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The Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 8 August 2017 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Native American Studies Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf American History Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Philosophy Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

The Patterning Instinct
Jeremy Lent
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882933, $26.00,

The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning provides college-level readers with a serious examination of the ways cultures have attached meaning to their worlds, and examines early peoples from ancient Egyptians and Chinese sages to modern pioneers who contributes to the makings of today's consumer-based society. As readers consider the concurrent development of civilization and a search for meaning in life, they receive a history that draws close connections between scientific and cultural discoveries and philosophical reflections in a book that goes in a surprising direction, outlining the future clash of two disparate forces: those interested in artificially enhanced human lives, and those interested in sustainability. No sociology or cultural history collection should be without this, which offers much food for thought and classroom debate.

The Education Shelf

The Wonder Wall
Peter Gamwell and Jane Daly
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781506357379, $23.00,

The Wonder Wall: Leading Creative Schools & Organizations in an Age of Complexity presents a blend of inspiration and beliefs about creating learning environments that support and encourage creativity in not just classrooms but overall community relationships, and is recommended for any educator or civic leader who would apply living systems theories to real-world encounters. While educators will be the most likely readers of a book designed to encourage imagination and creativity, its purpose is to explore new approaches to creating, recognizing, and using learning environments. The result is a powerful blend of stories, system analysis, classroom and community applications, and an introduction to various processes readers can use as the starting points for continuing their own explorations into wonder and extraordinary learning experiences. It's recommended for educators, business leaders, and community advocates as well.

William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007

Two reprints of classic Torey Hayden stories combine education and psychology as they tell of a teacher who works with emotionally troubled children to reach kids who were deemed 'impossible' to work with. Just Another Kid (9780062662774, $9.99) presents the true stories of six such children and tells of Torey Hayden's challenges, choices, and most of all, the meaning behind the kids' behaviors and how she employed unusual methods to break through to each of them. Readers of stories about 'special' kids will find this revealing and unique, as is Hayden's Ghost Girl (9780062564382, $9.99), which focuses on one child who never speaks or makes a sound. Jadie is locked in her mind and won't let anyone in, until Torey Hayden stumbles upon her secret and finds a way of reaching her. Both are powerful stories of the power a compassionate teacher an wield, and deserve a place in educator and psychologist collections alike.

Colleges That Create Futures, second edition
Robert Franek
The Princeton Review
c/o Random House Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
9780451487834, $14.99,

Colleges That Create Futures: 50 Schools That Launch Careers by Going Beyond the Classroom appears in its second updated edition to provide important information about special college programs that more closely link to career goals than most, and profiles schools with programs proven to get great jobs for students. All 50 colleges have superior services outside of the normal classroom structure which offer unusual workplace experience or collaborative opportunities, and all are proven programs that link to better job opportunities. Any education or high school reference collection for the college-bound needs this.

The Native American Studies Shelf

Spirit of the Earth: Indian Voices on Nature
Michael Oren Fitzgerald and Joseph A. Fitzgerald, Editors
World Wisdom
1501 East Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781936597543, $14.95,

Spirit of the Earth: Indian Voices on Nature presents the philosophical ideals by which Indians valued animate and inanimate forms that shared their lives, and belongs on the shelves of Native American history and new age readers alike. It chooses quotes from various Native Americans and pairs them with colorful images that reinforce different notions of how spirit is reflected in human and natural worlds, and the power of nature translates to a sense of honoring self and environment. With its powerful combination of image and written word, this is a beautiful celebration of life, philosophy, and Native American worldviews.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Cast the First Stone
James W. Ziskin
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633882812, $15.95,

Cast the First Stone provides another Ellie Stone mystery in the 2017 Edgar Award-nominated series, and is set in 1962, when one Tony Eberle has just finished his first acting job in a Hollywood movie. A reporter is sent to Los Angeles to interview the upstate small town boy who made a name for himself, but when Ellie arrives in town, it's only to find that the subject of her report has vanished. Now she's involved in not just a search for him, but a search for the truth that uncovers the seedier side of Hollywood and some dangerous actors who would do anything for success - even murder. A powerful story evolves, steeped in the evocative atmosphere of Hollywood drama.

Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

Two excellent new books are recommended picks for mystery readers who especially enjoy a literary approach to their mystery reads. Kate Carlisle's Once Upon A Spine (9780451477729, $25.00) provides a new addition to the 'Bibliophile Mystery' series, exploring a San Francisco bookbinder's move from the world of rare books to the atmosphere of murder. Protagonist Brooklyn's future in-laws are coming from England to meet her, just as she and her fiance become embroiled in a threat to their neighborhood's atmosphere. A rare book, petty thefts, and a dead juice bar owner contribute to a series of events that threaten more than atmosphere, and which are intrinsically tied to rare books. Lorna Barrett's A Just Clause (9780399585913, $26.00) tells of Tricia and Angelica, who receive a shocking visitor from the past which engages the bookstore owner and sleuth in a family conflict and a crime. Is her father really a murderer as well as a con man, and who can Tricia trust? Add a thriller author's involvement and the plot thickens, resting heavily on book themes as it evolves a satisfying twist mystery fans will relish.

The Fiction Shelf

The Underground River
Martha Conway
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781501160202, $26.99,

The Underground River's powerful story of slavery, set on a 19th century riverboat, comes to life in the story of a naive seamstress who is blackmailed into becoming involved in the Underground Railroad - an effort which challenges both her career and her ethics. Early abolitionist efforts, the dilemma faced by a young woman who must make some impossible choices that challenge her to examine her life and heart, and the impact of both slavery and the choices of whose who oppose it make for an unusual kind of Underground Railway story that is compelling and hard to put down.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Fasting the Mind
Jason Gregory
Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620556467, $14.95,

Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox belongs in new age, spirituality and self-help collections alike as it blends the spiritual perspectives and practices of classical yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism to explore how fasting the mind creates a buffer to the world's noise and confusion. Jason Gregory is a teacher and speaker specializing in Eastern and Western philosophy and metaphysics, among other things. His focus combines various practices and focuses on how to help the mind distance itself from stimulation so it can achieve balance, and chapters offer many keys to overcoming the obstacles of daily life.

The Cookbook Shelf

Zoe's Ghana Kitchen
Zoe Adjonyoh
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784721633, $29.99,

Zoe's Ghana Kitchen: Traditional Ghanian Recipes Re-Mixed fro the Modern Kitchen comes from a London writer and cook who has been receiving acclaim for her pop-up restaurant and supper club, which introduces modern Ghanian food to non-natives unfamiliar with the African cuisine. Chapters focus on homemade and traditional flavors, but reformulates traditional Ghanian dishes for modern tastes and equipment. From Roasted and Stuffed Spiced Sweet Potato, which has enjoyed renewed community interest from the introduction of a variation on the theme, to a Ghanian Egg & Okra Stew, these dishes will appeal to any cook interested in regional African cooking who wants modern variations on a theme.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Gathering Edge
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476782188, $25.00,

The Gathering Edge is a new Liaden Universe novel that tells of Theo and her crew, who are looking for a break from adversity. They should be able to find this in a region known as "safe space," but it seems there's no rest for the weary as Theo discovers that this safest of havens is threatened by another universe, and that entire spaceships are invading. When she discovers that one of these ships holds unusual connections to her own past, Theo embarks on a mission to uncover a dangerous truth in this latest Liaden adventure, especially recommended for fans of the prior series titles.

The American History Shelf

Al Capone's Beer Wars
John J. Binder
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882850, $25.00,

Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition offers both an overall history of Chicago's crime and social atmosphere during the Prohibition period from 1920-1933 and a specific focus on the Capone gang, one of twelve major bootlegging mobs at the times, and how they came to control a wide swatch of Illinois through their activities. Readers interested in social histories, Prohibition era events, Capone in particular or Chicago's evolution will find much to like about this survey of the city's underworld. 25 years of research went into this survey, which uses many previously unexplored sources to paint a different history of Chicago's ribald years and fiery personalities.

The Social Issues Shelf

Optimism Over Despair
Noam Chomsky
Haymarket Books
PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618
9781608467990, $16.95,

Optimism Over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change gathers interviews with Noam Chomsky on war and politics: recent perspectives conducted for Truthout by C.J. Polychroniou, where he discusses his own particular brand of neoliberalist thought and the evolving social and political issues of the U.S. and the world in general. As chapters offer his perspectives on everything from challenges to peace in the Middle East and the rise of Black Lives Matter to problems with the American electoral system (which will seem especially relevant given modern dilemmas), readers are treated to a powerful volume that offers a critical, reasoned discourse on politics and world social issues alike. No community or academic library political, linguistics or sociology collection should be without Optimism Over Despair.

The Philosophy Shelf

Mr. Robot and Philosophy
Richard Greene and Rachel Robison-Greene
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812699616, $19.95,

Mr. Robot and Philosophy: Beyond Good and Evil Corp is recommended for film and philosophy holdings alike and offers a new addition to the Popular Culture and Philosophy series which shows how modern philosophical perspectives may be applied to broader issues presented in cultural and literary circles. Mr. Robot considers issues from cybersecurity and mental health to ethics surrounding the right to privacy and whistleblowing, and quotes from various philosophical perspectives as it considers the underlying messages and dilemmas in Mr. Robot. Fans of the production and philosophy will find much food for thought in this lively, accessible coverage.

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

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