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The Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 6 June 2021 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Technology Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Biography Shelf Fashion Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Luke Adam Hawker
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780857839442, $19.99, HC, 63pp

Together is a gentle story for all ages that tells of a storm that affects a man and his dog, challenging them to find new meaning in life. Lovely black and white full-page line drawings accompany the very simple admonitions and reflections within: "Life can seem like a machine in constant motion. There's no time to stop. The clock is ticking, and there's always somewhere we need to be." All at once, when everything stops and hard times and grief enter the picture, the narrator must re-imagine and come to grips with a very different world. Nothing is taken for granted in this story. Readers receive a lesson that holds special meaning for these Covid-related times: "When life became smaller, we found space to see the bigger picture." It's a story of change, adversity, and ultimately hope that is simple to digest, especially recommended for distracted minds and challenged hearts.

The Technology Shelf

PCB Design Guide to VIA and Trace Currents and Temperatures
Douglas Brooks with Johannes Adam
Artech House
685 Canton St., Norwood, MA 02062
9781630818609, $159.00, HC, $151.05 Kindle, 306pp

Libraries strong in electrical design references, particularly those based on printed circuit boards (PCBs), will find PCB Design Guide to VIA and Trace Currents and Temperatures a specific engineer's reference to sensitivity analysis and issues involved in handling thermal issues and voltage management across traces and vias. Readers receive a primer on measuring and considering thermal conductivity, and learn the foundations of trace currents and temperature management in a guide that includes color graphics and photos throughout, supporting discussions of connecting links, modeling processes, and cross-comparison of different processes, and the basics of building appropriate thermal simulation models. It's a guide highly recommended for those in the field who want either a refresher course on the latest PCB design best practices or an introductory primer on the subject.

Artech House
685 Canton St., Norwood, MA 02062

These new references are highly recommended picks for college-level engineering collections and those practicing in these fields who seek a refresher course or desk reference.

Gokhan Apaydin and Levent Sevgi's Electromagnetic Diffraction Modeling and Simulation with MATLAB (9781630817794, $149.00) is an in-depth introduction to the diffraction of two-dimensional canonical structures, and provide a blend of Maxwell's equations and theories of diffraction and modeling concepts to support them. Also included are MATLAB scripts for different problems, encouraging a workbook self-testing approach to understanding that reinforces the diffraction modeling concepts and lessons within. Learners will find it a special pick for both introductory lessons and reinforcing concepts learned some time ago.

Barbara Kemp and Bart Lovett's Handbook of Next-Generation Emergency Services (9781630816520, $139.00) provides administrators and legal and technical professionals already working in the emergency services field with specific insights into the latest next-generation standards-compliant NG9-1-1 service designs. It's a survey of these support systems that draws important comparisons between new and old service models, discussing their integration, testing, implementation, and service provider operations and networks. Also included are discussions of basic service challenges, changes, and legal and performance applications that are basic to an intrinsic understanding of changing emergency service support systems and operations.

Terry Stratoudakis's Introduction to LabVIEW FPGA for RF, Radar, and Electronic Warfare Applications (9781630817930, $139.00) is recommended for college-level references in electronics in general and radar applications in particular. It covers best practices for multi-FPGA applications, and radio systems, covering testing and signal generation and management. Terry Stratoudakis is cofounder and managing principal of ALE Consultants who has used LabVIEW extensively, consulting for development teams on its applications and interfaces with host computers in government and private industry settings. His book discusses design simulations, FPGA operations, and provides case studies along with equations and color charts of explanation, leaving nothing to wonder about its processes.

All three of these outstanding titles are important references not just for libraries but those working in these fields.

The Self-Help Shelf

Go Big Now
Julia Pimsleur
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608687343, $17.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, $14.99 Audio, 296pp

Go Big Now: 8 Essential Mindset Practices to Overcome Any Obstacle and Reach Your Goals is highly recommended for anyone who would hone a better, more conscious choice about decision-making processes. It advocates changing thoughts, beliefs, emotions, actions and results ("T-Bear") to change self-limiting approaches to life, offering practices that encourage readers to self-analyze and change. Chapters offer takeaways that use this acronym and examples from real life encounters to foster this revised approach to life, tackling beliefs often shaped in childhood and cemented too firmly by life experience. The result is a choice that will delight self-help readers who want to identify and overcome common barriers to success.

The Biography Shelf

Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant
Lillian McCloy
Bordertown Publishing
9780997596304, $13.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 250pp

Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant: Undercover & Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother is an espionage memoir that comes from quite a different perspective than the usual CIA behind-the-scenes probe.

Lillian McCloy is a wife and mother, and writes of her family life as the spouse of an undercover CIA officer. Descriptions of how job and life intersect on a daily basis are revealing, providing many details about how political and employment requirements change the family's choices.

As a travelogue about living in different countries, the stories are diverse and intriguing, offering insights on health and social challenges.

As a memoir by a CIA wife who built her own resiliency and adaptation techniques, it often contains humorous observations about the inconsistencies in even official information.

Where other espionage stories take the form of an expose of the politics and processes of the job, McCloy's focus on her nomadic life, her husband Frank's assignments, and the impact this had on her family provides a riveting alternative to male-centric views of CIA lifestyles and adventures.

It's hard to imagine a memoir that is at once candid, fun, and troubling; but McCloy captures all these facets and more as she supports her husband's undercover job and her family's disparate interests at the same time.

The blend of humor, practical information, and country-hopping adventure maintains a fast pace, bringing many thought-provoking moments. Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant should be welcomed by readers interested in overseas adventures, the realities of a spy's family, and how families adapt to living in foreign countries.

The Fashion Shelf

Clothes...and Other Things That Matter
Alexandra Shulman
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781788401982, $19.99 HC, $1.99 Kindle, 352pp

Clothes...and Other Things That Matter is a memoir from the former editor of British Vogue and is especially recommended for those interested in style, fashion, and women's clothing. Where other books rely on history alone to follow trends and the social impact of clothing choices, this blends fashion history with personal observations and memories to consider changing choices in women's apparel, their influences on and reflections of changing women's lives, and how particular articles of clothing, from aprons to track suits and denim, made special impacts on the author's life and those who embraced and sported these styles. The result is a lively blend of autobiography, fashion industry insider observations, and statements about changing women's clothes that will especially intrigue women who want more than another visual history on the subject.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Two Boys at Breakwater
Boston Teran
High-Top Publishing
9781567030176, $22.00

Two Boys at Breakwater is set in the late 1950s to mid-1960s and follows the lives and connections between two New York inner city youths: Guy Prince, the son of a racketeer, and Dean Teranova, the son of a conman.

The story opens with a ten-year-old who is arrested for murder. In the next chapter, father Peter Prince is walking away from his son not knowing if he will be murdered. This world's motto is "The crime…is life itself." It's an adage that drives fathers, sons, and relationships as the Bronx and its culture and crime come alive for readers.

From this opening, one might expect the usual story of two boys who come together to create a life of crime, but Two Boys at Breakwater offers much more, delving into a search for a gangster who has been missing for ten years, punished for the one good deed he's done in his life.

As the world of mafia associations, friendships, politics, and 1960s street culture comes to life, the account becomes a gripping coming-of-age story which employs more vivid language and description than the usual mafia tale to bring the streets, culture, and times to life: "Dean knew this was the full dose of no good. It was like every nothing argument in Spofford where guys stumblefucked over their own dicks in the race to prove they were fools."

Boston Teran's ability to guide the English language in a unique manner that both surprises and captures the New York community milieu creates an atmosphere that is compelling and often unexpected as the boys struggle with themselves, their heritage, and each other. Teran's language is crisp, original, and exceptional throughout.

As issues of ruthlessness, protection, love, and redemption come into play, the two boys develop disparate yet connected lives and concerns that provide glimpses of probabilities, futures, and alternatives. Two Boys at Breakwater is no West Side Story. In its exploration of a different kind of love between two young men on the cusp of change, it creates a compelling search and saga that is cemented by strong characterization, a sense of place, and an evolving purpose that changes both boys.

Readers of crime fiction or coming of age stories who anticipate the usual progression of transformative events will find Two Boys at Breakwater is a horse of another color...vivid, surprising, gritty, and filled with accounts of crime and lessons about life...and death. It's highly recommended reading for anyone seeking a story of two souls who navigate the uncertainties of a dangerous urban world and their own hearts.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Town of Angels
Jody Sharpe
Independently Published
9780988562004, $12.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 168pp

Those who believe in the presence and influence of angels in everyday life will find the third book in the Mystic Bay series, Town of Angels, an uplifting study in positivity. It blends a mystery with the story of an angel who takes on a bully in a small town where angels live as humans.

The town is replete with psychics and ordinary people. All live a bucolic life until bully Klaus Waxman comes to town and tries to change its psyche. It's difficult to ignore his negativity and typecasting; especially when he opens a store that mocks the angel sightings the town knows to be true. It's up to Angel Ken to lead the charge to thwart Klaus's influence.

As much as this is a story of angels and psychics, it's also a story of small-town life affected by an outsider bully's influence and approach, providing lessons not just of a spiritual nature, but on how to confront bullying and prejudice with a gentler perspective on life. As faith meets fear, different points of view present dilemmas from a number of angles, engaging readers in more than a cursory examination of clashing belief systems. The only prerequisite for enjoyment of this story is the ability to read about the presence of angels and their guidance of human affairs.

Those who welcome the thought, appearance, and approaches of angels in everyday life will relish the positive notes, mystery, and problem-solving attitudes of angel and human alike in this gentle story of kindness, hope, belief, and resolving differences.

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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