Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / California Bookwatch

California Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 3 March 2019 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Computer Shelf Technology Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Genealogy Shelf American History Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Getting Past Childhood Bullying
Stacey J. Miller
BPT Press
9780984228539, $14.95 Paper, $6.99 Kindle

Getting Past Childhood Bullying: How Adults Can Recover From Trauma That Began at School outlines a common dilemma many adults face: childhood trauma from bullying. Unlike PTSD in adulthood, such trauma hold special nuances and problems that make them long-lasting shocks difficult to recover from. Stacey J. Miller goes beyond outlining situations and the problem to create a four-part program of healing and strategies for recovery. Most powerful of all, however, is her examination of common adult strategies for handling school bullies, which too often fail to make a difference for either survivors or those who didn't make it. There are many paths to resolution, growth, and burying one's nightmares of the past. Miller outlines recognizable methods of doing so and helps adult survivors handle their ongoing trauma from childhood bullies. Her accessible, practical, example-filled guide should be considered a basic primer and a 'must read' for any adult struggling with the lasting impact of childhood bullying.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Craft of Scene Writing
Jim Mercurio
Quill Driver Books
9781610353304, $18.95

The Craft of Scene Writing: Beat by Beat to a Better Script provides a powerful survey of how to write effective scenes, and comes from a screenwriter and writing teacher who focuses on emotional power and crafting sequential scenes that make the most of drama. Where competing books would focus on the structure of the drama, this delves into how to write a scene that prompts viewers to identify with characters and their dilemmas. Every step in the writing process needs to cultivate a sense of discovery or surprise, and Jim Mercurio shows how to do so, illustrating the importance of "digging deep" for above-average results.

The Cookbook Shelf

Chetna's Healthy Indian
Chetna Makan
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781784725358, $29.99

Chetna's Healthy Indian comes from an author whose prior Indian inspirations received much acclaim. Her latest moves beyond themes to gather almost a hundred budget-friendly family dishes inspired by Indian flavors, and excels in pairing easily available ingredients and simple cooking methods with flavors all ages will find healthy and appealing. Anyone who thinks 'healthy' means 'bland' will find such dishes as Smoky Aubergine with Peas, Cashew & Tomato Curry, 4 Ways and Coconut Chicken Curry to be appealing and surprisingly easy to put together. And, healthy.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

Two new quilting books are highly recommended picks for needlework collections seeking lasting value and appealing, original project ideas. Red & White Quilts: 14 Quilts with Timeless Appeal from Today's Top Designers (9781604689624, $27.99) comes from 14 different quilt designers who share their projects featuring red-and-white quilts. The styles range from vintage appearances to modern renditions, and incorporate patchwork, applique, paper piecing, and other design styles; while the designers range from Kim Diehl to Carrie Nelson and other well-known quilters. Jen Lucas's Top-Down Shawls: 12 Lace-Knitting Patterns (9781604689600, $25.99) is a top recommendation for any knitter who wants to produce shawls in arrange of styles, and offers charted and written instructions alike to help knitters produce shawls while learning new stitch patterns. Lovely outdoor photos displays these shawls in a natural setting, each is shown on a model, and the stitch breakdown and coverages assure that inspiring, easy projects will appeal to a wide audience, from beginners to advanced knitters. Both are highly recommended picks for discriminating needlework collections.

The Computer Shelf

Mercury Learning

Python Basics: A Self-Teaching Introduction by H. Bhasin (9781683923534, $49.95) offers a basic manual that can be used as a resource for newcomers to Python as well as industry professionals seeking a refresher course, and provides a systematic assessment of the fundamentals of the language and its different applications. From objects and binary search trees to looping and Python data structures, chapters pack in black and white screen shots, supporting mathematical equations and code, and concluding chapter overviews and exercises to reinforce learning. Highly recommended for users who need either a basic starting point or a reinforcing of the latest Python best practices and applications. V. Scott Gordon and John Clevenger's Computer Graphics Programming in OpenGL with C++ (9781683922216, $69.95) includes a disc of files available for downloading from the publisher, containing the source code for every program in the book, and offers a step-by-step primer on modern 3D graphics shader programming in OpenGL with C++. Students interested in modeling, lighting, optimizing code for better performance, and managing 3D graphics data will relish a book that includes diagrams in black and white and color, and which covers many basics, from enhancing surface detail to controlling sky and backgrounds. Models are referenced by identifiers and offer computer graphics students many specific keys to development and using the OpenGL Graphics Pipeline system.

The Technology Shelf

Artech House

Four new reference books are recommended for college-level engineering students and practicing field engineers seeking solid references in electronics, sensor networks, and signal systems. Rick Strudivant,'s Systems Engineering of Phased Arrays (9781630814885, $169.00) covers phased arrays used in radar and other network systems. Considering that such systems have moved into mobile networks and satellite systems, this survey of phased arrays and their modern applications is essential for any engineering working in the field, covering problems typical in their construction in management and the specifics needed to understand design, development, and troubleshooting. Anil K. Maini's Optoelectronics for Low-Intensity Conflicts and Homeland Security (978163081570, $179.00) provides a fine resource for any engineer interested in deploying laser and optronic technologies in the field, including in warfare. Various low-intensity conflict scenarios are covered in a treatise that considers these technologies as they relate to Homeland Security operations, evaluating these electronics for anyone specializing in defense electronics and maintaining such equipment. Habib F. Rashvand and Ali Abedi's Design Solutions for Wireless Sensor Networks in Extreme Environments (9781630811778, $149.00) introduces new approaches to wireless sensor networks and considers their use in industrial situations and both conventional and unconventional systems. Packed with illustrations, examples, and references, this book will serve as a refresher course for professionals and a solid reference to students new to wireless sensor networks. JC Olivier's Linear Systems and Signals: A Primer (9781630816131, $119.00) focuses on theorems and examples as it reviews key concepts of signal and linear systems theory. This sounds like it deserves a weighty volume; but the idea here is for a primer on the topic that teaches the basics, provides examples, and includes the latest applications and theories.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Verses for the Dead (9781549142222, $40.00) is narrated by TV professional Rene Auberjonois, whose skills lend a compelling voice to this latest addition to the Pendergast thriller series. Here the rogue agent must work with a new partner, a junior agent facing killings by a psychopath who cuts out his victims' hearts and leaves handwritten clues. Murder, suicide, and a rookie partner are just a few of Agent Pendergast's concerns as he probes a murder spree that just might be something more than an individual's rampage. Ian Rankin's In a House of Lies (9781549115653, $35.00) is narrated by James MacPherson and tells of a missing private investigator whose body is found in the woods in an area that was already searched. Siobhan Clarke is assigned to probe the original case decades later, and uncovers a dangerous possibility that leads to one man and the deadly information he's kept secret all these years. James Patterson works with Candice Fox in Liar Liar (9781549114854, $35.00), a splendid Detective Harrit Blue thriller read by Federay Holmes, who add an evocative voice to the tale of a good cop gone bad. Blue has committed crimes in a single week's spree because of Regan Banks, who plots to kill her. As she becomes obsessive about revenge, her life twists into one of crime and crosses many lines in this compelling thriller. James Patterson's The House Next Door (9781478969761, $35.00) receives a powerful dual narration by Peter Ganim and Christopher Ryan Grant as it includes three short thrillers in one audio listen. From a new neighbor's frightening potential to a detective's search for four missing girls and a disgraced army scientist's mission to change humanity, these are thoroughly engrossing, diverse stories that challenge the mind. Holy Black's the Wicked King (9781549171314, $25.00) enjoys a vivid reading by Caithlin Kelly, who brings to life the story of Jude, who has bound wicked king Cardan to her and become the guiding force behind his rule. Politics and an unhealthy relationship mingle in a story of betrayal, traitors, and Jude's complicated affairs as a mortal in a fairy world. These compelling audios are hard to stop listening to, and promise hours of absorbing twists and turns.

The Genealogy Shelf

Historic German Newspapers Online, second edition
Ernest Thode, Compiler
Genealogical Publishing Company
9780806320922, $35.00

The second updated edition of Historic German Newspapers Online provides German ancestry researchers with an invaluable key to searching German-language newspapers; especially important considering that more than 2,000 such papers are available online at various public and private websites. This book collects all such holdings by location and title, including dates for which they are available online and adding many more historic German newspapers which have been newly digitized. The easy organization of this book, which first points users to a "Places" section to see that papers are available online in a particular area; then to a "Titles" section to obtain a description of the paper's coverage and website, makes it easy for all levels of genealogical researchers to use this coverage, which includes papers not just from Germany, but in countries around the world.

The American History Shelf

Myths & Legends of Yellowstone
Ednor Therriault
TwoDot/Globe Pequot
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781493032143, $17.95

Myths & Legends of Yellowstone: The True Stories Behind History's Mysteries goes beyond the usual sightseer's guide or geologic references to probe the Native American tribes who lived there long before the white man stumbled upon it. It considers the stories that arose around the park's odd events and unusual phenomena, probing legends and myths which arose and adding drama to facts as it considers the oddities and individuals who helped place Yellowstone on the map as an extraordinary place. From dangerous treks and Indian attacks to dangerous park visitor activities, this brings to life Yellowstone's iconic nature, history, and the individuals who entered the park and experienced its unique environment.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Alchemist's Illusion
Gigi Pandian
Midnight Ink Books
9780738753010, $15.99

The Alchemist's Illusion provides a fine Accidental Alchemist mystery centered around an ancient alchemist who is tired of running away from her past. She's made a new life for herself in Portland, Oregon, and is succeeding in building a new world until she discovers that her old mentor Nichoals Flamel has been imprisoned. As she probes his whereabouts and faces the murder of an artist who transmitted the only clue she has, Zoe finds her greatest challenge lies in accepting something she's long run away from, and in melding her talents for alchemy and cooking. Vegan recipes are included in a powerful saga that is both fun and absorbing, offering strong characters and a fun blend of murder mystery and magical discoveries.

Born to Hustle
Edward A. Dreyfus
Edward A. Dreyfus, Publisher
9780692192436, $16.95

Born to Hustle is a novel about identical twin brothers with an abusive childhood who identify with strong figures in adulthood: con men, gangsters, and the personas of men who take charge, control, and action. Readers who like their novels replete with psychological inspection and re-evaluation will relish this story's attention to recovery, self-inspection, and evolution. Brian and Alan exist in a world where survival has traditionally been a knee-jerk response rather than a reasoned, critical effort. Their individual and shared changes, set against the backdrop of a street-savvy grasp for power and stability, are engrossing, realistic, and educational in this highly recommended, powerful drama.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books

Patricio Carrera is the military leader of a new nation who has defended it against his enemies for a long time. But the nation Balboa is under a different attack from its other four corners, forcing Carrera to face the Zhong under new and seemingly impossible battle conditions. Different forces affect all aspects of this new country and its leader, testing both in Tom Kratman's A Pillar of Fire in the Night (9781481483568, $25.00), a vivid military sci-fi novel that readers will find engrossingly fast-paced. David Drake's The Storm (9781481483698, $26.00) tells of Jon the Leader, who wants to reunite a group of scattered survivors into a Commonwealth where all humans can feel secure against the monsters and forces that have threatened their lives. He and his Champions face down these monsters; among them Lord Pal of Beune, who finds his determination to help Jon affected by the loss of his mentor, which turns out to be a key to what is happening to all of mankind. An engrossing story of evolution and political alliances evolves in a brutal bid for power and survival alike.

The Poetry Shelf

Poetry of Peace
Cherie Kephart
Bazi Publishing
9781947127098, $12.95 Paper, $4.99 Kindle

Cherie Kephart's introduction to Poetry of Peace explains that her life "...has been about ascension. I have traveled from the innocence of a child filled with wonder, aspirations, and belief in the impossible, to the deepest depths of darkness. Harnessing the strength of spirit, I found my way through the shadows." In a nutshell, this captures the essence of her lyrical writings, designed to expose, explore, and open readers to these nuances of light and darkness and their impact on choices and growth. Poetry enthusiasts who appreciate free verse, first-person journeys and who want not just a road to peace but a delineation of the process of getting there will find Poetry of Peace as much about the inner notion of contentment and growth as it is about wider-ranging notions of peace.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design