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California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 3 March 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Gardening Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf American History Shelf
Travel Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

I Wrote This Book Because I Love You
Tim Kreider
Simon and Schuster
9781476738994 $26.00

I Wrote This Book Because I Love You provides fine essays which are humorous, personal, intriguing discussions and reflections on the author's relationships with women, from lovers and friends to his mother. From the challenge of locating lasting love and his friendships with colleagues and teachers to his major influences on perceptions of love and women, this is a lovely title not just for Valentine's Day; but for year-round giving.

The Science Shelf

Electrical Engineering Experiments
G.P. Chhalotra
9781683921141 $49.95

Electrical Engineering Experiments is designed to be a reference for labs, industry professionals, and those involved in electrical engineering testing, and covers basic methods for conducting experiments with currents and magnetism. Nearly fifty different experiments outline each experiment's objective, method, and results, and offers questions with answers for further study and review, making this a recommendation for self-study as well as college-level science and engineering courses.

Particle Physics: An Introduction
R. Purdy
97811683921424 $49.95

Particle Physics: An Introduction joins others in the Essentials of Physics Series in providing a brief introduction to the basic particles of the universe. From various particles that make up matter in the universe and how they interact and function to mathematical concepts that back up physics and include examples and discussions of calculations, Particle Physics: An Introduction provides college-level physics students with a clear overview, from the history of particle physics as a science to its basic tenants, discussions of equations and different theories and models, and more.

The Gardening Shelf

The Permaculture Earthworks Handbook
Douglas Barnes
New Society Publishers
9780865718449 $32.99

The Permaculture Earthworks Handbook: How to Design and Build Swales, Dams, Ponds, and Other Water Harvesting Systems is for gardeners interested in permaculture, and offers a review of watering harvesting earthworks to channel water into more effective usage and storage systems. Farmers, gardeners, landscape designers, and anyone involved in working the land will find this covers everything needed to understand how permaculture earthworks operates; from assessing soil types and local water to safe construction, blending earthworks into a landscape design, and various interception techniques. Gardeners and professionals alike will find this filled with specifics and basic information needed to better understand how earthworks operate and what they can do for a landscape, garden or farm.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Cackle of Cthulhu
Alex Shavartsman, Editor
Baen Books
9781481483001 $16.00

The Cackle of Cthulhu includes short stories by such top name writers as Mike Resnick and Neil Gaiman and adds an extra dimension to Lovecraft's classic Cthulhu horror universe with an unexpected ash of humor. Many collections and writers have produced works using Lovecraft's creation, but this collection goes the extra step - and if you think Lovecraft's works too dark for mirth, think again. The stories are zany, compelling, and take monsters and terror a step further by adding clueless protagonists, special issues in solving crimes in Innsmouth, and more. This approach is especially recommended for avid fans of the Cthulhu universe who are able to accept wry tongue-in-cheek approaches to traditional horror settings: an original delight in this collection.

The Night Market
Jonathan Moore
Houghton Mifflin
9780544671898 $24.00

Homicide detective Ross and his partner are called to one of the grandest homes in San Francisco in response to a call about a disturbance in the neighborhood which turns out to be much more than a typical homicide case. The body they've uncovered looks like it's being eaten alive by a mysterious substance: one that might be a lethal and dangerous threat to society. Days later Ross awakens to find he has no memory of what happened to him - but the world has somehow changed. Pair a futuristic setting with a gripping mystery that combines technology gone awry with a mystery for a powerful story that keeps readers guessing to the end.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

A Californian's Guide to the Birds among Us
Charles Hood
Heyday Books
9781597143837, $19.00, PB, 192pp,

"A Californian's Guide to the Birds among Us" by Charles Hood (who has studied birds and natural history from the Amazon to Tibet, and he has seen more than five thousand species of birds in the wild) is a new illustrated guidebook that introduces casual birders to 120 of California's most easily seen bird species native and exotic alike as found in a mix of urban, suburban, and traditionally natural habitats. Full-color images and clear, direct descriptions make identification easy, and Hood supplements the essential information with surprising facts and trivia, including endangered-species recovery stories and the world record for grasshoppers eaten by one flycatcher in a single day. In sections addressing which gear to buy, where to go birdwatching, and how to read a birdsong transcription. Hood also encourages readers to take ownership of their experiences, no matter their level of ornithological expertise. Accurate, lively, and quotable, "A Californian's Guide to the Birds among Us" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' guide that will inspire nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to notice nature more closely and find joy in interacting with the astounding diversity of avian life in California. While very highly recommended for California's community and academic library Pets/Wildlife collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Californian's Guide to the Birds among Us" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Animal Tracks of California
Jonathan Poppele
Adventure Publications
9781591937401, $9.95, Spiral Bound, 22pp,

An ideal and easily portable identification guide book for anyone enjoying the out-of-doors in California, "Animal Tracks of California" is a tabbed booklet by Jonathan Poppele. Featuring only California mammals, the spiral bound booklet is deftly organized by group for quick and easy identification. Narrow identification choices by group is based on viewing just a few animal tracks at a time. Realistic track illustrations that cover more than 140 species, along with size information, sample gait patterns, and a step-by-step guide to track identification, help to ensure positive ID. The pocket-sized format is much easier to use than laminated foldouts, and the tear-resistant pages help to make "Animal Tracks of California" extraordinarily durable in the field, making it ideal and unreservedly recommended for personal and professional California wildlife identifications.

The American History Shelf

Two Dot/Globe Pequot

Five new Western history titles from the Two Dot provide powerful discussions highly recommended for California and western history readers. Gesa Kirsch edits More Than Gold in California: The Life and Work of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter (9781493026517, $16.95), a recommendation for women's history and California collections alike. This autobiography of a pioneer woman physician who in the 1880s pursued her passion for medicine provides a lively memoir that pairs medical insights with Ritter's draining, adventures in the frontier, and observations of California on the cusp of many changes. Her life story includes encounters with some of the most influential California families of her times and makes for a commanding, involving read. The second edition of Michael Rutter's Myths & Mysteries of the Old West (9781493028283, $16.95) will reach any general history holding strong in accounts of the development of the West, and presents lively stories that should attract leisure readers normally reluctant to read nonfiction. These are lively, true tales of the California Gold Rush, the 'war on buffalo', Sitting Bull's role in the Battle of Bighorn, and more, and provide intriguing tales that read with the vivid action of fiction, but the thoughtful asides of nonfiction. Mary Barmeyer O'Brien's Heart of the Trail (9781493026678, $14.95) will also reach women's history as well as general Western history holdings as it considers ten women who were pioneers in wagon trains. Their letters and diaries, written in transit, capture first-person experiences of life on the trail, hardships, dangers, and a number of trips which were less demanding than others. The result is a well-rounded collection from the pioneer women who lived lives of change. Erin H. Turner edits It Happened in the Old West (9781493028306, $16.95), a collection of stories about what happened as immigrants and those traveling from the East coast hit the road and began to journey to the promised land of the West. These are some of the earliest recorded events about these journeys, capturing life on the trail, natural disasters which affected those on the road, encounters with different peoples, and journeys that included not just wagon train pioneers but orphan train children and those facing issues of slavery and freedom. Lamont Wood's Thornton's Luck: How America Almost Lost the Mexican-American War (9781493025558, $16.95) explores a little-known facet of American history and, surprisingly, is the first book on the Thornton episode, a pivotal moment in the Mexican-American War when everything changed. Any student of these events will find this expose thought-provoking and key to understanding the ultimate outcome of the battle and how close America came to losing it.

The Travel Shelf

Travel as a Political Act, third edition
Rick Steves
Avalon Travel
c/o Perseus Books
9781631217630 $19.99

Travel as a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind appears in its third updated edition to consider the world's changing politics and its impact on travel. It uses his experiences in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East to emphasize that one of the best ways of understanding America's place in the world is to view it from the perspectives of those outside its borders, and it refutes the notion that travel abroad is a big risk. The result is an encouraging and thoughtful view of how the world can be better understood through a carefully cultivated traveler's eye.

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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