to be a technically singular effort will find these diverse, artistic and full-page representations nicely illustrate how technical prowess lends to various approaches to landscape rendering, from minimalist techniques to epic, bold capturing of light. Specific details on these approaches accompany each photo display and offer aspiring photographers clear guidelines on the ideals behind the images and exactly how these were achieved. Very highly recommended for its diversity and explorations that lend to successful insights by all levels of photography artists.

Fraver By Design
Frank "Fraver" Verlizzo
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764355158, $34.99, HC, 208pp,

Fraver By Design: 5 Decades of Theatre Poster Art from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Beyond gathers under one cover the poster designs of author Frank "Fraver" Verlizzo, accompanying these color award-winning pieces with the kinds of specific artist insights unique to the creator's efforts and objectives. This monograph gathers these works under one cover for the first time, surveys the best pieces from five decades of work, and includes some forty previously unpublished poster sketches for Broadway productions. The author's extensive notes about what he was working in, his influences, and memories of the times makes for an involving and in-depth coverage that goes far beyond simply gathering art by providing personal insights into how it was created and how the poster art complimented theater productions by various companies. Very highly recommended, Fraver By Design should be not only in arts holdings; but theatre history collections, as well.

The Needlecraft Shelf

That Patchwork Place
c/o Martingale & Company
19021 - 120th Avenue NE, Suite 102, Bothell, WA 98011

Two excellent new titles are highly recommended project picks for needleworkers and quilters alike, offering an array of projects unique to each book. Maggie Bonanomi's Pure & Simple (9781604689013, $27.99) features hand-drawn patterns, hand-dyed wools, and original motifs that display stitches even novices can learn to duplicate, and uses primitive art projects to cement knowledge about stitching and style alike. The pleasure in this approach is that this involves no expensive tools and no overly complicated skill sets. Readers learn how to create an array of home projects, from table runners to pillows and wall art, with basic sewing skills that demonstrate primitive art styles. Kathy Schmitz's Stitches from the Yuletide: Hand Embroidery to Celebrate the Season (9781604686955, $25.99) will attract hand embroidery crafters who want a collection of seasonal winter motifs and projects inspired by classics, and will relish a gathering of embroidery projects for ornaments, pillows, and gifts. Full-page patterns accompany good-sized color photos, embroidery keys, assembly instructions, and materials and design specifications. Jenny Wilding Cardon's Visible Mending: Artful Stitchery to Repair and Refresh Your Favorite Things (9781604689358, $23.99) promotes repair over replacement as it shows how to mend rips, sweater snags, tears, and more. It teaches basic hand-mending methods that go beyond just stitching tears back together and which embrace embroidery, patching, and more. Sewing machine users receive clear directions on how to produce fast repairs more effectively, while over a hundred photos promote a creative approach to mending that will prove satisfying to stitchers who want to do more than basic repair. Reiko Mori's Floral Motifs to Embroider (Stitch, 9780986302961, $29.95) comes from a Japanese embroidery professional who here shows how to incorporate elements of nature into an embroidery project. From birds to flowers, Mori focuses on delicate projects ranging from bridal wear to ballet slippers which may be enhanced by these mostly-floral motifs. The result is a bright collection of not just embroidery projects, but unusual purposes they can apply to. These are excellent picks with unique projects not to be found elsewhere.

The Technology Shelf

Wireless Sensor Networks
S.R. Vijayalakshmi & S. Muruganand
Mercury Learning
c/o Mercury Books
9781683922254, $59.95, PB, 500pp,

Wireless Sensor Networks: Architecture, Applications, Advancements provides an important basic reference for professionals interested in wireless communications for sensor networks, and offers in-depth coverage of a rang of subjects related to wireless environments, from multimedia sensor networks to routing and security concerns, underwater wireless networks for oceanographic and water monitoring, mobile ad hoc networks, and more. Charts and graphs, discussions of architecture and integration processes, and safety applications are just a few of the many topics covered with an eye to real-world applications, problems, and solutions. No wireless sensor student or neo-professional should be without this specific survey.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Costly Grace
Rob Schenck
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062667947, $26.99 HC, $12.99 Kindle, $38.34 CD, 352pp,

Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister's Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love provides a spiritual memoir revolving around three conversations, from pro-gun control activism and the basic tenets of the gospel to right-wing Christianity and Judaism, and comes from a spiritual figurehead who became involved in politics, then stepped back to reconnect with his religious roots. Schenck converted from Judaism to Christianity as a teen, became involved in public ministry, and came to a point of crisis in faith as he became more involved in conservative politics. His discussion here revolves around how the religious community can free itself from political divisiveness to return to a focus on what really matters, and his insights blend evangelical concerns with political analysis in a rare scrutiny of beliefs, social issues, political involvement, and a commitment to God. The result should be embraced by any interested in the intersection of faith and political processes.

The Holocaust Studies Shelf

How Hitler Was Made
Cory Taylor
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633884359, $25.00 HC, $11.99 Kindle, 295pp,

How Hitler Was Made: Germany and the Rise of the Perfect Nazi departs from the usual Hitler history in considering the period after World War I in Germany, when left and right groups were engaged in a battle for leadership of the masses. The process whereby Hitler was identified as a charismatic leader by a particular group, set in place to become a leader of the country, and reflected right wing extremist policies has been surprisingly under-considered by many history books about Germany, Hitler, and the rise of the Nazi movement in that country, but this survey, based on archival research in Europe and the U.S. and interviews with experts, surveys how a simmering social resentment was identified, manipulated, and became a path to political dominance and a referendum for change that embraced genocide and hate. Aside from its obvious importance to World War II and German history collections, How Hitler Was Made should be a foundation piece for any political and social issues collection concerned with threats to democratic process and the fostering of social and political unrest in society.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design