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The Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 1 January 2024 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf American History Shelf
Psychology Shelf Autism Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Saints and Skeletons
Ana Manwaring
Indies United Publishing House, LLC
9781644566169, $14.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle, 338pp

Saints and Skeletons: A Memoir of Living in Mexico presents the foundations of Ana Manwaring's JadeAnne Stone thriller series, but holds the potential to reach both these readers and newcomers who may hold little familiarity with Manwaring's works.

This vivid memoir of her travels through Mexico and Central America, which began in the summer of 1991, traverses other cultures, capturing the rich flavors of foods, romance, and adventure as armchair readers follow in her footsteps. More so than almost any other travelogue about Mexican experience, the nation comes to life as readers walk the gritty roads of countries steeped in the cultures and flavors of non-Western influences.

From winding (and often uncertain) travels through the mountains of Michoacan to budding romances and relationships, the evocative flavors of Manwaring's life are compellingly, vividly portrayed. The resulting "you are here" exploration is exceptionally enlightening in its revelations, encounters, and experiences, whether they be cultural misunderstandings or expressions of enlightenment.

Libraries and readers interested in a travelogue that explores relationships, food, and cultural perceptions, injecting adventure into every moment, will find Saints and Skeletons outstanding in its presentation, revelations, and attractions.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Mid-Century Type
David Jury
Merrell Publishers
9781858947075, $55.00, HC, 240pp

Mid-Century Type: Typography, Graphics, Designers is a visual art reference to the history of typography. It gathers some five hundred examples of typefaces, literary ads, signs, book and magazine covers, and more into a survey that captures the style and usage of 20th-century type and graphic design by American and European typographers. Any art library interested in historical reviews of designers, influences, and changing approaches to typography will find Mid-Century Type an essential reference containing captivating color visuals that reinforce its historical survey.

The American History Shelf

Red Blood and the Indian Trader
Marilyn Dear Nelson and Chris Nelson
TwoDot/Globe Pequot
9781493073900, $24.95 PB, $17.99 Kindle, 406pp

Red Blood and the Indian Trader: The Remarkable Friendship of the Sioux Chief and JW Dear in the Last Days of the Frontier should reside in any American history collection as a unique and personal survey of Civil War years and beyond. JW Dear not only fought in the war as a Confederate soldier, but then journeyed West, where he was one of the last fur traders and the longest-serving government-appointed Indian Trader to Red Cloud's Sioux. Beset upon by misfortune and bad circumstances again and again, JW participated in one of the most turbulent periods in American history in the West. His poignant search for a better life amidst the postwar tumult creates a riveting, personal history of the times that is hard to put down and infinitely memorable.

The Psychology Shelf

Ugochukwu Uche, MS, LPC
Independently Published
9798350917024, $12.99 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 128pp

Because there is more knowledge in general-interest circles about PTSD and the lasting impacts of psychic trauma, perhaps there is no better time than now for the self-help message and hope offered in NeuroMastery: Retraining Your Brain to Conquer Anxiety, Fear, and Panic Attacks.

Ugochukwu Uche here presents an important opportunity for healing that employs the latest research in cognitive neuroscience and counseling psychology. He discusses the neuroscience of these conditions and reviews the cycles of fear contributing to feedback loops and response patterns that too easily become engrained as habits.

Readers may not expect the neuroscience to then take a detour into mindfulness concepts and applications, but part of the promise and allure of Uche's title is its ability to walk a fine line between science and new age thinking. It uses the attributes and findings of both to create new pathways for recovery. Mindfulness meets cognitive behavior strategies in chapters that review the approaches, philosophies, and results of each.

Self-help readers receive a rich series of insights into emotional self-care that appraises these strategies and cements them via the experiences of Lucy, a twenty-six-year-old client who entered therapy interested in confronting and changing the recurrent panic attacks and anxieties which challenged her life.

Chapters contain not just theories, but applied revisions of habits and lifestyle that, in Lucy's case, were held beneficial results. These changes are clearly delineated in chapters that support them with scientific references, categorizing them in ways ordinary readers can easily apply to their own lives.

Libraries and readers seeking self-help insights and routines specific to panic attacks and anxiety will find no better approach than NeuroMastery, which cultivates an applied science approach to a condition which affects and limits far too many.

The Autism Shelf

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Two new arrivals from Jessica Kingsley are highly recommended acquisitions for libraries interested in building diverse and inclusive collections.

Sonny Jane Wise's We're All Neurodiverse (9781839975783, $18.95) explores the connections between neurodiversity, disability, and race. Interviews and narratives capture the experiences and perceptions of systems and social norms that define and impact neurodivergent people, exploring how to identify and address inherent pathology and prejudice and how to build a kinder, more intelligent society that effectively addresses its underlying attitudes towards neurodivergent populations.

Laura Kate Dale edits Stories of Autistic Joy (9781839978098, $21.95), a gathering that celebrates autistic experiences in a manner few other books on the subject begin to explore. Most autistic treatises discuss suffering and prejudice, but this book's celebratory tone fosters an appreciation for autistic strengths and identity which goes far to confront the ideas and prejudices surrounding autism. Fifteen autistic authors from around the world add their captivating insights and experiences of moments of joy, which comes in all forms but is unified by their autism.

Both books contain powerfully rendered, much-needed subjects that any library interested in diversity, prejudice, and new paradigms for viewing change will find important and unique. They will be perfect additions to libraries, and should ideally receive book club recommendation for discussion and enlightened debates.

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