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

California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 2 February 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Autism Shelf Education Shelf
Fiction Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Islamic Studies Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Computer Shelf Technology Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf American History Shelf California Shelf
Independent Publishers Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

California Illustrated
Mark Drenth, author
Abner Cardona, artist
Sunnyscene LLC
PO Box 7317, Reno, NV 89510
9781880760703, $22.95, PB, 380pp,

The collaborative project of author Mark Drenth and illustrated Abner Cardona, "California Illustrated: History, Culture, Food, Animals, Insects, National Forests, Activities and Sticker Fun" is a unique compendium of information on and about California that includes 253 colorful stickers. Each attractively illustrated page has a specific place to stick a sticker that is relevant to the illustration on the page. A fantastic learning book for all things important regarding California, this entertaining and educational volume specifically illustrates the history, culture, foods, insects, animals, national forests, lakes, and places of California. The illustrated chapters include: California Early History, European Exploration, California Missions, Places of Interest, Lakes and Islands of California, Military Bases of California, Insects found in California, Animals found in California, Festivals and Parades, Vegetables and Fruit found in California, California National Parks, California National Forests, State Symbols and Activities. Each page can also be colored for an additional activity. Unique and as entertaining as it is instructive from first page to last, "California Illustrated" offers hours and hours and hours of fun, factual, and highly recommended entertainment.

The Art of Connection
Michael J. Gelb
New World Library
9781608684496, $16.95

The Art of Connection: 7 Relationship-Building Skills Every Leader Needs NOW comes from a pioneer in leadership and innovative thinking methods who has discovered how to best inspire such breakthroughs and changes in thinking processes through applying seven basic skills. These include accepting humility, spreading positive emotions, changing patterns that obstruct the connection and creativity process, and more. Each skill is illustrated using story examples and adding scientific research to back exercises. The result is a solid discussion especially recommended for new age, psychological and business leaders alike.

Blowing America's Mind
John Selby and Paul Jeffrey Davids
Yellow Hat Publishing
9780997055993, $19.95

Blowing America's Mind: A True Story of Princeton, CIA Mind Control, LSD and Zen combines a memoir of counter-culture American experience with a story involving conspiracy, the CIA, and the Princeton study which was one of the CIA's test projects for LSD. While it provides an introduction to the psychiatrists and psychologists who secretly worked for MK-ULTRA conducting experiments and comes from two Princeton alumni who reveal how they got caught up in the CIA's hypnosis research while they were students, it also captures the political and social impact of CIA efforts and the times and is a powerful recommendation for anyone who would understand them.

The Autism Shelf

Pointing is Rude
Digger O'Brien
Heliotrope Books
9781942762348, $16.50

Pointing is Rude: One Father's Story of Autism, Adoption and Acceptance provides a parenting memoir that focuses on the challenges he faced when his first son, Frederick, was diagnosed with autism, and the search he embarked upon to find answers that would help him be a better father to his son. His adventures incorporate hope, dashed dreams, new directions, and the wide-ranging despair that erupted when his baby turned out to have a condition that would change all their lives. From how to help manage kids with autism who face scheduling by using picture images to classroom and home challenges, this adds to the literature on autism and parenting and offers parents in similar positions a powerful discussion of techniques, realities, and hope.

The Education Shelf

Deep Learning
Michael Fullan, Joanne Quinn and Joanne McEachen
9781506368580, $28.00

Deep Learning: Engage the World Change the World maintains that students learn best if school systems can move from an approach that identifies and supports individual talents to one which focuses on creating a diverse learning environment, and offers a number of ideas to encourage such 'deeper learning' in various school environments. As chapters give examples of the future of work, education processes around the world, and different practices as they relate to learning goals, educators will receive a powerful set of insights offering direct connections between learning approaches and models for social change. No educator should be without this powerful discussion.

The Fiction Shelf

Future Home of the Living God
Louise Erdrich
9780062694058, $28.99

Think The Handmaid's Tale and add a haunting dystopian focus on a future world in which evolution is reversing and pregnant women are being detained, and you have vision of the power and presence of Future Home of the Living God, which is presented in the form of a journal that Cedar Songmaker is keeping secret for her unborn child. In this volatile strange new world, Cedar battles for her own life and that of a child who may prove to be a dangerous throwback, and discovers new strengths within her as the emotions of a pregnant woman joyful over her forthcoming arrival are tempered by the dangerous new controlled society taking away freedom in the name of preserving humanity. Powerful messages for women and for social freedoms weave into a compelling saga that will keep readers tense and involved up to the unexpected conclusion.

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
Anne Valente
William Morrow
9780062429117, $25.99

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down presents the contemporary impact of a school shooting and its impact on four teenagers as they face the challenge of reconstructing school events for a yearbook project, only to find themselves documenting the horrific events and impact of a deadly school shooting by a classmate. These survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost and affected by the shooting; but as their St. Louis town is rocked by a series of arsons and violence, they find themselves outside the school investigating the heart of violence in modern America. Readers will find Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down fast-paced, absorbing, and hard to put down.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

Three new needlework guides are top picks highly recommended for quilters, and feature bright presentations backed by authors who produce professional results and simplify the process for newcomers and advanced quilters alike. Edyta Sitar's Patches of Blue: 17 Quilt Patterns & a Gallery of Inspiring Antique Quilts (9781604689105, $28.99) comes from the author and designer of Laundry Basket Quitls, who shares dozens of antique quilts in a gallery of photos and patterns. Her focus on blue and white productions and themes will appeal to any who want to integrate these colors into home decor, while each quilt accompanies a full-page color photo with smaller patterns and step-by-step construction methods. Lynne Hagmeier's Cozy Quilts and Comforts Easy to Stitch, Easy to Love (9781604689075, $27.99) focuses on the quilting style of Kansas Troubles Quilters and shows how to approach designs two ways, using a blend of traditional piecing methods and Hagmeier's signature layered technique. Country designs promote these layered approaches and provide results that lend to country-style decor. Martingale's The Big Book of One-Block Quilts: 57 Single-Block Sensations (9781604688931, $28.99) teaches how to create quilts from a single block, and offers nearly sixty quilt designs that can be pieced a block at a time, or in multiple blocks. Various designers - top names in the quilting industry - offer original approaches and designs to teach newcomers how to use repeated blocks in a variety of geometric patterns, including variations on a theme. Susan Ache's Start With Strips: 13 Colorful Quilts from 2 1/2" Strips (9781604688719, $25.99) is for quilters who want to use scraps to create lovely quilts, and promotes the creation and blending of fabric strips. Her tricks for successfully sorting strips, blending them, and using them to make scrappy quilts that are standouts makes for a fine approach accessible by newcomers and experienced quilters alike. Doug Leko's Stashtastic! 12 Patterns for Fat-Quarter Quilts (9781694688696, $25.99) displays lap and bed-sized quilts that can be made with fat quarters - as few as eight or as many as thirty - and comes from a designer who makes each quilt in two different colorways for variations on a theme. Quilters receive details on assembling, finishing, and then applying alternate colorways for maximum effect. All are fine productions highly recommended for newcomers and aspiring intermediate quilters alike.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet
Douglas Adams and James Goss
BBC Books
9781849906777, $19.99

Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet presents a classic Douglas Adams story which has been novelized by James Goss, based on first draft scripts by Adams, and is especially recommended for fans of Doctor Who. The Key to Time has been split into six segments which have been hidden through time and space, but the White Guardian charges the Doctor to locate these pieces. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 have traced the second segment to Calufrax, but their journey to the planet somehow brings them to Zanak, instead - a happy, rich planet which is almost too happy and rich. Something's obvious up, and Doctor Who is the only being who may be able to solve the mystery in the course of his quest, nicely detailed in an adventure story that makes for a fun, complex story.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Cosmic Womb: The Seeding of Planet Earth
Chandra Wickramasinghe, PhD and Robert Bauval
Bear & Company/Inner Traditions
9781591433071, $20.00

Cosmic Womb: The Seeding of Planet Earth belongs in any new age collection that deal with ancient cultures, the heavens, and possible extraterrestrial links to other worlds, and presents the latest findings that support a cosmic birthplace for humanity. Astrobiological discovers from space, arguments about the age of the universe and mankind, and new advancements in various sciences support the authors' contentions of human origins, DNA evidence, new discoveries, and how the real origins of man may be stranger than we think. New age readers will especially relish the scientific studies and references throughout.

The Islamic Studies Shelf

Symbol of Divine Light
Nicholas Stone
World Wisdom
9781936597567, $22.95

Symbol of Divine Light: The Lamp in Islamic Culture & Other Traditions reviews the history and meaning of the lamp in various cultures, describing historical and spiritual events surrounding the lamp with a special attention to the meaning of the mosque lamp. Collections strong in Islamic religious inspections in particular will relish a survey which includes religious, historical and archaeological evidence and illustrates its pages with numerous color photos of relics and images throughout, making for a serious survey that will appeal beyond new age and Islamic history holdings into archaeological and religious collections.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Pain-Free Back
Dr. Tang, Jwing-Ming
9781594395376, $16.95

One has only to examine the popular health shelves of libraries and bookstores to note that back pain is one of the most frequently discussed topics there; but The Pain-Free Back: 54 Simple Qigong Movements for Healing and Prevention offers something different than most: a practical fitness approach to back health that applies quigong techniques to pain-free results. Since nearly 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point, the need for practical self-help exercises with proven results is quite evident. These exercises are simple, promote flexibility and strength, and offers routines designed to get people moving with gentle, meditative movements. It's highly recommended as a powerful addition to any collection strong in back health.

The Miracle of Regenerative Medicine
Elisa Lottor, PhD, H.M.D.
Healing Arts Press
9781620556030, $18.95

The Miracle of Regenerative Medicine: How to Naturally Reverse the Aging Process comes from a health expert who tells how to make the most of the body's self-healing abilities to prevent illness and reverse aging, and examines dietary choices, inflammation in the body, what foods to avoid and which to eat more of, and how to understand the purposes and approaches of regenerative medicine. The latest research is considered in a title which holds many keys to preventing illness and optimizing health.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

These audio titles are top recommendations offering listeners evocative leisure choices that linger in the mind long after the listen is over. David Baldacci's End Game is narrated by Kyf Brewer and Orlagh Cassidy and comes in both abridged (9781478921523, $30.00) and unabridged (9781478930037, $40.00) formats as it tells of Will and Jessica, a powerful hit team used by the federal government whenever secrecy is needed to stop those who plot against the U.S. One man stands behind them, code-named Blue Man - but when he disappears, the team finds themselves investigating one of their own in a dangerous effort that begins innocuously enough, in a small town, but may hold deadly ramifications for America's existence. Thriller readers will relish the supercharged drama signature of Baldacci, which comes to life in this audio. Janet Fitch's The Revolution of Marina M. (9781478923367, $50.00) is a weighty story narrated by Yelena Shmulenson on 26 CDs which provide a sweeping Russian drama on par with Doctor Zhivago, but with a female rebel, Marina Makarova, at its center. This story of the Russian Revolution receives a woman's perspective which is a satisfying counter to many novels that are narrated from a man's point of view, and follows Marina's coming of age at a moment when her country is being torn apart by revolution. The result is a powerful and wide-ranging story recommended for fiction listeners who enjoy complex historical dramas. James Patterson's The People vs. Alex Cross is narrated by Andrew Blake and appears in both abridged (9781478923529, $25.00) and unabridged (9781478923343, $35.00) formats as it provides another Alex Cross legal thriller in which Cross is now accused and must defend himself. Suspended from the department and facing charges that seem incontestable, Cross can't even convince his own family of his innocence. And if he can't even persuade those he loves, what chance will he have in a court of law? All are riveting audiobooks, hard to stop listening to and packed with insights and drama. Meg Jay, Ph.D.'s Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience (9781478993865, $30.00) comes from a clinical psychologist who surveys loss, adversity, violence, and other experiences that can make ordinary people extraordinary survivors, and offers a powerful discussion of resilience and how it is achieved. By making her account specific to survival tactics, and pairing them with powerful stories, Dr. Jay provides an eye-opening saga that offers hope to a wide audience facing all kinds of circumstances. Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's Dear Evan Hansen Through the Window (9781478999522, $35.00) offers a companion volume to the American musical Dear Evan Hansen, following the story of how it evolved, its themes and production, and including interviews with the cast and production team of the Tony Award-winning show. Familiarity with and affection for the musical will lend appreciation and enjoyment to this powerful story of how it came to be, recommended for any performing arts holding.

The Computer Shelf

GIS Tutorial 1 for ArcGIS Pro: A Platform Workbook
Wilpen L. Gorr and Kristen S. Kurland
ESRI Press
9781589484665, $99.99

GIS Tutorial 1 for ArcGIS Pro: A Platform Workbook is highly recommended as a classroom text for any student of ArcGIS Pro, providing a professional introduction that pairs exercises with discussions about how the latest GIS technology can be applied to make maps, analyze spatial data, and manage systems. Proven teaching methods are blended into these exercises and homework assignments, offering discussions packed with real-world applications, visuals, and methods students can use to test their knowledge as they go along. There is no better tutorial on the markets for exploring the basics of this program and its uses.

Imagery and GIS
Kass Green,
ESRI Press
9781589484542, $99.99

Imagery and GIS: Best Practices for Extracting Information from Imagery is best utilized by the GIS-savvy student and neo-professional who already works with ArcGIS, and builds upon skills as it surveys mapping imagery, different kinds of images and sources, digital and scanning approaches, and how imagery can be integrated into GIS maps and analytical processes. Chapters provide case studies and essential details on how to select the best or most appropriate images, how to manage image sets, and how to best utilize the information they represent. The result is a treasure trove of insights into the entire process of incorporating imagery into GIS objectives.

The Technology Shelf

Phased Array Antenna Handbook, third edition
Robert J. Mailloux
Artech House
9781630810290, $169.00

The third updated edition of Phased Array Antenna Handbook completely revises the prior edition to update information on array antennas and systems, expanding coverage of these systems and their latest technologies and examining their role in various communication and air- and space-born systems. Antenna engineers receive a reference that explores broadband applications, array systems sizing challenges, developments affecting trends in new and future antenna technologies, and plenty of mathematical charts and graphs to cement this information. Reference collections strong in antenna and electrical engineering will find it a powerful reference while libraries holding prior editions will find this latest update essential.

Interference and Resource Management in Heterogeneous Wireless Networks
Jiandong Li,
Artech House
9781630813406, $139.00

Interference and Resource Management in Heterogeneous Wireless Networks joins others in Artech House's mobile communications series, providing wireless network engineers with an overview of heterogeneous systems, smart cells, and device-to-device communication systems. Discussions range from network modeling best practices to performance analysis and design, and explain various interface mitigation processes and the challenges involves in transmission. The result is a detailed technical reference that will prove particularly important to those newly entering this study who want a clear overview of these systems and how they work.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books
9781633883659, $15.95

Dominic provides a sequel to Hollow Man and will prove a special treat for those prior readers of that book who want a surprise continuation of the theme. Only two other people know that English musician and prosecutor Dominic, who lives in Texas, is also a psychopath who once got away with murder. Even with such a limited cast with special knowledge, can Dominic keep his secret in the face of a persistent and clever detective? Social, legal and psychological challenges keep Dominic on his toes in this satisfyingly macabre story, filled with twists and turns to keep readers engaged and engrossed.

The American History Shelf

Thieves' Road
Terry Mort
Prometheus Books
9781633883338, $18.00

Thieves' Road: The Black Hills Betrayal and Custer's Path to Little Bighorn provides a narrative about Custer's 1874 expedition into South Dakota and considers how this early expedition set the stage for the Bighorn disaster that took place two years later. It provides a startling contention about Custer's discovery of gold in the area in the midst of a powerful economic depression, and considers how that discovery promoted a virtual invasion of the Sioux's sacred grounds by white prospectors. No American or Native American history holding should be without this essential study.

The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City
Margaret Creighton
W.W. Norton
9780393354799 $16.95

The appearance of The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World's Fair in paperback means it will reach an even wider audience with this involving expose of the Pan-American Exposition held in 1901 in Buffalo that was meant to celebrate the start of the 20th century and capture its pageantry and hope. Instead, events surrounding a murder made the fair a dark moment in American history and represented a new brand of tension that would open the new century not with hope, but with fear. The events at the Buffalo Exposition are perfectly captured, from the highs of its hopes to the lows of its deadly place in American history, making for a compelling read recommended for anyone interested in American history.

The California Shelf

Lake of the Sky Images
Carol A. Jensen
Byron Hot Springs
9780692924136, $45.00

The Lake of the Sky Images: The Photographs of Harold A. Parker represents the first collection of commercial photographer Parker's Lake Tahoe images, and documents both his career and the changing natural landscape of California's Lake Tahoe region. While Parker may be best known for his images of steamships on brochures promoting the region, his work was not limited to postcards and business brochures alone. It would have been too easy to just gather his images under one cover; but Carol A. Jensen adds many details about the photographic techniques and equipment of his times, the efforts of other commercial photographers in representing the Tahoe region, and Parker's role in promoting the region through collaborative work with others and exceptional visual artistry. The result should be in any California history collection and in any holding strong in regional photography histories and photographer biographies, as well. Its synthesis of techniques, local detail, and its bright, glossy pages of Parker reproductions is simply exquisite.

The Independent Publishers Shelf

Dan Petrosini
ASIN: B077YSPN61, $2.99

Phil and Robin have been married ten years when he vanishes one day, leading his best friend Dom Stewart (and Detective Luca, who is assigned to the case) to investigate a disappearance that is out of character even for this philandering buddy. Readers who look for detective stories that are edgy, packed with character observations and intrigue, and which hold unexpected and increasingly complex probes into gambling schemes, mob ties, and sometimes-dubious expressions of love will find Vanished a satisfyingly absorbing read right up to its surprising conclusion.

Applejack & Bat Masterson: Trinidad's Law
Charlie Steel
Condor Publishing, Inc.
9781931079181, $12.95

Applejack & Bat Masterson: Trinidad's Law follows Jack 'Applejack' as he leaves his long-familiar family homestead in Southern Colorado to move out into the world. His encounters with a Mexican bully and a lone, injured gunslinger who teaches him a thing or two about shooting and survival prepares him for an unfamiliar, harsh frontier environment with all its evils and kindnesses. From the politics revolving around the Earps and Doc Holliday to the process of assuming responsibility for his own future, Applejack receives a series of hard lessons about his place in the West through his relationship with Bat Masterson, and confronts the sweet impossibility of romance. As issues of fairness and survival force some serious decisions, Applejack finds himself immersed in altercations and a life quite different than he was born into. Readers seeking a rollicking good read backed by real-life events of the wild West, but peppered with solid action and characterization that bring these facts to life, will find Applejack & Bat Masterson: Trinidad's Law a powerful saga that adds depth and insight to a story of criminal and legal forces and a young man's coming of age in a frontier world only beginning to reconcile lawlessness with authority figures.

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