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The Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 4 April 2020 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Needlecraft Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf
Technology Shelf Cookbook Shelf Audiobook Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Business Shelf American History Shelf Terrorism Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Six Weeks to Zero Waste
Kate Arnell
c/o Octopus Books
9781856754118, $16.99

Six Weeks to Zero Waste: A Simple Plan for Life provides a step-by-step survey of converting one's world to a zero-waste lifestyle. Plenty of books advocate recycling and many offer tips, but eco blogger Kate Arnell's goal is to reinforce waste-free living entirely, and cements this purpose with a six-week plan that can be followed as easily as choosing reusable water bottles, considering packaging when shopping, and revising cleaning practices to reduce laundry and reliance on environmentally harsh cleaning products. From a bar of soap to reusable ear picks, all kinds of products factor into these goals and the ultimate zero waste objective, making for a thought-provoking blueprint for anyone who would tackle and change their daily
waste-producing habits.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Sunny Days
Jan Patek
Martingale & Company
9781683560487, $18.99

Sunny Days: A Summertime Quilt Full of Folk-Art Fun shows quilters how to make fourteen block designs inspired by summer themes, from trees and flowers to birds and bees, and provides a template for a queen-size production that can be used for beds or display purposes. Patek's needle-turn technique is taught and can be used (or any other applique method) to craft these blocks, which can also be used for other non-quilt projects. Full-sized patterns are a bonus, here, accompanying wealth of color photos.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Power Divine and Human
Lucinda Mosher and David Marshall, editors
Georgetown University Press
9781589016774, $29.95

Power Divine and Human: Christian and Muslim Perspectives is recommended for both Christian and Islamic studies collections, and provides a series of dialogues between the two that encourages interactions between both based on issues of concern to each group. Essays by Christians and Muslims are intended for both study and discussion, and provides materials that not only contrast different points of view, but offer materials and pointers for crafting one's own discussions. From Islamic texts on ideals and realities to community dialogues on broader issues, this is an encouraging primer that advocates better communication and connections between the two groups.

The Technology Shelf

Parameter Extraction and Complex Nonlinear Transistor Models
Gunter Kompa
Artech House
1630817449, $169.00

Parameter Extraction and Complex Nonlinear Transistor Models adds to Artech House's microwave references and is a pick for college-level collections strong in modeling semiconductor device parameters. The Shockley model is used to explore semiconductor transistor device physics and device performance, with chapters considering models and measurement setups for different simulations and calculations. Engineering and microwave libraries strong in semiconductor FET device modeling will find this reference essential for in-depth study and understanding.

The Cookbook Shelf

Ultimate Soup Maker
Joy Skipper
c/o Octopus Books
9780600636510, $14.99

Ultimate Soup Maker: More than 100 Simple, Nutritious Recipes promotes time-saving soup makers as a new opportunity for versatile, quick cooking, and is a basic primer for any new owner of a soup maker. Each recipe serves four, can be made in the single soup maker pan, and offers tips on how to use its various functions. Recipes are divided into chapters by preparation, dietary focus, and classic fare, and come from a nutritionist who offers such healthy specialties as Butternut and Cumin Soup, Stilton, Potato and Leek, and Red Chicken and Coconut Broth. The inclusion of color photos throughout and an index to speed location of a particular soup recipe contribute to an outstanding production.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

James Patterson and James O. Born's Blindside (9781549118906, $35.00) receives a fine narration by Danny Mastrogiorgio, who brings this Detective Michael Bennett thriller to life. Michael and the town mayor become connected when the mayor's daughter goes missing in New York, requiring a discrete investigative process that belays publicity and attention. The detective follows the clues to a Bronx homicide and a serial killer, and then it becomes difficult to keep under wraps. As national security enters the picture and is threatened, Bennett finds himself in the middle of a dangerous game that threatens his honor and career. Walter Mosley's Trouble Is What I Do (9781549121296, $30.00) is narrated by Dion Graham, who adds life and vigor to the story of Leonid McGill, a New York P.I. who is hired by a Mississippi bluesman to deliver a dangerous letter. When a hit man comes gunning for his client, McGill is drawn into a dangerous confrontation between past and present, and finds himself leading a team of investigators in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth before it's too late.

The General Fiction Shelf

The Big One
Ed Moses
Daniel & Daniel
9781564746160, $15.95

The Big One will especially delight fans of Huck Finn and other stories of young protagonists who narrate their adventures in the first person, confront the adult world with a precocious attention to problem-solving beyond their years, and face uncommon adversity in a romp between childhood and adult concerns. Twelve-year-old Eddie and his family live next to a river and he faces both adult moods and choices and his own growth during a summer of change and confrontation. Gramps is the one adult he can count on for steady wisdom. His hero is invested in fishing for The Big One, a legendary fish, and he involves Eddie in a journey that goes far beyond fishing. The characters, lively observations, and growth opportunities abound in a classic coming of age tale that holds its own powerful voice.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Rinn's Crossing
Russell Heath
Koehler Books
9781633938861, $19.95, Soft Cover
9781633938885, $27.95, Hard Cover
9781633938878, $7.99, EBOOK

Rinn van Ness, who lives on a remote Alaskan island, commits a minor felony that turns into a conundrum which changes his life and revolves around a murder accusation. Rinn's Crossing is a thriller steeped in Alaskan environmental issues, politics, and Native tribal struggles for rights and survival. As such, it's story of betrayal, broken promises, and Native heritage that holds far more complexity and social insights than the usual thriller, juxtaposing a murder investigation and personal struggles with the political and social forces tearing at the fabric of Alaska's peoples. It's interesting to note that many of the questions about the murder are steeped in this Native Alaskan cultural overlay. One of its many characters is Dan Wakefield, a Tlingit Native who carries on the fight of his people for rights they'd been promised a generation ago. Rinn now suspects that Dan's fight has led him to murder. Another fighter is Kit Olinsky, who combats state legislation in a desperate attempt to preserve the Alaska she loves. As she wades through complex political and legal battles, readers receive a healthy dose of insight into the perspectives and objectives of many different sides. They come to realize that the men and women of Alaska are on the frontline of the environmental war between development and preservation and that the forces at play are often beyond their control. Kit's powerful encounters illustrate that women are as passionate about their homes as their male counterparts. In many ways, Kit is as rugged and gritty a survivalist as the male characters, defying the traditional view of Alaska as being largely a man's world. If the story line seems unexpectedly complex with this kind of background, that's only because Alaska itself is a multifaceted melting pot of often-disparate cultures operating at cross-purposes with one another. Depicting these conflicts and belief systems takes time and an attention to detail not usually seen in the thriller genre. However, the time readers take to absorb this background results in many rewards and insights beyond the murder mystery and political battles depicted in Rinn's Crossing. The philosophical reflections injected into the action are just as astute and revealing as Russell Heath's attention to political and social description. Combine such insights with fast-paced action and intrigue for a thriller that educates on many unexpected levels and remains vivid and engrossing up to its heartfelt conclusion. Thriller readers and anyone interested in Native American issues in general and Alaskan Native struggles in particular will find Rinn's Crossing thoroughly absorbing and hard to put down.

The Self-Help Shelf

How to Age Joyfully
Maggy Pigott
c/o Octopus Books
9781786859686, $16.99

How to Age Joyfully: Eight Steps to a Happier, Fuller Life offers eight easy, key strategies for enjoying life to its fullest, from eating better and being more physically active to cultivating a life purpose, staying better connected with the world, and becoming a more positive, giving person. Each goal is accompanied by tips and quotes from those who succeeded in each objective, making it easy to absorb the lessons and apply them to daily life. This succinct synthesis of wisdom creates an especially simple, action-oriented set of admonitions perfect for those looking to improve their aging process.

The Business Shelf

Secrets to a Successful Startup
Trevor Blake
New World Library
9781608686667, $16.95

Secrets to a Successful Startup: A Recession-Proof Guide to Starting, Surviving, & Thriving in Your Own Venture comes from a successful serial entrepreneur who excels in startup businesses and the process of making them profitable successes. His book uses his own experiences and those of other business owners to examine all angles of this process, from rethinking a company's structure for a virtual business approach to making a pitch to investors, managing capital, and gathering customer information appropriate for gaining the most attention and sales results. No startup entrepreneur should be without this specific approach to crafting success with a new business, product, or market venture.

The American History Shelf

Kingdom of Nauvoo
Benjamin E. Park
c/o W. W. Norton
9781631494864, $28.95

Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier makes a case for the importance of Mormons in American history, reexamining the story of Nauvoo, Illinois, as documented by records from the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. Nauvoo was the community Joseph Smith and his Mormon followers created: a bustling collection of some twelve thousand inhabitants which served as a home for Smith's church, a testing ground for its new directions, and a community that threatened to become independently operated from the rest of America with its own laws, militia, and anti-democratic structure. From Illinois delegation influences on surrounding states' politics to racial tensions that drove Mormons to reach out to other disenfranchised parties, Kingdom of Nauvoo creates an engrossing inspection of an American frontier controversy that, until now, has received relatively little inspection. Thanks to newly released Mormon church records and Benjamin E. Park, this has been remedied and returns an important segment of Mormon American history to modern history shelves.

The Terrorism Studies Shelf

Operation Jihadi Bride
John Carney with Clifford Thurlow
c/o Octopus Books
9781913184059, $16.99

Operation Jihadi Bride: My Covert Mission to Rescue Young Women From ISIS provides the true story of the ex-British Army soldier/author's journey into Syria to save the lives of over a hundred women and children, giving them a second chance. He was actually charged with protecting oil executives in Iraq when he was contacted by the desperate family of a young Dutch woman who begged him to save her from ISIS in Syria. Educated about the many young girls who had been enslaved by ISIS in that country, he embarked on a single-handled mission to rescue them, documenting these events in a powerful story of military encounters, social inspection, and courage which will prove enlightening and hard to put down.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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