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The Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 7 July 2022 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Health/Medicine Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf
Theatre/Cinema Shelf Biography Shelf Criminology Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Linden Publishing
c/o Quill Driver Books

Three new self-help guides provide readers with solid resources for self-discovery and growth, and are recommended picks for libraries specializing in inspirational writing. All are powerful picks for discriminating libraries looking for lasting lending value and books that also promote book club and reader group discussions.

Parents receive two strong guides in this publisher's latest features; one of them being Sandi Schwartz's Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer (9780941936507, $19.95) is a strong guide for parents and families. Activity guides for kids are nothing new, but what sets Finding Ecohappiness apart from most is its focus on linking nature activities with emotional healing and happiness.

Parents with kids who need calming will find these many creative suggestions (complete with checklists of activities and sidebars of instructions for effectively working with kids to make the most of a nature experience) to be the perfect formula for both engagement and introducing important links between calming and nature discoveries.

Yes! Your Child Can: Creating Success for Children with Learning Differences by Victoria E. Waller, Ed.D. (9781610353861, $18.95) should be the first book a parent chooses when their child has been diagnosed with a learning challenge. It addresses family relationships, support systems, and how to best work with such children, sharing Dr. Waller's techniques for creating success and a sense of empowerment and achievement in kids with learning differences. The step-by-step guidelines and discussions of science that supports her real-world-tested techniques provides hope and specific direction.

Doug Stowe's The Wisdom of Our Hands: Crafting, A Life (9781610355018, $16.95) links self-help to creativity as it explores how working with one's hands results in a fuller life. Stowe is both an educator and craftsman who spent some forty-five years as a woodworker and twenty as a teacher of handcrafts. This dual role allows him to flavor a memoir with instructions and insights on the connections between craft work and a sense of achievement that can create new bonds in a community and society as a whole.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Insomnia Diaries
Miranda Levy
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781783254187, $12.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 304pp

"The Insomnia Diaries: How I Learned to Sleep Again" joins a host of books on the topic, but features an important difference: it's written not by a doctor, but by one who suffered from insomnia after a catastrophic event...for eight years. Miranda Levy sought help from a range of specialties, from physicians to hypnotists, therapists, personal trainers, and alternative medicine practitioners, with little respite. Her story is supplemented by the work of sleep expert Dr. Sophie Bostock, a scientist who developed a digital program, Sleepio.

Highly recommended, especially to the attention of anyone suffering sleep disorders themselves, "The Insomnia Diaries: How I Learned to Sleep Again" deftly blends a memoir with health science to make for a powerful account that is more accessible than in most competing books written by doctors who come from a singular conviction.

Editorial Note: Miranda Levy is a journalist and author of more than 25 years' experience. Starting out on magazines including Cosmopolitan and New Woman (RIP), she then hacked it at the Daily Mail and Sunday Mirror before heading back to glossies and the launches of Glamour and Grazia. She had two babies, wrote The Rough Guide to Babies in 2006 and became editor of Mother & Baby, where she was twice nominated for a British Society of Magazine Editors award. Now a freelance writer and editor for national newspapers, she covers many topics - but particularly health - for titles including the Telegraph platforms, the Mail on Sunday and the i. Miranda has contributed to the Spectator, the Jewish Chronicle and the New York Post.

The Cookbook Shelf

Paul Hollywood
Bloomsbury Publishing
9781635579291, $40.00, HC

Fans of British baking television well know the name of Paul Hollywood and his lively expertise on baking matters. These readers, plus newcomers to Hollywood's style and range of interests, will find Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics to be an outstanding gathering of some of his biggest attractions. Those who expect the book to be filled with sweet items alone will be especially pleased to find that it includes savory fare ranging from a Thai Chicken Pie to Hand-raised Sunday Lunch Pie. From Cheese Crackers to English Muffins, breads, pizzas, sponges and puddings, Hollywood features a host of attractive ideas for classic baked goods, tapping his years as a professional baker and judge to profile the highlights of his career. Even cookbook collections that already have a healthy array of baking cookbooks will find many outstanding recipes, here.

Cooking With Plant Based Meat
America's Test Kitchen
America's Test Kitchen, Publisher
9781954210028, $27.99 HC, $15.99 Kindle, 192pp

Years ago, Cooking With Plant Based Meat might have been considered by a library to be a specialty choice only for collections with extensive vegetarian sections. But as the idea and availability of plant based meat moves from exotic to everyday, there is even more need for a book like Cooking With Plant Based Meat to appear in the average personal, professional, or community library's culinary collection.

With its typical attention to foolproof recipes and how and why they work, America's Test Kitchen is in the perfect position to produce a definitive "keeper" on the subject of cooking with plant-based meats, "Cooking with Plant-Based Meat: 75 Satisfying Recipes Using Next-Generation Meat Alternatives" from America's Test Kitchen comes with good-sized color photos of completed dishes, explores meat substitutes that produce the best meaty-type flavors, and discusses why these substitutes work.

The vegan and vegetarian recipes profiled within are packed with flavor beyond the meat substitute, as in a Meat-Lover's Veggie Banh Mi sandwich which includes sauces and zests, or Toasted Orzo Pilaf with Meatballs, Fennel, and Orange.

The diversity, international influences, and foolproof recipes create a superior survey that should be the item of choice if just one book on plant based meat cookery were to be chosen for a lending library or a family cookbook collection. The 75 vegetarian dishes with tasty and filling meat alternatives are excellent for entertaining, or just plain healthy home cooking. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Cooking With Plant Based Meat is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Haris Orkin
Black Rose Writing
9781684339679,$20.95, $5.99 Kindle

Goldhammer returns the character of James Flynn to newcomers and prior fans alike, providing another thrilling escapade that revolves around Flynn's latest delusional encounter. Flynn, a mental patient convinced he's a secret agent for Her Majesty's Secret Service, meets a young actress who believes that Gary Goldhammer, the most powerful producer in Hollywood, wants her dead. Flynn engineers her escape and now she and Flynn are on the run from Goldhammer's personal army. They face a dangerous adversary who can buy anyone and control any situation. So begins a cross-country adventure that takes them from Hollywood Boulevard to the mansions of Malibu to the casinos of Las Vegas. Along the way, Flynn enlists the aid of an elderly sex symbol from Hollywood's Golden age and together they uncover a conspiracy to control the minds of every human being on Earth. Readers receive a compelling and fun story that contains the high-octane action of a James Bond thriller paired with a wry sense of humor.

Haris Orkin is adept at portraying Flynn's delusional world view as noble and even heroic. His ability to develop characters that encounter and defy one another's preconceptions and objectives makes for a story especially strong in confrontations and dialogue. Fans of international spy stories, mystery and intrigue, and suspense and thriller action adventures will all relish Flynn's latest struggles, whether they are newcomers to his world or prior fans from the other stories. Haris Orkin builds a gripping series of encounters which are satisfyingly unpredictable. Goldhammer is highly recommended reading for audiences who enjoy the comedy of The Kingsman, the pathos of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Jason Bourne-style action, all mixed together in a rollicking cocktail. Shaken. Not stirred.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Dragons of Light and Chaos
Amy Wolf
Lone Wolf Press Ltd.
9798449024442, $14.99 print / $3.99 ebook

Dragons of Light and Chaos is the first book in the Spinners of Time series. It introduces seventeen-year-old Abaroz, a girl who has lived her life in the underground city of Dardan. In this world, even the light of a candle hurts her eyes, attuned to darkness that's dictated by the goodwill of the Sah who rules her family's corner of the world. Readers walk the torch-lit hallways with Abaroz guiding them through this world before she faces leaving it for a world of light and dragons, driven to this new environment by the corrupt Sah who goes after her father.

Dragons of Light and Chaos is no light leisure read, but an epic fantasy that embraces a host of characters, special interests, and battles involving dragons and the greed and depravity of men. Abaroz becomes immersed in dangerous treachery that makes her a vulnerable target, especially as she doubts her choices and her abilities. Young adults will find her story a compelling saga because it equally embraces her ability to move into a very different world to make a difference both in her family's future and, as a side benefit, in the environments of everyone she loves. Her adjustment to rapidly changing paradigms and realities lends to an exploration of the kinds of mental growth and changes young people need to absorb and experience in order to become authoritative, powerful people in their own right, rather than pawns of greater powers.

Wolf's story includes all the trappings of high fantasy, but wraps these in the psychological profile and growth of a girl forced to reassess her role during war, consider possible romance, and embrace both factions and forces she once thought were not a part of her world. The result is an engrossing, action-filled story that rests firmly on solid character development and a different kind of coming-of-age scenario that young adult fantasy readers, especially, will appreciate. Abaroz's astute, dual navigation of family and her own fears creates a compelling adventure highly recommended for young adult fantasy readers (and many an adult) interested in sweeping epic stories of war, growth, and legacies which are not as they initially seem.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

American TV Comic Books 1940s-1980s
Peter Bosch
TwoMorrows Publishing
10407 Bedfordtown Dr, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605491073, $29.95, PB, 192pp

"American TV Comic Books 1940s-1980s: From the Small Screen to the Printed Page" by Peter Bosch focuses on television shows and the comic book adaptations made from them, providing a year-by-year history of these efforts that follows some two thousand adaptations across five decades.

While fans of comic book history will of course be the major audience for this survey, so will students of media history and studies that focus on the creative art of interpreting television in different formats. Popular American TV shows from the era turned into comics included The Lone Ranger, Rawhide, Zorro, The Andy Griffith Show, The Monkees, The Mod Squad, Adam-12, Battlestar Galactica, The Bionic Woman, Alf, Fraggle Rock, V, and more.

Bosch also includes artist profiles, influences on television show successes, and notes about their translation into comic format in a highly visual piece replete in color images of comic book covers and art. The result is a 'must' for any personal, professional, community, college, and university library collection strong in definitive comic book history, as well as being highly recommended for television and media studies supplemental curriculum studies lists.

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

There Are No Small Parts
John DiLeo
Glitterati Incorporated
9781943876907, $35.00

Libraries strong in media studies and film criticism need to be sure There Are No Small Parts: 100 Outstanding Film Performances with Screen Time of 10 Minutes or Less plays a major role in such collections. It represents film historian John DiLeo's seventh book on cinema, narrowing its focus to screen artists who have made strong impacts with scenes that were ten minutes or less in duration. There are numerous film criticism books on the market, but this emphasis on how to capture succinct moments that make a lasting impact on viewers is outstanding in its focus, representation, analysis, and contentions.

Film students receive a chronological survey that begins in 1935 with selected features that progress to modern times. Each film includes screen time, a profile of the actor who made the moment sparkle, and an analytical eye to revealing behind-the-scenes biographical details that contribute an understanding of the actor's background up to their memorable movie moment. This history proves essential in setting the stage not only for better understanding that stellar moment, but its importance in the actor's evolution and the industry's milieu. The entire survey takes the form of a blend of biographical and critical inspection that places each actor's roles and key moments in the broader perspective of their other achievements. These aren't succinct and short inspections, but examine the extent of influences that led to the actor's memorable moment, even if the other contributions were less than stellar or unextraordinary (some roles were unforgettable and some were not).

The result turns out to be more than biographical applause, but is a critical consideration of what makes and breaks an actor, their role, or a movie's plot. Film students, in particular, will find these engaging and engrossing discussions offer many insights about the film industry (and their actors) and how it evolved and grew.

The Biography Shelf

Strong Ties
Katharine Ogden Michaels with Judith K. Adamson
Rare Bird Books
9781644282175, $25.00

Strong Ties: Barclay Simpson and the Pursuit of the Common Good in Business and Philanthropy belongs in memoir, business, and social issues libraries alike. It presents a powerful survey of California leader Barclay Simpson, whose ideals and drive embraced and changed the lives of many in the San Francisco Bay Area. Main author Katharine Ogden Michaels, a family friend and insider, captures the complexities and contradictions of Simpson with great subtlety and aplomb. Judith K. Adamson also contributed to this compelling biography.

Simpson was an unlikely candidate for such wide-ranging changes, and is proof that individuals can come from ordinary circumstances to become extraordinary influencers. His drive to save the family business, teetering on bankruptcy, would have been deserving of a story alone, but Simpson didn't stop with the family's wellbeing. He went on to pursue a vision of cooperative and mutual business activities which empowered his employees, then translated this microcosm of business success to the broader world, offering lessons and insights that changed the perspectives and nature of many other businesses in the Bay Area.

Many books provide discussions of how to give back to or involve communities in business pursuits. Few adopt the practical, real-world applications that Barclay Simpson fostered in his life and world, making Strong Ties an exceptionally powerful portrait of success. From concepts of transformational philanthropy to the projects Simpson successfully grew, readers gain insights not just into his life and philosophy, but on how these ideals translated to the real world. Simpson tried many things, and never quit. The book points out that "It is not just Barc and Sharon's generosity, but their motives for and methods of giving, that moves..."

Readers interested in business links to community growth and the process of developing transformational philanthropic pursuits will find no better starting place than Strong Ties, which should be in every library strong in business or philanthropical topics, and an intrinsic part of business and book discussion groups about how to improve the world.

The Criminology Shelf

Warding Off Evildoers
Joan Arehart-Treichel
Armin Lear Press Inc.
9781956450255, $18.95

Warding Off Evildoers is an expose of those who commit evil and represents a vivid piece of forensic psychology that explores the creation, intent, and operations of the criminal mind. It comes from a senior staff writer for Psychiatric News and synthesizes decades of Joan Arehart-Treichel's interviews with psychiatrists on the subject, as well as her research into studies of criminal minds. This is not the first book to tackle the subject of evildoers in society and how their criminal minds operate. But it differs from most in its inclusion of forensic experts and its focus on studies that reveal "...who evildoers are, how they got that way, and most crucially, how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from them." This approach makes the survey not just accessible to lay readers, but of prime importance in establishing boundaries, inspections, and savvy that will help protect citizens and their families from evildoers in society.

Discussions range from the definition and moves of evildoers to the influences of genes and environment on their development, covering how to identify an evildoer, different levels of evildoing, and (perhaps most important of all) how to safeguard self and family from predators in society. This sets Warding Off Evildoers apart from the majority of studies on the subject, bringing it to the attention of ordinary, everyday citizens seeking information that will help keep them safe. Each chapter concludes with references for further reading that both support the author's contentions and reinforce the scientific foundations of her statements.

Warding Off Evildoers initially sounds like an occult title; but its message is anything but supernatural. It considers the threats to health that walk among us, acknowledging that the potential for evildoing exists in us all and analyzing the steps that can be taken to either avoid and mitigate its impact, or guide loved ones in a different direction. Many of the findings may be eye-opening to readers who harbor prior opinions on the subject. They certainly were to the author: "In the process of compiling this book, I have learned a lot about evildoing - things I hadn't known before. For example, some people show signs of depravity already in early childhood; women as well as men can be stalkers, and that stalkers, regardless of gender, can be dangerous; and while some of the most ghastly acts are committed by individuals with a severe mental illness, most vile acts are perpetrated by individuals who are sane."

The result is a powerful lesson in personal safety, moral and ethical choices, and better understanding the incarnation and presence of evildoers at all levels of society. While Warding Off Evildoers is highly recommended for any general-interest library, its message will ideally be profiled in mental health, safety, and awareness groups and book clubs dedicated to psychological understanding and improving members' lives with better information.

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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