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The Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 9 September 2018 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Literary Studies Shelf
Philosophy Shelf Computer Shelf Science Shelf
Technology Shelf American History Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Travel Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Education Shelf Fiction Shelf
Political Science Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Military Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Shift
Kimberly White
9781523094882, $18.95,

The Shift: How Seeing People as People Changes Everything presents a concept so simple that one might wonder why it would need a book to explore it in depth. The beauty of The Shift, however, lies in its approach on how to see people as basic human beings rather than numbers, statistics, or entities. Shifting one's perspective towards acknowledging shared humanity means that many other things shift, as well, encouraging a more nurturing, understanding environment as a whole. Chapters do more than present theory: they outline how this shift can happen, what to do with it, and how it can change everything. Readers seeking a different kind of self-help guide will find it a positive perspective filled with practical, game-changing applications to everyday life.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Writing Flash
Fred D. White
Quill Driver Books
9781610353175, $14.95,

Writing Flash: How to Craft & Publish Flash Fiction for a Booming Market is specifically for writers who want to excel in flash fiction, which is typically less than 1,000 words. There's a real trick to condensing both plot and word choice for an exceptionally short work. The effort can produce especially lively, evocative writing when done right, and this provides a modern course in all the techniques of notable flash stories to provide writers with all the basics they need to build a reputation on flash fiction. Master the art of flash writing and writers who would produce any manner of written art will find their skillsets vastly expanded, which is why Writing Flash should be the first step key to success not only with this medium, but as a creative writer.

The Literary Studies Shelf

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy
Anne Boyd Rioux
W.W. Norton & Company
9780393254730, $27.95,

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still matters arrives on the cusp of the 150th anniversary of Alcott's novel, and examines how the story was created. In 1867, Louisa May Alcott was asked to write a book for girls: an odd request for one who'd always wished she was a boy, and who never liked or knew any girls aside from her siblings. Because her only experience was with her sisters, Alcott chose to write about four March sisters; and the rest is history. This survey of the Alcott family's parallels to her book lays the groundwork for better understanding Louisa's influences, relationships with her siblings, and how these translated into a book that became a literary icon. Any reader of Little Women who would betters understand its roots in reality will relish this lively story of the Alcott clan.

The Philosophy Shelf

Finding Purpose in a Godless World
Ralph Lewis, MD
Prometheus Books
9781633883857, $26.00,

Finding Purpose in a Godless World: Why We Care Even if the Universe Doesn't focuses on human purpose and caring in the world, and is written for those who like their science tinged with social inspection in the border area of religion and philosophical thinking. It presents and analyzes the major modern thinking in this area, pairing an attention to history and the author's own background in psychiatry with a focus on how people cope with seemingly random events that challenge their lives. From empathy and moral perspectives to understanding the meaning of a purpose-driven life, this multifaceted discussion sounds scholarly but will prove quite accessible to any educated reader interested in an interdisciplinary approach to life's meaning.

The Computer Shelf

Regular Expressions Pocket Primer
O. Campesato
Mercury Learning
9781683922278, $34.95,

Computer reference collections appealing to data scientists and professional learners who want a quick pocket reference for refresher purposes will find Regular Expressions Pocket Primer the perfect pick for technical pursuit. It's packed with examples and commands, doesn't assume any degree of prior technical knowledge or familiarity with expressions, and includes files with all the source code examples as a download from the publisher. Anyone interested in regular expressions for refining and using data will find this an important primer.

The Science Shelf

At Least Know This
Guy P. Harrison
Prometheus Books
9781633884052, $19.00,

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life pairs journalism's flare for dramatic reporting with scientific examination of basic concepts that apply to everyday life. The result is a creation that blends science and drama to create an educational, appealing survey of basic scientific concepts. From changing average lifespans around the world and how astronomy provides a deeper recognition of mankind's place in the universe to how life began, At Least Know This distills the basics of scientific theory into a lesson anyone can absorb, and one which is inviting and fun to read.

The Technology Shelf

5G and Satellite Spectrum, Standards, and Scale
Geoff Varrall
Artech House
9781630815028, $169.00,

5G and Satellite Spectrum, Standards, and Scale is a recommended reference for satellite and mobile communications engineers who seek a technical discussion of recently established Non Terrestrial network standards, different delivery options, and Low Earth Orbit, medium Earth Orbit, and Geostationary satellites. From different bands needed to support 5G and satellite networks to band performance, management, allocation and interfaces, this examines the design, costs, and future of implementing next generation satellite standards.

The American History Shelf

The Revenger
Aaron Woodard
9781493033928, $16.95,

The Revenger: The Life and Times of Wild Bill Hickok considers Wild Bill's life, but does so in such a manner that 19th century American history and culture come to life. Wild Bill's actions and his times were affected by the Civil War's history and events, and this blends into an overall survey of his early jobs in law enforcement, media's role in turning his exploits into the tales of a national celebrity, and the changing nature of history and perceptions of lawmen in the West. Archival photos of Wild Bill and his contemporaries round out a lively survey not to be missed by any American history reader looking for a different approach that moves beyond biography and links the man's exploits to historical changes.

Five for Freedom
Eugene L. Meyer
Laurence Hill
c/o Chicago Review Press
9781613735718, $26.99,

Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown's Army documents the true story of five black men who stood alongside John Brown's army in 1859, willing to die during Brown's attempt to incite a slave insurrection in Harpers Ferry. While many know of Brown's actions as the cause of the Civil War's opening salvo, this book rectifies a glaring omission, focusing on those who stood with John against all odds; but who have largely been forgotten by history. Having an entire book on the subject means that close inspection is possible, and this documentation of each man's life and achievements expands the knowledge of John Brown's army members and how their deaths affected generations to come. Vintage black and white photos and illustrations throughout enhance a well-researched, involving study recommended for civil rights, American history, and minority history holdings alike.

The Cookbook Shelf

Harneet Baweja, Devina Seth, and Nirmal Save
Kyle Books
9781909487864, $29.95,

Gunpowder: Explosive Flavors from Modern India comes from a husband-and-wife restaurant team and a chef who have gathered family gems and translated them to Gunpowder, a London home-style Indian kitchen and, now, a cookbook of the same name. The gunpowder spice mix is a classic, and this collection makes the most of it, pairing lovely photos with regional cuisine and innovations hard to find elsewhere, such as Malvani Sukka Chicken from a coastal area in Konkan; Tawa Kalimirch Chicken which pairs a traditional marinated chicken with an avocado dip that includes mango, ginger, and slices; or a Mint and Apple Lassi, which imparts an English twist on a traditional Indian drink. The full-page color photos add visual embellishment to a modern Indian cookbook which combines regional attention with modern innovations.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Ghost Script
Jules Feiffer
Liveright Publishing
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
9781631493133, $26.95,

The Ghost Script ends a graphic novel series that completes his Kill My Mother trilogy, begun in 2014, and is especially recommended for fans of the prior books who have awaited this completion for years. Set in 1950s Hollywood, it offers a close inspection of the Hollywood industry, show business, McCarthyism, and plots affecting Archie Goldman, who find himself blacklisted and frustrated. Feiffer's vivid illustrations capture an era, individual angst, and the processes of social and personal change alike. Any reader who was left wondering at the outcome of Archie's experiences will relish this conclusive grand finale to an outstanding graphic novel saga.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Moscow Offensive
Dale Brown
Brilliance Audio
9781511322461, $34.99,

The Moscow Offensive is performed by Ryan Burke, who adds a solid, clear voice to the story of Russia's new weapon that only the Iron Wolf Squadron of America can stop. This story is the perfect example of how a well-written thriller translates exceptionally well to audio: pair a smooth, evocative voice with the gripping story of an American president unprepared for the realities of Russia's threats and then add a military edge with state-of-the-art weaponry for a completely engrossing listen that will keep thriller fans riveted to the end.

The Travel Shelf

Haunted Restaurants, Taverns, and Inns of Texas, second edition
Robert Wlodarski and Anne Powell Wlodarski
Globe Pequot
9781493032495, $17.95,

Haunted Restaurants, Taverns, and Inns of Texas appears in its second updated edition to present haunted locales listed by city, which lends to visitor planning as well as definitive armchair reading. History about the haunted places pairs with ghost stories that stemmed from the original hauntings, current-day incarnations of the spirits, and input from the establishment operator to make for a lively survey highly recommended for any true-life ghost story reader and especially those planning a visit to Texas.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Brenda Cooper
9781633884212, $18.00,

Keepers is Book Two of the Project Earth series, and prior familiarity with Wilders will lend extra appreciation to this continuing story of two sisters, one from a big city and one from the wilderness, who find they must work together to bridge their relationship, lives, and the very different environments they are used to. Environmental issues, a puzzling secret, the fate of wolves and the efforts of the two to save both of their very different worlds makes for a riveting story that's multifaceted, complex, and hard to put down.

The Education Shelf

Puzzle Piece Phonics series
Carolyn Banuelos, Danielle James, Elise Lund

The 'Puzzle Piece Phonics' set of books from Corwin provide education libraries with in-depth, detailed piece-by-piece approaches to phonics which were developed by three teachers to provide daily lessons for kindergartners through second grade. The main overview teaching manual for kindergarten, Puzzle Piece Phonics: The Puzzle Pieces (9781506364674) outlines daily lessons and puzzle piece wall displays for engaging students with phonics. Ten phonics concepts, a weekly preparation section, daily lessons and supportive resources accompany some 100 puzzle pieces on card stock which can be cut out and used in a learning chart. The Teacher's Guide (9781506364513) offers teachers support in the form of a spiral-bound workbook that benefits from lay-flat presentation and discussions of specific instructional approaches, while the Learner's Notebook (9781506364810) is packed with reproducibles geared to different weeks and concepts, also presented in a lay-flat spiral bound format for easy use. From spelling checks to basic letter formation and weekly sorts, these cover all educational pursuits teachers will need to create an effective kindergarten phonics course. The volume Puzzle Piece Phonics: The Puzzle Pieces for second grade (9781506364766) offers the same approach but for more advanced young phonics users, surveying eight phonics concepts that cover 36 weeks of instruction. From how teachers can assess progress to suggestions for using the 160 puzzle pieces presented on card stock herein, this is an outstanding approach. The Teacher's Guide (9781506364612) is designed to be used as a companion to the Student Resource Kit and provides further discussion and resources for helping students develop foundation skills. It and the accompanying Learner's Notebook (9781506364919) group concepts, weeks, and themes to encourage students to apply the phonics lessons in meaningful ways. These books are also lay-flat designs, as is the Fluency Notebook (9781544319391), which breaks down concepts of narrative style into different weeks and helps second-graders apply fluent reading processes to the phonics lessons they've absorbed. The result is a course that will prove invaluable for any educator looking to apply phonics lessons to better classroom literary skills: an essential and key reference to a better approach than the usual phonics labs offer.

The Fiction Shelf

Beautiful Exiles
Meg Waite Clayton
Lake Union Publishing
9781503900837, $24.95,

Beautiful Exiles is set in Key West in 1936, where journalist Martha Gellhorn meets literary icon Ernest Hemingway in a bar. Suddenly two people who have a way with words but not social skills begin a friendship despite the fact that Hemingway is married and both are immersed in the reporter's world and looming war. As they become involved while their separate writing talents are blossoming, Ernest and Martha become more than friends and even more than professional rivals, attracted to the same things that threaten to destroy them. A fast-paced, involving novel brings Hemingway and Martha's world and romance to life.

The Political Science Shelf

Enemies of the State
D.J. Mulloy
Rowman & Littlefield
9781442276512, $34.00,

Enemies of the State: The Radical Right in America from FDR to Trump is essential reading for modern times because it considers the long-reaching history of the radical right in this country and various influences, movements, and actions that make Donald Trump's connections to them not 'unprecedented' but perhaps all too predictable. The radical right has long been an active force in this country and this history goes back to the Depression era to document its presence in America. No American history collection should be without this powerful survey of how America got to this point in time today.

Jeff Pegues
Prometheus Books
9781633884298, $24.00,

Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy comes from a CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent who considers how Russia hacked into US databases, how the US election has been and is protected, and the impact of the events of 2016 on future election processes. It uses interviews from various officials and security experts to examine specifics of contacts between Russians and Trump representatives, it asks important questions about computer and network security, and it examines how voting systems can be protected both this year and in years to come. More importantly, it examines international espionage and influences with an eye to revealing a new battleground of digital warfare, considering how Russia became a powerful influencer and why it might do so again. Anyone interested in politics, security systems, and international relations needs to understand both events of the past and this book's contentions and documentation, making it especially recommended for political science holdings.

The Needlecraft Shelf

A Prairie Journey
Kathleen Tracy
Martingale & Company
9781904689365, $25.99,

A Prairie Journey: Small Quilts That Celebrate the Pioneer Spirit features 13 small quilts inspired by antique-style blocks and modern reproduction fabrics designed to mimic those of the past. From producing Wagon Wheels and Crossing the Prairie to working with scraps and making squares in blocks, this flavors its pioneer journey with vintage photos throughout to enhance and reinforce the idea of the pioneer spirit in quiltmaking efforts.

The Military Shelf

Chasing the Demon
Dan Hampton
William Morrow
9780062688729, $28.99,

Chasing the Demon: A Secret History of the Quest for the Sound Barrier, and the Band of American Aces Who Conquered It charts a top-secret military program to reach the sound barrier with the goal of delivering a nuclear device to its destination faster than the enemy. This effort was made through a classified program on a remote air base in California's Mojave Desert where pilots flew experimental aircraft. The penetration of the sound barrier was made public only because the story was leaked to the press, but this survey from an aviation historian goes beyond what has been general knowledge to consider connections between the Mach 1 program and nuclear war planning, the pilots who participated in the effort, and truths about the program which only appear in this book. Lively, revealing, and even frightening, Chasing the Demon requires no prior knowledge of military history, this program, or science in order to prove thoroughly engrossing.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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