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Sacramento

June 10

Book Review VOLUME 2, ISSUE 10

F R E E

NEW AND OF INTEREST

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A Taint in the Blood Twilight for grown-ups Page 7

The Man Who Ate His Boots

A fascinating historical adventure! Page 8

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Cooking, Food & Wine Insert Page 9

Cooking For Two: 2010

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No more wasted food! Page 10

Women Rock the Church By Heather Terrell Ballantine Books, $14.00, 256 pages

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When Alexandra Patterson, an appraiser of medieval relics, is called to Ireland to study a reliquary box at a small convent near Dublin, she has no idea that what she finds just might rock the Catholic Church. Seamlessly transitioning from 456 A.D. to the present day and Alexandra’s discovery in the reliquary box, Heather Terrell has crafted the background of Brigid and the discovery of the Book of Kildare. Full of historical detail, the novel makes St. Brigid jump out of the book and stand before you as the woman she was, faithful, strong, fo-

cused and driven to spread the message of God. “Alex, you’ve just rocked the world of illuminated manuscripts.” Multiple plot lines and eras can get messy for some authors, but Terrell manages it easily. You find yourself rushing through, wanting to know the climaxes of all three. The only problem is that while the premise is solid, the characters lack depth and the See KILDARE, page 4

Beautiful Maria of My Soul All soul Page 19

From Eternity to Here A time for reason Page 24

88 Reviews INSIDE!


Biographies & Memoirs Mark Twain’s Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years By Laura Trombley Knopf, $28.95, 352 pages Fame came to Mark Twain fairly early in life, and by the time he died, he was being celebrated as one of the greatest writers America had ever produced. Such fame can be a burden to bear, and Twain spent a good deal of his final decade worried about how he would be remembered. This intense focus led him to make difficult and often cruel decisions that would affect those closest to him. No one was affected more than Isabel Lyon, his faithful secretary and personal assistant, who was his constant companion after his wife passed away. Lyon’s story had been lost to history— until now. Avoided by previous Twain biographers in an effort to appease Twain’s daughters, who intensely disliked and disapproved of Lyon, and previously dismissed due to her middle-class roots, Lyon finally gets her due in this wonderfully researched book. At times, Trombley is a little overbearing, but the story of Lyon and Twain is such a revealing look at a side of Twain that many have never seen. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Some Girls: My Life in a Harem By Jillian Lauren Plume, $15.00, 339 pages Called a punk rock Scheherazade, Jillian Lauren, a funny and eclectic storyteller, proves worthy of the comparison to the Persian storyteller in her book Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. While not the most talented or beautiful girl on the block, Lauren admits she learned how to sell it, whatever “it” happened to be. “We hope the story we tell will be the story that saves our lives.” In a captivating and graceful cavalcade of images, Lauren describes the lavish wastefulness of the rich and the nerves and neuroses involved as the women vie for power in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, who his harem calls Robin. Through it all, her voice remains beautiful and lyrically frank, at times tongue-in-cheek and at others despairingly sad. Her storytelling has a great sense of pace and drama, and an unflinch-

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ing interpretation of herself and the world around her. Lauren has an ear for when to be coarse, when to be funny, and has perfect timing on her forth righteousness and a keen selfdeprecating wit. It’s an amazing story of outlandish circumstances as Lauren frankly chronicles her work in the sex trade and her rise and fall in the harem, which the wild, self-conscious fat girl/courtesan in all of us will understand. Reviewed by Axie Barclay

Just Don’t Call Me Ma’am: How I Ditched the South, Forgot My Manners, and Managed to Survive My Twenties with (Most of) My Dignity Still Intact By Anna Mitchael Seal Press, $15.95, 242 pages The subtitle of “Just Don’t Call Me Ma’am” describes the author’s post college foray into big city living and her journey down the windy road of adult romance.

Hannah’s Child By Stanley Hauerwas Wm. B Eerdman’s Publishing, $24.99, 288 pages For a long time, the hard-working couple Joanna and Coffee Hauerwas were denied a child of their own. But with fierce determination, Joanna continued to pray to God, promising that if He blessed her with child, she would make sure the child’s life was dedicated to the service of the Lord. And in short order, Stanley Hauer was born, the man Time magazine once declared as the best theologian in America.

“I wondered what my grandma would say if she’s seen the way I’d been acting...She’d seen me graduate from high school in Oklahoma, so I guess she’s be nothing short of mortified. ‘Where you come from is who you are,’ she was fond of saying. ‘The rest of it’s just fluff.’”

“The way things are is not the way things have to be. That thought began to shape my understanding of what it might mean to be a Christian – namely, Christianity is the ongoing training necessary to see that we are not fated. We can even imagine a world without war.” I was immediately captured by Hauerwas’ clear writing style and ability to be simply straightforward about what he wants to say. And I give him serious props for baldly admitting that not only is he not always sure what “being Christian” means, he also often has difficulty praying. He also abandoned the sometimes plodding style of the typical biography where a life is pared down to a series of merely chronological happenings. To be sure, events are mostly told in linear fashion but they are structured along their impact, not strictly along when they occurred in the author’s life. I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s ever questioned the assumptions of what one has to know or how one has to think in order to be a Christian. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz

Anyone who has left a small town and grandma’s cooking, will appreciate this delightfully funny coming of age memoir. Full of contemporary references and real life issues, it’s sure to be appreciated by younger adults. “Sex and the City” fans will recognize the importance of food therapy, spa therapy, and soap operas for the universal treatment of unemployment and broken hearts. And for anyone who has had to return to the nest after living on their own, author Anna Mitchael offers advice and insight that should be read prior to moving back with the ‘rents. Mitchael’s personal journey also includes important life lessons told in a sincere, humorous, and casual style, causing those light bulb moments parents hope for. Some language, but overall a testament to family, friendship, and independence. Reviewed by Sheli Ellsworth Where Mercy Is Shown, Mercy Is Given By Duane Dog Chapman Hyperion, $26.99, 289 pages Many people recognize Duane “Dog” Chapman from his reality television show, “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” In Chapman’s book, Where Mercy is Shown, Mercy is Given, readers are treated to a few of Chapman’s exploits in the seedy world of bounty hunting. The book mostly chronicles the hardships Chapman has endured as a celebrity. It begins with problems he encountered after apprehending Andrew Luster, the

wealthy Max Factor heir who fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution on charges of rape. Mexico filed charges against Chapman for allegedly acting illegally during the apprehension of Luster. A long and expensive legal battle ensued between Chapman and authorities in Mexico. The next media maelstrom erupted when Chapman used the “N” word in a private conversation with his son. Chapman takes ownership of his words and explains how the media did not represent the correct context of his statements. He describes how faith, family, and fans help him persevere. Chapman uses bounty hunting to earn a living but also as a mechanism to encourage people in dire straits. At times, the narrative was repetitious and Chapman came across as trying too hard to be liked and understood. Still, he connects with people that society marginalizes. An interesting read. Reviewed by Grady Jones How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Educations That Made Them By Daniel Wolff Bloomsbury Press, $16.00, 352 pages I would strongly recommend that this book be added to the Required Reading lists of all educational programs; and that parents everywhere take the trouble to gain an awareness of the different learning styles of our students and ourselves through these fascinating vignettes. This book examines the educational foundations of twelve notable celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Abigail Adams, Helen Keller, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, W.E.B. DuBois, John Kennedy, and Andrew Jackson. All had different backgrounds and different approaches to learning. In these inspiring accounts, the childhood molding of the character and education of these talented individuals is skillfully painted. Ben Franklin was a rebel who refused schooling after the eight grade. Today he would probably be prescribed Ritalin and sent to an alternative school. Abe Lincoln had only his mother Nancy Hanks to teach him the basics, but his thirst for knowledge prompted voracious reading. The iconic story of Helen Keller and her indomitable teacher Anne Sullivan leaves one in awe. Each of these personalities was imprinted by outside influences and inner drives, and so it is important to be reminded that we are not standardized learners. How and what and why we learn is a very individual endeavor. Add this to your youngster’s library. Reviewed by Rita Hoots

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Sacramento

Book Review 1776 Productions 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Ph. (916) 503-1776 info@1776productions.com EDITOR IN CHIEF Ross Rojek ross@1776productions.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kaye Cloutman kaye.cloutman@1776productions.com GRAPHIC DESIGN/LAYOUT Heidi Komlofske heidi.komlofske@1776productions.com Rowena Manisay COPY EDITORS Joe Atkins Megan Just Roy Sablosky Lori Miller Viola Allo Glenn Rucker EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jen LeBrun Jordan Dacayanan Mary Komlofske WEBSITE/SOCIAL NETWORKING/ APP DEVELOPMENT Ariel Berg Gwen Stackler Robyn Oxborrow DISTRIBUTION Sacramento Distribution Services ADVERTISING SALES sales@1776productions.com

The Sacramento Book Review is published monthly by 1776 Productions. 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 © 2010, 1776 Productions. June 10 print run - 10,000 copies.

Subscriptions Send $18.00 for 12 monthly issues to 1776 Productions, 1215 K Street, 17th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814.

IN THIS ISSUE Biographies & Memoirs..................................2 Children’s.......................................................4 Art, Architecture & Photography...................4 Modern Literature..........................................5 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers.............................5 Young Adult....................................................6 Tweens...........................................................6 Science Fiction & Fantasy...............................7 Current Events...............................................8 History...........................................................8 Cooking, Food & Wine....................................9 Sonoma Wineries Insert...............................10 Health, Fitness & Dieting............................. 17 Business & Investing.................................... 17 Self-Help.......................................................18 Spirituality...................................................18 Reference......................................................19 Popular Fiction.............................................19 Romance.......................................................20 Pop Culture...................................................20 Sequential Art..............................................21

FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to June and our new issue of Sacramento Book Review. We have a great Cooking, Food & Wine insert to give you some great ideas for things to do now that the weather has turned nice enough to eat outside more often. We’ve dusted off our grill and are already planning the summer BBQs for ourselves and one or two good get-togethers with our friends and reviewers (many of whom overlap those two categories). Last week we saw John Waters, the last speaker for this season’s California Lectures series. Next year’s speakers are already scheduled, and it looks like a good season and reason to buy tickets. We’ll be at all of them and always enjoy seeing new readers pick up the paper from the lobby table and exclaim to their neighbor, “I didn’t know Sacramento had a book review.” Gives us a warm feeling, even though our usual comment is “we’ve been publishing for two years now.” June also brings the kick-off of the Sacramento Library’s Summer reading programs for kids. Have a child out of school and needing out-of-the-home entertainment? Check out your local library branch’s schedule and not only keep your kids busy, but also learning something in a fun environment. This month’s issue also has a three-page insert of businesses from the Dry Creek region of Sonoma Valley. It seemed like a good fit for the Cooking, Food & Wine insert, and was great fun for me and Heidi to visit Sonoma to do the “research” needed for putting it together (wink). We’re grateful to Mushal Winery for hosting us during the Dry Creek Passport weekend and introducing us to so many great wineries and wine owners. Thanks again for picking up the latest issue. We’re always hopeful you’ll find something good to read that you never heard of before and will enjoy enough to share with your friends. Happy reading, Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief ross@1776productions.com 1776 Productions

Calendar.......................................................22 Travel...........................................................23 Science & Nature..........................................24

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Children’s Ortega By Maureen Fergus Kids Can Press, $16.95, 224 pages A fascinating story resulted when author Maureen Fergus asked herself, “What if a gorilla could talk and showed up in a classroom?” As an infant gorilla, abandoned Ortega is surgically fitted with a voice box and is raised similar to a human child. When he reaches the same maturity as a 12 yearold, his ‘handlers’ enroll him in school and the possibilities play out. He deals with issues on being different from everyone and making friends. He soon learns what true friendship is while he secretly joins his peers to create a film set in an abandoned, haunted factory. The film results in an invitation to Hollywood, but Ortega, at the last minute, must ‘be on show’ at a scientific conference. Having experienced freedom as a ‘human’ and mad he couldn’t support his new-found friends, Ortega reacts poorly and jeopardizes his funding. When Ortega

finds out he may be ‘sold,’ he runs away. Fergus deftly weaves into the story the morale issues of an ‘animal’ that thinks/feels/acts like a human. Besides the fact that gorillas can’t talk, the book is totally plausible. From the first word to the last, the pages turned fast. Ortega will hold the imagination of both avid and reluctant readers alike. It could successfully be used as a read-aloud story, holding the entire classes’ attention and likely eliciting classroom debate. Fresh, moving, captivating. Reviewed by Susan Roberts Sit-In By Andrea Davis Pinkney Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 40 pages Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney and her partner/illustrator Brian Pinkney have collaborated on Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, a book

for children that educates as well as entertains. This story about the Woolworth’s counter sit ins in the 1960s highlights the bravery of the young people who followed Martin Luther King Junior’s words of peaceful protest. It is punctuated by quotes from the civil rights leader. “A double dose of peace, with nonviolence on top. Hold the hate. Leave off the injustice.” The book’s rhythmic prose and watercolor images depict the young people standing up to angry words and violent actions with calm dignity. The content is important and historic, presented in a way that young readers, age nine through twelve should easily understand. Children younger than that may not engage with the rather sophisticated and subtle illustrations. Sit In is a good book to open discussion and conversation about the history of race relations in our country. Reviewed by Robin Martin

Henry in Love By Peter McCarty Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 48 pages Henry the kitten wakes up one morning pleased to discover that his mother has baked blueberry muffins for him, his brother, and their friend Sancho to take to school for snack. School is an exciting place for quiet Henry; he’s in love with the little bunny Chloe, the most beautiful girl in his class. Henry admires Chloe from a distance and tries to impress her with a somersault; Chloe counters with a lovely cartwheel. After a game of tag and a fortuitous rearrangement of the classroom seating, Henry finally gets a chance to really make his move: he gives his delicious blueberry muffin to Chloe. This simple, charming story of young love is accompanied by ink and watercolor illustrations on heavy ivory stock; the weighty pages are a pleasure to turn, and the lively group of animals making up Henry’s world are sure to bring smiles to the faces of readers of all ages. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell

Art, Architecture & Photography Jeff Wall: Complete Edition By Thierry de Duve, Arielle Pelenc, Boris Groys, Jean-Francois Chevrier, Mark Lewis Phaidon Press, $69.95, 280 pages Canadian photographer Jeff Wall pushes the limits of photography and modern art. He often combines the two forming modern art. His photographs defy a simple explanation or meaning, often giving multiple meanings with each viewing of the piece. With his photographs it can be answered that photography is truly an art form. This collection brings together essays and interviews about and by Jeff Wall, along with his photographs from the beginning of his career to more recent compositions. This book is for fans of modern art and photography. In the interviews, Mr. Wall goes in depth about his process and how he makes the photos look like paintings, explaining that they are paintings in a way. Brilliantly assembled, the editors are to be commended for putting such an opus together. This is a book for any collection. Reviewed by Kevin Winter

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Interior Design in Practice By Katie Weeks Wiley, $65.00, 227 pages This case study book is published by a respected organization, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The lead author, Terri Maurer, is a past president of the ASID. Maurer and co-author Katie Weeks have created a must-have manual for anyone considering beginning an interior design practice. “Success depends primarily on an owner’s foresight and organization.” Running a successful practice requires more than talent and enthusiasm. As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you can plan on failing.” Planning in this case focuses on initial planning, both strategic and financial. The subsequent parts include starting and sustaining the business, and the sale or turnover when it’s time to retire. Several examples of actual business practices follow an overview that explains each topic area and how they ap-

ply to an interior design practice. The case studies represent input from the gamut of interior design practice – sole practitioner to large corporation. The businesses featured are located across the United States and Canada. The book includes two comprehensive appendices. Appendix A has copies of the ASID design service agreements that are a standard of practice nationwide. Appendix B sets forth the ASID Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Digital Restoration from Start to Finish By Ctein Focal Press, $39.95, 417 pages For the amateur or professional who wants to take on the task of restoring their own photographs, or adding this skill to their existing business, Digital Restoration from Start to Finish is a must-have reference guide. Even 20-year old photographs show fading and color variation and those that are older, if they have not been stored in pristine condition, are in worse shape. Restoring these memories is more difficult that it looks, but is not impossible. The author takes you step-by-

step through digital restoration, beginning with equipment recommendations for both hardware and software to tackle this job. Many tips and techniques are spelled out in great detail to help you correct just about any flaw in photographic prints, negatives, transparencies, and even those old instant Polaroid shots. Ctein is widely recognized as an expert in the printing processes from classic dye transfer to state-of-the-art digital methods. He has nearly four decades of experience running his own photo restoration business. His book is full of his expertise and perhaps the finest book of its kind available today. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt KILDARE, cont’d from page 1 climaxes are anything but earthshattering. One can’t help it see that the work would have been better with more time, research, and the heightening of the plot. At the end of the day, Brigid of Kildare was a nice mini escape. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler

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Modern Literature Sissinghurst By Adam Nicolson Viking Adult, $27.95, 341 pages Adam Nicolson’s Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History tells the story of his ongoing quest to convert the historic National Trust property that belonged to his grandmother, writer Vita Sackville-West, back to its origins as a working farm. Nicolson’s sense of place is the animating spirit of this book: Sissinghurst’s past, present, and future tucked into the ancient weald of the Kent countryside, one hour outside London. Nicolson’s goal is simple: he wants to serve lunch to the over 100,000 tourists Sissinghurst entertains each summer from food grown on the land itself. But his quest to shepherd this proposal through England’s National Trust is anything but easy, and he discovers that nature is deeply embedded in culture and community. Sissinghurst was Nicolson’s childhood home, and he combines memoir, natural and cultural history, and poetic celebrations of flowers and streambeds into his main

story about the push to recreate the farm. Nicolson is an amiable storyteller, presenting the inevitable conflicts in a balanced and fair light, but he is at his best as a nature writer, a poet of the land like his famous grandmother. Readers interested in local food movements, environmental literature, and beautiful prose will be delighted with this book. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis Admission By Jean Hanff Korelitz Grand Central Publishing, $14.99, 464 pages I wasn’t sure about Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel Admission. Did I really want to invest 450 pages of reading time on a novel about the Ivy League college admissions process? But Korelitz and her main character, Portia Nathan, almost instantly won me over and I found myself unable to put down this oddly compelling academic melodrama. Korelitz’s portrait of East Coast academia, competitive high schools, and feminist Vermont moms is hilariously spoton. But it was Portia, an admissions officer

at Princeton, who truly kept me glued to the page. Portia has an utterly compelling messed-up love life and a secret from her past that keeps her frozen in her office, sorting through the thousands of applications from high school seniors. While her emotional drama is riveting, her tendency to burst into epic monologues about millennial parenting and college admissions (even in bed with the hot experimental schoolteacher) drags. Apart from these didactic slow-downs, I appreciated the leisurely pace of the narrative, which gave me time to sink into the story and to appreciate Korelitz’s deft hand with characterization. Readers who appreciate the academic novels of David Lodge and James Hynes will similarly enjoy Admission. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis Nothing Happened and Then It Did By Silverstein, Jake Norton, $23.95, 231 pages Faced with the twin dilemmas of the rising doubts about the veracity of memoirs and the West Texas’s propensity for tall tales, Jake Silverstein has crafted an elegant solution in his finely written Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction. Silverstein’s account of his – mostly failed – youthful efforts to become

a journalist after driving out to West Texas boasts a curious structure: the chapters are alternatively fact and fiction, knitted into a single flowing account. Searching for the bones of journalist Abrose Bierce and joining a team for a frequently fatal Mexican auto race (one which boasts an ex-Nazi mechanic)? Fact. Coverage of the opening of the first McDonald’s in the only Mexican state without one and his search for Jean Laffite’s treasure? Fiction. One can’t feel too bad for Silverstein’s blundering efforts at journalistic success (he’s now the editor of Texas Monthly), time and again hilariously foiled by The New Yorker. His keen observations, finely wrought characters, and self-deprecating humor all add to the book’s success, as does the running question of which seems more improbably, his accounts that are fact or those that are fiction. A fine, fun work, readers are sure to want to join Silverstein on his next road trip, whether real or imagined. Reviewed by Jordan Magill

Mystery, Crime & Thrillers Cut, Paste, Kill: A Lomax & Biggs Mystery By Marshall Karp Minotaur Books, $24.99, 296 pages Is nothing sacred? Take scrapbooking – it is so important to some ladies that they tout their pastime on license plate holders, bumper stickers and even personalized plates? To Marshall Karp scrapbooking is an easy target for a serial killer’s modus operandi. This is the fourth Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs book from Karp. Lomax and Biggs, two of LA’s finest, ramble around the greater LA area forsaking a sumptuous bar-b-que and a quiet weekend with family and friends. Their mission is to scope out the scene of the first of several quirky murders. Along the trail of the scrapbooking murderer, the cops cross paths with an assortment of characters guaranteed to be found in LA but not necessarily anywhere else! The chapters in this book are short and chock full of snappy dialogue. It’s easy for a

reader to imagine the scenes using the clues Marshall Karp provides. Be prepared for false stops and restarts as the story ebbs and flows just like the ocean along LA’s Pacific Coast. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Meanie Mouse Versus the Orlando Operators: The Adventure Begins By Federick Malphurs iUniverse, $22.95, 412 pages Meanie Mouse was the end result of intelligence breeding in an Orlando-based research lab. Designated as the most intelligent of her line, she escapes, throwing the lab into chaos. She dies, but not before leaving some genetic material on a lab petri dish that ended up used by one of the researchers trying to save money doing an intro fertilization for his wife. One of the resulting twin children was born with a small growth, just about where a tail would be. That child was Melanie, and she would grow up to be highly smart, dedicated woman, and, in her own way, a righter

of wrongs, a defender of the underdog. Melanie, or Meanie as she gets nicknamed by her brother, gets through college and takes a job at a local law firm helping with investigations. She gets involved in tracking down the murderer of a Russian émigré, working in Orlando as a model and cheerleader for the Orlando Operators football team. Working her way though the complications of professional sports and local politics, Meanie also finds herself falling in love with Mookie, a forensic accountant that also works in the her building. Between her investigation and her developing relationship, Meanie comes across as a interesting, engaging character, even without the oddity of her birth. Meanie Mouse versus the Orlando Operators is an fun book to read, and easy to recommend. Sponsored Review The Bride Collector By Ted Dekker Center Street, $24.99, 452 pages He sneaks into their bedroom windows and takes them. Beautiful women, without so much as a blemish. He kills them. He strategically crafts their faces and bodies with flawless make-up applications. From here he drills a bit into their heels and drains the

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blood from them. Lastly, he displays them on a wall. He is meticulous and methodical, and in a warped way, he seems to almost care about his subjects. He leaves a bridal veil at each scene. These are his brides. This much we know. The rest is speculation.. Ted Dekker has crafted a murder mystery that is compelling, smart, and wellwritten. The Bride Collector holds the reader captive. Each page is a step closer to the killer’s trail and, more interestingly, his psychosis. With a motley crew of characters the reader is transported from the lab to a psychiatric ward to the killer’s playgrounds. Brad Raines, special FBI agent, heads the case, along with his colleague who is on the list of the killer’s seven brides. Raines is running out of time trying to find a reliable lead, when he enlists the gifts of some of the psych patients. Will the groom get yet another bride? Reviewed by Sky Sanchez

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Young Adult Shadow By Jenny Moss Scholastic Press, $17.99, 375 pages The land of Deor is dying. Queen Audrey is predicted to die before her sixteenth birthday. Her parents are dead, her father murdered. Shadow, an orphan girl the same age as the queen, has been assigned by three mysterious men to stay near Audrey at all times until she’s old enough to rule. Fyren, the dead king’s cousin, is regent until such time. Sir Kenway, a knight from a neighboring castle, visits Audrey each day. Shadow, feeling jealousy twinges, thinks he is courting the queen. Then, shortly before the queen’s sixteenth birthday, Audrey is poisoned. Shadow is a suspect. She last sees the three mysterious men in robes conferring with Fyren. One of them is stabbed. Sir Kenway spirits Shadow

out of the castle through a hidden tunnel, and adventures multiply. In this fast-paced story full of twists and turns, revelations abound; no one is who they seem. Shadow is a likeable heroine, and most of the characters are well-drawn and believable. Ingen, however, seems contrived, more of a plot function than a plausible character, as she leads Shadow and Sir Kenway to the book’s most surprising revelation. All in all, though, a good read. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan Leaving Gee’s Bend By Irene Latham Putnam Juvenile, $16.99, 240 pages This book is about a girl named Ludelphia Bennett. Her mama just had a baby and is terribly ill. She needs medicine badly, but in Gee’s Bend they don’t have any medicine or doctors. In Camden, they have medicine and doctors but it is over 40 miles from Gee’s Bend. Ludelphia wants to save her mama so Ludelphia decides to go to Camden to find medicine. In her travels, Ludelphia discovers a whole new world. Leaving Gee’s

Bend is my favorite book so far. Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t put it down. Ludelphia Bennett is a brave 10-year-old girl who goes on an exciting adventure. I would recommend this book to everyone! Reviewed by Peyton Ozawa, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder By Obert Skye Shadow Mountain, $19.95, 363 pages I think Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder by Obert Skye is an excellent book to read. Leven Thumps is a boy who got sucked from reality to Foo. Foo is a place where dreams from reality become true and imaginary creatures come alive. Leven needs to restore the balance between Foo and reality so he can stop the creatures and dreams in Foo from escaping into reality. Leven fights his way to Foo’s oldest tree to chop it down and equalize the power between Foo and

reality. I think chopping the tree down to restore balance is good. This book is like other books in the series because Leven always has to solve something to stop evil. This book is different because creatures and dreams from Foo reach reality. I felt like I was in the story while I was reading it. It was very fun to read. I loved it. I felt that I wanted to read it again. I think that kids who like magic and fantasy should read this book. Reviewed by Logan Petersen, 8 years old, Grass Valley Charter

Tweens Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana By Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet Claim Stake Productions, LLC, $19.95, 138 pages This is the brilliant first of what I hope will be many books in a travel-novel series aimed at ages four through ten. Gannon and Wyatt’s journey begins in the African bush, where they meet up with travel guides to explore Botswana. On their travels they encounter Bushmen; a huge variety of wild animals including the Big Five (lions, rhinos, cape buffalo, elephants, and leopards); and a snake or two. Gannon is philosophical and fearless. Wyatt is science-driven and rather less fearless. Together, these personalities make for an adventure that represents the best of both worlds, and that’s no joke. The main goal of the journey is to find a lion that has been attacked by a poacher, and save her so that she can nurse her cubs. Along the way, our heroes survive many dangers – and find that none of the hundreds of species that survive in the bush are more dangerous than they are themselves.

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Botswana has rarely had a portrayal that so accurately captures the physical and emotional spirit of Africa. Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana allows the reader to learn about the bush, and enjoy an great adventure, and perhaps begin to share Gannon and Wyatt’s profound environmentalism. This new take on travel books is intriguing, to say the least. Wheeler and Hemstreet have made a great start – dare we ask for a sequel? Reviewed by Alex Masri The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon By David Almond Candlewick, $15.99, 119 pages Paul finds himself home from school one day, bored with the basement apartment he shares with his parents, when he decides to go outside and touch the sky. On his journey upstairs, he meets some of the strange denizens of his apartment building, and the word spreads of his ambitious plan. But Paul’s ideas don’t end there. He also believes that the moon is a giant hole in the sky, and he wants to investigate.

At first, The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon seemed like a typical boy-goes-on-awacky-adventure kids’ book, but as the story progressed, it revealed surprising depths to some of its characters. (Others, like the jogger and the flighty Mabel, remain fairly one-note, but still add some loony color to the book.) Almond’s willingness to temper what could be a simple lark with more realistic undertones elevates the book above the norm, creating a unique look at the possible consequences of realizing your dreams. Pretty heavy stuff for a kids’ book, to be sure. In the end, though, it all turns out okay, as it should. Paul’s plan to climb to the moon has united an eclectic group, and left the reader thoroughly entertained. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Whistle Bright Magic By Barb Bentler Ullman Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99, 214 pages Zellie’s mother, Willa, once befriended fairies. Now she is a single mom with bitter memories and no recollections of the nutfolk. She only returned to the small town of Plunkit to help Grammy Bert with Plunkit Books and to nurse her through chemotherapy. But Grammy died and left the bookstore to Willa, and Zellie doesn’t want to leave Plunkit.

At Grammy’s graveside, Zellie sees a twinkly little man who disappears. Later, discovering a tiny house in the woods, she finds a miniature diary belonging to Ronald Whistle Bright, a tiny nutfolk boy. She and two friends, Frederick and Lupine, are drawn into Whistle Bright’s worries: developers are interested in buying up the forested land where his fairy village once thrived. One by one, fairy folk are leaving, but Whistle Bright won’t go. Zellie is a sympathetic character, trying to be strong and rational, while opening the Pandora’s box of her feelings about her missing father. Saving Whistle Bright’s village and finding Zellie’s father become intertwined stories, each with their own heartwarming resolution. The characters, both human and fey, are charmingly real. One can only hope for sequels. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan

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Science Fiction & Fantasy Roadkill By Rob Thurman Roc, $7.99, 352 pages Cal Leandros was born a monster and has been trying to avoid that legacy his whole life. His brother, Niko, has been trying to save him from himself too; and most of the time he worries about Cal’s love of junk food more than his monstrous genes. But Cal’s ability to open portals to hell is bringing Cal closer to his unnatural origins at the worst time imaginable. An ancient evil has been stolen from his prison and the return of the plague may be the least of Cal and Niko’s problems if they can’t stop him before he breaks the last fragile bonds that are barely holding him in check. Rob Thurman never loses momentum in the fifth installment of her Cal Leandros series in Roadkill. Irreverently grim, the action is spiced with sarcasm and strange creatures. Blending various myths into her own striking creation, Thurman takes us on a road trip with some werewolves, a puck, a mummified cat, and the Leandros brothers. Roadkill is a really fun ride that fans of the series won’t want to miss. Reviewed by Theresa Lucas Starfishers Volume 2: Starfishers (Starfishers Trilogy) By Glen Cook Night Shade Books, $14.95, 232 pages The second book in Glen Cook’s Starfishers Trilogy begins 16 years after the events of the first, Shadowline. Mouse is now a commander in the intelligence services of the Confederation Navy. He and his partner are sent into deep cover on edge of the galaxy to spy on the elusive Seiners. These are humans who have refused to join the galaxy-spanning federation and who maintain their independence by having monopoly control over the rarest element in the universe, ambergris, which makes faster-thanlight travel and communication possible. While Shadowline juxtaposed the professional waging of war with an integrated, devoted family, Starfishers centers on the struggle any individual endures in trying to fit into a society, and how much of their individuality they may forfeit in the process.

While Mouse is a major character, the focus here is on the inner struggles of his partner, BenRabi, who is undergoing an existential crisis while being pursued, behind enemy lines, by one of the more deadly ghosts from his past. The story successfully pits gritty intrigue and espionage against the trials of a man trying to map the line between his true self and his socially constructed identity. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard Flirt By Laurell K. Hamilton Berkley Hardcover, $23.95, 192 pages Ask Laurell K Hamilton why she first started the Anita Blake series and she’s tell you she wanted to write the type of books that appealed to her. Especially considering those type of books didn’t really exist anywhere. Werewolves, vampires and other paranormal creatures belonged solely to the horror genre. She pulled the paranormal out of its dusty closet, added a kick-ass heroine (Anita Blake), some good old fashioned sex and spawned an entirely new genre of paranormal romance. That being said, Flirt does little for the Anita Blake series. The main character is a bit harder, more willing to commit acts of violence without quite as much soul searching. The men are still beautiful. Two or more characters end up in the sack. People are still willing to indulge in horrific acts in the name of love. On her blog, the author claims the idea came to her while writing Divine Misdemeanors. The creative muse forced to take a break on that project to pen this novella. While I can admire the author’s ability to churn out a complete book in less than a few weeks, I can’t help but wonder perhaps she should have taken a bit more time for plot development. Pray she rediscovers some of the magic that made early books such a fan favorite. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Dead in the Family By Charlaine Harris Ace Hardcover, $25.95, 320 pages Sookie Stackhouse has had a long shelf life as the protagonist of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries and it seems as if the author may be running out

A Taint in the Blood By S.M. Stirling ROC, $25.95, 422 pages

Adrian Breze is attempting to live out his retirement in Sante Fe and salvage a troubled relationship with his love, Ellen. The secrets that threaten their relationship soon physically threaten Ellen when she is kidnapped by Adrian’s sadistic and psychotic twin sister, Adrienne. To Ellen’s horror, Adrienne reveals the true nature of their family. The Breze’s are Shadowspawn, the truth behind the myths of vampires and werewolves that secretly rule the world. Adrian’s retirement is from the Brotherhood, who wage a centuries-old war against the Shadowspawn. Adrian’s retirement is short-lived, as he must enlist the help of his former Brotherhood partner and rejoin the war in order to rescue Ellen. “Adrian struggled for words to describe the construct he saw as glinting planes of light, shifting in and out of existence. Possibilities interlinked, ready to fall out of ‘might’“into ‘is’.” This is not your average teenage vampire story. S.M. Stirling adds some wrinkles to traditional vampire narrative, such as the flavor of the blood depends on the mood of the victim. The more fear, they feel the better it tastes. Also, Shadowspawn have the ability to control the world around them on a quantum level, seeing all possible outcomes and the ability to determine the one most advantageous to them. Stirling is a master at establishing the rules of his universe and fully developing the story around those rules. The scenarios Adrienne puts Ellen through in order to heighten her fear to increase the flavor of her blood are imaginative, truly sadistic, and disturbing. Vampires also need to consume blood, which allows them to use the Power. The Power allows them to shape-shift into the form of any person or animal they have bitten, control and determine all possible outcomes of current reality, and read the thoughts of all living things. Stirling alludes to the possibility that the power may not be the exclusive magic of the Shadowspawn, but a science just being discovered by humans. I look forward to the possibilities Stirling will explore in future installments. I picked up my first book by S.M. Stirling approximately a year ago, and I must say that nine books later, S.M. Stirling has officially become my favorite science fiction and fantasy author. Reviewed by Mike Scott of ideas. Sookie, a telepathic waitress, has been through it all. She’s been in love with a couple of vampires, had a fling with a shape shifter, and been through far too many violent encounters. Dead in the Family picks up after Sookie has been badly injured in a war between the Fae and she’s looking for nothing more than time to heal. But Sookie’s life is always complicated and when the master of her vampire lover comes to town, Sookie ends up in the middle of vampire politics yet again. Dead in the Family is more introspective and less action-oriented that Harris’ other books and, while it’s nice to see the violence dialed down a bit, it takes away a lot of the suspense. The book’s strength lies in the way it delves into the history of some of the secondary characters and that Sookie is always a charming heroine. But it’s unlikely anyone other than a diehard fan will find Dead in the Family to be a very strong installment in the series. Reviewed by Theresa Lucas

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Current Events Faith and Power By Bernard Lewis Oxford University Press, $24.95, 208 pages By one of the West’s foremost scholars of the Islamic world, Bernard Lewis’s Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East collects a series of essays and speeches, many never before published. While all of the entries fit into the broad category reflected by the title, they cover a range of topics. Some familiar with Lewis’s previous excellent works on the relationship between Europe and the Islamic world, may find a few essays repetitive. Several stand out as particularly insightful, such as one on historic gender roles in Ottoman and Arab culture and another on the sources of historical political legitimacy in the Islamic tradition. Another chapter on the relationship between religion and the potential for democracy in the Middle East also makes for thought provoking reading. Of late there has been a great and continuing effort to pigeonhole Lewis, both by

his academic rivals and those with a political axe to grind. What comes across clearly in these essays, however, is instead the work of a complex intellectual with an impressive command of facts, a nuanced analysis of the region and its history, and an abiding admiration for his subject. Reviewed by Jordan Magill Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law By Gabriel Schoenfeld Norton, $27.95, 320 pages Intentionally or otherwise, information is frequently leaked to the media. Politicians try to smear their opponents. Bureaucrats try to let the citizenry know. Leaks can hurt the work of intelligence agencies, and even negotiations among nations. From the original gathering of intelligence to its final dissemination across the branches of government, it is vulnerable to premature exposure. In this work Schoenfeld argues that leaks are a danger to the government; they are dangerous and evil; that

they must be stopped; and that the people who do the leaking are traitors, always. His touchstone is 9/11, even when he is discussing the founding of this nation. He reviews the history of the United States examining the major leaks, from war codes to the atomic bomb. He has no sympathy for the leakers. His analysis is weak, and his examples often hurt rather than help his argument. The most charitable view might be that this is a book for an earlier time, not now. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Kaboom By Matthew Gallagher Da Capo Press, $24.95, 294 pages Kaboom is a candid look at counterinsurgency warfare through the eyes of Lieutenant Matt Gallagher who was deployed for fifteen months to Iraq, where he led soldiers operating out of a combat outpost. Gallagher’s descriptions of daily interactions between his soldiers, civilians, sheiks, Iraqi army, and Iraqi police will keep most readers turning the pages. He conveys the terrible stress soldiers face in dangerous situations, while also communicating the marathon tedium of their daily lives. He reveals the desperation of impoverished Iraqi civilians, as his soldiers provide security and attempt

History The Feminist Promise By Christine Stansell Modern Library, $35.00, 528 pages It’s rare to find a book that looks at the historical relevance of feminism as part of the community as a whole rather than as something separate.The Feminist Promise looks at feminism from the time of the American and French revolutions onward, comparing the advancement of women’s rights from the two different perspectives, as well as from other areas. This book is interesting in that it explores feminism not only from a historical perspective, but as a way to advance the rights for all and not just women. The book has been carefully researched (the notes section alone is almost a hundred pages!), but is hardly dry reading; the writing is both engaging and enlightening. Stansell relates the history not as a mere report, but with some earnest storytelling. She has taken what should be a dry read and made it interesting, no mean feat considering the material in question. This is definitely a book that needs to be read, as it

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shows that what affects one affects all, and that by raising the rights of all, so that all are truly equal, raises us all as well. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage By Anthony Brandt Knopf, $28.95, 448 pages In the day and age of online chatting, overnight delivery, and instant gratification, it’s hard to imagine a time when the idea of searching out a shipping shortcut from the Orient was the intent of several 19th century British explorers. The Brits were obsessed, their attempts starting back in the 16th century to find the Northwest Passage, cutting a route through the frozen Canadian Arctic ocean to the Far East. These brave explorers were looking for their own “instant gratification” in cutting down the crossing time. The Man Who Ate His Boots covers the many attempts at finding the Northwest

Passage. These early explorers battled the most difficult obstacles, and were sickened with scurvy, fought starvation and in dreadful circumstances, even resorted to cannibalism. Author Anthony Brandt presents readers with an in depth presentation of this challenge. Brandt, the editor of the “Adventure Classics” series by National Geographic, is a thorough storyteller, and though his narrative style suggests an adventuresome tale, it is packed with history and fact, much like reading a textbook for a college-level history class on the college level. The cast of characters revealed here make for a fascinating read, and will result in a humbled respect for the odds these brave men were up against. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts That Never Made It into the Textbooks By Seymour Morris Jr. Crown Publishing Group/Broadway, $16.99, 411 pages In American History Revised, author Seymour Morris, Jr. delivers useful and entertaining snippets of American history. The reader learns of a news story, broke to eastern newspapers in 1861 by a young Mark

to bring infrastructural improvements. He likes giving Beanie Babies to Iraqi children, but you can tell the children live in destitution unfathomable in America. His sardonic wit describes the occasional lack of common sense from higher-ups. “As a generation of men raised by single women and without fathers—as most of the junior officers and enlisted soldiers were—we didn’t give our senior leaders much beyond the basic military courtesies demanded of us. Anything else they had to—and we wanted them to—earn.” I enjoyed the testosterone-laced banter between the soldiers. Gallagher says that many of the field-grade officers were honorable, strong, and intelligent, but not all. He finds himself in the doghouse after posting some of his provocative thoughts on his blog without his superior officer reviewing the content. An excellent book for anyone interested in the observations, expectations, humor, and work ethic of the next generation of American leaders. Reviewed by Grady Jones

Twain, who later saw his novel Huckleberry Finn banned from several public libraries (a fact which only made them sell faster). With reverence, Morris tells of the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown, nearly sunk at the Battle of Coral Sea, limped back to Pearl Harbor and got repaired and re-fitted in 68 hours by 1,400 men. Business-minded folks would do well to pick up this piece for a hefty dose of inexpensive financial advice. One is informed that Howard Hughes was not entirely self-made but “got a leg up” from his father, who not only invented a unique oil-drilling bit, but unlike many inventors, the man refused to sell the invention, instead making a fortune renting the bits out to drilling companies. The author also points out that the patient investors that held onto their stocks even after the great crash of 1929 “made out like bandits.” If anything, these pages reminds us that if humans indeed learn from our past--in order not to repeat mistakes--then history books lacking these facts should be swiftly updated. Reviewed by Meredith Greene

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Sacramento

June 2010

Book Review E X P A N D E D

S E C T I O N

Cooking, Food & Wine Spectacular Wineries of Sonoma Valley Edited by Panache Partners, LLC Panache Partners, LLC, $40.00, 299 pages

Spectacular Wineries of Sonoma County is companion book to Panache Partner’s 2007 release Spectacular Wineries of Napa County. And, while the names may sound redundant, Napa and Sonoma counties do live up to the “spectacular” label. More than fifty wineries are included, from Benziger and Kendall-Jackson to Matrix and Hartford. Each winery has four to six pages of history and pictures—many full pages and several spanning two pages—giving a panoramic view of views from the wineries. There are also intimate pictures of the owners, winemakers, and family, reinforcing that many of these wineries are multi-generational family businesses. The book is organized alphabetically, starting with A. Rafanelli Winery and ending with Wilson Winery. In between are a potpourri of wineries, large and small, with the connecting characteristics of a love for wine and community. Each of these wineries has invested time, effort, and money into creating not only beautiful wines, but wonderful places to showcase them. And when all gathered in a collection like this, that love of their business and where they choose to do it, comes through. There are hundreds of images—interior shots of tasting rooms, wine caves, private dinning rooms, and even more of winery exteriors, gardens, vineyards and the panoramic views of the Somona valley hills and floor. This is a coffee table book for wine lovers, helping plan the next visit to Sonoma county or prompting memories of the last. A short section in the back introduces some of the businesses behind the wine making—Landmark Label Manufacturing that makes many of the bottle labels and Seguin Moreau Napa Cooperage that makes many of the barrels used by Sonoma county wineries. Using words like “spectacular” in the title of your book raises expectations even before the book is opened. In this case, Spectacular Wineries of Sonoma County lives up that that billing and is a book for both the seasoned Sonoma visitor and the one still planning their first visit. Reviewed by Ross Rojek

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E X P A N D E D Daring Pairings: A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs By Evan Goldstein University of California Press, $34.95, 364 pages Daring Pairings, by master sommelier and wine educator Evan Goldstein, is a practical guide to food and wine pairing that offers just the right balance of detail and restraint. In this book, Goldstein introduces 36 lesser known grape varietals from around the world, and in a thorough yet succinct way, provides enough information to help you to pair wine and food like an expert. “Pairing wine and food is a lot like falling in love. In true love, we may be blind to color, race, religion, and gender, and we find genuine happiness with a lover based on shared values, experiences, interests, and innate attraction. Wine and food come together when the character traits of the wine mesh with the food’s personality.” The book begins by explaining many of the nuances of individual wine and food characteristics and includes a couple of really handy quick reference sheets. It is then divided into chapters that list white and red wines alphabetically. Each chapter focuses on a specific grape varietal providing historical and production information, examples of similar wines, food pairing details that include food do’s and don’ts, and recipes created just for this book by renowned chefs. Each chapter also contains recommendations for cheese plate pairings and lists preferred wine producers for each varietal. If you’re one of those people who loves wine and food, but could use some help in putting them together, you will find this book indispensable. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport Recipes From an Italian Summer By Editors of Phaidon Press Phaidon Press, $39.95, 432 pages Hot summer days lend themselves to meals that feature refreshing salads, modestly grilled meats and fish, desserts featuring juicy, ripe fruit and, most importantly, swiftness and simplicity in preparation.Recipes from an Italian Summeris a book designed with these ideas in mind, focusing on traditional recipes that completely capture the essence of summertime in Italy,

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C O O K I N G ,

but are relevant far beyond. Bright flavors and brilliant colors shine in dishes such as a langoustine, fig and melon salad and iced raspberry and strawberry souffles, while less pronounced, but no less flavorful, ingredients are seen in dishes such as shaved zucchini salad with parmesan and oregano and a classic grilled, Florentinestyle T-bone steak. Most recipes contain ingredients that can be easily found in American markets, but for more difficult to locate items, there is a list of American purveyors of Italian foods in the back of the book. In addition to delectable recipes, the book is also dotted with captivating photographs, a seasonal food calendar, and a listing of annual food festivals that take place throughout Italy. When the summer heat sets in, you will find this collection of simple, flavorful recipes invaluable. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport Tomato: A Fresh-From-The-Vine Cookbook By Lawrence Davis-Hollander Storey Publishing, LLC, $16.95, 278 pages Some people passionately believe that tomatoes are one of nature’s perfect foods, and this book just might convert the unbelievers. Tomato is chock full of delicious tomato recipes that will appeal to the masses. From dinner (interested in some Chaiwalla Savory Tomato Pie?) to breakfast (Tomato Pancakes, anyone?), appetizers (Spiced Tomato and Chickpea Dip sounds delightful!) to desserts (how ‘bout Green Tomato Chocolate Cake?), readers will find a recipe in here for every possible occasion. The book also contains interesting tomato factoids, advice on growing your own, and even tips on canning and other methods of preserving. The recipes are collected from all over, including contributions from celebrity chefs. They are easy to understand, simple to follow, vegetarian, and omnivorous. This cookbook just begs for a place of honor on every cook’s shelf. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes By Editors at Cook’s Country Magazine Boston Common Press, $29.95, 244 pages From the editors of America’s Test Kitchen you expect a cookbook to match their popular and well-regarded TV show. This cookbook is on par with their high quality. The production is beautiful in spiralbound, heavy pages and exceptionally heavy covers to take the abuse of less than careful home cooks. The practical binding allows the book to lie flat on the counter. Great, in-

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Cooking for Two: 2010

By the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen Boston Common Press, $35.00, 302 pages America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2010 is an absolute must-have for the studious cook who isn’t looking to feed an army. In true America’s Test Kitchen style, this handsome cookbook contains a variety of popular recipes, each systematically tested, analyzed, and scaled down to be successful at a two-portion size. While it might seem simple enough to half or quarter a standard recipe, the scientific factors of baking and cooking can cause a reduced recipe to go awry, especially when preparing foods such as quiche or angel food cake. Cooking for Two also addresses the problem of wasted food by adapting recipes so they can be prepared with everyday ingredients. For the chicken curry recipe, for example, the authors experimented with “blooming” store-bought curry powder and found the taste was comparable to curries that required long lists of exotic spices. The cookbook also contains a hundred “Use it Up” recipes for left-over ingredients such as buttermilk, fennel, and cauliflower, which will spoil unless they are consumed quickly. The simple two-column, primarily text layout is reminiscent of classic cookbooks such as Joy of Cooking. Short “Notes from the Test Kitchen” insets throughout the book serve to educate on cooking techniques, cookware, and ingredients. Reviewed by Megan Just formative sidebars are generously sprinkled throughout the book as well as illustrated, clear instructions on many cooking techniques. The recipes use mainly easy-to-find ingredients, are well-written and easy to follow, and most recipes are illustrated by mouthwatering full-page photos (though they are unlabeled—the reader assumes what they illustrate). Each recipe has a heading with notes regarding history or ingredients. Some ingredients are from canned or frozen instead of freshly prepared and some are available locally only. The recipes are for large servings (6-12); a reasonable premise since they are designed for potlucks, but they may be scaled down by the everyday cook. The shopping sidebars are not useful: they give tested ingredients and equipment with prices—these are outdated much too quickly. The book is great whether for potluck or for home cooking. Reviewed by George Erdosh Bean Appetit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun with Food By Shannon Payette Seip; Kelly Parthen Andrews McMeel Publishing, $14.99, 192 pages Who says kid’s food is all mac and cheese or chicken nuggets? Not the authors of Bean Appetit, that’s for sure! Kid’s food can be both healthy and fun, and every recipe in this book is both, and visually appeal-

ing to boot. Exciting sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, salsas and dips, desserts, and even the makings of a cooking-themed birthday party or a children’s tea party are all here. And every recipe is designed to be made by the kids themselves, and the few things that need parental assistance are clearly marked. But Bean Appetit is more than just a cookbook. It’s also full of games, conversation starters, etiquette tips, and challenges to help children grown their own kitchen confidence. The recipes are fun, simple, and delicious, and the book is written in a manner that will engage kids of all ages and make them want to cook. This book would be a fantastic gift for any child. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh By Emeril Lagasse HarperStudio, $24.99, 336 pages There’s a reason why foodies are so excited about farmers’ markets and the growing availability of local foods. Eating “local” means eating better, and Emeril Lagasse has set out to prove it with Farm to Fork. Locally grown food doesn’t have to travel as far to reach your kitchen; this translates into food getting harvested at its ideal ripeness, meaning your food tastes better and is healthier for you. To put this idea to the test, COOKING, cont’d on page 15

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Sonoma Visits

By Ross Rojek

Photographs courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

For more than thirty years, Mushal Winery & Vineyards has been a cherished labor of love for Avtar Sandhu and his wife Roopinder. The sixty spectacular acres, where they would build their agricultural dream, immediately captured their hearts with its quiet beauty and rustic charm in 1978. Mushal showed the promise of something unique. Avtar’s vision for Mushal was to nurture the land and bottle its poetry in wine. Upon its acquisition, the Sandhu’s vineyard was merely a forest of Douglas Firs and a few strands of grapevines that had been long ago forgotten. Using his extensive engineering knowledge, Avtar has been able to gradually develop the property using ecologically sensitive methods that have preserved the natural beauty of its meandering streams and sweeping vistas.

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The low-lying level blocks of Sandhu Vineyards are devoted to Sauvignon Blanc, while the hillside slopes that rise to more than 300ft above street level are planted with Merlot and the crests support Cabernet Sauvignon.

he Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County is one of the oldest grapegrowing and winemaking areas of California. Beginning with French immigrant Georges Bloch in 1870, Dry Creek soon became a wineproducing region, with more than 50 vineyards and nine wineries by 1970. The close similarities of Dry Creek’s soil and climate to Tuscany brought a number of Italian style vines and wine-making styles to the area that still have a strong influence today. Dry Creek is about 70 miles north of San Francisco, and stretches along Dry Creek Road from Healdsburg north to just past Lake Sonoma. Healdsburg is like many wine country towns, with plenty of great local restaurants, shops, and tasting rooms. There are many small artisanal shops serving freshly baked bread, local cheese, and produce, and most of the restaurants also source most of their ingredients from the local farmers and suppliers. Often, the town square has live music playing, and from June 4th to 14th, is the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Many of the wineries in Dry Creek are family owned and operated, giving you a chance to not only taste the wines, but also potentially meet the wine maker as he pours you a glass. Drifting from one winery to another, taking the time to enjoy the differences between each and the changes in scenery makes for a relaxing day. With more than 50 wineries to visit, you can make multiple trips and not repeat a single stop. Dry Creek’s proximity to the ocean not only provides a great growing environment, but also helps cool the valley floor during the late afternoon, providing a refuge from the hot summer afternoons in the Central Valley. The excellent restaurants in Healdsburg and Geyserville give plenty of options for dinner, before heading back to a family-run bed & breakfast and a restful night, before heading back out again for a new day exploring Dry Creek.

The enchanting acreage housing Mushal Winery & Vineyards produces equally enchanting wines. For Avtar Sandhu, that enchantment pays homage to the story that each wine is capable of telling. “Every wine has a history behind it,” says Sandhu, and it’s not just about drinking and supplementing one’s food. Every sip takes one through a journey of taste.”

Where to buy: 84 Main Street, Tiburon, CA (415) 889-8998 Sam’s Anchor Café 27 Main Street, Tiburon, CA (415) 435-4527 Caprice Restaurant 2000 Paradise Dr, Belvedere, Tiburon, CA (415) 435-3400 Dynasty Restaurant 1801 Tiburon Blvd, Belvedere, Tiburon, CA (415) 435-6766 Lafayette, CA Chow Restaurant & Wine Shop 53 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, CA (925) 962-2469 Healdsburg, CA Oakville Grocery 124 Matheson St, Healdsburg, CA (707) 433-3200

Call (707) 694-0972 for more information or a private tasting!


Hope-Merrill & Hope-Bosworth Bed & Breakfast Inns Hope-Merrill and Hope-Bosworth houses are two lovingly restored Victorian houses from the early days of Geyserville, converted to bed & breakfasts in 1980 by innkeepers Bob and Rosalie Hope. The grace and charm of the original Victorian buildings, and the restored fixtures, wallpaper, and furnishings provide a comforting place to relax after a long day of touring the surrounding Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valley. The beds are big and comfortable, and each room has a private bathroom, some with Jacuzzis or classic clawfoot tubs.

Photos by Ari ArJot Sandhu and Heidi Komlofske

Each day starts with breakfast in the formal dinning room, with everything from fresh local fruits, to egg dishes, sausages, homemade breads and pastries, jams, and jellies. Served family style, it creates a quick and friendly introduction to your fellow guests, some of whom you may encounter throughout the day at the many local wineries.

21253 Geyserville Avenue Geyserville, CA 95441 707.857.3356

Some of the many amenities include a heated lap pool, open from May through October, wireless Internet, fireplaces, sitting rooms, and outdoor sitting areas to relax and enjoy the quiet environment sipping a glass of wine. Rosalie Hope’s extensive knowledge of local wineries and wine makers also more than qualifies as an amenity, as her helpful pointers at breakfast can fine-tune your itinerary to exactly where you want to go.

The small garden and vineyard at HopeMerrill and the gazebo both provide comfortable outdoor settings for early morning coffee or final wine tastings in the evening. The quietness of the neighborhood, along with the relaxed setting, make HopeMerrill and Hope-Bosworth excellent places to relax, refresh, and recharge during a wine country stay.

Rates starting at $149/night double occupancy

Famed celebrity chef Charlie Palmer has highprofile restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, and Washington DC. He has multiple Michelin stars for his Aureole restaurants in Las Vegas and New York, along with Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence at six of his restaurants. But none of those cities are known for their local wines or local produce, like Sonoma County. Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, located in Hotel Healdsburg, takes progressive American cuisine, along with some of the best seasonal ingredients, to offer worldclass dining in a small-town setting. And let’s not forget a huge selection of great Sonoma wines--many unavailable anywhere else.

time traveling to your table. The mix of classic French influences and California casualness provides a set of selections that can keep any party finding things to enjoy and share around the table. From Lime Crusted Marin Miyagi Oysters to the Sonoma County Honey Glazed Liberty Duck Breast, each dish bursts with freshness, adding extra delight to an already excellent meal.

And Charlie Palmer not only has his name on the business, but also keeps his hand in the kitchen. At the recent Dry Creek Passport Weekend, he was working the line, serving the many guests for the opening Spent a good day picking out your own great event at Hotel Healdsburg, along with two of his sons, Sonoma wines? No corkage for the first two bottles working side-by-side, teaching them on-the-job how of Sonoma wine. to slice meats. Chef de Cuisine Dustin Valette’s appetizers and entrées use the local resources well, including a sixcourse wine trail tasting menu that pairs foods and wines from the local community. Most of the food is so local as to have just been picked, plucked, harvested or pulled from the sea that day, and spent hardly any

Whether its a lunch during a day of wine tastings or a special dinner as the centerpiece of a weekend in Sonoma, Dry Creek Kitchen should be on any visitor’s short list of places to eat, drink, and enjoy the local flavors.

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Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen

Hotel Healdsburg 317 Healdsburg Avenue Healdsburg, CA 95448 Tel: 707.431.0330

Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30-2:30pm Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5:30-9:30pm Fri/Sat: 5:30-10:00pm

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It’s hard to find a more compelling story of family dedication to wine-making than the Seghesio Family Vineyards. The family patriarch, Edoardo Seghesio, immigrated from Italy to work at the Italian Swiss Colony, rising from field hand to wine maker over nine years. He and his wife, Angela, purchased a home and vineyard in 1895, planting what is now the Seghesio signature varietal, Zinfandel. Edoardo and Angela completed construction of the Seghesio Winery in 1910, and over the following one-hundred years would continue to add new vineyards and varietals to their holdings.

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Cortina Zinfandel – 94 points Wine Enthusiast and 91 points Robert Parker Home Ranch Zinfandel - 93 points from Wine Spectator Rockpile Zinfandel - 92 points from Wine Spectator San Lorenzo Zinfandel - 92 points from Wine Spectator

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Seghesio was once the largest Photo by Heidi Komlofske bulk red wine producer in Sonoma County. It was in 1983, under family winemaker, Ted Seghesio, that the company began bottling and labeling wines under the Seghesio name. Through moving from bulk wine production to high-quality estate grown varietals, Seghasio reduced their overall production and increased the quality of the wines produced. Not only are they still producing wines from the original Zinfandel fields, but have also expanded into Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and Arneis.

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After Edoardo’s death in 1934, it was Angela and their sons who continued the family business, including purchasing another wine-making facility in Healdsburg to increase their production capacity. Angela’s death in 1958 resulted in the sons creating a family partnership, continuing the family business and legacy of wine, family, and food. Today, Edoardo and Angels’s greatgrandchildren are making and selling wines from the original fields that started Seghasio Family Vineyards.

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"Koratsky takes the principles behind evolution and applies them to social groups, societies and governments. His conclusions on why we've ended up where we are now will be hotly debated, as will his suggestions on using actively evolutionary principles for reform in health care, prisons and welfare. Agree or disagree, it is a debate that should happen." -- Ross Rojek Sacramento/San Francisco Book Reviews

“Koratsky is to evolution what Webster's is to words. He is the definitive name in describing the human condition.” -- Jess Todtfeld, Former FOX-TV Producer President, Success In Media, Inc.

“Finally! A book about Evolution...that does not merely enter that rocky arena of whether or not it is fact: brilliant author K.D. Koratsky takes the stance of challenging us to examine our current values and compare those with societies that have either thrived or died in the past. Koratsky’s no-nonsense writing addresses so many issues such as how we deal with criminals, our puzzling use of welfare...and healthcare. Swallow or gulp before finishing this book because it is bound to change minds in a natural way for those strong enough to admit Koratsky is right!” -- Grady Harp TopTen Amazon Reviewer

"From the Big Bang to Gang Bangers in LA, K.D. Koratsky helps us understand how the universe has evolved to this point--and where it's headed from here. An enlightening, if sometimes unsettling, read. You'll find yourself scratching your head and saying, 'Oh yeah, now I get it'." -- Mike Ball, Author of “What I've Learned So Far” and Winner of the 2003 Erma Bombeck Award

“This book is designed for discussion both in your everyday circles and even forums to get a broader perspective. Readers may not agree entirely with the author, but at least you will have opened yourself up to greater possibilities.” -- Cyrus Webb, President Conversations Book Club host of Conversations LIVE! Radio

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E X P A N D E D COOKING, cont’d from page 10 you can taste the difference by trying out the fantastic recipes included in Farm to Fork. The recipes are roughly divided by main ingredients, from greens to grains, and root vegetables to poultry. When Emeril Lagasse says that one can make everything in this book from scratch, he means it. Included in his book are simple yet sumptuous broths, desserts, pastries, salads, and entrees of every imaginable sort. There are recipes for drinks, condiments, and even instructions on making your own cheese! Emeril is known for good Southern-style cooking, and his recipes for seafood and meats do not disappoint. Best of all, none of these recipes is dauntingly difficult. Anyone can cook like this, and everyone should give it a try. Reviewed by Holly Scudero The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook By Cherie Mercer Twohy Ulysses Press, $17.95, 220 pages If Trader Joe’s is your “go-to” store whenever you need something special, then The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook is for you. Not only are the more than 150 delicious recipes good for special events and entertaining, they’re great for every day, too! You’ll find appealing appetizers, such as Warm Almonds and Olives and Cherry Crostini with Pecorino Romano (I tried this and it was outstanding), sensational salads and soups such as Sausage and Spuds Salad, Pumpkin and Carnitas Salad, Potsticker Soup, and Chile and Crab Chowder. The side dishes are interesting, with offerings including Corn and Basil Rice and Roasted Mushroom Polenta Stacks. The beef, pork, lamb and poultry selections are equally as eclectic and include Fat Tire Flammade, Marsala-Roasted Pork, Lamb Loin with Pomegranate Reduction, and Hot Toddy Chicken. Of course, seafood is also well represented with Shrimp in Hard Cider and Glamour Salmon. Pastas and vegetable recipes are abundant and include Oliver Butterflies and Green Beans with Red Onion and Creamy Feta Dressing. The desserts are heavenly with enticing titles such as Raspberry Carmel Turnovers and MaxiMini Peanut Butter Cup Cookies. And best of all, the recipes use items commonly found in one’s pantry or along the isles at your local Trader Joe’s. So make this book your companion on your next Trader Joe’s shopping trip! Reviewed by Sharon LeBrun

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The Elements of Cooking By Michael Ruhlman Scribner, $15.00, 244 pages There are so many things one needs to know in order to be successful in the kitchen; anyone can follow a recipe, but everyone has had to run to the Internet or a dictionary in order to define an unknown cooking term. Enter Michael Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking, in which he tries to condense essential cooking ideas into one convenient, compact book. Consisting of essays on important cooking concepts and a lengthy glossary of ingredients, techniques, utensils, and more, this book contains information that even more seasoned chefs will find useful. Ruhlman’s background in French culinary arts is apparent in the ideas he favors and expounds upon, and some readers might not agree with his concepts of cooking essentials; many people have never made or used veal broth before, and the lengthy essay on eggs has the potential to be off-putting to those less enamored of them. Naturally, it’s not possible to compress everything a professional chef knows into a single slim volume, but this book still seems to fall short of its potential. Reviewed by Holly Scudero I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening! By Devin Alexander Broadway Books, $19.99, 230 pages Quick Crunchy Potato Chips. Bacon Cheeseburger. Cheesy Breakfast Quesadilla. Strawberry Shortcake to Go. What do all these recipes have in common? They’re lighter on fat than traditional recipes, and they can be made in about twenty minutes. This is the genius behind Devin Alexander’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!. Written in a quirky conversational tone, Alexander draws the reader in with words and appealing recipes. The color images taunt with their creamy sauces and decadent glow. Yet, Alexander promises they’ll help you maintain a slim waistline. “I often hear people say they don’t have time to cook. But as I see it, we don’t have time not to cook. Assuming the above is true--that twenty minutes in your kitchen can save you three hours at the gym--you’re actually adding time to your life by cooking.”

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The Gastronomica Reader By Darra Goldstein University of California Press, $39.95, 376 pages

“Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture,” is a publication that exists somewhere in the realm between food magazine and literary journal. Each quarterly edition is filled with stories, articles, essays, memoirs, poems, and photographs, and covers a range of diverse topics that all relate to food in one way or another. The Gastronomica Reader is a newly released anthology showcasing many of the pieces that have been featured in the magazine since its inception in 2001. Some of the topics in this compilation include struggling for food in wartime Bosnia, using sugar as a medium for art and political commentary, caviar and Muslim dietary restrictions in Iran, food as clothing, competitive eating, food as intellectual property, and wine and climate change. Poetry topics include dinners with repulsive family members, S & M and marmalade, still life paintings, and ripe peaches. To say that the subject matter in this book is varied would be an understatement, but the one thing that does not waver, is this publication’s commitment to using erudite writers who consistently present rich, compelling work. As a result, it is easy to get quickly drawn in and once you do, it is difficult to put this book down. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport

Her tricks include using quality ingredients, a little help from pre-packaged ingredients, and cutting out unnecessary calories. For instance, her potato chip recipe eliminates frying and uses heart-healthy olive oil. Her strawberry shortcake replaces buttery pound cake with store-bought eggwhite healthy angel food cake. Alexander also provides some practical lists at the beginning of the cookbook to help the reader transition to a healthier lifestyle. She offers several pages of time-saving tips and others on understanding organic food. Covering everything from breakfast and snacks to main courses and desserts, this cookbook is a friendly, tasty way to start trimming your daily diet. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott Amor Y Tacos By Deborah Schneider Stewart Tabori & Chang, $18.95, 152 pages What a delicious and satisfying book! This oozes Mexican culture and culinary wisdom like a good taco whose salsa runs down your hand. Deborah Schneider serves up an ideal arrangement in this tiny, powerful cookbook. Like the taco itself, you’ll find lots of tastes and textures in this text. You’ll learn

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the history and context of both contemporary and traditional Mexican cuisines. Each recipe is well-researched, providing insight into the cultural nuance of each dish, as well as the correct kitchen technique to ensure success. This isn’t a complete Mexican cookbook but is a great learning tool. You can start with the simplest of Mexican cuisine: drinks, appetizers, tacos, and of course, salsas. Drinks include a wide variety of unique margaritas, as well as local specialties like the Michelada, a mix of beer, chiles, and juice. Appetizers or “antojitos” include tiny stuffed peppers, tostadas, and a guacamole with fruit. The creative taco section will tempt your taste buds with an assortment ranging from seafood to chicken to vegetables. Garnished with appealing photography and Mexican folk designs, Amor Y Tacos offers an appetizing peek into Mexican cuisine and culture. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts By French Culinary Institute and Judith Choate Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $75.00, 512 pages If the thought homemade buttercream or pastry dough makes you break into a sweat, thenThe Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Artsis prob-

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Clone Brews, 2nd Edition: Recipes for 200 Brand-Name Beers By Tess and Mark Szamatulski Storey Publishing, $16.95, 440 pages

Raise a glass to a fine home brewing guide that brings commercial microbrews to your backyard (or garage, or basement, or wherever you happen to brew). Clone Brews definitely delivers. “Research the beer before attempting to clone it.” Now, I’m not a home brewer. I love to drink beer, but I’ve never made it. In my attempt to bring you this review, I approached some award-winning home brewers to help me in my quest to compare the recipes in Clone Brews to the commercial product. Two such brew-masters agreed to lend their time and expertise: Sacramento’s Chadd McNicholas and Kevin Pratt. These guys aren’t beginners. They have each earned ribbons for their competitive home brew recipes. They certainly have what it takes to put these recipes to the test. On a cold rainy Sunday, the three of us brewed a batch of beer using the Clone Brews recipe for Lagunitas IPA. About a month later, we reconvened to taste the finished product. Amazingly, as we poured the commercial brand, and then the home brew, the color similarities were poignant. The home brew had an almost unnoticeable haze that the Lagunitas IPA’s filtered brew lacked, but were otherwise exact replicas of one another. They indeed looked like clones! The aroma of the commercial Lagunitas presented a subtle maltiness and an onion hop, while our home brew smelled of more traditional hops. The Lagunitas IPA held a lingering bitterness at the top of the mouth, while the home brew finished clean. Each beer had a similar mouth feel and weight. Yet, overall, these beers required much fussing for us to pick up the differences. Thanks to the recipe in Clone Brews, we had an almost dead-on replica of one of our favorite beers. The book provides everything a home brewer needs to guide them toward a superb finished product. It offers brew specs, recipes for mini-mash versus allgrain methods, equations for home bittering, and lots of other necessary data. And of course, it contains the authors’ well-researched recipes. You’ll find a wealth of commercial beers to choose from in all the appropriate beer categories: strong ale, IPA, English ale, etc. You’ll find Heineken, St. Pauli Girl, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale, Guinness Extra Stout, and a whole lot more. In fact, there are 200 beers to choose from. If you home brew, let Clone Brews be your guide. Many happy glasses await you. Cheers! Reviewed by Amber K. Stott ably not the book for you. If, however, you consider yourself to be a somewhat skilled baker and have a basic grasp of pastry terminology and techniques, a well equipped kitchen, a reliable scale, and a penchant for detail, then this book may become your new best friend. Leading you through the basic curriculum taught at the renowned French Culinary Institute in New York, this book covers topics from food handling and sanitation to equipment, ingredients, and food science. It also, of course, provides a thorough collection of classic confectionary recipes from tarts to custards, cakes to sweet breads, and much more. The recipes are clearly written and packed with enough detail, instructive

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photos, and last minute tips to ensure that all of your pastry endeavors are successful. This book is a fantastic reference for anyone with an interest in baking and at least a little bit of experience. Whether looking for new recipes, trouble shooting those that don’t work or just brushing up on technique, this is a book that you will likely return to frequently. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport

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old pro. Put ‘Em Up! begins by dispelling the myth that canning foods at home is dangerous. There’s a complete list to help you identify the signs of spoiled foods. The author assures us, “home cooks have been doing [home preservation] for generations and we’ve managed to survive as a species” (page 93). Indeed, her instructions are sound and well-tested. The reader has nothing to fear and everything to gain. “Preserving your own food doesn’t have to be complicated. Some procedures, like stringing a chili ristra, take no more than 10 minutes and require nothing more than a length of string to accomplish.” Put ‘Em Up! offers a wide range of ways to use your local harvest. For example, the section on pears provides seven different ways to preserve: syrup, dried pear chips, chutney, sauce, pear butter, pickled pears, and even pear vodka. The book covers everything from fruits to veggies you might not consider preserving such as zucchini. You’ll even find a recipe for Heirloom Watermelon Jelly. From classic canning techniques to tips on freezing and even making hot pepper ristras, you’ll enjoy summer’s ripeness yearround. The author’s can-do writing style will surely empower you. Happy canning! Reviewed by Amber K. Stott Recipes from the Root Cellar By Andrea Chesman Storey Publishing, LLC, $18.95, 400 pages Vegetable lovers, be warned! You just might fall in love with this cookbook. Recipes from the Root Cellar is a veritable treasure trove of ideas on how to cook those winter vegetables that do not normally inspire creativity. The culprits here are primarily winter greens and root vegetables, including cabbage, beets, turnips, kale, potatoes, and salsify, among others. The recipes are divided into traditional categories, including soups, salads, beans/rice/grains, and separate categories for main dishes that are vegetarian and those that feature different kinds of meat.

S E C T I O N There is a supremely useful chapter on the vegetables themselves, with advice for selection and storage. And the recipes certainly do not disappoint. Classic dishes and exciting new ideas are all represented in a mouth-watering array. Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Chorizo Stew will warm you from the inside out. Cabbage and Tomato Soup will melt in your mouth. Spicy Turnip Stir-Fry will cure even the strongest turnip aversion. The dishes are, for the most part, surprisingly simple to make, and most are vegetarian-friendly or easy to convert. This cookbook will be a tremendous aid to people with vegetable gardens, CSA memberships, or just a general love for cooking. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Steak By Mark Schatzker Viking, $25.95, 290 pages Should you be judging this book by its cover, you would be expecting to find scores of recipes using steak as the protagonist. Leafing through its pages, you’ll find none. This book is not about cooking. You may get discouraged by the nearly three hundred pages of what appears to be dry text unbroken by recipes, sidebars or illustrations. But read the first sentence and you are so hooked with this book that it is hard to put aside. “Steak is king. Steak is what other meat wishes it could be.” The writing is superb, entertaining, witty and most enjoyable, and each chapter is filled with dozens of stories and fascinating descriptions about and related to steak. The writer takes the reader on a journey through seven countries, exploring their beef and particularly their steak. The stories run like a river runs – smoothly flowing through varied landscapes with a surprise at every bend. Wellresearched culinary history is sprinkled throughout. This book reads almost like a novel. I think even a strict vegetarian or dedicated vegan would enjoy it. This is delicious reading for anyone – and the perfect gift for the devoted beef aficionado. Reviewed by George Erdosh

Put ‘Em Up By Sherri Brooks Vinton Storey Publishing, LLC, $19.95, 303 pages Revive your grandmother’s tradition of home-preserving the season’s bounty with Put ‘Em Up!. This delicious guidebook will inspire you to pickle, jelly, and freeze like an

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Health, Fitness & Dieting Change Your Age By Frank Wildman, CFT, PhD Life Long Books, $18.95, 214 pages Author Frank Wildman is an expert in physical movement and mind-body interaction. In this guide to aging well, Wildman introduces concepts regarding exercise that may be new and surprising. Stiffness does not have to come with aging. His patient, nurturing tone makes it easy to follow, exploring the possibility of feeling and moving as though one is years younger. Returning to the ease and flexibility of childhood, one’s muscles can relearn actions creating less stress and producing less stiffness. Wildman emphasizes that the program is intuitive rather than set by rules or repetitions. It is about rethinking movement. The book is divided into six parts, with a series of 30 lessons focused on natural body movement. Some lessons have advanced variations. The four major positions for refining and redefining movement are lying, sitting, kneeling, and crouching. The point of the lessons is to fully engage the body in actions rather than over-

working separate parts. The legs and neck are most vulnerable to being overworked. The signs of this overworking are a shuffling gait due to stiff legs and turning the whole body when all that’s desired is turning the head. Recommended for people approaching middle age. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great By Eric C. Westman; Stephen D. Phinney; Jeff S. Volek Fireside, $16, 330 pages Another Atkins book. So what? Well, since the irrational reaction the Atkins concept elicited from main stream dieticians has been thoroughly discredited, this methodology for weight loss, weight maintenance, diabetes control, and alleviation of everything from irritable bowel syndrome to some cases of Crohn’s disease is now getting the attention it deserves. This latest offering in the long list of Atkins books has increased clarity of discussion for the lay person, giving easily understood explications of everything from the role of fats and proteins in nutrition to realistic advice as to when to count calories as well as carbohydrates.

New Atkins recipes are always welcome to those of us who use the regimen as a lifestyle. There are not only recipes here, there are quite a few on marinades and rubs, salad dressings, and sauces. The very spice of life! And perhaps of greatest value to the Atkins practitioner who must move about in and function in the real world, there is a section on low-carb fast food and restaurant meals. Additionally, there are some good general guidelines for steering one’s way through various ethnic cuisines, how to use Atkins as a vegetarian, and how and when to exercise. Reviewed by David Sutton The Smart Woman’s Guide to Heart Health By Sarah Samaan, MD Brown Books, $16.95, 324 pages What is the best way to take care of your heart? The answers to this complex question can be found in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Heart Health. Here, Dr. Samaan sorts truth from myth, fact from fictions, and lays out simple rules for how women everywhere can take control of their health—their futures.

The cornerstones of Dr. Samaan’s guide are diet, exercise, and healthy habits. She expounds upon these basic concepts as the book progresses through her seven steps toward a more heart-friendly lifestyle. Smart women know their medical numbers and what those numbers mean. Smart women eat healthy foods; they also know how to indulge in wholesomely activities and stay active. An in-depth analysis of these aspects of a healthy lifestyle is included in the book and so much more. This book is written so readers of all backgrounds can make use of Dr. Samaan’s advice. There are charts, tables, quick reference summaries, and advice on how any woman can apply these lessons to her life. Heart disease affects millions of women, but savvy women can reduce their risk. This book can help you to take steps toward living a long and active life. Reviewed by Holly Scudero

Business & Investing The Lords of Strategy By Walter Kiechel III Harvard Business School Press, $26.95, 347 pages Lords of Strategy is an interesting book for those looking for something different for their business library. It’s a combination of biography and instruction book, concentrating on the lives of four men (Bruce Henderson, Bill Bain, Fred Gluck, and Michael Porter) and how each transformed the world of business by looking it at it strategically rather than just quarter-to-quarter. Each man contributed to how people look at business; rather than looking at it in terms of straight numbers and how they translate to dollars, each man made businessmen look at how their business could grow by analyzing how it performed and allowing for it to perform better. It’s interesting to see how each man’s

way of thinking grew from their early days to when they became famous, and how their individual thought evolved over time. The big pay-off of the book is that it’s almost allegorical; because you have the mixture of their thoughts and how their life influenced those thoughts, it’s easier to understand their ideas and how they can change your business. Lords of Strategy is definitely a book for businessmen looking for ways to improve their business. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE By Thomas J. Peters HarperStudio, $24.99, 538 pages Tom Peters’ profound impact on business began more than three decades ago with his now-classic book on management, In Search Of Excellence. It continues unabated in today’s plugged-in and amped-up times with Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. “Hard is soft. Soft is hard.”

Peters’ advice: go back to the basics. Remember why any of us do the work we do, and what matters in that work. A champion of the small-business owner as well as the person working for a multinational corporation, Peters is smart, to-the-point, and unafraid to run counter to common beliefs about how to succeed. Anyone looking for the small steps to reinspire them in their business or personal life can use some of Peters’ witty, plain-spoken exhortations and provocations. Manage by wandering around: it’s all around you. Lifetime employment is dead; your career is not. Make an insane public effort. The formula for success is C(I)>C(E) – that is, internal customers are more important than external customers. It’s all (ALL) about the quality of the workforce. Celebrate “disturbers of the peace.” What makes Peters’ approach distinct is his passion for the small details. He argues that the power of small should not be underestimated, wheth-

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er in big decisions like health care or in the power of having flowers in view or keeping restrooms clean at brick-and-mortar establishments. Peters offers insight and advice not only for mavericks and entrepreneurs but also for those who still need to report up to others. His clear-eyed and trenchant observations cover a wide gamut, from why businesses should pay more attention to how they reach out to women, to why you should love your computers, to why it may make sense to replace your “wish” list with a “do it now” list. His final word: Don’t forget why you’re here! Reviewed by Dominique James

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Self-Help Stuff Every Woman Should Know By Alanna Kalb Quirk Books, $9.95, 143 pages If you’ve ever needed to know how to change a tire, fake confidence, dress for your body type, host a cocktail party, kiss to knock his socks off, or throw a football, all in the same day, this is the book for you. It’s not only cute and purse-sized, but packed with useful how-to’s delivered in a fun and entertaining girlfriend-togirlfriend format. Its predecessor, Stuff Every Guy Should Know by Brett Cohen, might teach men how to shave and build a fire, but Stuff Every Woman Should Know addresses everything from self defense to buying a car, from budgeting to makeup and dinner parties. Even if you never have to iron, Kalb’s little book contains a vast amount of information on women doing things for themselves and explains how to look darn good while doing it. It’s an entertaining read and informative with solid, common sense tips. Like Kalb herself says, this book won’t win a Pulitzer, but it will tell you what your mom would have taught you if she’d grown up with three older brothers. Reviewed by Axie Barclay

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect By John C. Maxwell Thomas Nelson, $25.99, 270 pages Connecting is the single most important factor to consider when communicating effectively. Great connectors understand that it’s more than just words. In a professional setting, the difference between talking at someone and talking with them can mean a deal is made, a promotion is secured, or a new project has the best team possible behind it. “Being disconnected wastes your time. It interrupts the flow of what you’re trying to accomplish, and it undermines your productivity. The bottom line is that connecting is everything when it comes to communication.” In a new book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What The Most Effective People Do Differently, best-selling author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell offers five principles and practices for readers to make themselves and their ideas better heard. In an unprecedented method of connecting, Maxwell decided to let his readers and fans in on the writing process of this book. Maxwell posted each chapter on his blog as it was completed, and solicited anecdotes, ideas, and suggestions from his

readers. From out of this, Maxwell received more than 1,400 comments, used 75 of the visitors’ stories, and worked on more than 100 other editorial changes. The result is a richer book offering scores of real-life examples. Everyone can talk. Everyone can communicate. But very few people actually connect. In Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, you can learn how to connect. Reviewed by Dominique James Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond: Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need By Nancy Anderson New World Library, $14.95, 235 pages If you are in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, you may be one of the 78 million Americans still asking the question: “What should I do with my life?” It’s probably not that you don’t know the answer – more that you are not sure if the answer you think you know is correct. If you are still debating with yourself, you might just find the validity of your own answer in Nancy Anderson’s intriguing and helpful book, Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond: Reach Your Full Potential and Make The Money You Need.

Spirituality Heart of My Heart: 365 Reflections on the Magnitude and Meaning of Motherhood A Devotional By Kristin Armstrong FaithWords, $16.99, 366 pages What is the true meaning of motherhood? This is the question Kristin Armstrong seeks to explore in Heart of My Heart. There is a devotional for every day of the year, each inspired by a quotation from biblical scriptures. Armstrong, a single mother with three young children, aspires not to be a picture-perfect mom but one that her children will learn from and look up to. In these short essays, she discusses concepts like patience, grief, and listening, as well as more mundane topics like storms, personal vices, and materialism, all with an aura of spirituality.

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Armstrong’s personal sense of faith shines radiantly; like-minded readers will take much away from these readings and reflections, and they might even find the courage to seek their own truths. Reviewed by Holly Scudero The Hidden Power of the Gospels By Alexander Shaia HarperOne, $26.99, 365 pages In The Hidden Power of the Gospels, Shaia presents the four gospels in a new sequence. In the New Testament, the order is Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, but Shaia posits that if one reads Mathew, then Mark, John, and finally Luke, the sequence guide the seeker through the transformative cycle of change, loss, enlightenment, and maturation. Shaia calls this the Journey of

Quadratos and spends some time explaining that this sequence was customary in early Christian culture for this reason. With an easy combination modern psychology and ancient Christian traditions, Shaia takes the reader through each gospel, staging it in the context of Christianity’s formation. This brings interesting and important historical dimensions to the familiar words and stories. And, true enough; the essential components of personal spiritual transformation are clearly in evidence! The hard crust of doctrine and dogma that has grown up around 20th century Christianity makes some Christians uncomfortable and they will appreciate The Hidden Power of the Gospels as part of a growing body of work that reclaims the Christianity as a daily practice of compassion and humility that is relevant here and now. This book may strengthen Christians who seek in the gospels teachings words and instruction that will assist them to more and more truly love and serve one another. Reviewed by Marcia Jo

“Midlife and beyond is when the authentic self emerges through layers of family and cultural conditioning to find answers to questions of ultimate concern: who am I, why am I here, and what should I do with the rest of my life?” Anderson covers the wide gamut of midlife crises you might be experiencing, and describes how to get over them, such as: how to overcome the primary obstacles in finding passion, namely, fear of poverty and fear of criticism; how to increase effectiveness in personal and professional relationships; effective marketing strategies for networking with like-minded people to build a new career and establish the perfect niche; clarifying objectives and recognizing opportunities; and defining the happy ending so that you can live life as a whole, fully functioning individual. If you seek clear-cut guidance, Anderson’s Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond will help you look inward, re-evaluate and change course for the real and fulfilling life you’ve always sought. Reviewed by Dominique James The Last Day of My Life By Jim Moret Phoenix Books, $26.95, 164 pages Author Jim Moret, perhaps best known for his television work on Inside Edition, CNN, HLN and Fox, has written a heartfelt, gentle guide to help readers in the event that one has 24 hours left to live. Moret himself, outwardly successful, had his own dark night of the soul when he was on the verge of taking his own life. In his epiphany, Moret wrote a book, a guide to help others come to resolutions with unfinished business in their own lives, ways to right wrongs, forgive and apologize, and most of all, make the most of whatever time one might have left on this earth. What would you do if you found you only had a short time left to live? Would you leave this world content that you had wrapped everything up, had absolved your regrets, patched up damaged relationships, lived in the time remaining completely in the moment, on good terms with loved ones, and most of all, prepared to leave without the fear of some stone left unturned? Through heartfelt personal stories, Moret takes readers through situations we all can relate to. Broken into specific chapters on subjects such as gratitude, commitment, compassion, tenacity, and adventure, Moret reveals through his own journey, ways we can all learn better how to live. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin

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Reference Whata (What do) Ewe (You) \”Mean\” Bye (By) That?: The Secrets About The English Language By Sondra Smith Campbell Copy Center, $18.95, 313 pages In a realm dominated by multimedia learning tools, a straight-forward handbook on navigating the maze of homonyms in the English language is a welcome thing. The subtitle for Whata {What Do} Ewe {You} “Mean” Bye {By} That? by Sondra Smith is: A QUICK Reference Book, a claim which proves true. “To the teachers of the world who try there (their) best to explain, ‘You do not put two T’s on that type of put (putt) or but (butt).” “This is not a dictionary,” Smith writes in the brief introduction, “Nor is it intended to be. It is a quick reference book of often misused and misspelled words.” Not only a book for students--and writers--to better their writing skills with, but this handy hardback may prove helpful for those learning English as a second language. Written in large, clear print, the pages harbor the more common homonyms and their meanings, listed alphabetically for swift access. While reading, one can hardly fail to appreciate Smith’s sense of humor or her apparent inability to pass up an opportunity

for a play-on-words. The authoress’ dedication also caught my eye, not only going out to her husband but also to her daughter and her son-in-law, both who taught English at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China. With an obvious love for learning, Smith utilizes the white spaces at the ends of various sections with “Did You Know” facts, lines for notes, puns and “silly” questions that actually help speed up the learning process. This book has earned a place on my desk. www.whataewemean.weebly.com Sponsored Review Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead By Robert Brockway Three Rivers Press, $14.00, 272 pages REM once sang, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” But ask Cracked.com editor and columnist Robert Brockway how he feels about it, and the answer you get might not be

so resigned. In Everything is Going to Kill Everybody, Brockway takes readers on nothing less than a crash course in the Apocalypse. And, believe me, the impending destruction of the human race has rarely been funnier. If you thought it would take a nuclear weapon to rain on humanity’s parade, think again. Brockway covers everything from genetically modified “frankencrops” to supervolcanoes to asteroids. He even manages to inform us of disasters we’ve just barely managed to escape. You know, just in case any of you still thought you’d be able to sleep tonight. But before any of you decide to give up and drink the Kool-Aid, you ought to know that Brockway’s debut effort is, above all else, hilarious. And who knows? Maybe it will inspire enough people to think seriously about the ways we treat each other and our planet. As Brockway states in his book’s introduction, “there is, after all, no ‘I’ in ‘apocalypse.’” Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell

Popular Fiction Leaving Unknown: A Novel By Kerry Reichs Avon A, $13.99, 368 pages I paused in my reading at the sound of a man’s voice nearby. I had him repeat his words. “Funny Book, huh?” he asked. I nodded in agreement and went back to my reading. I’d been chuckling out loud, without noticing, all the way through Kerry Reich’s magnificent tale of Maeve Connelly. Leaving Unknown is a wonderful surprise, a present to the reader. The book opens as Maeve is fired from yet another in a long list of less than impressive jobs. She spends too much money. She is overreliant on her parents. She is flighty and spoiled. Or is she? On an impulse Maeve decides to drive across the country to Los Angeles with only Oliver her cockatiel, for company. When her car breaks down, we begin to glimpse the depth of Maeve’s character in her interactions with diverse and peculiar

inhabitants of Unknown, Arizona. Between the foul-mouthed Oliver, Maeve’s eccentric new boss, and a procession of townies each more off-kilter than the rest, this book will have you turning one page after another while, if you’re like me, chuckling aloud. Maeve is the type of female protagonist I’d like to see more of: self-reliant yet capable of real learning. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley The Language of Secrets By Dianne Dixon Doubleday, $24.95, 257 pages Justin Fisher has struggled with his past for his entire life. His memory is full of holes, and he’s never really wanted to know what was concealed in them until he and his wife moved to California, where he was born. Now memories are starting to surface, and he’s about to discover his tragic history and all the unpleasant things

he’s tried so hard to forget. The secrets he discovers have caused irreparable harm to others, and they just might spell the end of everything he’s built of himself. Dianne Dixon’s The Language of Secrets is an intriguing mystery that strings the reader along to the very end. The narrative is told in bits and pieces, switching between Justin’s present, his past, and the lives of his parents. The secrets that cocoon all of their lives are fascinating, so outlandish they just might be believable, and the story is told with great skill; Dixon has a wonderful way with words that will inspire readers to stay up long past their bedtimes. This one is sure to be a hit with anyone who picks it up. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Beautiful Maria of My Soul By Oscar Hijuelos Hyperion, $25.95, 352 pages How do you follow-up a Pulitzerprize winner like Hijuelos’ The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love? Hijuelos plucks Maria, the elusive muse from that story, and places her growth and history alongside the growth and history of Havana and Cuba during the

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revolutionary 50s and 60s. Maria is a perfectly flawed character—at times cold, impervious and selfish, yet absolutely real and therefore more than likable. Hijuelos poignantly captures the superb magic of first love in a beach scene that will break your heart, and builds Maria from child to woman to mother with a masterful hand alongside the bustle, smells and lusciousness of Cuba and Havana. Her intersection with Nestor, the main character from The Mambo Kings, is only a small piece of the book, and so she can be appreciated by those who have or haven’t read The Mambo Kings. But since this is a delicious re-creation of life, love, and Cuba, this book leave you hungry for more. Bolstered by warm scenes of sex and relationships, along with the hot scenes of Havana nightlife, this book is a feast; it employs Cuban food imagery for everything from sex to dancing. A near-perfect follow-up to Mambo Kings. Reviewed by Allena Tapia

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Romance The True Love Quilting Club By Lori Wilde Avon, $7.99, 384 pages That one year she spent in Twilight, Texas, was both the best and worst of Trixie Lynn Park’s life. She discovered that the man who was single-handedly raising her wasn’t her father – but this hurt was mitigated by the love she felt for young Sam Cheek. Fast-forward twelve years. Trixie Lynn is now Emma, a struggling actress in the Big Apple desperate for her break. When an unfortunate set of circumstances sends her back to Twilight, Emma is delighted to find nothing has changed. The True Love Quilting Club is an old-fashioned feelgood romance, full of charming characters whose problems are easily fixed. This is Lori Wilde’s second book set in Twilight and most of the town’s residents pop in for a quick chat. Those who have read The Sweetheart’s Knitting Club will enjoy reconnecting, yet this novel is perfect-

ly capable of standing on its own two feet. While there can be no doubt in the reader’s mind that the two main characters will be a happy couple by the very end, Wilde’s tight writing and chemistry she has given her characters will keep the reader turning the pages until that happens. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Crazy For You By Jennifer Cruisie St. Martin’s Press, $14.99, 372 pages Jennifer Crusie returns with Crazy for You, a joyfully comic tale of love, lust, high school politics, deranged stalkers, and even more deranged dog-napping. Quinn McKenzie enjoys her job, loves her family, and is mildly pleased with her relationship with the high school football coach – but she’s bored to tears with her life. A chance encounter with a stray dog sends Quinn looking for new, exciting experiences – including some with her lifelong best friend, a sexy, commitment-phobic mechanic named Nick. Crazy for You is a finish-in-one-gulp book that will please long-time fans, and send newer Crusie readers racing to order other backlist titles. Quinn is a fizzy but strongminded heroine caught in a series of ludi-

Pop Culture Little Nuggets of Wisdom By Chuy Bravo Grand Central Publishing, $13.99, 181 pages Chuy Bravo’s book of “wisdom” is a spinoff from the television show Chelsea Lately (E! network). It is a humorous look at fashion, love, music, finance, friendship, and so on, through slightly out-of-focus binoculars. The book starts with a hilarious, selfdeprecating account of Chuy’s humble beginnings as a little person, from his birth in Tijuana, Mexico to his accession to the Hollywood B list (playing “Transsexual Hooker #4” in Pretty Woman in 1989). This lends his Fashion Nuggets chapter substantially more credibility than the average male fashionista. “Don’t put your money under your mattress. It’s the first place a burglar looks and, more important, it voids the warranty on most Sleep Number Beds.” From the male perspective, executive producer Tom Brunelle might be a comic genius. From the ladies’ book club perspective, maybe not. Expect a slightly raunchy stab at

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sexual innuendo in pop culture: “It’s natural if the sound of salsa music ignites a fire of passion in your soul. It’s not natural if salsa music ignites a fiery rash on your balls, so you should get that checked.” If you are a Clay Aiken fan, dislike bathroom humor, or have transgender friends, you might pass on this 179-quip paperback. But if you are attending a bachelor party with fourteen drunken males that suffer from ADHD and the stripper doesn’t show, this book could save your life. Enjoy! Reviewed by Sheli Ellsworth The Rhinestone Sisterhood: A Journey Through Small Town America, One Tiara at a Time By David Valdes Greenwood Crown, $25.00, 288 pages Being a native California resident I gained my knowledge of pageants from the usual place…TV. Silly girls who are overly made up and act like airheads. After reading The Rhinestone Sisterhood my opinion has definitely changed. The book takes you through the competitive world of festival queens in Louisiana. They seem to have

crous but completely believable situations, and her long-simmering chemistry with Nick has genuine heat. Crusie specializes in fully fleshed-out secondary characters. Dog lovers will adore the plot twists with Katie, the wiry stray with a mind of her own. In addition, anyone who’s ever taught (or attended) high school will appreciate Crusie’s deft rendering of teenagers and the occasionally regressed adults who deal with them. The result is a read with real wit and wisdom. Reviewed by Jennifer King The Demon in Me By Michelle Rowen Berkley, $7.99, 341 pages The paranormal world turns slightly screwball in The Demon in Me, the debut title in Michelle Rowan’s new Living in Eden series. Eden Riley is attempting to keep herself financially afloat through her work at a run-down private investigation agency. After a fateful encounter with a murder sus-

a queen for everything…the Frog Queen, Cattle Queen, and Cotton Queen. This story provides the background on the girls who compete and have won titles like these. These are real girls who have pride in their towns and wear the crown with confidence and grace. These girls still have real jobs and do normal day-to-day tasks, they just spend their weekends getting dolled up and making appearances to support their title. Every single girl in this book is likeable and relatable and it is easy to really start caring for each of the girls. You follow their journey through their duties as queen and how they cope with all of the pressure of being a good role model. This book is a real revelation about pageants, it’s a quick read, and it will open your eyes about what really happens in the life of a festival queen! Reviewed by Nicole Will The Areas of My Expertise By John Hodgman Riverhead Trade, $14.00, 256 pages I can imagine John Hodgman sitting in a very rigid, very erect position at Starbucks, or at the well appointed study desk of his home, with an extremely serious expression, earnestly typing away with concentrated but effortless relish, on a Macbook no less (which he can well afford to buy despite the fact that he effectively portrays the PC

pect, Eden realizes she has a little more baggage than she’s bargained for – including a stowaway demon in her psyche. Darrak is searching for the witch who cursed him over 300 years ago. He thinks that possessing Eden will get him closer to freedom – but that’s not all Darrak winds up getting close to. The Demon in Me starts awkwardly, as Eden confronts the realities of living with a psychic passenger. Once Rowen completes this exposition, her writing loosens into a charmingly funny style, like a cross between Janet Evanovich and Laurell Hamilton. Eden is an especially winning character, both practical and oddly innocent, and her chemistry with Darrak rings true. Plus, the secondary characters, including a Wiccan self-help author and a renegade werehousecat, are a real hoot. Despite its clumsy beginning, many readers will enjoy The Demon in Me and look forward eagerly to more titles in this series. Reviewed by Jennifer King

guy in the Mac v. PC commercial, or because of it), to write the book The Areas Of My Expertise. As he types, the humor of the subject of his writing, and the convoluted play of words with which he writes, endlessly tumble out of his mind and into the computer’s glossy screen, uncensored and unedited. He remains serious, and yet what he writes is funny. And that’s the amazing thing about it—the ironic poetry or nonsensical beauty of anything and everything he dwells on and writes about. No editor, not even the well-meaning and the earnest, will want to touch his writing. For all intents and purposes, this is a seriously written book that is extremely funny. It’s meant to be just that: an intelligent jumble that is delicious to read. So, is this book a work of genius? Some think so, including his pal, Jon Stewart. In any case, why not find out for yourself. If you want a dose, nay, avalanche, of intelligent and surprisingly brilliant humor, try Hodgman, the writer using a Mac, not the PC guy on the TV commercial. Reviewed by Dominique James

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Sequential Art The 120 Days Of Simon By Simon Gardenfors Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 416 pages Simon Gärdenfors was not a familiar name to me and, likewise, I imagine the name means nothing to other people in the United States. In Sweden though, Mr. Gärdenfors is not only a cartoonist but also a rapper, television presenter, and radio host. He might even be considered “a big deal.” The 120 Days of Simon is his first book translated and published in the American market. The comic, all 416 pages of it, deals with Mr. Gärdenfors’ four-month social experiment in which he asked strangers on the Internet to put him up at their house for a day or two. Simon gave himself only two rules: he couldn’t return to his apartment and he couldn’t spend more than two nights at the same place. Simple rules, but Simon gets in to all sorts of trouble. Gärdenfors’ line work and style is great: think newspaper funnies from the ‘30s and ‘40s and you’ll have the idea. The subject matter is far from that ‘innocent’ era though as it includes drugs, sex, racism, etc. Simon finds himself getting into all sorts of trouble during his 120 days. 120 Days is an interesting graphic novel removed from the influences of the American scene that helps display the diversity of this field of literature. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess (Olympians) By George O’Connor First Second, $9.99, 80 pages Like the previous book in this series, Zeus: King of the Gods, this is a graphic novel about a deity attributed to the ancient Greeks. Athena is the goddess of war and wisdom. Athena’s book begins with a onepage summary of Zeus’s book, so readers can pick up this volume without worrying about coming in part way through the story. On other hand, Athena’s story is more episodic that Zeus’s, so this series of adventures could be read independently. The art is reminiscent of classic comic books, with a lot of darker blue and gray tones, which suits Athena well. Inevitably, the book deals with some violent subjects – Athena is the goddess of war – but most of the violence is implied rather than shown, making it bearable for readers of any age. This is a

great book for anyone who is learning about Greek mythology for the first time; it also makes an interesting refresher, in a new medium, if you have perhaps forgotten about these ancient stories. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller Super F*ckers By James Kochalka Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 143 pages Aspiring amateur superheroes from all over are coming together for the big team tryouts. Several of the team’s members are trapped in an alternate dimension. A strange creature has plans for another teammate and a struggle for power is tearing the team apart as a pocket of the past may collide with the present and destroy the world. And none of these plotlines will be resolved, let alone considered. This is the world of Superf*ckers. Like the Justice League if they were all lecherous self-centered teenage jerks, the Superf*ckers are less about saving the world and more about getting laid and getting high. In James Kochalka’s anarchic, swearladen epic, Jack Krak, Orange Lightning, Princess Sunshine, Grotessa, Ultra Richard, and the others bicker and scheme and screw each other over on a daily basis. It was a bit too random and meanspirited for my taste, but if you’re looking for some inventive cursing and a lot of irrational silliness, Superf*ckers will most definitely deliver. (The series starts with issue #271, after all.) But if you’re looking for coherence, family friendly language, or heroic role models, you’ve definitely picked the wrong book. The title should have been your first clue. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas BodyWorld By Dash Shaw Pantheon, $27.95, 384 pages Some comics are pretty straightforward; BodyWorld is not one of those. BodyWorld explores what we consider of ourselves, and the boundaries that separate one from another. An alien race is conducting an experiment in consciousness, and have dispatched agents to spread a plant that, when burnt, causes individuals to share their consciousness, even allowing some to control the actions of others. They can share memories and sensations, and it creates some interesting issues. This book will make you explore those boundaries, especially as to whether or not those boundaries should be crossed, as

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various pairs see the pluses and minuses of being able to share their deepest, darkest memories, and the ramifications of that sharing; couples find that they are both more deeply sympathetic to as well as repulsed from the person that they share with. It’s an interesting exploration of what is generally glossed over in most science fiction. Combined with one of the most interesting book designs (there is a flip-out map and character information that can be read even while reading the book), and this book is definitely worth the price. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim

selves feel a little lackluster at times, but that’s more from the static comic medium than from any failings in the terribly funny script by Ian Boothby. With the madcap willingness to throw comedy caution to the wind, The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis is a delight. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis By Matt Groening; Bill Morrison Abrams ComicArt, $24.95, 208 pages Except for brief jokey asides and passing references, the two have never crossed paths. But the wait is finally over. It might take rending the fabric of space-time asunder, but by Jebus, the casts of the Simpsons and Futurama will meet in The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis! Collecting both Simpsons/Futurama comic crossover miniseries, this glossy allin-one collection details the bizarre and hilarious circumstances that (twice) caused these worlds to collide, offering plenty of opportunities for characters on both sides to shine, annoy, profit, scheme, steal, and bungle their way across the pages. Complete with character sketches, a gallery of Simpsons/Futurama art created by some of the most famous names in comics, and a reprinted issue of Simpsons Comics #1, this volume is fan service at its greatest. Inside jokes and obscure characters populate the background, and the numerous parallels between the two franchises are highlighted and lampooned with equal enthusiasm and rich detail. The stories them-

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Local Calendar 1

Children’s Storytime at Borders Sacramento 10:30–11:30am Borders, 2339 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento

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Children’s Storytime at Borders Roseville 11:00–11:30am Borders, 2030 Douglas Blvd. Suite 9, Roseville

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Author Appearance - Jeffrey Lustig, “Remaking California” 2:00– 3:00pm The Tower - 1600 Broadway, Sacramento Children’s Storytime at Borders Davis 2:00–3:00pm Borders, 500 First Street #1, Davis

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Children’s Storytime at Borders Sacramento 10:30–11:30am Borders, 2339 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento

19 Children’s Storytime at Borders 27 Children’s Storytime at Borders Roseville 11:00–11:30am Borders, 2030 Douglas Blvd. Suite 9, Roseville

12 Children’s Storytime at Borders 20 Storytime at Borders Davis Roseville 11:00–11:30am Borders, 2030 Douglas Blvd. Suite 9, Roseville

2:00–3:00pm Borders, 500 First Street #1, Davis

xChildren’s Storytime at 13 Children’s Storytime at Borders 22 Borders Sacramento 10:30–11:30am Davis 2:00–3:00pm Borders, 500 First Street #1, Davis

Borders, 2339 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento

Davis 2:00–3:00pm Borders, 500 First Street #1, Davis

29 Children’s Storytime at Borders Sacramento 10:30–11:30am Borders, 2339 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento

EVENT DETAILS AND MANY MORE AT www.sacramentobookreview.com/ local/calendar

15 Children’s Storytime at Borders 26 Children’s Storytime at Borders Sacramento 10:30–11:30am Borders, 2339 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento

Roseville 11:00–11:30am Borders, 2030 Douglas Blvd. Suite 9, Roseville

SUMMER READING IS ALMOST HERE! Exciting, fun, and educational programs and events for all ages – pre-readers, kids, families, teens, and adults – are planned for the 2010 Sacramento Public Library free summer reading series: • storytimes for pre-readers read to succeed! • arts and crafts Studies show children, who • game nights participate in summer • book discussions reading programs, retain more and do better in school. • how-to workshops • ice cream socials and more! Kids and teens can earn a book, and adults will get a book bag for their summer reading accomplishments, plus other great prizes.

Sign ups begin June 1 at saclibrary.org or at a Sacramento Public Library location near you. info: 916.264.2920

Sacramento Public Librar y

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Summer Reading MEGA-SPLASH! see what it’s all about and sign up

Sunday, June 6, 1 - 3 p.m.

Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento Free activities for everyone!

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SACRAMENTO PUBLIC LIBRARY

saclibr ar y.or g

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Travel dining and museums. Lonely Planet brings the allure of Australia to life in the most inviting way imaginable. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin Discover Spain Edited by Lonely Planet Lonely Planet, $24.99, 400 pages I am something of an armchair traveler, and Lonely Planet has always been my number one carrier to all kinds of exotic destinations. If you’ve never seen an episode, you’re likely to find them on your local PBS stations. Lonely Planet’s Discover Spain – Experience The Best of Spain is an outstanding, concise and bountiful source for making the most of a visit to this grand and diverse country. The book is full of information on most anything anyone travelling abroad would want to know – food, lodging, activities, points of interest, geography, and history. This guidebook equals any I’ve ever seen, including those from Frommer and Fodor. Anyone can utilize this book, brimming with bright, full-color pictures and detailed maps, to plan a wonderful trip. Major cities are featured, and each section is broken down by region. Within each regional section, in each city, there is information on getting around, places to

find local cuisine, hotel accommodations, festivals and events, and so much more. Specific details such as telephone numbers, addresses and rates make this guidebook to Spain a must-have for planning and to take with you. Perfectly sized to fit into a carry-on pocket, even a handbag, this book is a valuable companion. You won’t want to leave the States without it. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin Discover Ireland Edited by Lonely Planet Lonely Planet, $24.99, 432 pages A long proponent of can’t-afford-to-goso-buy-a-travel-book ‘vacations’, I have enjoyed perusing many a Lonely Planet publication. My only gripe with their books is the almost irreverently-small page size, which seems to repress their talented photographers rather than showcasing the pictures to their full potential. The petite proportions aside--which admittedly make the book handier to tote about--Discover Ireland is another proverbial link in a golden chain of travel tomes and manages to successfully inspire the eyes and re-energize the travel area of the brain. Just two pages in and one is immediately drawn to the green, open spaces, rolling hills, friendly faces, and stony cliffs. Lonely Planet is quite adept at introducing lesstraveled paths alongside the popular ones, accompanied by well-researched regional layouts. One is treated to myths, history, quiet getaways, welcoming B&B’s, touristy villages, and websites where one can rent a castle. Included are several types of travel plans, raging from touring-for-taste

culinary suggestions to a “See It All” road map and chronological event/festival list. Most appealing to me was the admission that despite some activities or places being a wee bit “crowded” the sights, smells, music, food, and people of Ireland make the tourist congestion almost unnoticeable. Reviewed by Meredith Greene

Con fused

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Discover Australia Edited by Lonely Planet Lonely Planet, $24.99, 408 pages Travel guides exist to provide information about the things one needs to know about where one is going: hotel accommodations, dining, points of interest, special events, and so on. All of this information can be presented in a lukewarm fashion, with plain writing and generic photography; or it can be given in such a way as to make the planning as adventurous as the trip. Lonely Planet aims for the latter effect. Their Discover Australia – Experience the Best of Australia is a journey for the eyes as well as the mind. The information you need is presented through enticing full color photographs, regional history, and an easy-to-follow layout that will help the traveler make arrangements for lodging, dining, and everything else. You will learn what most people there know about the country you’re visiting, and you will learn “inside secrets” that even most residents do not know. Australia is a vast country with varied and completely separate climates and unique ecosystems. There are great expanses of wilderness – and great metropolitan cities that can make a visitor forget that there is anything more than shopping, nightlife, fine

June 10 23


Science & Nature Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service By Mark Pendergrast Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28.00, 432 pages Medical mysteries are intriguing, and the stories are rewarding when causes and cures are found. Inside the Outbreaks introduces the reader to an elite corps of epidemiologists who track and record disease outbreaks as part of an agency known as the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), which was founded in 1951 as part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In more than 20 chapters, the challenges faced by the global epidemiologists are vividly described. The stories cover the causes of epidemics, chronic diseases, bio-terrorist threats, and environmental hazards, along with the problems inherent in malnutrition, substandard health, overpopulation, poverty, and myriad other factors. Dealing with topics ranging from polio to anthrax containment, smallpox eradication, cholera control, HIV education, Ebola outbreaks, and other fearsome afflictions, each section vividly describes the tasks encountered and the human tenacity to resolve the threats. Currently, this organization is focusing on the recently publicized threats to world health in the areas of gun violence, smoking, and obesity. The chapters are filled with

human interest descriptions and anecdotes. While this is not another classic Microbe Hunters, it is a compelling medical detective saga suitable for the teenager and the general public. Reviewed by Rita Hoots Here’s Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math By Alex Bellos Free Press, $25.00, 298 pages Euclid is often referred to as the father of geometry. His life’s work, called Elements, remains the foundation of modern geometry. Indeed, it was Pythagoras, who predates Euclid by some 200 years, who set the stage. We can see this in the way Euclid proceeds, beginning with arguments of simple definitions, such the definitions of a point, a line and a plane. He elaborates by arguing that such statements in nature exist that cannot be proved by reasoning, such as a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. From postulates such as these, arise a wealth of definitions of geometric form and flows the basis of the Euclidian postulation system. This is what we are taught in school. So, what is Alex Bellos really trying to say? Here’s Looking at Euclid is an attempt to examine ancient writings to see how Euclid fits in. We are impressed by the similarities certain ancient concepts share with regard

to number formation and geometric form. Consequently, mathematics may not originate from divine thinking. Nature is the backbone of modern thinking. Just as Leonardo de Vinci looked at birds to learn how to fly and creatures to explore movement, Euclid must have been inspired by what nature bestows. In this book, Bellos searches for the origin of mathematical thinking by examining the relics of the past. And he does a rather divine job. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky What If the Earth Had Two Moons?: And Nine Other Thought-Provoking Speculations on the Solar System By Neil F. Comins St. Martin’s Press, $26.99, 304 pages Neil F. Comins is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Maine and has written a number of popular books including: The Hazards of Space Travel: A Tourist’s Guide and What if the Moon Didn’t Exist? Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been. In his new book, What if the Earth Had Two Moons, he gives us nine alternative realities, including what our world would be like if we had two moons. At the beginning of each hypothesis, Comins has a little fun with a short fictional reality existing in the condition he is about to describe, then he analyzes it from a scientific

Arrrrgggghhhh!

and then sociological perspective. While he tends to keep everything dry and scientific, there seems to be a lacking in exploring the alternate world (perhaps that is a different book). Comins nevertheless is thorough and detailed, taking on what ifs like: “What if the Earth’s Crust Were Thicker,” “What if the Sun Were Less Massive,” “What if the Earth had Two Suns,” as well as many others. Reviewed by Alex Telander From Eternity to Here By Carroll, Sean Dutton Adult, $26.95, 438 pages I was blown away having read From Eternity to Here. Here is an aoristic stroll through eternity from the perspective of a theoretical physicist. Unlike “Time” by Eva Hoffman, From Eternity to Here is an exhilarating journey through time, “The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time,” says author Sean Carroll. Sean Carroll propels the reader through a sensuous ride through time. He takes you on a sojourn through time, from experience and the universe, through Einstein’s universe, and entropy, to the multiverse. He gives us his gift of insight by delving into such far-reaching ideas that explore matter, gravity and the cosmos. His is a world of stunning clarity; a quiescent moment in the universe to ponder our existence. His book invigorates the mind and leaves us in a state of awe. Don’t read another thing until you read this enduring testimony of reality. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky

i should have checked the sacramento book review website before buying this book!

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Sacramento Book Review - June 2010  

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