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California Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 3 March 2017 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fiction Shelf Science Shelf Music Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Audiobook Shelf Education Shelf
Social Issues Shelf California Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future
James Olson
Origin Press
PO Box 151117, San Rafael, CA 94915
9781579830519, $19.95 pbk / $7.96 Kindle,

How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future maintains that a dominance on left-brain thinking is bringing humanity to the brink of extinction, and it combines sociology with psychology and neuroscience to advocate a better approach promoting "whole brain" consciousness. It maintains that using both hemispheres will result in successful approaches to life, thinking, and decision-making and it shows how genetics and brain function combine to direct and often skew thought processes in one direction or another. Readers somewhat familiar with theories about right- and left-brain thinking may not have drawn the extra connections between these and choices in business, politics, and lifestyle; but How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future adds an extra dimension to the process which is missed by many, and presents many political and social scenarios in which the absence of a whole-brain approach is contributing to many problems. The result is a powerful survey that goes beyond the usual psychological and neuroscientific approaches to brain operations to apply them to everyday living.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

An Author Tells All
David L. Workman
David L. Workman, Publisher
9780996230940, $2.99, Kindle,

As much as authors dream of having their books published, many don't realize the bigger picture of what's involved. For an advance preview of the entire process, from choosing a book cover worthy of being judged to finding an audience and reviewers, David L. Workman's book tells it like it is, enlightening his readers on the rest of the process, and should be consulted before a self-publishing thought crosses an author's mind. Loaded with screen shots, examples, and many specifics, An Author Tells All is one of the best books an aspiring writer on the cusp of self-publishing could obtain. It should be required reading for any such audience - its clear path to success and its wise insights will prevent many a marketing error and save much money.

The Needlecraft Shelf

I Love Churn Dashes
Karen M. Burns, Compiler
Martingale & Company
19021 - 120th Avenue NE, Suite 102, Bothell, WA 98011
9781604688054, $24.99,

I Love Churn Dashes" 15 Quilts from an All-Time Favorite Block introduces the Churn Dash Block and covers its applications for various quilt designs from lap to bed quilts, but this is more than a traditional coverage of the design. It shows how to get creative with this block tradition to create modern, contemporary blocks and it includes tips and approaches by modern top quilt designers. Each block is accompanied by a full-page color image and smaller patterns and illustrations for step-by-step approaches designed to teach the block's basics and make the most of its options.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Complete Gut Health Cookbook
Pete Evans with Helen Padarin
Weldon Owen
415 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
9781681881928, $24.95,

The Complete Gut Health Cookbook blends the expertise of a naturopath and nutritionist with an award-winning chef, health coach and TV personality to provide over a hundred recipes for "gut health" and a four-week meal plan for incorporating them into one's diet, and is recommended for not only cookbook collections, but especially for health collections. Chapters pair full-page color photos of completed dishes such as Asparagus Soup with Crispy Bacon, Spanish Seafood Soup, and Indian Fish Curry with recipes that promote a balanced digestive system supported by fermented foods, medicinal spices, and flavorful alternatives to traditional dishes. An unhealthy gut can lead to all kinds of mental and physical ailments, but by adjusting one's diet to incorporate foods proven to restore balance and digestive processes, one has the ability to take control over many health issues. The Complete Gut Health Cookbook promotes this self-healing ability and is recommended for a wide audience, from general-interest libraries to consumer health collections.

Skinny Soups
Kathryn Bruton
Kyle Books
9781909487505, $19.95,

Skinny Soups: 80 Flavor-Packed Recipes of Less Than 300 Calories will appeal to anyone who wants to eat hearty yet less fattening soups, and comes packed with recipes that use a range of different ingredients and approaches, from a Chilled Rhubarb Soup or a Turmeric and Lemongrass Shellfish Bisque to Mushroom Soup with a Kick (cloves, thyme, rosemary, chile) or a spicy Mexican Posole soup. The result is a collection high in spicy flavors and low in fat: perfect for winter enjoyment, and quick and easy to produce, with accompanying color photos featuring each soup.

Breakfast Bowls
Caroline Griffiths
Smith Street Books
9781925418262, $19.95,

Breakfast Bowls: 52 Nourishing Recipes to Kick-Start Your Day pairs lovely color photos by Chris Middleton with a discussion of one-dish breakfast dishes that are hearty, nutrition-laden combinations of grains, rice, and spices which are a far cry from the usual carb and sugar diet of most Americans, and adds a range of international flavors to the mix. Readers with access to a health food and/or an international market will be the most enthusiastic followers of this cookbook, which features such fare as a Cacao & Black Tahini Granola Bowl with nuts, seeds, warmed rice malt syrup and vanilla extract or Steel-Cut Oats with Poached Rhubarb and Strawberries. All are intriguing, different flavors in dishes that are loaded with nutrition: all that's required is an open mind about changing the typical American definition of 'breakfast'.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Martians Abroad
Carrie Vaughn
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765382207, $24.99,

Martians Abroad tells of teen Polly, who wants to become a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, who directs the Mars Colony, has something else in mind, and sends Polly and her twin brother to a school on Earth, the one planet Polly has no interest in seeing. She's homesick, she's angry, she dreams of missed opportunities for exploring the universe - and she finds a mystery right there on her new world which threatens many things. Much in the manner of Robert Heinlein's young adult adventure sci-fi, Martians Abroad creates a compelling story for new adults and adults alike, about a girl on the cusp of exploring a world that seems too familiar, but which is a strange new world indeed.

The Golden Gate
Robert Buettner
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476781907, $25.00,

The Golden Gate opens with a terrorist attack on the Golden Gate Bridge which blows the world's richest man off the bridge. At least, that's what the attack is attributed to - but a journalist and a recovering Iraq war veteran suspect otherwise, and race through the San Francisco Bay Area chasing clues that the rich man held the key to virtual immortality. The blend of sci-fi and detective investigation is particularly well done when combined with realistic Bay Area scenarios and sights, making The Golden Gate a top recommendation not just for sci-fi readers, but for those who like elements of intrigue and a thriller tossed into their sci-fi mix.

The Heart of What Was Lost
Tad Williams
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756412487, $22.00,

The Heart of What Was Lost provides a powerful story of Osten Ard, begins where its predecessor concluded, and offers the first novel in the sequel series which carries the story to new realms. Fans of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn will find this an engrossing saga that embraces mortals, immortals, armies and heroes, soldiers and journeys, and two armies that are destined to clash - but it's not military sci-fi per say, but an epic saga that winds through social conflict and struggle. Familiarity with the prior book will lend a continuity of understanding to this, embracing fans with a series addition that is compelling and absorbing and providing a new junction for evolution and change. Fans of Williams' prior books and style will relish this engrossing continuation of several themes and powerful characters.

Department Zero
Paul Crilley
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882010, $17.00,

Department Zero combines a detective piece with sci-fi when investigator Harry attends a routine death, only to stumble into a multiverse of alternate realities policed by a top agent whose job is threatened when Harry inadvertently messes with a crime scene. Now Harry's job involves saving the world and solving the crime that caused Graves and his team to lose their jobs - an investigation that embraces Cthulhu, the Dreamlands, and even Martian technology. At once pointed and funny, blending elements of horror with sci-fi and crime drama, Department Zero is satisfyingly unpredictable, hard to put down, and genre-busting.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Sacred Sands
Vahan Zanoyan
Gampr Books
9780998392400, $16.95

The Sacred Sands is a thriller recommended for anyone interested in political stories of mystery, foreign policy, and action, and centers around James, an energy consultant in Washington D.C. who finds himself in the center of a Middle East conflict and corruption activities. Add romance into the tense story of his dealings with oil companies and special worldwide interests and you have a thriller that moves deftly from the sands of the Middle East to Europe, Washington and a special girl's allure in the face of political disaster.

The Dark Room
Jonathan Moore
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544784673, $24.00,

The Dark Room tells of a SFPD homicide detective who is pulled from a revitalized cold case in Monterey County to investigate some chilling photos and words sent to San Francisco Mayor Harry Castelli, along with a blackmail message that demands he take his own life, or damning photos will be released to the public. Castelli isn't willing to admit his role in sordid events, but Gavin Cain suspects there's far more going on than a blackmail attempt, and as his investigation uncovers the heart of a dangerous series of events, The Dark Room provides a gripping story that's filled with twists and turns, and hard to put down. The result is a top recommendation for readers who enjoy vivid cat-and-mouse investigative mysteries.

The Fiction Shelf

After the Crash
Michel Bussi
Hachette Books
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9780316309691, $15.00,

After the Crash has sold nearly a million copies in France and has one of its most prestigious book awards, and it's appearance here in the U.S. promises a new audience for the vivid story of a 1980s plane crash in the Swiss Alps which involves the world in a dispute when its only survivor, a baby, is claimed by two different parents: one a poor rural French family; the other a rich Parisian family. Modern DNA testing isn't available, so it will take the work of a committed private detective to crack a mystery that hinges on an unsettling truth. Fans of thrillers and stories of survival that hold more than a light touch of intrigue will find After the Crash an exceptional read packed with winding, unexpected twists of plot.

The Science Shelf

Call of Nature: The Secret Life of Dung
Richard Jones
Pelagic Publishing
9781784271053, $26.99,

Call of Nature: The Secret Life of Dung is rich in detail and offers an unusual survey of the digestive systems of humans, domestic, and wild animals alike, considering not only how food is digested differently by different creatures, but what happens to it after it hits the ground (or the toilet). While a book about dung may not be everybody's cup of tea, this represents a treasure trove of unusual biological detail that's packed with various details about droppings, from a dung identification guide that covers guano, frass, and scat to discussions of dung feeders, dung communities, and conflicts among dung harvesters. General readers may not think there'd be much to say about the subject; but as entomologist Richard Jones proves, there's actually quite a lot to learn about, whether discussing dung beetles or elephants. A lively tone pairs with detailed scientific facts and research in a surprisingly compelling survey which many will pick up for its shock value, only to find its details unexpectedly engrossing.

Quantum Fuzz
Michael S. Walker
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882393, $28.00,

Quantum Fuzz: The Strange True Makeup of Everything Around Us provides a history of the "quantum revolution" and the scientists who fostered it, and comes from a veteran physicist who explains the basics of the subatomic world and how it relates to everyday life. Chapters discuss the many inventions that have stemmed from quantum theory, survey the science behind these discoveries, and reveal how scientists and researchers apply quantum mechanics to new discoveries, making this a lively, accessible title not just to science readers, but for general-interest individuals.

The Music Shelf

River of Time
Naomi Judd with Marcia Wilkie
Center Street
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781455595747, $27.00,

River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope tells of a country music singer's offstage battle with depression and emotional challenges that stemmed from her childhood and plagued her adult years, and it's a powerful autobiography and testimony to the powers of resilience in the face of emotional challenges and ineffective therapeutic treatments for depression. Judd at one point - at the height of her career - was given only three years to live after being diagnosed with hepatitis C. That she not only overcame physical challenges but survived mental illness and a series of powerful psychological and physical onslaughts even as she forged a successful career makes for riveting, inspirational reading not just for prior Judd Family fans, but any interested in the progression and force of mental illness.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Barb Retenbach and Lois Prislovsky, PhD
Mule and Muse Productions with Sojourn Publishing, LLC
9780988344914, $24.99,

Neurodiversity: A Humorous and Practical Guide to Living with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Dyslexia, The Gays and Everyone Else is an unusual guide that combines practical insights with an unexpected sense of humor and a wry observational style. Author Barb Retenbach, a neurodiversity advocate diagnosed with "severe autism," maintains that "autism is my prism and not my prison," and her ability to capture insights about the autism spectrum disorder and other neurological differences (which she views as natural human variations containing strengths as well as weaknesses) makes for a powerful production that mixes health and philosophical perspectives with practical tips for others on the spectrum and those who love and work with them. From insights on how to facilitate optimism to breakthroughs in brain science research and handling different perspectives, the juxtaposition of insights from Barb Retenbach and therapist Lois Prislovsky makes for a powerfully effective perspective highly recommended for any mental health collection; especially those covering autism spectrum disorders.

Change the Story of Your Health
Carol Greer, PhD, PsyD
Findhorn Press
9781844097166, $17.99,

Change the Story of Your Health: Using Shamanic and Jungian Techniques for Healing discusses alternative medical traditions that incorporate a good degree of spirituality into the overall meld of physical and mental health, and comes from a clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst who has used these techniques along with consultation with Western physicians to help his own physical ailments and those of his clients. While a growing number of alternate medicine books add this spiritual dimension, what is unusual in Change the Story of Your Health is its incorporation of specific Jungian techniques with shamanic approaches usually regulated to new age audiences. Readers harboring a determination to embark on the path towards optimal health will find this a treasure trove of step-by-step processes designed to lend insight into and modify one's overall health and approaches to life.

The Audiobook Shelf

Rather Be the Devil
Ian Rankin
Hachette Audio
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781478914020, $35.00,

Rather Be the Devil is narrated by James MacPherson and provides another Rebus investigation: this one surrounding a cold case and a retirement gone awry. Rebus is just beginning to relax - but an unsolved case remains on his mind and turns from his profession to being his hobby. The problem is that the case isn't really cold - only simmering under the surface - and when Rebus begins asking questions, it boils up into a dangerous new confrontation. Fans of murder mysteries and intrigue will find Rather Be the Devil is a powerful, compelling story that comes alive in audio under MacPherson's tense and engrossing narrative style.

The Education Shelf

Mathematics Formative Assessment V. 2
Page Keeley and Cheryl Rose Tobey
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781506311395, $32.00,

Mathematics Formative Assessment V. 2 provides a new volume from an award-winning author and math expert who join together to offer some fifty formative assessment classroom techniques (FACTs) to teachers in grades K12. Math teachers will find this a collection of teaching approaches designed to support math concepts across disciplines, with chapters including discussions of learning for diverse classrooms, ideas on focused instruction and formative assessment processes, and practical applications of math teaching approaches. The collection of formative assessment techniques provides concrete ideas for any math instructor.

The Social Issues Shelf

Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs
Martin Torgoff
Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780306824753, $25.99,

Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs may sound like it's about music, but actually its review belongs more in the social issues section because it's as much about the early days of America's drug use and counter cultural evolution as it is about jazz history. Chapters begin at the start of the 20th century when modern drug law was first established, and when drugs entered the realm of artists and musicians, and weave a story of the birth of jazz with the evolution of social and political influences on narcotics. The connection between artistry and addiction is often taken for granted in modern times, but here it received a historical review that considers how drugs and social issues collided with creative forces to evolve a culture of addiction. Anyone interested in the social history of drug use in America needs this important consideration of the many connections between artistry and the use of illicit substances.

The California Shelf

San Francisco: Then and Now
Dennis Evanosky & Eric J. Kos
Trafalgar Square Publishing
388 Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053
9781911216063, $19.95, HC, 144pp,

San Francisco is home to some of America's most intriguing architecture and design, including the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the bustling Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, the ornate Chinatown, and the mysterious prison on Alcatraz Island."San Francisco: Then and Now" allows the armchair traveler to visit Coit Tower and Lombard Street (the "crookedest street in the world") on Telegraph Hill, hop on one of the famous streetcars and travel through eclectic neighborhoods where Victorian sophistication is juxtaposed with modern elements. Readers will stop by the Mission District, which was once home to the Ohlone Indians and Spanish missionaries, and is now full of artists and hipsters. Beat, counterculture, and gay and lesbian movements have thrived in such featured and legendary neighborhoods as North Beach, Haight-Ashbury, and the Castro. Sites photographical showcased include: Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Coit Tower, Chinatown, Nob Hill, Ferry Building, Bay Bridge, Lotta's Fountain, Union Square, Candlestick Point, Alamo Square, Castro District, Twin Peaks, Haight-Ashbury, Cliff House, and Ocean Beach. A pure pleasure to browse through from beginning to end, "San Francisco: Then and Now" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, making it unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.

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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