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The Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 5 May 2018 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Education Shelf
Political Science Shelf Cookbook Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Art Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf Computer Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Biography Shelf Native American Studies Shelf
Mythology Shelf World History Shelf Travel Shelf
Economic Studies Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Warrior's Manifesto
Daniel Modell
9781594395987 $12.95

The Warrior's Manifesto: Ideals for Those Who Protect and Defend belongs in martial arts collections but goes far beyond the usual focus on the arts themselves in providing a declaration of ideals that tell what it means to be a warrior. Lest one think that this survey is for martial arts collections alone, however, it should be mentioned that this thorough exploration of what it means to be a rational and reasoned fighter can apply far beyond martial arts, reaching into police work, military circles, and more. This survey, albeit brief, represents the first effort to blend philosophy, history, and the meaning of the choice of those who protect and defend others and society, making for a well-grounded discussion that will lend nicely to classroom debates and discourse as well as consultation by those who answer the call to duty.

How to Eat a Peach
Diana Henry
Mitchell Beazley/Octopus Publishing
9781784724115 $34.99

How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places pair personal essays from author Diana Henry with insights on how menus can change the nature of food choices and pairings. The title refers to how Italians end a meal in the summer (with peaches and chilled moscato), and considers the simplicity of both cooking and choosing foods that don't need much preparation but which benefit from fine pairings with other foods and weather. From a very simple recipe for said White Peaches in Chilled Moscato to a chocolate-coffee Piedmont drink Biccerin, or a autumn seasonal Fig and Honey Cake, full-page, lovely color photos of finished dishes compliment an appealing cookbook especially recommended for prior fans of Henry's style and food pairings that are exceptionally simple to replicate.

The Science Shelf

My Plastic Brain
Caroline Williams
Prometheus Books
9781633883918 $24.00

My Plastic Brain: One Woman's Yearlong Journey to Discover if Science Can Improve Her Mind tells of the author's year-long effort to explore the idea of neuroplasticity, or the brain's ability to make new neural pathways to change how it operates. As an experienced science journalist, Williams volunteered to be a test subject in changing how the brain performs and functions, seeking to improve upon weaknesses and limitations in her own brain operations. Her account of trying various techniques to improve her brain, from meditation and magnetic brain stimulation to retraining processes, makes for a vivid blend of scientific inquiry and experiment that covers the basics of how brains learn, adapt, and change. The personal autobiographical embellishments lend to a vivid read.

The Education Shelf

Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218

Carolyn Banuelos, Danielle James and Elise Lund's Puzzle Piece Phonics Teacher's Guide: Word Story for the Balanced Literacy Classroom (9781506364568, $33.95) covers a program developed by three teachers interested in helping first graders become readers. Their research-supported program of daily lessons is designed to build student knowledge of sounds and letters through a fun puzzle piece approach, which interests students in the process. From guided instruction to independent practice, this approach pairs over a hundred puzzle pieces on sturdy card stock with teacher instructions for management and online resources for backup. This teacher's guide is accompanied by the book of puzzle pieces themselves, Puzzle Piece Phonics: The Puzzle Pieces (9781506364711, $15.95), designed to be used in conjunction with the teacher's resource kit. First graders will also benefit from a daily lesson wall display of the puzzle pieces which illustrate phonics concepts and back up the eleven phonics concepts that build upon the basics.

The Political Science Shelf

Partner to Power
K. Ward Cummings
Prometheus Books
9781633883154 $24.00

Partner to Power: The Secret World of Presidents and Their Most Trusted Advisors examines the relationship between US presidents and their advisors from different viewpoints, considering their personal and professional interactions and how presidents have used these relationships over the decades. Stories of men and women who have served as chiefs of staff and advisors to various presidents offer a vivid portrait of their roles and changing influences on Presidential policies.

The Cookbook Shelf

Sourdough Biscuits and Pioneer Pies
Gail L. Jenner
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
9781493029709 $24.00

How did the early pioneers in the Old West put meals together without fresh ingredients, modern kitchen utensils, and a regular kitchen? Baking, in particular, can be a demanding task because inaccurate temperatures and timing can lead to failure. Sourdough Biscuits and Pioneer Pies shares baking secrets of Old West cooks, from chuck wagon chefs to Native Americans, and features over a hundred recipes which have been updated for modern kitchens. While one might expect recipes that are less appealing than their modern counterparts, it should be mentioned that such fare as Molasses Nut Bread, Eggnog Pie, Rhubarb Cream Custard Pie and Sourdough Waffles are appealing and easy to reproduce, and come with notes and tips that make it easy to assure baking success. Very highly recommended even for modern cooks who already have many baking books in their collections.

Candice Brown
Trafalgar Square Publishing
9781785037078 $34.95

Comfort: Delicious Bakes & Family Treats provides comfort food recipes and comes from the winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2016. Her first cookbook is all about home comfort baking and recipes range from baking with and for kids to afternoon teas, savory weeknight bakes, weekend cooking and more. These include dishes such as a Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chorizo, Pepper and Sweet Potato Tart, Port-Soaked Christmas Cake, and more: dishes that come from the heart of British fare and home. Introductions to each recipe offer keys as to its origin and applications in a solid presentation especially recommended for any who want to expand their baking repertoire.

The Needlecraft Shelf

That Patchwork Place titles

Four new titles are highly recommended picks for quilters seeking solid discussions of techniques and versatile approaches to quilting. Kathy Cardiff's A Cottage Garden: Stitch and Enjoy a Bounty of Beautiful Blossoms (9781604686498, $28.99) combines a gardener's eye for flowers and color with a stitcher's interest in reproducing these in needlework, and mixes wool and cotton with a focus on flowers as Cardiff brings backyard garden designs into projects that range from pillows to wall quilts. Artistic approaches include plenty of colorful panels as discussions revolve around creating and displaying needlework based on flowers and color. Kate Henderson's Scrappy & Happy Quilts: Limited Palette, Tons of Fun! (9781604686627, $25.99) shows how to pick several colors and combine them into two- and three-color patterns. While one might think this would involve expenditures of precise colors and patterns, Henderson shows how to apply this technique with precuts or scraps, and how to make versatile blends of color and style. Sue Pfau's Easy Quilts from Precut Fabrics (9781604688665, $19.99) covers precuts that include small cuts of all kinds of fabric that can be made into layer cake slices, jelly roll strips, and fat quarters. Just a few precut bundles lend to beautiful results that are economical and striking. Carol Hopkins's Civil War Legacies IV: 14 Time-Honored Quilts for Reproduction Fabrics (9781604688801, $25.99) covers fabrics inspired by the Civil War era and will prove especially attractive to those who have scraps based on this. This is the fourth book in her 'Civil War Legacies' series and features small quilts that use scraps to best advantage. All are appealing, winning quilt approaches accessible to all levels of quilter.

The Art Shelf

Frescoes by the Bay: Volumes 1 & 2
Karen Norton-Sinell
Tayen Lane Publishing
Volume 1, 9780999080702, $39.99, 238pp
Volume 2, 9781944505301, $39.99, 274pp

"Frescoes by the Bay" by professional photographer and award-winning Karen Norton-Sinell is a beautifully crafted two volume coffee table style art book set that photographically illustrates the various murals that were painted in various parts of San Francisco during the historic WPA period from the 1930s. Featured are the works of Victor Amantoff, Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo, and Bernard Zakheim. The works depicted in volumes 1 and 2 are separated by date of completion and geographic location. They are sophisticated visual works carefully planned to describe the many facets of history, and feature tore-to-life stories of a by-gone era in California. Impressively informed and informative, the two-volume "Frescoes by the Bay" would be especially appropriate and unreservedly recommended for both personal, community, and academic library American Art History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Harmonic Origins of the World
Richard Heath
Inner Traditions
9781620556122 $18.99

The Harmonic Origins of the World: Sacred Number at the Source of Creation explores the numerical ratios that define not just religious beliefs, but notions of the universe, and considers the simple math relationships that are connected to the science of the solar system. From a history of how Neolithic astronomers discovered these ratios to how the orbits of the planets relate to time and lead to the rise of intelligent life on Earth, this blend of science and new age thinking should be in any serious new age collection.

The Computer Shelf

Software Testing
R. Chopra
Mercury Learning
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
9781683921660 $54.95

Software Testing: A Self-Teaching Introduction provides a fine overview of software testing in a self-study workbook that offers chapters of tips and a review of basic concepts surrounding software testing. Each chapter concludes with questions with answers to encourage self-study and testing, while features include examples packed with case studies and material on video game testing and other pursuits. Each chapter opens with an introduction, case study, survey of methodology, and keys to understanding different forms of software testing and when and how to apply them. The result is a solid overview of a range of software testing options and possibilities.

Fuzzing for Software Security Testing and Quality Assurance, second edition
Ari Takanen,
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781608078509 $149.00

The second updated edition of Fuzzing for Software Security Testing and Quality Assurance covers the latest information on how and why to integrating fuzzing into software development, and considers the process of fuzzing, tools, and the latest automation systems. Software engineers and testers receive specific details on how to integrate fuzzing into other development approaches, examining and contrasting systems, the latest developments, and the newest resources. From code and file examples to models for system development, charts, and screen shots, Fuzzing for Software Security Testing and Quality Assurance is a 'must' for any software engineer who wants the latest details on the process.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Queen Anne's Lace
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkeley Prime Crime
9780425280058 $27.00

Queen Anne's Lace provides the latest China Bayles mystery in a series encompassing nearly thirty books. This one tells of the herbal shop owner and former attorney's discovery of a box filled with old photos and antique trinkets. Her discovery leads to some odd sights and sounds and a venture into supernatural realms as China uncovers a creepy component to her beloved business and the inhabitants who once lived in her shop and may still claim ownership. As a ghost leads China on a discovery mission, a haunting mystery evolves which will delight both prior China Bayles fans and new readers who like a hauntingly different story line.

The Biography Shelf

The Cowboy and the Senorita
Howard Kazanjian & Chris Enss
TwoDot/Globe Pequot
9781493027958 $16.95

The Cowboy and the Senorita: A Biography of Roy Rogers & Dale Evans belongs in biography and performing arts libraries alike, and provides an updated, expanded biography named for their first feature film as a couple. From how each got into movies to their relationship, the evolution of their productions, and their tour in Sons of the Pioneers and other efforts, this is a vivid "you are there" recreation of the highlights and moments of Roy and Dale that reveals many details about their lives and makes for an engrossing expose with a lively flair that even those relatively unfamiliar with the duo will find intriguing.

The Native American Studies Shelf

Black Elk, Lakota Visionary
Harry Oldmeadow
World Wisdom
9781936597604 $19.95

Anyone familiar with Native American history and culture knows Black Elk Speaks, a key piece central to understanding American Indians; but Black Elk, Lakota Visionary takes a different approach in re-assessing Black Elk's life and work, exploring his mystical visions, encounters with Catholicism, and his testament to spiritual realities as they relate to ancestral Sioux belief systems. From interpretations of Black Elk Speaks to how to study his spiritual perspective, Black Elk, Lakota Visionary would best be used as a companion to the classic, offering many viewpoints and insights key to appreciating Black Elk's philosophy and spiritual wisdom.

The Mythology Shelf

Myths & Legends series, new editions
TwoDot/Globe Pequot

Two second editions of true myths and legends from two different states are recommended for leisure readers and those who like true-life mysteries. Diana Lambdin Meyer's Kansas Myths & Legends: The True Stories Behind History's Mysteries (9781493028405, $16.95) tells many lively, fun stories; from the influences on Carry Nation to undertake a vocal and historic mission to what happened when David Eisenhower's business partner left him holding the bag on a mountain of debt. From the murder of an Italian immigrant hermit to why people in Atchinson, Kansas believed that aviator Amelia Earhart returned to her family home after her disappearance in the Pacific, this collection makes for lively biographical and historical reading. Michael O'Reilly's Utah Myths & Legends (9781493028382, $16.95) achieves the same for Utah, gathering true tales from the state which range from a marooned grave robber to an underground alien community. The attention to oddities, ironies, and action through the state's colorful background blends biography and history in a manner that lends to its enjoyment both by local history buffs and leisure readers seeking true facts couched in the drama of fictional description.

The World History Shelf

To the Ends of the Earth
John V.H. Dippel
Prometheus Books
9781633884113 $28.00

To the Ends of the Earth: The Truth Behind the Glory of Polar Exploration offers a startling revelation to anyone who has read a few accounts of polar explorers that dozens of polar expeditions were driven by personal ambition and national interests more than ideals of discovery. Society's need for viewing them as heroes has produced a one-sided image of these events and the men who took great risks to venture into polar regions. This book goes further than most in not just detailing explorer exploits and dangers, but closely examining what promoted them to lay their lives on the line and head into the unknown. The result is a vivid, critical survey highly recommended for any history reader.

The Travel Shelf

Mr. Las Vegas Has a Bad Knee
Martin J. Smith
TwoDot/Globe Pequot
9781493028443 $18.95

Mr. Las Vegas Has a Bad Knee and Other Tales of the People, Places, and Peculiarities of the Modern American Southwest offers travel essays laced with a healthy sense of humor in a presentation that excels in gifted descriptions and quirky, fun encounters. These essays about the modern American Southwest offer fun encounters, from the racket of Woofers on Wheels to becoming the Federal Duck Stamp Artist in a wild duck chase. The fun and whimsical stories will make for hours of hilarious armchair pursuit.

The Economic Studies Shelf

The Truth Machine
Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna
St. Martin's Press
9781250114570 $26.99

The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything is a recommended read for anyone interested in global economic technology and interactions, and explains blockchain technology and how it can improve global connections and economies; especially among the disadvantaged. Chapters cover bitcoin's volatile ups and downs, the pros, cons and limitations of blockchain technology, its applications beyond economic circles, and how accounting and banking fields will change as blockchain enters the mainstream. The result is an important, wide-ranging survey of how blockchain is set to expand and influence world operations, and is a recommended pick for anyone interested in global economics and social issues.

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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