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California Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 9 September 2017 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Art Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf
Biography Shelf Music Shelf Travel Shelf
Criminology Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf Education Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Computer Shelf Technology Shelf
Library Science Shelf California Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

The Vanishing Stepwells of India
Victoria Lautman
Merrell Publishers
8755 Lookout Mountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
9781858946580, $60.00,

The Vanishing Stepwells of India explores India's ancient stepwells: subterranean sites - some nine storeys deep - which supplied communities with water and also served different community purposes, and is the only book to provide a full-scale focus on their long history, complete with oversized photos throughout. It's common to think that most of India's most amazing architecture lies above ground and consists of temples; but this book shows that actually the less familiar below-ground construction is even more eye-opening. Journalist and long-time visitor to India Victoria Lautman has been gathering information and documenting these stepwells for some thirty years: her book appears in a fine oversized artistic format designed to capture the visual and historic proportions of this little-discussed aspect of India's architecture, and is a 'must' acquisition not only for collections strong in India history, but in world architectural achievements.

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
Stephen Greenblatt
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393240801, $27.95,

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve is not a re-telling of Biblical history so much as an analysis of how Adam and Eve's legend has become part of the stories of different faiths and human history, and how it's been interpreted to expand world meaning and give insights into early Christian experience. One doesn't expect the wide-ranging effects of this legend to move into the Renaissance era nor scientific circles, but Stephen Greenblatt's study traverses not just ancient Biblical events but moves into modern times with its wide-ranging analysis of the presence, incarnation of impact of Adam and Eve's legend. The result is a story that moves nearly beyond Biblical or religious boundaries and into the very fabric of human psychology and world history, recommended for any collection strong in historic events.

The Art Shelf

"O'er the Wide and Tractless Sea"
Michael P. Dyer
New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 0274
9780997516135, $65.00, HC,

"O'er the Wide and Tractless Sea": Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt is a powerful coffee table visual history of the Yankee whale hunt and comes from the authoritative expertise of the Curator of Maritime History, New Bedford Whaling Museum. To say that this is one of the most important publications on the history of whaling to appear in print is not saying enough: it's a treasure trove packed with color images (over three hundred illustrations of whaling scenes, scrimshaw, prints, and paintings) and supported by in-depth historical references from source materials which represent several decades of study on maritime history. This is no light inspection of history, but is packed with such depth and density that even those with prior light familiarity with the subject of whaling will find themselves moving slowly just to absorb the wealth of information packed into this coffee table production. No serious coverage on American whaling history should be without this definitive survey.

The Cookbook Shelf

Lean for Life Cookbook
Louise Parker
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784723040, $24.99,

Lean for Life Cookbook comes from an author whose purpose is not just to gather recipes, but to promote her Louse Parker Method of lifelong weight control, also her company purpose, and is designed to compliment her first book, The Louse Parker Method: Lean for Life, which focused on the Method ideas. This cookbook packs in over a hundred recipes which are easy and quick to produce, along with tips on creating variations to reduce the feeling of repetition. Each meal is balanced with protein, carbs and fats and dishes include both seasonal fare and meal-specific dishes from breakfast to dinner. The international flavors, color photos, and emphasis on fresh ingredients make this a winning choice even for newcomers to Louise Parker.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Gordon R. Dickson
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781481482714, $16.00,

Wolfling is set in a future where an expedition from Earth reaches Alpha Centauri II, only to find that all life is governed by the Throne World - including Earth, one of its remote outposts. Jim, once a powerful figure on Earth, is now a 'wolfling' - a trained pet for entertainment - to those of the Throne World; but those aliens don't know humans, and Jim is determined to display the prowess of Earthlings to these would-be rulers in a fine story of feisty interplanetary encounters. The reappearance of this 80s classic for new audiences is to be celebrated, as this is one of Dickson's best.

Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History of Our Tomorrows
Stan Faryna
Independently Published
9781521278505, $5.00 PB, $0.99 Kindle,

Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History of Our Tomorrows is a sci-fi novel with a difference, incorporating spiritual, survival, philosophical and even horror and romance elements into a story that crosses genres without getting stuck in one particular box. In 2026, Francesco lives in a future of virtual gamers, artificial intelligence, zombies, and violence. He lives a life poised on the brink of poverty in the real world and on the cusp of danger in his virtual life, contemplating new hope for his life from the virtual reality game Jacob's Trouble, which offers a living for thousands who play the game. Can Francesco help his beloved Clare, who suffers from breast cancer, by winning real world money in a virtual game about zombies? Readers who appreciate futuristic scenarios which grasp and twist the ideals of good, evil, and love, where the elderly moving past their 'expiration dates' are seen as expendable and sympathy and love are rare, will find this a powerful work revealing the foundations of an all-too-possible future world.

Watermelon Snow
William A. Liggett
Sandra Jonas, Publisher
9780997487107, $14.95,

Watermelon Snow carefully balances its real-world foundations with psychological interactions and developments that engage an audience on many levels, inviting different readers to enjoy a story filled with twists and turns as a relic from the past threatens the world. Central to matters are rapidly changing environments, hearts, and minds all struggling to cope with unprecedented transitions, fueling Watermelon Snow with an excellent blend of intrigue and science especially recommended for fans of "cli-fi" (climate change science fiction) and newcomers to the genre alike.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

A Panicked Premonition
Victoria Laurie
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451473905, $25.00,

A Panicked Premonition provides a 'psychic eye' mystery surrounding a professional psychic and TBI consultant, Abby, who has used her visions to solve a number of crimes. This is all about to be challenged when she faces a murder scene that involves brutal murders that point to her husband's partner as the killer. Certain that Dave is innocent, Abby must thwart his capture by authorities, discover the real killer, and save lives in this engrossing story of premonition at its most challenging.

Girl in Snow
Danya Kukafka
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501144370, $26.00,

Girl in Snow is a thriller set in a small Colorado town and tells of high school freshman Lucinda, who is found dead in a playground. Her murder leads to accusations, questions, a loner's odd behavior which would seem to indicate his guilt, and long-held secrets that may have led to her death. Officer Russ Fletcher is charged with solving a case that would seem to involve his ex-partner's son, and his efforts to solve the puzzle will lead to his own challenges in this engrossing story.

The Fiction Shelf

Hello, Sunshine
Laura Dave
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476789523, $25.00,

Hello, Sunshine delves behind the scenes of the celebrity chef world with a novel about one Sunshine Mackenzie, a lifestyle guru with a popular cooking show and millions of fans. She has a series of cookbooks, an amazing life, and a good reputation - until she's hacked, and her most deeply-held secrets are revealed. With her life revealed, she stands to lose everything and she's forced to return to her past to save what she loves. A powerful saga evolves, recommended for readers who enjoy life-changing scenarios and those who guard secrets against all obstacles.

The Biography Shelf

A Lit Fuse
Nat Segaloff
PO Box 809, Framingham, MA 01701
9781610373234, $35.00,

A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison is unparalleled in many ways: first, it represents a cooperative effort between a notably fiery personality and his selected biographer - one which required Ellison to give up control and information to create a biography that includes insights on and pieces from many of his works. Segaloff's extensive interviews with Ellison took place over a five-year period, and he also spoke with his contemporaries including those who were Ellison's enemies in an effort to find the truth behind his lawsuits, writings, marriages, controversies and beliefs. The result is a set of insights and candid revelations that should be a 'must' for any Harlan Ellison enthusiast.

The Music Shelf

Boom's Blues
Wim Verbei
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
9781496805119, $75.00,

Boom's Blues: Music, Journalism, and Friendship in Wartime is the biography of J. Frank G. Boom, written in German-occupied Netherlands during World War II, fills in many blanks in blues and jazz history alike, weaving in the story of Nazi influences on popular music and its public appearances in an extraordinary piece that toes the line between World War II saga and music history. Readers of both genres will find this a powerful study of the blues which covers many unusual threats to music development and historic preservation during these times. Its engrossing story of friendship, politics, music preservation and danger is hard to put down and is not your typical music history coverage, but a powerful account that should be in both World War II and music history holdings alike.

The Travel Shelf

Route 66 Adventure Handbook
Drew Knowles
Santa Monica Press
P.O. Box 850, Solana Beach, CA 92075
9781595800916, $19.95,

The fifth updated edition of the Route 66 Adventure Handbook is recommended for any collection strong in American travel and offbeat attractions, and covers motels, cafes, and natural and human oddities alike to be found on and off the historic route. This is a road trip in a book, pairing maps and destination information with a survey of such varied wonders as the Harn Homestead and 1889er Museum, the town of Moriarty, which calls itself the Pinto Bean Capital, the Worlds of Wildlife which includes a real swamp among its wildlife displays, and more. Any planning a road trip down old Route 66 must have this survey of what's worth seeing along the way.

Drawn to the Dark
Chris Kullstroem
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455622948, $28.95,

Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism Around the World represents both Chris Kullstroem's fascination with monsters and right and her investigations into paranormal fright encounters around the world. Kullstroem left her job and home to attend 'scare shows' ranging from haunted house tours and walks to the Day of the Dead attractions and the monster legends of other nations. Its international approach and tour offers a rare insight into world folklore and myths from a travel and social science perspective, covering 'dark tourism' and its many attractions globally. The result is a combination of travelogue (which visits such attractions as Castle Dracula), survey of horror 'boot camps', and investigation into the mechanics of fright which will interest not just travelers but any interested in the psychology or drama of horror.

The Criminology Shelf

The Hot One
Carolyn Murnick
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451625813, $26.00,

The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder represents the journalist author's investigation into the murder of her childhood friend, and blends a true-crime murder mystery with a memoir that charts both friends' different paths through life. As Murnick travels to courtrooms, Hollywood neighborhoods, Las Vegas strip clubs where her friend once worked, and more, she begins to truly know her friend's secrets, her associations, and the path that led a beautiful girl down the wrong road. It's a powerful story that is more than a true crime account, as it documents the processes of a long-time friendship and the forces that changed that relationship, making for a powerful story any general-interest lending library will relish.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Positive Communication
Robin Dynes
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781785921810, $39.95,

Positive Communication: Activities to Reduce Isolation and Improve the Wellbeing of Older Adults offers an activity manual for care workers who want to make a positive impact on their older clients, and encourages social interaction and engagement for groups of older people. The idea is to connect their individuals through structured activities. Handouts, templates for success, and instructions for facilitators working with elderly groups streamline the focus and purpose of better communication and offer creative approaches to building relationships in a workbook highly recommended for any who work with the elderly.

The Education Shelf

The Intelligent, Responsive Leader
Steven Katz, Lisa Ain Dack, John Mallory
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781506333151, $22.00,

The Intelligent, Responsive Leader is a guidebook designed for school leaders who want to break down the barriers between district guidelines and teacher experience, and is designed to encourage a more responsive leadership process through shared stories, strategies, and approaches to building a better structure that takes challenges and translates them into opportunities for growth. Leaders who want to develop both their schools and their district processes receive a survey of professional learning conversations and debates, a discussion of collaborative learning processes, and keys to encouraging growth in these environments. No school leader should be without it.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company
19021 - 120th Avenue NE, Suite 102, Bothell, WA 98011

Bonnie Olaveson's Cotton Way Classics: Fresh Quilts for a Charming Home (9781604688788, $24.99) blends retro style with modern patterns to create a set of 13 quilt designs from Moda Fabrics designer and author Bonnie Olaveson, and offers a display that shows how to create block styles, then blend them for new effect. Patterns and photos accompany step-by-step directions for constructing the blocks and putting them together, building on quilting knowledge as they teach how to make and use plastic templates, how to cut, assemble and finish the pieces, and more, making this accessible to newcomers and advanced quilters alike. Karen M. Burns compiles Rock Solid: 13 Stunning Quilts Made with Kona Cottons (9781604688511, $22.99), a collection of stitching designs made to make the most of Kona cottons. Many quilting books cover the use of patterns, but this focus on working with solids makes for an intriguing survey of approaches that mimic the effects of pattern materials but which use solids to construct geometric shapes, mosaics, and more. Jo Morton's Jo's Little Favorites II: A Classic Collection of 15 Small Quilts (9781604688405, $24.99) comes from another Moda Fabrics designer and provides a collection of patterns that can be used in home decoration and quilt construction. From improving accuracy in patchwork production to producing patchwork based on 1800s traditional designs, Jo's Little Favorites II offers many options and different approaches quilters will relish. Debbie Busby of Wooden Spool Designs' Sew Many Notions: Wonderful Wool Appliques, Simple Stitcheries, and More (9781604687927, $26.99) is packed with patterns, applique accents, and sewing-theme motifs in a fun gathering of projects wool lovers will appreciate. Nearly twenty designs range from practical pincushions and table mats to inspirational rugs and framed appliques, all geared to quick production, sewing room display, and gift-giving. Peta Peace's A Piece of Cake: Sweet and Simple Quilts from Layer Cake Squares (9781604688573, $24.99) comes from an Australian designer who enjoys crafting quilts and handmade projects, and teaches how to mix 10" squares with background fabrics to make Layer Cake designs easy to put together and exceptional to display. Peace's basic instructions for beginners provide a fine series of patterns and designs in a guide to fourteen beautiful pieces beginners can easy access.

The Computer Shelf

Programming for the Internet of Things
Dawid Borycki
Microsoft Press
c/o O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein, Hwy N., Sebastopol, CA 95472-2811
9781509302062, $49.99,

Programming for the Internet of Things Using Windows 10 IoT Core and Azure IoT Suite shows programmers how to create programs for the Internet of Things, teaching how to build custom devices and how to use the UWP applications, OpenCV, and other resources and apps to control robotics, process visual and artificial audio signals, and more. While one would think quite a bit of technical background would be required to access this book, readers needn't be experts in order to delve into the ideas and programming techniques presented in this book: all that's needed is an interest in C# and .NET development customization processes. The code, translation methods, screen shots and examples are all here, ready to go.

Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012

M. Hamad's AutoCad 2018: Beginning and Intermediate (9781683920410, $59.95) is a 'must have' reference for any interested in AutoCad 2018 for 2-D drafting. It doesn't delve into the 3D aspect but focuses on all the 2D concepts and uses both metric and imperial units in its drawing and tool examples. Over 100 discussions use various small projects as examples to illustrate AutoCAD processes and applications, with chapters covering a range of real-world projects and using a step-by-step approach designed to build skills. From basics to intermediate discussions, students of AutoCAD will find this an excellent choice for self-instruction or course enhancement, while many a classroom professor will want to consider it for classroom assignment. Hamad is equally authoritative in his AutoCAD 2018 3D Modeling (9781683920434, $49.95), a book intended for newcomers and those with some 3D background who want to delve deeper into the applications of the 3D environment. The focus on creating and modifying such models provides step-by-step instructions and uses a companion disc to present drawing exercises and projects. Some fifty small projects are presented from initial idea to completion and chapters use these stepping stones to cover all the basics in both metric and imperial units. Both are highly recommended basic references for practicing professionals and newcomers alike. R. Chopra's Cloud Computing: An Introduction (978168390922, $44.95) provides a do-it-yourself workbook of basics about cloud computing and features the latest developments in the field. The self-teaching approach allows programmers to work on various cloud computing concepts from this book, with case studies, 'lab' experiments, and discussion questions reinforcing knowledge. His C Programming: A Self-Teaching Introduction (9781683920908, $44.95) achieves the same for C, focusing on an organization and approach for self-teaching and instruction. Chapters here offer advice on handling variables, understanding code options, and handling input and output results.

The Technology Shelf

Electrical Product Compliance and Safety Engineering
Steli Loznen, Constantin Bolintineau, Jan Swart
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630810115, $149.00,

Electrical Product Compliance and Safety Engineering is recommended for professionals working in product compliance and safety and presents the concepts and methods of liability assessment in the electrical product field. It covers international regulations, safety standards, risk management, construction choices and testing methods as it surveys the ideas and applications of electrical product safety and reliability and explains how this works. Professionals working in any field related to electronics will find this a key reference packed with the latest legal and technical discussions.

The Library Science Shelf

American Libraries 1730-1950
Kenneth Breisch
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393731606, $75.00,

American Libraries 1730-1950 is a history of the structures and institution of the American library, examines everything from public to private institutions, and packs in some 500 photos and architectural plans from the Library of Congress as it traces library developments from the 18th century to modern times. This photo-driven history's vintage black and white images and plans document buildings, interiors, and layouts which ranged from arrangements around courtyards to modern open plans, and provides an architect's eye and focus on how these libraries evolved over the years. This vivid history of the design and planning of the library should not be missed by anyone with a special affection for the buildings housing books.

The California Shelf

The Mission Walker
Edie Littlefield Sundby
W Publishing Group
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718093501, $24.99,

The author and her husband had just mortgaged their home to begin a new business when she was diagnosed with stage four gallbladder cancer with little chance of survival - but here her story diverges from others; for instead of embarking on a ritual of long-term treatments, she set out to realize a dream: walking the entire 1,600-mile El Camino Real mission train from Mexico to Northern California. She became the only person to complete that walk, stopping at the 21 California missions along the way. At once a California history, personal memoir of survival and faith, and adventure story, The Mission Walker will reach a wide audience with its inspirational message of discovery.

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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