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California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 11 November 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Pets/Wildlife Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Technology Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Science Shelf American History Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf
Political Science Shelf California Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Gabe Cook
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781846015656, $19.99,

Ciderology: From History and Heritage to the Craft Cider Revolution goes beyond the usual recipe collection to provide insights into the history, production, culture, and uses of cider, and is recommended reading for any who already like cider and who want to learn more about its production and traditions. Color photos liberally embellish a discussion which includes such topics as what happens when cider goes bad, different families of ciders from flavored and acid to perry, cider brand recommendations and world-wide cider production, and a smattering of cider recipes. Anyone who wants to know about cider production and culture will relish this book.

Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Publishing

Three new titles on natural living techniques by Rebecca Sullivan should be in any collection where there is an ongoing interest in using less chemicals, choosing organic or natural alternatives to common consumer products, and where natural home remedies are of concern. Each book provides a specific focus that homeowners and consumers will appreciate. The Art of Natural Cleaning: Tips and Techniques for a Chemical-Free, Sparkling Home (9780857834751, $12.99) surveys a wide range of cleaning products that don't rely on cleaning chemicals for success. From a fresh-smelling homemade orange oil to 'toilet bombs' made with baking soda, citric acid, and essential oils, these are easy to put together and environmentally friend. This focus translates well to The Art of Natural Beauty: Home-made Lotions and Potions for the Face and Body (9780857834782, $12.99), which advocates easy homemade, gentle products over mass-produced beauty products. From a Chocolate Orange Body Butter and a rose moisturizer to eye shadow made with arrowroot and cacao powder or a body scrub of mixed essential oils, this provides a satisfying range of natural products. The Art of Herbs for Health: Treatments, Tonics, and Natural Home Remedies (9780857834775, $12.99) focuses on various herbal tonics, rubs, tinctures and applications from lotions to foods, and offers a wide range of herbal applications geared to solving specific health issues. All are appealing, pairing fine color photos with recipes and insights on how natural products may be used to improve home, health, and life.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs and A Pigeon
P.J. Miller, B.V.M.&S., M.R.C.V.S.
Thirty8street Publishing
9780692171370, $10.99,

Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs, and a Pigeon: Veterinary Tales, Again is for animal lovers who appreciate stories about veterinarian encounters with animals; but newcomers to Dr. Miller's writing who anticipate a warm, cuddly James Herriot-type of collection will find many surprises between these covers. Dr. Miller's encounters do probe emotional ties between humans and animals, but in a way that favors humor over the more philosophical or psychological survey of life lessons in compassion. The tales take on more of a gritty feel of realistic irony and struggle, detailing experiences with unique clients, sassy staff members, and challenging days. The humor that runs through even the most serious of encounters is a spark that keeps these tales lively, appealing, and fun to read no matter what their subject. Dr. Miller's book is highly recommended for anyone who wants a different kind of vet story collection: one that embraces the nitty-gritty of life and death and strange encounters all the way around, leaving readers both pondering and laughing. No other vet story collection holds quite the original, reflective flavor of Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs, and a Pigeon.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Ritz London: The Cookbook
John Williams, MBE
Octopus Publishing
9781784724962, $40.00

The Ritz London: The Cookbook is the hotel's first cookbook and provides a seasonal arrangement as it explores dishes that have made it a Michelin recommendation. Recipes are original and unique to the restaurants, but vary widely: some require preparation and others are easy enough for novices to tackle. All reflect the lavish celebratory feel The Ritz is noted for, providing an appealing cookbook that translates well to home cooking abilities, pantries, and culinary objectives. Plenty of cookbooks stem from restaurant productions; but few offer the reputation and a nicely-translated collection as in The Ritz London: The Cookbook.

Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Publishing

These outstanding new titles are top recommendations for cooks looking for different approaches to familiar themes. Orange Blossom & Honey: Magical Moroccan Recipes from the Souks to the Sahara by John Gregory-Smith (9781909487901, $29.99) isn't just an overview of Moroccan dishes, but focuses on regional dishes across the country. The author traveled far and wide to learn how to cook traditional dishes from mountain barbecue to Imperial Court fare, and thus this book is rich in both colorful travel and culinary photography and a wide-ranging approach to Moroccan food that moves beyond familiar fare to such dishes as a celebratory chicken Rfissa spicy stew, a lamb liver barbecue Boulfaf with is introduced by the author's experience in the High Atlas Mountains village of Tacheddirt, and an Artichoke & Beef Tagine. Even experienced home cooks familiar with Moroccan cookbooks will find new, accessible recipes here. Sudi Pigott's Flipping Good Pancakes (9781909487918, $16.99) features both savory and sweet pancakes, including gluten free fare, and compliments color photos of Blinis, Columbian Arepas de Choclo made as a savory sandwich, and Boxty, an Irish potato pancake. The focus on international influences and diverse variations on the pancake theme make for an outstanding collection recommended for those who would move beyond traditional buttermilk pancake fare. Susie Theodorou's Mediterranean: Naturally Nutritious Recipes from the World's Healthiest Diet (9780857834799, $19.99) adds to the growing wealth of literature promoting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and provides seasonal, nutritious recipes designed to promote a healthier lifestyle. Raised on fresh foods by Greek-Cypriot parents, Theodorou's approach promotes easy fare created on a budget that promotes fresh ingredients. Another plus is that variations on the dishes abound; so a basic recipe for Pizza includes variations for Butternut Squash, Kale and Walnut Pizza, Preserved Lemon, Ricotta and Thyme, or a pizza made with Tomato, Coppa and Rocket: all variations on the classic pepperoni pizza, using healthier fare. Georgia Freedman's Cooking South of the Clouds: Recipes and Stories from China's Yunnan Province (9781909487789, $34.99) comes from a travel and food writer who journeys through Yunnan, China; one of the most diverse regions in the country. Readers expecting a recipe book alone will be surprised by the wealth of travel observations and photos of people and places that accompany and reinforce the unique recipes. It's quickly evident that the local stories are just as much a part of the culinary exploration as the dishes themselves, so cooks should be prepared for a hearty read as well as a solid gathering of regional specialties from Minced Pork Grilled in Banana Leaf to Dai Lime Chicken. Access to a good Asian market for fresh and specialty ingredients will also be a prerequisite for successful enjoyment and full utilization of this winning book, packed with beautiful color photos by Josh Wand of places, people and foods. No culinary collection strong in Chinese fare should be without this outstanding survey of a relatively unheralded culinary Mecca of China.

The Needlecraft Shelf

That Patchwork Place
c/o Martingale

These excellent new quilting guides should be in any project collection catering to needleworkers, providing excellent, simple ideas for different quilts. Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson's Easy Layer-Cake Quilts 2: More Simple Quilts (9781604689464, $19.99) introduces new creations by Me and My Sister Designs, sharing sewing tricks in the course of exploring 10" fabric squares to use in 11 easy quilts. Newcomers will be particularly delighted with the appeal and simplicity of these 'layer cake' productions, with their patterns, bright color images, and step-by-step tips. Sheryl Johnson's Quirky Little Quilts: Patchwork from the Past, Projects for the Present (9781604689457, $25.99) comes from Temecula Quilt Company productions inspired by quilts of the 19th century, and provides 15 small quilt projects that invite newcomers to use reproduction fabrics in new ways. Scraps are used to create unique, original quilts that vary in finished appearance in this appealing collection especially accessible to newcomers to vintage quilt art. Seasonal needleworkers seeking projects for the holidays will find Bonnie Sullivan's All for Fall: Whimsical Wool Projects and warm Quilts (9781604689501, $26.99) a fine gathering of projects designed for autumn feature. Here are wool lap quilts, pillows, and runners all done in Fall colors and holding both traditional and whimsical themes. Full-sized patterns are included, color photos of both finished projects and step-by-step applications are peppered throughout, and instructions for materials, cutting and assembly are all clear and well-presented. Kim Brackett's Scrap-Basket Bounty: 16 Single-Block Quilts That Make your Scraps Shine (9781604688764, $25.99) comes from the author of a scrap basket series who provides her fifth book on the subject. This focuses on repeat-block design patters and includes instructions on rotating the designs for geometric eye-catching results. Sixteen patterns include three different setting options for each quilt and provide almost fifty patchwork projects.

The Technology Shelf

Artech House

Two new Artech House references are highly recommended picks for reference collections and offer technical information backed by mathematical formulas and discussions of engineering challenges. Federico Delfino,'s Microgrid Design and Operation: Toward Smart Energy in Cities (9781630811501, $139.00) discusses microgrid applications and their importance in localized power management, and will appeal to electrical engineers working on the planning and implementation of microgrids. Examples of applications and successful grids pepper discussions of urban energy usage, optimization planning and concerns, tools for forecasting loads and usage, and more. The result, backed with equations and technical notes, is more than adequate for a complete understanding of microgrid applications. Flippo Neri's Introduction to Electronic Defense Systems, Third Edition (9781630815349, $179.00) is recommended for reference and military collections alike and discusses how radar and electronic warfare systems are changing. It's a revised, expanded edition of a prior best-selling reference that represents a vast technological update to all information and reviews the latest advancements and new methods involved in assembling, maintaining, and implementing these new systems. The overview of how electronic warfare systems work will serve as an essential primer for any engineering working in radar, IR systems, and communications.

Getting to Know Web GIS, third edition
Pinde Fu
ESRI Press
9782689485211, $94.99,

Getting to Know Web GIS appears in its third updated edition to provide step-by-step workbook covering the latest advancements in Web GIS applications. Basic principles blend with exercises designed to teach readers how to share files, build Web GIS applications, and develop advanced skills using Web GIS technology. The idea is to provide a foundation of knowledge that readers can use to move into specialized applications, and this edition adds new chapters and coverage of big data and virtual reality applications and more. Any collection strong in GIS references needs this key to understanding and applying Web GIS.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Sacred Geometry
John Oscar Lieben
Inner Traditions
9781620557013, $40.00,

Sacred Geometry for Artists, Dreamers, and Philosophers discusses concepts of harmonic creation and shows how to create harmonious forms using art, music, and harmonious principles of construction. It considers how harmonies can be connected with cosmic time cycles and musical tones and it also considers various universal interactions and symbols of life that link sacred geometry concepts to practical perceptions of life and the universe. From ancient theories of correspondence to the construction of specific geometric shapes, this is a specific and in-depth survey artists will find accessible, opening new age concepts to artistic translations.

Spookiest Campfire Stories
Retold by S.E. Scholosser
Globe Pequot
9781493032686, $18.95,

Spookiest Campfire Stories: Forty Frightening Tales Told by the Firelight is illustrated by Paul G. Hoffman and comes to life under S.E. Scholosser's writings, gathering campfire tales that range from a Dracula takeoff to a captain's callous murder of a lying, cheating soldier. The black and white illustrations peppered throughout bring to life a set of spooky tales that excel not just in their individual presentation; but in their juxtaposition with other campfire classics. Anyone who enjoys spooky ghost stories will find this a fine compilation of some of the best.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Making Tough Decisions About End-of-Life Care in Dementia
Anne Kenny, MD
Johns Hopkins University Press
9781421426679, $19.95,

Making Tough Decisions About End-of-Life Care in Dementia covers medical, legal, and financial issues that land in caregivers' laps when loved ones are no longer able to care for themselves, and comes from a palliative care physician who surveys many options at this difficult time. Her own experience caring for a mother with dementia combines with her medical expertise and stories of families she's worked with to make for an important survey of the kinds of decisions and options caregivers have at this time. This should be on the reading lists of any caregiver who will have to face these issues sooner than later.

Paula Grainger
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781856753852, $12.99,

Adaptogens: Harness the Power of Superherbs to Reduce Stress & Restore Calm directs health-minded readers to a group of herbal ingredients known as adaptogens which have been scientifically proven to lower levels of stress and prevent adrenal imbalances, and provides recipes for incorporating these herbs into one's diet. Recipes for smoothies, desserts, teas, soups, and more include puddings, bedtime drinks, broths and a range of applications; but it's the history and science discussions of these herbs which form the heart of a book that provides clear discussions of not just how to take the herb, but who should take it, good information to know in advance, and how it can be used.

The Science Shelf

Numerical Methods in Engineering and Science
B.S. Grewal
Mercury Learning
9781683921288, $79.95,

Numerical Methods in Engineering and Science covers C, C++, and MATLAB and provides college-level engineering and science collections as well as practicing professionals with a weighty reference of theoretical and applied discussions. Numerical methods using these programs are surveyed in the course of a basic introduction to numerical methods which can also serve as a refresher course for those looking to brush up on the basics. From computational errors and solutions in equations to linear programming, an overview contrasting various methods, and reinforcing exercises, this is the perfect item of choice for anyone looking to acquire a technical foundation or refresh their existing studies.

The American History Shelf

Pirates of the Prairie
Ken Lizzio
Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
9781493036592, $26.95,

Pirates of the Prairie: Outlaws and Vigilantes in America's Heartland provides a dramatic story of the Wild West and tells it in a manner that weaves facts into a dramatic format worthy of fiction. Between 1835 and 1950, several hundred outlaws ran amok on the prairies, robbing, rustling cattle, murdering, and creating mayhem at will. Individuals who posed as lawmen and law-abiding citizens went unnoticed and unpunished by enforcement agencies and these pirates were particularly elusive. This focus on such outlaws and the efforts to contain them crafts a lively survey that should be in every American history collection that focuses on the West.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Separation
Thomas Duffy
9781983520877, $13.99 paper, $4.99, Kindle,

The Separation is set in the distant future where the sexes have been separated for the greater good of society and financial success. Finn is born into a world where he knows nothing about females for most of his early life (males and females are separated by gender for the first 22 years of their lives, which both solves and creates problems). Sent away to one of the country's 'boy states', he grows up feeling the world is a little strange; that something is missing, and perhaps he's being lied to. Readers who like social reflection sci-fi such as The Handmaid's Tale will find Finn's journey less harrowing in some ways but quietly evocative and compelling as it follows him through the pitfalls of a medicated, disciplined, controlled life where people are born to work and sex drive is suppressed and regulated for the greater good.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Third Chances
Dan Petrosini
Independently Published
9781718118492, $12.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 279pp

Third Chances is powered by not just murder investigations, but the changing relationship between two detectives who find their personal perspectives of themselves as possible heroes and problem-solvers challenged by their professional world. Characterization is strong, references to events in previous books are clear and require no prior familiarity with Frank Luca's world to prove understandable, and the procedurals as Frank investigates DMV records, boats, possible places for dumping bodies, and more are intriguing and well-done. The juxtaposition of health, personal, business and religious concerns creates an involving, compelling detective piece that will especially delight genre readers seeking more gritty personal challenges in the course of the murder mystery scenario. Third Chances is riveting and hard to put down: a power saga of third chances not just for killers and reprobates, but for those investigating them.

The Fiction Shelf

Spike: The Search for Redemption
AA Freda
ISBN: 9781532039492, $18.95, (sc)
ISBN: 9781532039515, $27.64, (hc)
ISBN: 9781532039508 (e)

Spike: The Search for Redemption tells of Anthony (former name Spike), who returns from Vietnam to become a handsome lawyer and who encounters Angel by chance during a demonstration that threatens to spill into violence. When he rescues her, fate seems to hand them both new opportunities for transformation; but they'll have to travel through more challenging paths before they reach their personal form of heaven on earth either with each other or in the course of honing their dreams. Spike takes many unexpected twists and turns which lends it a satisfying flavor because it mimics the puzzles and avenues of life and holds no pat answers or happy endings that aren't hard-fought for. As life takes them from chance to determined behavioral and lifestyle changes, readers are treated to a satisfyingly complex, believable story that brings two ideal lovers together, separates them, then considers a new kind of reunion based on their growth. Each must survive and thrive from personal challenges before they can form a relationship, and these factors and the individual circumstances of their growth make Spike a riveting story especially recommended for readers who like their relationship stories volatile, changing, multifaceted and unpredictable.

The Political Science Shelf

Bureau of Spies
Steven T. Usdin
Prometheus Books
9781633884762, $26.00,

Bureau of Spies: The Secret Connections Between Espionage and Journalism in Washington is recommended reading for journalism students and collections discussing Washington politics and reporting, and covers the various tools of spying that have been evident in Washington's National Press Building. Chapters maintain that espionage conducted by both US and foreign intelligence operatives operated on all sides; from spies for Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to the CIA's offices in the press center. Steven T. Usdin has conducted extensive research and bases his findings on interviews with retired CIA, FBI, and KGB officers, among others, documenting intelligence proceedings that have their roots and connections to journalism.

The California Shelf

Plants of Northern California
Eva Begley
Falcon Guides
9781493031849, $29.95,

Plants of Northern California comes from an author who has a Ph.D. in botany and has long researched and taught about plants, landscaping, and environmental planning. Her handbook is a field guide in full color and covers both common and less common plants of Northern California west of the Sierra Mountains, including tips on habitats, identification, history, uses, and more. The result is a reference especially recommended for those who would identify plants in the wild and understand their properties, environmental requirements, and relationship to similar-looking plants.

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Midwest Book Review
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12424 Mill Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
phone: 1-707-795-4629

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