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California Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 7 July 2019 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf Political Science Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Literary Studies Shelf Art Shelf Technology Shelf
Audiobook Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Getting There
Chuck Malkus
Belgian Shepherd Publishing
9780578488387, $14.95, Paper, $7.95, Kindle

Getting There: Profiles in Overcoming Obstacles and Connecting with Success comes from a business coach and speaker who advocates a program of cultivating strategic growth connections as a way of fending off adversity and business challenges. Because his program and approach is filled with case history examples from successful businesspeople in all walks of life who have used this technique to advance their professional careers, Getting There is especially recommended for business collections (though its principles can, in reality, apply to any personal improvement endeavor). It's a blueprint for success modeled not by the experience of one, but of many. This makes Getting There a standout for business readers, in addition to anyone aspiring to succeed by creating, honing, and following their own unique identification of achievement.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Corleone Family Cookbook
Liliana Battle
Insight Editions
9781683835424, $35.00,

The Corleone Family Cookbook compiles recipes from the Corleone family's Italian immigrant heritage, and features over seventy recipes for various dishes mentioned in The Godfather. It's not a cookbook alone: it also covers the trilogy by adding images and quotes from the films to supplement the color photos of finished dishes. This approach makes the production intriguing to those who would choose it not for its promise of another Italian cookbook, but for its link to Italian traditions and movie connections. Film notes are peppered throughout, i.e.: "When Vito Corleone comes home from the hospital, the family couldn't be happier. Everyone is there to welcome him home and mamma is downstairs cooking up a big pot of chicken cacciatore for the family." This makes for a strong recommendation that sets The Corleone Family Cookbook apart from Italian cookbooks on the market, making it an attraction for The Godfather fans, as well.

Cooking with Miss Quad
Quad Webb
Countryman Press
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
9781682683804, $29.95,

Cooking with Miss Quad: Live, Laugh, Love, and Eat incorporates Southern and Louisiana Creole style with comfort food recipes such as Creole Rice Pilaf, Jalapeņo Cheese Hush Puppies, and Shrimp and Oyster Dressing, and is recommended for anyone who would reproduce Southern fare with a flair. Color photos of finished dishes abound, descriptions are not only mouth-watering but include Webb's notes on how she created the dish or why it is special, and the effect is a lively, sassy, fun guide to Southern fare that cooks will relish.

The Political Science Shelf

The Next Realignment
Frank J. DiStefano
Prometheus Books
9781633885080, $26.00,

The Next Realignment: Why America's Parties are Crumbling and What Happens Next comes from a former congressional aide and presidential campaign veteran who argues that the current political turmoil may feel new, but actually has precedent in American history and political experience. He offers a survey of this history to demonstrate that, rather than facing something entirely different, America is actually facing its next realignment in which traditional politics are replaced by new parties and approaches. This history surveys events from early Republic days to modern times and makes a case for not just political realignment processes, but the social changes which accompany them. The result is a 'must' for students of American history and political process, who will find plenty of debate material and food for thought in this important survey.

The Fiction Shelf

Bonnie & Clyde: Radioactive
Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
PumpJack Press
9780997411355, $15.95,

Bonnie & Clyde: Radioactive adds to the series with a new story about the now-past-her-prime Bonnie Parker and her much younger sidekick Royce. As with the others in this blossoming series, a sense of humor is evident from the start. Action is constant, dialogue is fun and revealing, new dilemmas are added to the mix, and Bonnie and Clyde (in the 1945 timeline, Clyde is alive and still her sidekick) face many challenges as they take gun-toting outlaw behaviors to new, modern heights. Readers won't anticipate the foray into Russian involvements, political observations, and challenges to ideals that is offered in Bonnie & Clyde: Radioactive, but these are just some of the unexpected delights in a story that excels in nonstop surprises. With its thriller component tempered by mystery, historical fact, political interactions, and gunslinger intrigue, Bonnie & Clyde: Radioactive is a powerful series addition.

Mystical Embrace: Our Rekindled Bond
Marlene F Cheng
Independently Published
9781775247708, $14.99, Paper
9781775247715, $3.99, eBook

Mystical Embrace: Our Rekindled Bond is the third book in the "Bond" series. Prior fans familiar with the characters and setting of its predecessors will find that this new addition vastly expands the story, adding further developments that profile the results of a romance between NHL hockey player Y, who has a family in Sweden but tours the world, and Geneva, an emergency room doctor who falls in love with him. Mystical Embrace's special talent lies in its ability to closely examine not just the choices of its characters and the consequences they face on many fronts, but the added challenges of a health crisis and the social issues that swirl around them. It should also be noted that events and mysticism are steeped in First Nation references right from the start, from Cloud's crushing grief and discovery of a farewell note from Raven Sings to Geneva's 'mystical home' and connections to not just her child and lover, but the world. Warm, psychologically introspective, culturally and spiritually revealing, and filled with the gentle flow of interconnected lives, Mystical Embrace: Our Rekindled Bond enhances the series by pursing the threads of previous books as it contrasts the life and adrenaline rush of a NHL hockey star with the gentler perspective of characters who move beyond the lure of considering life as either a win or lose proposition. Under Marlene Cheng's hand, everyone wins in different ways. And so does the reader, for pursuing an evocative story of magic, change, and the concurrent challenges of ALS and a legacy of love.

Through Each Other's Eyes
Aleena Ashe
Independently Published
9781797799056, $7.99, Paper, $4.99, Kindle

Through Each Other's Eyes represents historical romance at its best as it probes the life and times of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, who are frustrated with each other and uncertain about the course of their relationship. Through Each Other's Eyes excels in crafting a Regency-style romance remake of Pride and Prejudice which is easier to digest than the original, making it more accessible to audiences who might balk at the original classic, but who will find this take-off compelling. Historical romance fans receive an unusual approach and treat with this romp through the very different minds of individuals who confront both their attractions and their ultimate life goals.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books
9781633584908, $15.95,

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary tells of a town's favorite senior citizen who vanishes after using an online dating site. Her old friend has seen her transformation, but when she vanishes, the changes become more suspicious, holding deadly portent for her life. Chief Samuel Craddock becomes especially alarmed when a woman in a neighboring community is murdered after she uses the same site. Can Loretta be found before she, too, is murdered? An engrossing story evolves.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

David Nees
Independently Published
B07QGG5BB8, $0.99,

Rescue is the third book in the apocalyptic survival series After the Fall, and once again finds leader Jason in the crosshairs of action when his desire for a peaceful life is challenged by Knoxville's kidnapping of two town citizens who are his good friends. Rescue focuses on an impossible rescue mission and the toll it exacts from its participants, but also considers the rescue process of humanity itself, and nature of desperate times that still translate to the fragility of the democratic process. Readers looking for a dystopian seat-of-your-pants read that is nearly impossible to put down will find Rescue just the ticket. Suicide missions, physical and mental challenges, and the determination of one man to subjugate not only Jason's town of Hillsboro but the world create a compelling story which is a fitting expansion of the struggles of America after the fall of civilization documented in previous books.

Denver Moon: The Saint of Mars
Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishers
9781733917704, $14.99, Print
9781733917711, $4.99, Ebook

Denver Moon: The Saint of Mars is the second story in the Denver Moon series about a PI who lives on Mars, and takes place six months after the original story left Denver Moon the victor in a battle against the Minds of Mars, when she eliminated the threat of an alien mind control plot. This time, Denver and her AI pistol Smith are tracking a suspect that has been involved in the disappearance of numerous Martian citizens. What begins as a search for a dangerous perp leads to a far greater threat as Denver faces the specter of an android revolt that will change the Martian world. Like its predecessors, Denver Moon: The Saint of Mars maintains a solid pace without being frantic, a sense of place that is both familiar and alien, and an evolving set of conundrums that continue to challenge Denver's abilities, connections, and cunning. The result is a sci-fi PI piece that is not only a cut above most attempts at such genre blends, but is a winning addition to the series. It's one that will captivate mystery and sci-fi readers alike with a spunky, smart female investigator who grabs hold of a problem and refuses to let go.

Marjory Kaptanoglu
The Book Reality Experience
9780648447153, $4.99, Kindle

Invader crafts a series of subplots based as much upon intrigue and interpersonal relationships as on an alien invader who threatens two scientists marooned on a desert island, so readers anticipating a typical alien invasion story alone may be surprised to find that Invader's real strength lies in a multifaceted story. As Invader progresses, readers receive an engrossing story that keeps mercurial the thought of who the real monster is in this story. Is it one or a series of invaders who have a purpose dangerous to mankind - or does the threat lie within the hearts and minds of those who confront the impossible? Invader offers quite a different take on the traditional alien invader scenario. It is highly recommended for readers who enjoy surprising twists of plot, mysteries, and stories that quickly move into delightfully unexpected realms of psychological recovery and self-inspection.

The Literary Studies Shelf

Vernon Hall & Other Stories
Sana Pirzada
Book Empire, UK
9781911357902, GBP 9.99, Paper, GBP 3.05, Kindle

Vernon Hall & Other Stories is a fiction collection that excels in literary approach, surprises with a peppering of black and white drawings by Jelena Zibert, and provides a delightful compendium of interconnected, darkly evocative pieces steeped in Gothic perspectives. 'Lord Ravenson' opens the collection with the tale of Meriweather Willoughby, a storyteller who tries to help others, but is mocked for his dark literary creations which don't appeal to the average reader. There's relatively little a heart of gold can accomplish with empty pockets, but when Meriweather runs into the legendary Sir Charles Haley and learns his dark secret as a reward for helping him, newfound opportunities and riches emerge... but they come with a steep price. Can Meriweather help rid this man of a curse when the cure involves death and horror? Meriweather comes full circle back to his betrothed as this story evolves. As each story unfolds its compelling probe of various forms of darkness both psychological and paranormal, readers will find these pieces to be solid reflections of the Gothic literary spirit.

The Art Shelf

My Adventures As An Illustrator: The Definitive Edition
Norman Rockwell
Abbeville Press
9780789213112, $40.00,

My Adventures As An Illustrator: The Definitive Edition is published to coincide with a new biographical exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts, and returns to print a 1960 classic. New audiences will relish a definitive survey written by Norman and his son Tom, and will find this a 'must have' survey as Rockwell reveals his childhood, coming of age, his adventures abroad and at home, and the influences for his art. Seldom has an autobiography held such a definitive and in-depth exploration of the evolution of the artistic process (including failures). Rockwell's lively passion for art and his many experiences are not just candidly related, but illustrated in full color with drawings by his own hand. The result is an outstanding, highly recommended survey. Because this has been out of print for some time, it should be a definitive acquisition by any art library seeking to replace a worn lending copy with a sparkling new edition that pairs Rockwell's life with his own illustrations.

The Technology Shelf

Practical ESM Analysis
Sue Robertson
Artech House
9781630815288, $179.00,

Practical ESM Analysis comes from an expert in the field of electronic warfare and discusses radar parameters and how they affect ESM systems. Military and engineering holdings alike will benefit from the discussions contrasting different kinds of ESM systems, calculations, scanning strategies, error generation under different conditions, and examples of how to recognize data issues and their solutions. Calculations for use in simulations and data analysis are accompanied by graphs, charts, and calculations that receive important visual embellishment and discussion. The detailed calculations and formulas craft an analysis that is key to any student of ESM applications in a reference highly recommended for technical reference collections.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

These new releases are outstanding audios highly recommended for listeners seeking powerful pairings of subject and narrators. Annie Jacobsen's Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators and Assassins (9781478993348, $40.00) was the finalist for the Pulitzer price, and is narrated by the author, who does an outstanding job of capturing the power and insights of her survey of diplomacy and war. Her access to over forty men and women who secretly worked on CIA covert operations over the decades lends to a riveting story that sounds like a fictional thriller, but is entirely real. Thomas Harris's Cari Mora (9781549148668, $35.00) is also narrated by the author, who lends a powerful voice to this story of a woman's battle against greed and evil. Cari Mora is in Miami after escaping the violence from her native country, but her beauty catches the eye of an obsessed treasure hunter and she soon finds new threats in her new home. A powerful saga emerges which is hard to stop listening to. Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven's Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations (9781549194962, $35.00) also excels from the author admiral's own voice as he recounts his involvement in military events that have made history. Sea Stories began in 1960 in France where officers gathered to socialize and tell yarns, and evolved to this book, which is packed with special operations insights and actions. If She Wakes by Michael Koryta (9781549175657, $35.00) is read by Robert Petkoff, who brings to life the story of senior Tara and her professor at college, who become the victims of a brutal accident. In a coma, Tara discovers someone wants her dead; but she can't do much about it. A thoroughly engrossing story evolves, perfect for audio listeners who enjoy seat-of-your-pants thriller experiences.

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

Diane C. Donovan, Editor & Senior Reviewer
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phone: 1-707-795-4629

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