Issuu on Google+

Sacramento

Aug 2011

Book Review VOLUME 3, ISSUE 7

NEW AND OF INTEREST

8

The Snowman A Chilling Thriller Page 2

Pottermore

The Game-Changer Page 4

11

Vaclav & Lena: A Novel

A Brilliant and Breathtaking First Novel Page 10

The Critical Eye Bad Books...and Me Page 11

17 19

Currents in Science & Nature

Armchair Travel At Its Best By David Downie Broadway, $15.00, 320 pages

There are a myriad of books devoted to Paris, but few capture this enchanting city’s true essence as well as David Downie’s book of essays,Paris, Paris. Although he’s called Paris home for more than twenty years, Downie’s stories illustrate the city with the verve of an enamored visitor seeing Paris for the first time. He then completes the picture by utilizing his expansive knowledge to guide you through both familiar and unknown locales, while juxtaposing the

marvels of modern day Paris with its rich, fascinating history. Downie’s writing draws you in with ease and captivating facts and details seamlessly weave throughout each personalized essay. Divided into three sections--Places, People and Phenomena--the book covers settings from the lush, Luxembourg Gardens to the sewers, cellars and catacombs of Paris’s underground world. It tells of the history of the See ARMCHAIR, cont’d on page 3

You Want Quiet? Follow the Birds… Page 15

Sam the Cooking Guy: Just Grill This! Great Recipes for the Gas Grill Page 24

109 Reviews INSIDE!


Mystery, Crime & Thriller Breeders By Barney Rostaing Coolgrove Press, $16.95, 354 pages One quality I most appreciate in a mystery/crime story is unpredictability. I want to meet characters I have not seen before and be drawn into a story that keeps me guessing. On both these counts, Breeders succeeds admirably. Set in the world of high-stakes horse racing, Breeders follows a diverse cast of characters who connive and conspire to better their lives, both financially and romantically. The lead character is a black trainer named Len Thomas who longs to emulate the success of the last great trainer of color Jimmy Winkfield. Thomas decides that the only way he can do this is by fixing a race and then stealing the semen of a champion stud. Naturally, things get complicated, and both he and his employer and co-conspirator Pat McGoohey end up spending time in jail. Barney Rostaing has written a timely tale in many respects. He deftly incorporates the post-9/11 “national security” madness of America into the plot. And the topic of horse racing is certainly a popular one theses days with books , plays, and films, such as Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and The War Horse permeating popular culture. Breeders is to be admired for not following the formula of most crime novels. However, in his attempt to be unconventional, Rostaing makes a couple of missteps. The most serious is the length and pacing (no pun intended) of the story. Breeders might well have been better served with a tighter edit; every hotel room, meal, and incident no matter how trivial - is laid out in detail. The plot takes a while to kick in. The reader is well into the book, several chapters at least, before before the initial criminal enterprise is undertaken - the fixing of a horse race. And the main event involving theft, does not happen till page 171. Rostaing falls into the trap of many modern writers-what I label “descriptionitis.” The last section of the book set in Mexico is needlessly protracted. This is too bad because Rostaing is good at laying out the details of the important plot points, such as how you go about fixing a horse race so you don’t win and don’t get caught. I look forward to future books from this author. Hopefully he will ‘pick up the pace’ in his next work. Sponsored Review

2 August 2011

The Snowman By Jo Nesbø with translation by Don Bartlett Knopf, $25.95, 384 pages Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman is a riveting continuation of the Harry Hole series of suspense and mystery. Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett, the story is riveting and captivating as it takes place in and around Oslo and Bergen and interweaves the politics of Norway and the United States. The wintry Nordic settings — and the chilling murders — take readers on a fast-moving ride as Hole hunts down what he believes to be a serial killer. The gruesome slayings build to become a personal challenge to Hole, who is the only Norwegian police office with experience in dealing with serial killers. But few believe him, especially as his suspects are upstanding members of society. Hole also struggles with a new police office, the force’s administration, and his former girlfriend, who is making plans to take her son, a boy close to Harry, and move to Africa with her new man. Throughout, Hole feels as if he is being watched in the same manner as his victims. Is Hole the next victim? Nesbo packs twists and turns, which will keep readers riveted. The fourth of Nesbo’s books, The Snowman certainly will have you run out to buy more of his writings. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey I Don’t Want to Kill You By Dan Wells Tor Books, $11.99, 320 pages John Wayne Cleaver isn’t your average teenager. He’s a diagnosed sociopath who often helps out in his mother’s mortuary business. He has a strict set of rules to prevent him from becoming a serial killer. He has killed two demons masquerading as humans, saving his town twice in the process, and now he’s challenged a third to face him. But John Wayne Cleaver isn’t prepared for what’s coming. Can he stop another monster in its tracks... without becoming one himself? I Don’t Want to Kill You is the third in Dan Wells’s stunningly enthralling series, after I Am Not a Serial Killer and Mr. Monster, and he ably ratchets up both the tension and the consequences for his unlikely hero. Our journey into the mind of a possible killer is as disturbing as it is engrossing, and the fact that you cannot help but root for John makes for a thoroughly unique reading experience.

While the mystery is a bit more stop-start than the previous two novels, the growth of John’s world socially and emotionally easily picks up the slack, adding further color and dimension to an already fascinating protagonist. I sincerely hope there are more stories on the way. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Open Source By M. M. Frick CreateSpace, $12.95, 336 pages On his off time, Casey Shenk writes a blog and researches news items that spark public interest. When a cargo ship named the Baltic Venture is high-jacked on its way from Finland to Algeria carrying lumber, he posts his suspicions online: no ransom demands have been made, it occurred in the Baltic Sea, a rare location for piracy, and the Russian Navy dispatched five vessels for a rescue…all for some lumber. So begins M.M. Frick’s new book, Open Source, an ambitious and highly entertaining look into global politics and intrigue. In his blog, Shenk maintains that whatever the Baltic Venture is carrying, it’s most likely stolen and being shipped illegally. This straight talk is what catches the attention of Susan Williams, an analyst working for a corporation that analyzes media and predicts world developments. Both Shenk and Williams look at readily available and frequently overlooked information (open sources) and draw informed conclusions. They surmise that there may be a secret arms deal. They need to find the buyer who will lead them to the weapons’ destination. Others become aware of their investigation, and their lives depend on anticipating the next move of whoever is behind the arms deal. Frick’s social and political references are current – feelings from the Cold War are still brewing and the world climate is set at a constant paranoia. Frick’s characters are authentic and likeable. Williams has everything to gain by cracking such a high profile case. Shenk is happy with the status quo and has nothing to gain other than to reveal the truth behind a possible conspiracy. The dialogue is believable and fast-paced. Readers learn how Frick’s characters tick from the inside out. Frick is a naval officer and his extensive knowledge of the Middle East and maritime piracy is evident in this thrilling book. Sponsored Review

Blind Fury By Lynda La Plante Touchstone, $15.00, 512 pages Blind Fury by Lynda La Plante is the sixth novel featuring Anna Travis and it continues the main storyline of how our heroine fits into the team of detectives, a situation complicated by the failed sexual relationship with her boss DCS Langton. This time, we start with a body in a field and watch the development of the murder investigation. As in all good British police procedurals, there’s a wealth of detail. For American readers, there’s also some implied social commentary of the status of Polish immigrants in Britain to provide depth. Blind Fury is densely written but rewarding as a well-structured plot hones in on a suspect. The challenge for the detectives is then how to prove his guilt. If there’s a weakness, it’s in the decision to incorporate a Silence of the Lambs element. This is not a true Lecter and the plot element is very much a sideshow. The same results could have been achieved in a less clichéd way. That said, once we get past some strands to the investigation that prove dead-ends, the book hits its stride as a real page-turner as we watch how Travis and Langton get the right result. Reviewed by David Marshall Heads You Lose By Lisa Lutz, David Hayward Putnam, $24.95, 320 pages Author Lisa Lutz can always be counted on to deliver a highly entertaining, laughout-loud tale, chock full of zany characters and unusual scenarios. I have to admit I was a little concerned to find a name penned under hers (albeit in much smaller font) on the front cover of her latest offering Heads You Lose. Further digging revealed a collaboration between Lutz and her ex-beau, prize-winning poet David Hayward. But don’t think for an instant this is your typical collaboration. Instead the pair take turns, chapter by chapter crafting an unusual narrative about twenty-something pot-growing siblings Lacey and Paul Hansen. When someone dumps a headless corpse on the siblings’ Northern Californian property, the two have no choice but to get rid of the body. But the corpse just won’t stay gone--turning up time and time See HEADS... cont’d on page 23

t hou s a nd s of re v ie w s at w w w. s a c r a me nt ob o ok re v ie w.c om


Sacramento

Book Review 1776 Productions. LLC 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Ph. 877.913.1776 info@1776productions.com EDITOR IN CHIEF Ross Rojek ross@1776productions.com

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Joseph Arellano George Erdosh David Marshall Kelly Furjutz Rachel Wallace D. Wayne Dworsky Sky Sanchez-Fischer Zara Raab

GRAPHIC DESIGN/LAYOUT Heidi Komlofske heidi.komlofske@1776productions.com

COPY EDITORS Megan Just Lori Miller Megan Roberts Sky Sanchez-Fischer Megan Roberts Julia McMichael Mark Petruska Diane Jinson

EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Mary Komlofske Kyle Thaw Elizabeth Tropp Lisa Rodgers Jordan Younger Jordan Thaw

DISTRIBUTION Sacramento Distribution Service

MEDIA SALES sales@1776productions.com

The Sacramento Book Review is published bi-monthly by 1776 Productions, LLC. The opinions expressed in these pages are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sacramento Book Review or San Francisco Book Review advertisers. All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders. All words © 2011, 1776 Productions, LLC. August 2011 print run 10,000 copies.

IN THIS ISSUE Mystery, Crime & Thriller.............................. 2 ARTICLE: Pottermore..................................... 4 Popular Fiction............................................... 5 Poetry & Short Stories.................................... 6 Romance......................................................... 6 Relationships & Sex........................................ 7 Reference........................................................ 7 History........................................................... 8 Historical Fiction............................................ 9 Modern Literature........................................ 10 Sequential Art.............................................. 10 Games........................................................... 10 Humor-Fiction.............................................. 11 ARTICLE: Bad Books...and Me...................... 11 Business & Investing.................................... 12 Science Fiction & Fantasy............................. 13 Sports & Outdoors........................................ 14 Travel........................................................... 14 Self-Help....................................................... 14 Science & Nature.......................................... 15 ARTICLE: You Want Quiet...Follow the Birds......................................................... 15 Spirituality & Inspiration............................. 16 Biographies & Memoirs................................ 17 Young Adult.................................................. 19 Tweens......................................................... 20 Art, Architecture & Photography................. 20 Children’s..................................................... 21 Technology................................................... 23 Crafts & Hobbies.......................................... 23 Philosophy.................................................... 23 Cooking, Food & Wine.................................. 24

FROM THE EDITOR Often, when we’re deciding which types of books to include in any particular issue, we’ll include categories that are season-appropriate, like back-to-school, great summer reads, or holiday-specific. For the staff at 1776 Productions, this month’s theme was “We’re moving!” Most of us have had the experience of moving our families from one home to another, but I’ll challenge any of you to say “This summer, I moved more than 600 books and 10 tall bookshelves.” Do you know how heavy boxes of books are?! Most people didn’t know that our original office on K Street in Sacramento was a virtual office for publicists to mail us the books for reviewing. We would take the hour-long drive weekly to retrieve the books and bring them home for entering into the database and mailing to the reviewers. We would often get calls from the office saying “Can you please come get the packages? We’re overflowing!” Working from home certainly has its advantages. I won’t lie about that. I could roll out of bed, start working, and not shower until well after noon. It also means that you work all the time. It’s always there. Next month’s issue celebrates the 3-year anniversary of Sacramento Book Review. Gosh...has it already been 3 years? Having a few teenagers myself, I likened our move to pushing my little birdies out of the nest for the first time. It was time for our operation to fly on its own. ..and for me to get out of my pajamas.

Happy reading, Heidi Komlofske —President & CEO 1776 Productions ARMCHAIR, cont’d from page 1 Seine River, the booksellers who make their living along its banks, and the nomadic riverboat owners who travel and reside upon it. Other essays offer tastes of Paris in springtime, introduce its fanatical dog culture and take you along on evening jaunts throughout its magically lit streets. Suitable for serious Francophiles and curious spectators alike, this book paints Paris from a delightful, fresh perspective. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport

August 2011

3


Pottermore

By Albert Riehle

Professional Book Reviewer

I

n sports, it’s called a gamechanger. It’s that play, that moment, that person who shakes everything up and changes forever the course of a game. Recently, J.K. Rowling has decided to be a game-changer in the publishing industry and where this may lead, no one knows. Ms. Rowling has announced the launch of Pottermore, a website from which she will exclusively sell her famous Harry Potter book series in digital format. Until now, if you wanted to read any of the Potter books, you’ve had to do it the old-fashioned way and actually buy or borrow an honest-to-goodness, book of printed word on bound paper. But starting with the release of the Pottermore site on Harry’s birthday, August 31st, a select few were able to pay for, and download, the e-book version of each of the seven bestsellers over a wide number of platforms and beginning in October, we all will. Yesterday, publishing companies were cutting book stores out of the loop by shifting sales to e-book and online-related merchandise and today, just like that, in one fell swoop, Rowling has eliminated the need for publishers by skipping them in the process. The question is what does this mean for the future? Initially, it means very little. J.K. Rowling has power that very few other authors do and that is the power to make the buyer come to her. The Potter books are a proven commodity, they are books that draw people in not just to read once, but to re-read multiple times, like visiting old friends. They are also collectible in that parents want to have them for their own kids to read someday (and to help explain why they might have a tattoo of a Hippogriff on their chest). To tech-savvy young parents that means collecting them digitally, not on some dusty old shelf. In other words, Rowling can confidently set up her Pottermore website, announce it to the world, and fully expect the buyers to come to her. She doesn’t need the book resellers. She doesn’t need a publishing house. She doesn’t need Amazon or anyone else. All she has to do is ring the dinner bell and wait for the crowds to come running. In

4 August 2011

doing so, she deprives resellers and the publishing industry of millions, if not billions of dollars—all of which they would have gladly taken for doing what actually amounts to very little. If Rowling had announced that she was simply releasing the books in an eReader-compliant version and gone through traditional channels, it would have been seen as a boon to the entire industry. Instead, what they receive is a harsh wake-up call. Fortunately for publishers, it doesn’t mean much more than the loss of some free revenue in the short term—the U.S. and U.K. Publishing houses who published the Harry Potter series are only receiving a small portion of proceeds, and Pottermore Publishing is the official publisher of the eBooks. J.K. Rowling may have the power, influence, and product to be able to step out on her own and cut out all the greedy little hands grabbing at percentages of her work, but few other writers do. Even writers as prolific as Stephen King would have trouble, drawing customers to a site, which sold only his works. Cult favorites, like Stephanie Meyer, may be taking notice though. Looking ahead, you can almost map out the strategies for the publishing giants. They will insist on total control from new writers. They will squeeze even more than they already do from writers who are desperate to make their way into the business. That strategy is as flawed as is it is obvious the direction they will take. It reminds me of a line from Star Wars when Princess Leia says: “The more you tighten your grip…the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” Substitute dollars for star systems and you can see the murky future of book publishers and retailers. What writers are going to start to do is to take a good look at what exactly they get from their publishers. Do they offer marketing support in line with the percentage of revenue and rights they demand? The answer for most writers will be, simply, “no.” By pushing the publishing industry toward the e-reader and sales through online platforms, they have essentially made themselves obsolete. Do you think the people at Amazon aren’t taking notice of this event? What they have to be asking themselves is what is it exactly that the publishing houses offer them? Amazon is the unquestioned king of online retail and marketing. As we steer closer to a paper-free world, why wouldn’t a company like that approach recognizable authors and tempt them to sell directly and only through their company? The publish-

ing giants have made themselves irrelevant middlemen in the process. Authors have to ask what a publisher truly does for them now? They demand much, that’s for certain. But what do they provide? Do you think the online outlets will stop selling the works of best-selling authors simply because they are no longer attached to publishers? Of course not. Do the publishers manage the distribution of the product to stores around the world? Not anymore they don’t. Do the publishers market books to the world in a way that creates excitement and generates sales? No. The marketing arm of the publishing industry is as impotent as old men before Viagra and as creative as a 4th grade math teacher. The answer, plain and simple, is that the publishing industry, which is going to demand more and more, is capable of providing less and less. The tighter they squeeze, the more writers and dollars will slip through their fingers. Self-published books have been something of a joke until now, but in the blink of an eye, they have become so much more. Every author in the world is questioning his or her relationship with their publisher today. Every one of them is asking themselves, besides stifle creativity, sap financially and control draconically—what does my publishing house do for me? The next question they’ll ask is who can do it better? Who can do it for less, allowing me to earn more for the work that I have done? The weeks of touring cities and doing book signings will become a single sit down for a live webinar marketed to millions. It will be twice as effective, take a fraction of the time and allow the writers to more quickly get back to what they do best—write. The launch of Pottermore is historic one. It won’t be overnight, but this is the beginning of the end for book publishers. They worked to usher in the next age, forsaking trusted, long-term partners and now they will pay the price for their lack of vision. They have made themselves obsolete. J.K. Rowling is just the first in what is sure to be a long line of defectors. The game has changed and nothing will ever be the same again. The switch to eReading platforms is now solidified and the need for publisher is gone. The online giants will take over now. Here’s hoping they take better care of literature than their forbearers have.

R e a d S AC R A M E N T O SE C R E T S at S a c r a me nt oB o ok R e v ie w.c om


Popular Fiction Glorify Each Day By John Banks 819 Publishing, $15.00, 286 pages Tommy “Teach” Morrison, a controversial GED teacher who is at once a plethora of personality and pain, is riddled with the guilt of his past. He is sentenced to emotional outbursts and an insatiable hunger for redemption, albeit the recurring pain lives solely in his mind and his day-to-day is insufferable. Although he is not a role model by any stretch, this is one of the most humorous, haunted and honest characters to cross the page in a long time. Glorify Each Day is a witty and gripping, if not addictive, read. The structure of the story is intelligent and climactic, leading its readers into a world of watchful waiting. There are finely intertwined stories which almost always satisfy the reader’s questioning and sleuthing, with an exception of some characters that, although intrinsically interesting, do not necessarily warrant such lengths of exposition dedicated solely to themselves, in this reader’s opinion. That being said, each character is leaping full of life.John Banks displays his gifting throughout this novel, his ability to realistically capture such a wide range of personalities and language (Maria “a-Teach,” “Green Eggs and Da Ham” by Pilluz, and Jerry Speziak’s ‘possum’ (to name a few), is hilariously accurate and brings a colorful realism to the characters, as one would hope. His characters are battered and scarred, making them memorable and endearing to the final period.This novel and John Banks have brought a light to the quest for self and the means with which as a human race we will strive to find it. Through Teach, a journey is realized in loss and grief, culminating in an ultimate release of his past and renewal through emancipation.A read this good should not be ignored. A small warning for the sensitive and earmuff-wearer, Teach is a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is-accordingto-him, sometimes offensive storyteller. He has a tale to tell, and a compelling one, if you can get around his means. Sponsored Review Phyllis Marie By Terry Row, Clifton Edwin Publishing, $17.95, 380 pages “Finally it was their turn to take off. The instructor turned, came to a complete stop, waited one extra second, and then pulled back on the stick. Perry felt only a small increase in prop wash, but the volume of noise seemed to drill into his ear canals. Come on, buddy, he thought as the airplane

rumbled down the runway. You’re never going to lift this thing off the ground if you don’t give it more juice. At what felt like the last possible moment, the ship lifted off the runway, to Perry’s surprise, reducing the vibrations by seventy-five percent. He flew, for the very first time.” Perry Row was born to fly, and he gets his chance after the infamously disastrous day of December 7, 1941. Through trial and persistence, struggle and gain, Perry, along with the vast cast of characters shared throughout, reveals a passion and thirst fueling not only his life, but, indeed, that of a universal proportion.Terry Row has a mesmerizing voice, transporting his readers on a flight of family ties, determination, honor, allegiance and, starkly evident, love. His story of Phyllis Marie spans a multi-generational territory, taking its readers from a warm bedroom shared by a timeless love to 1941 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the desire of young men lining up to defend their freedom and privilege, to the Great Salt Plain, traveling by wagon and horse; we are threaded through time, terrain and theme. Each chapter flips through a different family and their heartfelt predicaments and joys, culminating into one immensely solid family tree. Although this is a work of fiction, based on a true story, Row has captured every bit of reality onto his worn pages. This story has every bit of blood, sweat, tears, and heart imaginable poured into it. Through an exact execution of detail, character development and story, Row has catapulted himself; he, too, has flown, and hopefully not for the last time. Sponsored Review Friends 2 Lovers By Jonathan Anthony Burkett Xlibris, $19.99, 381 pages In Friends 2 Lovers, a romance by Jonathan Anthony Burkett, protagonist and college man Claude Daniels battles numerous personal problems, including the complete devastation of his family, to achieve true love with his best friend and foster sister, Kelly. The story begins normally enough, at the beginning of Claude’s high school senior year, his whole family wishing him luck. Within days, however, Claude’s brother and father have been killed; his grandmother has died of a heart attack, and his mother has committed suicide. Latoya, friend Kelly’s mother, takes Claude in, and the family moves to Florida with the help of Claude’s recently surfaced biological father. And this is just the beginning. Scenes were too rushed for them to carry necessary emotional impact. The real story follows Claude and Kelly’s college romance, interspersed with Claude’s love poems. This story really wants to be a college romance, with

Local SF Author! Lady Evelyn jeopardizes her marriage when she opens a "no-kill" rescue shelter. Chaos soon erupts, but Bullmina's courage saves the day, leading to new beginnings that change everyone's life forever.

ISBN 9781449082253 one main and several supporting couples. However, Claude’s multiple and unbelievable personal tragedies are a hindrance. Claude could have been left orphaned in a usual way, such as his single parent dying, which would provide the reason for moving in with Kelly’s family. The author could then have proceeded with the real story—Kelly and Claude’s relationship. Sponsored Review Circle the Moon By J Jay Ross Xlibris, $19.99, 318 pages Fifteen-year-old Michelle Tanner is a military kid, and as such, was uprooted from her near-the-beach home in Eureka, California, to the middle of Idaho. Michelle is fine at managing the change in climate, school, friends, and culture, ending up with both a new boyfriend and a secret admirer. Through college and after, she has three key relationships that present their own joys and challenges. But her new life is left unsettled with the death of her father, spinning her world and feelings out of control.Circle the Moon is an engaging story. Michelle is a likeable and sympathetic character, realistic in her portrayal, facing difficult situations, yet not overly melodramatic. We see Michelle’s life going forward and back in time, peeling the story back, one layer at a time. Her relationship with her mother suffers in the wake of her father’s death, and Mi- chelle finds herself married to one man, and still feels the call to be with her old high school admirer. It is how Michelle does, and doesn’t, deal with all this that Circle the Moon presents in a highly readable way. An enjoyable novel that explores hard issues. Sponsored Review

Find Author Events for Sacramento in Our Online Ca lendar

Follow the Bee’s Wax on this wild adventure through time and space

ISBN 978-1452093468 Progress By Michael V. Smith Cormorant Books, $44.72, 272 pages What are the ethical responsibilities of a person who bears witness to a terrible, lifechanging act? This question is addressed through the lives of Helen, her brother Robert and his best friend Colin in Progress, the thematically complex, carefully crafted second novel by Canadian author Michael V. Smith.Robert visits his sister after a fifteenyear absence from their small town, only to discover the house in which they grew up is slated to be physically relocated, along with those of their neighbors, because of the construction of a nearby dam. Helen is emotionally unprepared for Robert’s return, having just seen a horrible accident while visiting the grave of her fiancé Garrett, who died violently overseas.There’s a connection between Robert’s initial departure, kicked out by his father as a teen, and Garrett’s death, which Robert and Colin have arrived in town to finally explain. Through the author’s use of rich sensuous detail and elegantly measured pacing, the reader gradually comes to understand the secret, shedding light on all that’s gone deeply wrong in both siblings’ lives in the intervening years. Full of subtle, intimate familial tension, Progress is a provocative meditation on the multiple meanings of both home and family. Reviewed by Shawn Syms

August 2011

5


Poetry & Short Stories The Seeker Is The Sought: Poems of Lovers’ Joys, Lovers’ Empowerments: Poems: 1970-2010 By Marvin Richard Montney Outskirts Press, Inc., $15.95, 72 pages This slender book of poetry is divided into three sections: The Seeker, The Sought, and The Found. It purports to be poems of “lovers’ joys and lovers’ empowerments.” There is an interesting use of language in “There is an isness” which makes the poem quite fun. In “Shrink yourself!” the humorous word play is enjoyable. “Fisher’s lament: the one who got away” continues the word play. In “New rain,” the rain has “laughing feet” as it pounds rooftops. In “To an Island girl: Twenty-three for Debbie,” the voice can be confusing as it shifts. “A thousand givings is your love” is somewhat repetitive as are some of the poet’s other poems. “Ram – ee- kack” is an onomatopoeian ode to baseball.This reviewer found the back cover blurb and the poet’s biography long and involved. His accomplishments listed in resume style were confusing. The poet, in a 2011 interview about his readers, says: “By reading the first poem through to the last, they actually

did experience a personal transformation that can only be characterized as spiritual.” I wonder if this can be a money-back guarantee. Enjoy the poems you like in this very personal selection, such as “The Arrival,” a wonderful poem about family longing with a clever nod to Jane Austen. It alone is a very worthwhile selection. Sponsored Review The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree By Kevin Pilkington Black Lawrence Press, $14, 82 pages Poetry is a remarkably personal act for such a public art form. It’s a conduit between the individual and the great forces around an individual, be they emotional, social, natural, or supernatural. And I’ve always found that the finest poets are those whose imagery and word choice are indelibly, irrefutably singular, yet not so fixed in tone and meaning that the reader can’t squirrel away a few small nuggets of wisdom and wonder for their very own. Kevin Pilkington is a fine wordsmith, dancing deftly between wordplay and description

with a feather-light touch. Whether it’s the slippery slope of perception in “Key West,” the pathos and nostalgia of “My Mother’s Clothes,” the dignified sarcasm of “The Reincarnation of Bagels,” or the deeper backstory beyond the lovely vistas and vignettes of his series meditating on the Mediterranean, he guides the reader with a confident hand and a mischievous grin. His enthusiasm for his subject is obvious and infectious, allowing the reader to process multiple ideas in a scant few lines, the same brief glimpse of imagery rich with ambitious texture and undeniable beauty. This verve occasionally makes him too clever for his own good, though; lines like “even if I add a few / extra miles jogging, I’ll never / be able to cover the distance / between us” wield it so pointedly that the tone ends up somewhat cutesier than intended. Nonetheless, a few awkwardly phrased lines amidst such splendor can hardly detract from what is a remarkably engaging collection. The pieces featured in The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree are vivid snapshots both familiar and foreign, captured through the lens of a sharp and immensely capable talent. I’m definitely looking forward to revisiting some of these poems; Pilkington has earned his spot on my nightstand for the foreseeable future. Sponsored Review

With A Little Help By Cory Doctorow Sweet home Grindstone Press, $12.00, 362 pages By now many people will be familiar with the bestselling co-editor of Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow, after the young adult novel Little Brother, and his great adult book, Makers. Doctorow clearly has a knack for not only stringing a bunch of words together creatively and skillfully, but crafting each and every story with an important “What if?” as well. Sometimes Doctorow offers dates, sometimes not; but readers can usually guess that his stories are set within the next hundred years, involving a possible future that will capture, delight, and sometimes terrify.With a Little Help collects thirteen of Doctorow’s short stories that have seen publication in anthologies or magazines or other media. These reveal Doctorow’s ability to tell a captivating science fiction story not just in long form, but also in short with developed characters you can connect with and a story that will haunt you and stay with you long after you See WITH A ... cont’d on page 19

this one time, evil really will win out. As an added bonus, the relationship between Corine and Kel has so much heat, one wonders how the book doesn’t burst into flames. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley

are just as strong as ever.Lisa Dale tells the story of Thea, Garrett, and Jonathan by alternating between the present and the past. The premise of the novel is interesting, but Thea’s decision to marry Jonathan when she was really in love with Garrett was not sufficiently convincing, and it undermined the reliability of her character. Although the coffee shop Thea owns on Price’s Pier makes an interesting backdrop for the story, the pretend “Coffee Diaries” newspaper columns at the beginning of each chapter didn’t add much to the book. Reviewed by Megan Just

Romance Cloudy With A Chance Of Marriage By Kieran Kramer St. Martin’s Press, $7.99, 418 pages Why is it, I wonder, that you can absolutely love a certain book by an author, but the next one you try is just so-so? That’s what happened with this book. The previous one by this author was most enjoyable, and I happily gave it a 5-star rating. This one should be 2½ max, but that’s not allowed, so I’ll be generous and round it up to three this time around. First off, the characters are nowhere near real-type people – they’re all cardboard. And the setting? Excuse me? London is known for its fog, but to think one particular, rather short street in Mayfair has more than its share? And the language these people use – it’s so contemporary, it wouldn’t be one bit out of place in a modern-day story. The premise could have been interesting, but it’s so infused with silliness as to be mostly just boring. Jilly Jones, the heroine of Cloudy With A Chance Of Marriage deserved to find herself in a much better story, as did the hero, retired navy Captain Ste-

6 August 2011

phen Arrow. Too bad neither of them were so lucky! Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz Shady Lady: A Corine Solomon Novel By Ann Aguirre Roc, $7.99, 336 pages Corine Solomon wants nothing more than to return to her Mexican pawnshop and do what she does best--match objects with their rightful owners using her gift. But past transgressions have caught up with her and Corine finds herself the target of an enraged drug dealer by the name of Montoya who is determined to end her life forever using any and all weapons at his disposal from assassins to magic to demons. But Corine isn’t helpless, with the help of a fallen angel named Kel, she must get to Montoya before he ends her.Shady Lady, third in the Corine Solomon series, is a high speed car chase through the mean streets of any city, filled with magic and demons, warlocks, shamans ,and voodoo priests. Author Ann Aguirre will keep you the edge of your seat as you wonder if, just

Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier: A Novel By Lisa Dale Berkley, $15, 361 pages Back when they were children, Thea and brothers Jonathan and Garrett were inseparable playmates. But as they grew older and entered high school, Thea and Garrett--the younger, more charismatic and unpredictable brother--fell in love. A misunderstanding made Garrett turn a cold shoulder to Thea and she was devastated. It was Jonathan who became her rock and when they eventually they married, Garrett turned a cold shoulder to his entire family. Fifteen years later, Thea and Jonathan have filed for divorce and are sharing custody of their 10-year-old daughter. But even though the divorce is still fresh, neither Thea nor the icy Garrett can deny that their feelings for one another

AUDREY... cont’d from page 7 cable style -- in So Audrey: 59 Ways to Put a Little Hepburn in Your Step.This hand-held, colorful picture guide is a quick flip-through of some of Hepburn’s most fun, classic, and quirky times in photographs. Each page is dedicated to a tip on how to take life “not so seriously” and have fun with the original you were made to be, “Love the ‘funny face’ in the mirror — it’s the only one you have.” “To pull off any look, wear it with confidence.” And, “Whether it be a mission of peace or pleasure, soak up the local color along your travels.”Grab your best feature, or your silliest, and let it be your brand — Audrey style!

O n o u r w e b s i t e : T H E B A C K PAG E , w r i t t e n b y p u b l i s h e d a u t h o r s


Relationships & Sex Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts By Mitzi Szereto Cleis Press, $15.95, 224 pages You have never read a Jane Austen novel quite like this! Upon reading the ending of Pride and Prejudice, it’s hard not to wish for more than just a kiss between the main characters. For anyone who has ever fantasized about peeking behind the closed doors of Mr. Darcy or the Bennet family, Mitzi Szereto’s erotic Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts would fit well on your bedside table. Unlike an average romance novel which has no more than three or four intimate scenes, Szereto has peppered the pages with romantic entanglements. Readers will get their fill of fun. Szereto believes in equal opportunity love and desire; her sexual encounters include those between men and women, each gender alone, women and women, men and men, and even group flogging! There is something for everyone! Readers familiar with Austen’s story will laugh (and blush)

with delight as their favorite characters shed their mild mannered exteriors (and clothes) and succumb to passion. Even if readers have never read the original Pride and Prejudice, Szereto includes the basic story along with new twists and turns. Hopefully there will be a frolicking, fun sequel in the near future. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin FREE LOVE – True Stories of Love and Lust on the Internet By Thomas Kelleher East Bay Press, $19.95, 370 pages The Internet is full of interesting people with interesting stories. Free Love — True Stories of Love and Lust on the Internet explores some of these. Specifically, it explores the personal ads section and why people post there. It explores all of the basic connections, be they heterosexual, homosexual, looking for Mr. Right, looking for Mr. Right Now. This book is a fascinating story of what people are looking for and

Reference The Conversation That Matters Most By DeWitt Rowe BookSurge Publishing, $9.99, 140 pages Let us begin our review by noting that this author’s purpose in writing this book is to study the experiences of people in life. Comedians, like talk show hosts, political and national news anchors, we are told, all rely on various forms of conversation to provide information and enjoyment as a means to connect people. As a specialist in social networking, I would certainly concur that conversation enables one to connect to people in various endeavors and segments of society. Many medical clinical trials deal with the mind and emotional balance and would agree that the latter is important in this regard.The author focuses on the learning that happens from casual conversations, both how others learn from us, and what we project and learn from others. Education and intelligence may be less important to some people than the learning they do through these conversations with those around them, and internally with themselves. Common sense may be as potentially important to one’s mental development and growth as native intelligence and formal education.Common sense encompasses many of the following: the ability to evalu-

ate a situation, ability to take lessons from one’s environment, and the ability to make a simple judgment, such as getting married, changing jobs or meeting a new friend. One must, according to this researcher, be alert to what’s happening in surroundings, such as an accident in the street or new neighbors moving into a neighborhood. Alternatively, two types of knowledge -- education and experience -- must be blended together. Intelligence is a big predictor whether one acquires knowledge from study or experience. The author notes that common sense involves reasoning, abstract thinking and understanding new material and profiting from past experience.In one of the most brilliant aspects of the book, namely on being employed, I concur with the author that career choices for monetary gain are important in one’s pursuit of a vocation. What skills one possesses, how dependable and reliable one is, and the ability to work with others are the essentials for the labor force. If he performs well, the employer will continue to invest in the employee. If he is a neglectful employee, it hinders the relationship with current and future “investors.” While participating in a Dale Carnegie course it was found, that various types of intelligence foster intelligent conversation. Instant communication enables one to see expressions and or to be able to recognize emotions. Paul Ekman of the University of California in outstanding research, has studied the whole field of non-verbal behavior and its effect on emo-

why they are looking for it.Kelleher found some interesting personal ads and then interviewed the posters, letting the people talk for themselves; that the original ad is followed by commentary from the person who wrote it helps. Although some of those interviewed are far too brief in their comments, the most interesting ones are those that go on for a little bit. A wide variety of people have been interviewed, from those that have lost their virginity thanks to personal ads to those that have been burned. It is especially fascinating, in this age of jaded cynicism, to see how many approach the personal ads section as a place to find romance, and found it.The dating scene really does take all types, and Free Love explores a wide variety of them. Those that tried a basic, honest approach received as much, if not more, response as the humorous ads. It is interesting to hear from the veterans, so as to compare the old versus the new, and that the new is more freeing, as you don’t need to go wait for a response to come through. This is a book for those who are afraid that the Internet removes the personality from the person, as it shows that people will always be people; the medium may change, but the message that we all need someone doesn’t. Sponsored Review

tion. It is important, as the author so well enumerates, to remove toxins from our lives and allow us to move past the hurt of life’s hardships. This is a wonderful beginning for a first-time writer who has shown that life’s conversations with its goals, ethics, and beliefs, are important. Further research in this area might involve a book or books dealing with the psychology of lifestyles or counseling which would interest a major publisher. Sponsored Review In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic By Professor X Viking, $25.95, 249 pages Education is big business, but a business nonetheless. When the business is bad, enrollment for colleges increases, but teachers’ salaries decreases and both sides suffer. That is an oversimplified way of looking at the education market and luckily there is a book out there that delves deeply into the problems of higher education. In the Basement of the Ivory Tower is a book about college, education, and its’ ugly underbelly. Professor X, not the leader of a group of mutants, but a professor who wishes to keep his identity a secret, openly shares his views on the sub-

C atc h ou r week ly colu mn A F T ER T HE M A NUSCR IP T on ou r website

ject.The book is well-written and successfully uses humor to balance the bleak narrative. There is no doubt that Professor X is a talented writer, but in using this format Professor X becomes the subject matter. His plight pulls away from the real problem and focuses more on his own personal vendetta. It really hurts his thesis and draws attention away from the real problems. Despite a smart and elegant writing style, this book has too many personal problems to be truly groundbreaking. Reviewed by Kevin Brown So Audrey: 59 Ways to Put a Little Hepburn in Your Step By Cindy De La Hoz Running Press, $14.95, 128 pages Audrey Hepburn. Just her name exudes confidence, style, and timelessness. She was and still is an inspiration to girls and women of all ages. Between her faithful work as a humanitarian and her show-stopping good looks and charisma, Audrey carried with her the perfect balance between reality and Hollywood. She was a real person who graced the screen with a playful charm and still does in her absence. Cindy De La Hoz pays tribute to the other flip of the coin -- Audrey’s impecSee AUDREY... cont’d on page 6

August 2011

7


History From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend By Valerie Estelle Frankel McFarland, $35, 366 pages While the male in literature and mythology has his journey, so the female has hers. Valerie Estelle Frankel’s book of folklore and myth explores this journey and guides the reader through the complex twists and turns of the female experience. It’s a surprisingly comprehensive and readable excursion into the feminine aspect of myth and legend. The male has one journey and while the female journey may sometimes mirror the male, it is, in the end, her own battle and voyage.Frankel is an amazingly systematic storyteller. Where some authors turn vague or verbose, or both, on certain explanations in regard to myth, Frankel never talks down to her audience, or fails to keep them tracking along with her on a path sometimes fraught with confusing, contradictory, or complex information. From Girl to Goddess is written in a wheel pattern that mirrors the feminine journey, taking the heroines and the reader from girl to woman to goddess and beyond. Frankel has a seamless way of weaving the story so the reader feels as though they travel along with her through these deep valleys and dark woods, even if they are only hypothetical places. She also doesn’t neglect less wellknown myths. She includes not only the classics from Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, and Britain, but rare ones from the Zuni, Navaho, Blackfoot, Aztec, and Samoan people, as well as stories from China, Vietnam, Vancouver Island, the Sudan, and other places.Once you read this, you’ll never see the female journey the same way again. This book is a fascinating and engaging explanation into the feminine journey and a real treasure of storytelling. It’s at once academic in scope and yet accessible to the layman reader. It contains masterful storytelling and retelling of the myths that are used to support the thesis of the feminine journey. Overall, the book is empowering to all females, and lets them see themselves as the everyday heroines they are. Sponsored Review Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation By Andrea Wulf Knopf, $30, 352 pages If one thing becomes apparent when visiting the homes of the Founding Fathers and reading their letters and histories, it is that they were all, at heart, farmers. They owned plantations and obsessed about their condition and upkeep; they researched

8 August 2011

and visited farms outside of their homes while traveling; they even approached and conducted official business with a farmer’s mentality. Farming and gardening informed their sense of self and their ideals of country, and it is from this perspective that Wulf explores, with precision and passion, the founding of the United States of America. This isn’t uncharted territory for Wulf, whose wonderful The Brother Gardeners delved into the history of the English garden. Drawing from this background, she tackles Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and Madison—their lives and their roles in bringing this nation into existence—as gardeners. She examines each founder through his home and farm, from Washington’s Mount Vernon to Madison’s Montpelier, and then expands to how their farm management influenced them as statesmen. Wulf’s prose may at times be a bit overburdened with detail, but this is a fascinating account and unique perspective on this country’s founding. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Prairie: A Natural History By Candace Savage Greystone Books, $29.95, 305 pages Prairie: A Natural History is a heavy, lovely book, with impassioned prose and sprawling pictures. It’s easy to feel the author’s passion for the plains--regarded by many to be desolate--as she explores their richness and the delicate dance of animals, plants, and the local geology. While it’s easy to catch the author’s enthusiasm for this rich ecosystem, it’s equally easy to share her concern for the poor health for this endangered area, for its recovery and restoration. This passion is lovingly rendered in the almost poetical prose and a plethora of engaging images on nearly every page from the evershrinking grasslands. Prairie doubles as an authoritative text and an easy-to-read guide to the natural variety of the grasslands in their diverse splendor. The author wrote this gorgeous and visually appealing book to share the beauty of the prairie ecology and also to make a plea for its conserva- tion. Candace Savage lives in Canada and has been honored by the Canadian Science Writers’ Association for her work. This is the second edition, which includes a new preface. Reviewed by Axie Barclay

Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us about the Fate of Earth’s Largest Animals By Sharon Levy Oxford University Press, $24.95, 280 pages Sharon Levy’s breathtaking new book, Once and Future Giants offers an unparalleled view of life on Earth in the time of the wooly mammoth and other giant creatures. As someone who usually reads fast-paced fiction, I was unsure what to expect when I picked up this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find Levy’s pages bursting with life. My eyes were opened to a world I never knew existed. Not only is this story of the past interesting, but it sheds light on the mass-extinctions we are facing today.Until about 13,000 years ago, North America was home to mammoths, camels, giant sloths, and even lions, but when the first humans arrived these giant wonders disappeared forever. Levy examines this extinction and similar ones around the world and examines mankind’s part in the dramatic changes. Levy presents many competing theories and examines global evidence of human influence on mega fauna extinctions globally. She puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of the preservation of and restoration of natural habitats.I loved how Levy took actual paleontological evidence to bring to life the world of the mammoths. I learned about scores of amazing animals and was shocked with how quickly they were wiped from the face of the planet. If you like science, history, or animals, this book is for you. If your passion is green living or saving the planet, this is a must-read. This is one non-fiction masterpiece I simply couldn’t put down. Reviewed by Jennifer Melville Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World By Doug Saunders Pantheon, $27.95, 336 pages The author, an award-winning journalist based in London, by means of anecdotes and vignettes shows us 20 case studies of cities with overcrowded buildings and urban jungles. The conclusion of the latter situation is that migration is changing our world and will cause catastrophic conditions or elimi-

nate poverty.In a three-year study where he visited numerous countries and villages worldwide, the author finds that with transportation, education, and security, the middle class is prospering. The author’s research also shows that three billion migrants, about a third of the world’s population, will change the face of the world. This situation will cause changes to small urban agrarian families and it will affect the urban population of the world. It is shown through an analysis of migration in the 18th and 19th centuries that there was a complete change in technology and welfare. It is the author’s opinion that mass urbanization was the major cause of the French and Industrial revolutions. This is the best popular book on cities since Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and the slightly more technical Triumph of Cities by Edward Glaseur. Reviewed by Claude Ury America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation By David R. Goldfield Bloomsbury, $35, 632 pages From the onset, Goldfield asks his readers if there is anything that can be added to the enormous volume of literature about the Civil War that has not already been written. Indeed to those students of American history, the procession of events is well known. However, Goldfield provides details about religious sentiment throughout the North and South, and how inept the elected politicians were at handling the real issues plaguing the nation -- details seldom addressed in much of our post-modern texts. The sheer volume of work Goldfield arranges constitutes a staggering undertaking, and yet this narration flows easily from the earliest religious and political conflicts to its bloody conclusion. “The Fugitive Slave Law, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the caning of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, the Dred Scott decision, and the Lecompton fraud convinced many Northerners that slavery society bred despotism.” A Robert E. Lee Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Goldfield arms his work with a plethora of minute details that time and distance have all but erased; for example, the exquisite ironies employed by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the effects of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on both Northerners and Southerners. All in all, this excellent book displays the irreconcilable differences that won us the distinction of being the only civilized country in the world to require a war to abolish slavery. Reviewed by Casey Corthron

t hou s a nd s of re v ie w s at w w w. s a c r a me nt ob o ok re v ie w.c om


Historical Fiction Aldric & Anneliese By Harry E. Gilleland Jr. 4RV Publishing LLC, $14.99, 166 pages Not your ordinary chivalric tale!Men and women might well approach this book from different vantage points. It can be so many different types of story, depending on the mind-set of the reader. I think men would be more likely to appreciate the battle scenes -- of which there are a good many, but not of the prolonged variety, thank goodness. Blood and gore and lopped off heads are all over the place, but that was life in the sixth century. Life was cheap, then. Or so I’ve been told. On the other hand, there is a love story in there, too. In fact, there are several of them, but this is by no means a romance novel, either.The author points out that it is a tale of nation building, kings, knights, fair ladies, battles won and lost, triumph, betrayal, tragedy, revenge, redemption, and great loves. From that description, it’s rather clear that the book doesn’t quite know which is the most important element. It’s a mixture of so many things; the reader

could end up rather confused when trying to figure out the intent. Mostly, it’s referred to as historical fiction, but in my opinion, it’s really more of a fable – a sometimes ribald fable – with copious amounts of blood and gore spilled here and there. Unfortunately, the exact locale is not identified, so you have nothing to anchor your inner vision of place. One of the major faults, which might in fact, be a virtue, is the lack of one strong character leading the tale. There are three stories here, one blending into the next, in which one character does move along through all three, but with different characters in each one.While Aldric is present in all three tales, Annaliese appears only in the shorter central tale. Granted, she makes a major impression on Aldric, but it’s a mystery as to why her name is included in the title.It’s a rather short read (152 pages) with no glaring errors, and written in an engaging, sometimes witty style that will encourage you to keep turning the pages. Sponsored Review I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive By Steve Earle Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 243 pages Celebrated singer-songwriter, social activist and political creature, recovering her-

oin addict, Renaissance Man, Steve Earle’s new novel imagines Doc Ebersole, the last man to see country singer Hank Williams alive, and rumored to have given Hank the final morphine dose that killed him. It’s 1963 and Doc lives with the ghost of Hank, and he himself is wracked by morphine addiction and painful memories. After losing his medical license, he now performs backstreet abortions, and patches up criminal wounds in the red-light district of San Antonio. When Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, appears in the neighborhood seeking his services, Doc falls under her magic healing powers and innocence and redemptive soul. But Hank’s ghost is not pleased to see Doc’s redemption. A small, precious, bittersweet novel, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, the title from one of Hank’s songs, tells a Steinbeck-like story (think Cannery Row). Earle writes a “what you know” as his first novel — San Antonio (his hometown), country music (his early musical focus) and drug addiction (which almost killed him),

O n o u r w e b s i t e : B O O K B A N T E R w i t h A l e x Te l a n d e r

starring the down-and-out misfortunates of society. Reviewed by Phil Semler To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine By Christy English NAL, $15, 380 pages Written as a chronicle of the early years of Eleanor of Aquitaine, To Be Queen is an entertaining and accurate book, but rather light on history. It takes itself very seriously with an accurate reflection of the ideas of courtly love and high romance sagas, which makes the dialogue ring false and the characters seem like modern people dressed up and acting at a Renaissance Faire. Other than this almost comical seriousness, the writing is engaging, for all that it reads quickly, but the reader seeking a realistic, gritty, and historical treatment of Eleanor, shouldn’t look here. If, on the other hand, you lean toward the fiction side of historical fiction, this is a romance lover’s perfect beach companion, See QUEEN... cont’d on page 19

August 2011

9


Modern Literature Vaclav & Lena: A Novel By Haley Tanner Dial Press, $25.00, 284 pages Let’s just be blunt. This is a great first novel. It is equal parts funny, charming, warm, scary, and written with an ear for accent worthy of Henry Higgins.This novel started as a short story assignment for a creative writing class. And so Haley Tanner imagined the tale of two Russian immigrant children living in Brighton Beach. They were united by their backgrounds and a common interest in magic, spurred by their first play date at age five at Coney Island. As Lena was too small to ride the roller coaster they instead attended the Sideshow.Vaclav & Lena is written in the vernacular of slightly halting English as a second language. This can be a tough go, but Tanner’s ear is so good-- growing up in Brighton Beach herself--that the tone rings lovingly, not awkwardly comic.As the children grow, they become separated;

first metaphorically by Lena’s desire to fit in with other little girls who might find the young magician Vaclav tagging along to be distinctly un-cool. Later, they are physically separated when Lena is removed from her aunt’s home by children’s aid authorities. The end result? A novel lovely as a summer’s day at Coney island. Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearn Expiration Date By Sherril Jaffe Permanent Press, $26.00, 200 pages The opening scene in Expiration Date begins in an unusual place: a heavenly courtroom. Flora Rose doesn’t know if she is dreaming or actually on trial for some vague offense. No matter. The sentence is declared: Flora will die before her sixtieth birthday. This gives her twenty-five years to live. Flora returns to the temporal world where she resumes her life wondering if the sentence was real. As the story unfolds, readers are treated to another

character who almost steals the show: Flora’s elderly yet spry mother, Muriel. In the past, Flora was intimidated by her mother. But after Flora’s father dies, she begins to enjoy her mother’s company. At times this reader found Muriel unlikeable, which only made her character more interesting to watch as she struggled to figure out what to do with her life while staving off loneliness by keeping busy. Flora’s husband, Jonah, is a rabbi with keen spiritual insights, though he doesn’t believe Flora has a twenty-five year expiration date. The mystery intensifies as Flora approaches her sixtieth birthday. The book explores mortality, painting vivid pictures of life in the senior years. It’s not what you might expect. A creative read. Reviewed by Grady Jones Please Look After Mom By Kyung-sook Shin Knopf, $24.95, 237 pages An older woman, a wife, and mother of five grown children, lets go of her husband’s hand and goes missing in a crowded train station in Seoul. As time goes by and they cannot find her, her husband and children grow increasingly worried and confused.

Sequential Art

How could she have just disappeared? Where could she possibly be? As the weeks pass, her children hand out flyers and ask around after their mom. And they look within themselves, remembering their time with her. Please Look After Mom tells the story of the missing mother through the memories and perspectives of her oldest son, her older daughter, her husband and, finally, herself. Her husband and children have regrets; they realize how little they truly knew this woman who worked so hard for them over the years. The book focuses very little on the details of the disappearance and the “mystery” that entails; it mainly focuses on putting together a rough sketch of a devoted mother and wife through the eyes of those who didn’t appreciate her well enough. It’s often a lovely reminder of how often we undervalue our closest relationships. Occasionally, however, the second-person perspective that is used at times can be distracting, detracting from what can be a powerful story. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Liar’s Kiss By Eric Skillman & Jhomar Soriano TopShelf, $14.95, 120 pages There always seems to be a need to reinvent the pulp novel, or at least have some fun with it. Liar’s Kiss follows Nick Archer and his investigation of an old man’s murder. Archer has the usual put-upon assistant who hasn’t been paid for months, the requisite romantic connection to the prime suspect, and the cliché bad relationship with the local police. However, he has an unusual reason to see the case closed, and it’s that reason that

provides for a satisfying twist at the end. Although the twist isn’t fully earned, it does nonetheless work and makes sense in the twisted world of the Archer Detective Agency. It’s not a bad twist, and it allows for a nice sense of moral ambiguity not usually seen in a pulp novel. Even if the police are a little heavier than they need to be, three women involved keep things interesting. One is interested in proving herself innocent, another in protecting her boss, and the third in exonerating a former lover; between them they keep the plot moving. It is a nice little, generally tidy piece of work with enough left over to make things interesting. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim

Mister Wonderful: A Love Story By Daniel Clowes Pantheon, $19.95, 80 pages One can sometimes be the looniest number. Mister Wonderful is a story about a divorced man named Marshall, struggling to date right in a different world. It is from Daniel Clowes, the imaginative mind behind the alternative comic book series, Ghost World and Eightball. The book is independent from Clowes’ other universes, but still has his trademark style and humor. The story is all about Marshall and his blind date. As the night and his date progress, Marshall faces

new challenges and overcomes some of his own insecurities.The book is really a dual narrative between Marshall and himself. When his date, Natalie, is speaking, Marshall’s thoughts literally obstruct what she is saying. Furthermore, the climatic fight panel is blotched out by Marshall’s self narrative. It was nice to see both Marshall and Natalie grow and develop as characters. It was like an emotional ménage à trois between Marshall, Natalie, and the reader. My major problem was with the simplicity of the book. It is not as complex as other works by Clowes. Mister Wonderful is a short, cute and perfect with its imperfections. Reviewed by Kevin Brown

Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles By Stephen P. Ryder Alpha Books, $14.95, 213 pages Whether it’s ranking robot warriors or the hotness of chili peppers, sequencing genomes or cataloguing classroom pets, the brain-teasers featured in Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles are topnotch brain-busting challenges.The casual logic solver has a plethora of puzzles to choose from, but with

the addition of an average completion time listed for each puzzle, the more focused solvers have a benchmark to shoot for (and hopefully top). And for the truly competitive, the best

solve times for each puzzle (cribbed from PuzzleBaron.com’s rankings, no doubt) make for breakneck speed challenges for even the most seasoned and quick-penciled of solvers.Organized by the descending percentage of solvers who successfully completed the puzzle, Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles offers a gauntlet of deduction problems to baffle and entertain. I do, however, wish that the book’s pages were slightly larger, if

only to accommodate writing conclusions and connections in the tiny layout box provided beside the logic grid itself.Any fan of logic puzzles will find this book a delight, but I think casual solvers should content themselves with only the first third of the book. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

10 August 2011

W h a t i t ’s l i k e t o b e a b o o k r e v i e w e r ? T H E C R I T I C A L E Y E .

Games


Humor-Fiction The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs By Ralph Steadman Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.00, 96 pages Caricaturist Ralph Steadman, whose illustrations have accompanied the now legendary gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson, has turned his pen to man’s best friend. In Steadman’s unique wit and style all types of dogs are depicted, from common to fictional, show dog to stray. Most of these images are accompanied by his humorous captions. Alongside many canine drawings are portrayals of their human companions and, in some cases, the things that irritate dogs.Steadman has created a cross between an art book and a cartoon strip, one that is original but not as ambitious as some of his classics. His work tends to embody socio-cultural commentary, thus making it an acquired taste. This book would be offensive if it were not for the artist’s typical tongue-planted-firmlyin-cheek perspective. Unfortunately, some of the hand-written words elude legibility and should have been printed or eliminated entirely; the images are strong enough to speak for themselves. Suggestions of animal cruelty, not to mention an overabundance of scatological humor occasionally crosses the line and becomes objectionable. If a reader or art lover is sufficiently open-minded, however, Steadman’s art could prove a joy. Reviewed by Richard Mandrachio Write More Good: An Absolutely Phony Guide By The Bureau Chiefs, Roger Ebert Three Rivers Press, $13.00, 252 pages There are plenty of writing style manuals out there--some good, some bad. But how many of them are so willfully misleading that they warn you on the cover not to follow their advice? Just one: Write More Good, an absolutely hysterical handbook for professional writing, offering an exhaustive array of options for the modern journalist, blogger, and newspaper columnist. Need to know how to cite a t-shirt? Interview a UFO spotter? Explain jai alai? Phonetically spell the sounds of combat? The Bureau Chiefs have you covered. Born from the popular Twitter stream @ Fa k e A P St y leb o ok , Write More Good is a pitch-perfect parody of style guides, complete with bulleted lists, advice boxes, and primers on punctuation and grammar, as well as numerous examples of what not to do for every occasion. But the highlight of every chapter is undoubtedly the glossary. Nothing less than a machine gun-rapid factory for hilarious one-liners, the glossaries

are like the best of The Devil’s Dictionary updated for the modern day. This uproariously funny phony style guide belongs on every writer’s bookshelf, if only to keep the other style guides humble. If you have a sense of humor, this book is for you. Read it. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Pat the Zombie: A Cruel (Adult) Spoof By Aaron Ximm, Kaveh Soofi Ten Speed Press, $11.99, 20 pages The 1940 classic Pat the Bunny remains a favorite book for generations of children. What happens when you mix an unsuspecting rabbit with the undead? You get author Aaron Ximm and illustrator Kaveh Soofi’s book Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Adult Spoof. With its eerily similar packaging, you might mistake it for the original book! But this version is strictly for grown-up fans. Toddlers Paul and Judy are back and ready for... fun? A fascinating aspect of Pat the Bunny was that readers could interact with the book. Fear not! The touch-and-feel (now touch-and-recoil) elements still await you... but this time there’s a twist. “Judy can gut the zombie. Now YOU gut the zombie.” (Separate the zombie bunny’s tummy fur to feel its lumpy insides!) “Paul can search the remains. Now YOU search the remains.” (Scratch ‘n sniff to experience the scent of decaying flesh!) What fun! Other surprises await the reader as the adventure continues. Poor Paul and Judy. Will they (or you) make it out alive? If you love witty, campy humor combined with disturbingly funny illustrations, treat yourself to Pat the Zombie. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin Archie Firsts By Vic Bloom, Bob Montana, Illustrator, George Frese, Illustrator Dark Horse, $24.99, 144 pages Released just in time for the 70th anniversary, this special edition collection from Dark Horse shows the very first appearances of the main characters of the series: the clumsy and loveable redhead Archie, the insatiable food dumpster and Archie’s lifelong pal Jughead, the wily and arrogant rival of Archie, Reggie, and the two loves of Archie’s life, the beautiful and sweet blondie Betty and the rich and stuck-up black-haired Veronica. Along with them are the rest of the zany characters from the series that anyone could identify with. Archie is one of the longest running, not to mention beloved, comic series See ARCHIE, con’t on page 16

Bad Books...and Me By Hubert O’Hearn

As a reviewer, I’ve found that a comfortable pace is reading three books a week and reviewing two - sometimes one or two more of both, sometimes one or two less, but that’s par for my course. At that, I can’t, don’t, and won’t read everything, but I probably get a lot closer to everything than 99% of the readers out there. Still, it does beg the question: What about the Third Book, the one that doesn’t get reviewed? Well as Eeyore might have said, there hangs a sad tale. In the last two years, I have only written two negative reviews. One was because I considered the book to be a massively hyped fraud foisted on the public by a talented writer who had completely phoned it in. I’d tell you the name, but I’m not sure if I remember the correct spelling of the author’s name. (Yes I can look it up - but why republicize something I don’t like?) The other was because I was assigned the book by one of the papers I work for, the editor is an old friend, and in this business, you survive based on your talent and your word. I couldn’t very well leave them with a gap in the Arts section on Sunday, although I’m sure the advertising manager would have gleefully filled it with a blaring display announcing a hot sale on hot tubs, shaved beef, or canopy awnings. The thing is, despite their being tremendous fun to write, I deeply dislike publishing negative reviews. I only have so much space and so many markets to fill, and I would rather spend that time promoting the worthwhile than barbecuing the hacks. The hyped book mentioned above was an exception because I felt it my duty to protect innocent readers from being sucked into a vortex of craptacularity; plus its author has made lots of money, so I doubt my opinion will have withered his bank account. Otherwise, I just really don’t like hurting people. I’m always aware that my opinion is just my opinion. One tip for readers is to approach book reviewers like movie reviewers. Find one or two whose opinions on books you’ve read in common that you agree with and stick with them. There - just saved you a bunch of time. But there are masses of truly bad books out there. I will, essentially, read anything, or at least a few chapters of anything,sent to me. You’ve taken the time to write a book. You’ve paid me the honour (and it truly is an honour) of asking for my opinion. You deserve that respect. Plus eventually bookshelves will fill every wall in my house and I need never paint again. Bonus! Because of Wordpress and Kindle and all those little Google adverts raising a seductive eye and whispering Publish Your Novel Now, there are more books than ever going direct to market without benefit of professional editing. And - I truly hate to say it - 98% are Bad. If Shakespeare was revived from the dead and taken to a modern production of Hamlet, hearing his play delivered word by word, line by line, as he wrote it, I will bet you dollars to doughnuts this is what his post-show reaction would be: ‘Could stand one more re-write.’ Oh I know what your reaction may well be, if you’re one of the happy indie authors out there twittering your praises. ‘Those editors are just a rip-off! And the big houses don’t ‘get’ me! I’m different!’ Editors - real ones - are never a rip-off. I edit books from time to time as well. I’m bloody expensive, because it’s a lot of work. But, if at the end of the day, I have to tell you your book’s not worthy of a push, that’s not me ripping you off—that’s you not having one of either the talent or work ethic to fix it. And the big houses are smart. They have to be. Publishing is actually in much better shape than the groaning pundits would lead you to believe (and by the way, Groaning Pundits were a great proto-punk band based out of Syracuse in the late 70s...yes I’m kidding). But publishing stays in good shape by not making expensive mistakes. Your book that contains the phrase (I’m directly quoting here): “She had ample curves in all the right places” is going to be an expensive mistake. Unless, of course, the whole thing’s like that, in which case it might be a comic masterpiece. I’m going to keep reading the indie books, however, and reviewing them whenever they’re worthy. One of the best books I’ve read this year is an indie: 33 Days by Bill See. I’m writing its review later this week. It may not have ample curves in all the right places, but it does have ample words in all the right phrases.

A re you a sc ience bu f f ? C atc h CUR R EN TS IN SCIENCE & NAT UR E .

August 2011 11


Explore MIDTOWN iPhone App

Coming very soon for the Android

Business & Investing The Open Innovation Marketplace: Creating Value in the Challenge Driven Enterprise By Alpheus Bingham and Dwayne Spradlin FT Press, $34.99, 242 pages Innovation, it is the life blood of companies. Without innovation we would not have computers, the Internet, and iPod. The traditional view of innovation is that it happens within a single company, from original idea, to discovery, to roll out. All decisions of whether it will work and is a good investment decision are handled by middle managers in the company.Authors Alpheus Bingham and Dwayne Spradlin make a case that innovation must change if companies are going to survive, that the traditional model no longer works in a global fast paced world. They suggest that the answer is open innovation, opening up the process to outside people by offering monetary rewards. The only way for big companies to survive is to cut their bloated budgets and to become more nimble with open innovation.The authors make several compelling points, and

12 August 2011

they make a good argument for open innovation. The major problem is that half the book reads like a PR piece for their own company InnoCentive. It would have been better if it focused less on their company and more on innovation in general. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Startup from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Transforming an Idea into a Business By Cynthia Kocialski CreateSpace, $14.95, 228 pages Serial entrepreneur Cynthia Kocialski has collected much of her experiences, common sense lessons, and stories from the businesses she’s started and those start-ups she’s worked on in her first book, Start Up From the Ground Up. The book is organized into eleven sections (though they aren’t listed that way in the Table of Contents), looking at subjects like Product and Business Concept, Customer Understanding, The Team, Understanding Sales and Business Model and Planning. Within each section

are chapters that expand on the subjects at hand, with some practical stories from Kocialski’s experiences or those in fairly common knowledge. Mentions of major Internet and tech company beginnings are also scattered throughout. Kocialski includes practical advice on many situations faced by start-ups of all types, though primarily aimed at technology companies. The section on getting funding for a start-up is probably the most important collection of pages any group of founders can read while still sitting around the table during their first meeting. No one is likely to fall in love with your initial idea and hand you a check for enough to let you do everything you could ever imagine with your company. Finding funding is almost a full-time job and constantly distracts from the running and managing the day-to-day operations of your company. Yet without money, you can’t grow. Start Up gives some suggestions, insights, and ideas on how to manage either the funding search, or avoiding it all together.Considering your own start-up? This might be the best $15 you’ll ever invest in your idea. There are many books on starting a business, writing a business plan, and developing your team. While not adding anything groundbreaking to the overall current body

of works, Start-Up From the Ground Up is an eminently readable survey of what you need to know, in an easy-to-follow style. Sponsored Review The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age By David J. Neff, Randal C. Moss Wiley, $45.00, 235 pages The Future of Nonprofits is a must-read for people who need to understand the business of life and the business of business. People can depend on change, if nothing else. No one can explain this subject better than the authors of this book, David J. Neff and Randall C. Moss.Successful nonprofits actually change in advance of their core constituencies because they are anticipating the reality of the new operating environment. The world is ever-so-slowly changing at a pace perceptible for those looking for change. For example, women were the driving force of nonprofits and their campaigns, but when See THE FUTURE... cont’d on page 15

A re you a bu s y mom? R e ad T HE F U L L PL AT E on ou r website.


Science Fiction & Fantasy Element Keepers: Whispers in the Wind By E. P. Marcellin Tate Publishing, $21.99, 295 pages Even as a boy, I was never big on sword and fantasy stories. There was Thomas Malory and other versions of King Arthur, but they still had a toehold on history for their appeal. Therefore, it was a truly pleasant surprise when I started reading Element Keepers and found it enjoyable, even intriguing. E.P. Marcellin takes a unique feminist angle to this story of myth, danger, and magic. While the central character of Rhet is a young male, he starts out as an abduction victim and measures his own growth by the reactions of the capturing women. This makes for a most interesting blend of empowered (and somewhat frightening) women who are simultaneously brave and nurturing. Marcellin is a good, solid writer too. With any book of this type, one can get lost in the names of tribes, gods and so forth - now who was that again? - but she keeps the story moving and avoids the trap of having everyone speak in Thee and Thou terms. I suspect this is the first of a series (the subtitle is a clue) and I equally suspect it will do well. Sponsored Review Deadworld By J.N. Duncan Kensington, $6.99, 437 pages A nostalgic throwback to the “bumps in the night” that frighten us as children, Deadworld is a virtual hodgepodge of paranormal creatures that is full of psychics, and vampires, set in the urban world. The story gives a fictional account of a paranormal squad of the FBI. The introduction sets the plot extremely well and then the book muddles around for some pages and picks up again at the end. J. N. Duncan’s greatest quality is the how he captures each character’s personality perfectly. Jackie Rutledge, the main protagonist, is a cold straight-shooter, but has a dash of humanity inside. She is a perfectly flawed character. One problem I had was how stale the dialogue became after a few chapters. The best part of the book is how it “genre jumps” from thriller to science fiction to murder mystery and with a dash of cheesy romance. While not the worst thing out there to read, it is still a solid book with some minor flaws. This is the first in the series so hopeful next time around some of the problem will be fixed. Otherwise, Deadworld won’t stand a ghost of a chance. Reviewed by Kevin Brown

For Heaven’s Eyes Only: A Secret Histories Novel By Simon R. Green Roc, $25.95, 368 pages Do you remember that opening sequence from Tomorrow Never Dies when James Bond escapes the mountain sale of illegal weapons as a British rocket destroys it? Well, Simon R. Green delights in rewriting scenes like this into his Shaman Bond/Eddie Drood books, the latest being For Heaven’s Eyes Only.Green goes beyond parody, i.e. a pale but humorous imitation of the original. Rather he recombines the genes making James Bond so popular and creates a chimera in the same mold as the Laundry novels from Charles Stross and the Richard Jeperson stories from Kim Newman that combine John Steed and Jason King in fantasy/horror settings.The common denominator in all such works is homage to well-established literary characters or conventions, filtered through a rather typical British sense of humor. Frankly, you either love it or hate it. When Green began mining this particular seam, I thought it reasonably entertaining, but now the joke has grown tedious. This latest addition is a Bond too far. I might have forgiven Green if he had managed to produce a fantasy/horror plot of any sophistication. Sadly, this is less than original at excessive length. Reviewed by David Marshall Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) By Ilona Andrews Ace, $7.99, 320 pages Magic Slays is a book that Ilona Andrews’ fans will eat up. There’s a great deal of action, awesome Kate Daniels snarky insight, and relaxed times with her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord.Kate used to work for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, but after being fired she has opened her own business called Cutting Edge Investigations. It’s never a dull moment for Kate and trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes. She takes on a dangerous job of finding a top secret item that was stolen. A device has been created to bring forth destruction to Atlanta. Think of this as magical atomic bomb that in the wrong hands will bring forth a post-apocalypse, and destroy not only humans, but every supernatural creature that comes in contact with it. Kate, along with Curran and his pack, must stop Armageddon before it’s too late.Magic Slays is

a wild ride. You’ll gasp in outrage, as well as laugh and sigh. Fans of Ilona Andrews will not want to miss this one. Reviewed by Kate Garrabrant Warned By Dustin Kuhlman Admonish Publishing, $14.95, 265 pages “It’s never too late” is an interesting quote. Is it never too late to make things right with a loved one? Is it never too late to make amends for the sins of the father? Warned takes a look at these themes, while also delivering a classic survival story. The book, by Dustin Kuhlman, is really two narratives, which is one half ecological thriller and one half philosophical odyssey. The first storyline is set in the near future, 2041 AD. Humans are faced with the doomsday of all doomsdays. It is up to NASA scientist Jon Castel, and a team of the smartest people in the world, to save mankind. The other plot is set on Mars in 2045 AD. The same Jon Castel is marooned on Mars, with a few hours left to live. He meets an alien, named Buddy, that tells Jon that there is still hope for mankind. The book alternates chapters so the dual storylines do not get muddled. There are clear distinctions between the past events and the present. Kuhlman excels at building suspense within the past by doing some wonderful foreshadowing. It adds a marvelous urgency to both parts. Characters are sharp and clean. From the gruff US Chief of Defense to the semi-omnipotent alien, each one is distinct in action and voice. The book does start off slow in the beginning, because it needs time to build up those characters. I really enjoyed the meta-philosophical aspects during Buddy and Jon’s talks. Instead of the Alien bestowing gifts of technology, the alien gives Jon knowledge for survival. This book will be a pleasure and change of pace for fans of the science fiction genre. This is an intelligent book about discovery, the human condition, and above all else, hope. Sponsored Review The Worth of Smart: True stories that might one day happen By Blaine C. Readler Full Arc Press, $13.95, 224 pages A young man and his friend break into his technocrat father’s robot-run home. The president enters into curious negotiations with an alien race. The drawbacks of a billionaire’s built-in computer become obvious in a crisis. An AI program is interrogated after the astronauts under its care don’t return from a mission. A man discovers the U.S.’s deadly new method for protecting the

border. God enacts a tech-savvy Plan B to reboot the Earth. The stories collected in The Worth of Smart run the gamut from funny to thoughtful, farcical to analytical, and each has something genuinely unique to offer. While many short story collections inevitably have their clunkers, there’s not a one in The Worth of Smart that I’d cut. The tongue-in-cheek style of several pieces offers a nice counterpoint to Readler’s darker fare, and the collection flows nicely between stories. The subtitle -- True stories that might one day happen -- is intriguingly ballsy in its confidence, a quality many of the stories share. (Though, admittedly, I wish a different story was chosen as the headliner, as The Worth of Smart is a clumsy title.) If Readler has a flaw, it’s that he burns through good ideas too fast. I found myself wishing each story was longer, allowing me to spend a little more time in that world. That said, several of the stories are flat-out terrific. Exposure and The Full Story are two unnerving examinations of the intersection of science and politics, and the often harsh consequences involved. On the flip side, The Shoes of Moses -- the only story the subtitle doesn’t really fit -- is a quick and enjoyable alternate look at the trials and tribulations of being a miracle worker. With interesting hooks, solid execution, and terrific energy behind each tale, The Worth of Smart is a good time. Sponsored Review Dark Jenny By Alex Bledsoe Tor, $14.99, 348 pages Grand Braun is a paradise, a kingdom ruled by order and justice, the dream of King Marcus Drake. But sometimes dreams have a dark side, as Eddie LaCrosse, swordjockey and all-around medieval P.I., is about to find out. Hired by a client to tail a philandering husband, Eddie unexpectedly finds himself at the center of a festering web of court intrigues with half the nobles of the kingdom calling for his blood. Now Eddie has to unravel the answers and quickly before Marcus Drake’s dream country turns into a nightmare of civil war.Dark Jenny is a completely unexpected gem almost from the word go. If you can imagine Sam Spade walking into Camelot, having a martini with King Arthur and shooting craps with Merlin, then you’ll be well on the path to the setting of this story. Anyone who’s read The Once And Future King will See DARK JENNY cont’d on page 16

Enjoy meet ing aut hors? See who’s com ing to tow n in ou r on l ine ca lend a r.

August 2011 13


Sports & Outdoors 100 Things Giants Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die By Bill Chastain Triumph Books, $14.95, 232 pages Do you know what Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” did for the 1951 Giants? Did you ever see a basket catch by a certain player? Do you attend spring training in Scottsdale? Or, are you a more recent supporter of Buster Posey? No matter, this book is for all Giants fans, whether you can afford a ticket at AT&T Park or not. Chastain has collected every essential piece of Giants knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and ranks them from 1 to 100. Number 1 is Willie Mays, of course. You get some facts on the “Say Hey Kid,” and now you’re on your way to Giant fan superstardom. Other things you should know include facts on Gaylord Perry, John McGraw, Candlestick Park, Bobby Bonds, Dave Dravecky, the futility in 1985, the statues at AT&T Park, past Giants rookies of the year, “The Count,” and “talking trash to a Dodgers fan.” This book is billed as the “ultimate” resource for the true Giants fan. Maybe hyperbole, but still isn’t that what last year will always be about? Reviewed by Phil Semler

A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us By Matt Ritter Heyday, $18.95, 153 pages Here in California, it would not be uncommon to find a cypress from Iran thriving next to a pepper tree from the Andes and a palm tree from Japan. This user-friendly and eye-catching guide is a must-own for residents of the Golden State who have an appreciation for the huge variety of trees the state’s diverse climate can support.Each of the more than 150 trees in this book are featured on their own page with at least one photo of the tree, detailed shots of the tree’s unique characteristics, and a text portion that includes interesting details about the tree and its origin. The tables scattered throughout the book make for entertaining browsing, like the horizontal bar chart that illustrates the bloom periods of California’s flowering trees, with the bars being color coded with the shade of each tree’s blossoms.A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us will appeal to a variety of readers because it finds a good balance between entertainment and technical information. The uses for this book are limitless--from a teacher

preparing for an Arbor Day lesson using the schoolyard’s trees to the new homeowner who is hungry for details about which trees to landscape her yard with. Reviewed by Megan Just

selected places to stay, eat, drink, shop and visit based on their own personal criteria. Each entry has a completely different style. It is clear that the designers have personalized their approach to representing their city. Laurie Forehand focuses on photos of skyscrapers and architecture in Atlanta’s chapter. Tom Varisco’s homage to New Orleans is illustrated with speech bubbles on bar and restaurant napkins. In addition to

entries on big cities (New York, San Francisco and Boston), you’ll find details about smaller cities (Anchorage and Charleston). You won’t find the typical tourist guide list of sites to see and things to do. Most likely you’ll need to supplement

your research with other sources if you’re planning a trip. But this book is more of an alternate approach to visiting a place – the authors’ suggestions will take you off the map to hidden gems. You certainly don’t need to have travel plans to enjoy the art and illustrations and genuine recommendations. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin

Harvey diligently explores the notion that “living well” includes preparing for our own demise. The author helps us understand the needs of the dying and the valuable resources hospice care can offer anyone, regardless of where they choose to die, or whether they have financial resources. Some of the stories are sad and some of them al-

low the reader insight into what is really important in life as well as in death. Many of the patients are young; many of them have children and families who may not be prepared to deal with issues like pain management and quality of life.The book also explains the use of the Meridian Tapping Technique for unresolved emotional issues causing physical discomforts. The technique based on the Chinese chakra energy system can be learned in a few hours and “often provides relief to clients who believe there is nothing else they can do to reduce their suf-

fering,” according to Harvey. There is also a list of valuable resources for anyone with concerns about advance directives, body donations, choosing a final resting place, etc., and a comprehensive list of suggested reading for particular death and dying issues.The smaller size of the book makes it an excellent resource for anyone who might need information quickly and succinctly. Sponsored Review

Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands, and Big Breakfasts in My Quest to Cycle the Tour Divide By Paul Howard Greystone Books, $16.95, 271 pages Even among avid off-road cyclists, the Tour Divide isn’t an especially well known Mountain Bike Race, yet. That fact may change now with Paul Howard’s newest book, an entertaining account of survival of what may very well be the toughest bicycle route in the world--twenty-eight hundred miles through the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada to the border of Mexico. lAdmittedly, nothing in Howard’s history prepared him for this endeavor. Until leaving his native country of England for the big event, he had never even owned a mountain bike. The temperature extremes, the ascents and descents up and down the steep mountain grades, rival the sleepy hundred mile South Downs course through Sussex that Howard completed as a training course for the Tour Divide. Tongue in cheek, he endures the nastiest of weather and the loneliest of trails. He braves bears, mountain lions, moose, wolves, coyotes, all manner of insects and snakes, and the occa-

Travel Graphic USA By Bryan Keplesky, Tal Rosner, Michelle Weinberg, Ziggy Hanaor, Editor Cicada Books, $30.00, 272 pages How would you represent your hometown using graphic images? Ziggy Hanaor, Editor of Graphic USA, has collected the opinions of twenty-five talented illustrators and designers about what makes their hometown cities unique and wonderful places. They’ve

sional whiskey drinking cowboy, all without losing his sense of humor. The narrative chronicles his twenty-eight day ride to the finish line and reads like a Monty Python script with its descriptions of places like Togwotee Pass, Swatch Range, and the infamous badlands of El Malpais. No, Howard doesn’t win the race. But, he lives to tell us about it. Reviewed by Casey Corthron A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants By Andrew Baggarly Triumph Books, $19.95, 336 pages The 2010 San Francisco Giants did not really have any stars except for Lincecum, who’d had an offseason pot bust, and often struggled arduously during the year. Waiver-wire pickups like Burrell and Ross, a charming rogue with his immodest Rally Thong; Huff, a rookie catcher; and Posey, a reliever with a suspiSee A BAND OF... cont’d on page 18

Self-Help Dying to Live: Embracing the Journey By Joanne Harvey, MSW AuthorHouse, $14.95, 137 pages Harvey, a hospice social worker, throws open death’s door for practical introspection. Dying to Live is an uplifting collection of true, end-of-life vignettes, recounting the stories of eight people with terminal illnesses who chose to utilize hospice services in their final days. The anthology of these very personal accounts is both informative and touching, removing the fear sometimes associated with dying and end of life decisions.

14 August 2011

L i ke to t ravel? R ead ou r on l i ne colu m n BOOK S TO GO.


Science & Nature Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat By David Dosa Hyperion, $13.99, 241 pages As a species, humans have always foolishly declared their superiority and intelligence above all other life forms sharing this planet. Despite our grand intelligence and achievements, we also realize there is a great deal that we do not know. So, how humbling, how ironic it is to learn that a simple creature, an ordinary house cat named Oscar, possesses a skill even the most renowned doctors and specialists do not: knowing when someone is going to die.One of several cats at a facility for the elderly, more specifically, for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and various dementia, Oscar seemed like any ordinary cat. Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa, M.D. takes readers along with Dosa as he begins to piece together evidence through informal interviews with former patients’ loved ones--spouses, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers--that Oscar became a conduit for the dying and their grieving families. A comfort, a distraction from the painfully unavoidable ending, Oscar could sense something about these various residents and when the time would come when it was down to a matter of hours, he would begin his vigil and stay there with them til the end.But how does he know? Even our own intelligence can’t explain that. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin The Fact of Evolution By Cameron M. Smith Prometheus Books, $18.00, 326 pages Bias is a terrible thing. The Fact of Evolution is the story of evolution, and why it is a theory that must be taken seriously by anyone with any kind of education. It explores the early work, showing that it predates Darwin, and that Darwin was in fact just one of the earliest to work on the theory. It then goes through the history and shows the science of the theory. In this regard, it is an excellent primer for those new to the theory.For those with any kind of science background, the information is basic, never going beyond what anyone who paid attention in college science class learned. More time should have been spent exploring the connection between science and religion, as the full exploration of the impact that science and religion have had on one another would have added something to this

book. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating look at why evolution must happen, and the diversity it brought about. This is a great book for someone looking for a primer as to how evolution works, but for anyone else it is bound to be a disappointment. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim 101 Quantum Questions: What You Need to Know About the World You Can’t See By Kenneth William Ford Harvard University Press, $24.95, 275 pages Ford wants to help us understand quantum physics. His mission is to invite us into another world: wave particle, leptons, quarks and the uncertainty principle. Nuclear researcher and teacher, Ken Ford, is the retired director of the American Institute of Physics and has written several other books including The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone which was highly recommended as the best way for ordinary people to gain an understanding of quantum physics. This new book is described as a sequel to that one, providing readers increased access to understanding the quantum world.|The book is formatted in a question and answer configuration that makes it easy to browse. The reader is also assisted with diagrams (by Paul Hewitt) as well as mathematical tables, and a thorough index. Additionally, throughout the book, dozens of physicists from the late nineteenth century to the present are profiled and their contribution to modern physics is explained.|The book is not easy. There are no simple explanations. The book is written for a serious reader, ready for deep inquiry and explanation surrounding the essentials of quantum physics. For me, a scientific novice, I take small bites and discuss with my friend who knows more. Little by little, a truly fascinating world begins to emerge. Reviewed by Marcia Jo

THE FUTURE, cont’d from page 13 and built relationships with their co-workers—instead of pioneering the fundraising campaigns for nonprofits. Simply put, the old way of doing things changed. Innovators change with the change. They pay attention to the small but monumental changes precipitating revolutionary changes. Today it is social media.This book has three parts and 12 chapters, and each chapter is as powerful as its name. A “futurist” is awe-inspiring. Are you looking to the future? Reviewed by Vivian Dixon Sober

You Want Quiet? Follow the Birds… By D. Wayne Dworsky

Ever wonder why birds flock to certain areas more than others? Is it for food? Perhaps. Is it for shelter? Maybe. Or is something else inviting them that most people simply overlook? All through history people have attempted to domesticate birds much the same way as cats and dogs. But unlike their four-legged counterparts, birds navigate in three dimensions. This gives them a distinct advantage in the wild. Consequently, they possess a considerably more aggressive wild side making these vibrant animals a poor choice as pets. Not only is it more difficult to keep track of them and maintain a good relationship so that they return to the coop, but it allows them to rule the roost. The real reason that birds tend to flock to certain areas more than others is that they try to avoid people and people’s business. Human beings are noisy, clumsy, threatening and in the way. They drive cars, trucks, buses, pilot ships, airplanes and rail lines choking the skies with heavy and super-fast aircraft and crowding the landscape with dwellings and commerce. This is not bird habitat. Most birds are incredibly intelligent even with their tiny brains. Ironically, birds are amenable to a certain amount of training. Carrier pigeons have been trained for years to carry messages over difficult terrain. Almost every big city sustains a population of pigeons. They take refuge under bridges and other man-made structures. Not only do birds possess a unique way of obtaining food and raising their chics, but they are master predators, terrific scavengers and clever foragers. This gives them a distinctive edge in the wild, but what does city life offer birds? How do they manage in a metropolis? Very well. The only exceptions occur in the cities that feature extremely tall buildings, such as those in New York City. The problem here is that eagles and falcons have been known to reside high up on skyscraper ledges. When they spot a pigeon in flight they can descend at over 100 miles per hour and snatch unsuspecting pigeons on the wind using their enormous talons. Birds, however, do live in cities. Why? It’s just like the argument for the city mouse and country mouse. They are opportunists. They find food and safe places to raise their brood. Furthermore, They find all sorts of nooks and crannies among the skyscrapers of a city and sanctity among the many city parks and cemeteries. They find ledges in remote places on tall buildings, where people cannot easily reach them. They actually discover more food-gathering opportunities than in areas that inhabit fewer humans. Birds really prefer quiet regions—regions that allow them to tune in to nature. Just consider for a moment, walking along a trail in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Sequoia National Park, Teton National Park or the Everglades. Listen to the burst of life in those places. Think of the food chain and where we are in it. Think of the birds and where they would prefer to be. Remember, they did not encroach on our land; we encroached on theirs. Back in the city, we see all kinds of neighborhoods. The big question is, which ones suit birds best? The answer is a resounding quiet. But birds are not always so quiet. It’s a well-known fact that whenever birds congregate they can make a lot of noise at certain times, particularly early in the morning, just before the sun rises. Although these loud chirping sounds are annoying, compared to the grind of trucks and buses on the road birds are relatively quiet. Those locations inhabited with more trees, parks, gulf courses, and cemeteries, are most likely bird sanctuaries (not literally sanctuaries). These are the places that offer the most uncluttered and quiet spaces. If you want quiet, follow the birds. Look for them in the sky. Watch for them in the trees, on your lawn, atop street lamps and other structures away from people. That means, for those of us who prefer quiet, like Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, (circa 1953) who sings about enjoying the silence of his room, follow the birds. Judy Garland, as Dorothy, finds faith in the birds in The Wizard of Oz when she sings, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The character, Marian the librarian, in Music Man, marvels over the fact that she never heard birds singing…until…. The Bird Man of Alcatraz shows that even criminals condemned to a life sentence can find solace with birds. To learn more about birds and understand what birds are really up to try, The Private Lives of Birds by Bridget Stutchbury. A terrific read.

t hou s a nd s of re v ie w s at w w w. s a c r a me nt ob o ok re v ie w.c om

August 2011 15


Spirituality & Inspiration The Playful and Powerful Warrior within You! By GJ Reynolds Beachlifestyle Publishing, $13.95, 216 pages It’s easy to be cynical about what are generally termed ‘self-help’ books. It’s easy to be cynical period. Looking at motivational speakers, personal counselors and the like as charlatans, snake oil salesmen and smooth-talking devils in it for a buck is easy. It is definitely easier to dismiss than to self-examine.Because I am blessed by my occupation as a book reviewer, I am willingly forced to read things that I would likely not have chosen on my own. Entire sections of the local bookstore have never felt my footsteps. I would never have read The Playful and Powerful Warrior within You! if I had not been approached to review it. Thank God. Literally.This is a life-changing book. Perhaps its central thought is contained in this little bit of language history: In the ancient Chinese writing system of Kanji, which evolved into modern Japanese, the word warrior was composed of two characters. The first stands for ‘conflict’, the second ‘stop’. To be a warrior then is to be one who brings an end to conflict - a creator of peace both externally and internally.The author, GJ Reynolds, was a highly successful, suicidal businessman. Those terms are not mutually exclusive. What he learned and what he now teaches is that we are constantly having an identity forced upon us by parents, schools, employers and so on. We lose who we are and what we are when we enter the world. And what was that, you ask? We enter the world as nothing more and nothing less than a tiny bit of God’s creation which wants nothing more than to love and be loved purely and unconditionally.I suspect I’ve lost some of you already. That’s okay. I understand. We tend to shrink back from words and concepts like God and Love because we fear them. We fear them because we think we aren’t good enough for them; or, if we go changing our lives, what’s that going to look like in the end? The answer is: something beautiful, something happier, something playful. If you have spent a moment of this day angry, or depressed or frustrated, take a chance on yourself and see how rediscovering your true self can make all that other stuff wash away like a fresh wave cleaning a beach. Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearn

16 August 2011

The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times By Stephen G. Post Jossey-Bass, $19.95, 191 pages Stephen Post begins with his move after twenty years from Cleveland, Ohio. Now in his fifties, he is relocating with his family to Stony Brook, N.Y., after losing his job. Despite the upset and worry, rather than fall into self-pity, he knows the family must make a choice, “As my family and I made our transition to a new life in a new community, we realized that our choice was clear: giver’s glow or doubter’s darkness.”He speaks honestly from his own experience, taking along readers who can find similar feelings in their own life. Post goes beyond a personal sharing to substantiate his beliefs from his extensive p r o - fessional research that blends seamlessly into the book, giving it increased credibility.By helping others, he tells readers, we find many gifts: the giver’s glow; connection with the neediest; deep happiness; compassion and unlimited love; and ultimately, the gift of hope found not through seeking, but ultimately found nonetheless.This book encourages that gift of hope, offering readers a new perspective on difficult times, and a way to discover the power they possess to get through these times, as well as to find more meaning every day of their lives. Reviewed by Angie Mangino Do You Know Who I Am? And Other Brave Questions Women Ask By Angela Thomas Howard Books, $14.99, 247 pages In Do You Know Who I Am?Angela Thomas raises twelve common problems plague women: “fearing to dream big; feeling invisible; trembling inside; being worn out; suffering; sinning; feeling lonely; being undisciplined; being hesitant; feeling ordinary; being broken; and feeling disappointed.” She poses these questions to God, sharing with readers the answers her spiritual journey uncovers. Does God know who I am? More importantly, if God indeed does know who I am, will God still love me? Told from her personal life experiences, this journey becomes personal for the reader, as she sees parallels in her own life. Every woman can relate to many, if not all, of the

twelve issues. Doesn’t life wear us out? Who has not felt disappointed? Can anyone ever escape some suffering in life? What is God’s reply? With unconditional love, God acknowledges and understands the struggles we go through. Don’t we know who God is? Biblical references and practical, doable actions support the answers that Thomas shares. This book offers an avenue for readers to embrace on their own travels through life. Reviewed by Angie Mangino LOCAL SACRAMENTO AUTHOR! The Mystery of Fate: Common Coincidence or Divine Intervention? (Volume 1) By Arlene Uslander and Brenda Warneka R. J. Buckley Publishing, $19.00, 264 pages Coincidence seems to be what defines humanity. The Mystery of Fate explores those seeming coincidences that change lives, when the timing just lines up right and things change for the better. Bringing together the stories of a number of writers, as well as some old stories, this is an interesting book to read through. Whether or not these moments are a matter of true coincidence or of some divine providence is touched on every so often. By the end of the book, there is some doubt as to whether or not the divine does touch lives. The problem is that the stories in general are mediocre. Although there are some great stories told, too many question the coincidence, spoiling it a bit. The best stories present the situation, and then back away quickly from asking too many questions, making it look like a divine intervention. The worst stories present the situation, and then make it look like it was bound to happen by questioning the moment. It is an uplifting book on the whole, and definitely a pleasant read, but some of the authors need to be pulled back. Reviewed by Jamais Jochem

ARCHIE, con’t from page 11 ever, and this is the perfect chance for any fan of the series to rekindle their love and bring back memories, and even a chance for the generations that grew up on Archie to share it with someone new. The stories inside originally came out in the ’40s, drawn, inked, and written in a much different era, and this perfectly preserved trip down memory lane brings it all flooding back. Reviewed by Ross Rojek

DARK JENNY cont’d from page 13 who’s read The Once And Future King will instantly recognize most of the characters in Bledsoe’s tale, yet at the same time the author has made them all uniquely his and has effortlessly fit them into a semi-modern mystery-noir storyline. If you’re looking for a fresh take on a couple of well-worn (and much-loved) story arcs, Dark Jenny is your book. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz

Let The Race to Eternity assure you that your soul has the understanding that it needs to move on when the time comes. So be it. ISBN 9781463404048

Two brain hemispheres— two perspectives on the world. Are you taking advantage of both? An investigation into the effects of brain perspective on government, corporate life, war, and our personal lives.

J

ames Olson dives deep into interdisciplinary studies in order to bring fresh perspective to the issue [of brain perspectives]. Drawing on philosophy, science, theology, sociology, political science, and anthropology, Olson expertly culls insight from each discipline in order to create intriguing theories about how the brain can distort our perceptions and drive our actions based on which hemisphere is more dominant.” —Foreword Magazine

thewholebrainpath.com $21.95 • Cloth • Origin Press 335 pages • 978-1-57983-055-7

Wa nt re v ie w s de l ivered to you r em a i l? Sig n up for ou r R S S feed .


Biographies & Memoirs I Was A Dancer By Jacques d’Amboise Knopf, $35.00, 439 pages Jacques d’Amboise has been instrumental in bringing ballet into popular culture: first as a dancer with the New York City Ballet and later in his career as a teacher and founder of the National Dance Institute. His institute brings ballet to inner-city children. D’Amboise was one of the first high culture performers to use television to reach a wider audience. D’Amboise’s philosophy is: “Fill your trunk with the best that is available from the wealth and variety of human culture. Those treasures will nourish you and your children.” Anyone who is lucky enough to see the filmed version of Afternoon of a Faun and d’Amboise’s incredible lifts of Tanny LeClerq feels wealthy indeed.This is a very readable and well written book which follows d’Amboise from the rough neighborhood in New York to his rise to worldwide prominence. Of course, there are many stories of his work and friendship with George Balanchine, his stalled, but ultimately successful courting of his ballet dancer wife, Carrie, and his world travels. The photographs throughout the pages bring immediacy to the narrative. For the most part, everyone comes off pretty well in his recollections. The hard work of ballet and the intense lifestyle makes for an interesting inside look at this world. For anyone interested in dance or a Horatio Alger story of luck, talent and perseverance, this is a great and interesting life story. Reviewed by Julia McMichael Steven Tyler Does the Noise In My Head Bother You? By Steven Tyler with David Dalton Ecco, $15.29, 390 pages Not just for die hard Aerosmith or American Idol fans, this memoir is filled with candid recollections (given the author’s mostly impaired state) of the life of a rock star. The caveat is that this book is definitely x-rated since Tyler does not censor himself or his very dirty thoughts. Prudes, beware! The language is explicit. His relationship with band mate, Joe Perry is fascinating and a story in itself.As amazing as his talent is Tyler’s longevity, given the type and amount of drugs both ingested and injected. Millions of dollars were used in the pursuit of a variety of drugs used to keep going in a very grueling lifestyle. Equally amazing is Tyler’s love and use of language quite evi-

dent in the hundreds of songs he has penned over the years. Son of a musician and devoted mother, raised equally in the Bronx and New Hampshire, Tyler is a mix of urban and rural views that have served him well in relating to a variety of audiences and musical genres.He does come across quite humble in spite of his megastar status. His love of his children reads very clearly as does his regret about not being present in their lives. This book is a must read for would be rock stars, demi-gods, and musicians fascinated by an over-the-top lifestyle and talent. Reviewed by Julia McMichael Tropic Born War Torn Untold Tales of WWII in the Philippines By Susan Vance Inkwater Press, $15.95, 123 pages While the scope and horror of war can never be fully realized, personal life stories encourage one to learn history surrounding these events. The author’s mother and grandfather, Gloria Haube Vance and William Haube, were caught up in the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II. On the evening of Gloria’s engagement party, December 7, 1941, her life changed direction and she was plunged into survival mode. Reinforcements for the Philippines were diverted to protect Hawaii after the Pearl Harbor attack, leaving the Philippines to the Japanese. Gloria’s fiancé was captured, endured the Bataan death march -- only to die on a Japanese ship bombed by American planes.Gloria’s story is augmented by the diary of her father, who managed a mine taken over by the Japanese. The photographs bring authenticity to the straightforward narration. Even though there are hundreds of books about this period of the bloody battle for the Philippines, this compelling story could have been helped along by greater historical context, better maps and reference to the ongoing battles. Since 1521, the Philippines have been colonized and battered by wars. The heroes of the book are the two natives who hide, shelter, and feed the Haube family. The natives and Japanese are referred to by pejoratives commonly used at that time. This book will ultimately lead the reader to an interest in this fascinating part of the world and the rollercoaster ride of war, subjugation, and liberation, along with the nightmares caused by war. Sponsored Review My Infamous Life By Albert “Prodigy” Johnson and Laura Checkoway Touchstone, $11.99, 308 pages Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, aka Albert Johnson, hasn’t been idle the past three-and-a-

half years. He’s been touring New York’s dungeons -- Rikers Island, Downstate, Gouverneur, Oneida, and Mid-State Correctional Facility -- and he’s been writing and rapping. Well known as the gansta rapper who carried the front line East versus West Coast battles which left Tupac and others on the casualty list, Prodigy gives us the inside scoop on the hard-core street life, record deals, videos, and movies, as well as his own family upbringing. This tell-all of pajama parties and backstage orgies leaves nothing to the imagination. Written in Queensbridge lingo for players of the hip-hop scene, it’s not intended for casual squares or minors. Parental discretion advised! Aside from the graphic content, the author shares intimate details of his struggle with the pain of sickle cell anemia, alcohol and drugs, gang warfare and weapons, demons, and the true meaning of life. Born into a musical family, his mother performed with the Crystals, Prodigy chronicles his duel lifestyles when money flowed and when it didn’t. He reveals details of the little-known Hip-Hop Task Force, and secrets of the “Hell on Earth” Tunnel parties in stark contrast to his feelings for his children and family. Reviewed by Casey Corthron Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted By Justin Martin Da Capo Press, $30.00, 496 pages Most people know that Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park in New York City, but how much more do they know about him? Not much. Justin Martin shapes a more complete view of Olmsted, the first man ever to be called a “landscape architect.” Tragedy, illness, the Civil War, and a general lack of career/purpose dogged Olmsted for a majority of his life. However, his innate sense of place and nature have become oases and living monuments to the man whom so few knew or understood. Martin starts with the loss of his mother as a young boy and blows right through the last five years of his life, spent in an asylum suffering from what was probably Alzheimer’s. The man led an amazing roller coaster of a life, was the ultimate organizer, and continues to touch lives today with his creations such as Stanford, the Biltmore, and the Emerald Necklace of Boston.He didn’t love many people or even things in life, but the things he touched were never the same. He truly was a Genius of Place and Martin’s

treatment is somewhat unflinching and not only a great portrait of the man, but a portrait of a period in American history. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler Bismarck: A Life By Jonathan Steinberg Oxford University Press, $34.95, 577 pages Charles de Gaulle once mockingly observed “the cemeteries are full of indispensable men.” Historian Jonathan Steinberg offers a persuasive counterpoint to this with his thoroughly researched biography, Bismarck: A Life.No figure more consciously shaped the 19th and 20th centuries than Otto Von Bismarck. The Iron Chancellor redrew the map of Europe, unified Germany, humbled France and the Hapsburg Empire, and launched his new nation into the ranks of super powers. He did all this, as Steinberg often points out, without leading a successful political party, winning an election, or leading an army. He understood the potential of mass politics as a nationalist conservative force and the potential of modern industrial power, even as many his opponents often wallowed in archaic 18th century sensibilities.Steinberg demonstrates an impressive command of the relevant primary sources. He traces Bismarck’s rise in the Prussian court, his brilliant savagery in achieving his aims in the close-quartered combat of a royal then imperial state. As the author persuasively argues, it is quite impossible to imagine the ebb and flow of European history ever ending where it did without Bismarck’s steely grip upon the rudder of state. Yet for all Bismarck’s intellectual power and force of will, Steinberg offers a portrait of a statesman ultimately incapable of creating the sort of strong supple institutions required for a modern state to thrive after the death of its founder. Having derived his personal authority through a system of powerful royal authority, Bismarck could not conceive of an imperial Germany where his power might flow from another source. At Verdun, Normandy, and Stalingrad, millions would pay with their lives for his short comings.I must offer two caveats with regards to this otherwise excellent biography. Steinberg’s desire to write a psychological profile of his subject can at times grow tedious, particularly as it rests on rather quaintly classic Freudian motifs. Also, at times its subject feels schizophrenic, as in his commitment to avoiding a panegyric work, Steinberg moves between Bismarck the towering genius of realpolitik and Bismarck the juvenile, vainglorious, hypochondriac. I suspect that reality of the Iron Chancellor can be found somewhere See BISMARCK... cont’d on page 22

Fol lo w u s on Fa c eb o ok : f a c eb o ok .com /p a ge s/S a c r a me nto - B o ok- R e v ie w

August 2011 17


Biographies & Memoirs Family Tradition Three Generations of Hank Williams By Susan Masino Hal Leonard Corporation, $24.99, 256 pages Hank Williams died at the age of twentynine, but his legend and music live on almost sixty years after he stole American’s heart with his bone-cutting lyrics. His only son, Hank Jr., originally forced into his daddy’s role, eventually found his own music and escaped his father’s shadow with the help of a near death experience. Hank’s grandson, Hank III, who looks and sounds so much like his grandfather he has been called the ghost of Hank, refuses to be molded into a stereotype, and instead produces music so out of bounds it can’t be branded by genre.Masino’s writing incorporates sordid family stories so heart breaking it is no wonder the lonesome soulsick songs sprang from these three Hanks. Intertwined with the interviews of family members, Masino threads quotes from other music greats who have been inspired by the Hanks, from singer-songwriters like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, David Allen Cole to Bob Dylan and other writers such as Stephen King who regards Hank III’s music as “... real country: hollow of eye, pale of face, and bursting with the rhythm of the damned ...”This is a story of America’s most dysfunctional musical family and the music they make that reaches into our souls. Hank III seems to speak for all of them when he says, “I could have taken the easy road, but the hard road is for me.” Reviewed by Casey Corthron Fat Family/Fit Family: How We Beat Obesity and You Can Too By Ron Morelli, Becky Morelli, Mike Morelli, and Max Morelli Plume, $15, 233 pages Maybe you’ve seen Ron and Mike Morelli on the popular NBC program The Biggest Loser. During the competition, Ron’s weight dropped from 430 pounds to 192 pounds in less than six months. In that same period of time, Mike lost well over half his body weight, dropping from 388 pounds to an amazing 181 pounds.This inspirational story begins with Ron and Becky confessing their personal battles with food addiction, and how they enabled their sons with the same obsessions. Becky, the first in the family to overcome out-of-control eating habits, anguishes over the fears and frustrations of witnessing those she loves most inch closer to death.

18 August 2011

They speak openly about the realities of turning around their daily habits, and gaining control over their addiction to food, one bite at a time, one calorie at a time. Each of them shares intimate details of their struggles, and offers us practical advice on how to change destructive eating habits into healthy ones, helpful workout tips, low-calorie recipes, and best of all, the inspiration of transforming themselves into a fit family. Reviewed by Casey Corthron The Alice Behind Wonderland By Simon Winchester Oxford University Press, $16.95, 110 pages Alice lazes coquettishly against the crumbling wall, dressed in ragamuffin’s clothes, her left shoulder bare, in bare feet, one of her hands cupped before her as if reaching out for alms, but it is her look of calm directness at the camera, with an expression of impish secret knowledge that unsettles the viewer. It is a haunting, disturbing image that fascinates us in today’s more exposed world, wondering at Dodgson’s sexual predilections and whether he was bad, mad, or sad.Renowned and popular historian Winchester takes a photograph of Alice Liddell taken by Charles Dodgson (better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll) in 1858 in Oxford when Alice was only six years old. This young girl, who would serve as the muse for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has captured the imagination of readers for over a century. Winchester tells the story in brief of a young girl, a shy and half-deaf mathematician, and a world of grins without cats, nonsense poems, and a harried white rabbit. Dodgson’s penchant for the infant art form of photography cemented his gift for observation. Using published writings, private diaries, and photography, Winchester tells how Dodgson’s hobbies and interests developed into one of our most enduring tales. Reviewed by Phil Semler The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic By Michael Sims Walker & Company, $24, 296 pages When an early New Yorker magazine columnist transformed a spider into a heroine he did more than write a masterly children’s book. Charlotte enchanted readers who had once hated or feared her species.Author Michael Sims, fascinated for years by both the author and the book, shares the story of E.B. White’s life as an author and a farmer, a sailor, and a grammarian. The kernel of the book focuses on White’s dedication to exploring the ecology of spiders before bestowing a place for Charlotte among the beloved

animals on his farm in Maine.Born on the cusp of the twentieth century, White lived in a social world now forgotten, though the freshness of his prose and his eagerness to live each day to the fullest despite persistent ailments allow Sims to write as though he were a contemporary. The book glows with excitement.Readers familiar with White’s letters will recognize details in the earlier chapters and be tempted to start in when the quest for Charlotte begins to gather momentum. The temptation is best resisted: Here is a new perspective, not only an admiring biographical sketch but also a serious critique of the book that has enchanted as many adults as children. Reviewed by Jane Manaster The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared By Alice Ozma Grand Central Publishing, $24.99, 261 pages Those who aspire to pass on a love of reading to children will find this book irresistible. Bibliophile Alice Ozma, 23, has penned an engaging memoir loosely structured around a promise. When she was just nine years old, her father, an eccentric librarian and soon-to-be single dad, promised to read to her every night for 100 straight nights. One hundred nights turned into 1000 nights and soon nine years passed. They called it “The Streak.”Readers drawn to this book by the charming cover art and “promising” title may be initially disappointed to discover the dynamics of a father-daughter relationship emphasized rather than a discussion of the books they shared. However, Ozma sells her story with appealing vignettes, including their efforts to maintain “The Streak” despite arguments, late-night theatre rehearsals, and her father’s temporary loss of voice. Conversely, “The Streak” maintains them through divorce, puberty and prom dresses. The ironic twist in the end has the potential to turn this story into a larger platform for reading advocacy. Reviewed by Diana Irvine

Bernie Madoff scam. The sudden loss of all their money forced Roth to undertake a journey of introspection. She explores her childhood which included her parent’s lust for money.The suffering and emotional devastation money caused her parents, and the effect it had on Roth, is sobering. Examining painful feelings helped Roth understand why she avoided dealing with money but also felt like she never had enough, despite having amassed a million dollars. Roth shares examples of people and the hell they create in their minds over money. Obsessive thoughts and feelings like shame, depression, and self-loathing run amuck. Readers will learn the definition of enough and how to live in the moment. Roth offers other excellent suggestions to overcome unhealthy feelings about money, but you will need to read the book. Reviewed by Grady Jones A BAND OF... cont’d from page 14 ciously strong beard, made for a collection of kooks, crackpots, and castoffs that manager Bochy referred to as his “Dirty Dozen” who improbably willed their way to an NL Westclinching victory on the last day of the season and then surprised almost everybody, including their own fans, by dispatching the Atlanta Braves and overwhelming the heavily favored Phillies and Rangers to win their first World Series in the their 53-year existence in San Francisco. And then we had the parade, the single largest group of happy folks ever seen in the city.This book, written by the Giants beat reporter for the San Jose Mercury News delivers a must-read story of this now immortal team. He has the behindthe-scene anecdotes, insights, humor and, yes, the torture, from the season and crafts a compelling tale of how a band of misfits could win the World Series. Reviewed by Phil Semler

Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money By Geneen Roth Viking, $25.95, 205 pages Lost and Found, by Geneen Roth, dares to discuss a topic almost as taboo as politics and religion—money. Roth blesses readers with a sophisticated narrative about the variety of dysfunctional relationships people have with money and food, though she focuses mostly on money. Readers will be hooked from the first sentences where Roth shares her shock at learning that she and her husband lost their entire savings in the

Listen to aut hor podcast inter v iews at AUDIBLE AU THOR S.NET


Young Adult The Year’s Best Science Fiction: TwentyEighth Annual Collection By Gardner Dozois St. Martin’s Griffin, $21.99, 704 pages The goal of a great science fiction anthology is not only to collect the best and brightest talents in the industry, but to represent the incredible variety and richness of the genre in both scope and style. No matter the reader, there will be hits and misses, names that crop up too often for some tastes and not enough for others. Assembling a great collection is less threading a needle and more threading a crazy straw with a dozen twists and turns.Editor Gardner Dozois does an impressive job of meeting the challenge in the twenty-eighth annual edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, chronicling the finest of genre favorites and lesser-knowns alike. Whether it’s the generation-spanning morality play of Robert Reed’s “A History of Terraforming” or a soldier’s quest to recover his drug-erased memory in Joe Haldeman’s ”Sleeping Dogs,” the heart and possibility of science fiction is well represented.While the stories featured are often longer than those in your average anthology, Dozois’s leeway allows for some truly ambitious works to garner more attention than they might otherwise. And with names like MacLeod, Reynolds, Vaughn, and Doctorow by his side, he’s compiled a worthy team to champion the genre. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight By L.J. Smith HarperTeen, $17.99, 567 pages Elena, Bonnie, Meredith, and Damon have escaped from the Dark Dimensions with Stefan. While everyone helps revive him, Damon lives in his own personal hell after his curiosity turns him human. He is bent on finding a way back to the Dark Dimensions so he can become a vampire again. But things go awry and Bonnie re-enters the Dimensions with Damon. Once there Bonnie unknowingly uncovers a treasure that might help them save Fell’s Church. The Last Midnight is coming and an unknown foe is determined to destroy the town.The division of Elena’s love continues. She says she will always be Stefan’s girlfriend, but feelings for Damon may fracture their relationship. The series seems to have lost the realistic tie, but after a break I was ready

to jump in again. I was captured by learning more about Damon (who wouldn’t?), especially when he and Bonnie were in the Dark Dimensions together. His personality is more easily understood at the end of the book, when his past and feelings are uncovered. The setting for the ending is heartwrenching, the last two pages classic (and stop the tears). Fans will devour this 500page sequel within days. Reviewed by Amanda Muir The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3) By Carrie Ryan Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 374 pages In the final novel in the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy, readers follow the thrilling chase of Annah on her quest to find the truth of what happened to her twin Gabry. Annah, who has been waiting for her love Elias in the Dark City for three years, gives the reader an expanded view of the twisted and demented world of the Unconsecrated. The story begins when Annah catches a glimpse of her sister Gabry through the crowd as she’s trying to reach the mainland. Annah struggles to get to Gabry when she sees Gabry roughly grabbed by Recruiters. Annah searches in vain until she meets a dark stranger named Catcher. Catcher knows all about her past life and her twin sister. He also conceals a secret that could prove to be deadly for the both of them. They construct a plan to rescue Gabry, but they find that time is running out as a flood of Unconsecrated begin to infest the city, hungry and lusting for blood.The Dark and Hollow Places is the missing link that connects the three books. It doesn’t pull any stops in the gruesome descriptions of the Unconsecrated world that Carrie Ryan has created. However, it also reveals the insecurities and strong bonds the characters have with each other. The resulting trilogy is one that will not be forgotten. Reviewed by Alex Masri Starcrossed By Josephine Angelini HarperTeen, $17.99, 496 pages Helen has spent her whole life on a small island never feeling like she quite fit in with the rest of the residents. Things take a turn for the worse when Lucas and his family move in and she immediately tries to attack him for no explainable reason. She also finds herself haunted by horrifying hallucinations whenever she is near Lucas or any of his family and begins to wonder if she is losing her mind. Instead, she finds out how cruel fate can be leading her down a path of heartbreak.Books based on Greek

mythology are the latest craze, but this one stands a head above the rest. Each character reaches out and grabs the reader and doesn’t let go until the last page. It’s hard to pick a favorite character as each is strong and memorable in their own right. Angelini’s writing is amazing and she keeps readers on the edge of their seats through heart-pounding action and rooting for the star-crossed lovers. This book has a little of everything for everyone: romance, action, mythology, and mystery. This is definitely one to add to the nightstand to read right away. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki The Hunt of the Unicorn By Chris Humphreys Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 345 pages I enjoyed reading C.C. Humphreys’The Hunt of the Unicorn. In this story, Moonspill, the last unicorn that is free, has to do two things. First, he must save his mate, Heartsease. However, she is trapped in a city, which leads to Moonspill’s second task. He has to stop a future king whose name is Leo. Leo also has to do a task to become king. He has to capture animals so he can kill them in an arena. One of the beasts Leo has to kill is a unicorn. So, Moonspill wants to save Heartsease and stop the future king at the same time.I really liked reading this book because it did not give away the ending of the story. I also liked this book because it was a little scary, but not too scary. I would recommend this book to adults and children over nine who like fantasy novels. This book is not part of a series, but I hope C.C. Humphreys writes more books and that The Hunt of the Unicorn becomes a series. Reviewed by Logan Petersen, 4th Grade Scorpia Rising: An Alex Rider Misson (An Alex Rider Novel) By Anthony Horowitz Philomel, $17.99, 400 pages In this final and epic conclusion to the Alex Rider series that has been eleven years coming, Scorpia Rising announces its debut. To those who approach the Alex Rider series for the very first time, they are young adult novels known for their breakthrough in spy literature. The combination of swerving plots and a wealthy, rather encyclopedic knowledge of espionage have kept readers on their toes for more than a decade.

To those who have followed Rider through thick and thin (mostly thick), will know the worth and weight of this book. I am one of the latter, a follower of Alex since the very beginning, and I was partially dreading and greatly coveting Scorpia Rising. In the waters of Venice, a founder of Scorpia is found dead with an encrypted phone, $350, and a severed spinal cord. Retrieved by MI6, the phone is interpreted to be a plot to corrupt the Cairo International College of Arts and Education. Alan Blunt, who has the creeping suspicion that he might be forced to “retire,” makes the move to incorporate Alex Rider into his plan for investigation. This is immediately shot down by several authorities, but is realized as a solution when a shooting, whose target is Alex, happens at his local high school. The book follows Alex into the desert lands of Cairo where, like a ticking time bomb, an old enemy, and a terrifying new one, await. More is at stake than Alex could possibly imagine as he unknowingly steps into his own trap.So, does Scorpia Rising live up to its predecessors? A plot that must constantly ride along with a new generation of readers and with expectations that grow each day are hard not to be worn thin. And yet, Horowitz does the impossible. He constantly delivers and this book is no exception. It will be hard to say goodbye. Reviewed Alexandra Masri QUEEN... cont’d from page 9 rather Orlando Bloom type of Henry of Normandy. Overall, the book does a decent job of reflecting Eleanor’s strength of will and indomitable character as a woman living under men’s rule and under a church’s strict regime, even so many years after her reign. Reviewed by Axie Barclay

WITH A ... cont’d from page 6 have finished it. Whether it’s the Internet, government, politics, or religion, Doctorow seems to have a unique take, presenting a world that we’re encroaching upon right now.The book is also an experiment, available only as a print-on-demand in hard copy form, or available free as an e-book, though donations are politely requested. One might think in this age of Internet piracy and illegal downloading that this concept would result in failure; yet, this great collection continues to make money, which Doctorow isn’t ashamed to announce with monthly financial reports. Perhaps, then, this is the message he is trying to share in his compelling stories: there is still hope. Reviewed by Alex Telander

L o o k i n g f o r b a c k- i s s u e s? G o t o S a c r a m e nt oB o o k R e v i e w. c o m /a r c h i v e

August 2011 19


Tweens A Tale of Two Castles By Gail Carson Levine HarperCollins, $16.99, 328 pages When Elodie leaves home, her parents think it is to apprentice herself to a weaver and learn a respectable trade. But plucky Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner, an actress. After all, she has talent. During tearful goodbyes, Elodie’s father reminds her to stay clear of dragons (genderless and always referred to as IT) and shape-shifting ogres. Elodie’s mother warns her to beware the whited sepulcher -someone who seems good but is, in truth, evil.Their advice is hard to follow in Two Castles. Count Jonty Um, an ogre, lives in one castle. King Grenville (known by locals as Greedy Grenny) lives in the other. After a cat steals Elodie’s money, she is hired by the town dragon, Meenore, to walk through town proclaiming ITS powers to answer the unanswerable. Later IT directs her to use her acting skills as a spy in the ogre’s castle, since IT suspects there’s a plot to kill him. Among the many new people Elodie has met there lurks a whited sepulcher -- but, who?Both fairy tale and mystery, Levine’s new book has quirky characters, interesting plot twists, and disarming humor throughout. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan

The Golden Ghost By Marion Dane Bauer with illustration by Peter Ferguson Random House Books for Young Readers, $12.99, 96 pages Delsie has everything a girl could want: a great mom, a terrific dad (despite his bad jokes), a best friend, a bicycle. Yup. Everything. Except a dog. That is the one thing she wishes for most of all. Sure, her best friend, Todd, lets her play with his sweet dog, Bug, but it’s not the same.Delsie dares Todd to explore the abandoned houses by the old mill. As soon as she says it, she wishes she could take it back, but that wouldn’t be cool. They take their bikes and head to the mill. They check the doors and find them all locked. All but one, that is. It looks like someone has been living there. They start to leave, but something holds Delsie back. She feels it, something silky and thigh high, but she sees nothing. Can Delsie and Todd solve the mystery of who has been living in the house and what the invisible force is?Marion Dane Bauer writes a fine little mystery young readers will enjoy. Peter Ferguson sprinkles charming, intriguing illustrations throughout. This is a perfect book for children making the move to their first chapter books. Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck

World Without Fish By Mark Kurlansky and Frank Stockton Workman, $16.95, 192 pages A world without fish is difficult to imagine, but it is not that far-fetched. In a simple and easy-to-understand approach, Mark Kurlansky makes his case for the threats to our oceans if we remain at status quo. By using knowledge from Darwin, experience from fishermen, and scientific studies combined with bold and cursive text as well as cartoon drawings throughout the book, Kurlansky is able to capture the attention of tweens, teenagers and adults. Kurlansky takes an in-depth look at the history of fishing, the effects on fishing colonies, and the development from sailboats to steamboats, and today’s effective but destructive crawlers.From Iceland to New England and the Panhandle, Kurlansky brings us proof in the shape of others’ experience, and he shows us how the past could predict the future of endangered fish and provide us with ample warning. World Without Fish is a call for action, and Kurlansky emphasizes his goal of sustainable fishing. He provides ideas for how government, fishermen, and every one of us can help reach the goal and find a way to keep fishermen fishing, while still maintaining large fish populations where fish are allowed to mature. Reviewed by J Rodney

The Lucy Man: The Scientist Who Found the Most Famous Fossil Ever By C.A.P. Saucier Prometheus Books, $16.00, 128 pages Written for a young adolescent audience, Carol Anne Pridgen Saucier’s debut about paleoanthropologist Donald C. Johanson, and his famous discovery of Lucy - -a threeand-a-half-million-year-old ancestor -- includes more than forty photographs, most of them in color, as well as various maps and charts. This handy little book delves into the basic science of human evolution with an exciting look at field work in Ethiopia where Lucy was found among so many other “First Families.” Saucier includes a brief bio on Johanson and how he evolved from a student of science into a world-renowned expert in paleoanthropology.Saucier breaks down a difficult subject into an easily digestible format that includes pronunciation assistance for foreign and scientific terms, Web sites for more information, and at the back of the book, a bibliography and index for quick reference.Throughout the narrative, Saucier stresses the diplomatic arena of science as new discoveries are made and debated among the scientific community. She uses the infamous riff between Johanson and Dr. Richard Leakey at a spontaneous debate televised with Walter Cronkite as an example of the friction that so easily develops from scientific theories. In searching out our origins, Saucier points out the critical importance of protecting our environment. We expect to see more from this author in the near future. Reviewed by Casey Corthron

Art, Architecture & Photography The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity By Stephanie Roberts Pixiq, $19.95, 160 pages The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity by Stephanie Roberts is a clever book shaped like an iPhone. A slick, colorful guidebook, Roberts uses a methodical approach to encouraging readers to stretch their creative view. It is a great jumping-off point. A practical guidebook, Roberts, who views photography as “less about the camera and more about the vision of the person behind the lens,” takes time to instruct readers on setting up a toolkit and apps (for example, how to use Photoshop Express, TiltshiftFo-

20 August 2011

cus, and Photo FX, to name a few) for their iPhone adventures.Roberts also wants iPhoneographers to share their work, posting images on Flickr, and she gives assignments to readers on ways to Spark Your Creativity. She also offers training to help readers view photos more conceptually in the section Shoot How You Feel. In the Find Your Focus section, she introduces readers to nine avid iPhoneographers and their work. To Roberts, the beauty of iPhoneography is obviously the ability for sharing and she provides suggestions on how to set up accounts for readers to share their own images online using a photo journal or blog. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey

Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine By William Parry Lawrence Hill Books, $24.95, 192 pages With more than 400 color photos, this “art” book is a paradox. To draw attention to Palestinians’ plight, museumclass graffiti artists from around the world, whose own work is now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (including Banksy, Blu, and Ron English), have created “beautiful” murals on Israel’s separation wall, a 24-foot-high concrete barrier that divides Israel from Palestine. It is now the world’s largest protest banner on a wall that stands as a dreadful symbol of oppression.The photographs express outrage, compassion,

and touching humor, as the artwork often cuts to the heart of a contentious issue with thought-provoking wit, immediacy, and appeal. Yet many of the photos depict local inhabitants living against the vibrant protest art and we hear from their voices, about their lives and livelihoods, their tenacity and resilient spirit, as they fight for their dignity and sovereignty. Many dislike the pieces and local activists have “debeautified” and even destroyed many of the works (which might have fetched a fortune in the West).It’s perhaps these vignettes of the people for whom the wall presents an insurmountable and illegal barrier that make the book important.. Reviewed by Phil Semler

D id you k now we h ave more t h a n 6,0 0 0 re v ie w s on l i ne?


Children’s Pinkalicious: Pinkadoodles By Victoria Kann HarperFestival, $12.99, 128 pages Calling all Pinkalicious fans! As the mother of an “all things pink,” soon-to-befour-year-old, this is a great activity/coloring/creativity jumpstart with 128 pages of themed prompts to get your youngster revved up and seeing pink. There are several storylines from Victoria Kann’s books, “Pinkalicious has to eat green foods to return to normal. Can you help her? Circle your favorite foods that are green,” and “Finish decorating Dr. Wink’s office.” Many of the activities are interactive, so get out your favorite shade of pink, mom and dad. Kann has found the secret to captivating little girls’ hearts and holding them still long enough to allow us into their worlds of whimsy and frills. Like the series, Pinkadoodles allows for creative conversation and adds even more flight to an already soaring imagination. Let your little one become enthralled, for hours, in a world of play on the page. She will draw costumes, see how many shades of pink she can come up with, utilize shapes and sizes, crawl (with her color choice) through mazes, and even implement math and reading (what an added bonus!). Let’s get pink! Reviewed by Sky Sanchez-Fischer Fancy Nancy’s Marvelous Mother’s Day Brunch By Jane O’Connor with illustration by Robin Preiss-Glasser HarperFestival, $6.99, 16 pages Fancy Nancy has cooked up a colorful feast of treats and surprises for mom in this whimsical edition. In true Nancy fashion, with the help of dad and little sis, she captivates her readers with her sweet thoughtfulness, over-the-top style and lots of glitter, making this one Mother’s Day her mom will cherish. That is, if they can keep it a secret! As they try to keep mom in her quarters (the one day she is beckoned to stay tucked in), sleeping tight and without disturbance, they concoct a grab bag of simply lovely gifts from the garden, the art supply box, and the kitchen … all proving that gifts from the heart make for the most special moments and memories. With lift-the-flap tabs, this Fancy Nancy will keep readers tuned in and anxiously awaiting the surprises on each page. With each turn, a new and vibrant bobble appears, from tasty refrigerator contents to a peek inside her dazzling craft box. Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser keep the

little darlings in our lives imagining and creating along with Nancy. With so much to see on each page, there are many story times to be shared with this treat. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez-Fischer The Great Big Book of Families By Mary Hoffman Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 40 pages The Great Big Book of Families starts out showing us how families in books used to look: dad, mom, boy, girl. Then it shows readers many different families, covering everything from size to pets to homes to holidays. This book is marvelous because aspects of family life that were once treated as “special” and deserving of an entire book about the “issue” are treated matter-of-factly. Just another variety: two moms, two dads, adopted children, homeschooling. Thank you Mary Hoffman for making everyone normal!The illustrations in this book will mesmerize young readers. First, there is much to look at: multiple scenes as well as a different border on each spread. The characters are active. Each time your child looks through this book they will see something new. An orange cat makes an appearance on each page after challenging readers on the title page to figure out his name. A fun extra!I think young readers, connected to the idea of family, will enjoy this book, but it can also be a great way to start important conversations. A great book for the classroom. Reviewed by Jodi Webb Pretty Princess Pig By Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Sam Williams Little Simon, $9.99, 24 pages Charming Princess Pig is going to have a party. There is much work to do. She pops out of bed with a long list of things to do before her guests arrive. The first thing she does is put on her pretty party frock. Then she gets busy. She has cleaning to do and plastering and painting and setting the table and cooking the food. Not everything goes quite as planned. My, oh, my. At least she wears an apron while she is in the kitchen. She even digs up flowers in the garden for her party–with her nose, of course. By the time her guests arrive, Princess Pig is quite a mess and so the house.Little ones ages one to five will find a chuckle on every page as Princess Pig wreaks havoc in her home without realizing what a mess she is making. The illustrations are cute and comical, the rhyming text is

funny and sweet, all on heavy stock that will stand up to repeated readings. Girls will be drawn to Pretty Princess Pig because it is about a princess, but all little ones laugh at the antics of Princess Pig. Reviewed by Rosi Hollinbeck Chicken, Chicken, Duck! By Nadia Krilanovich Tricycle Press, $14.99, 32 pages Anyone familiar with the game Duck, Duck, Goose will find the prose rhythms familiar in Chicken, Chicken, Duck! One by one we meet all the animals of the barnyard — chickens, goat, sheep, llama, horse, pig, cow, mouse, cat, dog, and, of course, a duck — and learn what sounds each animal makes. As each group of animals is introduced, the duck punctuates the proceedings with a loud and insistent “Quack!” The animals are illustrated close-up, and at times it’s unclear what will happen with the pileup of animals. The final, two-page spread is a funny circus-like surprise.With minimal text, this is a perfect book for very young toddlers, who will be able to identify each animal and mimic the sounds each makes. The simple rhythms — “Chicken, chicken, duck; goat, sheep, llama; maa maa, baa baa, snuffle, cluck, quack!” — make for outstanding reading. The book also provides ample opportunities for chanting and clapping along. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell

The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage By Juli Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton Little Brown for Young Readers, $16.99, 32 pages If your young daughter is fascinated by fairies, princesses, and ballet, The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is sure to delight her. The glitter-covered cover begs to be picked up and the story is quickly enthralling. Geraldine believes she’s a fairy princess because she feels it inside, “a sparkly feeling of just knowing in [her] heart.” She’s thrilled when her ballet company is about to perform The Crystal Princess and knows she’ll be great for the role. Unfortunately a girl named Tiffany is chosen to play the princess while Geraldine gets to be the jester. She’s hugely disappointed.Her performance goes poorly and she feels “less sparkly than ever.” When the show’s important wedding scene commences and the star’s crown is broken, , Geraldine saves the day. The illustrations were cute and the character was charming, but it’s very age specific. Its target audience is a preschool girl who loves fairies and all things girly. The story didn’t really hold my children’s attention. It was too verbose for my 3- year-old and too babyish for my 6-year-old with the “A fairy princess does this… a fairy princess does that…” lines. The underlying moral of the story was touching and one I’d like my See THE VERY FAIRY... cont’d on pg. 22

Wonder what it ’s l i ke to be a book rev iewer? On l ine T HE CR I T IC A L E Y E .

August 2011 21


Children’s THE VERY FAIRY... cont’d from pg. 21 children to learn. While this won’t be more than a one-time read at our house, it might make a better addition to a tiara-loving-little girl’s bookshelf. Reviewed by Jennifer Melville A Friend for Einstein, the Smallest Stallion By Charlie Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner Hyperion Children’s, $16.99, 34 pages A Friend for Einstein, the Smallest Stallion is different from most “picture books.” It uses actual photographs instead of illustrations. A New York Times best seller, Einstein is already hugely popular. Once you see the book, you’ll know why. What’s not to love about a tiny little horse? The story is cute and well written by Charlie Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner. The design, layout, and materials are first class, and it’s printed in the USA. You just can’t ask for more than that from a children’s book. It’s a fivestar book to be sure. This book is a hit on many levels, and not just with children as being on the best seller list suggests. Charlie puts it this way, “It’s a unique snapshot into the life of a tiny horse, the likes of which have never been seen before, and probably won’t be again.” Charlie wasn’t referring to the pictures when he said “snapshot;” the pun was unintended. If you like animals at all, get this book. The horse isn’t the only animal in it. There are bunnies, a turtle, kittens, ducks, and of course Lily the dog, Einstein’s new friend. Reviewed by David Broughton Seven Fathers By Ashley Ramsden with illustration by Ed Young Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 32 pages Ashley Ramsden retells a Norwegian tale showing how we are connected to our ancestors. In this tale, a traveler, weary from walking through a snow blizzard, comes upon a house and asks an old man chopping wood if he has a room for the night. The old man sends him to his very old father in the kitchen. But this old man sends him to his very, very old father in the parlor, and so forth through seven fathers. When at last the traveler is granted a room, he finds himself seated at a banquet table heaped with food with the seven fathers, at the young man’s age, standing before him. Each father removes his crown and places it before the man. As soon as the traveler finishes his meal, he finds himself in the softest of beds. Award winning artist Ed Young illustrates this story of family and tradition with pastel, ink, paint, and

22 August 2011

other materials to highlight the spiritual rewards of persistence and determination, while still allowing Ramsden’s words of mystery and humor to shine through. This thought-provoking book is likely to bring questions and comments from the readers; great for family interaction. Reviewed by Susan Roberts Miss Smith Under the Ocean By Michael Garland Dutton Juvenile, $16.99, 29 pages Miss Smith is a bold and adventurous teacher who takes her students along on an exploratory ride whenever she opens her incredible storybook. She is loved by the students, and in Miss Smith Under the Ocean, Miss Smith and her students go on a fieldtrip to the aquarium. As she opens her incredible storybook, the tales come alive and the field trip turns into a tumultuous boat ride. Together Miss Smith and her class travel under the ocean and explore tales from Moby Dick to Gulliver’s Travels and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.Author Michal Garland has created a tale that incorporates children’s classics spanning many decades, and kids will be listening attentively as the book jumps from one adventure to another with characters from the famous stories. Garland’s illustrations are bright and colorful and filled with realistic details. The focus on each page pulls the readers and listeners into the story. The children’s authentic expressions make them come alive and create motion in the illustrations, as well as believability.Miss Smith Under the Ocean is a part of the New York Times best-selling series by Garland, and there are many more adventures to discover. Reviewed by J Rodney Skippyjon Jones, Class Action By Judy Schachner Dutton Juvenile, $17.99, 32 pages Skippyjon Jones, a Siamese cat who wants to be a Chihuahua, is back in another fantastic adventure! When Skippyjon sees puppies lined up at the bus stop ready to go to school, he wants to go too. But Mama Junebug doesn’t think he is ready. Mama tells him that dogs are unruly and drooly, their barks are ferocious and their dog breath smells atrocious! But Skippyjon won’t give up. Readers will be delighted by Judy Schachner’s newest book, Skippyjon Jones Class Action. As fans know, this kitty has a knack for using his imagination. He disappears into his closet and the journey begins. He explores school with his amigos, Los Chimichangos. He must save the other pups from a wooly bully (he wears a sweater). Kids who want more freedom will identify with Skippyjon. Mama still sees him as her kitty boy who

needs supervision. Skippyjon, like many children, must learn to live with three siblings. The book’s text rhymes at times and features Spanish words. The included CD puts a tune to the songs Skippyjon sings. Schachner’s illustrations are magical and so filled with details that kids will spend hours studying the pages. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin Earth to Clunk By Pam Smallcomb with illustration by Joe Berger Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 34 pages A young boy gets a pen pal assignment at school, but not just an ordinary pen pal. The boy’s pen pal is Clunk, who is from the planet Quazar. The boys is not thrilled about having to write letters to Clunk, and he sends his new pen pal undesirable items such as old lasagna, dirty socks, and his own big sister. Clunk, on the other hand, sends the boy strange items such as a fuzzy zoid, smelly forps and other strange things from Quazar. One day the packages stop arriving, and it is not until then that the young boy realizes how much he actually enjoys the special packages from Clunk. In Earth To Clunk, author Pam Smallcomb has created a funny tale that young boys will love. Despite the oddities and the simple storyline, it is a funny story with a timeless message of friendship and appreciation for what you have that can be understood by kids all over the world and the universe. Joe Berger’s illustrations have a cartoonish quality, and while the backgrounds are faded, the characters are bright and detailed. This effect creates a quirky impression that helps emphasize the story’s simple but funny aspects. Reviewed by J Rodney The Bear Who Shared By Catherine Rayner Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 32 pages The Bear Who Shared is a heart-warming story of sharing with friends. Wise bear Norris patiently waits beneath a tree for the very last fruit to fall. Meanwhile, raccoon Tulip and mouse Violet, also attracted to the last, sweet fruit

of the season, climb the tree to investigate. They find, “It smelled of honey and sunny days.” When they hugged it, “It felt as soft as cotton candy.” And just as they were about to lick it, the fruit fell down, down, down into Norris’ arms. But being wise and kind, Norris pealed the fruit and shared a piece with Tulip and a piece with Violet. From that time on, they shared everything. The Bear Who Shared”” is a friendship tale complete with suspense, humor, and kindness. Award-winning author/illustrator Catherine Rayner beautifully illustrates the tale in bold watercolors, subtly showing the new friends’ differences and clearly showing their love. This has the sweetness and beauty of a classic. Reviewed by Susan Roberts Ten Moonstruck Piglets By Lindsay Lee Johnson with illustration by Carll Cnuet Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, 32 pages When everyone else is asleep and the moon is full, ten small piglets sneak from their beds to enjoy a midnight romp. Johnson tells their rhyming story in Ten Moonstruck Piglets. Mama pig keeps snoozing while her young ones dance and play. Each piggy has its own unique personality. Chico wears a robe and carries a book. Kelly is in charge of tiny Mia. Twins Melinda and Melissa stick close together. The bright moon is their guide as the siblings play leapfrog, root for veggies, and belly flop into a cool pond.Artist Carll Cneut breathes life into the piglets’ adventure by expertly using acrylic paint in his illustrations. Look for the small details that make each scene even more charming. Bam has trouble with a slouchy sock and guess what book Chico is reading? When the moon disappears behind a cloud, the pigs get a scare. Will Mama wake up in time to help them? Little readers will need help with bigger words. Children will want to know what other animals do when the moon is full. It is a fun story to share together. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin

BISMARCK... cont’d from page 17 between these extremes. Despite these quibbles, it is a must read for students of European history and statecraft. Reviewed by Jordan Magill

O n o u r w e b s i t e : T H E B A C K PAG E , w r i t t e n b y p u b l i s h e d a u t h o r s


Technology Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World By Eric Gordon, Adriana de Souza e Silva Wiley-Blackwell, $34.95, 187 pages The world is not just getting smaller, it’s also getting denser. Net Locality explores what smart phones are doing to our culture through their ability to allow others to obtain information on not only where we are, but their ability to give that location away. This is combined with the sheer amount of information available on any location to allow us to do different things, ranging from playing location-based games, get reviews on what we see, and to find friends and

acquaintances nearby. It may sound a little frightening, but it is pointed out that it gives us more advantages than disadvantages.The book is a quick but thorough review of the history of net locality, the phenomenon of knowing where we are and what we can do there. For those looking at the Orwellian invasion of our privacy, it provides a lot of fodder, but for those interested in how our phones knowing where we are can help us, it’s a fascinating, fun read to see just how far we have come in making information useful in work and in play. This is a definitely fun yet scary look at how technology changes our society. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim

When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation With New Technologies By Robert Vamosi Basic Books, $26.99, 222 pages Having attended the 2011 RSA Security conference in San Francisco, I have an appreciation for some of the ideas presented in this highly technical book. Robert Vamosi, a computer security analyst, exposes the security problems inherent in new technology. Not only can individuals send false information to one’s gadgets, but they can also obtain personal data from citizens without their knowledge. This study is about how our cars can be attacked, how our mobile conversations can be intercepted,

and how our credit cards, driver’s licenses, and passports can all be copied.In seven chapters, the author recounts meeting individuals from Berlin, Prague, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere who have experienced how gadgets have and can betray us. The point is to make us aware of how technology can be used to minimize personal risk. Retailer Wal-Mart, as an example, uses security tags on clothing which can quickly determine the size of jeans missing from a display and restock accordingly. Vamosi aims to start a dialogue between manufacturers and security researchers. Further, it emphasizes that no security system can hinder attacks all the time and all hardware has flaws, even locks. Reviewed by Claude Ury

Crafts & Hobbies Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers By Linda Permann Potter Craft, $21.99, 160 pages There is nothing cuter than a little baby in a handmade outfit made with love. And with a new baby born every eight seconds in the United States, there are lots of people looking for the perfect present. Linda Permann’s Little Crochet has creative ideas to make the

little ones in your life even more adorable! In “Before You Begin,” Permann covers hooks, yarn, and organic fibers. Crafters will find sizes ranging from four weeks to four

years and up, and there is an excellent guide to making correct measurements. In “Little Nursery” you’ll find patterns for blankets, an amazing birdie mobile, and a play rug. “Little Clothes” features a sweater, sundress, leg warmers, cardigans, and a sweater vest. Finally, the star designs of “Little Gifts” include booties, party bibs (with our without a bowtie!), an owl pillow, and a toy ball. Anyone will love Stripe the Giraffe! Most of

the patterns come with different design and texture suggestions. Add your own touches with embroidery and appliqué. The children modeling the designs are adorable. New and advanced crafters will enjoy the clear instructions, stitch diagrams, and beautiful photographs. Dress your little loved one in style. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin

What? By Mark Kurlansky Walker & Company, $15.00, 77 pages Mark Kurlansky’s What? asks the “twenty most important questions in human history,” and has created a witty and amusing book in the process. This is a book of questions that at first seem to have no end, but force the reader to really consider the text and what they themselves think the answer might be. Often people can be intimidated by picking up any philosophical text. However, Kurlansky’s writing is delightful and welcoming to all readers. Slowly, as Kurlansky considers the ancient philosophers, Shakespeare, Hemmingway, and other “great questioners,” readers begin to ask their own questions in response. Many will also start reading statements more as questions than as definite answers.Kurlansky has created a brilliant book. What? asks valid questions that are often ignored. This book accomplishes what it sets out to

do, and is just as entertaining as it is eye opening. Readers may start to ask these same questions to their friends or family, creating an open dialogue of ideas. And isn’t that what many of the great questioners where trying to do when they asked their own questions? Reviewed by Robyn Oxborrow

nese and European societies. The point, I feel, is not only to help people understand and respect Chinese philosophies more, but to explain why these concepts are still valid in our modern world. The book mainly consists of a compare and contrast of opinions that help prove You-Sheng Li’s theses. One part talks about how the Chinese were more of a land-based people and Europeans were more oceanic; therefore Europeans were the explorers. There are interesting little nuggets inside each essay and it’s a treat to read them all. Each essay is incredibly well cited, with notes and references listed at the end. It is always wonderful to see where a book gets its ideas. You-Sheng Li displays that he is one of the most certifiable person to write on this subject. With the writing style as direct as a surgeon, he is able to craft an engaging and thoughtful experience. The short essay also gives the book a quick and fun pace to the read. Each essay many

be different, but each is as enjoyable as the next. With a wealth of information, this is one of the must-read books on this topic. Sponsored Review

Philosophy

The Ancient Chinese Super State of Primary Societies: Taoist Philosophy for the 21st Century By You-Sheng Li AuthorHouse, $19.99, 309 pages Has the world shrunk? Airlines can get us to places quicker than a dog can get fleas. Phones and computers make connecting to our neighbors faster and more reliable. Even with advancements like this, society and culture, as shared ideals, lag behind. Even moving to a new state in this country has certain social aspects that take time to learn. This book, The Ancient Chinese Super State of Primary Societies, is a deep personal discussion about the ramifications of Old World philosophy and New World modernism. The book is composed of 14 different essays, all centering on the topic of Chi-

HEADS... cont’d from page 2 unusual narrative about twenty-something pot-growing siblings Lacey and Paul Hansen. When someone dumps a headless corpse on the siblings’ Northern Californian property, the two have no choice but to get rid of the body. But the corpse just won’t stay gone--turning up time and time again. With an interesting mystery, a never-ending cast of off-beat characters and the even more offbeat notes between the two authors, readers will torn as to which is more entertainingthe bickering siblings or the bickering coauthors. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley

Catch our week ly column A FTER THE M A NUSCR IP T on our website

August 2011 23


Cooking, Food & Wine Heartland: The Cookbook By Judith M. Fertig Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35, 283 pages Blending a cookbook with a coffee table book serves dual purpose in a home. If you like the idea and you are from America’s heartland, this is the perfect book for you. High-res photos, ranging in size from small to those covering two facing pages, and many stories take up half of this book, leaving the remainder for the 150 recipes. The book is of very high-quality production. Photos illustrate the heartland and its people as well as some of the recipes.The recipes range from simple (churning butter or Missouri Skillet Bread) to unusual (Roasted Lake Fish with Pickle Rémoulade and Frizzled Tomatoes or Bacon-Infused Vodka or Smoked Goat Cheese). They are well-written and easy to follow. Ingredients are easy to find with some exceptions, such as red winter wheat berries or Saigon cinnamon. Though from the heartland, these recipes are updated — don’t expect to find jellied salads. The index is good, though

Sam the Cooking Guy: Just Grill This! By Sam Zien Wiley, $19.95, 256 pages Cookbooks written by celebrity chefs and television cooking show hosts range in spectrum from poor to very good. Many are large-format, beautifully illustrated books destined to the coffee table only. Just Grill This is a very practical, very useful cookbook on grilling that is likely to be placed on the cookbook shelf. The six introductory pages provide brief grilling tips, information on grilling equipment, tools and sauces the grill cook ought to have. The subsequent 15 pages provide recipes for sauces, rubs and other condiments useful in grilling. The recipes, some 120 of them, are very good and include non-grilled items such as salads and beverages. They are well written, very easy

24 August 2011

poorly cross referenced. If you are searching for Ohio Lemon Tart, look under Ohio, not under lemon or tart. Reviewed by George Erdosh Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour By Elana Amsterdam Celestial Arts, $16.99, 104 pages Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten-Free Cupcakes are easy to make and delicious. Contrary to many gluten-free recipes, Amsterdam’s recipes use fewer ingredients and are often moister and tastier than their gluten-filled counterparts. With Amsterdam’s cookbook, there isn’t a need to purchase ten flours, for example, to bake gluten-free cupcakes. Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour is a creative and colorful book, directing readers to take some of the basic cupcake recipes made with almond or coconut flour and add ingredients to develop Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes, Ice Cream Cone Cupto follow and mostly simple with about half a dozen readily available ingredients. Everything grillable is there: meat, poultry, seafood, sandwiches, vegetables, burgers and hotdogs. A chapter on indoor grilling using a ridged grill pan is for the inveterate grill cooks on rainy days. The layout is great, each recipe on a single page, sometimes in two columns for the convenience of the cook. The instructions are brief, almost like shorthand, but most cooks should have no problem following them. Novice cooks are likely to be more comfortable with a bit more detailed instructions. Zien writes with a good sense of wit; however, this humor is not for everyone and at times somewhat forced. Brief sidebars labeled BTW are scattered throughout the book giving good, useful, sometimes additional recipe information. This medium-format trade paperback cookbook is a no-nonsense production without frills and unnecessary fillers using only black and lime-green in the text. Illustrations are of less than professional quality and some barely acceptable; all black-andwhite except for a 16-page center-bound section of color photos. Of the illustrations, 31 photos show the author and several his dogs and his son; an unneeded distraction. The author writes for cooks using gas grills as he is a “gas grill kind of guy.” If you have a charcoal grill, you can still use this cookbook but you are better off with one written specifically for charcoal—the instructions are not quite the same. Reviewed by George Erdosh

cakes, Halloween or Valentine’s cupcakes. Parents trying to reduce their children’s gluten intake and struggling with school parties will appreciate the fanciful embellishments on this children’s party staple.The book’s photographs, by Annabelle Breakey, are scrumptious-looking and illustrate finished products in each section: Classic Cupcakes, Chocolate Cupcakes, Fruity Cupcakes, Warm and Spiced Cupcakes, Special Occasion Cupcakes, Savory Treats, and the Frostings, Fillings and Toppings. This book should be a staple for those who enjoy baking, but especially those who are looking for fresh, gluten-free (including some vegan and dairy-free) treats. Note that Amsterdam spends some of the book explaining the ingredients and the baking process. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey Truly Mexican By Roberto Santibanez Wiley, $35.00, 264 pages It is hard to choose among the many Mexican cookbooks and many are very good. The “Truly Mexican,” however is truly excellent, possibly the very best. It is a large-format book with stunningly beautiful color illustrations, some of which are

artistic extras but many showing Mexican ingredients (particularly useful for those lesser known ones), techniques and the final products. Clear, well-written text helps you master the techniques. Yet this book is not a coffee table but a great source book if you are into Mexican cooking. The author is a native of Mexico City, a highly trained chef and cooking teacher. And apparently also an exceptional cookbook writer.The emphasis is not so much on recipes as the bases of Mexican cooking: recipes for 40 salsas, 16 moles, 14 sauces and 10 guacamoles. No superfluous text on personal anecdotes fluff up the book, however, descriptions on ingredients and cooking techniques of various regions make interesting reading.The recipes are clear, easy to follow and conveniently placed on single pages whenever possible. Should you be using this book regularly, you must have a Mexican market available to you for many of the ingredients. The well cross-referenced index is also excellent. Reviewed by George Erdosh

Honey Soy Lamb Chop Makes one full rack The honey makes this marinade into a kind of glaze once it’s grilled. The day we shot the pictures of this, Steve (the photographer) went home and had to make it for his own dinner that night - he thought it was that good. I like to cook the rack whole and then cut it into double chops. 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/2 cup honey 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 Frenched rack of lamb (see BTW), rinsed and patted dry 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro Mix together the soy, honey, garlic, and cayenne in a dish or zipper-top plastic bag. Add the lamb and let marinate up to an hour. But, if you only have 10 minutes cool, or if you have more time . . . that’s better. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the lamb from the marinade and add to the grill. Because it’s on the rack still, you kind of end up with 3 sides - don’t forget about the bottom. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until medium rare. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes, then cut into 2’s. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve. BTW... A frenched rack of lamb just means that the fat and stuff between and around the protruding rib bones has been removed. It looks nicer and makes for a prettier presentation. BBTW... You can also wrap the exposed ribs with foil to prevent them browning on the grill and gettng a little ugly.

O n o u r w e b s i t e : B O O K B A N T E R w i t h A l e x Te l a n d e r


Sacramento Book Review - Aug/Sept 2011