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

The Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 1 January 2015 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Audiobook Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Military Shelf Social Issues Shelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Education Shelf Music Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Travel Shelf American History Shelf
Sports Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Islamic Studies Shelf
Judaic Studies Shelf Biography Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Gardening Shelf Railroading Shelf Business Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Paying for College Without Going Broke
Kalman A. Chany with Geoff Martz
Princeton Review
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
9780804125482, $20.00,

Paying for College Without Going Broke tells how to calculate the costs of college, locate sources for different kinds of financial aid, and plan for financial backing to avoid costly mistakes. The focus is on how to maximize financial aid eligibility as well as how to save for college. Chapters cover everything from picking colleges to filling out paperwork and assessing assets. The result is a solid reader that goes beyond the usual focus on locating scholarships to consider not just available financing, but how to qualify for it.

Daily Zen Doodles
Meera Lee Patel
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612433592, $16.95,

Daily Zen Doodles: 365 Tangle Creations for Inspiration, Relaxation and Mindfulness packs in a doodle zentangle drawing for each day of the year, with each page offering a prompt or starting point for using doodles to encourage mindfulness and contemplation. Add inspirational quotes and encouraging sheets and what you have is a sketchbook with a difference: a collection of inspiring invitations to use doodling and zentangle drawing to achieve peaceful meditation results. The result is a cut above your usual craft guide, and especially recommended for new age thinkers and aspiring artists with a purpose.

The Audiobook Shelf

Shopaholic to the Stars
Sophie Kinsella
Random House Audio Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 5th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385361705, $40.00,

Shopaholic to the Stars is narrated by Clare Corbett, who provides a powerful reading to supplement a powerful new addition to her 'Shopaholic' series. Here Becky is newly arrived in Hollywood, starry-eyed, and filled with hope for her family and new opportunities. She can't wait to absorb Hollywood's culture and see a celebrity: unfortunately, her ambition to become a personal stylist to the stars introduces her to the bad side of Hollywood, as well. A fine romp begins, perfect for fans of light and compelling leisure reads and vivid characters.

Festive in Death
J.D. Robb
Brilliance Audio
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
9781480511651, $38.99,

Festive in Death receives a fine performance by Susan Ericksen whose evocative voice brings to life the story of Eve Dallas, who is struggling with homicide and holidays simultaneously. A personal trainer is murdered and a cryptic holiday note left on his body, calling into question a vengeful ex-girlfriend. But that would be too easy: Eve Dallas suspects something more, and her instinct leads her to a list of enemies surpassing even her own Christmas list. This is a fun investigative story that's just perfect for the holidays, and for murder mystery fans - and especially for prior fans of Eve Dallas investigations!

Penguin Audio
Penguin Audio Books
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

Steven Johnson's HOW WE GOT TO NOW (97816117633386, $30.00) pairs a vivid reading by actor George Newbern with an exploration of the history of innovation over the centuries, and is packed with stories of brilliant mistakes that led to fortunate innovations. Connections between different fields, the history of urban areas, clocks, computers and more, and discussions of vivid serendipity make for a vivid listen that accompanies a six-part TV series on PBS, creating a fun and educational listen that any history or trivia buff will appreciate. Stuart Woods' PARIS MATCH (9781611763133, $35.00) is narrated by Tony Roberts, an actor who has appeared on numerous Broadway stage productions and in films, and whose familiar, evocative voice enhances the story of Stone Barrington's latest journey to Europe, where he (predictably) gets into trouble in Paris. An old enemy is pursuing him, while back home a key project is in trouble - with ramifications for not just individuals, but nations. Readers will find this gripping saga hard to stop listening to. Anne Lamott's SMALL VICTORIES (97817611763706, $30.00) is narrated by the author and provides essays that focus on messages of hope - perfect for holidays and their aftermath. They discuss forgiveness and transformation, how we can turn to love in a range of situations, and how one's responses to life's slings and arrows can be modified to make the most of everything. As such, they are beacons of hope in a world of negativity and, when narrated by Lamott herself, become even more powerful messages.

Hachette Audio
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

James Patterson's PRIVATE INDIA: CITY ON FIRE (9781478985419, $26.00) tells of jack, who opens the Mumbai branch of Private, an elite detective agency, and sets top agent Santosh on a difficult case; the hunt for a killer who is targeting women in a series of chilling ritual killings. The Private team faces great obstacles and little clues in this riveting story of murder, drama, and an impossible city-wide investigation in India. David Baldacci's THE ESCAPE (9781478982807, $30.00) is narrated by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy and provides a vivid story as it tells of a brother convicted of treason and national security crimes who escapes from prison to also become a wanted criminal. It seems up to his younger brother to bring him to justice: the only problem is, others are also pursing him and don't want him to survive. What evolves is a masterful chase and in this respect the audio format brings events to life as McLarty and Cassidy's narration adds a vivid immediacy to events and a tension that excels in audio format. Michael Connelly's THE BURNING ROOM (9781619694262, $40.00) is narrated by Titus Welliver, an actor and painter who has appeared in numerous films and TV shows, and whose voice and acting abilities bring this detective story to life. Harry Bosch and his rookie partner investigate a cold case that is once more alive and dangerous, and find themselves trying to solve a murder that turns into a political hot potato. As they race against time, new evidence and new leads turns the case dangerous and leads to another unsolved case with even more ramifications. A powerful thriller evolves, perfect for audio detective and thriller enthusiasts. Amanda Palmer's THE ART OF ASKING OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LET PEOPLE HELP (9781478982883, $30.00) comes from a musician, songwriter, activist and blogger and discusses the finer art of asking for audience support. While she's been both acclaimed and criticized for this, what she asks for succeeds in connecting her with her audience, friends, and life - and this exploration of relationship barriers and the finer art of asking provides a powerful survey advocating interaction in the new environments of cultural exchange. From philosophy to autobiography and more, this is a fine survey that comes to life in audio and deserves a special place in general-interest audio collections.

The Self-Help Shelf

The Power of Patience
M.J. Ryan
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573245999, $14.95,

The Power of Patience: How This Old-Fashioned Virtue Can Improve Your Life teaches how to gain more patience with everyday affairs and how to reduce the feeling of being rushed and stressed, and teaches how to use the virtue of patience in the process of bringing more love into life. By slowing down and reclaiming patience, we bring more into our lives that allow us to clearly set priorities and lifestyles that work. This book both makes a case for patience and tells how to reclaim it.

The Military Shelf

The Worth of War
Benjamin Ginsberg
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616149505, $24.00,

The Worth of War offers an unusual argument: that contrary to belief that war is represents the height of irrational behavior, it in fact proves the real indicator of rationality and survival. Those societies who are best able to assess and thwart dangers are usually the ones to survive warfare, while technological advancements often have their roots in conflict. War spurs economic development, social change, and political connections. This isn't a promotion of conflict, but it sure does extend much food for thought in its discussions of the underlying good brought about by war.

The Social Issues Shelf

Defending Beef
Nicolette Hahn Niman
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781603585361, $19.95,

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production comes from an environmental lawyer and vegetarian who became a cattle rancher, and dispels popular myths of how cattle are bad for the planet. It gathers scientific data and examples from around the world to argue that cattle can help build carbon-sequestering soils to enhance biodiversity and prevent desertification, and it makes a convincing if not unusual argument for beef production at a time when the case has been all but closed against it. With its unusual focus, this is a top pick for any interested in sustainable food production in general who want to consider beef production in a new light.

The Occupy Movement Explained
Nicholas Smaligo
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812698558, $21.95,

The Occupy Movement Explained: From Corporate Control to Democracy blends personal and political accounts of Occupy Wall Street and other movements, and connects this to wider social issues. Its purpose is to clear up misconceptions of the Occupy manifesto, create a clear map of its history as a nation-wide movement, and document the reasons behind its waning as a popular resistance tool. Any interested in Occupy's history or culture - especially high school to college-level social and political issues holdings - needs this!

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Of All the Gin Joints
Mark Bailey
Algonquin Books
PO Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225
9781565125933, $21.95,

Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling Through Hollywood History is illustrated by Edward Hemingway and packs in stories of movie stars who are often leading crazy lives. From the beginnings of the silent film industry to the 1970s, Bailey considers the lives, events and circumstances surrounding not only Hollywood celebrities, but the directors, screenwriters, and producers around them. Packed with outrageous tales, this is a fun read for any who like stories about Hollywood and its oddities.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Die I Will Not
S.K. Rizzolo
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203020, $24.95,

Die I Will Not tells of an unhappy wife and young mother who fears her family will be beset by scandal and danger. Her father was accused of treason and murder decades ago; now a dead editor's secret leads Penelope to battle scandal, risk her reputation and life, and search out a killer. History and 1813 London come alive in this powerful saga, highly recommended for fans of historical mysteries who are looking for a combination of powerful history background and involving plot.

The Education Shelf

Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218

Mark S. McCaffrey's CLIMATE SMART & ENERGY WISE (9781483304472, $25.00) comes from an expert on climate and energy education, and offers a key to understanding climate and energy teaching processes. Chapters consider which topics fit into a curriculum, discuss Next Generation Science Standards and how teachers can meet them, and offers ways of teaching climate change to appropriate grade levels. With sample learning activities and a list of age-appropriate resources online, this provides teachers with everything necessary to teach climate change at appropriate grade levels. Wayne A. Callender's USING RTI IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS: A TRAINING MANUAL FOR SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION (9781452290560) offers educators a discussion of effective, applied uses of RTI theory for secondary students and is a pick for any who would identify at-risk students and help them early in the process. It considers how a step-by-step RTI program may be implemented, how student intervention plans can be tailored for individual students, and how to develop monitoring techniques that work in a classroom and individual setting alike. Discussions on applying RTI to special education concerns are particularly insightful, making this book an invaluable read.

The Music Shelf

The Jesus and Mary Chain
Zoe Howe
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250030245, $26.99,

The Jesus and Mary Chain offers an unexpectedly funny biography of the rock group's evolution and is told by the band members and their associates. It's also the story of the rise of 1980s music and the evolution of a band that rose to the top with an unusual approach to pop music, and will prove unexpectedly entertaining even for those readers who aren't already familiar with the group. The band has not received a lot of analysis before; so having this expose makes for a number of surprising revelations key to understanding the group's members and unique contributions to the field of rock and pop music.

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story
Rick Bragg
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062078223, $27.99,

Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story tells about the legend of rock and roll - through his own eyes. For two years he shared his life story with prize-winning author Rick Bragg, and the narrative appears here with the full flavor of Lewis' history and observations. From his spotlight sessions with such notable giants as Johnny Cash and chuck Berry to his struggles with faith, music, and the demands of stardom, this is a vivid and personal memoir and a 'must' for any popular music history collection.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Ice Dragon
George R.R. Martin
Tor Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765378774, $14.99,

THE ICE DRAGON tells of winter child Adara, who isn't afraid of the winter or the ice dragon that terrifies others, but has always been in her life. In her fourth year she touched it, in her fifth she rode it, and in her seventh, she finds that only the love between she and her ice dragon an keep the fire dragons from destroying the world. If the setting sounds familiar, it's because adults have enjoyed the Song of Ice and Fire series. Now teen and adult readers have access to the vivid tale, in a new edition enriched by lovely black and white drawings by Luis Royo.

Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780470014804, $18.99,

While billed for a teen audience, STRANGER is recommended here because it shouldn't be missed by any adult fan of scifi: it's a dystopian novel that is engrossing and revolves around Ross, a prospector who lives in a post-apocalyptic works where people possess strange powers, from super strength to the ability to warp time itself, and where an ancient book holds keys to a new future. Ross escapes with his artifact, which holds a power nobody has seen before; but his discover will bring with it a world of hurt. The story is detailed, well drawn, and compelling: it would be shame to limit this to young adults because there's plenty of complexity and action suitable for adult readers, and recommended for both audiences.

c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010

Three novels in the new Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson offer epic adventure and a powerful quest that will especially attract readers interested in compelling sci-fi and fantasy reads. MISTBORN (9780765377135, $12.99) opens the quartet with a startling premise: a hero once tried to save the world - and failed - resulting in its devastation. A thousand years have since gone by, and a new, younger hero and a new threat arise once more to change the future of this world. Can hope survive and can past patterns change? THE WELL OF ASCENSION (9780765377142, $12.99) provides Book Two of the story, which tells of a street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land. It's up to her and a young nobleman who loves her to build an empire - but attacking adversaries are threatening everything they've achieved. THE HERO OF AGES (9780765377159, $12.99) completes the trilogy and shows how a single action can return evil into the world, even though the best of intentions are behind it. Vin has been tricked into releasing the mystic force from the Well of Ascension and a series of clues may be the only thing between saving and destroying the world. The trilogy is epic science fiction adventure at its best, and will reach young adult to adult audiences alike.

The Travel Shelf

You Only Live Once
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781743601648, $29.99,

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE: A LIFETIME OF EXPERIENCES FOR THE EXPLORER IN ALL OF US provides a compendium of travel ideas gathered with one purpose in mind: to fosters an enthusiasm for learning and experiencing new things that go beyond a two-week vacation or a quick foray into unknown countries. It combines gorgeous color photos with information and graphics that coalesce around one point: experiences that only happen once in a lifetime. Those with bucket lists should be prepared to expand them, while those who prefer their travel take place in an armchair will find the illustrations compelling and absorbing. Both audiences will relish the approach and vibrant presentation of YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.

The American History Shelf

Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt
Mark Will-Weber
Regnery History
c/o Regnery Publishing, Inc.
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9781621572107, $27.99,

MINT JULEPS WITH TEDDY ROOSEVELT: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF PRESIDENTIAL DRINKING provides a fine survey of liquor in Presidential matters, and explores the role of drink in everything from social settings to nuclear weapons negotiations and more. It comes from a journalist who considers everything from temperance laws to teetotalers and drinkers, and it pairs fun trivia with eye-opening historical facts. The result is a survey highly recommended for any interested in Presidential history or the history and influence of alcohol on American political processes.

The Sports Shelf

Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076

Dan Trink's HIGH-INTENSITY 300 (9781450455275, $22.95) is an unusual pick for exercisers in that it encourages readers to choose workouts that will meet specific strength and conditioning goals. Thus, the 300 workouts examining the most challenging of such programs isn't about using them all; but about understanding their approaches. Detailed directions, photos and training trips accompany discussions of difficulty levels and daily goals in a book that begins with a progressive program and concludes with 40 of the hardest workouts. Any who want more 'meat' to their training program should examine these routines for maximum benefit! Dick Bate and Ian Jeffreys' SOCCER SPEED (9781450424578, $19.99) packs in nearly forty drills to improve soccer skills, and is a requirement for modern training because more agile players have entered the sport and increased the game's challenges. From routines for increasing balance and agility to techniques to keep opponents guessing, this is packed with keys to understanding the game, its technical skills and tactics, and how to improve everything from dribbling to passing and scoring.

The Christian Studies Shelf

T.D. Jakes Speaks to Men
T.D. Jakes
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764212871, $19.99,

T.D. Jakes Speaks to Men provides a fine survey packing three of Jakes' prior books under one cover: LOSE THAT MAN AND LET HIM GO!, SO YOU CALL YOURSELF A MAN?, and T.J. JAKES SPEAKS TO MEN. It takes the concept of manly behavior and spiritual insight and melds the two with devotional reading directed to ordinary men, and it offers discussions of God-based masculinity and compromise that stay firmly rooted in Biblical insight while embarking on a fine journey to spiritual reflection. Christian men will find this a solid series of discussions.

The Islamic Studies Shelf

Mecca: The Sacred City
Ziauddin Sardar
Bloomsbury USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620402665, $30.00,

Mecca: The Sacred City comes from one of the key Muslim speakers today and reveals the story of the city from Biblical to modern times, considering religious struggles and rebellion surrounding the Middle Eastern city past and present. Sardar moved to Mecca in 1975 for work and completed one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith during his pilgrimage there: his book covers his studies on Muslim faith and Mecca in particular, and includes modern-day challenges as well as its history. Any interested in Mecca ad its importance will find this a fine, detailed survey - especially those studying Muslim history and culture.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

The Sacred Encounter
Rabbi Lisa J. Grushcow, DPhil, Editor
9780881232035, $22.95,

The Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality is no light read: it's a key resource on the topic of sexuality and Judaism and provides scholars with a serious collection of articles by rabbis and scholars from across the Jewish spectrum who adds to the subject of religious perspectives on sexuality. Each section blends personal reflection, scholarly assessment, and references to Jewish text, and each covers topics as diverse as Biblical and classical rabbinic views of human sexuality and Jewish law, historical cultural and social changes, liberal Judaism as it pertains to LBGT issues, and ethics. It's the second volume in the CCAR Cahllenge and Change Series and is a 'must' for any scholarly Jewish studies collection.

The Biography Shelf

Measure of a Man
Martin Greenfield & Wynton Hall
Regnery Publishing
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9781621572664, $27.99,

MEASURE OF A MAN: FROM AUSCHWITZ SURVIVOR TO PRESIDENTS' TAILOR provides the powerful story of a man who began sewing in Auschwitz at age 15, mending the shirt of the SS guard who had just beaten him. He not only survived his imprisonment, but today is known as "America's Greatest Living Tailor', and this autobiography is his story of how he survived four concentration camps to forge a new life for himself. Chapters consider how he began his new life and career in New York, how he rose to become involved with presidents and stars, and how he kept his spark and preserved his life. From his insistence on high standards to his reliance on a sense of humor, Martin Greenfield the clothier evolved to make a difference in the world, and this survey of his career will serve as inspirational testimony to tenacity and the will to survive.

The Cookbook Shelf

Good Cheap Eats
Jessica Fisher
Harvard Common Press
535 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118
9781558328433, $16.95,

Good Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts For $10 or less advocates eating flavorful, nutritious dinners for less than, $10 a meal, and comes from an author who does it all the time. This food blogger has honed the fine art of inexpensive cooking, and offers recipes that are made from scratch, quick to cook, and easy on the pocketbook. From Beef Potpie with Flaky Cheddar Crust to Broiled Bruschetta or No-Egg Spinach Meatballs, these are dishes any cook can produce. Most are accompanied by color photos, which adds value and interest to the presentation.

Baking Chez Moi
Dorie Greenspan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544176492, $29.99,

Baking Chez Moi: Recipes From My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere explores French desserts and is a pick for any who are interested in French cooking in general and baking in particular. Over five years ago the author decided to interview and write about some of the best French pastry chefs and their art, and set about investigating what ultimately turned into the simpler baking creations rather than the complex, eye-catching chef masterpieces. The recipes here come from several different regions in France and include some dishes one normally wouldn't associate with French baking, such a desert made of corn flakes and chocolate that is familiar to most French children. Home bakers receive chapters divided into easily-digestible themes ("Plain Cakes", "Fancy Cakes") that include plenty of baking basics perfect for newcomers to either French food or baking in general. Color photos abound.

The Gardening Shelf

Eat Your Greens
David Kennedy
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, V0R 1X0
9780865717510, $29.95,

EAT YOUR GREENS: THE SURPRISING POWER OF HOME GROWN LEAF CROPS is about gardening and vegetables, and discusses how to grow and utilize a range of varieties in a kitchen garden. It reviews modern commercial practices, gardening techniques, and provides recipes to preserve a harvest. From growing vertical greens to preserve space to understanding leaf concentrates, this advocates a range of techniques for not just growing vegetables, but growing the best nutritional veggies. The result is a guide essential for any home cook/gardener who wants to best from any size garden effort.

The Railroading Shelf

Great American Railroad Stories
Trains Magazine
Kalmbach Publishing
21027 Crossroads Circle, Waukesha, WI 53187-1612
9781627001823, $24.99,

Kalmbach Publishing is best known for its crafts titles, but this standout gathers over seventy years of train articles from the definitive Trains Magazine - many of which have not been printed since their original appearance in the magazine. It pairs these articles with historical photos and reflections of the magazine's editors and contributors, and gathers under one cover a range of diverse and appealing train stories. Train buffs will find this the perfect item of choice for entertaining and historical reflection.

The Business Shelf

Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612

Susan Fowler's WHY MOTIVATING PEOPLE DOESN'T WORK... AND WHAT DOES: THE NEW SCIENCE OF LEADING, ENERGIZING, AND ENGAGING (9781626561823, $24.95) comes from a top leadership researcher and coach who advocates for something different in the business world: a halt to motivation strategies. People are already motivated - but not necessarily in the ways business can control. Chapters use the latest scientific research to consider models and action that will help leader direct rather than push. The argument is that the usual system of reward attached to motivation lacks because there are better alternatives. Her Optimal Motivation process shows how to address different psychological needs for better results, and makes for a program that provides managers with many alternative approaches. Marcia Reynolds' THE DISCOMFORT ZONE: HOW LEADERS TURN DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS INTO BREAKTHROUGHS (9781626560659, $18.95) shows leaders how to develop specific kinds of conversations that lead to growth and reduce employee resistance to change. It comes from a leadership coach who identifies the Discomfort Zone as an uncomfortable place where individuals are most open to learning and change, considers how leaders can create these strategic zones for optimum results, and blends in recent research in learning to consider what kinds of questions address the brain's built-in defenses and shows how to create atmospheres for optimum acceptance and learning. Both books are recommended picks for business collections strong in leadership and alternative approaches to employee development.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design