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California Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 3 March 2015 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Computer Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Education Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Poetry Shelf Literary Studies Shelf Travel Shelf
Crafts Shelf Business Shelf Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Library Science Shelf Genealogy Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf Military Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Gardening Shelf Judicial Studies Shelf Science Shelf
Photography Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Political Science Shelf
Sports Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Donovan's Small Press Highlights    

Reviewer's Choice

Keith Veronese
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616149727, $25.00,

Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth discusses the waning availability of precious metals on earth, what will happen when they are used up, and how, in particular, life would change if tantalum, rhodium, or niobium vanish. These metals may not be in the popular public eye or language, but they are key components of many consumer products and medical and military devices. Chapters probe chemistry, geology, the political issues involved in mining and using these minerals, and the wars that are being fought to obtain control of tungsten, tin, and others. From black market operations to blossoming demand that's placed these minerals in jeopardy, this is a power reference documenting these minerals and how they might prove game-changes in future struggles.

The Italian Americans
Maria Laurino
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393241297, $35.00,

The Italian Americans: A History blends cultural, political and social history into a lively companion volume to a PBS TV series, covering some 150 years of Italian-American culture and lives. It probes the basics of what makes Italian-Americans a powerful part of this country's heritage, tracing the ethnic and social history of the people and including their immigration patterns, heritage, and colorful lives. From early newly arrived immigrants to modern-day generations, this considers both individuals and the group as a whole, and captures absorbing history along with cultural details from food to both famous and nearly-forgotten characters. Pepper vintage black and white and color photos throughout and you have a solid winning survey recommended for general-interest and history holdings alike.

Telling Deaf Lives
Kristin Snoddon, Editor
Gallaudet University Press
800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695
9781563686191, $34.95,

Telling Deaf Lives: Agents of Change comes from a 2012 Deaf History International Conference which featured nearly thirty presentations from members of Deaf communities around the world who provided their own stories and those of historical Deaf people. It's a diverse collection of experiences from a wide range of individuals from all walks of live, and it recounts growing up deaf under different circumstances. From the story of the first Deaf president of a Japanese school for the Deaf to a family experience during World War II and the development of and influences upon ASL poetry, this is a collection that offers unique stories, unique insights, and is a pick for any collection strong in deaf issues, history, and biographies.

The Computer Shelf

Photoshop Elements 13 for Dummies
Barbara Obermeier and Ted Padova
For Dummies
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781118998601, $39.99,

Photoshop Elements 13 for Dummies is a 'must' for any newcomers to Elements 13 who wants a full-color visual approach to working with the program. It offers not just descriptions of all Elements tools, but insights on how to arrange and work with images, how to use layers and retouching, how to create photo projects and share them, and how to use brushes, drawing, and color modes to bring photos to life. The only prerequisite to using this guide is an ownership of Photoshop Elements 13 and a desire to learn the tools that elevate photos from 'good' to 'great': the visuals here are arranged in a manner that makes it easy for novices to learn and manipulate the program, juxtaposing text instruction with screen shots and color examples throughout.

Murach's Oracle SQL and PL/SQL for Developers, updated edition
Joel Murach
Mike Murach & Associates
4340 North Knoll Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722
97817890774806, $54.50,

Murach's Oracle SQL and PL/SQL for Developers appears in a newly updated edition to cover Oracle Database 11g and 12c, and is a strong recommendation for any who learn how to write, design with, and use Oracle SQL statements and database applications. Chapters begin with the basics of how a database query works before they move on to the design process, so that application developers receive the basics of how to write queries from easy to complex, how to manipulate data, and how to design an application to make optimum use of the SQL process. Only when this foundation is achieved to chapters move on to the nuts and bolts of database design and handling tables. Add the additional positives of the book's coverage of both SQL and PL/SQL, its business-oriented coding examples throughout, and a format that slowly builds from basic to advanced features so that all levels of learner can get up to speed using real-world applications and you have a powerful, highly recommended pick indeed.

Programming Elixir
Dave Thomas, author
Lynn Beighley, editor
Pragmatic Programmers
2831 Eldorado Parkway, #103-381, Frisco, TX 75033-7438
9781937785581, $36.00,

Programming Elixir is edited by Lynn Beighley and reviews the modern language of Elixir for programmers interested in learning a new language filled with macros, protocols, and pattern matching tools. Elixir is built on the Erlang virtual machine and thus it contains much of Erlang's powerful processing capabilities - and if you don't know what that means, that's because Programming Elixir is written with experienced programmers in mind. It skips the usual introductory chapters and assumes a fundamental programming understanding as it uses this foundation to teach new ways of using Elixir to improve coding, and it teaches the essence of writing sequential Elixir code and using its tools and conventions to write concurrent programs. Any seeking to get up to speed with Elixir methods, from sorting data and code-swapping to handling sets and OTP servers, will find this book explores Elixir though a combination of charts, real-world applications, configuration explorations, and more. The result isn't recommended for newcomers to programming; but for those with some basics under their belts who may yet be unfamiliar with Elixir's prowess and promises.

The Art of Game Design, second edition
Jesse Schell
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300
Boca Raton, FL 33487

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses appears in its second updated edition to provide a solid reference for any programmer seeking the basics of computer game development, and is a recommendation for those who want a primer on game design principles and how tactics used in traditional game environments can translate to video games. Chapters provide some hundred sets of questions, or lenses, for viewing a game's design from its psychological tension and connections to and between players to music, visuals, and more. This second updated edition offers wide-ranging topics from developing puzzles that make players think to avoiding the uncanny valley and letting players help balance the game's structure and progression. The result is a solid pick and a 'must' for any collection looking for an in-depth, fundamental textbook on how to design and work with games.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Hexagon Happenings
Carolyn Forster
Landauer Corporation
3100 NW 101st Street, Suite A, Urbandale, Iowa 50322
9781935726661, $27.95,

Hexagon Happenings provides a step-by-step photo guide to the techniques and tools needed to build large hexagon quilts quickly, using a wide range of quilt projects to discuss shapes that can be created using a basic quilting ruler and the hexagon template provided in this book. Some fifteen projects are used to both explain the basics to newcomers and show more advanced quilt artists how to work with hexagon techniques, while over 200 photos and diagrams cover everything from cutting half-hexagons and partials to piecing them together, combining them with other shapes, and using different binding techniques to produce a polished end result. The result is a delightful coverage designed to appeal to any quilter attracted to geometrics in general and hexie shapes in particular.

Think Big
Amy Ellis
Martingale & Company
19021 Avenue NE, Bothell, WA 98011
9781604684445, $24.99,

Think Big: Quilts, Runners, and Pillows from 18" Blocks offers projects for quilts in five sizes and provides charts that show the number of blocks to use for projects in these sizes, which range from runners to king-size quilts. Each block is shown in two or more coordinating projects, backed by full page color photos of both complete projects and close-up swatches showing layout of patterns and more. Cutting charts, step-by-step sewing directions, piecing insights, and ideas for project coordination make this a solid winning guide for any who would use 18" blocks in a variety of ways.

The Social Issues Shelf

Information Doesn't Want to be Free
Cory Doctorow
9781940450285, $22.00,

Information Doesn't Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age considers the present and future of copyright issues in the digital age and considers the problems, special challenges, opportunities, and new models evolving from digital information. The discussion comes from an author and modern philosopher who focuses on the kinds of regulation, rules, and new intermediaries at work in the digital environment. Chapters consider such disparate topics as leaky digital locks, benefits and drawbacks to making money on art that is loved, and acknowledging and understanding piracy in the digital age. The result is a powerful discussion that should be in any computer and many a social issues collection: lively, engrossing, contemporary and hard-hitting.

The Price of Fish
Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris
Nicholas Brealey Publishing
20 Park Plaza, Suite 610, Boston, MA 02116
9781857886221, $22.95,

The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions examines some of the more pressing global problems facing the world today, from global warming and overpopulation to economic crises, and seek to blame four streams of thought on economics, systems management, evolution and choice in a discussion of how to make better decisions that address the wider issues of world problems. From measurements involving share prices and options to target obsession, overreliance on figures and calculations, different ideas of democratic representation, and differences between philosophical, economic and business perceptions, this offers up importance advice on analyzing world issues using a different perspective, and creates a fine new approach recommended for any follower of Wicked Economics.

Children of Afghanistan: The Path to Peace
Jennifer Heath and Ashraf Zahedi, Editors
University of Texas Press
PO Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819
9780292759312, $55.00,

Children of Afghanistan: The Path to Peace is a specialty coverage recommended for any interested in Afghanistan's internal society and politics, and provides the first in-depth book examining how youth living in the country are handling decades of conflict. The fieldwork of over twenty experts covers a range of issues relating to childhood experiences in general and Afghanistan's special circumstances in particular and serve to not only examine these situations and how they affect Afghan children across race, gender and religions, but probes solutions to common problems and issues of how peace may be found despite all. Children of Afghanistan isn't a casual read, but a sweeping, scholarly assessment that is recommended for college-level collections strong in childhood assessments in war-torn regions, social issues, and Afghanistan regional struggles in particular.

The Education Shelf

One Nation Under Taught
Dr. Vince M. Bertram
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780825307447, $21.95,

One Nation Under Taught: Solving America's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Crisis addresses the increasingly strong trend of American students who are unable to compete globally in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, and should be on any educator's self as a key identification of problems. In 2010 only 26% of high school seniors in this country scored at or above proficient level in math, and many students struggle with poor teaching methods and comprehension. This book does more than identify the problem and its sources: it provides a set of guidelines for helping students to succeed in these subjects - and here's what sets its information apart from other discussions of the subject. Any with an interest in these disciplines and their ultimate future in America must have this book.

Revision Decisions
Jeff Anderson & Deborah Dean
Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781625310064, $24.00,

Grades 4-10, and teachers of this group, will benefit from Revision Decisions, a book that offers writers keys to understanding the critical thinking skills needed to evaluate writing. The revision process is all too often left out of overall writer's guides, and can be a confusing process for students - but here it receives full attention with chapters focusing on sentences and how they can be revised. One key to the process is classroom talk: teachers and students alike are shown how group interactions can enhance the revision process, with lessons covering the basics of collaboration, identifying repetition, and choosing the right types of modifications. The result is a top pick for any collection strong in writing and editing approaches for grades 4-10.

Mining Complex Text
Diane Lapp,
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781483316291, $19.50,

Mining Complex Text: Using and Creating Graphic Organizers to grasp content and Share New Understandings is directed to teachers of grades 2-5 and addresses the concern that students are being asked to do more highly advanced thinking and writing without receiving the proper tools that tell them how to get there. This is addressed for appropriate grade teachers in Mining Complex Text, which appears in two volumes and shares ways to use digital and print graphic organizers in class, small group and independent learning situations. Teachers learn how to use all settings to help students reread, take notes, and make the intellectual leaps to contrast the themes of different texts, and it shows how to progressively develop independent thinking among students. What used to be accomplished with the aid of graphic organizers can now serve as a larger part of a teaching vision that no teacher should be without.

A Complete ABA Curriculum series
Julie Knapp, PhD, BCBA-D and Carolline Turnbull, BA, BCaba
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
$79.95 each

A Complete ABA Curriculum for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum comes in four weighty handbooks that include CDs of printable curriculum programs, teaching materials, step-by-step teaching applications, and more. Each book covers a different developmental level, and each uses ABA foundational skills in the process of explaining how to create and apply the ABA curriculum. Book One covers ages 1-4 (9781849059787, $79.95), and covers basic motor skills and cognitive abilities, from attention and eye contact to motor skills, basic language skills, and more. Instructions receive exact guidelines paired with real-world situations that show how to implement the program, while the CD packs in over 1,000 color picture cards, printable copies of curriculum programs, checklists, and more. Book Two covers ages 3-5 years (9781849059794, $79.95), emphasizing imitation, visual spatial awareness, more advanced language skills, and daily living skills, reinforcing these teachings with a CD and offering target lists, specific tips for task analysis, keys to discriminating sounds and expanding language skills with sentence lengths, and more. Book Three covers ages 4-7 years (9781849059800, $79.95) and that age range is concerned with abstract language development, further social skills development, emotional regulation, and more. These intermediate skills levels are covered in a program that can be customized for individual needs and includes learning routines to be gained from expressive labels of complex emotions, writing simple and complex words, and understanding emotions. Book Four is for 7 years and into young adulthood (9781849059817, $79.95) and includes a focus on organizational skills, self-care, academic and vocational development, and daily living. When taken as a whole, these books pack in an important and wide-ranging program that pairs academics with socialization skills, giving teachers all the tools needed to implement a successful ABA curriculum.

The Teaching Brain
Vanessa Rodriguez with Michelle Fitzpatrick
The New Press
126 Wall Street, Floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781595589965, $26.95,

The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education examines the hard science behind learning and reflects much of the latest scientific trends as it offers insights on how and why humans teach. Most books on education focus on students and the learning process; but this differs in its approach to teaching and the skill sets relating to teaching others, and comes from an educator and Harvard researcher who blend their shared background in education and neuroscience to consider the basic premises involved in teacher efforts and formulas for success. The result is a powerful survey, highly recommended for any interested in the art of teaching.

Animal Shenanigans
Rob Reid
American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838912713, $50.00,

Animal Shenanigans: 24 Creative, Interactive Story Programs for Preschoolers packs in suggestions for musical activities, story programs, animal-based fun interactive adventures, and more, and is a 'must' for any educator working with preschoolers. Chapters provide story program lesson plans for librarians and teachers alike, designed to match picture books with songs, games, and more in lesson plans that can be easily mixed into curriculum and classroom discussions. With two dozen complete 30-minute story programs and some seventy accompanying movement-oriented activities, this is a 'must' for any appealing to who work with small children.

The Cookbook Shelf

Duck & Waffle: Recipes & Stories
Daniel Doherty
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781845339579, $34.99,

Duck & Waffle: Recipes & Stories is the first cookbook from the London restaurant and packs in over a hundred food recipes from a restaurant that only opened in 2012. It takes the signature dishes of the restaurant, adapts them for home cooks, and pairs them with color photos by Anders Schonnemann, but is recommended for readers who like to tackle innovative ingredients and dishes, from a Cuttlefish Risotto with Charred Fennel to Hara Bhara Lamb with Smoky Eggplant and Mint Yogurt and Duck and Waffle with Mustard Maple Syrup.

Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution
America's Test Kitchen
Deborah Broide
9781836493851, $26.95,

There is a wealth of slow cooker recipe collections on the market today: so what makes this a standout, aside from its inclusion of 'healthy' in the title? For one thing, it focuses not just on healthy slow cooking, but how to infuse dishes with potent spices and booze to add flavor. For another, it narrows the possibilities to lean cuts of meat, hearty grains, vegetarian options, and more, with the focus on delivering not just healthier fare, but more vibrant foods to compete well with traditional foods enhanced by the flavor in fat. Think 'slow cooking' and you think 'long' - but many lean dishes don't require the hours and hours of slow cooking that fattier foods require. The result is an appealing, different kind of slow cooker approach that is not only truly different, but tried and tested by the staff of America's Test Kitchen.

The Poetry Shelf

The Dollhouse Mirror
Frank Watson
Plum White Press
9781939832122, $6.99,

The Dollhouse Mirror provides a doll's-eye view out the window and tells of life through a series of vignettes and insights that are short, precise, and reflective observations. The twist is the perspective as the doll observes the 'girl of her dreams' and also the wider world this embraces, while the works themselves are particles of insight and wonder that are vivid and revealing: "alone among the flowers/sleeping beneath the sun/our love's a fallen shower/whose water path has run." Blend in tarot and emotional connection and you have a vivid stream of thought that is reflective and engrossing!

The Literary Studies Shelf

Whitman Among the Bohemians
Joanna Levin & Edward Whitley, Editors
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609382728, $47.50,

Whitman Among the Bohemians explores the many connections Whitman made at Pfaff's beer cellar in the 1860s and the effects these connections held for his writing and perspective, and is one of the few Whitman coverages to draw close connections between his personal life and the social interactions offered at Pfaff's. Essays place Whitman's contributions in context of wider literary history and social issues, considering the evolution of his thought, literature, and community connections and the arguments about theater and literary perspective that arose from his life and times. The result is a powerful survey that is recommended for any interested in Whitman's works and their underlying influence and social connections.

The Travel Shelf

Moon Hawaiian Islands
Kevin Whitton
Moon Publications
c/o Avalon Travel
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781612388311, $24.99,

Moon Hawaiian Islands provides visitors to the islands a two-week itinerary to covering all of the islands, discussing the attributes of each one, how to choose the perfect island for a particular interest, and options for staying and visiting each island. Other books on Hawaii often offer single-island focus, but having all the islands under one cover - and presuming one would want to visit them all in an island-hopping vacation - means that this publication is especially handy for the destination visitor who wants to see them all in one trip.

Slow Train to Switzerland
Diccon Bewes
Nicholas Brealey Publishing
20 Park Plaza, Suite 610, Boston, MA 02116
9781857886252, $19.95,

Slow Train to Switzerland doesn't take your usual journey via rail: indeed, it's actually two journeys: one undertaken by a pioneering female member of the Junior United Alpine Club in 1863, when her group made a historic train trip from England through the Swiss Alps; the other undertaken by the author, who was inspired to try to recreate her journey using her journal as his guide. The complete title of the book is actually Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years - and a World of Change Apart and the most fascinating aspect of this survey is its dual story of the same trip undertaken at very different times: one in the early days of tourism which meant 18-hour travel days under primitive conditions; the other undertaken in modern times where the author travels by train, boat and foot over the Alps. It's also a story of how tourism changed Switzerland from the poorest nation in Europe to one of the wealthiest in the world; so its varied attractions will appeal not just to the usual audience of rail buffs, but to any interested in the changing nature and culture of international travel and its lasting impact on not just adventurer, but the world around him.

The Crafts Shelf

Art Journal Courage
Dina Wakley
North Light Books
c/o F+W Media
1140 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10001
9781440333705, $24.99,

Art Journal Courage: Fearless Mixed Media Techniques for Journaling Bravely is for any who want to journal in handwriting, and discusses everything from developing a handwriting style to adding drawings and developing a unique art perspective to creating a journal. As chapters add mixed-media techniques to help overcome fears of using new materials, teaching the basics of adding photos, art, and written word to the journal effort, they successful address eight common journaling concerns while providing techniques that bolster creativity and courage. Add in dozens of art journal page examples and you have a colorful, inviting presentation perfect for any working on journaling projects.

Convertible Crystal Jewelry
Diane Whiting
Kalmbach Books
21027 Crossroads Circle, Waukesha, WI 53187-1612
9781627000567, $21.99,

Convertible Crystal Jewelry is about creating jewelry that is flexible enough to twist, reverse, flip, or expand, and uses over twenty projects with color photos and step-by-step directions to show how such pieces can be created. The emphasis on swappable styles allows any given piece to change, and chapters show how to take one project and give it twists that can make it apply to a range of wardrobes and matching styles. From spotlights on techniques to materials, tools, and embellishments, this is a craft approach that should not be missed by jewelry makers who want to produce more than singular pieces.

The Business Shelf

Search Engine Marketing, Inc., third edition
Mike Moran and Bill Hunt
IBM Press
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
9780133039177, $44.99,

Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Website appears in its third updated edition to explore the basics of how to make a company website a profitable venture, and addresses a range of technical, business and computer challenges key to optimizing a company's position in a search engine process. Chapters consider creating a program based on a customer's search process, and surveys business goals, how to measure search results, and how to get the most results from a company website. The result is a powerful survey recommended for business and computer holdings alike.

Designing and Conducting Survey Research
Louis M. Rea and Richard A. Parker
c/o Wiley Trade Publishing Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781118767030, $75.00,

Designing and Conducting Survey Research offers a fine coverage of the processes and use of survey research, updating a 1992 publication that has since become the standard reference in the field for managers responsible for conducing surveys and analyzing their results. This update includes new examples from recent research, step-by-step directions for implementing analysis using SPSS, updated ethical discussions, and more. From surveying special populations to using focus groups, outlining results in histograms, and more, this is a solid guide no market research company should be without.

Boards That Excel
B. Joseph White
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
9781626562226, $29.95,

Boards That Excel: Candid Insights & Practical Advice for Directors uses stories and case history examples to provide details from an experienced corporate and nonprofit director and academic who argues that in order to truly guide organizations, boards and directors must move beyond their defined duties to monitor an organization's management process. Chapters cover exactly how this can be done, based on the author's own experience with two successful companies, and considers both public and private institutions and how boards do work. Any involved in marketing research and board management will find this a key business guide.

Employee Engagement
Emma Bridger
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749472016, $37.95,

Employee Engagement covers HR basics and joins others in the 'HR Funadmentals' series offering a practical approach to HR management systems and practices. HR professionals will find here a specific guide to understanding the process of employee engagement and building upon that process. It's not just theory-driven, alone: case histories from good-sized companies such as Capital One, healthcare systems, justice systems, and more demonstrate how these employee engagement routines work in a range of diverse business settings, and offers up an assessment of common barriers that arise when employee engagement practices are undertaken. It's the case studies which really drive this book, cementing theory and application and showing how different approaches work in real-world business situations.

Staying the Course As a CIO
Jonathan M. Mitchell
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781118968871, $50.00,

Staying the Course As a CIO: How to Overcome the Trials and Challenges of IT Leadership joins others in the Wiley CIO series providing information and tools to IT managers, and comes from an experienced CIO that covers the basics of IT functions and how leaders can handle common challenges ranging from shaky software applications and vanishing budgets to the drive to outsource, and the need to understand which business pursuits lend to outsourcing and which are better kept in-house. Chapters use IT case histories, charts and graphs, and discussions of work ethics and IT division services to explore the mechanics of CIO operations and common areas of diversion. With its specific case histories, models, and discussions, Staying the Course As a CIO will appeal to any who want a clearer understanding not only of IT functions, but common barriers to success.

The Birth of a Brand
Brian Smith
Beyond Words Publishing
20827 NW Cornell Road, Suite 500, Hillsboro, OR 97124
9781582705354, $24.00,

The Birth of a Brand: Launching Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Soul comes from the founder of the UGG Australia brand and offers a series of success, failure and near-disaster stories as he follows his company's upward drive to success. It comes from a mentor and business leader who uses his own experiences as the foundation for finding passion, creating a business from it, then incorporating that into wider life goals. Chapters take the form of covering the 'birth process', from infancy and toddler years to tweens, high school, and college. This approach offers a more methodical assessment than most and more clearly documents the various stages of branding a business, making for a lively and readable pick recommended for any small business reader.

Imagine This
Maxine Clair
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781932841831, $15.00,

IMAGINE THIS: CREATING THE WORK YOU LOVE belongs in self-help and small business collections alike, and pairs a memoir of personal growth with a discussion of creativity and how to direct it into a suitable outlet. The author only began developing her literary career at mid-life, after realizing that she lacked creative expression in her life and wanted something more. Her journey results in step-by-step advice paired with exercises that teach how to touch and hone one's creative impulses. From cultivating receptivity to using meditation, there are a wide range of paths that can lead to success: readers should be suitably flexible to consider many alternatives to convention creative exercises, which means IMAGINE THIS will be perfect for new age readers, as well!

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

How I Shot the YouTube Megahit All By Myself on my iPhone and Why I'm Not Lonely Anymore
Richard Dunn
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
Kindle Edition, $5.99,

How I Shot the YouTube Megahit All By Myself on my iPhone and Why I'm Not Lonely Anymore appears in a limited collector's edition to tell how one individual with no budget, crew, or expertise became an Internet sensation with over 20 million views on his iPhone, and provides a fine guide to shooting videos on one's own iPhone. All it takes is an iPhone and a different way of perceiving the world with it - and this book, which excels in descriptions of editing, timing during shoots, creating short summary lists of all locations, and more. With this in hand, virtually any iPhone user can achieve success.

Hollywood Traitors
Allan H. Ryskind
Regnery History
c/o Regnery Publishing, Inc.
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9781621572060, $29.99,

Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters: Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler exposes a myth about the Hollywood blacklist that has received so much historical attention: and that is, the alleged victims of this blacklist were actually Stalinists committed to introducing socialism to the U.S. by violence, if necessary. Chapters come from the son of Max Brothers screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, who grew up in Hollywood and knew many involved in this event: his background combines with historical analysis to consider how Hollywood screenwriters of the times served Communist ideals contrary to national interests. Whether you agree or not, an intriguing case is made, with historical facts reinforcing events, making for a title that should be in any Hollywood history collection.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

New Life Stories
Hilary H. Carter
Ayni Books
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781782796633, $19.95,

New Life Stories: Journeys of Recovery in a Mindful Community reveals a community in northern Thailand which is devoted to mindful recovery, where people from all over the world can learn to discover a new life. Here ten residents of the New Life Foundation share their stories of this community, its purposes, and its effects on their own lives, providing autobiographical narratives steeped in spiritual and personal reflection. It's a fine recommendation for any interested in alternative communities.

Secrets of Ancient America
Carl Lehrburger
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591431930, $25.00,

Secrets of Ancient America: Archaeoastronomy and the Legacy of the Phoenicians, Celts, and Other Forgotten Explorers provides a new alternative history of America that gathers evidence of ancient explorers before Columbus, and shares some 25 years of the author's personal research and travel to archaeological sties around North America. It challenges the Columbus story, examining myths and painting new possibilities, and it blends epigraphy, archaeoastronomy and analysis in its search for evidence of pre-Columbian explorers in pre-Columbus America. Over 300 photos and drawings of sites, relics, and discoveries takes the works of many well-known researchers a step further in pointing out controversies, coverups and evidence of alternative history facts. The result is a powerful, well-documented survey recommended for new age and history holdings alike.

Strange Electromagnetic Dimensions
Louis Proud
New Page Books
c/o Career Press Inc.
220 West Parkway, Unit 12, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
9781601633279, $16.99,

Strange Electromagnetic Dimensions: The Science of the Unexplainable offers a different approach to new age readers, maintaining that at times natural phenomena have supernatural consequences, and exploring how an invisible electromagnetic web interactions with and influences ESP, UFOs, psychokinesis, and more. It goes a step further in exploring how the artificial energies humans have introduced to the environment are changing how people have traditionally experienced paranormal phenomenon, and it offers wide-ranging but related explorations as disparate as whether humans possess an as-yet unexplored 'sixth sense' connected to magnetism, whether being struck by lightning can result in developing psychic abilities, and the causes of microwave auditory effects. The result is a powerful survey new age readers will relish.

Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple
Robert Waggoner & Caroline McCready
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573246415, $19.95,

Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple provides all the tools readers need to become lucidly aware, stay lucid, and use the lucid state for personal growth. For the uninitiated, it's about consciously deciding what actions to perform while in a dream state, exploring a dream space, and learning how to become free of waking-state limitations to evoke creativity and make the most of hidden or subconscious abilities. Chapters discuss the psychology of concentrated focus, the state and use of lucid dreaming techniques, how to achieve healing and transformation from lucid dreaming, and how to move and meditate while in a dream state. The result takes all kinds of ideas and applies them to the methods and applications of the dream state, and is recommended for new age and psychology readers alike.

The Mindfulness Habit
Kate Sciandra
Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738741895, $16.99,

The Mindfulness Habit provides a powerful guide to 'living the moment' and not only admonishes the value of so doing (that's been covered before), but presents step-by-step techniques and exercises that focus on habits that can be developed to make such mindful living an instinctive choice rather than an effort. It's this effort to cover the differences between meditation and mindfulness, to build a 'mental toolkit' of options and apply them to everyday living, and to understand the common pitfalls of 'living in the moment' that sets The Mindfulness Habit apart from the many, many other books on the topic. It's basically applied new age science, moving neatly beyond ideals to address the applications and 'how-to' process of mind/body science, which makes it a special recommendation above similar-sounding books.

The Library Science Shelf

The Accidental Data Scientist
Amy Affelt
Information Today Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750
9781573875110, $39.50,

The Accidental Data Scientist: Big Data Applications and Opportunities for Librarians and Information Professionals shows information professionals how to develop new approaches to merging their training with new tools and techniques to create Big Data research deliverables, and is a recommended reference for any interested in library and information science. It considers the role of big data in all kinds of settings, from medicine to atmospheric science, and it discussions operations and big data management of all kinds of companies. The result is a fine reference data librarians and managers will find key.

Handbook of Academic Writing for Librarians, revised edition
Christopher V. Hollister
Association of College & Research Libraries
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838987360, $56.00,

Handbook of Academic Writing for Librarians appears in a revised, updated edition to cover both the elements, style, and mechanics of good academic writing and its applications in variety of scenarios, and covers not just the basics of producing a scholarly paper, but assessing and submitting it to journals. Chapters cover broad topics from how manuscripts are reviewed and processed to understanding journal ranking systems, peer review processes, contrasting academic with nonacademic journals and processes, and more. The result is an excellent critical survey librarians will find tailored to their academic needs and useful for critiquing writings and journals alike.

The Genealogy Shelf

The People of Ireland, Volumes 1-4
David Dobson
Clearfield Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211

Four volumes in The People of Ireland 1600-1699 provide genealogical researchers with specific information key to overcoming the special challenges involved in tracing Irish roots, making for a top reference that's a 'must' for any surveying their own family roots. Part One (9780806352623, $20.50), Part Two (9780806354217, $20.50), Part Three (9780806355351, $20.50) and Part Four (9780806357027, $16.50) each pack in Irish surnames and references to historical records surrounding them. Together they bring relatively obscure material together, gathering primary sources from government records to other European resources and adding the details useful to identifying the location of particular surnames or families of the 17th century. The focus on ordinary people across Ireland makes for a series packed with source citations and data key to making genealogical connections.

The Christian Studies Shelf

The Spiritual Meaning of the Liturgy
Goffredo Boselli
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814649060, $19.95,

The Spiritual Meaning of the Liturgy comes from one of Europe's premier liturgical theologians and provides a collection especially recommended for scholars and theologians interested in the meaning of the liturgy and its applications to everyday life and spirituality. It considers the work of God in the community, examines the holy reality of the church as the body of Christ in the world, and draws connections between Christian thinking and the enactment of the Eucharist in communities. The result is a powerful spiritual analysis highly recommended for any Christian thinker.

Dear White Christians
Jennifer Harvey
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802872074, $25.00,

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation argues for a big change in how justice-committed white Christians think about race. She advocates something radical, instead: a migration from reconciliation to reparations, and she uses the history of activist Christians toward the end of the Civil Rights movement to consider how white racial identity can help counter oppression. With its call to action for white people who are concerned about issues of justice and injustice, this analysis blends with prophetic insights and bible-based calls for action to make for a solid, scholarly survey for collections strong in Christian social ethics.

The Military Shelf

Modern American Snipers
Chris Martin with
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250067173, $26.99,

Modern American Snipers: From the Legend to the Reaper - on the Battlefield with Special Operations Snipers considers the world of the special operations sniper, covering the career of Chris Kyle, a powerful special ops sniper, and including commentary from those who fought with him. Snipers have played key roles in the War on Terror and have proven to be a powerful force in conflict: this narrow focus on how snipers operate in military settings is a 'must' for any who would understand the history, individual sniper actions, and the overall presence and effects of sniper forces on the field.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Bridge
Robert Knott
Random House Audio Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 5th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553398144, $35.00,

THE BRIDGE takes a Robert B. Parker theme, adds new life and embellishments by Robert Knott, is narrated in an unabridged production by Rex Linn, and returns Marshals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to attention. They're back in Appaloosa and facing a quiet time, until a storm of night riders carrying dangerous intent comes to town. When a sheriff and his deputies go missing when they investigate, it's up to Cole and Hitch to look into matters, until a traveling troupe with a beautiful woman enters the picture. Twists and turns of plot and intrigue keep the story line vivid and fast-paced.

El Cerrador Mi Vida
Mariano Rivera con Wayne Coffey
Hachette Audio Books
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781478953043, $30.00,

It's unusual to have an audio narrated entirely in Spanish, but El Cerrador Mi Vida, covering the life and times of the sports great, is an usual presentation that will appeal to any Spanish listener interested in Mariano Rivera's life. His autobiography traces the history of the sport and his role in it, and comes to life in audio as no book could duplicate. The result is a powerful survey that will excite Spanish-speaking audio listeners who have too long been left out of the audiobook world, and offers a vivid account of the sports team player and how he made it to fame against many odds.

The Gardening Shelf

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds
Katrina Blair
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781603585163, $29.95,

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the first to cover edible weeds, and features thirteen wild plants located around the world, from dandelion and mallow to plantain and thistle: plants deemed 'pests' in many locales. Readers will be surprised to learn that not only do they grow everywhere, earning their reputation as weeds, but they can be easily used as both food and medicine with minimal effort. Over a hundred recipes teach how to prepare these wild plants: Clover Flower Apple Pie, Lambsquarter Quiche, Wild Mustard Nori Chips, and more provide inviting recipes that take traditional dishes and give them a fresh new additional perspective. Add discussions of medicinal applications and you have a guide that any natural foods enthusiast or gardener will find appealing.

The Judicial Studies Shelf

Juvenile Justice, fourth edition
Preston Elrod & R. Scott Ryder
Jones & Bartlett Learning
5 Wall Street, Burlington, MA 01803
9781284031126, $172.00,

The fourth updated edition of Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical, and Legal Perspective includes an online access code and provides a completely revised, updated edition of the Essential Juvenile Justice Textbook, recommended for any college-level legal studies collection. This fourth edition packs in more photos, covers ideas of juvenile justice in other societies and cultures, incorporates the latest findings on juvenile justice court cases and systems, and includes full student access to its companion website. The result is packed with student and instructor resources and is a 'must' for any collection strong in justice courses and legal issues pertaining to juveniles.

The Science Shelf

Designing and Conducting Survey Research, fourth edition
Louis M. Rea and Richard Parker
c/o Wiley Trade Publishing Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781118767030, $75.00,

Designing and Conducting Survey Research appears in its fourth updated edition and could have been featured in our Business Shelf section, but is reviewed here for its powerful explanation of the survey research process, which lends to an invaluable reference across disciplines. New to this edition are more examples from recent real-world research, updated ethical insights relating to the survey research process, guidelines for using cell phone samples and Internet surveys, and insights on how to adapt the multicultural survey process. From understanding basic underlying statistical concepts to analyzing survey results, this reference is recommended beyond its intended business readers and the fourth updated edition fills many gaps and provides the latest key information and insights, making for a top recommendation.

The Sound Book
Trevor Cox
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393350586, $16.95,

The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World is a recommendation for any who want a lively survey of sound in both its physical scientific enactment and as it's experienced by humans, and it offers a unique focus on the world's 'most unexpected sounds', from the longest echo in a hidden cave in Scotland to the singing sand dunes of California. It's a focus on unusual acoustics and in the process of exploring and revealing the extraordinary, it provides a fascinating account of how sound works and its many unique, compelling attributes. General-interest science readers will especially appreciate the lively tone of this survey!

The Photography Shelf

Klemantaski: Master Motorsports Photographer
Paul Parker
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9780760346440, $75.00,

Klemantaski: Master Motorsports Photographer comes from a photographer who did more than just capture the highlights of auto racing: he moved on and off the course, in the paddock and infield, and even rode in a race car to capture some of the greatest photos in motorsports history. This survey captures his art and images and is the only book in print devoted to the entirety of his art. Hundreds of his images are presented here in a guide that covers all kinds of racing, from grand Prix highlights to F1 and beyond. He worked just before World War II through the early 1970s - an era considered the heyday of motor racing - and his images are striking tributes to not only his specific art and to the motor racing history it celebrates, but to the finer art of capturing a car race. A 'must' for both motorsports and sports photography holdings alike, Klemantaski: Master Motorsports Photographer is a winning presentation that will delight any with an affection for car racing.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Strands of Sorrow
John Ringo
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476736952, $25.00,

Strands of Sorrow is set in a dystopian world where Sophia and Faith have had to grow up fast in an infected world. As daughters of a leader, they've become zombie hunters of great prowess - and, surprisingly, they may also hold the power to save civilization itself. Their squadron has a plan to preserve uninfected humans and thwart the zombie threat - but it's a make-or-break plan, because the cost of failure will be the fall of human civilization. This gripping conclusion to Ringo's series is especially recommended for prior fans who will have already appreciated characters and setting, and who will be primed for this final battle. Expect a blend of military-style sci-fi action and coming of age, all integrated with the backdrop of a world divided by the inhumanity of the infected and the last vestiges of humanity in the uninfected.

The Political Science Shelf

Geopolitics, third edition
Saul Bernard Cohen
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442223493, $125.00,

The third updated edition of Geopolitics: The Geography of International Relations is a pick for college-level social science and geography holdings alike, and comes form an author who assembles a geopolitical model to help readers understand the importance of geography to international relations. It blends geographic and human elements with political background and details that imbed geopolitical theory in everyday life and world experiences, comes form one of the world's leading political geographers, and strives to avoid jargon so that it can reach a wider audience. This revised textbook considers the world changes brought about by economic, demographic and political forces since the end of the Cold War, and it discusses the different, changing, fluid geopolitical features of different countries and regions and how they interact. College-level readers will find this an involving, specific text.

The Sports Shelf

Out There: A Story of Ultra Recovery
David Clark
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781499721195, $14.99 (PB), $5.99 (Kindle),

Out There: A Story of Ultra Recovery offers an inspiring memoir of an athlete who came from a background not of training and fitness, but from addition and obesity. Ironically, it's this background that makes Out There such an inspirational stand-out, offering hope for others who may be in such a condition, who might not dream - without this book - that things could be radically different. Clark grew up poor, homeless, and a vagabond, traveling the country in his father's pickup truck. The fact that he owned a chain of 13 retail stores before he was thirty should offer ample warning that Clark is no ordinary individual; but he lost everything to addition and a series of poor choices fueled by a falling economy. His rode to recovery involved losing some 150 pounds and totally changing his lifestyle - and Out There is truly an inspirational memoir of 'ultra-recovery' on a high level, offering a powerful saga of hope for any who struggle under similar conditions.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Rainer Rey
Turner Publishing Company
200 - 4th Avenue North, Suite 950, Nashville, TN 37219
9781620459928, $17.95,

Cosmosis provides an absorbing adventure thriller as it tells of Jason and Madison, who learn that their parents' mysterious deaths may just hold the key to a wider danger that could ultimately destroy humanity as a whole. Jace and his sister discover that both their parents played pivotal roles in the search for a source of limitless energy - and their mission to complete their parents' dream places them in direct conflict with mercenary forces that will kill any who get to the source of the riches first. Readers who appreciate a high-octane energy-driven thriller will find this story riveting.

Scorched Eggs
Laura Childs
Berkeley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425255599, $25.95,

SCORCHED EGGS provides a fun Cackleberry Club mystery that includes egg recipes and breakfast dishes, and serves up more than a hint of intrigue in the process. Suzanne is getting her hair colored when the office next door goes up in flames, taking with it a Club friend. When arson is uncovered, the mystery revolves around whether their friend was an accidental victim or part of a bigger plot - and it's up to the club to investigate. A fun meal is served up in the course of a whodunit that offers many involving possibilities.

Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant
Hy Conrad
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451470584, $23.95,

Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant returns an obsessive detective to the forefront, is based on the USA Network TV series by Andy Breckman, and here has Monk and Natalie settled into a new office. While many of the changes in their lives are positive ones, there are negatives, also: a new lieutenant is wrecking havoc on their processes even as Monk uncovers the murder of a judge at the funeral, and employs his superior Sherlock Holmes-type powers of deduction to decide an intruder poisoned the judge in his home. When his captain exhibits the same symptoms, Monk decides there's a greater plot and purpose evolving, and he's forced to use all his abilities to uncover the perp. The joy of Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant is its attention to detecting detail, a quirky investigator who can't leave well enough alone, and a story line that both stands well on its own and draws upon past events, lending to access by newcomers and old fans alike.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Intolerant Bodies
Warwick Anderson and Ian R. Mackay
The Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
9781421415338, $25.95,

INTOLERANT BODIES: A SHORT HISTORY OF AUTOIMMUNITY joins others in the publisher's series on disease histories and presents collaboration between Ian Mackay, one of the founders of clinical immunology, and Warwick Anderson, a historian of biomedical science. Lab research, social theory, and medicine come together in a history of the nature and concept of pathogenesis and autoimmune diseases, highly recommended for any collection strong in health history.

Mobile Integrated Healthcare
MedStar Mobile Healthcare
Jones & Bartlett Learning
5 Wall Street, Burlington, MA 01803
9781449690168, $93.95,

Mobile Integrated Healthcare: Approach to Implementation discusses a community-based health management system that is integrated with the overall health system and which describes how to implement a mobile program that serves the EMS community and other medical professionals, and is a top recommendation for any who require step-by-step discussions of community needs, patient management, and common obstacles to implementing a successful program. The text comes from leaders in the EMS field who offer insights into the process of integration and management, from working with social workers and community organizations to managing and maintaining a mobile healthcare system. The result is a detail-oriented, specific guide highly recommended for any professional considering a mobile healthcare approach to EMS services.

Family Medicine: Ambulatory Care and Prevention, sixth edition
Mindy A. Smith,
c/o McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
9780071820738, $67.00,

Family Medicine: Ambulatory Care and Prevention isn't for the home health reference collection, but is designed as a clinical manual for outpatient medicine and family practice, and provides details on the most common complains, conditions and diseases that are encountered in family health settings. It provides details on diagnosis and treatments and arranges these details in such a way that side effects, medicine dosages, and drug interaction information assumes at-a-glance ease. Now, other books on the topic are arranged differently: this manual is designed for primary health care settings and speed of use, and thus alters its organization with both in mind. This sixth updated edition provides all the basics a good, solid clinical reference requires.

Kara M.L. Rosen
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784720353, $14.99,

Plenish! Juices to Boost, Cleanse & Heal may sound like another juice recipe book; but it's so much more: it links juice recipes with health objectives for serious readers who are either embarking on a cleanse program or looking to link juice consumption with better health, and it's packed with combinations of juices paired with tips on buying produce, combining fruits and vegetables in juice form, adjusting juices for thick or thin concoctions, and more. Chapters packed with color photos and illustrations throughout are also packed with discussions of common health issues from chronic fatigue to hypertension and skin problems, with nutrition discussions accompanying each juice recipe. The result is featured in our Health section to help emphasize that it's more than a 'cookbook': it's a health-oriented focus on how juices and using them properly can make a difference.

Donovan's Small Press Highlights

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
Laxmi Hariharan
9781502773777, $11.13,

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer perfectly captures the layers and psyche of Bombay, an Indian world that is too rarely featured in adult novels, much less young adult fiction, and centers upon a feisty teen whose best friend has been kidnapped by an evil despot.

Now, given its dystopian background, the temptation would be to label this story as a fantasy; but that would be a shame, because it's also a young adult thriller and detective story wrapped in the guise of a futuristic urban world where a city is failing and a girl finds herself charged with saving what she can.

This is no light read: steeped in the culture and atmosphere of Bombay but with a futuristic twist, it will attract young adult into adult audiences with its realistic characters and events that documents an increasing lack of choices, fueled by anger, injustice, and struggle. The detective/thriller aspects are nearly adult in their depth and orientation, which means that an advanced young adult reader audience is recommended for a different kind of coming-of-age saga: one that is immersed in political and social conflict.

As Ruby follows the trail of her friend into a maze of social injustices, turning her status as a runaway into one of a freedom fighter, readers are presented with a powerful character who doesn't know when to quit and won't accept easy answers as the solutions to either her personal challenges or the wider world around her.

It's her attitude that serves as a pivot point for an entire city's possibilities and failures - and her struggles that neatly immerse readers in an effort that does lend choice and new possibilities to even the most impossible scenarios.

In the end it's not only Ruby who has many lives and many possible paths: it's the reader who follows her journey to self-realization and newfound perspectives. And perhaps this is the greatest strength of all in a dystopian young adult novel that presents so much more than a singular, easy path.

Microfarming for Profit from Garden to Glory
Dave DeWitt
Torrey House Press
2806 Melony Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84124
9781937226381, $22.95,

It's unusual to find a gardening guide - even one oriented toward commercial endeavors - that combines solid business savvy with a farming reference from the "pope of Peppers" (as the New York Times described the author's passion for chile peppers), but Microfarming for Profit from Garden to Glory performs both functions with equal ardor and is especially recommended for entrepreneurs who want a business guide to turning under-used or unused land into a profitable microfarm.

The focus isn't just on your usual farming methods and gardening tips: it's about how to turn a profit by choosing high-value crops and animals, an approach that uses the author's own experience with microfarm management as a foundation for exploring how to choose high-profit crops, market and sell them most efficiently, and how to create products geared to increasing a farm's profitability.

This spotlight comes packed with advice on how to integrate business concerns with typical farming styles, from considering regional trends and the pros and cons of different crops and their management to discussions of how other microfarms have experienced success through alternative methods.

Liberally peppered with color photos of individuals and farms throughout, Microfarming for Profit from Garden to Glory excels in lively discussions, concrete examples, and first-person stories of how the author (and others) has turned farming business challenges into successes.

No generalities or theory here: this is all applied wisdom - which is why it works so well! Readers who want to turn their few acres into a profitable business venture would do well to turn to Microfarming for Profit as the first approach to turning an idea into reality.

After the People Lights Have Gone Off
Stephen Graham Jones
Dark House Press
c/o Curbside Splendor Publishing
9781940430256, $15.95,

Think Joe Lansdale (after all, he does write the introduction), some of Stephen King's darker supernatural short stories, and other artists of literary supernatural productions when pursuing After the People Lights Have Gone Off, a treasure trove of the macabre, and you'll have a sense of just how special these fifteen stories of the supernatural are for horror fans who tire of the too obvious, the too predictable, and the too mundane.

The title alone tells you're in for a treat, and there's no disappointment in the follow-up of the stories, either: each taps into an underlying sense of horror in everyday events.

Any good horror story takes on a thread of uncertainty, possibility, and primary danger and slowly winds it out to its fullest scenarios. If you've read Alfred Hitchcock's Stories Not for the Nervous, it's the same kind of approach: an attention to taking the ordinary and mundane where evil is a kernel of one possibility, and stretching it to where horror becomes the focal point and conclusion of the story.

While Hitchcock attached a particular formula brand of psychological tension to his classic collections of yesteryear, Jones is constrained by nothing, here. Thus, readers can expect vampires, aliens, murderers and more to pop up and influence outcomes. This no-holds-barred approach succeeds in creating a diverse, unpredictable collection that is the hallmark of exceptional horror writing, taking seemingly-tired, overused themes and injecting new elements of tension and surprise into their end results.

So go ahead - imbibe. There are no boundaries constraining the definition of 'horror' here: and while readers who want such boundaries may find the diversity challenging, it's the staid horror enthusiast who longs for surprising twists and turns who will find in After the People Lights Have Gone Off a treasure trove of the macabre and the unexpected.

The Doors You Mark Are Your Own
Aleksander Tuvim
Dark House Press
c/o Curbside Splendor Publishing
9781940430201, $16.95,

Be forewarned: The Doors You Mark Are Your Own is the first book of the 'Joshua City Trilogy' (translated by Okla Elliott and Raul Clement), and presents a post-apocalyptic world where technology is uncertain, water is a rarity, and the Baikal Sea has been poisoned.

In true Soviet writing style, it's a story of political corruption and struggle (in this case, for control of Joshua City) and it provides a novel of angst and conflict steeped in social and political scenarios that reek of despots, wars, violence, and an underground group's resistance efforts.

To call this effort a novel of a dystopian world would be to simplify its focus on social and political change; for it's here that The Doors You Mark Are Your Own truly shines, foregoing the usual focus on individual protagonists in favor of a broader perspective observing social structure and political strife.

That's not to say that there is no individuality here: characters and their motivations do lie at the heart of these struggles. It is to say that the overall focus on survival and the choices presented in this kind of futuristic society becomes the driving force of a story steeped in major conflicts, the horrible things individuals do in the name of personal and political survival, and a world in which rich possibilities for some turn into dead ends for others.

Readers who expect a fairly linear story line and predictable outcomes may find themselves challenged by the depth of relationships explored in The Doors You Mark Are Your Own. There's nothing simple about its plot and nothing predictable about its action: only a relentless progression of special interests, contrasts between past and present worlds, and the motivations and reactions of all sides in an atmosphere packed with angst, anger, and desperation.

It's the reader who enjoys strong social and political threads in their futuristic survival sagas who will most relish the complex approach and presentation of The Doors You Mark Are Your Own.

Letters to Our Missing
Compiled by Media for the Missing
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781499102338, $19.95,

In a way, 'Letters to our Missing': A publication of letters and poems from families to their missing loved ones is the perfect example of a cathartic healing experience, as it offers up a raw set of insights on what families experience as they wait for news of a missing loved one. This set of unedited poems and letters represents an emotional creation that personalizes the results of loss, uncertainty, and the special agony faced by families who simply have no idea what happened.

There's a depth of urgency about these writings; and a candid feel to works that aren't polished up for public inspection, aren't edited down for acceptable content, and are thus well grounded in their complete and raw emotional roots.

To solidify this personal feel, each letter or poem is accompanied by a photo of the missing person, where they went missing, case numbers and agency contact names, and any accompanying Facebook page that might be available - always with the hope that what is lost may someday be found, or resolved.

Reading through these poignant notes, one is left with a sense of the effect of unresolved disappearances: something the news media often glamorizes without adequately capturing. Families and advocates hope that through the publication of this collection, some sense of resolution may be achieved for some of the contributors.

At the least, it's about honoring memories and family connections - and that's where this book really shines.

Driving in Budapest
Gary Brill
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781491289235, $8.99,

To label Driving in Budapest as a 'travel guide' or even a 'travelogue' would be to do it a grave disservice while skirting the edges of a bad definition, because its stories are not about how to navigate one of the oldest cities in the world, but how to handle cultural encounters and the sense of history that's steeped in the city's peoples and byways.

As such, it's more of a cultural inspection than a travel book, and deserves attention by any who are tasked with navigating Europe as a whole.

The scrutiny takes the form of five short stories, each blending history with the feel and interactions of Budapest's culture. While some of the characters in these works are connected, don't expect a linked set of experiences so much as a series of vignettes exploring not just how Budapest is navigated, but how it's perceived and absorbed.

The mode of transport matters not, here: some drive, some walk, and some muse; for explorations of inner worlds are just as important as the face of Budapest and its unique world; making this not a travelogue, but a set of short stories containing psychological depth as well as social observation.

The Cause
Roderick Vincent
Roundfire Books
Julia Drake Public Relations
9781782797630, $20.95,

Thriller stories and dystopian themes occasionally cross paths - but not often enough. And when they do, they typically lean towards one genre formula or another, favoring the devices and approaches of either nonstop action and the twists of a thriller, or a dystopian setting and social/political milieu. Rarely do the two converge in a manner that thoroughly supports both, making for an effective futuristic story well grounded in the action and intrigue that marks the thriller genre - but The Cause achieves this; and does it with such attention to detail that readers will find its story compelling, realistic, and vivid.

In 2022, America is about to collapse, the government has proved itself to be against individual freedoms, surveillance systems have created an effective police state where drones and computers control citizens, and Isse Corvus, a savvy black protagonist, discovers that the leaders of a black-ops training camp are actually revolutionaries seeking to return America to its idealistic roots.

He's not above performing some revolutionary moves himself: as a hacker, he has honed to an art his acts of independence in a society against any individualism. But that doesn't mean he's ready to commit to "The Cause". He is forced to choose a side, and to consequently lose part of his carefully-cultivated individuality.

It should be mentioned, at this point, that this book is first in a projected 'Minuteman' series of dystopian encounters that consider the militarization and control of America; and that it breaks new ground in synthesizing social and political concerns into a thriller format that pits individual against various forces in society.

Battles, gangs, secret control rooms, a hacker group called Anonymous who keeps their real identities firmly under wraps... it's shades of a secret Superman whose choices will ultimately affect the world, and whose decision on what it means to be patriotic will affect his future as an individual and as a part of a rising movement.

The setting is well done and realistic, the motivations of protagonist and competing groups are well drawn, and the tension is placed right where it should be: in the city streets, where survival is questionable.

Readers of thriller and dystopian science fiction formats will find this a satisfying synthesis with some unusual perspectives and twists to keep its action unpredictable.

Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues, revised edition
Paul & Beth Garon
City Lights Publishers
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
9780872866218, $18.95,

Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues updates a prior book, offering a revised, expanded edition of one of the most notable blues artists in American history, and is a recommendation for any collection strong in female musicians or the blues genre.

Memphis Minnie wrote and recorded hundreds of songs; but outside of the blues genre, her name remains largely unknown. This book remains the first (and one of the few) full-length study of her life, art, and times, and uses a blend of psychoanalysis, folklore, music history, and feminist insights to consider her songs and her political impact.

This revised offering includes new biographical material, photos, and memorabilia from ads to sheet music, plus an updated discography.

Anticipate full lyrics, analysis of her poetic writings, and insights on Southern music listeners as well as in-depth discussions of specific songs and why they are notable. This is no light biography: it borders on the scholarly with its discussions of Memphis Minnie's musical collaborations, poetic discussions of the nature and choices of the blues style, and probes of the dialect of blues music.

Any with a special interest in the blues genre will find Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues a powerful discussion fueled by the life and choices of a major figurehead: not recommended for the casual music book reader who seeks a light overview, but for the serious blues fan who always wants more.

The Appleseed Journal
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Abandoned Ladder
9780991577514, $11.99,

While most may readily recognize the name of Johnny Appleseed, which is widely connected with the propagation and popularity of apples, this same audience is just as unlikely to realize that Appleseed was actually a traveling minister with deep spiritual roots - and that he used apple seeding as one device towards the greater purpose of seeding men's souls.

It's about time that a biography of Appleseed were written to capture this little-known facet of his life; but while The Appleseed Journal is a story of spirituality and enlightenment as much as a chronicle of one man's wanderings and calling, and is recommended for any who wondered about the persona and impact of the man in his 1800s world, it would not have come to exist without a chance discovery by the author.

This spiritual fictionalized story begins with a weathered sack, a blue tin box, and an old manuscript after excavating a failed swimming pool from his back yard, discovered to be written by one John Chapman (popularly known as Johnny Appleseed). The author researched the relationship between Appleseed and spiritual leader Emmanuel Swedenborg, coming to understand their spiritual connections and influences - and these facts are incorporated in a story line based around Appleseed's wanderings.

That this is a major facet in the life of a man who today is primarily known for his apple seedlings is astonishing.

Anyone could have produced a biography of Appleseed's life based on Internet research. The fact that this collection of fictionalized stories are driven by Appleseed's own writings makes it an extraordinary piece that deserves a place in any collection serious about spiritual writings in general or Appleseed's life and philosophy in particular. Its lively passion should attract a wide audience.

Lee Bruno
Cameron & Company
6 Petaluma Blvd. North, #B6, Petaluma, CA 94952
9781937359683, $29.95,

2015 is the 100-year anniversary of the Pan-Pacific International Exposition, and already there's two brand new books out on the market exploring this event: one an opulent (and daunting) study that adopts a more scholarly, historical tone as it reviews the architectural wonders of the event, and Panorama, more accessible to general readers, with its 175 vintage images and its story of the world's fair.

Panorama foregoes glitzy color in favor of largely black and white, colorized, and sepia images which succeed in capturing the photography, artwork, and feel of the event. It provides plenty of history - but from the vantage point of participants, performers, artists, and those who attended the festivities; and so it seeks to provide a 'you are there' nostalgic feel to the overall effort, nicely complimenting the much weightier history recently published.

Plenty of information is out there about the event's history; but few books can claim to bring it all to life with visuals that range from initial preparation of the grounds to the exhibits themselves, and how they made it into and outside of the PPIE.

The result will prove much more accessible to general-interest audiences who may have only a cursory knowledge of the Exposition and who want an easy 'in' to learning more about its attractions, history, and lasting impact on modern San Francisco.

Julie Marie Wade
Bywater Books
P.O. Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-3671
9781612940557, $13.95,

Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures uses the image of falling in love to tell the story of Julie Marie Wade's thirst for life, deftly capturing nuances of the human condition and incorporating them into her own fractured world.

It's a saga replete with metaphors and evocative imagery: "Let me dip the ladle further down in time. Let me tell you about the family I was destined to leave behind. There's a word for this too - estrangement." And this is one of the things that sets Wishbone apart from other memoirs: an attention to how erosion happens, how things fall apart and sometimes rejoin, and how family ties can become undone and eventually weave back together.

How does one live a 'life under water'? How do a series of life-altering circumstances evolve from a bee sting, and in what kind of world is "...divorce a kind of death, and marriage also: a passing on from one state of being into another."?

Wade's world and her story of it are whimsical and poignant, and at once serious and light-hearted: bittersweet at its extreme, and powerful in its flights of fancy. Against such a backdrop, one's hopes and inspirations fly: "No one aspires to this: your life contested, your love condemned, a court convened to discuss your rights and merits. The law of the land isn't written in these books. The law of the land is a choke hold and a phonograph: makes you listen to everything you miss."

Memoirs are usually pretty cut and dry; fairly straightforward. Not so Wishbone. If you're looking to fly, make this your runway: it leads straight up into a wide blue sky of emotion and reflection using delightful, metaphorical language not often seen in memoirs.

Adventures of a Lifetime
Janna Graber, Editor
World Traveler Press
9780990878629, $16.95,

Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales from Around the World is for travelers seeking palpable action and 'you-are-there' scenarios from their armchair explorations of the world.

The second book in the World Traveler Tales series, Adventures of a Lifetime gathers over twenty stories of adventure and action. The book follows a similar format and theme to its predecessor, Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the World, but with more remote locales. Such journeys are diverse affairs, ranging from a camel trek in Mali to getting lost in an Indonesian jungle.

Don't use this as a travel guide or as a blueprint for similar sojourns, however: it's not intended that way, and there are plenty of other guidebooks on the market that offer the 'where to go/what to see/where to eat' nuggets of practicality for destination-bound travelers.

Adventures of a Lifetime comes from an award-winning travel journalist with an eye for unusual experiences. She uses her own lifetime of travel encounters to back her perception of what truly stands out in the genre. The stories here are recommended for armchair readers with a thirst for adventure and a passion for first-person accounts of (often poignant) hair-raising encounters.

Hump Pilot
Nedda R. Thomas
History Publishing Company
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road
Palisades, New York 10964-0700
9781940773209, $18.95,

So many books have been written about the pilots and aviation history of World War II that one might wonder about the need for yet another story; but Hump Pilot: Defying Death Flying the Himalayas During World War II offers up something different; although it starts off with the usual biographical mechanism of examining the life of one American pilot.

So what's the difference between this and other accounts? For one, there's a focus on the experience of training to be a pilot versus the actual deployment and in-the-air experience. Under such an approach, readers feel they are in the cockpit with Ned Thomas as he rises to the cause.

For another thing, Hump Pilot emphasizes a particular route (over the most notoriously dangerous mountains in the world, the Himalayas - known as the Hump) and documents how American pilots braved the special challenges of this itinerary to bring resources to both Chinese troops in China and Allied forces in the Pacific.

This has been a little-documented piece of the war, despite all the aviation histories on the market covering other facets of pilot experience, and so Hump Pilot stands out in this arena as a rare survey of Eastern Himalayan dangers and challenges. While other histories cover military transport units, few provide more than a cursory mention of the Hump's special meaning in the war.

Imagine flying over the remote Himalayas with no charts, no navigation tools, and very little information about weather conditions! Imagine providing a solution to the China supply dilemma that involved placing pilot lives on the line with no support and very little information to go on.

Now imagine a history that reads with the drama and immediacy of fiction, and you have an inclination of the special features of Hump Pilot: a story recommended not so much for the technical aviation or military history specialist but for the general-interest reader who may know little about either, but who harbors an affection for vivid stories of death-defying heroism.

Your Next Chapter
Manny Scott
9781500938260, $20.99,

Readers who view the pen on its cover and reference to writing in Your Next Chapter, and who move too quickly to bother reading subtitles, may miss the fact that this book is not actually a writer's guide, but a lifestyle and self-help title - and that might be a good thing; because otherwise it might not wind up in the hands of audiences who are relatively unfamiliar with self-inspection processes.

So let's get it straight: Your Next Chapter: How to Turn the Page and Create the Life of Your Dreams isn't at all about writing (unless you translate it to mean writing your life's purpose): it's about creating avenues for positive change and recognizing one's dreams.

Sound familiar? That's because so many books have already written about this subject in one form or another. What's different in Your Next Chapter is its collection of a diverse range of proven techniques and tools for change; tools that are based on one simple premise: that it's never too late to create more chapters in one's life.

Among the techniques presented herein are assignments and worksheets that range from questions to stimulate honest self-assessment to exercises linking goals to game plans. Each step is covered in chapters that require interactive participation from the reader; so if you're looking for a book of admonitions - look elsewhere.

This approach requires participation and hard work, it asks hard questions and uses the answers in a formula to arrive at better choices, and it covers everything from hidden barriers and attitude changes to love life, educational pursuits, metaphors for living, and adjusting daily routines from morning to night.

In short, it's an action plan. Those who aren't committed to some form of self-assessment and change should look elsewhere. Others who have this objective but have no clue on how to act on it will find Your Next Chapter the perfect roadmap for beginning the journey.

Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools
Barbara Tako
Ayni Books
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781782797753, $14.95,

There are so many books on cancer management and experience on today's market that it's unusual to see one that holds something different on the subject; but Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools comes from the writings of a two-time cancer survivor whose intent is to use her experience to provide tools for recovery from cancer's emotional pain (she is a survivor of breast cancer and melanoma), and it focuses on the emotional needs of patients and their caregivers.

From the moment of diagnosis through treatment and the turmoil that rises and falls like a tide, it provides not just a candid account of the author's own struggles, but adds unexpected humor and tips for perceiving positive paths when facing life-threatening health challenges.

Its pages give clues on how supporters can help, and provide patients with insights on their emotional ups and downs and how to redirect negative impulses into positive results.

Most of all, Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools goes beyond the usual meditation and imagery tips other books provide to impart some candid, different observations - such as how to not shut out those who want to help and, most of all, how to learn to trust one's body again.

If all this sounds too simple, keep in mind that this set of tools is fairly basic. There's no magic in them; but having them all under one cover as a toolbox is a special event: one cancer survivors will want to celebrate.

Relax Kids: How to Be Happy
Martheta Viegas
Our Street Books
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781782791621, $19.95,

Relax Kids: How to Be Happy is an unusual blend of early education, new age, and religion, and encourages developing spirituality in young children through a series of exercises, with the idea that spirituality and well-being are linked.

Chapters come from the founder of the UK-based Relax Kids Ltd. and provide a unique blend of full-page color 'scrapbook'-appearing photos and illustration (designed by Emma Deans and illustrated by Nieda Eyldbots-Smith) along with tips on everything from how to stay calm and how to write a personal prayer to the idea of 'mindfulness' and how to apply it to everyday life.

Each chapter thus is a revelation geared to connecting happiness with spiritual thinking; but be advised: if you're expecting a particular religious approach, this is decidedly non-denominational. That means that no one religion is promoted as 'the one' AND it means that Relax Kids: How to Be Happy can be recommended across the board to any reader who wants to begin early with direct connections between spiritual development and a child's emotional world.

What I Want to Tell Goes Like This: Stories
Matt Rader
Nightwood Editions
Box 1779, Gibsons, BC, Canada, V0N 1V0
9780889713062, $21.95,

What I Want to Tell Goes Like This: Stories actually comes from a poet, and is the first short story collection he's attempted ... and it shows; not because the stories aren't effective, but because the evocative metaphorical power of a poet is evident in description and atmosphere: "Landusky was new and had been pumped into being by the succubus of gold. The cavalry was called in to keep the peace among the dreamers."

One of the stories in this volume, "All This Was a Long Time Ago," won the 2014 Jack Hodgins Founders' Award for fiction from The Malahat Review, while others have appeared scattered in various publications - so if the name and stories of Matt Rader initially sound familiar, you may have seen some of them before.

They share a sense of place (the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC.), a particular focus (labor experiences and regional struggles), and timelines that range from decades prior to modern day (the latter can be somewhat confusing until this is realized and appreciated for the contrasting opportunities it presents).

From controversial experiences such as a union leader's assassination to sexual violence, it's evident that these sometimes-bleak sagas are not for the light-hearted reader seeking entertainment, but for the introspective poetic heart looking for life stories of angst, challenge, social confrontation and recovery.

Under Rader's hand this world comes to life - and perhaps because of his poetic roots, experiences are not just defined, but steeped in atmosphere. So casual short story readers seeking basic entertainment need not look here: these are remarkable, gritty stories of life's dangers, confrontations, and close encounters. As such, readers who enjoy accounts of survival and social inspection will love their focus and depth.

Michael Tobert
Cosmic Egg Books
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781782796817 $16.95

Cryptogram ... Because the Past is Never Past is set in 2050 in northern Europe: a world where the end of war hasn't ended danger. In this world a love triangle survives and prospers, living under a dictator's rule but somehow connected to the dark ages of the Cathar Inquisition of the 13th century.

In such a world, the past is hauntingly near. And in such a world, timelines start, stop, and begin again.

Most dystopian and timeslip science fiction is fairly straightforward reading - even predictable. The same cannot be said of Cryptogram, which is aptly named as it hones its characters through changing settings and excels at keeping readers sharp and on their toes. In other words: those expecting a linear plot, predictable outcomes, and easy timeline transitions should look elsewhere: Cryptogram is not intended as light entertainment for the sci-fi masses.

What it does do is jump around - and, I mean literally. There's a lot of back-and-forth action and connections that will initially confuse readers, but those who persevere will find any initial confusion is worth it in the long run, because it's a circular series of repetitious events that form an intriguing pattern and succeed in immersing readers in a different approach and world than most sci-fi offers.

The three characters are interconnected in more ways than one, and their choices will change not just their lives and world, but the timeline as a whole. Recommended for readers who want complex stories of bleak but challenging (and ultimately invigorating) lives.

Lulu & Pip
Nina Gruener
Cameron & Company
#6 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952
9781937359607, $18.95,

In a young child's life a long, long time ago where was such as picturebook as Lulu & Pip: a classic fairy tale rendered by a larger press publisher through striking photos and an oversized, colorful presentation that made that picture book a standout in this reviewer's life.

Nothing since has offered that same format and impact - not until Lulu & Pip, with its photos by Stephanie Rausser and its homemade doll by Jess Brown.

Any who familiar with San Francisco (as is this reviewer) will find immediate gratification in the oversized city background images which capture such classic shots as the Transamerica pyramid and the busy lives of people walking through city streets - but, this isn't about San Francisco: it's about an urban girl and her doll who are leaving this busy big city to go on a campout.

Lulu has never been camping before. Her feel for the country begins the moment she observes it differences: "The air turns warm and dusty the farther away from the city they get."

Reinforced by full page color photos for the entire journey, young picture book readers (and their adult co-readers) are carried into a new rural world where an old donkey greets his visitors and Lulu absorbs the smells and sights of a strange new world.

There's no other picture book on the market that takes this unique approach of blending contemporary, action-filled color photos of a young urban girl exploring her country world. There're few others that are so clear about the differences between urban and rural wonders. And there's virtually nothing presented in this kind of oversized photo-driven format that allows for a full appreciation of visual color.

Lulu & Pip is a gorgeous story that's everything a picture book should be: colorful, engaging, compelling and fun. Kids and parents alike will find it simply enchanting.

The Job Pirate
Brandon Christopher
Bleeding Heart Publications
c/o The Busby Group
9780990573203, $16.95,

Under a different hand, it would have been all too easy for The Job Pirate to have become another autobiographical survey of poor career moves and an endless succession of jobs - but then, we're not talking about the usual approach with Brandon Christopher; which is why his book is being recommended here as an inviting, lively read for any who have an interest in a humor-spiced memoir chronicling good and bad job experiences alike.

Christopher's intention is to shock and amaze with the unexpected, and this is evident from the very first sentence of his introduction (which should serve as adequate warning to prospective employers): "To see me in your office is surely cause for speculation. I look like you, I work like you, but I am not like you, and some part of you knows this. Some elemental part of you, deep down inside, knows that I am an imposter in your workplace. But your - actually, our - employer doesn't know this yet; he doesn't realize the person he just gave a unique login and password to is a professional at what he does for a living. But this particular profession isn't what he does for a living - at least it wasn't three days before the interview."

And while this won't delight the job seeker who has unwittingly come upon The Job Pirate in hopes of perhaps gaining some employment-fostering tips during the process of re-careering, there are plenty of books on the market which better serve this purpose - and none with the whimsical delivery of of The Job Pirate.

After all - the full title gives away this book's focus (The Job Pirate: An Entertaining Tale of My Job-Hopping Journey in America), so there should be no cause for confusion or dashed expectations - and plenty of appropriate anticipation of a fun journey.

This is no singular path, either: Christopher's jobs range from porn magazines and moving vans to sewers, and his West Coast journeys make for particularly fun reflections for any who reside on the 'left bank' of the country.

Be prepared to laugh. Be prepared to recognize that boring jobs become enlightening and fun only under Christopher's hand. And be prepared to be delighted; for in the vast world of career and job experience books, The Job Pirate doesn't just stands out: it shines.

Confessions of a 3-Day Novelist
Laura Roberts
Buttontapper Press
ASIN: B00PKYZPC4, $2.99,

So many 'how to write' books focus on the usual methodical processes of production (how to produce an acceptable plot, how to define and hone characters, how to invite and retain reader interest) that it's a breath of fresh air to find something different in Confessions of a 3-Day Novelist, which eschews the usual focus on method in favor of a formula for producing a first draft of a complete novel in only 72 hours.

Now, many a writer might deem this impossible, while others might forego the marathon approach in favor of a more reasonable pace. But Roberts isn't addressing her book to the would-be writer who wants to plod part-time on their effort: this is for the writer who wants to produce the most volume in the least amount of time.

How? Therein lies the meat of the story. And if you're a creative writer who finds more success in personal goal-setting and deadlines than plodding, methodical approaches, then this is the book for you.

Chapters assess all the routines involved in a 72-hour writing marathon, from using outlining to streamline one's writing process to developing support systems, from snacks to building a work space that is conducive to an intensive process (read 'distraction free').

This isn't dry advice: chapters consist of lively admonitions on how to get the most out of each writing moment: "When you write your outline list, I want you to go big. Go wild, go crazy, go silly. Indulge all of your mind's creative, crazy brilliance and just write it all down....What are you putting on this list? Anything that pops into your head as useful, interesting or exciting to incorporate into your story. You're looking for nouns (people, places and things) and specific images that will keep pushing your story forward. Think of your list as a treasure map, where you are the one hiding the booty; you'll need reminders about exactly which palm tree it's buried under, and just how far down, so be sure to include as many landmarks and details as possible to jog your memory."

Lest you think this is based on big dreams and ideals, be advised that Confessions of a 3-Day Novelist originated from an annually-held contest challenge which the author entered in 2011, The Three-Day Novel Contest, during which she produced what eventually would become her first published book.

That Roberts imparts the passion, hopes, and feeling of success in such an endeavor is just one bright spark of many in an encouraging book recommended for any would-be author who wants insights into a cathartic process that releases the kraken of inspiration and produces an acceptable, raw, unedited first draft of a baby with vast potential for reaching adulthood: "It was one of the hardest, craziest, and most ridiculously fun things I've ever done. After typing for 72 hours (with intermittent breaks for food, drink, caffeine, more caffeine, chocolate, still more caffeine, showers or naps when my energy was flagging, and a Sunday workout), I felt like my hands were going to fall off."

ZBrush Characters & Creatures
Jenny Newell, Junior Editor,
3D Total Publishing
29 Foregate Street, Worcester, Worcestershire, WR1 1DS. UK
9781909414136, $49.99,

ZBrush Characters & Creatures: Projects, Tips & Techniques from the Masters is not your usual computer guide: presented in an oversized 8 1/2 x 11 format packed with color, it's a digital tutorial with a flashy difference, covering workflow solutions for 3D models and 2D images alike.

The publisher has a track record with other ZBrush titles, so it should come as no surprise that this latest addition to the series is sterling in its content and presentation. Perhaps this is because it's created not by a singular computer expert, but by a team well versed in the industry who tackles a range of issues involved in the overall design of creatures and characters.

Modelers with some basic experience will be the best followers of ZBrush Characters & Creatures: while it's geared to all levels of user from novice to advanced, having a basic introductory background in ZBrush will lend to an immediate understanding and appreciation of the character concepts here; especially for those beyond the beginning stage who want to delve into the tricks of the process.

The experts contributors come from a range of backgrounds and offer a diverse set of resources, from Bryan Wynia, a Senior Character Artist at Sony Santa Monica who delves into the basics of sketching, shaping, and using Alphas to achieve special effects (such as leathery skin on creatures) to freelance character artist Caio Cesar, whose article 'Aliens' discusses the basics of setting up a science fiction scene that features modeling by form and environment.

Not only do each provide step-by-step discussions of the process they use; but the steps are packed with color photo examples from the characters each artist has created using ZBrush: thus, the foundations of making a character model itself are imparted, pairing concept with techniques and reinforcing everything in the ZBrush environment.

This supportive approach succeeds where an ordinary art book might fail, using ZBrush and artists who work with it as foundations for exploring techniques that lead to superior character creation, not amateur dabbling. And this, in turn, makes for a recommendation not so much for novices with little prior ZBrush or character experience, but for those who would use the book to step up to the next level in creature development.

Canine Nutrigenomics
W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Diana R. Laverdure
Dogwise Publishing
403 South Mission Street, Wenatchee WA 98801
9781617811548 $24.95

Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health teaches the basics of using 'functional foods' to promote ideal weight and thwart disease - but it's not a recommendation for the casual pet owner who believes that Alpo and Purina Dog Chow is 'good enough'.

It's the conscious dog owner who wants in-depth details on which foods create optimum health for their pet, who will find this in-depth approach more than a diet or meal plan, and who will appreciate the amount of care that has gone into this study of gene expression and pet health.

Chapters teach how foods can heal, offer keys to creating a basic diet plan for a dog based on the concepts of nutrigenomics, and show how to manage chronic health conditions (and even reverse some of them). This can be as basic as understanding signs of food intolerance and how to address it to tackling obesity, skin irritations, arthritis, and all the usual problems canines experience at various points in their lives.

The concept is that inflammation stems from dog lifestyles and especially from modern diets, and that with a little help from human friends, many of these problems can be overcome.

Don't expect a recipe collection for handmade meals, as so many canine support titles offer. DO expect flow charts, discussions of food options, and in-depth details linking dog health to food choices. It's the conscientious pet owner who will be able to best employ these choices on behalf of their four-footed friends!

Second Coming
GC Rosenquist
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC
9781937327606, $12.95 Paper, $4.99 Kindle &qid=1423754534&sr=8-1&keywords=9781937327606

When the world's richest astronomer spots a celestial abnormality as he resides on a giant telescope orbiting the Earth, he must question science itself: for the object has come from a black hole, it's heading straight for Earth, and it's defying everything science knows about black holes and space with its speed and approach.

Joshua was a child prodigy nurtured in his favored scientific pursuits by parents who recognized his genius early on; and as an adult, he's even more of a powerhouse of intellect and investigation - but underlying this is a religious perspective of the world that's shaken by the object and the three days of life that might be left for planet Earth.

Is the celestial object a message from God; perhaps a destroying angel? Where do the boundaries of science and belief intersect? In this story, it's in the observations and revelations of Joshua, neatly summed up early on: "The massive mirror will be the size of a football field and will consist of half a million individual mirrors that will be able to focus light so perfectly that it will be able to see the face of God at the beginning of the universe."

It's a story steeped in belief, questions, and answers - so readers anticipating just a sci-fi disaster thriller might want to look elsewhere, for something less spiritually introspective. Those who enjoy a healthy dose of religious inspection in a story that is at once vivid, engrossing, and thought-provoking will find in Second Coming a satisfying series of events firmly grounded in faith and Joshua's life experiences: "No, even if God did exist, it's not what I want. That telescope will make discoveries that will confound the world. It will open minds and solve questions that have confused us for millennia. It will see so far in the past that we'll be able to see the creation of the universe. Maybe then we'll stop all this stupid fighting over religion."

The mix of scientific and spiritual inquiry is spot-on and especially well done, while the end-of-world scenario and struggles are involving.

Woody Allen: Reel to Real
Alex Sheremet
Take2 Publishing
9780991588725 (Mobi edition)
9780991588732 (Epub edition) $7.99

There have been plenty of Woody Allen books produced over the decades; from biographies to critical considerations of his works: so many that one might wonder at the need for yet another.

But as with any good work, it's all about approach and delivery - and Woody Allen: Reel to Real offers something truly different as it takes Allen's complete body of cinema works and translates it into 'Digidialogue': a process whereby the author's analysis results in a discussion between himself and his audience. Basically, it's dialogue and inquiry brought to light in the form of a text debate, and is linked to a website at multimedia at its finest.

Readers anticipating another production based on text analysis should be advised that this website is an integral key to the process; not a tertiary adjunct as with so many multimedia productions. It's here that one will discover summaries of the book's concepts, reproduction of one key chapter in its entirety, and a set of book-inspired dialogues that are the whole purpose and point of Woody Allen: Reel to Real.

This is no light coverage: paragraphs are long and analytical and present critical views that may prove controversial - but that's the best part of such an intersection of minds: the ability to provoke thought and dialogue in the critical thinker, as in this discussion of Allen's You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger: "There are no real visuals, except for the banal observation that it is 'nice' to see a gray, well-shot London. There is no real music, except for a romantic guitar that comes on when Roy stares out of the window at his lover. There is only middling acting, except Helena's and Charmaine's (who plays an 'evil' version of Mira Sorvino from Mighty Aphrodite), who are both good. There is nothing truly unexpected, and where surprises do occur, they are more plot devices than insights. So, given all of this, how could the film be anything but troubled, as a true 'circle' of Allen's better, wiser films?"

So go ahead: imbibe. Just keep in mind that this is no light read, and is especially well suited to college-level cinema analysis students who will find Woody Allen: Reel to Real's discussion-oriented focus is especially accessible and intriguing. And: the book promises to be updated once a year with new, free material by the author. In the meantime, readers can visit for more essays on cinema and art.

Swiss Army Knife for the Soul
Stephen Thomas Graf
Privately Published
No ISBN, $2.99,

Swiss Army Knife for the Soul begins with a mysterious Call, which informs the answerer/protagonist that he is, indeed, a wanted man - and things evolve from there, as a rollicking adventure transpires based on the spiritual journeys of one Thomas Stephens (aka Tommy Boy), a member of a secret society known as the Masterful Order of Things.

But, wait - this isn't a fictional form of spiritual enlightenment, or a how-to guide to becoming self-actualized: it's a parody of both worlds as it considers a dubious path to enlightenment, and it presents a fun protagonist who falls into nearly every rabbit hole of complexity along the way: so if you're expecting a self-help journey with spiritual overtones that's actually serious - look elsewhere.

It's important to note that this isn't a smooth fiction read: there are actually footnotes throughout - something unexpected and, to some, a device that may prove somewhat of an interruption to the smooth flow of the text. But even this is acceptable when you consider the irreverent observations of a protagonist who is actually quite good at making lemonade from the lemons life hands him:

"Moving on. I had been on this particular stretch of my Path(3) for about a month. I had been with the same company for almost a year, though, having been transferred from a different department. Technically this new job was a demotion - but only if you looked at it in terms of pay-grade, title, and benefits. From another angle, it could have been seen as a promotion - namely, in the amount of tasks I was given that were above my pay-grade, as well as how customers saw me, when they were given the mistaken impression that I actually had the knowledge or means to assist them."

So you think the footnote will lead to scholarly reference? In this case, the (3) above is referenced as "Sucky job and/or life."

And so it goes: a series of rollicking encounters from a quasi-intellectual who rolls through a series of jobs testing their boundaries and impressing irrepressible audiences and co-workers with knowledge that falls on deaf ears:

"Do you even know what 'salmonella' means?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said defensively; "sure. It's named after the late Theo Smith and Jay Lignieres, for their discovery of the bacterium choleraesuis-" "Just shut up; please. What I mean is, do you know what salmonella does?" "Well, sure. According to the Lancet Medical Journal-"

Thomas Stephens just keeps putting his foot in his mouth, whether it is in pursuit of employment or romance. As a cross-section of comic blunders and social faux pas, it's a hilarious journey that will keep readers involved and laughing: "What followed was a veritable culinary symphony. I was unable to listen to it, however, since I was being asked to work, at the same time. Which meant speak."

Revolving around the food industry as it does, Swiss Army Knife for the Soul is more than food for thought: it's food for comic relief and is a celebration of life, love, and circumstance alike: a breath of fresh air in a genre replete with the overly serious.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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phone: 1-608-835-7937

Diane C. Donovan, Editor & Senior Reviewer
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phone: 1-707-795-4629

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