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The Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 9 September 2017 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Relationship Shelf
Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf Photography Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Science Shelf
Music Shelf Psychology Shelf Education Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Technology Shelf Computer Shelf
Theatre/Cinema Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Why? What Makes Us Curious
Mario Livio
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476792095, $26.00,

Why? What Makes Us Curious comes from an astrophysicist and author who considers why people are curious, covering the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology as well as providing biographies of notoriously curious - and successful - individuals from scientists to musicians. Human curiosity is a key ingredient to human nature, the arts, and the sciences, but here it's treated to an analysis that nicely documents its foundations, physiology, impact, and how it enhances humanity. Designed for lay readers as well as scientists across disciplines, Why? is recommended for both general-interest and high schools on up.

Not Quite a Genius
Nate Dern
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501122200, $26.00,

Not Quite a Genius comes from a senior writer at Funny or Die who offers funny stories and essays capturing everything from relationship conundrums and social oddities and inconsistencies to adventures, apps, a mother's Always Wear Suncreen rule and her hatred of the word 'murder', and the problems involved in trying to explain business mergers to a child. All these topics and just about everything in between invite a fun probe into society and self which offers both humor and food for thought in a production highly recommended for general-interest collections strong in literary humor observations.

The Social Issues Shelf

Machine, Platform, Crowd
Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393254297, $28.95,

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future offers a continuing discussion companion to The Second Machine Age, which predicted some of the effects of modern digital technology on human lives, this time focusing not so much upon prediction as upon sources of digital disruptions in society and how machines are changing minds and products alike. While there is a focus on exploring what technologies have become part of our lives recently, the discussions of their social impacts and how platforms are interacting with customers and vendors in new ways make for particularly intriguing insights into changing business, economic, and technological structures and their ultimate effects on individuals and crowds alike. The result will help readers identify how to apply these technological changes to their own lives - and how to keep up with the pace of change.

The Relationship Shelf

How to Fall in Love With Anyone
Mandy Len Catron
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501137440, $26.00,

Through the fun children peering through eyes on the front cover may seem to indicate this book is intended for a young audience, it should be advised that this blend of memoir and discussion of love is not intended for children, but for adult audiences interested in the mechanics and processes of romance. In 2014 the author went on a date and decided to try an experiment based on a 20-year-old study designed to foster love in a laboratory setting. Mandy and Mark spent their date asking each other nearly forty questions designed to increase intimacy and possibly lead to love. Their attempt turned into an intriguing experiment that changed their lives and results in a book which blends social observational with a psychological approach. The result is a lively and fun read for any who enjoy accounts of romance and psychological investigation.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

Pearls Hogs the Road
Stephan Pastis
Andrews McMeel Publishing
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106-2109
9781449483661, $18.99,

Pearls Hogs the Road provides black and white and a peppering of color cartoon panels to celebrate all the classic characters from the popular Pearls Before Swine comic strip, and is recommended for both newcomers to the comic and, especially, prior fans. All the favorite characters are gathered here, from Pig and Rat to the alligator clan. Wry comments on life range from finding life's purpose and preparing for a natural disaster with a survival kit of beer and hot dogs to using a smartphone camera to best advantage. The result is a zany series of tongue-in-cheek humor, wordplay, and animal magic that will delight any fan of Pastis and his whimsical comic world; very highly recommended for a wide age range.

The Photography Shelf

New York in the Snow
Vivienne Gucwa
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781781574157, $24.99,

New York in the Snow: A Magical Vision of New York City comes from the camera of a native New Yorker who has been documenting New York snowfalls since 2010, going out at night and in daytime to capture the storms of the city at their best. New Yorkers will find these nighttime scenes gorgeous representations of how weather transforms the cityscape and its peoples; all presented in lovely color with many full-page, artistic renditions. The result is an exceptional presentation which will make a delightful gift for any fond of New York City and its different atmospheres.

The Cookbook Shelf

Ella's Kitchen: The Easy Family Cookbook ##1
Ella's Kitchen
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780600631859, $19.99,

Ella's Kitchen: The Easy Family Cookbook features some 100 recipes from the organic baby and toddler food brand Ella's Kitchen, and arranges chapters by mealtime with recipes designed for both tots and adults. From weaning babies to toddlers, dishes are designed to provide color and interested to cooks and their charges, from at-a-glance fold-out pages such as 'What Shall We Eat Today' which feature small color photos of the dishes in this book and page references to such fare as Carnival Curry and Sunshine Rice and Ultimate Beef Hotpot with Gnocci to Family Meal Planner charts for fill-in. Parents seeking inspiration the entire family can enjoy at one sitting will find this an appealingly delicious guide.

Kay Plunkett-Hogge
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784723101, $19.99,

Aperitivo: Drinks and Snacks for the Dolce Vita gathers nearly a hundred recipes from across Italy and reveals their history and development, including recipes for Italian cocktails and wines and adding easy recipes for antipasto, crostini, vegetables, meats, and sweets. There's a classic Bellini drink that represents Venice which was originally named after the glow of a saint's toga in a fifteenth-century painting, an appetizer of Roast Beef with Horseradish and Watercress, and heartier dishes such as a Venetian Fish Mousse; all of which are served in bite-sized pieces. The result is a lively and different approach to appetizers which is nicely steeped in Italian traditions.

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

Two fine new cookbooks from Hachette are recommended picks for readers looking for fresh, original dishes from chefs. Australia 'masterchef' Adam Liaw's Adam's Big Pot: Easy Meals for Your Family (9780600634720, $29.99) tells how to prepare family meals from familiar ingredients using just one wok, pan or pot. He focuses on international classics and fare that is family-friendly when offering his Thai-Style Braised Pork, a take-off on street vendor foods, his Big Pan Oyakodon or Japanese "parent and child" dish of chicken and egg, and Nori Butter Roast Chicken with orange juice and soy, among other ingredients. Add color photos throughout for a lovely presentation that stretches the boundaries of 'comfort food' to international levels. His The Zen Kitchen: Easy Japanese Recipes for Home Cooks (9780600634744, $34.99) moves beyond the usual sushi affiliation for Japanese fare in presenting family-friendly dishes and adaptations of Japanese fare. Readers who have associated Japanese cooking with a cabinet of specialty ingredients will find such dishes as the tea-leaf infused Salmon Ochazuke, Potato and Onion Miso Soup, and Barbarian Salmon with marinated fish and fresh vegetables requires a minimum of specialty ingredients. Access to just a few Japanese ingredients commonly found in either Asian or well-stocked supermarkets make for a collection of user-friendly, easy fare.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Last Magician
Lisa Maxwell
Simon Pulse
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781481432078, $18.99,

While The Last Magician is intended for a teen audience, it's reviewed here because mature teens to adult readers will equally find it a compelling story of magic and mayhem set in a New York where magic is all but gone. Its young protagonist, Esta, is a thief in this world, specializing in stealing magical artifacts from the Order and talented due to her ability to traverse time. But as she reaches back into a bygone world in search of these relics, a Magician looms and events threaten not only Esta's world of the future, but the worlds of the past. This engrossing, complex story will keep all ages enthralled.

Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588

Robert Conroy and J.R. Dunn's The Day After Gettysburg: The South Strikes Back (9781481482516, $25.00) presents a fine alternate history scenario in which General Robert E. Lee retaliates after Gettysburg by launching a counterattack that pushes back the Union Army and thwarts surrender. At the same time as an actor has President Lincoln in his sights, major Steve Thorne, a lawyer who has become a Union fighter, and others find themselves in a battle for liberty that decidedly does not parallel the history we're familiar with. Fans of alternate history will find this an absorbing story. Eric Flint, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett's The Alexander Inheritance (9781481482486, $25.00) tells of the circumstances surrounding the third catastrophe hitting the planet and sending pieces of it back in time - this time affecting a cruise ship in the Caribbean whose passengers discover they've been transported to a strange world some 2,000 in the past, when Greek civilization was spreading around the world. Can crew and passengers of the Queen of the Sea survive this bloody world, much less find their way back home? An engrossing saga comes to life in a different kind of time-slip saga. Travis S. Taylor and Jody Lynn Nye's Moonbeam (9781481482523, $18.99) tells of teen farm girl Barbara who has been selected to participate in a reality show that will bring her to the Moon as one of a doctor's six students. Barbara faces amazing challenges and a new future on this remote Moon frontier - one that will require this loner to not only become part of a team effort, but which holds the potential for exposing a miracle. Young adult to adult sci-fi readers will find this an engrossing tale.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
Rhys Bowen
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425283505, $26.00,

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service provides a new 'Royal Spyness mystery revolving around a distantly royal relative who is penniless and resourceful, Lady Georgiana Rannoch. In this addition to the series, Georgie and her long-time love are ready to wed, but her Majesty sends Georgie on another mission instead of blessing their union, and Georgie finds herself in the role of a foreign spy rather than a newlywed. Assigned a dubious task of meddling in another country's royal affairs, Georgie finds her skills put to the test in a powerful story of intrigue and fun that's hard to put down.

A Kiss Before Doomsday
Laurence MacNaughton
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882676, $18.00,

A Kiss Before Doomsday provides a Dru Jasper novel that blends fantasy, horror with zombies, sorcerers, demons and more. But, it's also a mystery and suspense piece as it tells of sorceress and business owner Dru's confrontation with evil forces that are being loosed on the streets. She's already thwarted one apocalypse - can she prevent another? A fun story evolves which defies easy categorization but provides an engrossing tale for fans who like genre-busting adventure.

The Science Shelf

Geology Underfoot in Southern Idaho
Shawn Willsey
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426782, $24.00,

Geology Underfoot in Southern Idaho joins others in this publisher's geology series to examine destinations, geologic history, and travel in Southern Idaho; but readers needn't be either geologists or destination visitors in order to appreciate this coverage. It comes from a geology professor who blends photos and illustrations with the geologic stories of over twenty selected sites from canyons carved by floods to sand dunes and mountains. National reserves, monuments, and preserves are all considered for their rich history and for the indicators present today which reflect this heritage, all couched in lively language that makes science accessible to lay audiences. The result is an engrossing study that any Idaho enthusiast should find compelling reading, whether they're planning an actual trip or just want an armchair survey of the region.

The Music Shelf

So Much Things to Say
Roger Steffens
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393058451, $29.95,

So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley offers a different set of insights into Marley's world through a discussion contributed by those key to his life and career, moderated by a leading reggae historian, and is a 'must' for any collection seeing interest in Marley's life and times. There are so many Marley biographies and music coverages on the market that one might wonder at the need for yet another; but there's actually much remaining to say about his influences, politics, and musical heritage, and this book's oral history gathers some forty years of interviews to answer many of these different perspectives and versions of his life. A chronological arrangement crafts an authoritative approach that readers will find easy to absorb in a 'must have' for any prior Marley enthusiast.

The Psychology Shelf

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Three new books feature very different subjects but important keys to helping special kids through everyday school life. Dr. Siobhan Timmins' Developing Resilience in Young People with Autism Using Social Stories (9781785923296, $12.95) presents insights on using Carol Gray's Social Stories(TM) model. This model is designed to help build coping strategies in young people, and here folks on the autism spectrum benefit from specific strategies geared to them. Parents and professionals working with kids with autism will find this an excellent survey. Lauren Brukner's Self-Control to the Rescue! Super Powers to Help Kids Through the Tough Stuff in Everyday Life (97817859237591, $19.95) pairs black and white cartoon-like illustrations with admonitions about how to cope with challenges during the day, and is directed to kids ages 4-7 to help them hone the exercises and routines that will help them maintain control. Kids and adults who work with them will find these routines receive chatty and specific discussion that's quite accessible and easy to absorb, with plenty of kid-friendly illustrations throughout. Sarah Helton's A Special Kind of Grief (9781785922732, $24.95) provides special education professionals with a resource book designed to help special schools address grief in special kids. From school procedures and support systems to recognizing different forms of grieving and tailoring activities and approaches to help students handle their loss, this is a guide any special needs educator will find specific and easy to employ.

The Education Shelf

Shawna Coppola
Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781625311047, $21.33,

Renew! Become a Better - and More Authentic - Writing Teacher builds upon three basic principles - rethinking, revising, and renewing - to consider how traditional writing practices can be rewritten for greater effect. Writing teachers receive encouragement to revise their approaches in a book that considers how writing instruction matches student needs and interests, and which shows how to better adjust goals. As chapters cover the process of identifying places to revise writing instruction, they survey how to better engage modern students and how to revitalize tools used for teaching writing. No creative writing or English teacher should be without this.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Martingale & Company
19021 - 120th Avenue NE, Suite 102, Bothell, WA 98011

Jen Lucas' Stunning Stitches: 21 Shawls, Scarves, and Cowls You'll Love to Knit (9781604688238, $24.99) comes from a designer who offers a collection of knitwear that can be produced from seven stitch patterns, and shows how these simple patterns lead to very diverse-looking projects from shawls and scarves to hooded scarfs. The lacy-looking creations are especially inviting while the attention to a nice array of colors, designs, and fabrics offers a wide range of options knitters will relish. Roseann Meehan Kermes' A Little Something: Cute-As-Can-Be Patterns for Wool Stitchery (9781604688604, $19.99) focuses on little home decor projects that can be produced in quick time, from coasters and wall hangings to bags and accessories, and pairs clear color photos with step-by-step directions for hand stitchers looking for something different. The materials list, cutting and assembly directions, and final projects are all appealing and lovely for newcomers and practiced needleworkers alike. Karne M. Burns compiles Baby Quilts for Beginners (9781604688641, $19.99), a gathering of baby-sized quilts for kids which offer a blend of traditional and new patterns and innovative, fun displays suitable for year-round gift-giving. Quilters will find these projects do a fine job of capturing childhood with bright, colorful patterns.

The Technology Shelf

Basic Electronics Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition
Sean Westcott and Jean Riescher Westcott
Mercury Learning
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
9781683920335, $49.95,

The second updated edition of Basic Electronics Theory and Practice is recommended for students of electronics seeking an in-depth but accessible introduction to the subject, and delves into theory and applications of basic electronics ranging from wireless communication to integrated circuits, switches, and memory processing. From digital signal quality and errors in transmission to sensors and writing code to integrate electronics systems into various projects such as robotics, this provides an excellent overview which will appeal to novices who want technical information easily absorbed.

Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062

Two new books form this publisher are highly recommended as key references to engineering collections strong in GPS and electrical engineering topics. Hans Hellsten's Meter-Wave Synthetic Aperture Radar for Concealed Object Detection (9781630810252, $179.00) reviews the basics of meter wave ground imaging radar and includes discussion of the basic laws of electromagnetism and reflectivity, among other principles. From design and processing systems to FFBP methods of processing and SAR design systems, this delves into electrical engineering basics including the formulas and science needed to understand basic operations and applications. Elliott CD. Kaplan and Christopher J. Hegarty edit Understanding GPS/GNSS Principles and Applications (9781630810580, $179.00), which appears in its third updated edition to bring together a team of experts who consider the GNSS system. Much new material has been added to this update, including all-new chapters on engineering of GPS, Beidou and other regional systems, and satellite and navigation systems. In-depth coverage is given to GNSS receivers, performance, and positioning while chapters include references to different code generation features, antenna operations with GNSS receivers, code signals, and more. Both are technical references highly recommended for professional and advanced college-level engineering science collections. Also highly recommended is Anatoly Belous, Vitali Saladukha and Siarhei Shevdau's Space Microelectronics Volume 1: Modern Spacecraft, Failure, and Electrical Component Requirements (9781630812577, $229.00), a first volume dedicated to exploring modern spacecraft classification and electrical operations. From their design, launch failures, and accident analysis to the types of electronics used in these craft, readers receive an in-depth and well-detailed electrical engineering survey of special importance to any working with electronics systems designed for space. From analysis of launch failure causes to charts and graphs filled with mathematical insights, this is a powerful reference. Boris Adryan, Domink Obermaier, and Paul Fremantle's The Technical Foundations of IoT (9781630812515, $129.00) provides detailed technical introduction to the components and processes of IoT, and offer engineers a basic survey covering physics, electronics and computing challenges alike. The book covers how IoT is integrated into various systems, common issues, product development for its devices, and its different hardware applications, and should be considered an essential 'must have' reference for an advanced engineering collection strong in IoT science. Zhancang Wang's High-Efficiency Load Modulation Power Amplifiers for Wireless Communications (9781608079872, $179.00) reviews the designs of radio frequency high effiency load modulation amplifiers for wireless systems, and covers all kinds of details for PA design and optimization that engineers must have. Readers receive technical discussions packed with charts and graphics, math, and surveys of different configurations and their advantages, including measurement methods for dynamic load amplifiers and discussions of various PAs and their design procedures. No college-level reference holding should be without these important discussions.

The Computer Shelf

Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012

James R. Parker's Python 3 Pocket Primer (9781683920861, $32.95) is for programmers looking for a quick reference on Python 3 to get them up and running on projects, and covers both basic concepts and real-world applications. After covering how Python works, it includes a chapter on PyGame which teaches programmers to handle graphics and device interactions, and reviews the basics of interfaces and data and communications manipulation in the Python 3 environment. The result includes source code examples and a companion disc with everything on it, and is a recommended pick for any with a programming background looking to work with Python 3 in a manner that builds on prior knowledge and gets them up and running. O. Campesato's Android Pocket Primer (9781683920885, $32.95) covers the latest features of the Android VR and the new Google Pixel phone, and reviews all the basics on the latest versions of Android using code examples. The primer is recommended for self-taught programmers who would learn more about the Android environment and its applications. The result is a survey which acts as both a class supplement, self-study tool, and introduction to the latest Android features. L. Wittenberg's Data Structures and Algorithms in C++ Pocket Primer (9781683920847, $44.95) surveys the basic topics intrinsic to a successful C++ learning experience, and limits itself to only those basics key to those learning C++. Unlike similar self-study books, this primer uses 'literate programming techniques' to present its sample code, and is arranged with an undergrad data course user in mind. All are excellent choices for refresher, at-a-glance reference, or introductory learning.

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Storyboarding: Turning Script to Motion
Stephanie Torta and Vladimir Minuty
Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781683920397, $49.95,

Storyboarding: Turning Script to Motion uses a blend of text and an accompanying DVD to show how storyboards work in the film and script department, offering a range of techniques for analyzing scripts and turning them into storyboards that support film, videos, motion graphics and learning. Exercises and instructions accompany discussions packed with projects and interviews that include a glossary of terms and a range of storyboards and photos from different productions. Comparisons of storyboard approaches round out a discussion highly recommended for film collections appealing to producers and directors.

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Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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