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The Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 8 August 2020 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Philosophy Shelf
Business Shelf Self-Help Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Computer Shelf Technology Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Maggie Craddock
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608686841, $17.95 PB, $14.36 Kindle, 224pp,

Lifeboat: Navigating Unexpected Career Change and Disruption arrives with uncanny timing in a world faced with business and economic challenges, and teaches how to adapt emotional flexibility to overcome changing times and uncertain challenges. It comes from a veteran executive coach who has worked with Fortune 500 CEOs, teaching them how to succeed under pressure using her Lifeboat Process to change their approaches to business and life in general. Her formula for success translates well to all walks of live and ambitions, and is highly recommended reading for anyone facing new changes in this new age.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Launch It!
Rick Benzel & Susan Shankin
New Insights Press
9781733841160, $15.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle

Launch It! The 7 Stages to FINALLY Writing and Publishing Your Book is an excellent, informative guide for authors looking to follow through on their dreams of writing and publishing their first book. It explores the entire gamut of 7 fundamental steps of the publishing process in great detail, explained by two highly experienced publishing professionals whose background includes working at major publishing houses and then starting two self-publishing enterprises. Each of these seven stages of publishing that they explain requires a different skill set, which is why new authors often bog down either at the beginning, midway, or even just after their book is published. There are many decisions authors must make as they go through the progression of the 7 steps, from deciding what they want to write about and why, to whether to hire an editor or ghostwriter, to choosing and working with a book designer, to assessing the pros and cons of using a book distributor or KDP's print on demand option.

Launch It! explains everything you need. It helps new authors bolster their confidence to put pen to paper, finish their manuscript, and then understand their publishing options. It also provides post-publication publicity tips such as organizing a launch party. Rick Benzel & Susan Shankin's Launch It! not only provides a clear step-by-step game plan, but addresses common obstacles and provides keys to overcoming them with the goal of getting one's great book idea into print successfully, then promoting it to the public through basic marketing strategies. Many competing titles address the new writer's concern of how to produce a book, but few others incorporate the additional steps needed to understand not just the writing and creative development process, but the work of publishing and promoting one's words. Benzel and Shankin explain that the ultimate goal goes beyond publishing and explores what makes one's book unique and how to transform publishing a book into greater results such as becoming a speaker, workshop leader, or highly sought-after consultant.

Launch It! is about launching more than one's dreams, seeing them come to fruition in a logical, organized manner that acknowledges common barriers and provides the tools to overcome them. Those interested in self-publishing models for success who have something important for readers and, in these days of often working from home, more time to pass on their wisdom to others will find Launch It! an encouraging and comprehensive blueprint that takes the complex world of book publishing and synthesizes its process into seven key segments that would-be authors can easily understand and employ. Highly recommended.

The Philosophy Shelf

His Dark Materials and Philosophy
Richard Greene & Rachel Robison-Greene, editors
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812694864, $19.95, PB, 256pp,

His Dark Materials and Philosophy adds another volume to the extensive Popular Culture and Philosophy series which covers television, film, and literature, blending modern analysis with popular writers and artists to draw new generations into the lure of philosophical examination. Philip Pullman's young adult His Dark Materials series especially lends to such coverage because it is filled with philosophical ideas and dilemmas. This coverage offers essays packed with specific considerations of the recurring themes in the series, from how good and evil are represented and tackled to the presence of lies, compassion, death, choices, and consequences throughout the series. Young adult to adult readers of His Dark Materials should have this as an accompanying analytical volume not just for its philosophical reflections and connections, but for its added literary insights into Pullman's unique devices and approaches to his fantasy world.

The Business Shelf

Think For Yourself
Vikram Mansharamani
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633699212, $30.00 HC, $17.49 Kindle, 304pp,

Think For Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence makes a case for adopting and learning critical thinking skills when assessing data, whether it be political, social, or business statistics, and is recommended reading for business, technology, and social issues collections alike. It surveys daily decision-making challenges, suggests changing management and analytical focus to embrace more than the facts being presented, and makes a case for independent thinking as different facts, perspectives, and expert opinions are not just accepted, but analyzed. This should be a college course. Its opportunities for debate and education are that diverse and important, key to not just business success, but the overall ability to navigate life and discern truth from false claims.

The Self-Help Shelf

The Power of Positive Aging
David Lereah, PhD
Quill Driver Press
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610353601, $15.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 280pp,

The Power of Positive Aging: Successfully Coping with the Inconveniences of Aging advocates embracing the aging process with a different mindset, which is especially important for adjusting to the fact that Americans live some 30 years longer than the did less than a hundred years ago. The revered youth culture attitudes that exist today don't help an aging population also adapt their mental attitude about changes in life, and there's where The Power of Positive Aging comes into play. This is a manual for how to cope with the physical and mental challenges that are aging, and is based on life lessons author David Lereah learned during his fight against cancer. Its compendium of physical and spiritual exercises use mindfulness and acceptance strategies to mitigate the negative effects and perceptions of aging, providing older Americans with a solid game plan for cultivating positive attitudes in the face of often-challenging changes. It's a book just as important as the myriad of volumes covering physical fitness and life changes as aging continues, and is recommended reading for any on the path to better wellness and attitude.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

As the Crow Dies
Kenneth Butcher
Pace Press
c/o Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610353618, $14.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 366pp,

As the Crow Dies is a fine police procedural that revolves around a literary police detective and his unlikely partner who investigate a very strange Sherlock Holmes-style case involving intelligent animals, murder, and government involvements alike. All these elements lend to a full-faceted investigative story that holds many twists and turns, moving between a more studied Island of Dr. Moreau piece to an investigation of murders that evolve to pose threats to the country. The evolving relationship between police lieutenant Ira Segal, called back to active duty after recovering from a prior mishap, to his unusual partner Sergeant Dinah Rudisill, a military veteran and roller derby star, adds additional flavor to a story that is an engagingly different, fun police procedural designed to keep mystery readers guessing on many different levels.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Shaman of Karres
Eric Flint and Dave Freer
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781982124564, $25.00 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 304pp,

The Shaman of Karres tells of a Starship captain who becomes his fiancee's enemy when he rescues three slave children from their masters, only to find they are part of the lineage related to the witches of Karres. Captain Pausert finds his good deed haunting him in more than one way as the witches face a slave culture that succeeds because its captives are happy to be enslaved, as he becomes involved in a search for a lost strange pet, and as his young charges begin to come into their powers. This fine, quirky and fast-paced fantasy offers many unexpected twists that are easy to follow and hard to put down.

The Computer Shelf

Computer Concepts and Management Information Systems
C.P. Gupta & K.K. Goyal
Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781683925866, $59.95, PB, 232pp,

Computer learners looking for a basic self-teaching primer will find this an excellent survey of the major topics involved in understanding computer hardware and software, and will appreciate the overview which goes beyond systems operations to discuss their applications in various industries ranging from business to security systems. Discussions cover the fundamental concepts involved in system operations and applications and include MIS discussions, an introduction to Microsoft Office's various facets and features, and keys to creating and modifying charts and information management systems. Screen shots and black and white illustrations throughout make the learning process a snap, making this particularly useful for self-study or refresher courses.

The Technology Shelf

Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words
David Lindsay
CSIRO Publishing
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781486311477, $24.50 PB, $14.46 Kindle, 180pp,

Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words appears in its second updated edition to expand the basic principles about writing and scientific research that will help scientists impart the basics of their work. Examples of good and bad writing, a expanded chapter for non-scientists interested in science writing, and a new chapter on tackling grant applications add to the powerful focus of a book that will appeal to a research community traditionally leery of putting their findings and results in writing for maximum impact and attention. Whether the reader is preparing a journal article, advertisement, or for a presentation, or even if they are just science students producing papers, Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words is a powerful key to success and offers many examples and strategies for more effective communications.

Optics: An Introduction
Sarhan M. Musa
Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781938549700, $89.95 HC, $49.95 Kindle, $49.95, 516pp,

Optics: An Introduction covers the basics of geometrical and physical optics and serves as an excellent course textbook or self-study accompaniment for college-level students of science and optical technology. Its question-and-answer format, exercises, practical, real-world applications and examples, and supporting mathematical examples and diagrams accompany discussions of different lens systems, pros and cons of their applications, common problems and solutions, and experiments relating to studying these systems. The comprehensive, in-depth approach to topics leaves no gaps in knowledge, including newer technologies such as fiber optics alongside discussions of the latest best practices and applications in the optics industry as a whole. Engineering and science students looking for an excellent introduction to the subject will find this a relevant, comprehensive overview that delves into many key areas in a manner that promotes better understanding.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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