Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / California Bookwatch

California Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 4 April 2018 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf Computer Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Cookbook Shelf Technology Shelf
Education Shelf California Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Peggy Hart
Schiffer Publishing
9780764354311 $19.99

Wool: Unraveling an American Story of Artisans and Innovation embraces four centuries of the story of wool and its impact on American lives, and pairs many little-known facts about American society's relationship with wool with a timeline of events that considers changing manufacturing techniques, wool usage, Wool and Woolens Acts and growers' issues, and much more. Readers interested in textile history must have this lively examination of the technological, artistic, political and economic evolution of the industry throughout the extent of American history.

Spooky Southwest
Retold by S.E. Schlosser
9781493027156 $16.95

Spooky Southwest: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore is illustrated by Paul G. Hoffman, whose black and white drawings lend fine embellishment to this supernatural collection of strange occurrences in the American Southwest. These are folk stories retold by S.E. Schlosser and represent intriguing encounters with spirits of all kinds, from ghosts to witches. Suitable for new age, folklore, Southern culture or supernatural story collections alike, Spooky Southwest is a force to be reckoned with.

The Social Issues Shelf

We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet
E.J.R. David
SUNY Press
9781438469522 $24.95

We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet: Letters to My Filipino-Athabascan Family belongs in any serious sociology collection strong in ethnic studies in general and Filipino-American history, and gathers a series of letters the author wrote to his mixed-race Athabascan family as he struggled with questions revolving around his heritage and living in lands dominated by his family's colonizer. While it's a personal collection, it also holds wide-ranging social, psychological and health insights on the lasting effects of colonization upon generations of immigrants. College-level readers studying these lasting impacts will find this the perfect synthesis of scholarship and personal revelation that neatly tackles the questions of historical and modern oppression, their roots, and their long-term effects.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars
Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishers
9780998666723 $18.99 hc
9780998666730 $4.99 Kindle

Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars is noir sci-fi at its best, set on Mars in a future where artificial intelligence and human aspirations clash in a surprising manner. What is 'sci-fi noir'? Take the hardboiled detective and place her in a futuristic setting and you have the basic elements of a combination of gumshoe investigation and high-tech futuristic challenges that make up an especially spicy, engrossing mystery. Vivid descriptions, powerful sci-fi settings and mysteries, social issues and the implications for AI and human intelligence, and murder involving bots and human plots make for a fast-paced, riveting story filled with tense twists and turns that will keep readers guessing up to the end. Pair a multifaceted noir mystery with a Martian setting and add the complex politics and social issues surrounding bots and their evolution and connections to humans for a powerful story that is hard to put down and highly recommended for mystery and sci-fi fans alike.

Star Trek Discovery: Drastic Measures
Dayton Ward
Gallery Books
9781501171741 $16.00

Star Trek Discovery: Drastic Measures is set in 2246, ten years before the Battle at the Binary Stars, and covers a crisis on an isolated Federation colony. There's no hope of help arriving in time, but a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost become part of the crisis and a huge effort to prevent a mass starvation, while Commander Philippa Georgiou's advance party discovers the solution employed may be worse than the original threat. A gripping Trek tale unfolds, especially recommended for fans of the latest Discovery crew and scenario.

Baen Books

Two excellent new titles are highly recommended picks for sci-fi readers who like action-packed tales. Travis S. Taylor's Bringers of Hell (9781481483049, $23.00) adds to the Tau Ceti Agenda series with a military story to accompany One Good Soldier, and continues the gripping tale of a war with the alien invaders the Chiata Horde. General Alexander More and his battalion face new threats of a big invasion certain to destroy humankind; but a different kind of alien benefactor may be the only key to survival - that and Moore's determination to win. A gripping military clash evolves in a story packed with head-spinning action. Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett and Gorg Huff's 1637: The Volga Rules (9781481483032, $25.00) continues the rapidly-expanding alternative history and takes place five years after a cosmic accident transported an entire West Virginia town to 17th century Europe, changing the timeline and their lives forever. Here Russian serfs are rebelling and a Czar has escaped house arrest, on a mission to set up a new government apart from the old. Serfs, czar, and time travelers clash in a gripping saga that will especially appeal to prior fans of the series.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Claws for Concern
Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425277782 $26.00

Claws for Concern provides a fine new Cat in the Stacks mystery revolving around librarian and amateur sleuth Charlie Harris and his feline investigator Diesel, who have been enjoying a vacation from drama and murder until a new library patron seems to take an uncommon interest in his life. There are soon more questions than answers as Charlie faces a conundrum, a murder, and more clues than he can handle. Fans of feline drama will appreciate the engrossing events that immerse a staid librarian in yet another murder investigation.

The Fiction Shelf

Gables Court
Alan S. Kessler
Black Rose Writing
9781612969886 $19.95

Gables Court presents the character of twenty-four-year-old Samuel, a romantic and a traditional thinker who is saving sex for marriage, and who falls in love with a feisty college girl. He dreams of marriage, but her personal agenda doesn't include the title 'wife', and her ideas of sexuality and commitment are in direct conflict with his own values and ideals. Gables Court provides a powerfully insightful saga of a young man adrift in a changing world. As color flows through his life and brings with it psychological and social insights, Samuel slowly finds the impetus to be himself. Readers who seek a combination of psychological self-discovery and social awareness will find Samuel's journey ethereal, engrossing, and all too familiar. Highly recommended for thinking readers seeking more from their fiction than light entertainment.

The Computer Shelf

Data Cleaning Pocket Primer
O. Campesato
Mercury Learning
9781683922179 $39.95

Data Cleaning Pocket Primer joins others in the 'Pocket primer' series to provide programmers with a quick review of data cleaning processes. The intention is to provide enough at-a-glance information to make the typical programmer new to various concepts get up to speed quickly for their own projects. It introduces Unix and Linux shell commands, typical data cleaning tasks and approaches, real-world examples, and various command structures. Programmers with general background but no prior familiarity with data cleaning processes will find it the perfect choice for getting up and running quickly.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

These fine new books come to life in audio and make for excellent, highly recommended listens for leisure audiences. David Baldacci's The Simple Truth (9781478994633, $20.00) is read by Jonathan Marosz, who lends a quiet drama to the story of an aspiring young attorney who breaks the law and finds that nobody will have anything to do with him or his appeal. Twenty-five years later Michael's brother John, who has also entered the legal professional from a police background, journeys to Washington to find why his brother was murdered and its connection to the old crime that alienated him. A tense thriller evolves which traces an escaped convict's connection to a cold case that suddenly heats up and involves political connections and legal conundrums. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's City of Endless Night (9781478921547, $40.00) is narrated by Rene Auberjonois, whose seasoned and smooth voice captures and dramatizes the story of the beautiful daughter of a billionaire who goes missing, involving the NYPD in a case that evolves into a murder investigation. When Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta probes deeper, he finds that Grace is only the first in a series of murder victims who are being decapitated around the city in moves that threaten to bring a major city to its knees. James Patterson's Murder, Interrupted (9781478995524, $20.00) joins others in a series of true-crime thrillers, is narrated by Jay Snyder's deft voice, and provides two intriguing murder mysteries. One revolves around a rich and cheating businessman who is willing to pay anything to see his wife dead. The other story tells of a local celebrity and single mother who is dedicated to caring for her chronically ill teenage daughter - but, is she truly altruistic? James Patterson works with Alex Abramovich and Mike Harvkey in All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers' Row (9781478999041, $35.00), the true story of a professional acclaimed athlete who led a double life that ended in prison. This is the first book to investigate his first-degree murder conviction and uses original reporting to profile some shocking truths. All are potent reads that excel in audio formats, highly recommended for leisure readers who appreciate the ability to audio to inject high drama into the already-powerful written world.

The Cookbook Shelf

Supra: A Feast of Georgian Cooking
Tiko Tuskadze of Little Georgia
9781911216162 $27.95

Supra: A Feast of Georgian Cooking joins a relatively small selection of cookbooks on the market that exclusively focus on Georgian cuisine and comes from an author who shares over a hundred dishes from her family's roots. One might expect these dishes to prove a challenge to produce in American kitchens; but the fact is that most of the ingredients are readily available in most supermarkets with only a few regularly-featured ingredients (ground marigold, which may be found in health food stores; and pomegranates) requiring special access. As for the dishes themselves, many represent unusual (to this country) pairings that hold much appeal, from Turkey in Walnut Sauce to Lamb in Pomegranate or various local Cheese Breads. The result is a feast that will appeal to newcomers and those with some basic familiarity with the region, easily accessible by all.

How to Roast Everything
America's Test Kitchen Editors
America's Test Kitchen
9781945256226 $35.00

How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables, and More is the first roasting guide from America's Test Kitchen, and gathers years of testing and recipes to give home cooks a 'master's class' on the techniques of roasting. The details on how to buy the right foods, prep them properly, and understand the difference approaches to roasting them makes for a fine tutorial for roasting everything from meats to fish to vegetables and fruits. Pair lovely full-page color photos with a focus on why each recipe works and how to assure success and you have the signature Test Kitchen winner no serious home cook should be without.

For the Love of the South
Amber Wilson
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780062460257 $35.00

For the Love of the South: Recipes & Stories from My Southern Kitchen comes from the creator of a food blog by the same name, and details Southern food and life in some 100 recipes that accompany the author's insights on growing up in Louisiana and cooking with her family. Readers seeking more Southern flavor than recipes alone will find this offers an excellent synthesis of personal and culinary insights, adding color photos throughout, discussions of techniques, and kitchen tips in the process of sharing fare such as White Cheddar and Rosemary Cheese Wafers, Lady Pea Salad, or Pickled Red Onions.

Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books

Two excellent new cookbooks are highly recommended picks for cooks and collections looking for innovative ideas and books, and are highly recommended picks. Laura Ascari & Elisa Paganelli's Breakfast is Served: Breakfast & Brunch Recipes from All Over the World (9781784723378, $14.99) focuses on one meal, which allows for a compendium of recipes ranging from pastries and cereals to sweet and savory baked dishes. The international focus allows for quite a variety of flavors and combinations, from a spiced carrot preserve from Iran which can be served with bread and fresh cheese to Russian Blinis, served with strawberry jam. While the emphasis is on sweet fare, all manner of breakfasts are featured. Daniel Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman's Mildreds Vegan Cookbook (9781784723736, $29.99) comes from a London restaurant which has been popular since 1988. This gathers the most popular vegan dishes on Mildreds menu, features an international focus on different flavors from around the world, and adapts dishes for home cooks. From a Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Raw Corn Salsa to Persian Lime & Chickpea Stew, these are appealing and fine dishes to expand a vegan cook's repertoire.

The Technology Shelf

Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany
Prometheus Books
9781633883253 $19.00

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World is recommended for general-interest science collections catering to lay readers as well as geeks and scientists, and offers an in-depth survey of the new graphene material and its many possibilities to change human lives. From medical to construction applications, this covers a rapidly-evolving discovery in materials science which will make for a compelling survey.

Artech House

Three new engineering and science reference titles are top recommendations for college-level and professional reference holdings. Sudhir Warier's Engineering Optical Networks (9781630814472, $159.00) comes from a leading expert who provides a detailed introduction to the basic concepts of transport and data networks, and their construction and applications. Key techniques of telecommunication and optical networks are examined in a study intended for professionals who want details on the latest photonic networks, their standards, and their applications. Juan A. Fraire, Jorge M. Finochietto, and Scott C. Burleigh's Delay-Tolerant Satellite Networks (9781630813444, $149.00) provides professionals with an in-depth survey of "delay-tolerant networking" principles in satellite network communications systems, examining analytical tools, models, technologies that interact with satellite applications, and various satellite communications structures and protocols. The result is a detailed review of the basic concepts and analyses of such systems that will provide a refresher course to professionals and a solid introduction to newcomers. Ignacio Llamas-Garro, Marcos Tavares De Melo, and Jung-Mu Kim's Frequency Measurement Technology (9781630811716, $129.00) provides a new reference to frequency measurement technology in a unique consideration of receivers and technologies used in measuring frequencies. New designs for microwave photonic circuits, discussions of different applications of measurements, and considerations of instrumentation approaches make for a solid survey engineers will find excellent for reference and study.

The Education Shelf

Literacy Essentials
Regie Routman
Stenhouse Publishers
9781625310978 $54.67

Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners is based on Regie Routman experiences in teaching, leading and coaching in diverse schools, and provides K-12 teachers and educators with specific tools designed to help students become independent, critical readers. It's refreshing to see a specific game plan rather than ideology: chapters pair research results with these methods, add personal stories about literacy teaching experiences, and cover such strategies as one-on-one reading conferences and their objectives, using specific strategies to encourage a word-conscious classroom, and applying student-friendly rubrics. The result is a concrete plan for literacy that can be used in a wide range of classrooms and student proficiency levels.


Five new educator's references offer specific keys to academic excellence, from targeted interventions and K-3 building blocks to classroom success to guides for principals on school budgeting, leaders on surviving major social and educational challenges, and elementary science teachers. John Almarode and Ann M. Miller's From Snorkelers to Scuba Divers in the Elementary Science Classroom (9781506353647, $34.95) pairs strategies for elementary-level science teachers with lesson plans designed to move students from the basics to deeper learning experiences. Research-based strategies that encourage deeper thinking processes pair with classroom examples that show exactly how to achieve these goals. Jeff Zwiers and Sara Hamerla's The K-3 Guide to Academic Conversations: Practices, Scaffolds, and Activities (978150630418, $27.95) is all about content mastery for primary school teachers seeking a different approach to student engagement. The emphasis here is on formulating and encouraging active listening and discussions. This resource packs in guidelines, sample lesson plans, protocols for listening to and encouraging student speech, and samples of conversation lesson plans for art, social studies, and more. The specifics offer fine insights into how academic conversations progress on different levels. Jessica Djabrayan Hannigan and Johyn E. Hannigan's the PBIS Tier Two Handbook: A Practical Approach to Implementing Targeted Interventions (9781506384528, $29.95) and moves beyond the Tier One book, which focused on establishing school wide behavior systems, and into interventions for different student needs. Educators are encouraged to develop a 'menu' of Tier Two solutions that provide students with help in their social and behavioral choices. From how to create and monitor such a system to interventions that apply both inside and outside the classroom structure, this pairs rubrics for identifying special needs with specific implementation concerns and processes. Dwight L. Carter and Mark White's Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-Change (9781506384313, $33.95) is for school leaders facing challenges to traditional school structures on many levels. It invites educators to help prepare students for changed environments and pairs a history of disruption in American schools with exercises and ideas for reshaping education; but the meat of the title lies in a clear consideration of radical disruptions to the educational process projected for future years. Educators looking for far-reaching considerations of how future schools will evolve will find this heads-up invaluable. Richard D. Sorenson and Lloyd M. Goldsmith's The Principal's Guide to School Budgeting (9781506389455, $37.95) appears in its third updated edition to discuss creating winning school budgets based on modern fiscal and academic challenges. Principals face big obstacles to administering schools under modern conditions that pose changing economic and instructional needs, and this book offers everything from templates and case studies for budgeting applications to activities and finance references. From leading and budgeting during times of constraint to tables of non-prioritized budget needs, this should be on the reference shelves of any school leader. All are top recommendations for any professional educator or administrator's library.

The California Shelf

Crossing California
Sam McManis
Craven Street Books
9781610354147 $14.95

Crossing California: A Cultural Topography of a State of Wonder and Weirdness blends humor, culture, and history in a lively survey of California by a Sacramento bee journalist who spent five years traveling around the state. Sam McManis explored a wide range of classic California cultural locales, from spas and museums to alternative therapies, art enclaves, odd restaurants and sensory events, and more. The result blends cultural inspection with a travelogue that will interest armchair readers to would-be visitors: virtually anyone with a special interest in California peoples, events, and places.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

Diane C. Donovan, Editor & Senior Reviewer
12424 Mill Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
phone: 1-707-795-4629

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design