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California Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 2 February 2019 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf Music Shelf
Political Science Shelf Audiobook Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf California Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Totally Buf
Libby Babet & the Buf Girls
c/o Octopus Books
9780600635635, $19.99

Totally Buf: Your 6-Week Guide to Becoming Beautiful, Unstoppable, and Fearless pairs over a hundred healthy recipes with a 6-week plan to change health using core fitness and nutrition guidelines presented in this book. It comes from an Australian team of female trainers who act as fitness and nutrition counselors for modern young women, and it promotes health through a series of recipe-backed admonitions and insights designed to alter mind/body habits. This book is packed with color photos of all dishes and adopts an international and health food approach to its flavors and adaptations, from a classic English 'Bubble and Squeak' dish to Chicken Burgers with Sweet Potato Chips and Pesto Roast Vegetables. Women will find this inspirational, lively and filled with powerful tips.

The Cookbook Shelf

Low Carb Express
Annie Bell
Kyle Books
9780857834355, $16.99,

Low Carb Express: Cut the Carbs with 130 Deliciously Healthy Recipes packs in not just low-carb dishes; but influences from around the world. This means that food fans on a diet will relish some unusual dishes, from a Coconut Almond Bread and Pizza Omelettes to Skinny Mac Cheese Fritters and One-Pot Fillet-o-Fish with Spinach and Nutmeg. While many recipes are naturally low-carb, others that mimic high-carb, high-flavor predecessors are the most satisfying creations in this book. Together, the two offer low-carb eaters satisfying recipes that refute any notion that low-carb translates to dry texture and low flavor. This book is simply packed with moist, flavorful dishes and the generous peppering of full-page color photos throughout translates to visual appeal, as well.

The Music Shelf

Ian Winwood
DaCapo Press
9780306902741, $27.00,

Smash! Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion, NOFX, and the '90s Punk Explosion is the item of choice for any collection strong in pop music history and contemporary music groups, and contrasts the evolution, popularity, and lasting impact of four major bands of the 90s punk era. Each band cultivated a distinctive style which led to revisions of approaches and sound in the punk rock era. By providing separate analyses of these bands and their growth and music, Smash! provides a rare opportunity to understand the heyday of the era and how punk evolved from a small cult to a sound appealing to the masses.

The Political Science Shelf

Blood in the Water
Joan Mellen
Prometheus Books
9781633884649, $27.00,

Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty will prove an especially powerful addition to military and political history collections, and analyzes a naval incident that happened in 1967 in international waters, where the USS Liberty was attacked by unmarked jet planes. The ambush was followed by a torpedo strike and over two hundred soldiers were killed or wounded. Israel confessed to being the perpetrator, but maintained it was an accident. This book examines facts that say otherwise, and is based on interviews with over forty survivors and political insiders as well as information gleaned from Soviet archives.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Five new audio releases are top recommendations for their engrossing topics, evocative narrators, and lasting appeal to library lending collections and personal pursuit. Lab Rats by Dan Lyons (9781549142574, $30.00) is narrated by the author, who provides a fine reading of his expose of how Silicon Valley oligarchs are using technology to oppress workers. This doesn't come from a singular experience, but represents two years of the author's journey across America searching for answers in company models of employee management and treatment. It covers new tools and workplace practices that on the face of it offer hope, but actually holds dangerous consequences for worker repression and dehumanization, and should be listened to by any modern American worker. Four new listens are fine leisure reading choices for those who like novels and thrillers. Noah Hawley's The Punch (9781549115578, $30.00) is read by Edoardo Ballerini, whose powerful voice brings to life the story of Joe Henry, who dies leaving his family many issues to work out between them. One might anticipate a depressing story of family angst, but the wry sense of humor comes through in an account which captures the many nuances of family affairs. Natasha Ngan's Girls of Paper and Fire (9781478992691, $30.00) is read by Allison Hiroto, a writer and yoga teacher whose provides the perfect vocal accompaniment to this story of Lei, of the Paper caste, taken from her home when she attracts the attention of the Demon King. Slavery doesn't suit her, and Lei dreams of escape even as she falls in love with someone who could topple the entire caste system. Elin Hilderbrand's Winter in Paradise (9781478947677, $30.00) receives a vivid reading by Erin Bennett and tells of Irene Steele, who has a fine life in a big Victorian house with a close family and an interesting job. Everything is perfect, until it is not. When her husband is killed suddenly, a mystery emerges from the grief which immerses her in a strange set of circumstances. Tropical setting, romance, and intrigue blend in a fine beach read women will love to listen to. James Patterson's Along Came a Spider (9781549168956, $25.00) is narrated by Taye Diggs, who brings to life this 25th anniversary edition of a story that appeared before the movies and explored the double kidnapping of the daughter of a famous Hollywood actress and her young son. Whether you've seen the movies or not, this story comes nicely to life in audio and is a fitting tribute to Patterson's power in the thriller arena.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

Two new Yoko Saito quilting guides offer quite different quilting projects and approaches especially recommended for experienced quilters seeking completely new applications for quilting. Yoko Saito's Houses, Houses, Houses! (9780985974619, $34.95) shows how to build various houses into quilting blocks, how to fashion an upright quilted house, and how to use them in the home. Her designs range from flat one-dimensional productions to silhouettes and three-dimension creations and provide over thirty step-by-step, photo-enhanced projects that range from purses and quilts to wall patterns. Strolling Along Paths of Green (9780985974626, $34.95) provides over thirty projects based on the beauty of plants, and features plants seen through the four seasons. Pattern sheets are include for all projects in both books, making these special recommendations for quilters who want to create something exciting and refreshingly different.

The Fiction Shelf

The Destiny Relic
Ed Mitchell
California Coast Publishing
9780966844719, $15.95,

Hank is a graduate student whose main claim to fame is that he's suspected of stealing an ancient religious relic in the Middle East. This piece could start or end wars, and despite the fact that Hank is innocent, he's had to flee to Jordan with virtually every force in the world on his tail, from the Vatican to Muslim terrorists. Imagine Indiana Jones-type action with more of a grounding in real-world events and a dash of religious inspection added into the conflicts, to get a sense of the gripping politics and plot of The Destiny Relic, a satisfying foray into Middle East affairs that is hard to put down.

Eleos: A Book of Trials and Secrets
D. R. Bell
B07JMC4NW7, $2.99,

Eleos: A Book of Trials and Secrets is a hard-hitting Holocaust novel of redemption and family secrets. Avi Arutiyan embarks on a wrenching journey when he discovers a valise of old letters written to his to his Armenian grandfather from an Auschwitz survivor. These are of special interest because his grandfather's life and death have never been fully explained, and are part of the reason why Avi embarks on a search for a truth that will shake the foundations of not just his family, but two others. Lest we forget, Eleos offers an examination that is at once an inspection of Jewish/German relationships, issues of racial purity and survival mechanisms, moral failures leading to tragedy, and the psyches of those who both survived and instigated atrocities.

Secret Agent Angel
Ray Sutherland
Black Opal Books
9781626945722, $10.01 paper/$3.99 Kindle,

Secret Agent Angel provides the literary story of Samuel, a 'secret agent angel' assigned to Earth to field whatever goes wrong. Forty years of successful missions don't prepare him adequately for confrontation with a 'fire demon' set on attacking one man's faith, bringing Samuel into a downward spiral of tests that come to rely on the spiritual strengths Samuel has brought to humanity. What can religion fix, and how does it interact with the challenges of daily living? Secret Agent Angel's encounters and lessons hold revelations for all Christians who would delve into Samuel's world and its decisions, choices, and consequences.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

A Cold, Hard Case
Dan Petrosini
Independently Published
9781731058638, $3.99 ebook,

A Cold, Hard Case is Book 5 in the Luca mystery series and opens with the re-emergence of a 25-year-old cold case involving a murdered teen; something outside of Florida homicide detective Frank's usual cases. As he begins to open files on Debbie Boyle's case, he discovers a string of oddities; not the least of which was that the case was closed as unsolved when a number of persons of interest remained uninvestigated. All audiences will relish a detective procedure that walks them through Luca's world and the special challenges of handling cold cases, and will find the story absorbing and hard to put down right up to a final, surprising series of revelations connecting past poor choices with present events that lead straight into further deadly danger beyond Debbie's grave.

The California Shelf

Best Trail Runs San Francisco
Adam W. Chase and Nancy Hobbs
9781493025220, $22.95,

Best Trail Runs San Francisco profiles some forty trail runs within an hour of the downtown area, includes maps, color photos, and specific descriptions of terrain, and is recommended for runners in the San Francisco Bay Area who would enjoy running through parks and wildlife refuges. Some of these trails can be challenging to find, so sections on 'finding the trailheads' are satisfyingly specific, while step-by-step run descriptions leave nothing to wonder for all levels of runners.

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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