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The Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 6 June 2019 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Environmental Studies Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Martial Arts Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Science Shelf Technology Shelf Political Science Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
American History Shelf Self-Help Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Left to Their Own Devices
Julie M. Albright
Prometheus Books
9781633884441, $24.00

Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives are Reshaping the American Dream is an intriguing study of the changing habits, values, and norms of modern young people who were raised with social media and smartphones, and comes from a digital sociologist who considers how these young technology users are being distanced from traditional social structures. As she considers the pros and cons of the habits and focus of new technology and children raised in this environment of promise and rapid change, readers receive a powerful survey of not just psychological and social changes, but their potential impact for humanity as a whole. Anyone interested in the increasing impact of digital focus on modern media users will find this a powerful discussion of forces that could ultimate change the face of America.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

Surviving Global Warming
Roger A. Sedjo
Prometheus Books
9781633885288, $24.00

Surviving Global Warming: Why Eliminating Greenhouse Gases Isn't Enough maintains that the planet will still experience major climate-driven changes and damage long after greenhouse gasses are reduced, and makes a strong case for a different plan based on adaptation. He focuses on several areas where environmental damage could be severe, from coastal human abodes facing rising sea levels to future declines in agricultural output and increased natural catastrophes fostered by climate change. The result is a strong survey that pairs adaptive recommendations with a survey of geo-engineering techniques, all designed to help the human race survive what is to come.

50 Ways to Help the Planet
Sian Berry
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Publishing
9780857835147, $9.99

50 Ways to Help the Planet: Easy Ways to Live a Sustainable Life shows ecology-minded readers how they can feel more empowered by their efforts by making positive, easy changes at home. It's not recommended for those already immersed in sustainable action so much as the concerned reader who wants to get started, but has no idea of how to adjust their lifestyle to help change the world without a hard impact on their lives. From choosing to walk to school (and walking more, in general) to addressing food waste, this is an easy primer that provides starting points anyone can use.

The Needlecraft Shelf


Three new arrivals are recommended picks from this quilting publisher. Kim Diehl and Jo Morton's Simple Friendships II: 14 Fabulous Quilts from Blocks Stitched Among Friends (9781604689792, $28.99) comes from two seasoned quilt designers who advocate projects that can be done with the help of extra hands. Each quilt begins with a quilt block, but moves into each designer's touch with instructions that show all levels how to create individual or group blocks, and how to work with them to create a superior product. Quilters interested in group projects will find this an excellent starting point. Paula Barnes and Mary Ellen Robison's Step Back in Time (9781604689051, $27.99) shows reproduction-fabric collectors and antique-quilt lovers how to create patterns from yesteryear, and provides thirteen designs which have their roots in vintage approaches. Each quilt is accompanied by a true story from the 1800s, while color photos capture both quilting history and modern-day renditions. Sidebars of detail on specialty techniques, such as using triangles or star singles, complete the value of this appealing time-traveling collection. Susan Ache's Countdown to Christmas: Quilts and More That Span the Seasons (9781604689945, $25.99) features a dozen quilts for Christmas that contain motifs that can be used not just once a year, but for much of the year. Quilting basics for making blocks, setting triangles, assembly and finishing are included, but the focus on products that sync with the holidays yet hold enough diversity for year-round display makes this a particularly inviting collection of more versatile holiday projects than most.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio

Five new audio releases provide listeners with an excellent blend of narration and story line, and are recommended for anyone interested in superior productions. Samara Ahmed's Internment (9781549148767, $25.00) is narrated by Sonella Nankani, who provides a fine flair for capturing this story of teen rebellion, citizen relocation, and a perceived Muslim threat to America. Forced into an internment camp for Muslim Americans, Layla and her parents struggle to lead a revolution that may have no hope. The setting of a near-future United States makes for a chilling, too-possible saga. David Baldacci's Redemption (9781478999249, $40.00) is narrated by Kyf Brewer and Orlagh Cassidy and tells of Decker, who is visiting his home town in Ohio when he's approached by a convicted murder: the first man Decker put in prison. The man has an unusual request: can Decker race against time to fill it? Victoria Osteen's Exceptional You! 7 Ways to Live Encouraged, Empowered, and Intentional (9781549175466, $30.00) is narrated by the author and asks readers to consider their unique value and develop the talent God provided. This blend of personal stories and biblical teachings shows how to make the most of God-given talents and live a better, more productive life based on them. Jean Chatzky's Women With Money: The Judgment-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, yes, Rich) Life You Deserve (9781478995913, $35.00) receives a powerful narration by the author, a Today Show financial expert, and explores not just the basic principles of money management, but how women can identify what they want from money. Too many women aren't comfortable about money choices and money management. This book comes from a series of discussions and conversations and delves into not just economics, but behavioral changes and considerations that open doors to better financial planning. William Campbell edits How to Do Things: A Timeless Guide to a Simpler Life (9781549171437, $30.00), which teaches back-to-basics skills that range from handling poison ivy to smoking and curing meats and making cheese. The focus on basic skills that lead to the ideal of a simpler life makes for a survey that combines a surprising edge of humor with a survey of self-reliance principles and basic skills that can lead to not just an easier life, but one better lived. All are excellent leisure listener choices.

The Martial Arts Shelf

The Judo Advantage
Steve Scott
9781594396281, $18.95

The Judo Advantage: Controlling Movement with Modern Kinesiology covers all grappling styles and provides martial arts readers with a different biomechanical perspective of traditional judo moves. From learning the basics of biomechanics and how they apply to the sport to using it to analyze stances, various footwork and fighting techniques, and more, some 200 photos accompany drills and lessons which will appeal to coaches and martial arts students at all levels of expertise.

The Cookbook Shelf

10-A-Day the Easy Way
James Wong
Mitchell Beazley
9781784724764, $29.99

10-A-Day the Easy Way: Fuss-Free Recipes & Simple Science to Transform Your Health focuses on small changes to daily diets that can lead past the health idea of five-a-day portions of fruit and veggies and upwards to 10-a-day. James Wong gathers almost a hundred recipes that are enhanced by more fruits and vegetables in each traditional dish. A collection of one-pan risottos, for example, contain five times more veggies than rice, yet maintains the texture and taste of the traditional risotto approach. Add vivid color photos for a powerful, lovely title that will lead the way to healthier eating choices.

Sabrina Ghayour
Mitchell Beazley
9781784725754, $34.99

Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes emphasizes dishes from the East which are spicy and filled with fresh ingredients, creating a vegetarian approach that is as much about ethnic flavors as it is about meatless cooking. From a comfort food Corn, Potato & Cheddar Chowder and a Moroccan Roast Vegetable Bastilla which can be made from leftover roasted vegetables, this cookbook excels in dishes which need no meaty embellishment to prove hearty and appealing. The color photos are another big plus that invites vegetarian and non-vegetarians to imbibe.

Bento Power
Sara Kiyo Popowa
Kyle Books
9780857835680, $22.99

Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes pairs an emphasis on plant-based foods with the author's Japanese roots and a formula emphasizing 5 colors and 5 flavors in the traditional bento box lunch, creating a series of lunch treats that are mostly vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian fare. Lovely color photos accompany ideas for using the bento box display to optimum advantage, whether it's for lunch or breakfast on the go, as with a Breakfast Granola Crumble which can be paired with cashew cream or berries for an attractive display and appealing presentation. A Summer Fruits Bento arranges a variety of midsummer fresh produce in an attractive box, while Popowa thinks out of the box (as it were) by including bento-style presentations in jars and bowls, as well. Vegan and natural foods collections will find the variety and ideas original and appealing.

The Science Shelf

Flight Science
L.S. Mayboudi
Mercury Learning
9781683922155, $59.95

Flight Science: Mathematics, Techniques, Sensibility introduces college-level math and science students to the applications of these disciplines in aviation technology, and is recommended as a basic acquisition for any college-level collection strong in these disciplines and in aviation science. It's designed to be used in two ways: as a survey of basic concepts and as a reference filled with examples and case studies that offer real-world solutions to common problems. Those entering the aviation industry who seek to gain their flight licenses or who want more background in technology will find it an excellent survey that combines history with science, packing visual charts and graphics into the bigger picture.

The Technology Shelf

3D Printing: An Introduction
Stephanie Torta and Jonathan Torta
Mercury Learning
9781683922094, $49.95

3D Printing: An Introduction provides all levels of learners with a basic overview of 3D printing technology in various industries, examining printers, software, and different applications. Color examples and illustrations accompany instructions for setting up a 3D printer, understanding common problems, applying basic 3D print principles to various projects, and understanding basic technology and design specifics. From various kinds of 3D printers and their pros and cons to completing a first print job and modifying settings, this book blends technical savvy with practical real-world applications and reinforces all with an accompanying companion disc of files in common formats. The result is a basic primer especially recommended for those with some basic computer savvy who want to get up to speed in the 3D environment.

The Political Science Shelf

Voting for Us
Joshua A. Douglas
Prometheus Books
9781633885103, $18.00

Voting for Us: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting is just the ticket for these troubled times: a call to action to support a better democratic process by rejecting ennui and hopelessness and replacing it with an approach that returns the power of the vote to the American public. The author is a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, interested in constitutional voting rights, and has written a case book of law stories about election laws in the past. This book supplements the prior effort by focusing on an approach that blends historical precedent with new ideas on how to foster American voting rights and return a feeling of empowerment to the process. No political issues collection should be without this book, which also should be an intrinsic part of any American high school student's political debate materials.

The Fiction Shelf

The Ash Family
Molly Dektar
Simon and Schuster
9781501144868, $26.00

The Ash Family tells of teen Berie, who is slated to begin college in Virginia when she decides to abandon this long-held dream to run away. When she meets a man named Bay and his commitment to the Ash Family, she learns about connections she'd never dreamed possible, becomes captivated, and moves to the farm that is cemented by ideals of living off the land and in an idyllic world away from the society she's been raised to believe in. A powerful story of ideals, adjustments, and very different worlds evolves in a story suitable for young adult to adult readers.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Rationing
Charles Wheelan
W.W. Norton
9781324001485, $26.95

The Rationing is an absorbing novel about a pathogen that sparks a plague in America. Unlike other books about contagions, this one has a medical cure; but the nation's supplies of it aren't adequate, forcing the White House to ration the medicine and decide who will get it. A blend of surprising satire and fun dialogue is unexpectedly satisfying as the story considers political involvements in life-or-death medical issues and the influence of foreign nations who have those reserves at a steep cost. Charles Wheelan's involving focus on diplomatic and political cat-and-mouse games proves avid, engrossing, and hard to put down: a satisfying adjunct to the common approach to medical crises novels.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Star Trek Next Generation: Available Light
Dayton Ward
Gallery Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781982113278, $16.00

Star Trek Next Generation: Available Light outlines the dilemma faced by Captain Jean-Luc Picard when a covert organization is exposed and scandal embraces not only them but officers including admirals and Picard himself. Political intrigue and space adventure blend in an absorbing story highly recommended for any prior Star Trek enthusiast.

Gordon R. Dickson
9781481483919, $16.00

Timestorm takes place after a time storm devastates Earth and destroys much of humanity. Three survivors join forces to stop the devastation and uncover the nature of the time storm, but unbeknownst to them, the storm is destroying not just the planet, but the whole universe. These three may be the only force that can stop it. A fine story emerges that will particularly delight fans of hard sci-fi.

The Amateurs
Liz Harmer
Vintage Canada
c/o Penguin Random House
9780345811257, $15.50

Readers of post-apocalyptic fiction who are interested in an original story set in the near future will find The Amateurs a satisfying blend of romance and apocalyptic disaster as a space-time Port leads not just to the past or future, but to dilemmas nobody could have imagined. Too many are not returning from these new worlds, and as the population plummets and the grid fails, artist Marie maintains faith that her lover, one of those who have vanished, will someday return to her. This moving, different story is hard to put down.

The American History Shelf

Wyatt Earp & Bat Masterson: Lawmen of the Legendary West
Bill Markley
9781493035670, $16.95

Wyatt Earp & Bat Masterson: Lawmen of the Legendary West is a contrast in history and considers which lawman did the most to tame the West. It blends biography with historical events and comes from an author who has long been a researcher of Western lore and affairs. As chapters outline and contrast each lawman and his lasting impact, they consider US marshal and law enforcement positions, duties and challenges, relationships with locals and Native Americans alike, and the investigations conducted by Wyatt and Bat in the course of fulfilling their duties. The result is more than a contrast in personalities: it's a close consideration of the historical impact of two men and their role as law enforcers and provides American history readers with a solid inspection.

Strange, Amazing, and Funny Events that Happened During the Revolutionary War
Jack Darrell Crowder
c/o Genealogical Publishing Company
9780806358833, $30.00

Strange, Amazing, and Funny Events that Happened During the Revolutionary War is highly recommended for history buffs who already have a basic familiarity with the era, but who want a quirky set of insights based on a kind of history that doesn't usually make the history books. From events at the Battle of Black Mingo in which an attempted surprise was thwarted by the noisy hooves of horses crossing a bridge to a commoner spy, Sally Salter, who entered the enemy's camp during battle with a basket of eggs to sell, taking inventory of the Tory camp during the Battle of Tory Hole. Even avid researchers of the times will appreciate the attention to details often omitted from the annals of American history in this accessible, appealing collection.

The Self-Help Shelf

Simple Truths
Kent Nerburn
New World Library
9781608686179, $14.00

Simple Truths: Clear and Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life blends self-help advice with spiritual wisdom from many different sources as it reflects on life issues and handling life challenges, and is recommended for any reader experiencing difficult times. From understanding the difference between loneliness and solitude and the value in cultivating separation to achieve clarity and strength to differences between metaphysical thinking and pragmatic approaches to life in a partnership, this cultivates many outstanding truths that will particularly appeal to thinking readers with an interest in spiritual reflection and self-help approaches to life changes.

Nearing Ninety
Judith Viorst
Simon & Schuster
9781501197086, $17.00

Judith Viorst is well known for her humorous approach to and descriptions of life, but in Nearing Ninety (and other comedies of late life), she does an outstanding job of exploring the challenges of aging, blending a blend of comedic inspection with a self-help edge. These are presented in the form of poems which share everyday life in succinct free verse accessible even to those with little affection for or experience with poetry in their lives. It's a hard-hitting reflective piece suitable for humor and self-help holdings alike.

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Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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