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The Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 2 February 2018 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Journalism Shelf
Mathematics Shelf Autism Shelf Woodworking Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Audiobook Shelf Genealogy Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Dance Shelf
Martial Arts Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Art Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Think Before You Like
Guy P. Harrison
Prometheus Books
9781633883512, $18.00

Think Before You Like: Social Media's Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your Newsfeed shows how better critical thinking can result in better use of social media applications, and makes a powerful case for the dangers that lie in social media's appeal for those who would use it to keep up with daily events. From misinformation to fraud and propaganda, chapters discuss not only dangerous processes but how social media may be used to manipulate both media and readers' perceptions. Scientific studies consider why the subconscious mind loves social media and how that instinctive attraction can pose a danger by circumventing one's critical thinking processes. The result is a 'must' for social issues, computer, and critical thinking readers.

Six Words Fresh Off the Boat
Larry Smith, Editor
c/o Disney
9781368008389, $15.99

Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America gathers the experiences of immigrants and include hundreds of personal stories written by people who come to America from vastly different nations and walks of life. Each short experience is accompanied by a six-word summation and each provides a powerful collection of first-person observations about the American dream, making this an easy readers for anyone interested in immigrant choices and experiences.

The Education Shelf

Practicing Presence
Lisa J. Lucas
9781625711917, $32.00

Practicing Presence: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Teachers will reach educators working with grades pre-K to 12, and uses the author's own experience to provide exercises, checklists, ideas, and accounts of how teachers can create a more engaged, supportive classroom environment for themselves and others. Each chapters includes self-care strategies teachers can use to help ground them during the process, and each includes a process that emphasis mindful response rather than reacting to typical classroom situations. The result is a powerful survey highly recommended for teachers facing burnout and adversity who want to change.

The Journalism Shelf

Stop the Press
James W. Ure
Prometheus Books
9781633883390, $18.00

Stop the Press: How the Mormon Church Tried to Silence the Salt Lake Tribune offers a powerful expose that should be in social issues, media history, and any Utah collection alike, and considers how the Mormon Church tried to squelch and destroy a paper that was critical of its activities and tried to expose its secrets. The author of this book is both a Mormon and a journalist who once worked for the Tribune, so he's in the perfect, authoritative role to expose the behind-the-scenes events and manipulation of church, political and legal systems that affected both the paper and Utah politics in general. This isn't just about his experiences: interviews and research backs the history of Church involvements with the paper, making for a powerful testimony about oppression and influence.

The Mathematics Shelf

Game Changers
Rudolf Taschner
Prometheus Books
9781633883734, $18.00

Game Changers: Stories of the Revolutionary Minds Behind Game Theory comes from a math professor and popular science writer who tackles game theory: a subject too often regulated to computer programming audiences and avid gamers. Lay readers receive a discussion that describes mathematical modeling, yet needs no prior familiarity with math theory, statistics, or modeling. Rudolf Taschner surveys the history of games and different approaches, from the evolution of probability theory to word plays and the current model of applying game theory to military strategy and global finance. The result is a 'must' for any interested in games and their history, science, math, and evolution.

The Autism Shelf

"Why Didn't They Just Say That?"
Jennifer M. Schmidt, MEd
AAPC Publishing
9781942197348, $19.95

"Why Didn't They Just Say That?": Teaching Secondary Students with High-Functioning Autism to Decode the Social World Using PEERspective provides a complete curriculum based on evidence-based research and promoted peer-mediated instruction processes for those on the autism spectrum. Teachers of secondary students receive a toolkit of approaches that teach skills not ordinarily covered in school settings; from self-awareness and self-acceptance to managing stress and promoting wellness. These are skills that will be useful throughout one's life, making this approach particularly useful to teachers working with autistic students and regular classroom settings alike.

The Cartoon and Script Curriculum for Teaching Social Behavior and Communication
Vera Bernard-Optiz
AAPC Publishing
9781942197317, $23.93

The Cartoon and Script Curriculum for Teaching Social Behavior and Communication: Using Visual Strategies to Support Behavioral Programming for Individuals with ASD pairs black and white cartoon illustrations by Andra Bernard with a survey of developmental levels and communication challenges designed to help children with ASD make social connections and interact with others. Complicated behaviors are broken down into easy steps, methods helps students apply skills to their everyday experiences, and teachers are given a communication tool for teaching social behavior and relating it to familiar student concerns. The result is a support manual that simplifies complicated behavioral processes and provides a key series of scripts and procedures teachers can use to enhance communication skills in those with ASD.

The Woodworking Shelf

Gary Rogowski
Linden Publishing
9781610353144, $18.95

Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction comes from a master craftsman who considers the many obstacles to honing creative focus in an age of distractions and self-doubt, and pairs the story of how he become involved in woodworking craftsmanship with a larger story of how he learned to cultivate his craft against all odds. These stories offer lessons to fellow aspiring craftspeople and provides an inviting set of inspections into not the craft of woodworking, but the art of centering one's attention to allow creative forces to blossom. Craftspeople and any creative innovator will find this an inspiring, accessible read.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Healthy Living Handbook
Laura Harris Smith, C.N.C., B.S.O.M.
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780800797881, $14.99

The Healthy Living Handbook: Simple, Everyday Habits for Your Body, Mind and Spirit incorporates a spiritual perspective to the subject of wellness routines and comes from a nutritional counselor who provides easy ways to live well and better, both physically and spiritually. From natural remedies and practices to addressing stress and cultivating laughter, this survey offers a range of insights and ideas highly recommended for readers looking to address the extent of physical, mental and religious options for better living.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

These fine new titles are highly recommended for discriminating audio listeners looking for good quality and involving listens. Kim Fields and Todd Gold's Blessed Life (9781478923381, $30.00) is narrated by Fields herself and follows a life in which she grew up on screen, moving from an actress to being a director. She starred in The Facts of Life as an eight-year-old and her entire life has been on the screen as she made friends of famous personalities and honed her career. Prior fans of her work will relish her story. Joyce Smith and Ginger Rolbaba's The Impossible: The Miraculous Story of a Mother's Faith and Her Child's Resurrection (9781478922605, $30.00) is narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers, who brings to life the poignant story of a teen who fell into an icy lake and was lifeless for an hour. The author didn't give up and evoked God's mercy to save him. What proceeded was a series of miracles that testifies to resilience, a mother's love, and faith. Neil Patrick Harris' The Magic Misfits (9781478976783, $25.00) is narrated by the author and provides the first book in a new series revolving around a runaway street magician who uncovers real magic and faces down danger in the process. Where does illusion and reality mingle? This powerful story of six magic Misfits will real all ages with an inviting story of predators, illusionists, and a threatened small town. Donna Brazile's Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House (9781478999591, $35.00) is read by the author and documents a series of snafus as it provides the first insider story of the Russian hacking of the DNC and how various responses to this and other issues resulted in Trump's election. Brazile is a Democratic strategist more than lightly familiar with dirty deals and strange relationships intrinsic to the political process in Washington; but what she discovered over the DNC events was unlike anything else she'd ever experienced - and here makes for a powerful expose.

The Genealogy Shelf

The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 4th edition
Val D. Greenwood
Genealogical Publishing Inc.
9780806320663, $49.95

If it's one comprehensive primer on the process of genealogical research which is needed for a collection, then certainly the fourth updated edition of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy should be high on that list. While some might wonder at the need for an update to a book about research, it should be noted that the process of genealogical research has undergone vast changes thanks to technological advancements, and so the latest developments and opportunities require a complete updated which incorporates new sources, approaches, research opportunities, and family history concepts and definitions. It can be used as both a textbook and as a personal study guide, offering the latest insights into American genealogical approaches in a reference not to be missed by any collection or individual more than lightly involved in the process.

The Fiction Shelf

Fools and Mortals
Bernard Cornwell
9780062250872, $27.99

Set in Elizabethan London, Fools and Mortals departs from Bernard Cornwell's usual military histories to consider the world of Elizabethan theater, based on his own pursuits in theater productions in Massachusetts. His dual knowledge of the stage and history lends well to a story that follows young Richard Shakespeare, a struggling actor, as theater blossoms and sibling rivalry results in an especially dangerous game holding consequences not just for feuding brothers, but for the theater world itself. Readers of historical fiction will find it engrossing.

1636: The Vatican Sanction
Eric Flint & Charles E. Gannon
97814814782776, $25.00

1636: The Vatican Sanction continues the alternate history story detailed in Flint's prior books which revolves around a group of modern-day West Virginians flung back in time during the Ring of Fire cataclysm. Here the group becomes involved in Pope Urban's renegade papacy and a peace initiative at risk by a group of assassins. Professional killers headed by a Spanish mastermind may be no match for these futuristic travelers - or they may prove their final downfall. Readers of alternative history and especially those who have enjoyed Flint's prior adventures in this theme will relish yet another alternative approach to events.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Death Below Stairs
Jennifer Ashley
Berkley Publishing
9780399585517, $15.00

Historical mystery fans are in for a treat, here: when young cook Kat accepts a job at a Mayfair mansion, she keeps her distance from the eccentric family - until her young Irish assistant is murdered. At that point Kat accepts that her cooking job involves much more, and she embarks on a personal investigation into what happened; only to uncover more about her employers than she'd ever wished to know. She never expected the household treat to evolve to threaten Queen Victoria - but as events move from hearth to political circles, she finds herself in over her head. Historical mystery readers will find Death Below Stairs a compelling story as they follow her pursuit of the truth to its surprising conclusion.

The Dance Shelf

Choreography, fourth edition
Sandra Cerny Minton
Human Kinetics
9781492540120, $41.98

The fourth updated edition of Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation includes student web resources and updates a basic dance education primer with new, updated materials and tools, combining them into a web resource that pairs over twenty video clips and new chapter additions with expanded exercises and resources for exploring dance movements. High school and college-level classes alike will find this packed with discussions of how to use all forms of dance and choreography on and off stage, with chapters probing the basics of improvisation, typical issues that arise when choreographing dance movements, integrating common dance forms into varied productions, and more. Educators working in the dance field will find this a powerful tool.

The Martial Arts Shelf


Two fine titles link health concerns with martial arts and other topics, making them accessible beyond the usual sports audiences that read martial arts guides. Donivan Blair's Even If it Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality (9781594395390, $15.95) provides a memoir that describes his life growing up poor in modern-day Texas, and follows his decision to take up martial arts and change his life. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he plays in the rock band the Toadies. He studied taekwondo as a kid, left the practice for some thirty years, then went back to it at age forty. His experiences lend to an involving story. Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming's Pain-Free Joints: 46 Simple Qigong Movements for Arthritis Healing and Prevention (9781594395352, $14.95) counters the tendency to obesity and inactivity that aggravates arthritic conditions, providing qigong movements that are easy to achieve. These are simple exercises anyone can do, and provide movements designed to help practitioners loosen, stretch, and heal. From the basics of what qigong is and why it's especially good for joint health to massage methods and movements for different joints, this is a powerful fitness guide recommended for health and exercise collections alike.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

These quilter references each offer something different to aspiring quilters and are recommended picks for anyone who would produce unique results. Charise Randell's Super Cute Paper Piecing: Designs for Everyday Delights (9781604688795, $22.99) shows how to use paper piecing to best advantage, and teaches simple piecing techniques through projects that rely on color photos to accompany written instructions. Motifs from such piecing can be used for coasters, mini-quilts, kitchen and dining room decoration, and more, and make the production and assembly a snap. Also quite easy and appealing is Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson's Easy Layer-Cake Quilts: Simple Quilts That Start with 10" Squares (9781604688658, $19.99), a survey that comes from the team behind Me and My Sister Designs. 10" precuts form the foundations for quilts which look complex but are actually a snap to produce. Kim Diehl's Simple Harvest: A Bounty of Scrappy Quilts and More (9781604688368, $28.99) provides 19 fall-themed projects ranging from lap and wall quilts to placemats, dining room and kitchen decor, and bedroom sets, and pairs color photos with materials, cutting, and piecing instructions. The fall colors enhance a workbook filled with easy, appealing projects perfect for the fall and winter seasons. Adrienne Smitke illustrates That Patchwork Place's Lunch-Hour Embroidery: 130 Playful Motifs from A to Z (9781604688986, $21.99), an approach which blends over seventy motifs with portable embroidery that can go along with even the busiest schedule. Steps show how to trace and sew illustrations, transfer them to clothing or linens, and apply embroidery stitches to best effect; but it's the motifs paired with a complete alphabet which form the heart of a fine needlework approach.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Eagle's View: Five Steps to Modern Mysticism
Paddy Fievet, PhD
Cloverhurst Publications
9780990670643, $14.95

The Eagle's View: Five Steps to Modern Mysticism pairs questionnaires and exercises with ideas designed to help readers achieve spiritual wisdom and change through Modern Mysticism. The author's mystical encounters around the world pair with the mission to help others get in touch with their mystical abilities to create a powerful probe into the Divine, the process of Awakening, and how to tap into spiritual purposes for greater understanding and life meaning. Readers on the road to a better spiritual self-discovery process will find this a fine, specific discussion of five steps that can be used to enter the realms of Modern Mysticism and better awareness.

The Art Shelf

Pixar: A Pop-Up Celebration
Matthew Reinhart
Disney Editions
9781484799413, $65.00

Pixar: A Pop-Up Celebration comes from a paper engineer who provides a pop-up tribute to Pixar, an animation company with over thirty years of award-winning creations to its name. All nineteen of Pixar's feature films and an equal number of shorts are represented in a series of pop-up art productions which are nicely crafted in book form for fans of Pixar and pop-up art alike. The approach the techniques represented make this an art piece in itself; and while the rigors of library lending likely won't make it an appropriate library pick, anyone with an interest in Pixar's productions or the art of pop-up creation in general will find this celebration an eye-opening and captivating collection worthy of careful viewing and long-term preservation as a keepsake edition.

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

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