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The Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 5 May 2020 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Martial Arts Shelf
Technology Shelf Science Shelf Language Studies Shelf
Business Shelf Self-Help Shelf Beer/Spirits Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Biography Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

American Ascendant
Dennis M. Spragg
Potomac Books, Inc.
c/o University of Nebraska Press
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166-2012
9781640121430, $34.95,

American Ascendant: The Rise of American Exceptionalism discusses the global crisis that changed American history when President Franklin D. Roosevelt arranged a partnership between the U.S. government and media to communicate the threat of World War II to the American public. The purpose was to promote the idea of American exceptionalism...and to manipulate the public to support the government's cause. Seldom has a connection between government and media purposes been so clearly explored as in this survey. Spragg probes the underlying conflicts and ideals that had to be addressed in an effort to change the American mind, pairing historical with political and social history in a survey replete in World War II events, media choices and representations, and government special interests. The result is a powerful, different view of American Exceptionalism and a history that belongs not just in American history holdings, but media studies collections.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Author's Checklist
Elizabeth K. Kracht
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608686629, $15.95,

The Author's Checklist: An Agent's Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript is directed to writers in all genres, whether fiction or nonfiction, and regardless of their publishing goals (either self-publishing or working with a publisher), and covers the basics of creating a publishable manuscript. This survey goes beyond editing concerns to address the entire production, from creating an effective acknowledgment section to understanding the basics of better dialogue, pace, and keys to success, such as utilizing lists to help readers retain information and speed up the pace of the story, or creating more effective chapter endings. Authors need this survey, which is more than a checklist, but an outline of better strategies for superior writing results.

The Martial Arts Shelf

The Art and Science of Stick Fighting
Joe Varady
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594397332, $22.95,

The Art and Science of Stick Fighting: A Complete Instructional Guide comes from a 6th degree black belt who provides a basic introduction and progressive learning program for stick fighting. From early stances and uses and logical steps of skills development and stick fighting methods to workouts and training, this book holds step-by-step black and white photos that explore all aspects of stick fighting approaches. Martial arts and sports collections alike will find its basic directions easy to understand and accessible to a wide audience.

The Technology Shelf

Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning and Deep Learning
O. Campesato
Mercury Learning
c/o Mercury Books
9781683924678, $59.95,

Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning and Deep Learning provides an introduction to AI and its related subjects machine learning, deep learning, NLP, and reinforcement learning. It covers deep learning architecture and includes code samples throughout to supplement theory with real-world applications, covers basic programming as it relates to AI and deep learning, and is packed with black and white charts, illustrations, and the mathematical equations necessary to fully understand AI programming applications. Computer programmers and engineers will find it an excellent overview that assumes some prior background in programming and AI, but builds upon a foundation knowledge with many specific insights.

Designing Delay-Tolerant Applications for Store-and-Forward Networks
Edward J. Birrane and Jason A. Soloff
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630816285, $139.00,

Designing Delay-Tolerant Applications for Store-and-Forward Networks is recommended for college-level collections strong in network applications for engineers involved in store-and-forward networks, and offers many examples and analysis of the protocols and standardization techniques of applications running within a DTN. Engineers interested in these specific kinds of development objectives will find plenty of basic information that builds into advanced topics such as tolerant network, special considerations in operational concepts, data flows among components, and more. All the charts, math, and technical keys to understanding make for a clear and engrossing account.

The Science Shelf

Roadside Geology of Montana, second edition
Donald W. Hyndman and Robert C. Thomas
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426966, $30.00,

The second updated edition of Roadside Geology of Montana was necessary because nearly 50 years have passed since the first book was released. This revision enjoys a full-color presentation that brings to life the features and textures of Montana's countryside, presenting a geologic survey that takes the form of a road trip that can be used by either avid geologists or relative newcomers. Even geology fans who are amateurs mostly traveling to Montana for holiday will find this a fabulous take-along tote: a step-by-step survey that traces the natural history of the state as it traverses both major highways and byways, presenting examples reinforcing its geologic history.

The Language Studies Shelf

The Sounds of Language
Elizabeth C. Zsiga
Wiley Blackwell
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781405191036, $58.25,

The Sounds of Language: An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology provides a basic guide to the linguistic study of speech sounds and is a recommended college-level reference that reviews different approaches to this course of study. Dr. Zsiga, a linguistics professor, has taught phonology and phonetics to both graduate and undergrad students. Her survey contrasts different approaches to linguistics, data analysis, and testing, including discussions of second language learning and exercises, problems, and online supportive data and sound files that reinforce chapters that delve into phonics not only in English, but in Spanish and other areas. Discussions of distinctive phonological features, different approaches to language studies of the past, and insights into representative sets of bowels and other components of communication make for a technical, accessible survey recommended for college-level readers.

The Business Shelf

Essentials of Thought Leadership & Content Marketing
Paul M. Kaplan
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610353168, $18.95

Essentials of Thought Leadership & Content Marketing is for marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to learn how to apply their knowledge to new sales approaches and techniques through content marketing, and provides a step-by-step survey from basic concept to planning a content marketing program that sees optimum results. The basic idea behind content marketing is to help consumers make better purchasing decisions. The variety of marketing materials used in this approach is covered in chapters that excel in putting all the pieces together for a more effective program.

The Self-Help Shelf

The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary
Catherine Gray
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781783253371, $19.99,

The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary teaches how to find satisfaction in ordinary living, exploring why there is such a focus in society on extraordinary achievements or experiences and surveying the emotions that come from making efforts that never quite seem to be fulfilling. Chapters emphasize that cultivating the joy in ordinary things of life, which can be as simple as eating a roll or taking a hot shower, is the path to ultimate and more regular satisfaction, and is more achievable than striving for extraordinary, rare experiences. Anyone looking for a self-help primer about enjoying daily life more fully will appreciate this focus.

The Beer/Spirits Shelf

Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017

Natalya Watson's Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles (9780857837219, $19.99) is more than just a listing of beers: it provides a history that surveys the evolution of different styles of beers, from lagers to porters and sour beers, accompanying its discussion with examples from modern fare that encourage readers to sample and understand different tastes. Beer holds a wide range of flavors and styles even though it shares basic ingredients. This survey of over fifty beers discusses brewing basics and historical challenges that led to new directions, considers how historical precedent influences modern brewer choices and customer tastes, and includes recommendations that allow readers to understand this process. Mikael Guidot's Whisky: It's Not Rocket Science (9780600636697, $24.99) provides an easy guide to understanding the history, production, and tasting of whisky, and is especially recommended for newcomers to the drink who want more than a recipe collection of cocktails. From buying guides and tasting methods to reading labels and differentiating between different types of whisky, this is a solid and compelling discussion packed with excellent illustrations and insights that simplify the topic of understanding whisky.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Mimi Lee Gets a Clue
Jennifer Chow
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9781984804990, $16.00,

Mimi Lee Gets a Clue follows the efforts of Mimi Lee, who owns a pet grooming shop in Los Angeles, Hollywoof. Her perceptions of the world change when a relationship with a cat results in a conflict with a local breeder who then turns up dead, making her the suspect in his murder. It's up to Mimi to solve the crime and clear her name, with the help of her sleuthing cat and a bit of sassy response to life and its many limitations. Fans of animal-centered murder mysteries will love this feisty new protagonist and her animal cohorts.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588

John Ringo, Kacey Ezell and Christopher L. Smith's Gunpowder & Embers (9781982124281, $25.00) provides a fine postapocalyptic novel thirty years after the world ended, when giant electrovoric ants and pterodons emerged from a space-time rift and killed millions. Chuck leads a simple ranching life in this story, but when he encounters a dying stranger, he embarks on an odd journey across the country hoping to change both past and future. A tense story of survival evolves. Lois McMaster Bujold's Penric's Progress (9781982124298, $25.00) tells of Penric, who becomes a sorcerer and scholar as he moves from a nobleman to a young lord. Three Penric stories are under one cover here, following his adventures with gods, as a member of the Bastard's Order and new scholar, and his proclivity for stumbling into and solving mysteries. Both are outstanding picks for sci-fi readers.

The Audiobook Shelf

Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Hachette Audio
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781549184482, $25.00,

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a remix of Stamped from the Beginning and benefits from a vivid narration by Jason Reynolds, who brings to life this hard-hitting consideration of how racism has been used to separate people, solidify power, and divide societies. There are basic racist tenants that have become 'truths' in American history and society, and this book covers that history, defining the nature of these ideas, their evolution, and how they can be mitigated. The result is a hard-hitting survey that comes alive in audio and which should be a key part of anyone seeking to understanding racism's roots and incarnations.

The Biography Shelf

Free Thinker
Kimberly A. Hamlin
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
97812324004984, $28.95,

Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardner appears on the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage and returns to the women's history limelight the story of a woman whose battle has all but been forgotten to modern readers. Gardner became a famous reformer and was a key player in getting the 19th Amendment through Congress. She also was the highest-ranking woman in federal government. Her core convictions are central to the story presented here, which covers her transgressions, achievements, tireless work, and why her efforts to expose racism in the women's movement have not received more general publicity until now. Gardner changed her name, moved to New York, and devoted her life to women's rights. This biography covers all facets of her life and times and represents a key contribution to women's history and women's rights struggles.

Boneheads & Brainiacs
Moira Dolan, MD
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610353502, $18.95,

Boneheads & Brainiacs: Heroes and Scoundrels of the Nobel Prize in Medicine belongs in collections strong in medical history and provides a series of in-depth biographical portraits of the often-odd personalities who contributed to the craft of modern medicine. It focuses on the winners of the Nobel Prize from 1901-1950 and probes these recipients' strengths, weaknesses, and the sometimes-odd sets of circumstances which led them to new heights. Readers interested in medical history and biographies will find this a lively, engaging series of insights into how success is achieved, either purposefully or by accident.

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