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The Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 12 December 2018 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Pets/Wildlife Shelf Education Shelf
Biography Shelf American History Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Beer/Wine/Spirits Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Technology Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

The Well-Spoken Woman Speaks Out
Christine K. Jahnke
Prometheus Books
9781633885004, $18.00

The Well-Spoken Woman Speaks Out: How to Use Your Voice to Drive Change comes from a speech coach who shares techniques to help women present their ideas effectively, and provides a how-to guide especially useful for women committed to advocating, running for office, or resisting; but who may not have developed the proper voice for becoming a powerful public speaker. Women are taught how to make their voices heard in a collection of insights that stem from Jahnke's direct experience working with top women in the country. Women are instructed on not just how to speak, but how to write in a more effective, powerful manner. This book will appeal to any woman who wants to cultivate a stronger voice.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Asia's Wildlife
Fanny Lai & Bjorn Olesen
Periplus Editions
9780794608132, $34.99

Asia's Wildlife: A Journey to the Forests of Hope has been produced to raise funds in support of BirdLife International and its work, and comes from authors who have contributed their talents to making this publication a standout. They were tasked with visiting eight of the most remote forests in Asia, in eight different countries, photographing and describing their endangered species. Their year-long task resulted in over a hundred different species, many of which have seldom been photographed, in a bright, oversized presentation that excels in full-page color animal photo close-ups throughout. Not only are there photos of rare animals, but at least one that nobody knew existed before the book was published. The result should be in any collection strong in nature and wildlife.

The Education Shelf

Disciplinary Literacy in Action
Releah Cossett Lent and Marsha McCracken Voigt
Corwin Literacy
9781544317472, $33.95

Disciplinary Literacy in Action: How to Create and Sustain a School-Wide Culture of Deep Reading, Writing, and Thinking provides a sequel to This is Disciplinary Literacy and blends ideas for literacy teaching with a PL cycle educators can use in their schools and classrooms. From collaborative learning processes designed to maintain or encourage innovation to planning for autonomous literacy leadership teams, analyzing what matters most in a disciplinary literary community, and fostering disciplinary literacy dialogues, chapters focus on deep reading and writing strategies and pairs tips such as how to work with small groups with resources for continued learning and research-supported insights on peer coaching. The result is a wide-ranging examination of disciplinary literacy and how it functions in a broader educational context.

The Biography Shelf

Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Robert W. Bly
Quill Driver Books
9781610353267, $16.95

Charles Proteus Steinmetz: The Electrical Wizard of Schenectady presents the life of a genius who has received much less attention than Telsa and Edison, but whose inventions were just as important. It's ironic that Steinmetz's genius is even more notable than his more famous contemporaries: he made a name for himself in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; but today very few know his name, much less his contributions to science. From his development of AC electricity to his political visions and his social advocacy, Steinmetz lead a full life, and the extent of his insights are covered in a biography recommended for science and general-interest holdings alike.

The American History Shelf

The Last Weeks of Abraham Lincoln
David Alan Johnson
Prometheus Books
9781633883970, $28.00

The Last Weeks of Abraham Lincoln: A Day-by-Day Account of His Personal, Political, and Military Challenges joins many other accounts of Lincoln's life and battles. There have been so many books about Lincoln, and so many different historical analyses, that one might wonder about the need for yet another; but this narrative history offers a livelier tone than most, includes excerpts from press reviews of his address and reports of his military and personal life, and offers supporting analyses that explain his choices and approaches: "President Lincoln probably did not understand every detail of the reports he read, most of which involved troop movements and strategy, and he may not even have read all of the telegrams in their entirety." Anyone interested in inspecting Lincoln's life, times, and influences will find this a thought-provoking study livelier in tone and delivery than most.

The Cookbook Shelf

Editors of Food and Wine
Oxmoor House
9780848756147, $29.95

Starters, sides, main dishes, desserts and drinks that lend to portable potlucks are the showcase of Potluck: Food and Drinks to Share with Friends and Family, and offer a range of dishes that will stand out from the crowd. Cooks won't expect some of the special approaches used here, from different and enhanced recipes that elevate the lowly mashed potato to new status to Ina Garten's recipe for Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower. Color photos throughout contribute to a powerfully appealing collection highly recommended for those who often find themselves scrambling for recipes that lend to portability and potlucks.

The Beer/Wine/Spirits Shelf

Whiskey America
Dominic Roskrow
Mitchell Beazley
9781784724351, $29.99

Whiskey America: The Essential Guide to the US Distilling Revolution covers new whiskies and distillers in the U.S. and combines discussions of different approaches with tasting notes and surveys of new whiskey styles across the country. Notes on different styles, interviews with leading individuals responsible for making spirits, and surveys of distilleries across the country are complimented by color photos of distilleries, products and individuals in a survey that includes tips on how to use the new whiskies, while notes on distilleries in other countries round out the information provided in an authoritative guide recommended for any collection strong in food and wine.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Six Cats A Slayin'
Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin
9780451491091, $26.00

Six Cats A Slayin' provides mystery and feline fans with another 'Cat in the Stacks' mystery and the tenth installment in the cozy series. Here Librarian Charlie and his Maine Coon cat Diesel are preparing for the holidays when an unexpected box of kitchens lands on their porch. A mysterious note invites investigation as Charlie faces a nosy neighbor's meddling ways, a box load of little problems, and a murder that places Charlie in a difficult position and a challenging case. Cozy mystery readers are in for a treat, here!

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Uncompromising Honor
David Weber
Baen Books
9781481483506, $28.00

Uncompromising Honor provides a new Honor Harrington novel in which Honor is challenged by the Mandarins, who have committed terrible atrocities and whose actions have finally mitigated Honor's tendency towards caution and leniency in dealing with them. The corrupt killers have decided the Star Kingdom of Manticore must be destroyed, and Honor faces the loss of those she loved and her own approach to military engagement as she enters the biggest battle of all. Prior fans of Honor Harrington will find this a compelling new saga that challenges her personality, military objectives, and life.

Christina Dalcher
c/o Penguin
9780440000785, $26.00

Vox is set in the near future U.S. and pairs a thriller with a sci-fi setting as a divided nation bends towards the teachings of Reverend Carl, leader of the Pure Woman movement, and elects a new President with a dangerous perspective on the role of women and girls in America. As all women are removed from the workforce and subject to a quota that limits their words, Dr. Jean McClellan discovers she's a dangerous exception to the role and that her research might contribute to an even more repressive, terrifying future. Fans of The Handmaid's Tale are in for a treat with this disturbing, compelling story.

The Neuromorphs
Dennis Meredith
9781939118240, $16.95, Print
9781939118257, $2.99, Kindle

In 2050, Helper androids have become an invaluable part of human affairs, assisting people and making their lives better. It seems inevitable that disaster will strike, and it does: somebody is programming these helpful workers to kill their rich owners; and furthermore, the androids themselves then assume the identities of their dead owners, to further plunder their wealth. The theme may sound familiar (think I, Robot and other classics of automation autonomy issues), but what sets The Neuromorphs apart from any similar-sounding futuristic scenario is an attention to both thriller elements and the specter of not just sentient artificial beings, but "hive mind" connections that form a unit of danger that extends beyond individual purpose to form a collective threat. The combination of technical description, psychological insights, and cat-and-mouse thriller components combine with a sci-fi background to make The Neuromorphs a top-notch, very highly recommended read that crosses genres. It will satisfy a range of readers, from fans of apocalyptic fiction and espionage thrillers to those who enjoy hard science sci-fi, military sci-fi, and stories of SEAL team struggles.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Five new audio listens will attract leisure listeners with astute stories and readers that bring them to life. Sally Field's autobiography In Pieces (9781549143076, $40.00) is narrated by Field, who tells her story for the first time. Although this is available in book format, the audio in her own voice truly brings out the underlying tension, currents, and revelations that adopt a confessional tone as Field reviews her childhood, how she made a name for herself, and how she became a star. Wednesday Martin's Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free (9781478914426, $30.00) is narrated by the author, whose background as a cultural critic lends to an inviting analysis of social science, women's history, cultural anthropology, and more. This observational piece about women considers faithlessness, sexuality, and commitment in a survey that reconsiders female infidelity and sexuality alike. Joyce Meyer's Healing the Soul of a Woman (9781478985235, $30.00) is read by Jodi Carlisle, who adds spark and drama to this story of how Christ's love can bring added healing to a woman's life; especially if she's facing heartache, abuse, and abandonment. How such positive perspectives can be cultivated in a religious environment is explored in a discussion backed by Meyer's own experience and analysis. James Patterson and Nancy Allen's Juror #3 (9781478974512, $35.00) is narrated by Megan Tusing, who brings to life the vivid story of a new attorney in Mississippi who becomes the defense counsel in a racially charged felony case surrounding the murder of a woman from one of the small town's oldest families. As prosecutors hunt for blood over justice, Ruby Bozarth finds her skills sorely tested in a vivid investigative drama that comes to life in audio. Monica Hesse's The War Outside (9781549142000, $25.00) receives multiple voices of Christie Moreau, Allison Hirot, and the author herself as it tells of 1944 Texas, where Margo and Haruko are thrown together after a dust storm and evolve a secret friendship against all odds. Their time together and the desert prison camp that interns them makes for a vivid story that celebrates life, discusses betrayal and injustice, and creates a vivid story hard to stop listening to. All are satisfying, superior productions.

The Technology Shelf

The Laser That's Changing the World
Todd Neff
Prometheus Books
9781633884663, $19.00

The Laser That's Changing the World: The Amazing Stories Behind Lidar from 3D Mapping to Self-Driving Cars gathers lively accounts of an advanced technology that's changing the world, and considers Lidar's growth, applications, and the history of its development over the years. One might expect a strictly scientific perspective, but Neff focuses on product lines, challenges that fostered competition over Lidar development, and individuals who were pioneers in the industry. The result is a coverage not just of the technological advancements surrounding Lidar, but the underlying influences on its past, present and future development.

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