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The Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 12 December 2019 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Christmas Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Liquor Shelf Cookbook Shelf Business Shelf
Philosophy Shelf Technology Shelf Audiobook Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Automotive Shelf Education Shelf Holocaust Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

How Charts Lie
Alberto Cairo
W.W. Norton
9781324001560, $25.95

How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter About Visual Information considers the translation of basic data into infographics, diagrams and charts, but offers a powerful focus on how such charts affect perceptions of truth and sometimes don't adequately represent the raw data. Alberto Cairo is a data visualization expert well versed in such presentations and here discusses how such charts can produce misleading patterns to outright lies. The key to successfully understanding visual representations of data is to learn more about how to interpret visuals, a lesson provided in this book, which teaches not just how to read a chart, but how to understand how expectations and encoding methods influence chart interpretations. Both college-level and general-interest collections will find this a powerful reference that advises consumers how to better interpret the data being represented in graphic form.

Little Farmstead Living
Julie Thomas
Martingale & Company
9781683560142, $34.99

Little Farmstead Living: Creating a Country Life Just Past the City Limits tells how to create a rural farmstead feel to home decor and experiences that is specific to properties just beyond the city limits. From interior design to handling chickens and bringing the seasons indoors with decorative touches from plant greenery to local thrift shop pictures, this book mixes and matches recipes, artistic touches, and home embellishments for a multifaceted approach to crafting a rural environment indoors and out. The focus on various facets combining atmosphere and country living will delight readers seeking their own rural refuges who want direction on how to do so and what to do when they get there.

The Christmas Shelf

A Cowboy Christmas
Shanna Hatfield
9781493042340, $26.95

A Cowboy Christmas: Western Celebrations, Recipes, and Traditions is a blend of recipes, how-to instructions, photos, and interviews that advocates creating a Christmas celebration with a cowboy theme. Those who look for traditional holiday celebrations with distinct Americana themes will find this a fine gathering that covers everything from stories of cowboy holiday traditions of the past to decorations and homemade gifts. Color photos, a series of folksy, fun discussions, and fine entertainment guides blend with the recipes to make for a winning discussion.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

Edyta Sitar's Patches of Stars: 17 Quilt Patterns and a Gallery of Inspiring Antique Quilts (9781683560388, $29.99) comes from the designer of Laundry Basket Quilts who uses star quilts and antique quilt inspirations to put together new patterns and ideas. Instructions for almost twenty of Sitar's custom quilt designs accompany their foundations of inspiration and pages packed with colorful patterns, examples, and full-page finished quilts. Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings helps stitchers expand their ideas and techniques with Wool, Needle & Thread: The Go-To Guide for Wool Stitchery (9781683560319, $28.99). Step-by-step instructions for wool applique projects accompany photos and tips that range from fabric considerations to tools and threads. A dozen embroidery stitches are presented in sharp photos that leave nothing to wonder, while five projects put the stitch instructions to work in completed designs. Lissa Alexander compiles Mix it Up! 16 Quilts from Cake Mix & Cupcake Mix Papers (9781683560302, $27.99), presenting a patchwork compilation especially appropriate for beginners because it requires no special sewing skills to prove successful. All that is needed is a pack of Cake Mix Papers for 10" squares or Cupcake Mix Papers for 5" squares, a stack of fabrics, and this book, which allows beginners to pick a pattern and sew and cut on the dotted lines to produce quilt blocks. Newcomers to Cake Mix and Cupcake Mix Paper piecing will find this book the perfect place to start.

The Liquor Shelf

Octopus Publishing

Two new cocktail books are recommended picks for any enthusiast of recipe guides for mixing drinks. For a classic coverage, Henry McNulty's Vogue Cocktails; Classic Drinks from the Golden Age of Cocktails (978184091788, $12.99) is a handy hardcover pocket reference that uses the archives of Vogue, the British cocktail classic, to provide recipes inspired by libations from the 1930s. The organization of these 150 recipes by base spirit makes it easy to create Mint Juleps, Pink Gin, or a Crimean Cocktail, while the alphabetical arrangement by name within spirit category makes for a quick at-a-glance reference. Salvatore Calabrese produces the foreword for The Art of the Cocktail (9781781576564, $12.99), which focuses on cocktails and artists who enjoy them, as well as art-themed drinks and twists on classics. Each cocktail recipe is accompanied by discussion of its influences and origins, and each enjoys an artistic facing page inspired by artist information and fun facts. The art anecdotes and fun stories are as much an appeal as the recipes themselves.

The Cookbook Shelf

American Cuisine and How It Got This Way
Paul Freedman
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9781631494628, $39.95

American Cuisine and How It Got This Way blends history with anecdotes and fun facts about America's evolving food, and is a fine pick for American history and culinary collections alike. Where other books focus on regional food trends and flavors, Paul Freedman examines the influences of technology on food traditions, the rise of processed foods, and the evolution of processed food tastes over time. With nearly a hundred illustrations accompanying history and recipes, this is a fun book perfect for food fans.

The 3-Ingredient Baking Book
Charmain Christie
Robert Rose
9780778806349, $24.95

The 3-Ingredient Baking Book: 101 Simple, Sweet & Stress-Free Recipes offers a simple formula for success by featuring quick desserts that can be made effortlessly. Most rely on time-saving prepared ingredients, such as puff pastry dough, chocolate puffed cereal, or self-rising flour, but all can be made from just three ingredients (most are common in any pantry) and all lend to baked goods that lend to everyday use or entertaining. Color photos complete the attraction to an exceptionally easy production.

The Business Shelf

Couples That Work
Jennifer Petriglieri
Harvard Business Review Press
9781633697249, $30.00

Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work gathers success stories from working couples who share their strategies for joining business and relationship success, and is highly recommended for young working couples who haven't yet faced the major transition periods in their lives and careers. From different stages and their common pitfalls to juggling career and family priorities and making them an active discussion for planning, this book juxtaposes relationships, parental roles, and business demands. Working couples who want to solidify goals and positive paths to achievement will find this packed with insights from couples who have made decisions and choices that support both relationships and career aspirations alike.

The Philosophy Shelf

Mister Rogers and Philosophy
Eric J. Mohr and Holly K, Mohr, Editors
Open Court
9780812694772, $19.95

Mister Rogers and Philosophy: Wondering Through the Neighborhood joins others in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series that joins television and film experience to philosophical contentions, and is recommended reading for media studies and philosophy students alike. It closely inspects the tenets and presentation of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, exploring his character and ideals and linking his warm legacy to philosophy in a way that encourages TV viewers to think about the presence of philosophy in everyday life. From links between children's attractions to puppetry and changes in behavior from observations to Mister Rogers' lessons about love, this is an involving title that is revealing, lively, and directly connects philosophy to beloved cultural icons.

The Technology Shelf

Artech House

Vince Rodriguez's Anechoic Range Design for Electromagnetic Measurements (9781630815370, $169.00) discusses the best methods to measure different kinds of antennas, examining the design of indoor ranges for RF measurements and considering best practices for measuring systems and antennas. Reference collections strong in electromagnetics will appreciate a specific guide to making measurements and identifying the options of ranges and designs, and will also find the examples and references perfect for those working with designs based on electromagnetic processes. Henry Lau's Practical Antenna Design for Wireless Products (9781630813253, $179.00) covers antenna basics and designs that lend to optimum performance, and is recommended for any electronics reference collection strong in antenna design and applications. Examples on wearable electronic products are presented in a format which builds blocks of knowledge and links antenna design basics to math and analytical approaches, making this college-level and professional reference a fine consideration.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Four new audio presentations are fine choices for listeners who want standout productions. Stephen Chbosky's Imaginary Friend (9781549143182, $45.00) is narrated by Christine Lakin, who brings to life the story of a seven-year-old's imaginary friend. Christopher was an ordinary boy but on the run with his single mother, who flees an abusive relationship with him in two. Then he vanishes for six days, returning with a new voice in his head and a mission that involves saving everyone he knows by building a tree house. An engrossing horror tale evolves. Chris Colfer's A Taste of Magic (9781549124129, $30.00) is read by the author, whose voice brings to life the story of a world where magic is outlawed, where Brystal Everygreen lives a staid life until she stumbles on a book that reveals she's actually a fairy living in a repressive kingdom. She wasn't supposed to read, wasn't supposed to discover her magical origins, and isn't supposed to become even more involved in magical adventures...but, she does. Her experiences will change the world in this engrossing tale. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro's The 19th Christmas (9781549120954, $35.00) provides another Women's Murder Club thriller perfect for seasonal enjoyment. The holidays are fast approaching and the Club is celebrating the waning of crime and the quiet expectations of the Christmas season when a criminal known as "Loman" gains their attention. He's planning a terrible Christmas morning: one that the Club must thwart if they are to have a peaceable kingdom for the holidays. Seasoned audio narrator January LaVoy brings the story to life. Irene Sankoff and David Hein's Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock (9781549148736, $30.00) examines the award-winning Broadway musical story about Newfoundland town Gander which welcomed over thirty pains to land in their remote refuge on 9/11. Fans familiar with the event and the musical will find this consideration the perfect analysis of the musical's global appeal. All are outstanding stories.

The General Fiction Shelf

Odell's Fall
Norman Bacal
Barlow Books
9781988025438, $0.99, Kindle

Odell's Fall is a story set against the background of racism in modern day Alabama, involving love, jealousy and deceit, culminating in a murder in a rich lawyer's apartment. But who did it? Odell's Fall covers romance, partnerships, lives lost and won, the legacy of Odell's heritage and its influences, and the mystery surrounding his actions with a deft attention to detail. Under another hand, these multifaceted subplots might have proved confusing; but Norman Bacal excels in seamlessly entwining different perspectives, motivations, and personal, political and legal affairs. His ability to capture the personal and professional conundrums of a man with a secret to hide not only from the world, but from himself, makes for a riveting production from beginning to end: a story that will leave readers thinking long after the final revelations come to light.

The Poker Players
Edward A. Dreyfus
Enchanted Villa Press
9781080589647, $14.99, Paper, $2.99, Kindle

A group of men in their 70s gathers weekly for their beloved poker game in The Poker Players, but their game is just that: an emotions-barred affair that involves beer, gambling, and little more, until George's divorce is revealed. It's an event six months in the making that he's been unable to talk about to the men he's known for thirty years. Each poker game and each chapter brings a new revelation. It turns out that each player holds a close emotional secret that shocks the group and further reinforces the fact that these men's interactions have been anything but close despite the decades of familiarity and a shared gaming interest. As readers absorb this progression of events, they receive much information about self-discovery, intimacy, sharing, and men's emotional make-ups. It turns out that The Poker Players isn't about poker, but the larger challenge of forming meaningful relationships in life. Readers interested in psychological connections between men and the impact of honesty on all kinds of relationships and life choices will find The Poker Players a vivid, exciting exploration of what happens when risks are taken in safe environments and the Pandora's Box of intimacy is opened.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Bodies in the Library
Marty Wingate
Berkley Prime Crime
9781984804105, $26.00

The Bodies in the Library tells of Hayley Burke's new job as the curator of a rare book library in a Georgian home in England. Her pleasure over her new position is married by odd characters, resistance to her new ideas for the library, lack of knowledge about some of its holdings, and finally, a murder in the library. Originally charged with overseeing the collection, Hayley now must preserve the First Edition Society itself by solving a murder. This moving story will intrigue bibliophiles and anyone interested in literary-based murder mysteries.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

1636: The China Venture
Eric Flint and Iver P. Cooper
Baen Books
9781481484237, $25.00

1636: The China Venture adds another adventure to the alternate history series, and prior readers should be delighted. Here the new United States of Europe is embarking on trade talks with the Chinese Empire, with savvy former pirate Zheng Zhilong's knowledge of the futuristic town of Grantville helping predict the future of the Ming dynasty. Zheng has a personal stake in the outcome because he struggles to help his family, but China is suspicious of strangers. Can the Grantsville people help establish new diplomatic relations between empires armed with the foreknowledge of change? An engrossing alternate history emerges, based on the foundations of the 1636 premise and highly recommended for prior fans of the series.

The Automotive Shelf

Jaguar: The Art of the Automobile
ZSef Enault and Michael Levivier
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784726171, $50.00,

Jaguar: The Art of the Automobile comes from two journalists, one the executive editor of a motoring magazine and website; the other a professional test driver, who join with the car manufacturer to create a visual history of Jaguar's revolutionary car designs. Access to Jaguar's archives of models and images places this survey above any competitor, creating a history of design, style, and technical detail that is packed with sharp color images throughout (some in double-page spreads). From the technological advancements that different Jaguar models represented to changing standards that resulted in models that were less effective (as in the anti-pollution standards that took away the XJ12's reputation for power), this follows the advent of new models, the fall and discontinuation of old ones, and the influences on revised automobile versions. The result will prove a hit to prior Jaguar and auto history fans who will find this coverage detailed, specific, and hard to put down.

The Education Shelf

Science Curriculum Topic Story, second edition
Page Keeley and Joyce Tugel
9781452244648, $45.95

The second updated edition of Science Curriculum Topic Story: Bridging the Gap Between Three-Dimensional Standards, Research, and Practice covers the three centerpieces of science education: content, scientific and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. It shows teachers how to apply these three basic science concepts in an approach that updates material for new standards and research-based resources and directs science educators to incorporate the latest practices throughout their work with students. From more STEM approaches to study guides in six categories and new connections between concepts and instruction approaches, this is a key tool for helping teachers modernize their standards and classroom approaches, and should be in every education reference collection.

The Holocaust Studies Shelf

Tehran Children
Mikhal Dekel
W.W. Norton
9781324001034, $27.95

Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey covers an unusual history: that of Jewish children evacuated to Iran during World War II. It was 2007 when Dekel told an interested colleague that her father was one of a thousand such children in Tehran during the war. She knew little more and didn't even consider him the usual Holocaust survivor, but her exploration of his life resulted in ten years of research into the Tehran Children and others who were deported from Poland to settlements in the Soviet Union and its many republics. No Holocaust history collection should be without this exploration of a little-known aspect of Holocaust relocation history.

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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