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The Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 1 January 2020 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Money/Finance Shelf American History Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Computer Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Technology Shelf Martial Arts Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Alexander von Humboldt
Maren Meinhardt
BlueBridge Books
9781629190198, $24.95

Alexander von Humboldt: How the Most Famous Scientist of the Romantic Age Found the Soul of Nature adopts a different approach than prior biographies of his life, and comes from the perspective of an overall history of early German Romanticism. This grounding places von Humboldt's achievements in solid historical perspective rather than considering his life and work as almost independent of his times. From his personal relationships and scientific focus to his unconventional attitudes and contributions to various disciplines, any student of the Romantic Age who wants a wider-ranging survey than prior books will find this a study in excellence.

The Money/Finance Shelf

Winning at Retirement
Patrick Foley, CFP & Kristin Hillsley
FH Press
9780692197899, $10.99, Paper, $4.99, Kindle

Winning at Retirement: A Guide to Health, Wealth & Purpose in the Best Years of Your Life goes beyond most retirement books that focus on financial concerns to consider the underlying issues of security and happiness in retirement years. It's the perfect item of choice for anyone who wants to pre-define these two essential elements of a successful retirement, and approaches its subject with a lively dialogue designed to entertain and engage even as it educates. Winning at Retirement is a guide to not just financial but emotional and physical happiness in retirement years that will help readers identify what those years should be like. It provides one of the more accessible, concrete guides on the market for reviewing future retirement goals and options. Ideally, Winning at Retirement will be consulted not just by seniors, but by those in their 30s and 40s who have time to strategize and plan for maximum effectiveness.

The American History Shelf

Bold Women in Nevada History
Kay Moore
Mountain Press
9780878426959, $14.00

Bold Women in Nevada History features fifteen women who each tackled sexism, racism, and oppression in the course of Nevada's history, and uses the biography format to craft stories that celebrate women's freedoms, determination, and contributes to the state of Nevada's exploration and social and political advancement. Nevada has a reputation for being a pioneering state where males settled to create new lives, but it also encouraged the same rights and innovations for females. These biographies do more than outline the nature and achievements of bold women: they place women's actions in light of Nevada's evolution as a whole in a lively survey which should be in any Nevada history collection.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company

Yoko Saito's I Love Houses (9780986302992, $32.95) is recommended for needleworkers who want to make and incorporate a wide range of house images into their projects, and comes with a separate pattern sheet which can be used to reproduce many of the projects within. Wall hangings, totes, purses and decorations are just of the few projects included in this guide, which offers everything needed to reproduce them, from a close-up guide to different stitches to small close-up color photos for piecing together each project. The result will delight folk artists and needleworkers as well as any who want to make and incorporate house images in their quilts and needlework projects. Andy Knowlton's Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts: 125 Projects for Your Favorite Fabrics (9781683560357, $25.99) offers a fat quarter quilting guide with a difference: one that advocates blending stars, arrows and other motifs into fat quarter designs. Patterns and full-page color photos accompany step-by-step directions that leave nothing to wonder, making this project guide a fine choice for both newcomers and those already familiar with fat quarter piecing who seek innovative new ideas.

The Computer Shelf

Embedded Vision
S.R. Vijayalakshmi and S. Muruganand
Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781683924579, $69.96

Embedded Vision: An Introduction reviews the concept of embedded vision: the inclusion of "computer vision" into machines that decode meaning from images or video. This concept is widely applied to AI and machine learning, but also delves into various branches of computer-driven technology, from industrial and medical devices to robotics and security concerns. Programmers and computer professionals interested in machine design with this vision-enabled technology receive a basic introduction that covers hardware, software, real-world applications, and future possibilities of new sensors, processors, and equipment. Tables, charts, and figures accompany mathematical formulas and solutions to problems which lend technical support to the concept of embedded vision applications. The result is a powerful, advanced discussion which will be key to computer designers seeking both present-day usage insights and future possibilities of embedded vision technology.

The General Fiction Shelf

Sword of Kings
Bernard Cornwell
9780062563217, $27.99

Sword of Kings adds another historical fiction winner to his Saxon Tales of early England, and is especially highly recommended for prior fans of the series who will find this latest addition as powerful as the rest. As King Edward's reign ends, two potential heirs and political turmoil lead to the question of whether the existing states will survive. Uhtred of Bebbanburg loves his country and is committed to its independence, but an oath sworn between him and Aethelstan, who is a potential king, may test his resolve and his loyalties. A powerful story of attack, struggle, and the political decisions that will change England forever contributes to an engrossing story that is vividly portrayed.

The Devil Close Behind
Janet Dawson
Perseverance Press/John Daniels
9781564746061, $15.95

Devils can take the form of grief, a haunting past, or evil individuals who are up to no good. In this Jeri Howard mystery it's all three guises which haunt a story inspired by the true story of nine unsolved arsons in the Oakland area. P.I. Jeri Howard is on vacation in New Orleans when a friend asks her to look into a missing persons case. She never expected her casual look would bring her into a full-fledged mystery, much less coming full circle back to California. This story of intrigue is an engrossing tale that will delight mystery readers who like atmospheric stories spiced with personal involvement and psychological twists.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Chocolate Shark Shennanigans
JoAnna Carl
Berkley Prime Crime
9780593100004, $25.00

The Chocolate Shark Shennanigans is a 'chocoholic' food mystery that delves into the mysteries of house-flipping, food, and murder in a satisfying, fun fashion that compliments the prior The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha. From battles with a predatory developer who has his eye on the house prize to the challenge of managing TenHuis Chocolate, add a murder into the mix and the discovery of a hidden weapon for a fast-paced first-person narrative designed to keep chocolate fans on their toes, intrigued, and hungry for more.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Waters and the Wild
Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
Baen Books
9781481484305, $25.00

Adding to the Bedlam's Bard urban fantasy series is a vivid story that seems to begin in an ordinary world where Olivia's parents are divorcing, leading to depression and vulnerability when a charming, dangerous swimming star woos her. When she accepts an invitation to visit the Adirondack resort camp of Lake Endor with Blake and his family, only then does she begin to uncover the truth behind his ways, a dangerous mystery, and a threat that is literally alien to anything Olivia has ever known. This engrossing story will delight sci-fi, horror, and novel readers alike.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Five new audio presentations are outstanding listens perfect for discriminating audiobook fans. Susannah Cahalan's The Great Pretender (9781549175822, $35.00) explores the work of David Rosenhan and seven others who went undercover into asylums around America to test psychiatry's definitions and diagnoses of mental illness. But, did his study change psychiatry for the good? Susannah Calahan provides new research that offers some startlingly different perspectives in this engrossing survey, narrated by Christie Moreau and the author, which should be on the listening lists of anyone interested in psychiatry's social and political impact. Newt Gingrich's Trump vs. China: Facing America's Greatest Threat (9781549179037, $35.00) is read by Reuben Uy, who brings to life Gingrich's research into the strategies and threat of the Chinese Communist Party and its threat to American interests around the world. Gingrich's study makes for intriguing reading because it not only outlines a possible threat, but possible actions in response, yet comes in a passionate tone and language average Americans can readily absorb; especially in an audio format. Paula White-Cain's Something Greater: Finding Triumph Over Trials (9781549184574, $35.00) is narrated by the author, who links God's plan and healing process with both her journey of faith and the growth of her global ministry. Listeners who maintain a belief in God and the notion of a greater purpose will find inspirational listening in this story of both the author's personal relationship with Christ and the wide-ranging transformative opportunities of belief. Flea's Acid for the Children: A Memoir (9781478912903, $35.00) comes from the bass player and co-founder of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, is narrated by the author, and captures the musical milieu of Los Angeles in the 1970s and 80s as he shares his coming of age, involvement in music, and life-changing moments which led to the band's formation and evolution. Flea's evocative descriptions come to life in an audio especially recommended for prior fans. Jeannie Gaffigan's When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People (9781549152528, $35.00) is narrated by Jeannie Gaffigan, her comedian husband Jim, and Liz Noth, but provides an account that is not just about humor or her husband, as those familiar with the two might anticipate. Jeannie was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor and, as the mother of five children, faced a crisis deeper than her own survival. She and her family survived, and this story of her personal journey is simply riveting in audio.

The Technology Shelf

Artech House

These three college-level references in microwave, photonics, and radio technology are manuals recommended both for students in these disciplines and field practitioners looking for a refresher course that pairs mathematical support and statistical references with real-world applications. Gregory Bonaguide and Neil Jarvis's The VNA Applications Handbook (9781630816001, $169.00) is written by experts as a resource covering guidelines for Vector Network Analyzer measurements. It surveys the pros and cons of modern VNA techniques, explains tests and instrument settings as they relate to measurement data and applications, and is arranged by topic particular to measurement. Illustrations and charts provide visual support to reinforce key VNA concepts for engineers and lab technicians, while students will appreciate the chapters contrasting the different measurement approaches and popular methods of extending the range of VNA. Fabio Cavaliere and Antonio D'Errico's Photonic Applications for Radio Systems and Networks (9781630816650, $169.00) provides optical network designers with basic details about radio systems air interfaces and network architecture and protocols, providing mobile network designers examples that can serve as blueprints for designing a radio access optical network. The focus on the use of photonic devices to perform various tasks and their incarnation in the processing world of 5G makes for an engrossing study that builds a knowledge base from chapter to chapter, introduces new concepts and applications, and surveys digital radio access networks and systems. Amitav Mukherjee's 5G New Radio: Beyond Mobile Broadband (9781630816407, $139.00) provides a resource that analyzes various applications of 5G NR and NR standardization processes, offering readers the opportunity to compare different solutions, systems, and real-world scenarios. From basic features of 5G phase 2 to mathematical models and open research issues relating to it, readers will appreciate the focus on the next generation of reliable low-latency communications and support systems for them.

The Martial Arts Shelf

The Complete Martial Artist
Willie "The Bam" Johnson
9781594396533, $18.95

The Complete Martial Artist: Developing the Mind, Body, and Spirit of a Champion is directed to young adults and provides a program that blends the author's own childhood experiences and struggles with hardship with a program of martial arts values that translates nicely to a revised view of life and living. Within the martial arts structure is advice on not just forms and competitions, but how to use these martial arts strategies as patterns to life by. From the characteristics of a champion and knowing the difference between basic truths and learned techniques to foundations of sparring, stretches and other exercises, and handling weapons, this focus directed to young martial artists profiles not just a specific program but an approach to life that adults will find uplifting, supportive, and positive for their young aspiring martial artists.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Everything Begins with Asking for Help
Kevin Braddock
c/o Octopus Books
9780857836762, $12.99

Everything Begins with Asking for Help: An Honest Guide to Depression and Anxiety, From Rock Bottom to Recovery uses the author's own mental breakdown and recovery tools to present an important survey about mental health. As such, it goes beyond most self-help and how-to titles to base his experiences on real efforts to ask his friends for help, a move that led him to recovery. Readers receive instruction on how to ask for help, how to listen to answers, and how to maintain stable mental health. It's Braddock's personal insights which keep this book on track and filled with more practical approaches than most books about depression offer: " sickness and in health, being rigid with regimes has only ever served to create rather than assuage anxieties: these days I've got a better understanding of when I need to go faster or slower, or when my body needs more grunt (press-ups and running) or more float (tai chi and dancing). Its candid discussion will prove vital to addressing personal mental health challenges.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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