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The Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 1 January 2018 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf International Studies Shelf
Art Shelf Beer Shelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf
Journalism Shelf Mathematics Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Biography Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf Education Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Great Halifax Explosion
John U. Bacon
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
97800626666536 $29.99

The Great Halifax Explosion tells of a 1917 cataclysmic eruption of a freighter that held some six million pounds of explosives, on its way to fueling the Great War. The freighter's explosion was the most powerful ever experienced by a human population, involving some 2.9 kilotons of TNT. The ship was vaporized in less than a second, the shockwave leveled the city, and a tsunami finished off the job. John Bacon's survey covers not only the events before and after the disaster, but illustrates the lessons about mass destruction that were learned from the event by military men and scientists alike. From survivors to all affected by the explosion, this book provides a history like no other and makes for riveting, engrossing reading by lay and military audiences alike.

The Cookbook Shelf

Kaukasis: A Cookbook
Olia Hercules
Weldon Owen
415 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
9781681883038 $35.00

Kaukasis: A Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond gathers not only recipes but stories and insights from the Caucasus and provides some 100 dishes that are accessible to Western audiences and kitchens, from Svaneti Meat Pie made with spices and pork to a plum and walnut stuffing used for fish and chicken alike. Differences between Western and Caucasus dishes are clarified in discussions which precede some recipes, as in a description of a Turkish Kebab, while most dishes require no exotic ingredients or spices, but are intriguing blends of everyday are that Western cooks will find quite accessible. Any cook looking for a blend of accessible and unusual dishes will find Kaukasis: A Cookbook filled with delightful color photos of completed dishes and an approach that makes them all inviting for Westerners.

The International Studies Shelf

My Jerusalem: The Eternal City
Ilan Greenfield, editor
Gefen Publishing
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652299079 $55.00

My Jerusalem: The Eternal City gathers lively cultural, religious and historical articles by a range of authoritative writers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, pairs them with lovely full-page color photos by Ziv Koren, and surveys the meaning and impact of Jerusalem's history and culture. There is no singular perspective in this collection about Jerusalem's importance, except perhaps for the conviction that there is only one Jerusalem which holds deep meaning for all kinds of people. Each contributor's Jerusalem vision lends a piece of understanding and history to the greater whole, making this book an outstanding celebration highly recommended for both Jewish and cultural collections.

The Art Shelf

The Art of Tennessee Loveless
David A. Bossert
Disney Editions
9781484746899 $50.00

The Art of Tennessee Loveless: The Mickey Mouse TEN X TEN X TEN Contemporary Pop Art Series offers a particularly notable collection because Loveless was almost completely color-blind, yet compensated for this condition by focusing on patterns and shapes, developing his own numerically-based color system in the process of becoming a powerful modern pop artist. His series of Mickey Mouse paintings is particularly engrossing, and this oversized collection of these works showcases all one hundred of these pieces. The full-page color images pair with notes about their construction in a title especially recommended for holdings strong in Disney artistic renderings in general and Tennessee Loveless in particular.

The Beer Shelf

Best Beers
Stephen Beaumont & Tim Webb
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784723903 $14.99

Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World's Best Craft & Traditional Beers is written by two top beer experts and a team of international contributors, and offers a world-hopping tour of beers from Germany and Britain to North and South America. It considers different brewing methods, tastes, and offers tasting notes arranged by country on the featured best beers and breweries. With some 2,000 beers profiled from over 60 countries, this book excels in new discoveries and many insights beer aficionados will relish.

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Steven Jay Schneider, General Editor
Updated by Ian Haydn Smith
250 Wireless Boulevard, Hauppauge, NY 11788
9781438050065 $35.00

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die packs in details about over a thousand movies which are 'must see' events. If this sounds familiar, it's because various editions of this book have appeared in the past; but this has been newly revised and updated to include movies up to the latest productions. Each film receives a review of facts, a consideration of why it's a standout compared to others, and a few black and white and color photos from films and ads. The plot synopsis includes discussion of major characters and cinematographic approaches and camera work, considering all the elements that make the work exceptional. The result is a 'must' for any serious film collection.

The Journalism Shelf

Murder in the News
Robert H. Jordan Jr.
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633883277 $24.00

Murder in the News: An Inside Look at How Television Covers Crime comes from the anchor and reporter at WGN Television in Chicago, and uses almost fifty years of news experiences to examine how news programs decide which reports to profile and which ones they should ignore. Chicago's newsrooms serve as the backdrop for an examination of the decision-making process behind the news scenes, pairing interviews with such decision makers with discussions of how news stories are assigned, produced, and either profiled or killed. The result should be part of any serious media studies program.

The Mathematics Shelf

Discovering Statistics Using IBS SPSS Statistics, fifth edition
Andy Field
Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781526436566 $88.00

The fifth updated North American edition of Discovering Statistics Using IBS SPSS Statistics offers the unexpected parting of math diagnostics tool with humor and real-world applications to consider IBM's SPSS statistics and its analytical and modeling processes. Screen shots and examples in full color throughout enhance discussions which delve into violations of assumptions, data ranking, testing, and statistical power, and using tables to report many correlations. With its extensive real-world connections and applications and in-depth discussions of statistical conundrums and problem solving, this survey of IBM's SPSS should be in any college-level computer, math, or social studies collection.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Spark
David Drake
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781481482769 $25.00

The Spark tells of broken artifacts of past powers, Makers who can reshape them to better use, and a world where mankind lives in isolated settlements surrounded by deadly forces. In such a world a Leader is able to confront these monsters, but when a young man determined to become a Champion, who is himself a Maker, enters the world of Dun Add, the balance of power shifts and established routines and orders are threatened. A story of political, social and magical change evolves with a lively progression of events.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Archer Mayor
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250113269 (hardcover) $25.99
9781250113276 (ebook) $12.99

Trace is the 28th book in Archer Mayors' riveting Joe Gunther detective series - and it is undoubtedly one of the best. Ironically, it's also one in which Investigator Gunther takes a leave of absence from his work to care for his ailing mother, placing three very different and troubling cases in the hands of other team investigators. While newcomers will find Trace quite accessible and intriguing, readers who have a prior familiarity with this outstanding procedural series will be rewarded in special ways. Mayor's attention to expanding upon details and building more background about his familiar secondary characters is masterful. It also elevates and deepens the entire series as a whole, by using the three investigations to reveal team members' underlying belief systems and philosophies about life's meaning.

City of Lies
Victoria Thompson
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399586576 $26.00

City of Lies provides a satisfying Counterfeit Lady novel and opens a new series that follows Elizabeth Miles as she takes on a new identity in the early 20th century. Her wiles and ways take place on the outskirts of social norms; but when she finds herself trying to escape thugs by immersing herself in the company of women who hold their own special perspectives on their roles in society, things really begin to heat up. A powerful story comes to life in this engrossing tale.

The Biography Shelf

The Ghost
Jefferson Morley
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250080615 $27.99

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton provides a new biography of the man who represented to actions and heart of the CIA for over three decades, and should be required reading for anyone who would understand the agency's decision-making, operations, and leadership. Investigative reporter Jefferson Morley uses the story of Angleton to provide a blend of overall history, biography, and CIA operations, providing a powerful piece that lends authority and understanding to not only the near-mythic leadership of one man, but the evolution of the CIA under his guidance.

Finding Roger
Rick Elice
c/o Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781484785744 $26.99

Finding Roger: An Improbably Theatrical Love Story offers a biography of stage star Roger Rees, and is written by his longtime partner Rick Elice, who provides many intimate inspections of the actor and Broadway performer who died of brain cancer in 2015. Elice enjoyed over thirty years with Roger Rees and is in the perfect position to review these years and the man's many achievements on Broadway stages and in film. Black and white and color photos, along with some sketches, pack this memoir and add important visual embellishment to the moving saga, which should be in any definitive film stage, and biography collection.

The Social Issues Shelf

You Don't Own Me
Orly Lobel
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393254075 $27.95

On the face of it, You Don't Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie's Dark Side is a history of Barbie doll culture in general and Mattel's innovative introduction and marketing of a new kind of doll; but that's not all that's going on in the book. While it charts the origins and evolution of a decades-long legal battle over intellectual property, it also analyzes underlying cultural messages, details insights about women's representation in society, and considers the lasting impact of toy manufacturer representations on womens' lives. The result is a powerful, engrossing survey of business and social issues that should be in any collection discussing toys, marketing strategies, and women's concerns.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Miracle of Regenerative Medicine
Elisa Lotter, PhD, HMD
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620556030 $18.95

The Miracle of Regenerative Medicine: How to Naturally Reverse the Aging Process links overall health with longevity and provides an alternative approach to health and medicine which advocates focusing on supporting and enhancing the body's natural regenerative abilities rather than managing symptoms after they appear. This process begins with food choices and shows how many symptoms traditionally thought of as aging results are actually the result of inflammation in the body due to lack of nutrients and poor food choices. Chapters move to the ideas of regenerative medicine and preventative health measures, supporting these ideas with discussions of herbs, homeopathy, energy medicine, and more. New age collections will find this an absorbing, thought-provoking discussion.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

The Illusion of Certainty
James T. Houk
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633883239 $19.00

The Illusion of Certainty: How the Flawed Beliefs of Religion Harm Our Culture provides a detailed discussion of the ideas of modern religious thinking and offers a close inspection of the inherent problems in existing theories that defend religious ideas. These issues result in erroneous thinking and contradictions when belief runs into logic and statistical support. As chapters survey different facets of religious beliefs, holy scriptures, and the inherent flaws in thinking that they contain, readers should be prepared to approach Houk's study with an open mind. Many bastions of not only Biblical perception but overall religious systems are debunked in a powerful treatise highly recommended for any spirituality or philosophy collection.

The Education Shelf

Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451

Lynne R. Dorfman & Diane Dougherty's A Closer Look: Learning More About Our Writers with Formative Assessment, K-6 (9781625311337, $30.67) is for educators and anyone involved in writing workshops, and teaches how to establish a supportive environment encouraging students to become independent writers capable of strong critical assessment skills. It shares methods for managing information and encouraging student analytical thinking, surveying easy assessment methods and how to teach them and backing these strategies with classroom experiences and guidelines from the education world. The result is a clear inspection of how to place students in charge of their own writing and its impact. Ruth Ayres' Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers (9781625310903, $28.00) pairs the author's personal story of her experiences as a teacher, writer, and mother with a series of strategies for using stories to entice kids in grades K-8 to take up pen and write. She includes details on recent brain research findings about how trauma changes the brain and how writing can help heal; and she also discusses how writers at all levels can overcome obstacles to produce meaningful, important works. Teachers working with children who live in poverty or struggle with abuse will find this a particularly important, hard-hitting survey of how writing can change the writer. Mark Weakland's Super Spellers: Seven Steps to Transforming Your Spelling Instruction (9781625311021, $32.00) is especially recommended for teachers who have been frustrated over how spelling is taught, and who want an alternative. Mark Weakland's 'Super Spellers' is more of an approach than a philosophy, and shows how to teach spelling in a different way. Supported by research and developmentally appropriate for grades K-5, Super Spellers includes formative assessments and keys to teaching spelling in a way that helps support student word skills and life experiences.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

For Love of the Clydesdale Horse
Heidi M. Sands
5m Publishing
c/o Old Pond Publishers Ltd.
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781912158126 $19.95

For Love of the Clydesdale Horse is a beautiful photographic showcase of Scotland's only native heavy horse, the Clydesdale, which has been exported world wide and cross-bred with numerous other horses. Full-color, full-page photography captures these gentle horses with large, "feathery" hair-tufted feet at work, at pasture, or in the show ring. A brief text caption enhances each photograph, such as "Preparation before entering the show ring; note the tail bandage and leg bandages, which will all be removed." For Love of the Clydesdale Horse lives up to its title, and highly recommended especially as a giftbook for horse aficionados everywhere.

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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