Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / The Bookwatch

The Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 8 August 2023 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice American History Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Biography Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Fred M. Kray
Live Oak Press
9798987213810, $26.95 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper/$7.99 ebook

Broken: The Suspicious Death of Alydar and the End of Horse Racing's Golden Age should be in any library strong in horse racing stories and history.

It's the true story of champion stallion Alydar's mysterious injury and demise, assuming the tone and trappings of a crime investigation while delving deeper into the horse racing world and history of the 1990s. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this survey is that its author is an animal law attorney who approaches the subject not from the usual standpoint of participants in the horse racing community, but as a lawyer who weaves together court proceedings, evidence, and interviews with over twenty eyewitnesses. This testimony and these insights piece together the truth of an event which tainted the horse racing world forever.

The true crime story reads with the passion and immediacy of a dramatic novel, featuring the ability to draw readers from outside the true crime genre: "A cool Lexington night. Calumet's stallion barn. The night watchman in charge of protecting almost $50 million worth of Calumet's horses is gone, let go six months earlier. Now one man, Cowboy Kipp, is responsible for making the rounds of the entire 762-acre farm, leaving five of Calumet Farm's most valuable horses (Alydar, Affirmed, Secreto, Mogambo, and Capote) alone for up to an hour each night."

Fred M. Kray's approach lends captivating tension to the facts that evolve as the mystery unfolds. This should even attract mystery genre readers with a sense of exploration and discovery that is compelling. Personalities, both equine and human, are also profiled in the course of an investigation which remains vivid throughout.

The fact-focused nature of this event, Kray's emphasis on the legal proceedings and investigative probe into the horse racing world, and the progressive discoveries that emerge all make Broken a top recommendation not just for true crime collections or libraries looking for exposes about the horse racing world, but for mystery readers and legal thriller audiences looking for a rollicking good read that puts Dick Francis to shame.

The American History Shelf

The Schlager Anthology of Hispanic America
Edited by Aaron E. Sanchez
Schlager Group Inc.
9781935306849, $285.00 print/$260.00 ebook

Libraries interested in acquiring a definitive reference to primary resource materials in Hispanic American history will find The Schlager Anthology of Hispanic America: A Student's Guide to Essential Primary Sources an essential acquisition. This book contains two volumes and chapters that move from pre-contact 1100s America to modern times, and is the sixth volume in the "Schlager Anthologies for Students" series.

Its focus is on exploring and exposing materials "from often-marginalized communities and voices that are frequently ignored in other anthologies and historical accounts." Each chapter provides an introductory history before delving into the source materials and references of overviews of primary source material documents (articles, writings, websites) and their place in Hispanic history. The abridgements of their contents and bibliographic connections allow researchers from high school to college and general-interest audiences to pursue more of the history on their own.

The 150 documents and accompanying commentary are accented by more than 100 photographs and illustrations that add colorful visuals of art and vintage embellishment to the articles and overviews. Glossaries, chapter questions for student consideration, and roundups of associated documents and themes both enhance and enlarge the subjects profiled in this wide-reaching anthology of social, political, historical, and even literary works.

One might anticipate that the depth of this coverage would impart a scholarly tone over a lively discourse, but one of the strengths of this collection is its surprising ability to remain informative, authoritative, yet thoroughly engrossing and relevant to everyday readers.

With over six hundred pages packed with essential and rare references, The Schlager Anthology of Hispanic America: A Student's Guide to Essential Primary Sources should not only be considered a foundation reference for any library interested in Hispanic topics and history, but a resource for broadening and expanding the subjects, nature, and focuses of Latino challenges and concerns throughout American literature, history, and society.

Its essential and rare opportunities for discussions and enlightenment also make The Schlager Anthology of Hispanic America: A Student's Guide to Essential Primary Sources a strong recommendation for discussion groups interested in pursing a range of Hispanic history topics. The questions at each chapter's end encourage debate: "Badillo states, 'Workfare was anathema to Democrats, but not to me.' How does this reflect his own personal and political journey? Does it also reflect the political journey of other Latinx people? Explain."

The Cookbook Shelf

Chetna's Indian Feasts
Chetna Makan
c/o Octopus Publishing
9780600637677, $32.99

Chetna's Indian Feasts: Everyday Meals & Easy Entertaining comes from a participant in The Great British Bake Off and features Indian-inspired dishes that are varied, appealing, and easy to reproduce at home. While other Indian cookbooks hold some of these same attractions, what sets Chetna's Indian Feasts apart from others is a focus on fast dishes that are not only easy to put together, but different from many of the classic Indian fare to be found in competing cookbooks. Full-page color photos illustrate such dishes as Dal with Mango, Garlic Chilli Corn (suitable for the barbecue), or Red Chilli Pulao with Chicken. This take-off on traditional Indian fare is highly recommended for enthusiasts of Indian food seeking something satisfyingly different.

Flavor Kitchen
Crystelle Pereira
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Books
9781914239793, $29.99

Flavor Kitchen: Vibrant Recipes With Creative Twists features original creations not to be found in other cookbooks. Perhaps this is because Crystelle Pereira's Portuguese-Goan roots and travels encouraged her to meld new flavors. She developed these different combinations as she traveled the world. Full-page color photos accompany this British Bake-Off cook's original dishes, such as Spicy Korean-inspired Smashed Potatoes or Slow-Roasted Harissa Carrots. From small plates and dips to desserts and main dishes, Pereira's unique creations are powerfully appealing and highly recommended for cooks seeking flavor combinations not to be found elsewhere.

The Healthy Back Kitchen
Griffin R. Baum, MD
America's Test Kitchen
21 Drydock Avenue, Suite 210E, Boston, MA 02210
9781954210653, $29.99

The Healthy Back Kitchen: Move Easier, Cook Simpler is all about mitigating the effects of back pain from common kitchen movements such as bending, lifting, and preparing foods. Worst of all is the standing required in cooking. Dr. Griffin R. Baum, a neurosurgeon in New York, is an avid cook who here offers new cooking methods to protect the back and address the common motions of cooking that set off pain. He advocates a simpler way of moving in the kitchen and includes over two hundred color photo-enhanced recipes designed to avoid prolonged standing. Tricks that make cooking easier include taking breaks mid-cooking, prepping ahead, buying already-trimmed veggies, and other simple routines for avoiding the usual long-standing backache-causing kitchen routines, making The Healthy Back Kitchen highly recommended for health and cookbook collections alike.

The Biography Shelf

David Bowie: Rainbowman 1967-1980
Jerome Soligny
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781800960633, $39.99 HC, $14.99 Kindle, 704pp

The only prerequisite for enjoying David Bowie: Rainbowman 1967-1980 is a prior interest in the musician's life and an ability to absorb a meticulously-done biographical sketch which contains well over six hundred pages of research and extensive interviews with those involved in Bowie's life.

Fans will find this new biography to be one of the most vibrant, revealing coverages of Bowie's life and art in print, reviewing his music and influences with a dedicated hand to detail that includes in-depth revelations by contemporaries such as Mick Ronson and other notable musical artists.

The depth of examination and insights contributes an authoritative understanding of Bowie's works that is both wide-ranging and essential to any serious understanding of his artistry, making David Bowie: Rainbowman 1967-1980 a top recommendation for any collection looking for an exhaustive, revealing coverage of his music and the milieu in which it was born.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books

David Weber and Jacob Holo's The Weltall File (9781982192655, $28.00) is a Gordian Division novel of murder, political struggle, and investigation that juxtaposes death threats with detectives that struggle to solve a mystery and unfold who is actually telling the truth. As the conspiracy threatens to explode, Isaac Cho and Susan Cantrell find their partnership and own lives challenged by an impossible timeline and confrontations.

John Ringo's Live Free or Die (9781082192709, $18.00) is an action-packed first contact story that tells of the unexpected grip of the Horvath that follow the peaceful alien traders, the Glatun. As the world struggles to understand these invaders and their disparate special interests, a hero is required to put the pieces of the puzzle together ... one able to confront alien and human special interests alike. That would be Tyler Vernon. And his own special interests come into play in a dangerous game that readers will find thoroughly action-packed, engrossing, and filled with satisfying twists and turns.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design