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The Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 2 February 2020 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Environmental Studies Shelf
Philosophy Shelf General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Education Shelf Biography Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Technology Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Beer/Wine/Spirits Shelf Money/Finance Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Camel Crazy
Christina Adams
New World Library
9781608686483, $17.95

Camel Crazy: A Quest for Miracles in the Mysterious World of Camels provides a blend of autobiography, adventure story, and new age health title. While some who pick it up will anticipate a fascination and affection for camels, this book is more about alternative health issues, autism, and a search for miracles than it is about camels alone, although it does traverse quite a few camel encounters and worlds embracing them throughout its journey. Difficult to easily peg and certainly a cut above the ordinary, Camel Crazy is a recommended pick for anyone interested in camels, health challenges, and new age perspectives.

The Science Shelf

Roadside Geology of Oklahoma
Neil H. Suneson
Mountain Press
9780878426973, $26.00

Roadside Geology of Oklahoma comes from a retired geologist from the Oklahoma Geologic Survey who traverses the state examining its geologic wonders, from parks to roadside attractions. Oklahoma is rich in oil and geology alike, featuring fossils, granite, limestone cliffs, and more. The author not only researched the state's geology for a living, but walked Oklahoma's byways and roads conducting field geology for his own interest. His lively tour of the state is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in Oklahoma history or geology, and comes packed with color photos, color maps, and detailed explanations with a regional focus that will allow any destination-oriented geology fan to view the wonders explored in this book.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

Changing Tides
Alejandro Frid
New Society Publishers
9780865719095, $19.99

Changing Tides: An Ecologist's Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene tackles the question of humanity's impact on the planet and what stories can allow the human race to shift from their focus of material goods and goals to a more ecological perspective of stewards of the world's ecosystems. In order to consider what the shift might look like, Frid examined Indigenous cultures that have developed unique ways of viewing and managing resources. Their experience, blended with scientific data, might make the difference in helping humans revise their own image of their role in planetary affairs. Ethereal, engaging, and centered in river, wildlife, and natural environments, Changing Tides blends philosophy with social insights key to understanding man's place in the world, and is an outstanding survey recommended for social issues, ecology, and science collections alike.

The Philosophy Shelf

Conspiracy Theories: Philosophers Connect the Dots
Richard Greene and Rachel Robison-Greene
Open Court
9780812694796, $19.95

Conspiracy Theories: Philosophers Connect the Dots belongs in philosophy and social issues collections alike, covering current events and news with an eye to exploring the different viewpoints and underlying belief systems in conspiracy theories. From witch hunts and the complications of voter fraud to whether climate skeptics are really conspiracy theorists, this helps define the modern incarnation of the conspiracy, its philosophy and psychology, and its impact on society as a whole, and is highly recommended reading for philosophy and current issues students alike; especially those involved in classroom debates.

The General Fiction Shelf

All the Danger
David Vigoda
Collioure Books
0972825092, $16.95

Set in the turmoil of an America emerging from the Civil War barely intact and ideologically shattered, All the Danger follows the clash of values and politics that continues the struggle in its aftermath. It embraces the perspectives of a cast of characters who each take leaps into the new unknown in different ways. From the perception of industrial workers in this novel's 1877 world who were described as "savages" to today's media depictions of liberals and conservatives as being a danger to America and a threat in need of remedy, All the Danger is aptly named. It's not just about the dangers facing 1877 America's efforts to rebuild. It's about the same kinds of forces at work in American society today. For this reason, All the Danger should be viewed as more than just another Civil War novel. It's a blueprint and mirror for events taking place today. Frightening, disturbing, and relevant, All the Danger should be on every American's reading list.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Brewed Awakening
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime
9780451488879, $27.00

Brewed Awakening offers up a killer menu of a coffeehouse backdrop as it explores coffeehouse manager Clare's mysterious awakening on a park bench with no memory of the past week. Everyone's happy that she's back, but she not only lacks memory of the week - she's missing major chunks of memory of her life in the last ten years. Turns out she's witnessed a crime, and this changes her life. Evidence shows that she may have more involvement with that crime than she can recall...and that her life may be in danger, as well as her reputation. But can an amnesiac clear her own name? This riveting story will delight mystery fans seeking something different.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books

Eric Flint and Walter H. Hunt's Council of Fire (9781982124151, $25.00) provides an alternate fantasy history story that tells of Halley's Comet's arrival in 1759, when it strikes the Earth and changes everything. Not only is the New World split from the old, but real magic and monsters evolve, from krakens to Floating Heads and ogres. Politics, too, have been altered and war breaks out as royalty, magic, and old school forces vie for control. The Arcane America series excels in blending history and mythology for a fantasy 'what if' that is unexpected, gripping, and hard to put down. Council of Fire is swashbuckling military engagement and fantasy at its best. Larry Correia's Target Rich Environment Volume 2 (9781982124229, $25.00) provides more short stories from the Monster Hunter International creator, gathering all of his short stories, novelettes, and novellas. These pieces come from various backgrounds and worlds, from stories set in the origins of Aliens and Predator to the introduction of an Interdimensional Insurance Agent in "A Murder of Manatees." All are riveting and recommended not just for prior Correia fans, but for newcomers to his works.

The Education Shelf

The Students, Yes
Drew Ott
Desolate Publishing
9781794113220 $16.99 pbk / $7.99 Kindle

No college student should head off to higher learning institutions without having at least looked through the expose of modern college life that is The Students, Yes: An Odyssey Through Student Social Life at American Colleges. It closely examines the culture of college life by one who decided not to go to college himself, but who embarked on a year-long road trip to visit colleges across the country, interviewing college students, living with them, and observing their lives. This is the item of choice for any college-bound student who wants a realistic series of insights into different schools, education and social issues, and a travelogue.

The Biography Shelf

According to Kate
Chris Enss
c/o Globe Pequot
9781493037735, $24.95

According to Kate: The Legendary Life of Big Nose Kate, Love of Doc Holliday deserves a spot in any American history or biography collection and covers the life of Doc Holliday's romantic interest. Unlike most historical biographies which retell known facts, this uses rare, never before published material Kate collected herself in anticipation of writing her own autobiography, which never attracted the interest of publishers. Her insights about life in the wild west exposes the reality behind famous historical events, adding personal observations and insights that could not have come from any researched recreation of events. This lively story, told partially in her own words, is a top recommendation for any American history holding strong in women's experiences and the realities of the American West's exploration and powerful figures.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Blue & White Quilts
That Patchwork Place
Martingale & Company
9781683560395, $27.99

Blue & White Quilts: 13 Remarkable Quilts with Timeless Appeal presents creations from designers and collectors with an interest in pairing antique and modern designs for use with new quilting fabrics and techniques, and is recommended for anyone interested in exploring blue and white motifs and patterns. From appliqued and pieced borders to blocks, quilt tops, and patterns, chapters explore various combinations and creative approaches to a two-color pattern that will provide ideas and inspiration for other two-color uses as well.

The Technology Shelf

Artech House

Two reference titles from Artech House provide college-level engineering collections with solid technical discussions suitable for independent study or classroom applications. Matthew A. Morgan's Principles of RF and Microwave Design (9781630816490, $179.00) is a detailed introduction to the basics of electronic circuits in the radio and microwave environments, and surveys physics, equations, circuit designs, and basic characteristics of electronic systems. Readers will learn how each system operates, how to handle and design one, and how to apply mathematical concepts specific to RF and microwave design to operating systems. Equations, charts, and detailed descriptions abound. Y.J. Lou's OFDM Receiver Design and Simulation (9781630817381, $159.00) is a technical manual offering students a basic introduction to Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), and provides an in-depth simulation study of an algorithm for Wi-Fi and 4G celluar that can be used to better understand, interpret, and work with other OFDM waveforms. Formulas for algorithms support discussions of their conditions, applications, influences on design and specifics regarding shift registers and signal acquisition. Both are technical surveys highly recommended as basic primers for college-level engineering students and those in the field who want a refresher course in the latest best practices and applications.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Three new audios are recommended picks for any audio enthusiast looking for satisfying and involving nonfiction listening. Sarah Knight's F*ck No! How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can't, You Shouldn't, Or You Just Don't Want To (9781549120749, $30.00) is narrated by the author herself and focuses on how to make 'no' a more positive and more instinctual response for those who always take on more than they can handle, whenever asked. It addresses issues of burnout and overwork and provides strategies that support the idea of declining invitations that aren't right or are too demanding. Joel Osteen's The Power of Favor: The Force That Will Take You Where You Can't Go On Your Own (9781478987130, $25.00) is also read by the author, who lends a solid and engrossing voice to his story about God's work behind the scenes of life. Spiritual readers looking for inspirational listens with keys to better living daily life will find this a powerful discussion of blessings, fulfillment, and how to recognize and lead a favored life. Donald Trump Jr.'s Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us (9781549155253, $35.00) is narrated by James Edward Thomas, who brings to life Don Jr.'s words about not just his life and his father's experiences, but his vision for the country. It's unexpected humor blends into a political admonition that should be listened to by all sides: the right for its right-wing affirmations and the left for understanding his specific perspectives.

The Beer/Wine/Spirits Shelf

How to Drink Without Drinking
Fiona Beckett
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Books
9780857836151, $19.99

How to Drink Without Drinking: Celebratory Alcohol-Free Drinks for Any Time of the Day offers a treasure trove of drinks flavored without alcohol, including virgin cocktails, punches, floats, and coolers, and should be on the shelves of any interested in nonalcoholic creations and creative options. Alcohol-free wines, gin alternatives, and vinegars are part of the unusual mix of this survey, which goes beyond most fruit drink titles to explore how alcohol-free beverages may be adjusted to make them more closely mimic their original inspirations.

The Money/Finance Shelf

Where To Retire
John Howells with Teal Conroy
Globe Pequot
9781493043668, $21.95

Where To Retire: America's Best & Most Affordable Places can be used as an introductory checklist of places to investigate throughout the country, and offers not just explorations of specific states and communities, but checklists of what to consider when selecting a retirement locale, from climate and housing to culture and safety. Chapters provide enough of a snapshot of daily life and retirement-oriented amenities to help readers plan further investigations and personal visits to communities ranging from Charleston, SC and Burney, California to the Texas hill country.

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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