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California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 7 July 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Sports Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Social Issues Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Computer Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Biography Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Business Shelf Travel Shelf
Music Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The AEF in Print
Chris Dubs and John-Daniel Kelley, Editors
University of North Texas Press
9781574417135, $29.95

The AEF in Print: An Anthology of American Journalism in World War I is a historical reference suitable for any college-level media studies program and follows the progress of the U.S. involvement in World War I through newspaper and magazine articles that informed the public about events during 1917 and 1918. A chronological arrangement allows for insightful viewing of battles, strategies, political insights, and stories of action and courage, while the overall effort points to a serious consideration of how journalism operated during these times. The result should be in three kinds of libraries: general American history, military history, and media studies collections.

The Education Shelf

Corwin Inc.

Two excellent guides are recommended picks for educators interested in creating more effective classroom systems. Margarita Espino Calderon and Shawn Slakk's Teaching Reading to English Learners Grades 6-12, Second Edition (9781506375748, $35.95) offers a focus on how to improve achievement in English learners and focus on how to encourage better comprehension. Different kinds of English language learners receive evidence-based approaches that help teachers impart the basics of academic language, basic reading skills, content-specific writing and its manipulation, and techniques for bridging vocabulary and reading. From using prompts and considering Tier 2 words and their special challenges for ESL learners to cooperative learning techniques, this covers many basics teachers will want to know. Garfield Gini-Newman and Roland Case's Creating Thinking Classrooms: Leading Educational Change for This Century (9781506398433, $32.95) provides a powerful framework for encouraging critical, creative thinking in all teaching and learning approaches, and packs in examples and real-life strategies for those school leaders who support teaching approaches. From better engaging students and encouraging self-learning to assessing collaborative thinking, moving from memorization to deeper understanding, and engaging students on a better level, this handbook is a 'must for school leaders looking for specific best practices. Both are top, recommended picks for discriminating education reference holdings.

The Sports Shelf

Advanced Rock Climbing
Bob Gaines
9781493031399, $27.95

Advanced Rock Climbing: Mastering Sport & Trad Climbing is recommended as a basic reference for any collection strong in sports how-to guides and for those seeing special interest in mountaineering topics, and is written by a AMGA Certified Rock Instructor who teaches the basics combined with the latest equipment and techniques for rock climbing. Chapters cover different kinds of rocks and climbing challenges, survey and contrast different methods, analyze best practices, include rescue and assistance techniques, and pack in closeup color photos of knots, anchors, quad rigs, attachment choices, and more. From scientific principles of equalization and how they apply to rock climbing efforts to rope management and rappel situations and techniques, Advanced Rock Climbing is the item of choice for any modern rock climber serious about learning or reviewing professional techniques.

The Cookbook Shelf

Rosa's Thai Cafe: The Vegetarian Cookbook
Saiphin Moore
Mitchell Beazley/Octopus
9781784724238, $24.99

Rosa's Thai Cafe: The Vegetarian Cookbook is exceptionally notable because in Thailand fish sauce is used in nearly all savory dishes; so finding true vegetarian food in the country can be a challenge. Over a hundred recipes for vegetarian Thai dishes range from the usual classic Pad Thai and Coconut Soup to Spicy Mixed Vegetables in Thai Herbs and Yard-Long Beans with Black Bean Sauce. The true measure of any vegetarian cookbook, however, lies not in its vegetable dishes necessarily; but in main meatless courses. The stir-fries and curries that form the centerpiece of this cookbook include tofu, soybean pastes and legumes and provide a wealth of vegetarian fare perfect for any Thai food enthusiast who wishes to avoid meat.

The Social Issues Shelf

Venture Girls
Cristal Glangchai, PhD
9780062697554, $16.99

Venture Girls: Raising Girls to Be Tomorrow's Leaders comes from the founder of the successful Venturelab, and addresses self-doubt and the kinds of obstacles girls face in their attempts to see their abilities to fruition in the worlds of science, engineering, and business. Little girls are filled with creative spirit when they're young; but too often social and educational approaches stymie their spirit at an early age. Dr. Glangchai offers solutions to this scenario based on her own experiences and teaches adults how to encourage female strengths through adjustments to playtime lessons, educational pursuits, and personal experience. The result is a highly recommended blueprint for encouraging powerful women from the childhood experiences of young girls: a process which should be on the reading lists of any mother or adult looking to encourage strengths in young females.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Austin Paradox
William R. Leibowitz
Manifesto Media Group Ltd.
9780989866293, $15.98 paperback / $5.99 eBook

Enthusiasts of William R. Leibowitz's thriller Miracle Man will delight in the return of Dr. Robert James Austin, who lost his genius-level intellect in a lab explosion and now struggles to regain his abilities. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, he battles private demons, otherworldly forces, and a government obsessed with controlling him. On many levels, The Austin Paradox reaches for the goal of a medical thriller on the level of a Robin Cook production; but readers can anticipate a much more emotionally charged, personal scenario as Dr. Austin confronts everything he holds of value in his life. It's hard to capture the full impact on the reader of the combination of a medical thriller paired with government and terrorist forces, and interwoven with international intrigue; all wound into one genius' life and times. The Austin Paradox invites readers into a believable, tense world in which one man can make a difference. The result engages readers on many levels, from political to psychological to spiritual arenas, and is highly recommended for fans of medical and international espionage thrillers.

Mountain of the Dead
Jeremy Bates
Ghillinnein Books
9781988091228, $13.99

Mountain of the Dead combines the genres of mystery, thriller, and horror, and follows an American true-crime writer who is determined to uncover the truth behind a mysterious 1950s Siberian event where nine Russian hikers flee into the night during a blizzard, there to suffer violent, unexplained deaths. Mountain of the Dead is the fifth book in Jeremy Bates' 'World's Scariest Places' series, and charms the imagination with a series of tense encounters based on true experiences and a story line that reads like a combination of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker (who happen to be among Bates' favorite authors). Introducing a story which, to this day, remains one of the most chilling unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century, Bates takes the essence of the puzzle and moves it into the realm of supernatural terror and mystery. Jeremy Bates keeps readers involved and guessing, providing twists and turns that lead the story line towards the seeming inevitable before taking a big turn in another direction. The result is a powerful thriller that is thoroughly engrossing, packed with surprises, and steeped in the culture and atmosphere of both Russia and a remote mountain world filled with intrigue.

The Computer Shelf

Software Quality Assurance
R. Chopra
Mercury Learning
9781583921684, $49.95

Software Quality Assurance: A Self-Teaching Introduction reviews software quality assurance testing best practices in a manner that lends especially well to self-study, a refresher course, or supplemental textbook reading for a college-level IT course. It reviews all kinds of testing and test management, from automation processes to video games and lab experiments, complimenting theory with real-world applications and exercises for self-testing; but perhaps its greatest strength lies in its ability to pair the fundamentals of the latest computer science findings with an introduction designed to pair case studies of different systems with the fundamental concepts of general quality assurance practices.

The Needlecraft Shelf

That Patchwork Place
c/o Martingale & Company

Two excellent quilting books stand out from the others published in a given season and are exceptional productions covering topics and approaches not readily seen in other quilting guides. Take Gail Pan's Patchwork Loves Embroidery Too: 14 Delightful Handmade Treasures (9781604689006, $25.99), for example. This new collection of Pan's designs are meant to marry patchwork with embroidery embellishes, and offers creations inspired by her daily walks and observations of nature and human abodes alike. While a needleworker might anticipate complexity from such a marriage, this weds just eight simple stitches to the patchwork projects, making them quite accessible to newcomers. Clear materials, cutting, and instructions are embellished with good-quality color photos throughout. Lori Kennedy's More Free-Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3: 52 Fast-and-Fun Designs to Finish Your Quilts (9781604689242, $29.99) is based on over four hundred step-by-step photos which are packaged in an easy guide enhanced by lay-flat binding with spine lettering for easy library filing. Each page includes a good-size setup plan for stitching, motifs applicable to free-motion machine quilting projects, and stitching that can be achieved on a range of older and new machines. Needleworkers with a bare minimum of machine knowledge who want to expand their talents will find this not your usual beginner's guide, but a survey of best practices and tips on how to set up and properly use a sewing machine.

The Biography Shelf

The Last Cowboys
John Branch
W.W. Norton
9780393292343, $26.95

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West isn't your usual survey of frontier or Western history, but a hard-hitting chronicle of ranching in modern times by an award-winning sports writer and NY Times Journalist who here follows the lives of three generations of the Wright family as they adapt to changing ranching conditions in their Utah home. As the experiences of different generations are contrasted and rodeo and ranching encounters are detailed, readers receive an eye-opening survey of a prominent rodeo family's operations, legacy to future generations, and observations of the changing new West of modern times. Plenty of books have been written about Western frontier history; but few incorporate the personal perspectives of a multi-generation, long-time family involved in and committed to their environment and the ranching and rodeo worlds.

Tip of the Iceberg
Mark Adams
9781101985106, $28.00

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier joins other books about Alaskan outdoor adventuring but features an important difference: it not only retraces a famous expedition's steps, but follows the evolution of cruise ship passengers who tour the state via sea following the route taken by Edward H. Harriman's 1899 expedition. As chapters blend history, personal observation, and a travelogue as Adams visits towns from Southeast Alaska to the far northern realms of the Aleutian Islands, he documents the curious people and creatures he runs into along the way and incorporates lessons learned from these encounters. Armchair travelers, Alaskan history buffs, and anyone who just wants a solid, involving adventure read will relish the "you are there" atmosphere created through Mark Adams' journeys.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Elthea's Gambit
John Murzycki
9781718753266, $12.99

Elthea's Gambit is a tale which opens with the Earth threatened by cyber attacks, while sentient malware beings, the Bots, wage their battle on Elthea's Realm, involving members of the Utopia Project in a struggle for power and control. Between Philip's personal revelations, fast-paced action, world-changing Bots, and ancient races; sci-fi and fantasy readers receive a story line that flows smoothly for both new arrivals and prior readers. Attention to detailed descriptions of the conflicts between protagonist and the Bots create vivid moments throughout the story line that intersect nicely with discussions of trust, love, and fate. The result is a compellingly absorbing saga that is full-faceted, hard to put down, and packed with a nice juxtaposition of action and psychological insight.

Morgan Rice
Morgan Rice Books
B07D4PMZ42, $2.99

Book 1 of the Invasion Chronicles represents a departure for fantasy series writer Morgan Rice, who here places her affinity for fantasy in the adjacent realm of science fiction. One strength in Transmission lies in a plot which at first seems familiar (boy discovers alien invasion, child becomes a key to events as they unfold), but takes some unexpected diversions into areas of international intrigue, adding thriller elements that are surprising in a sci-fi story that will reach adults as much as young adult audiences. In presenting the key character as an unusually savvy 13-year-old, Morgan Rice is in danger of having this survey regulated to teen audiences alone; and that would be a shame. Although Kevin's age is one of the facets that enters into his ability to perceive what others cannot and his flexibility to accept the impossible, his unusual wisdom and involvements with adult affairs from NASA to confrontations in Columbia hint of a maturity level far beyond a thirteen-year-old's abilities. This makes the story quite accessible to adult sci-fi thriller readers who might not ordinarily pick up a read featuring a teen protagonist.

The Business Shelf

Trapped in the Family Business
Michael A. Klein, PsyD
MK Insights LLC
9780984949212, $18.95

Trapped in the Family Business: A Practical Guide to Uncovering and Managing This Hidden Dilemma comes from an author who has consulted with businesses and individuals for over twenty years, and addresses a common problem that is rarely analyzed in business texts: the dilemma of running or inheriting a family-owned business. Family businesses make up some 50-80% of jobs around the world, so it's surprising that books about family business dynamics aren't more prominent on business bookshelves. From the too-common painful and unsatisfying family business situations which abound to the confusing connections between family obligations and business needs, this book represents a treasure trove of analysis, advice, and issues that stem from psychological and economic roots alike. Nobody mired in a family business operation should be without this astute survey.

The Travel Shelf

Discovering the John Muir Trail
Damon Corso
9781493031245, $26.95

Discovering the John Muir Trail is for any hiker who would learn about the various trails available to all levels of hikers, from beginners to long-distance walkers, and pairs color photos of the Sierra Nevada Mountains with tips on each hike. First-person insights on backpacking and tips on everything from wildlife and rugged conditions to using pack llamas add to a coverage which is not just informational for destination-bound hikers; but makes for fine leisure reading for those who just want to experience a 'you are there' feel to the countryside intersected with John Muir Trail sights, smells, and sounds.

The Music Shelf

Dylan on Dylan: Interviews and Encounters
Edited by Jeff Burger
Chicago Review Press
9780912777429, $30.00

Dylan on Dylan: Interviews and Encounters contains some three dozen interviews gathered from speeches, press conferences, standard question and answer sessions, and more in a chronological survey of Dylan's life from the 1960s to modern times. This approach allows even the most avid Dylan fan to understand the changes that have taken place in the years between the first and last interviews, while the focus on works from different media provide a wealth of different approaches from exceptionally literate and astute interviewers. One needs to be a prior Dylan enthusiast to appreciate the extent of his talents and how these interviews illustrate his growth and creativity; but those with such a background will find this holds far more depth and insight than the usual approach to Dylan, capturing in the artist's own words his experiences of changing times and how he documented them for a generation of enlightenment.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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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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