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

California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 12 December 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Philosophy Shelf American History Shelf California Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

War of the Wolf
Bernard Cornwell
9780062563170, $28.99

War of the Wolf is especially recommended reading for prior fans of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who appeared in other Saxon Tales series titles and who here finds his newfound stronghold under threat from old and new enemies alike. As early Saxon England comes to life under Cornwell's hand, readers are treated to a story that requires little in the way of prior familiarity with the subject, and which provides much in the way of first-person adventure, drama, and insights. The result is a novel that tells of a warrior who holds England's future in his hand, and whose decisions, battles, and missions will change his times.

The Cookbook Shelf

Leon: Happy One-Pot Cooking
Rebecca Seal & John Vincent
Conran Octopus
9781840917765, $19.99

Leon: Happy One-Pot Cooking presents a hundred recipes that can be made using only one pot, and focuses on main course dishes that range from stir-fries and one-pan bakes to slow cooker recipes, an easier Lasagna that just requires stirring up ingredients, layering and baking them, or roasts that are complete one-pot meals. Color photos abound, as do international influences, creating a varied collection of hearty main course foods that make dinnertime a snap.

The Goodness of Ginger & Turmeric
Emily Jonzen
Kyle Books
9780857834621, $12.99

The Goodness of Ginger & Turmeric focuses on two spices and their overall use in a variety of foods deemed healthy because of their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties. Forty recipes promote ginger and turmeric in dishes such as Mustard, Herb and Ginger Chicken, Ginger & Coconut Claypot Chicken, Vietnamese Pork Meatballs, and more. Bright color photos accompany recipes which profile these spices and combinations.

The Goodness of Honey
Edited by Hannah Coughlin
Kyle Books
9780857834638, $12.99

The Goodness of Honey gathers some forty sweet and savory recipes for honey, focusing on honey's health properties and including a wide range of foods to help cooks utilize honey in different ways. Examples include Persian Lentils and Honey Vegetables, Balinese Chicken with Indonesian and Thai flavors, a tangy Tamarind Prawns with honey, and more. The inclusion of many savory options makes this a real winner.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Button
D. L. Finn
Independently Published
9780997751963, $10.99
9780997751956, 2.99, eBook

The Button opens with Lynn Hill's entry into the 1980s when she turns 18 with a determination to leave her childhood pain behind. Coming of age brings with it a hitherto-unrecognized talent and danger, however, which emerges when she receives a powerful warning at a party, ignores it, and enters into a world where she's required to confront her own dark side as well as dangerous forces around her. The Button is an intriguing blend of philosophical reflection, psychological and spiritual intrigue, and adventure in a novel that continues the characters of previous books and presents yet another dilemma in which the battleground of good and evil plays out on human turf: in this case, in the character of Lynn, who faces lies, uncertainties, and a seemingly-impossible quest for a happy ending; and angel Thomas, who is still absorbing lessons from Zelina on his role in influencing human affairs. Readers who enjoy spiritual reflection and philosophy in the course of active confrontations with good and evil will find The Button a thought-provoking, involving read.

Pleasuria: Take As Directed
John J. Jessop
9781633937277 $16.95

Pleasuria: Take As Directed is a story about a doctor's midlife crisis; but readers anticipating the droll style of, say, a Saul Bellow production will be quite pleasantly surprised by a tale that represents a cross between a murder mystery, a whodunit, and an identity crisis. As Jason faces the consequences of a condition that promotes "spontaneous sexual release" among women and places him in the crosshairs of accusation and distrust stemming from a carpool snafu, he finds his own career and expertise unexpectedly on the line. Ironically, this forces him to delve ever deeper into the kind of secrecy and danger missing in his former role as a professional and dispassionate drug evaluator. Readers interested in a blend of comedy, thriller, and medical mystery will find Pleasuria: Take As Directed just the ticket for an involving, different story that creates a compelling tale that's hard to put down and satisfyingly fun.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Click
Steve Shear
The Wild Rose Press
9781509222766, $14.99
9781509222773, Digital / Kindle $4.99

The Click is a fast-paced story that will keep readers on edge with powerful characters, globe-trotting action, confrontations with self and larger social issues, and ultimately with the meaning and purpose of survival itself. From social, religious and political struggles around a vaccine that has harmed as much as it's helped to the involvement of a tiny Indian village in a resistance movement that could change everything, The Click offers a unique blend of futuristic sci-fi, apocalyptic story, and thriller that posits a future challenged by human efforts to extend life and redefine not only their abilities but their belief system. Refreshingly original in its story line and progression, The Click is a top recommendation for those who like their stories well-crafted, futuristic, and thought-provoking.

Baen Books

Two excellent new additions to series titles by notable authors are highly recommended picks for prior followers and newcomers alike. If fans of military sci-fi alien invasion stories aren't already knowledgeable about Brendan DuBois' series about invading Creepers, they should be: this is the most original, compelling series going, and Black Triumph (9781481483438, $16.00) continues the tale by following sixteen year old enlisted Army member Randy Knox, who now faces a second Creeper orbital confrontation. Ambushed and separated from his convoy and his beloved canine fighter, Randy is newly challenged by being a POW in a war against alien invaders. Tim Powers' Earthquake Country (9781481483513, $16.00) is a riveting sequel to Expiration Date and explores what happens when the King of the West has been killed in California and the killer proves to be one of the multiple personalities in one head. As readers sort out these personalities and Janis and Sid escape a L.A. mental hospital pursued by ghosts and insanity, their journey to San Francisco assumes epic proportions in a saga hard to put down and especially recommended for prior fans. Both are outstanding additions and stand-alone reads.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Revelation: Mature Look
Maurice A. Williams
Independently Published

Ordering Link:

Where other Biblical analyses of Revelations focus on interpreting Biblical content almost as a stand-alone separate from choices in description and delivery, Revelation: Mature Look continues the dialogue to explain symbolism, divine nature, preludes to Christ's ministry, and comparisons between real-world events and visions as provided in Revelations. In each chapter, Williams demonstrates an attention to not just spiritual messages and interpretations, but how they were and are delivered to and perceived by Christians past and present. His personal dilemmas in working out God's message and how the world responds to it are another strong feature of an interpretation which goes beyond individual belief to probe the history, psychology, and spiritual base of mankind and its relationship to God, Christ, and Biblical messages as a whole. The result will prove especially satisfying to Christian thinkers and scholars seeking a multifaceted blend of historical and spiritual inspection and the author's own admonitions and cautions based on the lasting impact of the lessons and predictions in Revelations.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Five new audiobooks provide nonfiction listeners with outstanding pairings of astute, involving discussions and narrators who bring each work to life, making the listens and lessons vivid. John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus of CISCO, writes with Diane Brady in Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World (9781549116537, $35.00), which comes to life under Allan Robertson's clear rendition. Chambers tells how he evolved from a dyslexic West Virginia boy to a great business leader who took a Silicon Valley router company and turned it into a global phenomenon. Kabir Sehgal's Fandango at the Wall: Creating Harmony Between the United States and Mexico (9781518747957, $25.00) pairs a book with a cd of recordings that includes right songs from a collaborative effort by thirty musicians working to heal the rift between the U.S. and Mexico. The music album and documentary were inspired by the annual Fandango Fronterizo festival and represents a collaborative project that acknowledges the historic tensions between the two countries which has lead up to the current standoff and idea of the wall. Here Sehgal explains how the border came to be and why the idea of a wall won't stop immigrants from crossing into this country, creating a powerful discussion that lingers in the mind. Ingrid Fetell Lee's Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness (9781478968344, $35.00) is read by the author, whose clear discussion of her basic insights into perceptions and origins of happiness offers a satisfying contrast to other surveys. Designer Fetell challenges ideas that joy comes from the heat alone, and shows how everyday interactions can build and support a more joyful life. Ryan Serhant's Sell It Like Serhant (9781549116636, $30.00) is also read by the author, who lends a passionate and encouraging voice to his story of how to become a selling machine. Stories from his own experience as a salesman back his authority and expertise and reinforce lessons anyone can use to make profits and sell virtually anything. Add a touch of humor and the listen becomes unexpectedly fun. Will Collyer uses a smooth and compelling style to narrate Tom Wright & Bradley Hope's Billion Dollar Whale (9781478947998, $35.00). Business and economics listeners will find fascinating the story of Jho Low, a Wharton business school grad who perpetuated a fraud of wide-reaching magnitude, siphoning off billions to purchase luxury real estate, finance elections, and more. His associations with celebrities, politicians, and big names resulted in one of the most outrageous financial heists in history which comes alive in this audio. All are solid picks that nonfiction listeners will find compelling and well done.

The Philosophy Shelf

Westworld and Philosophy
Richard Greene and Joshua Heter, Editors
Open Court
9780812699913, $19.95

Westworld and Philosophy: Mind Equals Blown continues to expand the series 'Popular Culture and Philosophy' and will appeal to TV and film fans and collections as well as those interested in modern philosophical discussions. Chapters consider the popular television show Westworld, in which human-like androids cater to paying Guests in a theme park; so prior familiarity with the film is highly recommended before pursuing this discussion. From issues of genuine freedom and notions of well-being to analyses of human freedom, this collection is a top pick for modern readers who enjoy philosophical discussions and references set against contemporary media and entertainment.

The American History Shelf

Old West Showdown
Bill Markley and Kellen Cutsforth
9781493032167, $22.95

Old West Showdown presents two authors who offer contrasting views of Old West history, and is an especially recommended read for high school to college-level American history classes interested in debates over history's most notorious characters and notable events. Here history facts are presented in the form of a back-and-forth conversation about the myths, legends, and facts surrounding well-known events. The debates not only offer alternative perspectives on historical precedent, but illustrate how different forms of interpretation can lend to different approaches to Western history analysis, making it especially recommended for history learners who would do more than absorb dates and facts alone.

American Intolerance
Robert E. Bartholomew and Anja E. Reumschussel
Prometheus Books
9781633884489, $24.00

American Intolerance: Our Dark History of Demonizing Immigrants offers a stark rebuttal to the notion that prejudice against immigrants is a relatively modern occurrence, charting the history of how immigrants were never welcome in this country. It surveys different groups and their exclusion and prejudice over two centuries of time, documenting abuses against religions, cultures, ethnic groups and more. The result is a study that should be in any collection strong in American history in general, current social and political issues, and immigrant status in particular.

The California Shelf

Silicon City
Cary McClelland
W.W. Norton
9780395608973, $26.95

Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley represents several years of writer and filmmaker Cary McCelland's interviews with San Franciscans involved in the city's changes, from politicians to businessmen, natives to new arrivals. While background history of the city's growth from Gold Rush to modern times is provided, this focus on cultural, technological, political and social transformation influences in the City's later years makes for a particularly astute analysis of San Franciscan trends and why and how the tech boom differs from any influencers of the past. By incorporating the different perspectives of a myriad of modern thinkers and changes, Silicon City represents a review of new belief systems and the latest insights into connections between the City and evolving business purposes around it. No collection strong in San Francisco history should be without this thought-provoking survey.

Coastal Trails of Southern California
Linda B. and David S. Mullally
Falcon Guides
9781493031580, $22.95

Coastal Trails of Southern California Including Best Dog Friendly Beaches provides a hiking guide to forty coastal trails in the area and includes detailed descriptions of terrain, directions, maps, and color photos that accompany historical background. From food and accommodations nearby to routes and best hiking practices, this guidebook will prove a 'must' reference for any active visitor or resident in Southern California who looks to make the most of the area's outdoors opportunities.

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