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California Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 2 February 2020 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Gaming Shelf Biography Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Environmental Studies Shelf Political Science Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Technology Shelf Audiobook Shelf Cookbook Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Clutter Remedy
Marla Stone
New World Library
9781608686292, $15.95

The Clutter Remedy: A Guide to Getting Organized for Those Who Love Their Stuff is directed to the collector, displayer, and clutterbug who can't get organized because they don't want any possessions to disappear. This offers a basic discussion of knowing what to keep and when to let go of it, how to maintain organization once it's done, how to tackle the different types of clutter that keeps piling up in a house, and how to revise thinking about clutter, possessions, arrangements, and organization strategies. Its step-by-step, room-by-room decluttering program tackles subjects other organizing books miss, making this a fine recommendation for those who would declutter by applying better strategy and psychological insights.

The Gaming Shelf

Advance Chess Inferential Analysis Of Distributive Cognitive Logistics: Hybridization of Poly - Plextics, Book 2, Volume 1
Siafa B. Neal
Independently Published
9781507648018, $36.00

Book 2, Volume 1 of chess master Saifa B. Neal's Advance Chess Inferential Analysis Of Distributive Cognitive Logistics: Hybridization of Poly - Plextics represents the third book in his professional player's guides, continuing his signature approach of relying heavily on diagrams, drawings, illustrations, and photos of actual games in progress to demonstrate the moves and strategies of this complex, advanced chess board (which Neal also sells). Introductory notes about his custom game board and its price are followed by the heart of this book's focus: instructions particular to the Model III Star Gate 14 playing environment for single and double set modes. Equations support the double set game, as well as providing single and double set position examples. Advance Chess Inferential Analysis Of Distributive Cognitive Logistics: Hybridization of Poly - Plextics should be purchased with all Model III incarnations of this advanced game. It provides seasoned chess players new to the 3D environment with invaluable introductory insights on how to make the most of these special boards and their advanced strategies, providing one of the keys to success for moving into the 3D chess playing environment.

Advance Chess Inferential View Analysis-The Double Set Game Robotic Intelligence, Book 2 Volume 2
Siafa B. Neal
Independently Published
9781514136171, $48.99

Advanced chess players interested in moving beyond the norm to a 3-D gaming board, who are interested in analysis and strategies geared to top-level playing, will find Book 2, Volume 2 of Advance Chess Inferential View Analysis just the ticket for playing more effectively in the 3-D environment.

This is not a guide for mass market boards, but features a hardware prototype and electronic applications for a game new to the market. It describes a Double Set game played on the Longitudinal Star Gate 14 Model, Model III, which Neal has covered in previous chess books, and is recommended for master players of advanced 3D chess. It comes from a master player whose design model promises intricate hours of playing, and who sells these game boards himself. By using a single game as a step-by-step example and following all the moves and choices between players through diagrams, drawings, illustrations, and photos displaying key information about the board, Neal provides the kinds of detailed descriptions and equations that allow a relative newcomer to 3D to play an entire game from start to finish. Advance Chess Inferential View Analysis-The Double Set Game Robotic Intelligence, Book 2 Volume 2 thus serves as the perfect example and study of not just this model, but the moves and logic of advance chess processes. It is highly recommended (along with the physical game) for players who want to operate beyond the normal chess board's parameters.

The Biography Shelf

The Courage To Aspire
Chuks I. Ndukwe
9780999070550, $12.99

The Courage To Aspire: Thoughts On Moments Of Love, Kindness, Encouragement, And Aspiration is a memoir of how a young African village boy with limited financial resources crafted some big dreams of becoming an electrical engineer and succeeded in making them come true, absorbing some valuable life lessons in the process. From strong family and community ties to early trips away from home that taught him much about aspiration and achievement, Ndukwe creates a memoir that moves from the ideals and aspirations of childhood to the actual achievement of goals and dreams against all odds. Readers looking for memoirs that offer insights into Nigerian community and culture and a young boy's process of actualizing what seems like an impossible dream will find The Courage To Aspire an inspirational blend of spiritual and psychological accomplishment that documents the rocky road to triumph and success.

The General Fiction Shelf

The Godless Good
G.V. Loewen
Austin Macauley Publishers
9781528940658, $16.95, 292pp, Paperback
9781528970426, $4.52, Kindle,

The Godless Good is the third volume in the Kristen-Seraphim Saga, and is especially recommended for readers of the prior two books, who will find it a suitably engrossing continuation of a saga of grace, God, time-travel, and several other subjects that might test religious readers. Kristen assumes the form of God, but discovers that struggle and decision-making don't vanish with her new assignment, but prove just as challenging as in the past. The two prerequisites for successful appreciation of this addition to a projected 11-volume epic are familiarity with the setting and characters of the prior books, and a willingness to set aside religious convictions to absorb a lively story that will border on sacrilege for some and vital revelations for others. The Godless Good is a compelling, fitting addition to the series and continues to expand the roles and choices of not just Kristen, but her team, continuing the fast pace, blend of action and psychological insight, and engrossing consideration of the future of goodness and the fluidity of time and choice that are the cornerstones of this series.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder
Jessica Fletcher & Jon Land
Berkley Prime Crime
9781964804303, $26.00

Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder joins the expanding USA Today bestselling series based on the television show, and tells of Jessica Fletcher's life teaching high school while raising nephew Grady. When the high school principle is killed, Jessica embarked on her first murder investigation. Fast forward to the much more experienced jessica who returns to the same high school for a retirement party and again faces a murder: this time of a colleague. With the murder circumstances mirroring those of the past, Jessica is again tested, and even though she enters the story with much more experience, it seems that all her savvy can't solve either past or present dilemmas. Fans will relish this new addition to the series.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Realm Journey
Ben Schneider
Outskirts Press
9781977212160, $20.95, Paper, $1.99, Kindle

Realm Journey represents epic fantasy writing at its best and is highly recommended reading for genre fans seeking works steeped in grand battles over political corruption, magic, and a quest for what is right. If this initial description sounds like predictable fantasy writing, it should be advised that under the guise of a military-style political clash, Realm Journey is anything but predictable or familiar. Its special blend of humor, irony, hard science, and moral and ethical dilemmas is at once fun, thought-provoking, action-packed, and thoroughly engrossing as a knight's venture turns into a battle for justice. With its solid characterization, action-packed plot, whimsical touches of insight tempered with humor, and completely unexpected conclusion, Realm Journey will prove an exceptionally satisfying fantasy read highly recommended for genre readers seeking standout productions.

Baen Books

Three new outstanding publications from publisher Baen are highly recommended picks for discriminating sci-fi collections. D.J. Butler and Aaron Michael Ritchey's The Cunning Man (9781982124168, $16.00) will especially appeal to fans of Orson Scott Card's Prophet Alvin series, creating a twist on a Depression-era story by injecting magical abilities into its characters. A small Utah mining town is shut down as a monster awakens in its tunnels and its owners fight about what to do. Hiram Woolley enters this atmosphere with his homespun blend of country wisdom and magical abilities. He can see lies, but what he can't see is the outcome of a social and political battle between miners and company control that will change everything. John F. Carr edits The Best of Jerry Pournelle (9781982124175, $16.00), a recommendation even for avid Pournelle fans because it gathers his short works in a single volume for the first time. Each piece includes a note by Pournelle assistant Carr, who lends rare observations to the stories. Pair these notes with essays and further insights by Pournelle's contemporaries for a collection that should be a mainstay of any sci-fi holding where Pournelle's impact continues to be felt. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Accepting the Lance (9781982124212, $25.00) provides a new Liaden Universe novel and tells of Clan Korval, which has gone underground in exile from Liad after bombing a city to prevent its corruption. Korval's familiar universe is changing, affected by dangerous new opportunities and the deadly Department of the Interior's focus on revenge, and little will survive these changes. Or, will they? This fine story is especially recommended for prior fans who will find it a fitting expansion of the Liaden series.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

Engage, Connect, Protect
Angelou Ezeilo with Nick Chiles
New Society Publishers
9780865719187, $19.99

Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders blends a biography of a leading social entrepreneur with a guidebook on how to engage diverse youth in environmental causes, and is directed to businesses, activists, and educators interested in fostering grassroots activists in various communities. First-person recollections of the author's early experiences and lessons learned from them compliment discussions as diverse as the Western world's traditional relationships with Africa, company challenges in recruiting and training interns, and the challenge of creating culturally relevant curriculum. The result is a powerful survey that excels in its unique blend of autobiographical background the social issues: a winning discussion highly recommended for young adult to general-interest readers alike - virtually anyone interested in activism and social change.

The Political Science Shelf

Smarter Government
Martin O'Malley
ESRI Press
9781589485242, $39.99

Smarter Government: How to Govern for Results in the Information Age provides solutions to problems of governing based on using GIS technology to advance organizational management goals, and is widely recommended for geographic reference, business, political and social issues collections alike. It comes from a former Maryland governor who uses his experience to illustrate how the intersections of technology, leadership, and performance assessment provide keys to managing governmental and social dilemmas, and it adds a wealth of supporting statistics beyond O'Malley's own experience to illustrate such common governmental challenges as making cities safer, moving from local to statewide management options, and restoring nature to assure fresh water and environmental safety. It's a solid assessment of traditional and smarter governmental operations that no officials or managers should be without.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

Two new books from That Patchwork Place provide new project ideas and designs to further the skills and ideas of patchwork quilters and needleworkers alike. Vicki Ruehel's Machine-Quilting Idea Book: 61 Designs to Finish Classic Patchwork (9781683580418, $27.99) goes beyond most primers on using machines to provide original designs for a dozen quilt blocks, using over sixty creations to explore different methods of quilting blocks. This survey will be useful for beginners as well as advanced quilters, and receive 'spool' ratings for complexity to make it easy for quilters to locate appropriate projects. An introduction to basic tools, supplies, and methods leads to color-coded instructions and clear directions accompanied by visuals throughout. Kathy Schmitz's Picture Perfect: Small Stitcheries and Embroidered Niceties (9781683560401, $25.99) provides sixteen patterns for small projects that all measure 2 1/2' x 4 1/2", providing embroiderers with ideas that lend to any size home. From redwork houses and bluework birds to sachets, note cards, and other embellishments, this idea book is rich in small-scale designs. Both are solid and unique contributions to needleworker collections.

The Technology Shelf

Renewable Energy Technologies and Resources
Nader Anani
Artech House
9781630815738, $149.00

Renewable Energy Technologies and Resources provides insights into renewable energy technologies and provides a broad, wide-ranging examination of all kinds of renewable resources, from wind to tidal and photovoltaics systems. Readers looking for a technical foundation in the basic science of creating and using renewable systems will find this not only discusses foundation science and math, but provides examples, problems, and methods of calculating for assessing renewable energy choices. University students of science and engineering will find it a technical yet accessible introduction.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

These new audios are solid references highly recommended for listeners looking for a pairing of strong writers and equally powerful narrators. James Patterson's Ali Cross (9781549121784, $25.00) is narrated by Zeno Robinson and Andre Blake, who bring to life this saga of yet another generation in the Alex Cross adventure mystery series. Ali Cross is determined to follow in his detective father's footsteps and finally gets his chance to prove himself when his friend goes missing. He has absorbed the skill set of father except for one thing: patience. An engrossing story evolves. Patterson's Criss Cross (9781549120817, $35.00) is narrated by Andre Blake alone, who lends a seasoned and familiar drama to the story of a killer who challenges Alex Cross and his partner, even beyond the grave. A copycat killing spree indicates Alex may have destroyed the wrong man, causing him to doubt even his strong investigative skills as he searches for the truth and a clever killer who threatens everything Alex has worked for. Pete Townshend's The Age of Anxiety (9781478976806, $30.00) is narrated by Michael Jayston, comes from the lead guitarist and songwriter of the rock group The Who, and tells of a vanished rock star who has embarked on a new visionary endeavor. The story was originally conceived as an opera and indeed the written word, embellished appropriately in audio here, assumes the high drama and tension of such as hallucinations, realities, and murder coalesce. All are involving, unpredictable, and perfect for audio listeners seeking something different.

The Cookbook Shelf

Easy Keto in 30 Minutes
Urvashi Pitre
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
9780358242161, $22.99

Easy Keto in 30 Minutes provides over a hundred keto recipes from around the world, offering easy dishes that range from using leftovers more efficiently to creating taste-tested fare such as a Creamy Tuscan Chicken made with Italian seasoning, vegetables, and plenty of flavor. There are some dessert recommendations, but the main focus on main dishes, salads, and soups makes it easy to build a keto-based collection of dishes that lend to family appreciation and access to busy working cooks who don't have lots of time to prepare food from scratch, and little interest in working with specialty ingredients - but who want the benefits of both.

Ultimate Soup Maker
Joy Skipper
Hamlyn/Octopus Publishing
9780600636410, $14.99

Ultimate Soup Maker: More Than 100 Simple, Nutritious Recipes creates a core collection of soup recipes especially designed for all soup maker models, and shows how to cut costs and time (but not flavor) by choosing one. From a basic introduction to the soup maker's ability to juice, blend, and saute to specific instructions for using various soup maker settings to produce such fare as Cream of Leak and Pea Soup, Onion, Tomato and Chickpea Soup, and Curried Parsnip and Lentil Soup, this cookbook's international flair and focus and its easy soup maker-based directions make it a winner.

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Midwest Book Review
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phone: 1-608-835-7937

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12424 Mill Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
phone: 1-707-795-4629

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