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The Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 10 October 2020 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf Fashion Shelf
Religion/Spirituality Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Music Shelf
Computer Shelf Technology Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

GET IN THE CAR, JANE!: Adventures in the TV Wasteland
Billy Van Zandt
Van Zandt/Milmore Productions
9781734401714, $17.99 Paper, $9.99 Kindle

GET IN THE CAR, JANE!: Adventures in the TV Wasteland is a memoir of TV experiences from an Emmy-nominated writer and producer who spent years making sitcoms. It blends a sense of whimsy with insider observation to create a compelling read that is unique and educational, all in one.

Van Zandt met and worked with some of the great actors, actresses, and entertainers of his times, from Lucille Ball and Brooke Shields to Alan Arkin and other contemporary artists. These encounters depict experiences that are hilarious, pointed, and filled with Hollywood insights. The anecdotes offer testimony to the powerful, sometimes uncertain, relationships between Hollywood writers and industry professionals.

Descriptions blend this wry humor into stories that are revealing and fun, whether they're talking about people, politics, or methodology : "After six episodes and a weekly firing of perfectly good writers, the writing staff consists of just Jane, Bruce Ferber, and me. We're allowed to go home only when it looks like rain, because our boss doesn't want her dog to get wet."

The nuts and bolts of collaborative writing are also presented in exposes which are filled with not just fun moments, but insights on the process of creative producing. From the realities of struggling to find a decent premise under deadline and handling actors and actresses to editing shows and enjoying the fruits of making them, GET IN THE CAR, JANE! captures the humor and paths of creative Hollywood writing like no other book on the subject.

This blend of nuts-and-bolts Hollywood writing experiences and fun industry observations is especially recommended for aspiring writers who want to get a sense not only of Van Zandt's life and encounters with the famous, but the specifics of Hollywood writing and producer relationships. It's a fun, inviting way of absorbing this atmosphere through the author's personal journals, creates a fine "you are here" series of encounters, and should be required reading for aspiring students who want a realistic flavor of Hollywood behind the scenes, from a writer's point of view.

The Cookbook Shelf

Simply Easy Everyday Dishes
Sabrina Ghayour
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784727031, $34.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 240pp

Simply Easy Everyday Dishes gathers some 100 dishes that can be enjoyed throughout the week, represents the author's fifth book, and provides Middle Eastern dishes that are quick and easy to put together. From a Yogurt & Spice Roasted Salmon to Spiced Beef Pancakes with Sour Cream and Lamb & Mint Kofte balls, these are deliciously appealing fare that demonstrate that Middle Eastern flavors can be accessible to Western palates and easy to put together. Color photos throughout finish off the appealing cookbook, especially recommended for relative newcomers to Middle Eastern fare who want an easy introduction for family enjoyment.

The Fashion Shelf

Why French Women Wear Vintage
Alois Guinut
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784726690, $19.99 HC, $11.99 Kindle, 224pp

Why French Women Wear Vintage and Other Secrets of Sustainable Style is a fine survey of how to dress more effectively, without as much attention to always-changing styles that continually demand more clothes consumption.

Coach Alois Guinut is based in Paris and imparts the basics of how French women cultivate a sense of style savvy while spending less and mixing vintage styles with modern for best effect. From choosing fabrics that are environmentally friendly to making clothes last, advice ranges from navigating auctions and understanding the formula for 'cost per wear' to tackling online clothes buying and non-returnable snafus.

Why French Women Wear Vintage is a 'must' for style-conscious readers looking for fashion statements that don't break the bank or the environment.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Embracing the Inconceivable
Ellen Birx
Orbis Books
Price Building, Box 302, Maryknoll NY 10545-0302
9781626983694, $24.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 216pp

Embracing the Inconceivable: Interspiritual Practice of Zen and Christianity is recommended for collections strong in comparative religious studies and general Buddhist and Christian belief, and describes how the two disciplines compliment one another. While many readers might consider the idea of a form of Zen Christianity to be foreign, this survey blends Ellen Birx's experience and life with discussions of Zen and Christian teachings and the experience of incarnation or embodiment.

As chapters discuss the foundations of an interspiritual practice and contrast meditation and praying, readers on both sides receive keys to better understanding through spiritual paths that embrace and compliment each other. Religious thinkers will find this a powerful survey of new possibilities and new connections.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588

Catherine Asaro's The Vanished Seas (9781982124717, $16.00) blends a sci-fi adventure with a murder mystery on another world, creating a riveting story. Bhaajan grew up in the Undercity community hidden beneath a rich city. She enlisted in the military to see the world. Now a Major and a private investigator, she finds her latest case about disappearing elite brings her directly into conflict with her own roots. The action and characterization are well-done and make for compelling reading. D.J. Butler's In the Palace of Shadow and Joy (9781982124700, $16.00) tells of Indrajit and Fix, a bard and rogue who are hired to protect a spoiled opera star from her enemies. They didn't expect to be hunted by killers as a result. Nor did they realize that their familiarity with the hidden places of their land will give them an uncommon advantage that drives their perilous choices and routes through that world. Both are excellent, recommended reads.

The Music Shelf

The Rolling Stones In the Beginning
Bent Rej
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784727000, $50.00 HC, 320pp

Plenty of books have been written about the Rolling stones, but The Rolling Stones In the Beginning is not a rehash of known images and information, but a fine gathering of original, unseen images by Danish photographer Bent Rej, who was part of their inner circle, accompanying the band on its first European tour, the Satisfaction tour. Rej's full-page images capture all aspect of the Stones, while the photographer's notes about each picture's origins, background, and representation capture the nuances of the tour experience, from stage to backstage. These are outstanding candid shots that, more so than almost any other Stones coverage, capture the subtler nuances and excitement of the Stones tour. It should be considered a 'must' for any avid fan or definitive Rolling Stones or popular music collection.

The Computer Shelf

Programming Fundamentals Using MATLAB
Michael Weeks
Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781683925552, $59.95 PB, $45.95 Kindle, 550pp

Programming Fundamentals Using MATLAB covers the MATLAB environment in a way that users with very little background in either MATLAB or programming can quickly come up to speed. From example code and programs to debugging and best practices, this book includes companion files with code, 4-color figures, and the tables and mathematical explanations needed to understand different examples, from File I/O to working with callback functions and other elements of graphical user interfaces. Tips for those experiencing trouble and possible outcomes and scenarios link MATLAB functions to practical applications and common scenarios, making for a fundamental guide which is highly recommended for newcomers to MATLAB's many possibilities.

Editorial Note: Michael Weeks, PhD is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgia State University. He has authored numerous research articles with reputed international publishers such as the ACM, Springer, Elsevier, and IEEE.

The Technology Shelf

Location-Based Services in Cellular Networks from FSM to 5G NR
Adrian Cardalda Garcia,
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630816346, $149.00 HC, $141.55 Kindle, 480pp

Location-Based Services in Cellular Networks from FSM to 5G NR will appeal to college-level students and professions involved in GNSS technologies and applications, and provides a review of the latest 5G enhancements in cellular networking. From different positioning in satellite and radio to underlying 5G technologies and positioning protocol in LTE, this reference offers theory, math, applied problem-solving, and science involved in past and present communication and networking developments. It's a technical recommendation for anyone with a specific interest in location-based service applications.

Deep Learning for Radar and Communications Automatic Target Recognition
Uttam K. Majumder,
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630816377, $179.00 HC, $159.60 Kindle, 290pp

Deep Learning for Radar and Communications Automatic Target Recognition adds to this technical publisher's radar references and tutorials in considering radar data, applications, and examples for SAR/HRR data and analysis. It will appeal to professionals working in the fields of machine learning, radar, AI applications, and more, who receive not just a compendium of the latest ML theory, but related electronics information and research. Chapters survey teaching and learning methods, active learning examples, RL feedback algorithms, classification analysis, and more, detailing strategies and approaches to radar and communications approaches and usage. Technical reference collections strong in radar technology and electronics will find it essential.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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