Book Review VOLUME 2, ISSUE 7
F R E E
NEW AND OF INTEREST
Three Days Before the Shooting A master’s unfinished masterpiece Page 17
Right Here on Our Stage Tonight From Berle to the Beatles, Sullivan had them all! Page 4
Sacramento Postcard History & Alkali Flat Page 7
A Year in Fashion
Inner fashionista Page 10
Making the Craft Look Easy By Marie Ponsot Knopf, $26.00, 82 pages
Marie Ponsot entitled her latest collection of poems aptly. Her obvious skill at her craft makes her poems appear effortless and easy. Her poems require closer examination to appreciate her deft use of rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, and line length. This aspect alone makes reading Easy a pleasure. Structure, however, is only the beginning. Ponsot shows us her world through refreshingly perceptive eyes. In “For Denis at Ten,” we see the countryside through a city boy for whom
“Nothing reminds him of something.” He sees what is there to see.” In “Late Spring as Usual,” we follow a vine coming out of dormancy, moving “too slow to be visible but it is racing[.]” In “We Own the Alternative,” Ponsot surprised this reader with the idea that “we are free not be young, not bound to evaluate everything” in old age, and she made me laugh at her defiant refusal to take See EASY, page 18
Science Fiction/ Fantasy & Sequential Art
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course Window on the wine world Page 23
125 Reviews INSIDE!
Travel Frommer’s New York City 2010 By Brian Silverman; Kelsy Chauvin; Richard Goodman Wiley, $19.99, 486 pages As always, Frommer’s doesn’t disappoint. New York City 2010 is the quintessential guide for anyone even thinking of travelling to the Big Apple this year. It couldn’t be easier to navigate a trip with this sleek, fullcolor, five-inch by eight-inch guide, complete with a pull-out map. “One of the few constants about New York City is that things are always changing.” While all the basics are covered, such as where to eat, sleep and shop, Frommer’s takes it to another level. Everyone’s gotta eat, but Frommer’s will give you the dish on N.Y’s best bagels, where to find your burger bliss and the surge of new restaurants sprouting in Brooklyn, not to mention a list of unforgettable dining experiences. In the Best of the Big Apple section, writers break down
the best day in New York’s other boroughs, the best neighborhoods for strolling, the best incentives for hotel-hopping and more. If you only have one, two or three days to spend in the city, the guidebook makes maximizing your itinerary a no-brainer. There is even an essential New York eating itinerary for the foodie. With hundreds of other covered topics, Frommer’s New York City 2010 is as invaluable as travelers checks. Reviewed by Elizabeth Kalfsbeek Paris Underground By Mark Ovenden Penguin (Non-Classics), $25.00, 176 pages I’m one of those people who has an interest in what interests other people. I know that seems confusing, but follow me for a minute. When someone is truly passionate about something, it doesn’t really matter if I’ve never even heard of what it is they love. I could listen to them talk about it for hours. In that way, Paris Underground is a triumph. Author Mark Ovendon is obsessed with the Parisian transit system, and it’s infectious. I flipped through the book,
smiling at the obvious joy with which it had been compiled. But the fact remains that this is a book full of microscopic maps and pictures of old French signs. It’s a comprehensive history of Paris transit. If you can’t even make it through this review without feeling like you want to take a nap, this book is not for you. But if you love public transit (and I won’t judge), or if you want to add to your collection of obscure knowledge for your next Trivial Pursuit tournament, this book ought to be right up your alley. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell City Secrets Books: The Essential Insider’s Guide By Robert Kahn Universe, $19.95, 384 pages The City Secrets series of travel guides are unique in the travel guide landscape. Rather than suggest a list of restaurants, museums, and shops to visit, they enlist chefs, art history professors, and designers to reveal their favorite places in a given city. The result is a truly wonderful compendium of offthe-beaten-path places that you’d never find on your own. The good folks at City Secrets now turn their attention to books, inviting
famous writers, editors, and other literary luminaries to suggest their favorite nowforgotten titles. Organized alphabetically by title, each entry includes a short essay on why the contributor selected the work, and these illuminating and often very personal vignettes could almost lead you to read this collection straight through, entry after entry. But it’s best to peruse the titles at random, like stumbling through a completely unorganized bookstore selling only forgotten literary gems. The suggestions run the gamut: a study on the stork’s mechanics of flight from 1889 is soon followed by a work by a 1940’s Hungarian writer, which is later followed by a young German writer’s newest novella, published in 2005. There is truly something for everyone here. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell
Spirituality Make Every Day a Friday By Marina Spence Morgan James Publishing, $12.95, 146 pages In this time of economic downturn and high numbers of unemployed people, it makes perfect sense to encourage people to try to keep the jobs they have, despite the possibility that it might not be their “perfect job.” Make Every Day a Friday! is a workbook of questions that readers might ask themselves, exercises to fill out, lists to make, and overall, is a “how-to” aimed at helping someone decide whether their current job scenario needs a shake up, or if one is truly not in the right job. Spence promises the reader “confidence, clarity and a career suited just for you.” If it could be that simple, wow, we’d all be working in jobs we love, whether they paid the bills or not, loving getting up in the morning heading to a task we truly enjoy. This book will not answer all your prayers and woes about the perfect job. It might help you see facets of it in a new light, it might help you find a different attitude about it, but the typical “no-brainer” info presented here won’t make any job, especially one you truly detest, be a better job for you. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin
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There’s More to Life than Making a Living By Jack C. McDowell FaithWords, $16.99, 188 pages What gives meaning to life? The answer is in Jack C. McDowell’s There’s More To Life Than Making A Living: Mastering Six Key Essentials on the Way to a Life of Significance. According to this book, a significant life has positive meaning and value beyond individual success. It means contributing to the lives of those less fortunate, placing the needs of others before your own, and showing compassion toward others. “A life of significance means that your life has positive meaning and value beyond individual success.” Is it hard to change your lifestyle to accommodate these things? McDowell doesn’t think so. He shares with you six keys to a life of significance: find your calling, learn from your experiences, acquire habits that build character, discover the joy of generosity, build relationships for life, and don’t retire. And this is something you just don’t read and think
about. In each chapter, you are asked to take specific actions that will help you master the six essentials. How do you know it will work? These steps are the harvest of Jack’s own experiences and they are, he says, “the gifts of a providential God to this seeker after a life with deeper and more lasting meaning.” Giving is man’s God-ordained purpose. This book provides the encouragement and resources you need for the journey to a more significant life. This is an invitation for you to “discover that there is more to life than just making a living.” Reviewed by Dominique James Have a Little Faith By Mitch Albom Hyperion Books, $23.99, 254 pages Perhaps the choice of the word “faith” by Mitch Albom is strategic. In our modern world (and indeed, throughout history), “religion” connotes the deadly poison of prejudice, intolerance, and violence. Using the word “faith” instead of “religion” allows the author to propose something universal, something that exists in all religions, cultures, and societies. Humans may practice diverse religions, but we all desire the deep comforts found in community, kinship, rituals, traditions, kindness, and faith. These are positive desires that we have in common. This focus on the positive gives
me hope, hope that we will one day live in a world where people see beyond difference to find commonality. Perhaps the most powerful message of this book is one that tells us to value our elders. They have much wisdom to impart. However, our American society usually shuns them in its celebration of youthfulness and its avoidance of the fact of aging. The elderly enrich our lives and communities. They are beacons of strength and courage. If we want heroes, we need look no further than these sages in our midst. I have read several of Mitch Albom’s other books and essays, the deeply personal fiction and non-fiction works he’s famous for. This newest book is a classic example of his literary genius and will surely be an outstanding addition to his collection of writings that continue to inspire so many readers. We’re fortunate to have a writer like this around! Reviewed by Viola Allo
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IN THIS ISSUE Travel.............................................................2 Spirituality.....................................................2 Music & Movies...............................................4 Sports & Outdoors..........................................4 Science & Nature............................................5 Relationships & Sex........................................6 Home & Garden..............................................6 History...........................................................7 Current Events...............................................8 Business & Investing......................................9 Historical Fiction............................................9 Art, Architecture & Photography.................10 Science Fiction & Fantasy & Sequential Art.. 11 Biographies & Memoirs................................15 Romance.......................................................16
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Popular Fiction............................................. 17 Modern Literature........................................ 17 Poetry & Short Stories..................................18 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers...........................19 Tweens.........................................................20 Young Adult..................................................20 Health, Fitness & Dieting.............................21
FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to another issue of the San Francisco Book Review and our semi-annual Science Fiction & Fantasy insert. Plenty of new great Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sequential Art books coming out and we have 125 reviewed to get you started looking for your next great book. We’ve had some exciting changes in our Sacramento Book Review website, and we’ll be making the same changes with the San Francisco Book Review’s site as well. Easier to find local events, some great columns from our reviewers, featured book reviews, and our Audible Authors program of podcast interviews. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Viewpoints columns, I encourage you to take a look. Basically, we’re bringing back the old-fashioned newspaper columns, where you’ll find weekly columns on cooking, relationship advice, photography, mental health, and home and gardening. If you’re curious about professional book reviewing, check out our column called The Critical Eye. For you budding authors, we have a weekly piece written by some of our publicists called After the Manuscript. Also online, we have a great compare and contrast of some of the multitude of ereader options written by Meredith Greene, one of our regular reviewers (and Viewpoints columnist). Notoriety is catching up to us. We’ve found a few soft cover books that we reviewed in hard cover format several months ago that caught us by surprise with our review quoted on the cover. It’s akin to framing the first dollar bill your business ever made. We’ll keep those first books in a special place. We thank you for picking us up. We hope you find the publication helpful or at least entertaining. And, when you are done, please pass the paper along to someone else, or recycle it. Happy reading, Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org 1776 Productions
Cooking, Food & Wine..................................23
Spring is coming! Look for our expanded Home & Garden section in the April issue. Get some great ideas on what to plant and how to prep your yard for the sunny weather. We’ll also have some books in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Music & Movies Right Here on Our Stage Tonight! By Gerald Nachman University of California Press, $29.95, 455 pages Gerald Nachman continues his survey of lesser-known areas of American popular culture with Right here on Our Stage Tonight: Ed Sullivan’s America. Ed Sullivan’s America was a place where vaudeville, Broadway musicals, Hollywood stars, night clubs, horse races, radio, “Uncle Miltie” on television, and newspapers competed for the mass audience entertainment dollar. Sullivan was there, not as a performer, but as a master of ceremonies. He covered the Broadway and sports beat as a newspaper columnist and became an American institution with his long-running television variety show. Then came rock and roll music. It was Sullivan who inadvertently ushered in the new era. The Beatles made their national television debut on the The Ed Sullivan Show in early ‘64. They not
only changed the culture, they made Sullivan an icon. Nachman excels at evoking a bygone time. He is a skilled reporter who does not rely solely on previously published accounts. He has done first-person interviews with dozens of key individuals. The sections on Elvis and The Beatles are highlights, but Nachman betrays his lack of rock and roll credentials with some major gaffes. He calls the Beatles’ “Meet The Beatles” the first ‘concept album’ when of course it was “Sgt. Pepper’s” in 1967. He marks the beginning of the decline of the Sullivan show to the The Doors one-shot appearance during the 6869 season. The song they performed,“Light My Fire,” was the number one single during the Summer of Love- 1967. The parts of the book dealing with the early days of Sullivan’s variety show, then called “Toast of the Town” are hilarious. The show had a total talent budget of $375! Sullivan’s career as a sportswriter makes for a fascinating read. One is surprised--and proud--to learn that he was an early champion of civil rights who used his column to condemn racist practices. Nachman , who
hails from the Bay Area, has previously written Raised On Radio probably the best book ever written on Golden Age of Radio. I do wish he could resist his habit of trying to relate past events and personalities to modern ones in an attempt to make them “relevant” to today’s readers. Was Sullivan really television’s first “reality star”? Was the player piano of his boyhood home an early version of the iPod? We also get a bit too many descriptions of Sullivan’s strange appearance, voice, and mannerisms. The book is a bit padded and that is one reason why. But, overall, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of America’s somewhat crazy cultural history. And it is damn entertaining too! Reviewed by Bruce Marshall The Gesualdo Hex: Music, Myth, and Memory By Glenn Watkins Norton, $39.95, 416 pages The story of the Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo might be fascinating. Unfortunately this book by Glenn Watkins is disjointed and frankly boring. Watkins tries to tell the story of Gesualdo and the affect
that the music of Gesualdo has had on modern-day composers. Through the use of music and memory. He explores the late careers of a big-name composers, such as Stravinsky and Schoenberg, how they came to know Gesualdo and the affect that Gesualdo had on their lateperiod pieces. Watkins then attempts to delve into how Gesualdo has affected performance works and pairings of different works and other medias, such as movies, television, and art. This books is flat and boring. Mr. Watkins claims at the beginning that this is for the average reader. It is not. If you do not know who Gesualdo is, or have a deep background in music, you will be confused and frustrated. The writing is a bore to read, and he goes too deep into Schoenberg and Stravinsky, never really explaining Gesualdo’s influence until much later in the book. The book falls flat on all accounts. Reviewed by Kevin Winter
Sports & Outdoors High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time By Tim Wendel Da Capo Press, $25.00, 288 pages High Heat follows author Tim Wendel as he attempts to determine the pitcher with the fastest fastball. Through records, interviews, and eye-witness accounts, Wendel compares pitchers from every era in baseball. It becomes clear early in the book that the search for the best “hurler” is as meaningful to the author as actually determining the best fastball pitcher. The book is more anecdotal than analytical, with references to the movie Bull Durham being almost as prevalent as references to the pervasiveness of Tommy John’s surgery. The presentation of Wendel’s research is a bit unorganized, but it’s still an interesting foray into the history of the fastball. In addition to pitcher comparisons, the biomechanics of pitching form are explored during a visit to the American Sports Medicine Institute. Also, Wendel presents the very real hazard of batting against an arm that can throw at 100 mph.
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High Heat will appeal to anyone with an interest in baseball and most especially to those interested in pitching and the fastball. Some readers might be frustrated by the inherent challenges of comparing different eras in Reviewed by Rachel Wallace A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York By Liz Robbins Harper Paperbacks, $14.99, 336 pages A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York is sportswriter Liz Robbins’ attempt to bring home the experience of running in a major marathon. Her approach, which is not a new one, is to follow a handful of individuals--both elite and non-elite runners--as they move through the race. This documentary-style approach was previously used in a film that brought the trials and tribulations of the Chicago Marathon to life. Robbins often moves away from covering the race on a mile-by-mile basis in order to describe the lives of the persons she’s focused on. Unfortunately, these sidebars give the narrative a herky-jerky,
stop and start pace that creates frustration for the reader (“What mile are we on now?”). It would have been more effective to focus on one average runner, using this individual to describe the sights and sounds--and aches and pains--of the race from mile one to the end. This story could have been told in 26.2 read-friendly chapters. If you’re a non-runner, you won’t find enough in Race to hold your interest. If you’re a committed long-distance runner, Race is far too basic. There’s just no “here” here. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano The Long Snapper By Jeffrey Marx Harper One, $24.99, 245 pages The Long Snapper would be a charming true story except that we’ve read and seen it before. In the book and film The Rookie (the movie starred Dennis Quaid), we were told the true story of Jim Morris, a professional baseball player who becomes a school teacher when his athletic career is over. Years pass before he’s suddenly contacted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who want him to try out for a pitching opening. He’s undecided but his students encourage him to take the try-out, and this “rookie” returns to “the Show.” Take the exact same story and substitute the football player Brian Kinchen for Mor-
ris. Kinchen played pro football for 12 years before losing his job and becoming a school teacher. Two years pass and then guess what? Oh, yes, the same thing that happened in The Rookie. Except that Kinchen is invited to try out for a team that’s two wins away from the Super Bowl. You can probably guess what the ending is going to be. Does our hero come through in the Big Game? The climax will only surprise those who haven’t seen Hoosiers, The Bad News Bears, Invincible or Remember the Titans. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano
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Science & Nature Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History By Diana Wells Algonquin Books, $19.95, 369 pages It is not unusual to feel sorrow over the loss of a tree. Conversely, a certain kind of altruism is associated with planting a tree. We have a connection with trees—they provide shade, wood, medicine, and perches for swings. Diana Wells captures the wonder of these stately sentinels of nature in Lives of the Trees, her follow-up to 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names and 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names. Organized alphabetically, Lives of the Trees is a gem of a book featuring short descriptions of one hundred trees from around the world, from common trees such as elm, maple, and oak to more unusual trees such as the handkerchief tree, rowan, and the delightfully named m o n k e y - p u z z l e . Each description contains a snappy combination of science, etymology, and trivia, providing a snapshot of each tree’s history, along with a charming pencil illustration of the tree’s leaf structure. Wells explains in her introduction that Lives of the Trees is for non-experts, although arborists, botanists, and gardeners may well find something of interest here. Even those who never knew how interested they were in trees—or how interesting trees really are—will find something to like in this clever book. Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen Giant Molecules By Walter Gratzer Oxford University Press, $24.95, 254 pages Many reviewers will choose to focus on one or more of the various aspects of the book that Walter Gratzer has put forward. Gratzer has garnered a new category of 21st century scientists. The author reveals technological advances in synthetic structures and showcases their importance. The basis of all the giant molecules is the carbon atom. Everything is based upon the marvelous way in which the bonds are formed with various other elements and compounds. By his exhaustive study, we glimpse through a window into a fantastic building block of matter. During the 1950s, the introduction of polymers blazed a trail to study synthetic structures that opened a new way to look at organic chemistry. Gratzer lays the groundwork for his discussion in the first seven chapters.
In the last chapter, he builds a case for giant molecules, which is the most far-reaching consideration surfaced in developing carbon fibers. Among these, carbon chains bond to form parallel structures creating sheets of molecules, much stronger than steel and considerably lighter. The study of carbon filaments, the latest development, sets the stage to make remarkable devices, super strong materials that may replace aircraft aluminum and anything else where lightweight strength is essential. A wonderful compilation of scientific thought. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind By Gary Small Harper Paperbacks, $16.99, 240 pages Dr. Small, one of America’s leading neuroscientists at UCLA, explores the evolution of the human brain caused by today’s constant technological presence. This volume, co-written with Vorgan, separates the digital natives from the digital immigrants, suggesting that the internet with its limitless wealth of news and information is greatly altering the way young minds are developing and functioning. With the growth of Google, Facebook, and YouTube, Dr. Small’s book is a guide to understanding the amazing impact of this new brain evolution on our society and our future. This book also warns of the potential dangers such as social isolation, and internet addiction among other things. “in order to compete and thrive in the age of brain evolution with its technological toolkit, equips all of us with the tools and strategies needed to close the brain gap.” Dr. Small and his colleagues, through their research at UCLA, are remapping, retooling, and evolving our brains. It also explores how the iBrain is imprinting a new evolution of the brain by technological advancement and future implications; namely, where do you fit in the evolutionary chain? What are the social, professional, and political aspects of this new brain evolution? How must one adapt and at what price? Reviewed by Claude Ury The Faith Instinct By Wade, Nicholas Penguin Press HC, The, $25.95, 310 pages Many of us are concerned about the political and social strife unfolding across the globe, supported by religious views. However, we also see acts of compassion motivated by the same faith that causes wars. What is it about religious behavior that makes hu-
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mans capable of love and hate in the same breath? Where does religion come from? Where is it going? What purpose has it served in human history? These are the questions Nicholas Wade answers in The Faith Instinct. He reviews biological and anthropological research on the evolution of religious behavior. He argues that humans have a genetic propensity for religiosity. As our ancestors evolved, religious practices conferred benefits on social groups, enhancing their survival, especially in the form of better cooperation within groups and defense and warfare against outsiders. Early forms of religion (ritual dance, trance, ancestor worship, animism) and modern forms of religion (polytheisms, monotheisms) function to organize human societies. This is evident when human societies switch from hunting and gathering to farming and a sedentary way of life (10,000-5,000 B.C.). Readers might find this book overly academic but agree with the conclusion that religions is “nature and nurture” and will be around for a long time to come. Reviewed by Viola Allo
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Ask The Animals By Bruce R. Coston St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 274 pages Ask the Animals is a compilation of stories. The author draws upon his more than twenty years practicing veterinarian medicine. The book started as a collection of articles that appeared in Bryce Mountain Courier, a monthly newspaper. The author foreshadows the drama with an illustrious introduction. He paints a graphic picture of the heartbreak of an elder man having to put his dear pet down. He lovingly expresses the plight of a vet faced with the heartwrenching dilemma of dragging a destitute, elderly man through expensive treatment or yielding to charity to extend the life of an old and feeble, dying pet. With 38 chapters, Bruce Coston slowly develops the common thread to this compilation. The first 50 pages outline his background. After, his passion begins to breathe and grow, cataloging some rather moving anecdotes. He tells his stories with fervent tear-jerking details. It’s a courageous and gut-wrenching account of man’s mammalian companions. It’s a punctilious glimpse into the lives of the creatures we love most dearly—our pets. This memoir is a reflection on what makes us human. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about the lives of animals. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky
Relationships & Sex Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match By Amy Spencer Running Press, $22.95, 235 pages For everyone out there tired of pounding the pavement searching without success for your soul mate, your remedy is here in the form of Amy Spencer’s Meeting Your Half Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match. Spencer outlines a no-brainer strategy for anyone desiring a fulfilling relationship with The One. And here’s the best part: you can stop looking. By using dating optimism your half orange will come to you! Sound too good to be true? “It’s not up to you to design your perfect man from head to toe,” writes Spencer. “It’s up to you to figure out how you’ll feel your best self in a relationship … and then you just need to let the world bring you your big surprise.” “See, it’s not your job to figure out how you’re going to get the relationship you want. It’s your job to want it. This is important because it lets you off the hook for having to figure out the how, which just seems so impossible sometimes.” The author’s advice is easy to follow and relate to because, well, she used to be one of us. As a freelance writer who often publishes relationship-advice articles in Cosmopolitan
and Glamour, Spencer became discouraged at her own lack of a fulfilling relationship. With wit and candor, she explains the tried and tested methods of finding your perfect match using dating optimism that worked for her and others. Reviewed by Elizabeth Kalfsbeek A Little Bit Married By Hannah Seligson Da Capo Lifelong Books, $15.95, 228 pages Are you an upwardly mobile, twentysomething in a committed, long-term relationship? Do you live with your partner? Are you in no hurry to tie the knot? Then you are one of a growing majority known as A Little Bit Married. In her fascinating new book, journalist Hannah Seligson investigates the phenomenon of long-term, marriage-like relationships that seem to have taken the place of actual marriages. This cultural shift, made possible by the advent of birth control and the desire to avoid divorce, is so pervasive that a large majority of people now live together in a “trial period” before getting hitched. “Uncertainty is the most certain thing in a relationship, which doesn’t always metabolize that well in a culture that’s obsessed with ‘being sure.’” But there are problems, as Seligson clearly points out. How much do you sacrifice for
your non-spouse? Where do you spend the holidays? How, and when, do you broach the subject of children, religion, and the future of the relationship in an environment of growing inertia? Written primarily for a female audience, but with an open and engaging style that appeals to men as well, A Little Bit Married helps readers answer these hard questions and understand their own complicated relationships. Everyone, from disapproving parents to free spirits, should read this book. Reviewed by Katie Cappello The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It By M. Gary Neuman Wiley, $14.95, 219 pages The author begins this book by insisting that cheating is not the woman’s fault, but then addresses solely women for the next 200 pages. Ok, so, this is the book’s audience, but Neuman really alienates his audience with the constant admonishments about what women do and how women drive men to cheat. The book spends very little time in addressing the man, his thought processes, his decision-making skills (or lack of), and his viewpoints in doing the dirty deed, and, instead, focuses on the woman. Don’t get me wrong, I have nary a doubt that Neuman knows exactly what he’s talking about. He details interviews
with dozens (out of hundreds) of cheaters and non-cheaters, but more attention could have been paid to the male side of things when talking about cheating. That being said, women will indeed get something out of this book. First and foremost, it is likely that those in good marriages will up their appreciation factor towards their spouse. Things like expressing appreciation, affection, and sexual attractiveness are talked about, and Neuman tells women how to put these into play and how to apply these behaviors to keep their man around. There’s value in that, and he is very clear. Those who wonder if they’re paying their spouse enough attention will want to pick this one up. On the other hand, if cheating is suspected, Neuman also addresses telltale signs and ways to find out. Overall, this is a useful, if somewhat insulting, book. Reviewed by Allena Tapia The Sex Devotional: 365 Days of Passion, Positions, and Pure Pleasure By Olivia St. Claire Adams Media, $16.95, 374 pages Who wouldn’t appreciate a year’s worth of sensual suggestions, erotic experimentations, and decadent delights to spice up the intimacy in one’s relationship? The Sex Devotional is bound to have you and your partner eager to read ahead to the next day’s entry for the See SEX, page 16
Home & Garden Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition) By Pat Welsh Chronicle Books, $32.5, 455 Pages Starting off with a sweet dedication to her late husband, garden editor and TV-Host Pat Welsh launches into a month-by month guide on organic gardening in southern California. Narrowing in on her home regional area and the respective plant life Welsh continues to update her original text. First printed in 1991, Welsh kept adding more to her “handbook” and addressing changing conditions, and thus the third edition of her book presents itself to eager California gardeners.
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“Every neighborhood, every yard has physical characteristics that produce slightly varying climates.” Welsh first touches on the unique climate facets of Southern California; she addresses the issue of micro-climates within a climate zone and how this affects one’s plans and growing techniques. Not just focusing on how one can prune and divide perennials, Welsh covers the five types of soil, soil additives, improving drainage on lots and includes several pages on manure and their varying applications. Having a backyard vegetable garden, I especially appreciated the two homemade organic vegetable fertilizer “recipes” for Western Soil—one all-purpose and one high-nitrogen. In our home, this book will be used frequently in the coming months, and for some years to come. Reviewed by Meredith Greene
The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual--and the Modern Home Began By Joan DeJean Bloomsbury USA, $28, 295 pages The setting for this book is Paris in the late 17th and early 18th centuries where the notion of comfort in daily living became all the rage among the ruling aristocracy and the wealthy upper class. Today, we take the notion of comfort for granted such as flush toilets, running hot and cold water, showers, private bedrooms and cotton clothing that gently envelops the body. Back then, the ideal was reflective of the age of magnificence embodied by layers of stiff clothing, standing around or perching on a straight chair. Thanks to some
clever and unrelenting ladies and gentlemen in the courts of Kings Louis XIV and XV, there was rapid change that took only one century to take hold. Along with the royal shift came the first foray into investing in “the market” which produced a boom with vast monetary rewards for a new non-royal upper class. Author Joan Dejean is a well-respected authority on France and all that is uniquely French. She delivers the equivalent of a university-level course in this well-written and nicely-illustrated book that is worthy of a place in the library of a designer or a student of design. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano
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History Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the wilderness of Modern America By Douglas Cazaux Sackman Oxford University Press, $24.95, 384 pages The author almost abandoned this project when he learned that another book about the last wild Indian (Ishi’s Brain: In Search of America’s Last “Wild” Indian by Orin Starn, 2004) was in the works. Encouraged by his publisher, Douglas Cazaux Sackman, a history professor at the University of Puget Sound, Sackman persevered and Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America joins the collection of books and film exploring the life of Ishi, the last surviving member of his tribe. Ishi was a middle-aged adult when he was found standing in a slaughterhouse corral in Oroville, California, in 1911. Alfred Kroeber, a prominent anthropologist, secured Ishi’s passage from Oroville to San Francisco, where Ishi became a resident of the Museum of Anthropology. For the remainder of Ishi’s life, Kroeber, and others, endeavored to capture the language, history, and culture of this living artifact. Sackman describes his book as “...an entirely new narrative exploring different aspects of our shared American history that the meeting of these two men illuminate.” His compact, well-written, and scholarly work will stretch your thinking on the value of aboriginal cultures, as well as mankind’s relationship to the wilderness. Reviewed by Diana Irvine
Sacramento (Postcard History) By Tom Myers Arcadia Publishing, $21.99, 128 pages The Relentless Revolution By Joyce Appleby Norton, $29.95, 494 pages Books on Economics tend to be for economists; furthermore they tend to approach the subject as science. Joyce Appleby’s The Relentless Revolution doesn’t pretend that economics is scientific or that its “laws” are anything more than theoretical models that function only in simulation. Instead of presenting Capitalism in a model or a natural law, Appleby relates its history with all the contingencies and near misses that accompany all histories. She exposes the lie that capitalism and free trade were an inevitable development; they were not. Rather, Capitalism was impossible without the cultural revolution of the Renaissance, as well as the unique role of the British, how British laws controlling the economy eventually cost it the enormous economic lead capitalism gave it, and how that mantle passed both to the United States and Germany. She relates how Capitalism helped create the uber-nationalism that contributed so much to both World Wars.
Have you ever stood in a place in Sacramento and wondered how the area looked in decades past? Unless you work in the state librarian’s office, you’re unlikely to have access to the photographs that will provide such information. Until now, that is. Photographer Tom Myers has put together a fine collection of vintage postcards that show what the city was like in earlier times, going all the way back to the late 1800s. Included are beautiful views of the California Capitol when it still stood as a tall beacon of development. There are also two great photos of Joyland, the fun park that was once located in Oak Park (one could ride there from downtown on the street cars). There are several views of a once-busy K Street, at a time when it was the bustling stage and screen theater district. And you can see the homes in what is today the East End, and confirm that some of them still remain. Perhaps the most impressive photos are of the original state fairgrounds and of a dilapidated Sutter’s Fort circa 1890. This collection may make you homesick for a time before your time. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano
“What ‘the best and the brightest’ of any generation choose as their life-work has a lot to do with the values they take in when they’re young.”
The Alkali Flat neighborhood in Sacramento is probably the least known and appreciated in the Sacramento area. Yet, it is also the first real neighborhood of the city; it was where some of the first power brokers of Sacramento lived and raised their families. It was also the site of the first industrial area with the Southern Pacific rail yards nearby. The neighborhood fell into disrepair, and many of its beautiful Victorian homes were razed, though some were saved. It was also the first home to KCRA television station, with its giant television tower. The people might have changed from the powerful and wealthy to the working class immigrants, but the idea of Alkali Flats has never changed--a great place to live that is close to downtown Sacramento. The people at the special collections of the Sacramento Public Library have put together a wonderful book that brings to life this long-neglected neighborhood. Through the pictures that reach back in time we get a glimpse (however fleeting) of what life was like back then--from the stately Victorian homes to the Crystal Dairy company. Alkali Flats was truly a place of contrasts. This is a book made for local historians. Reviewed by Kevin Winter
The Relentless Revolution covers not only all the good that Capitalism has given us, but also the racism, nationalism, and jingoism that it has fostered and encouraged. Appleby’s work here is one of the first honest looks at how capitalism and economics works, not as a science but as a process continually created and recreated by the People. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard
Sacramento’s Alkali Flat
Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library Arcadia Publishing, $21.99, 127 pages
Author Book Signing! Meet Shelley Antilla, author of the Photographers’ Vintage Treasures and the People Who Wore Them
ABRAHAM LINCOLN Self Made in America Learning Station Exhibit Civil War Reenactments, Lincoln Reenactments, Costume Contest, Ragtime Festival, Band Concert, Education Day
WILD WONDERFUL KING VINTAGE MUSEUM 40680 Highway 41-Oakhurst (559) 658-6999 www.LincolnOakhurst.com
March 20 - 1:00-3:00 & 6:30-08:30
March 21 - 2:00-4:00
Current Events & Politics Life Without Lawyers By Philip K. Howard Norton, $15.95, 215 pages Philip Howard is a lawyer and a leading advocate of legal reform. His two previous books, The Death of Common Sense and The Collapse of the Common Good, set the stage for this third work. Howard consistently strives to help us see that too much law suffocates rather than protects, and restricts rather than safeguards our freedoms. He argues that America’s current climate of litigation strangles innovation, discovery, and human connection. With all the legal red tape, core elements of life don’t work: healthcare, education, community development, and our private quests for personal fulfillment. Howard’s examples are things we have seen and know to be true: child care staff forbidden to hug a bruised child, high school principals restricted from effective discipline, playgrounds with no equipment after the merry-go-round maker was sued. Howard believes the answer is in restructure and practice, which will unleash flexibility and creativity and thus recalibrate our communities and institutions. In Life Without Lawyers, Howard proposes concrete change: new structures outside the legal system to provide administration oversight and protection, new legal boundaries around reasonable risk, and new limitations on lawsuits. Howard’s call is compelling and serious: he wants to be an agent of change he is calling for compatriots. Reviewed by Marcia Jo Uninhibited, Robust, And Wide-Open: A free Press For A New Century By Lee C. Bollinger Oxford University Press, $21.95, 198 pages The First Amendment to the U.S Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” The words are simple and the Constitution does not elaborate further on them. So, it has been up to the Supreme Court (whose first adjudication of a case relating to this question was not until 1919) to define the practical and theoretical applications of this freedom. In 1976, Justice Stewart ruled and reasoned this way in 1976: “The Free Press guarantee is…a structural provision of the constitution…and the primary purpose of this guarantee is to create a fourth institution outside govern-
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ment as an additional check on the three official branches.” This ruling established wide latitude for the press and has ensured freedom of information vital to our democratic society. Bollinger summarizes legal decisions like this one and gives examples of the ways we as a people have benefited from our free press. His purpose is to explore and recommend how the American press is to function as a check on government in our current era of globalization and how the American ideal of freedom through information be practically applied in an environment of internet based media. The questions are compelling and Bollinger’s answers concise and definitive. Bollinger is the President of Columbia University, well known for his writing on the First Amendment. Not surprisingly then, he offers a nine point plan that includes how journalism should be taught, how public leaders should form and prioritize this issue, and how the US government can leverage policies, like trade agreements, to secure access for the press world wide. This book is so clearly written that even more complex legal arguments are assessable. We would be wise to place this short book (it is under 200 pages) on the required reading lists for most college undergraduates and for anyone who has hopes for the American future, as these hopes may hinge on the protection of the fourth institution. Reviewed by Marcia Jo Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What By Lee Eisenberg Free Press, $26.00, 334 pages Get ready for a wonderful survey of shopping in the USA. Lee Eisenberg, former editor in chief of Esquire magazine and executive vice president of Lands’ End, explores currently relevant aspects of the sell and buy sides of shopping. Eisenberg begins at home in Chicago and invites the reader to accompany him and his wife, Linda, to find a suitable little black dress for a school fundraiser. Our field trip ranges across this country to New York and places in between. Along the way, he consults with the best, most well-known researchers and economists to seek out the rationale behind why we buy. “That we buy because our personalities are reflected in brands, and that brand loyalty extends membership in a tribe, are propositions now firmly fixed in the Buy zeitgeist.”
Eisenberg’s smooth writing style and eloquent command of English make this hands-on immersion a delightful read. Personal experiences (his wife’s dress search and his son’s quest for Onitsuka Tiger shoes) create a sense of comfort and camaraderie while we learn about how the sellers drop consumers into buckets based on demographics and buyers fall into one of two categories – classics or romantics. Eisenberg’s wife is a classic, while his son is a romantic. There are also tips on how to select the perfect gift with some charming examples that are guaranteed to make the reader chuckle. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano The Forty Years War By Colodny, Len Harper, $27.99, 512 pages A sweeping and detailed view of the neoconservative movement in American politics is contained in The Forty Years War. Colodny & Shachtman trace the movement to German expatriate and Pentagon official, Fritz Kramer who taught his devotees, including Kissinger, Haig, and Rumsfeld, that the right path for America was military prowess. The Neocons battle for power and influence, sometimes from behind the scenes and often right in the oval office itself, just might change your view of who really holds the reigns of our government and ultimately, the destiny of America. Sometimes terrifying, this is a must read for anyone that thinks that it is just the person that they are voting for that makes the decisions. The phrase, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” comes to mind. Often, our leaders are swayed by people that don’t have the same intentions for this country that we do. Colodny makes that clear. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink By Bruce Judson Harper, $25.99, 228 pages For those ready to pull their heads out of the sand, It Could Happen Here offers a shocking picture of America on the brink of a forced transformation. While Americans hunker down to ride out the recession, Judson reveals the danger to our society is greater than we think. His first chapter is a fictional story about what could happen to America in a worstcase scenario. He then provides data that
shows our middle-class is in danger of extinction due to inequality. Judson presents the case where the circumstances that could lead to a revolution are in place. We learn that the 1960s and 1970s were our best years for economic equality. Since then, economic inequality between the classes has been widening to where it’s almost as severe as it was in 1928-29, just before the great depression. A key factor in our precarious position is loss of trust leading to an everyman-for-himself attitude. Another assertion is that the influence of the wealthy and polarization has led to government paralysis. Judson does an inadequate job explaining how higher taxes on the top 10 percent of income earners would restore the middle class. Even so, most of his statistics are compelling. Reviewed by Grady Jones The Capitalist’s Bible: The Essential Guide to Free Markets--and Why They Matter to You By Gretchen Morgenson Harper Paperbacks, $16.99, 300 pages Gretchen Morgenson has proven herself an insightful financial commentator at the New York Times, which makes one wonder how this Pulitzer Prize winner produced such a shallow work as the pompously titled The Capitalist’s Bible. While boasting to be the “essential guide to Free Markets,” this slender volume offers little more than brief superficial sketches that would be better suited to a grammar school encyclopedia than a serious work. Morgenson wrings all complexity from her topic and, with it, much that would be of interest to the genuinely curious. Consider her description of Microsoft (rightly placed in the section “Capitalist Successes” and at a whole four pages, one of her longest entries), much of which reads as if it were a press release from Redmond. Holding to the wiz-kid entrepreneur story, she glosses over consideration of how the company succeeded, despite often selling inferior products. Absent is any consideration of topics such as externalities or the fascinating impact psychology has had on our modern understanding of capitalism. Those wholly ignorant about the topic would be far better informed by taking an Econ 101, consulting Wikipedia, and leaving this overly simple Bible to gather dust on the shelf. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
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Business & Investing The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures By Dan Roam Portfolio, $28.95, 282 pages If all you have in your hand is a hammer, you’ll naturally tend to see every problem as a nail. In this case, the only thing you can is to hammer it. But not all problems out there is a nail. There are all sorts of problems that needs to be solved requiring the use of all sorts of tools. It is, therefore, important nowadays for you to learn more than just to hammer. “There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem.” If you’ve already been using all sorts of tools to solve all sorts of problems and realizing that you are still unable to properly solve some of the problems, perhaps there is one tool might you might still be missing— the ability to think things through in a visual manner. In Dan Roam’s The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures (Expanded Edition), you’ll learn that missing tool: how to literally draw out and visually think through your problems in search of a solution. The most elegant way to solve a problem is in finding the simplest solution possible. With the visual method of problem-solving
techniques you’ll learn from Roam’s The Back of the Napkin, you’ll be able to visually array everything out, and arrive, every single time, at an elegant solution. Reviewed by Dominique James The Responsibility Revolution By Jeffrey Hollender Wiley, $27.95, 206 pages Books about ways to run your business are usually long on theory and short on practical examples. The Responsibility Revolution is a welcome relief from that. One of the problems facing businesses today is how to balance the bottom line while allowing for public opinion; it’s no longer enough to merely follow the letter of the law, but a company must allow for some greening of their practices. The Responsibility Revolutionshows how a company can do that while still making a profit, and has numerous examples of businesses that have done just that , and how they did it. It’s fascinating to see how they did it, and how wide the spectrum is, as the businesses covered range from Ben & Jerry’s to Clorox. The Responsibility Revolution is a fun read, filled with a number of anecdotes and hard facts for those interested in making their business green without it affecting the bottom line and possibly even making it better. If you have been debating what your business can
do for the environment, The Responsibility Revolutionis the book for you. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Investing, 4th Edition By Edward T. Koch and Debra Johnson Alpha Books, $19.95, 360 pages I’m going to go out on a limb here and say outright that money makes the world go round. I’m also saying, in effect, that it’s not love that makes the world go round. If you believe in what I’m saying, then you’re not an idiot to be naturally interested in Edward T. Koch and Debra Johnson’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Investing (Fourth Edition). This is one book that will help you make your hardearned money work hard for you. “Despite what you may be feeling, given recent events, investing is the key to making dreams come true.” How to do that? The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Investing will show you how you can invest wisely and protect and grow your wealth by learning all the essential information on building the right portfolio for your needs and learning all of the fundamentals for new investors, including researching, buying, and selling. There is also expert advise on protecting your investments and offsetting risks, and, helpful tips on building an emergency fund to shelter yourself from unexpected financial burdens.
Historical Fiction Impatient With Desire By Gabrielle Burton Voice, $22.99, 244 pages Crafted from research, including 17 letters written by Tamsen Donner herself, Burton has created a fictional journal of Tamsen Donner and the Donner Party that is insightful and heart-wrenching. It is as if she has given the Donner Party a voice more than 150 years later, and that voice was one of hopes, dreams, fear, isolation, strength and, ultimately, courage. “I’ve always thought that few people have ever really seen me as I saw myself, as I really am. It never seemed as important as long as I knew who I was.”
How the party came to end up trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter of 1846/1847 was really a complex mix of mistakes, mishaps, and foolhardiness, but many of the group made it through. Burton paints Tamsen Donner as a woman ahead of her time, educated, ambitious, strong, and, ultimately, a woman you would like to have known. The struggles that they went through are seemingly unimaginable, but Impatient with Desire makes them all real. What parent wouldn’t die just a little inside, knowing that their child is starving and they can’t do a thing about it? What role do the rules of society play when you and your family are freezing, starving, and trapped? Powerful questions and just as powerfully written, this novel kept me entranced. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler
The Queen’s Governess By Karen Harper Putnam Adult, $25.95, 349 pages The Queen’s Governess adds yet another chapter to the oft-depicted reign of the Tudor monarchs in England. Karen Harper presents a first person account by Katherine “Kat” Champernowne Ashley who joined the Tudor court as an attendant to Anne Boleyn and eventually became a confidante of Elizabeth I. Kat’s unique position during this highly volatile period in English history highlights the precarious status of an unprotected woman. Additionally, the story illustrates the commitment many people had to severing ties with the pope. This break
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Because you are not an idiot, you know you need to learn about the various ways you can invest so you’ll have (more than) enough for a home, college, retirement, and other important milestones. Reviewed by Dominique James What Color Is Your Parachute? By Richard N. Bolles Ten Speed Press, $18.99, 320 pages A relevant books for our times! If you struggle with finding employment, or have a job but do not enjoy your work, let your search lead you to What Color is Your Parachute? The 2010 edition of Richard Bolles’s book is full of practical advice for the jobseeker and career-changer, from how to succeed at interviews and salary negotiations to how best you can find or create your ideal profession. Bolles’s chapter, the “Flower Exercise,” is a wonderful self-generated manual that will help you understand yourself and what you have to offer the world. The book closes with a section on spirituality, a bold statement on how faith can lead us to a satisfying career. This book allowed me to reflect on my passions. It helped me answer the question: what can I do with my life and career that both fulfills me and allows me to make a difference in the world? Bolles urges us to explore ourselves and plan our careers in fun, positive ways that make an informative starting point for the journey toward happiness. Reviewed by Viola Allo
with Rome is often overshadowed by the behavior of Henry VIII, but the desire for increased religious independence was much more than the whim of one man. These two issues were the most interesting and, though presented well, the story would have been stronger had they been explored more extensively. While The Queen’s Governess presents a new and interesting perspective of the Tudor reign it does not add substantially to Tudor history. For those that enjoy historical fiction the book will serve as a well-researched introduction; for those already versed in the Tudors this book will seem a light addition to the canon. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace
Art, Architecture & Photography Digital Landscape Photography By Michael Frye Focal Press, $24.95, 160 pages Near perfection for experienced photographers, but still pleasant enough for newbies and lookie-loos! Digital Landscape Photography uses the works of Ansel Adams along with the author’s pieces to teach the specifics of landscape photography with a digital camera. The book deeply demonstrates techniques such as light, composition, and darkroom processes, often using a series of the same photo from start to finish. This is not a coffee table book-- the processes and techniques are specific and professional, although the photos are also breathtaking and a pleasure to the untrained eye. If you ask for a little bit more out of a photography book (such as “How did they do that?”), then this book is for you! Reviewed by Allena Tapia Conundrums: Typographic ConundrumsDom By Harry Pearce It Books, $14.99, 176 pages As if the world we live in isn’t puzzling enough, here comes a strange little book that will leave you even more puzzled than ever—Harry Pearce’s Typographic Conundrums. What is this book about? It’s a set of 171 typographic puzzles in which common words and turns of phrases have been “animated” to challenge readers in drawing out their meaning with “the perfect combination of difficulty and irreverence.” One must stare at the stark word or words designed out of a single type, wrack one’s brains to come up with certain seemingly logical associations, and then attempt to tease out their familiar meaning. Just don’t get tempted to cheat by peeking at the solutions to all the conundrums which are plainly revealed at the back of the book. Pearce’s Conundrums will most certainly appeal to fans of crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and all manners of mind games, and also probably including those who are inclined to figuring symbolisms out of Dan Brown novels. But that’s not to say that they are the only ones who’ll get a thrill out of this book; because for those who are enamored with graphic design and typography, this is a fun little resource. Reviewed by Dominique James
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Cherry Blossoms Text by Seijinsha and Kano Hiroyuki Designed by Tsumura Shoji and Yamamoto Masako PIE Books, $35.00, 400 pages In war, it is the victor who writes history. Sadly, the same is true with the arts. For centuries, the world has been dominated by the “victors” of art from Europe and America, while the art of Asia, the vanquished, has been relegated to almost obscurity. And yet, it has been proven repeatedly that the beauty of true art can never be ignored or forgotten. By any indication, this is true with the book Cherry Blossoms: Traditional Patterns in Japanese Design. The text is written by Seijinsha and Kano Hiroyuki, and its presentation designed by Tsumura Shoji and Yamamoto Masako. The art in the book includes paintings, textiles, ukiyo-e, lacquer ware, ceramics, craft, personal ornaments, photo works, and texts, the delicate art of “Sakura.” “No flower resonates with the Japanese sense of beauty as powerfully as the cherry blossom.” Perhaps, it was more than just a “gift of friendship” by the Japanese people to the American people when cherry trees were planted in Washington D.C. in 1912. In a sense, it can also be seen as a gift of art and culture, where the exalted flowering cherry tree or “sakura” has become a potent artistic symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes transformations. Reviewed by Dominique James The Graphic Eye: Photographs by Graphic Designers from Around the Globe By Stefan G. Bucher Chronicle Books, $35.00, 236 pages This book could hardly be called high art, but rather a collection of everyday scenes and observations from a group of graphic designers who simply love taking photos. Covering the everyday mundane to the intangible fleeting moment, the images contained within are as varied and diverse as the people who pressed the shutter. The premise of the book is simple. The author asked 120 top graphic artists to submit favorite images from their private stash of photographs. And since graphic artists are already trained to compose and arrange graphic elements–the impact of the submitted images were often compelling
and visually exciting. The result is a stunning collection of random images–covering everything from the organic to the contrived. The Graphic Eye can certainly benefit anyone who wishes to walk into a scene and isolate elements into a perfect image. The book reminds us that once in awhile, we just need to change our perspective to find the beauty in things. Reviewed by Auey Santos Read Me By Dwight Garner Ecco, $26.99, 288 pages Do you love to read? Do you love books? And do you know why? You may not realize it, or you may not even want to admit it, but part of the reason why you love to read and why you love books is because of the ads that promoted them. Publishers have put out ads, buying spaces and created eyecatching layouts in order to convince you to part with your hard-earned money. In a book all its own, Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements, Dwight Garner assembled more than 300 vintage book ad illustrations. Surveying these book ads of yore--10 decades, beginning in the 1900s--from Rudyard Kipling’s Kim to Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, you’ll discover how an entire book industry managed to gang up on you in order to keep you reading. But more than simply a sales tool, Garner’s compilation, a hundred-year showcase of how publishers encouraged you, plodded you, pleaded with you, motivated you, threatened you, scared you, sweet-talked you—all for the purpose of making you buy a book, has turned into a collection of important and lasting literary documents. Reviewed by Dominique James Mario de Janeiro Testino By Mario Testino Taschen, $39.99, 200 pages Brazil has always been in the news for a number its qualities, one of which is its unabashed sexuality. Just listen to a friend who has been to Rio, or thumb through Mario Testino’s Mario De Janeiro Testino, and all of this is instantly confirmed. In fact, because of the oozing sensuality you’ll see and “experience” in Testino’s book, you might even be inspired to want to go down there yourself.
While many have been inspired by Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro--Paul Gauguin and Cole Porter among them--this city is not without its detractors. And yet, there is much beauty to be photographed, if only one knows where to point the camera. In this case, Testino does more than what the others have done. With his pictures, he has captured the city’s essential inner being. How did he do it? And what made him able to take such effervescent pictures of Rio de Janeiro? Testino isn’t exactly a visitor. He had become a “carioca” long before he became the worldwide celebrity photographer that he is now. As Caetano Veloso says in the forward: “The impression left by Mario’s photographs of Rio is that of a complex, rich and multilayered love, overflowing with intimacy and the lucidity of dreams brought to life.” Reviewed by Dominique James A Year in Fashion: A Look a Day By Pascal Morche Prestel Publishers, $29.95, 740 pages Pascal Morche, a freelance art and culture journalist living in Munich, has presented a century of the best fashion, which will certainly appeal to any fashionista. This book features fashion icons and images brilliantly presented in 365 spreads – one for each day of the year. Included are photos of designers and their creations, top models and movie stars. The full-page descriptions include fascinating fashion trivia in this book, which quality makes it suitable for a well-dressed desk or a coffee table. In this outstanding volume, Mr. Morche provides glimpses of the fashion world, analyzing the wardrobe of each fashion generation. Each of these illustrations in this book, from the first sketch to the ultimate creation, enables any fashionista to reflect on one’s eternal longing for beauty as well as the limits of what is wearable. A Year in Fashion allows one to see the contrasts day to day as one pokes around in these many days of wardrobes. Lively presentation is made between haute couture and ready-to-wear, daring high heels, glamorous eveningwear, not to exclude the superficial and the profound. This brilliant study is a welcome addition to the growing number of books being published on fashion. Reviewed by Claude Ury
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Mar 10 S E C T I O N
Science Fiction & Fantasy Sequential Art The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms By N.K. Jemisin Orbit, $13.99, 432 pages Gods in thrall to mortals. A savage brought to court. A contest of royal succession. These are just thee flavors in N.K. Jeminsin’s lush, impressive debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Yeine, a distant relative of the Arameri ruler, is called from her home of Darre to play a part in her grandfather Dekarta’s game to determine who will be his heir. The two potential successors against whom Yeine is pitted are her cousins, brother and sister Scimina and Relad. While she is beset by the plotting of her relatives, she has more interest in finding out who murdered her mother a month before she was called to Armeri. Jemisin’s novel is told in Yeine’s voice – she tells us what it is like to be looked down upon by the elite of Arameri and conversely, revered by the gods. Her two closest confidants are T’Vril, who amounts to a royal servant and Nahadoth – the Darklord and god of the night and Sieh – the eldest and trickster god. Her encounters with Nahadoth often straddle a tenuous line between life and death. Sensual could easily describe Jemisin’s writing and because Yeine tells us her story. Though the novel deals with high-minded themes like succession, gods, and creation myths, Jemisin inhabits a wholly intimate feel throughout the novel and in the character of Yeine. The structure of the novel helps to punctuate the emotion and suggestiveness. Yeine will tell a captivating and intense sequence only to break away like a strongly inhaled breath to remind both herself and the reader of something about the gods or herself, before launching into the narrative once again. I found this to be an extremely compelling and effective way to convey the dichotomy of Yeine, who was the young girl experiencing the story and Yeine the older woman who is reflecting on her own story. The backstory of the gods resonates with mythic power, both recognizable and fresh. One recent novel I was reminded of, in terms of gods amongst humans in a lush city, is Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker. Jemisin crafted a beguiling novel both personal and epic, raw with emotion and refined with power. A wondrous debut, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms ends with satisfying closure and a tantalizing hint of a continuing story. Reviewed by Rob Bedford
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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY & SEQUEN T I A L A RT SEC T ION State of Decay By James Knapp Roc, $7.99, 384 pages Nico Wachalowski is an FBI agent who is a first-tier citizen that has gained his status by both his military service and his continued work for the government. While investigating a sex ring which involves revivors (reanimated dead, a type of zombie), Nico stumbles across a much larger conspiracy and discovers that military grade revivors are being smuggled into the country. In State of Decay becoming a zombie is voluntary and a frequent means for a person to move up in caste. Legal revivors are generally used as soldiers, but their use is controversial and they are kept away from general populace. But someone is smuggling illegal revivors and using them commit a bizarre series of murders. There are many strong points to Knapp’s story, the best being his re-imagining of the zombie tale. It’s not hard to envision a society where the dead could be brought back to life to use as cannon fodder. The ethical dilemmas could be pushed aside as long as someone is willing to exchange their body for higher status in a caste-oriented society. Some plot points are rushed at the end, but overall, this is a very unique and excellently plotted debut. Reviewed by Theresa Lucas Firespell By Chloe Neill Signet, $6.99, 256 pages Sixteen-year old Lily Parker has just been uprooted from her New York home and sent to a hoity-toity all-girls boarding school for the rich and over-privileged in Chicago while her professor parents go on sabbatical in Germany. Though Lily is unenthused about her new home, she quickly gets used to life in St. Sophia’s – becoming best friends with roommate Scout, and avoiding the “Brat Pack” (mean girls the caliber of the Plastics). But soon, Lily’s world is rocked when she learns that there’s much more at stake than popularity or bitchy classmates – there’s magic in the world, and even possibly in Lily herself. Firespell is yet another addition to the popular “paranormal activity in a boarding school,” young adult, urban fantasy subgenre. Although these books seem like they are a dime-a-dozen, Firespell separates itself from the pack by virtue of its strong characters, compelling universe, and excellent
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plotting. Although the dichotomy between “good” and “evil” is rather basic, Ms. Neill’s excellent writing is more than enough to make up for thematic simplicity. Firespell’s pages fly by, and will leave readers eagerly counting down the days until the next book in the series. Very highly recommended for readers of all ages. Reviewed by Thea James
ish Lord trying to bring a socialistic society to the great apes of deep Africa and “Safari 2103 AD,” where big game in Africa is a three-pound ground squirrel. While all of these stories have been previously published, having them all together and in a nice hardcover collection makes this something for Mike Resnick fans to seriously consider.
The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition By Ray Bradbury Subterranean Press, $300.00, 744 pages The year is 1999, and humans are leaving Earth behind and headed to colonize the red planet, Mars. The ensuing journey, and drama on the planet once that journey is complete, lasts 27 years and is filled with a variety of people, events, highs, lows, and spectacular glimpses into human nature. From our curiosity, manifested in exploration, expansion, and discovery, to our tenacity and hope, to our ever-present capability for senseless violence and unforgivable cruelty, The Martian Chronicles shows and tells classic stories of humanity, similar to those that have shown up and been passed down in literature and oral tradition for centuries. It is a showcase that, even on Mars, we, as a species, are who we are, and will be who we always have been, in all of the glory and shame that that implies. Widely considered to Ray Bradbury’s best works, The Martian Chronicles, is now collected in Subterranean Press’s limited deluxe hardcover edition The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition. Included are not only more than fifty “episodes” of the Martian Chronicles, but also additional reading, such as screenplays and essays by Bradbury. Bound together in the pristine deluxe hardcover format, The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition is an unprecedented collector’s edition of Bradbury’s work. Reviewed by Jordan
Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle By Peter S. Beagle Subterranean Press, $40.00, 456 pages Mirror Kingdoms is a career-spanning retrospective collection of eighteen stories from Peter S. Beagle. The oldest story in this anthology, Come Lady Death, was published in 1963, while the newestThe Tale of Junko and Sayuri, was published in 2008. There are some true classic stories in Mirror Kingdoms and Beagle’s recent flourishing of short fiction is just as strong as the work he did decades ago. Recent stories such as The Last and Only and Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel can stand next to Beagle’s classics Lila the Werewolfand Julie’s Unicornand nobody would blink. Here, we have touching and quietly thrilling stories that demonstrate just why Beagle is as revered as he is. Mirror Kingdoms is the collection of a short fiction master and truly deserves to be considered a “Best Of” collection. Mirror Kingdoms is a must read collection for fans of Beagle and for those who have not yet discovered his excellence. Reviewed by Joe Sherry
Dreamwish Beasts and Snarks By Mike Resnick Golden Gryphon, $24.95, 278 pages One of the themes Mike Resnick has often explored in his writing is the safari, both futuristic and fanciful. Dreamwish Beasts and Snarks is a collection of several of his best, in a nice dust-jacketed hardcover. The title story, “Hunting the Snark,” was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards and pays homage to Lewis Carroll’s poem of the same name. There is a short excerpt from his Stalking the Vampire series, a Tarzan-esque tale of a deadbeat Brit-
Cat’s Claw By Amber Benson Ace, $7.99, 311 pages Being Death’s daughter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Calliope Reaper-Jones barely balances a hectic “regular” life with her renewed familial responsibilities. (Dealing with the supernatural is hell on new outfits.) Strange people (and creatures) are visiting her apartment uninvited. The guy who died saving her last time might still be alive. And now Cerberus, the three-headed hound from Hell, wants Calliope to honor her debt to him. All she has to do is track down a soul who has been missing for a few thousand years. In under twenty-four hours. Cat’s Claw is great fun, with different mythologies intertwined like spaghetti noo-
dles in a rich bundle of characterization. The story is fast-paced and enjoyable, happy to twist and turn, leaving the reader as pleasantly overwhelmed as Calliope herself. I admit, the chick lit-speak grated on my nerves a little at first, but Calliope’s detailed and colorful world more than made up for it. Once the plot was rolling, the story flowed like fine wine, dropping in new history and exposition on previous events with ease. Benson is quickly solidifying her rightful place on the bookshelves, and her next effort will be more than welcome. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth By Karen Miller LucasBooks, $15.00, 414 pages The Clone Wars rage onward, threatening to engulf the entire galaxy. After a hellacious battle on the planet Kothlis, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are given a short furlough on Coruscant to recover from months of constant conflict. But when a loyal senator uncovers a curious plot on a far-flung planet, the two Jedi must cut their break short and go undercover to unravel the mystery. Without support, deep in enemy territory, exhausted and stressed, it will take everything they have just to survive, let alone succeed. I’m a huge fan of any Star Wars novel that gives us a glimpse behind the veil of ObiWan Kenobi--they’re few and far between-and Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth delivers. It captures the fatigue and permeating hopelessness of war, casting action heroes in the unfamiliar shadow of defeatism and insecurity. (A monstrous cliffhanger of an ending admirably serves to further heighten this tension.) Unfortunately, it suffers somewhat from a lack of key exposition. There are numerous fleeting references to earlier events (presumably from another novel by the author), but without proper explanation, they hinder the narrative more than they provide depth to the characters. In the end, Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth engages the reader, but feels incomplete. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas The Taborin Scale By Lucius Shepard Subterranean Press, $35.00, 104 pages The Taborin Scale is a new “Dragon Griaule” novella from Lucius Shepard. The Griaule stories stretch back to 1984 and in some way feature Griaule, a dragon so large and so long immobile that a city, Teocinte,
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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY & SEQUEN T I A L A RT SEC T ION has been built around it. The Taborin Scale is set sometime after Griaule has been presumed dead (from “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule”), though the dragon takes so long between breaths it is difficult to say for sure if and when it expired. A self-centered man living in Teocinte happens to have one of Griaule’s scales. The scale somehow transports George Taborin and Sylvia, a prostitute, to a time or place where Griaule is much smaller and much more active. The bulk of the novella is set in that other place, presumably in the past, though perhaps not. This is Shepard at the top of his game. The Taborin Scale is beautifully written and the storytelling is compelling enough that the two unlikeable lead character do nothing to detract from the story. The hows and the whys of what happens is left intentionally vague, though George has his theories, but neither how nor why matters. It is the journey that Shepard takes the reader on that is truly important and it is where Shepard shines. The Taborin Scale is yet another example of why Lucius Shepard is one of the best short fiction writers working today. Reviewed by Joe Sherry Necrophenia By Robert Rankin Gollancz, $9.95, 410 pages All Tyler wanted was to be a world famous rock star or a private eye, but neither dream seemed destined to succeed. His band, The Sumerian Kynges, was derailed by a baffling circumstance and his career imitating Lazlo Woodbine was cut short by the fact that he wasn’t Lazlo Woodbine. And what should be the simple story of a band’s brief rise and fall is complicated somewhat by zombies, ukuleles, the true lineage of Elvis Presley, the map to a lost city, and an impending apocalypse. Necrophenia is the latest bit of chaotic creativity from the mind of Robert Rankin, and it is jampacked with ridiculousness. Lavishly detailed and populated by a cavalcade of weirdos and ne’er-do-wells, it is part homage to the detective genre, part “behind the music” for a band that could have been (and probably was), part coming of age tale, and wholly bizarre. While the pace of the book can feel pokey at points, the numerous tangents being especially grating on the nerves, the sheer strangeness of Tyler’s journey through time, space, and alternate history will keep you turning the pages. Necrophenia is hardly perfect, but it’s definitely unique. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
Mr. Shivers By Robert Jackson Bennett Orbit, $19.99, 327 pages In Mr. Shivers, Robert Jackson Bennett combines Depression-era realism and the supernatural in an unlikely mix of genres that somehow works. The plot of Mr. Shivers focuses on Marcus Connelly whose life has been torn apart because of the murder of his daughter by a serial killer dubbed Mr. Shivers. Connelly tracks Mr. Shivers from town to town across the Midwest. Along the way he encounters rag tag groups of people heading westward to find work and escape the harsh realities of the Great Depression. He joins up with a small group of men led by Pike, a former preacher. Each of these men also suffered great pain and loss at the hand of Mr. Shivers, and will stop at nothing, including gruesome violence, to hunt him down and kill him. As they come ever closer to their quarry, it gradually becomes clear to Connelly and his companions that Mr. Shivers is much more than he appears to be and the consequences of killing him are almost unimaginable. Bennet poignantly captures the desperation of common people trying to survive the brutal economic times in which they lived. With Mr. Shivers, Bennet strives for more than a supernatural horror story, and he absolutely succeeds. Reviewed by Doug Robins First Lord’s Fury By Jim Butcher Ace, $25.95, 465 pages The world is rapidly succumbing to the Vord menace. In the land of Alera, the invincible First Lord and his entire capital city have already fallen and the survivors are fleeing to the few remaining refuges against the alien scourge. What hope that remains rests largely with Tavi, the man who not too long ago was a nervous little freak inexplicably born without even the most basic magical prowess practiced widely throughout this once great kingdom. If humanity is to survive they will need more than a few miracles of cunning, more than a couple unprecidented alliances, and a lot more than can be offered by the conniving, power-hungry politicians that remain at the head of the dwindling population. Those familiar with the work of Jim Butcher should be familiar with his breath-catching knack for hurling his characters into the
abyss and finding the most compelling way for them to crawl back out. Here, in the final book of his long running Codex Alera series, he outdoes every standard he has yet set and pits one of his finest characters against a height of disaster and hopelessness rarely found in a book of this quality. First Lord’s Fury will not disappoint. Reviewed by Micah Kolding Muse and Reverie By Charles de Lint Tor, $25.99, 352 pages Charles de Lint’s fifth collection of short stories that take place in and around his fictional American city of Newford, Muse and Reverie, succeeds in delivering the fantastical realism that de Lint is known for. Muse and Reverie’s thirteen tales are all wonderful little windows into the seemingly more real world de Lint has created in Newford, despite the fact that his is populated not only by humans, but goblins, fairies, trolls, and magic. From the opening story, Somewhere In My Mind There is a Painting Box, to the last one, The World In A Box, de Lint delivers, again and again, fascinating real people who find themselves existing in both our world and the world intimately familiar to us through folk and fairy tales. More than just simply creating a fantastical world much like our own de Lint’s stories offer his characters redemption from their pasts and his readers catharsis for their own regrets in a language that is simple, yet compelling. Fans of de Lint will have already picked this book up but readers new to his work or to fantasy will find in Muse and Reverie a wonderful introductory text. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard Starbound By Joe Haldeman Ace, $24.95, 292 Pages Starbound, the second of a trilogy, is the desperate human attempt to confront a race of aliens called Other set in a distant world--the Other having nearly destroyed Earth in the first book. After a 6 ½ year trek across the cosmos, the humans return home to find that they have emerged 50 years in the future. This book is the foundation for building the human arsenal which will combat the omnipotent Other. This book is written in the spirit of oldfashion science fiction, except that the plot is a little stilted. The novel, aside from suffering weak characterization, is broken up in an odd way, making it rather try-
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ing to keep up with the timeline. The pace however does move the story along and the reader feels rewarded with a fresh perspective on the bigger picture. Joe Haldeman shows promise as a top science fiction writer even though Starbound is not his best. Since this book does entertain, what it lacks in depth is made up for with pace. While it struggles to make the 100 best list, I do recommend it as a fast read. Reviewed by Dave Broughton The Adamantine Palace By Stephen Deas Roc, $24.95, 384 pages Far from being the romantic creatures of fantasy, the dragons that inhabit Stephen Deas’s debut are implacable nightmares held barely in check by the alchemists who keep them under control. Due to the vicious scheming among the rulers of the Realms, a dragon has escaped her masters and sets out on a single-minded path of vengeance against her captors. But the danger to the Realms goes largely unnoticed as Prince Jehal and his mother-in-law, Queen Shezira, plot to become the Speaker of the Realms. The Adamantine Palace is a fast-paced, violent fantasy that captivates despite its circular nature. There are no heroes in Deas’s tale of conniving royals and unfeeling dragons. There are an abundance of characters; each one jockeying for advantage and willing to betray anyone to reach their goals. Deas relies on action rather than world-building to move the story along and some characters aren’t much more than stereotypes. But The Adamantine Palace pulls the reader along nonetheless. The dragons are frighteningly compelling and the desire to see how all the political machinations play out make Deas’s debut a page-turner. Reviewed by Theresa Lucas Total Oblivion By Alan Deniro Spectra, $15.00, 320 pages The world has changed in the last year or so. Macy Palmer has gone from being a typical bored teenager with a dysfunctional family to a refugee in the post apocalyptic world she now inhabits. On the run with her family they search for safety and some sense of normalcy. Macy faces roaming warriors and mercenaries, a new Empire, a close encounter with the plague, and the personal metamorphosis of her own family. Macy’s life will never be the same, but she just might be able to get used to it.
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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY & SEQUEN T I A L A RT SEC T ION DeNiro’s first novel is intriguing and fun, a wild ride down the river and beyond into this exotic and medieval world he has created. The ever-changing landscape, no longer conforming to traditional laws of nature, is vivid and surprisingly believable. As a character Macy is level-headed, considering her circumstances and the people surrounding her, but she is not an entirely sympathetic character. Her faults may not be as obvious as those of her unruly siblings, but ultimately she turns out to be a strong female heroine, if an unlikely one. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Jack: Secret Circles By F. Paul Wilson Tor, $15.99, 288 pages In the first of the young adult trilogy, Jack: Secret Histories, Jack and Weezy discovered a very unusual secret pyramid in the Pine Barrens. And now, Repairman Jack is back in Jack: Secret Circles, where another strange structure has been discovered, once again in the Pine Barrens. But this time, they’re not going to tell anyone about it, as Weezy knows the government is behind it all, or at least has something to do with it. Their friend Eddie thinks it’s more likely the work of the Jersey Devil. And then Jack’s five-year-old neighbor goes missing, even though Jack told him to go home, and he needs to get him back. Finally there’s the guy who comes out of the Pine Barrens, supposedly lost for days, on the run from some big and terrifying monster. Author F. Paul Wilson continues his trilogy of his popular character, Repairman Jack, as a teenager. The story is a combination of the Hardy Boys and The X-Files, with an excitement-infused voice that brings out the adventuresome kid in every reader. Reviewed by Alex Telander Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 By David Peterson Archaia Studio Press, $24.95, 192 pages Mouse Guard is a comic series written and drawn by David Petersen, following the adventures of the Mouse Guard--those rodents tasked to protect the paths and travels between the various mouse villages and cities. Petersen achieved quick acclaim for the series, due, in a large part, to his exquisitely detailed art. The current story line in Winter 1152 follows several members of the Mouse Guard as they try to improve relationships with some of the far flung parts of the Mouse Territories, and a continuing sub-plot from the first collection
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(Fall 1152) regarding conspiracy against the Guard itself. Readers of Red Wall or The Secret of NIMH will enjoy this medieval tale of daring-do staring the brave members of the Mouse Guard. Red: A Haida Manga By Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Illustrator Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95, 108 pages The quest for revenge is a story that has been told through the generations and through many formats. Revenge is something that has fascinated audiences. This story takes it through the perspective of Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest, but yet the themes of revenge are still the same. It follows Red, and his sister, growing up as orphans until raiders strike and they kidnap Red’s sister. Red then grows up to be the leader of the village, but with only one thought and goal on his mind, revenge against the people who took his sister. Red meets with a carpenter who can build bigger and better weapons. What Red does not know is that his sister has married one of the people in her new home, and she now has a son, yet the thought of getting back his sister drives Red forward. The art in this book is very stylized, which at times can make it difficult to follow. If you combine the pages, it forms on big image as well. The story is decently told, and the art is interesting. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection By Don Roff; Chris Lane Chronicle Books, $19.95, 144 pages Dr. Robert Twombly is living a nightmare. A mysterious infection is causing millions to die, only for them to rise as zombies and attack the living. He is one of the survivors, having barricaded himself in his lab with a few others. Food supplies are low. Hope is dwindling. This is his journal. Zombies plunges the readers directly into the action, quickly bringing us up to speed, as well as horrifying us with details both analytical and visceral. Twombly is an admirable narrator, seeking to understand both the infection and its results, a scientist to the last. The illustrations are purposely rough, more to evoke a mood than anything else, and they’re terribly effective. Sadly, we learn very little about who Twombly was before the outbreak, but this is intentional, leaving him a blank slate onto which the reader
can project his or her own fears and experiences. Twombly becomes any of us, trapped in similar circumstances. Zombies follows the fine tradition of other “in the now” works -- like the tremendous World War Z -- and it’s an excellent addition to the genre. It’s real enough to unsettle you, and that makes for a great read. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Cirque Du Freak: The Manga, Vol. 3 By Shan, Darren Yen Press, $10.99, 191 pages Tunnels of Blood is the final installment in the Cirque Du Freak series featuring the half-vampire assistant Darren Shan (yes, the author used his own name for the main character). Still grieving over the tragic death of one of his friends, Darren tries to find meaning in it by staying close to his master -- the vampire Mr. Crepsley -- and his other friend, Evra the snake boy. An old friend of Mr. Crepsley suddenly arrives and seeks his help to resolve a grave matter happening in another city. While in the big city, Darren discovers romantic love and develops a stronger friendship with Evra. His loyalty to Mr. Crepsley, on the other hand, gets shaky, and it might not be long before he ceases to be the vampire’s assistant. Though fantastic in its setting, the story of this sequential art piece is universal and down-to-earth. Illustrations-wise, the panels are rich in lines and shadows but not too busy. Many of these panels can speak for themselves without the grounding of a text. Generally, this is a work satisfactorily suited for readers 12 years and above. Reviewed by Donabel Beltran-Harms Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip By Nevin Martell Continuum, $24.95, 256 pages Nevin Martell’s Looking for Calvin and Hobbes is made of equal parts of solid research and obsessive fanboyism, akin to an unauthorized biography of the “J.D. Salinger of cartoonists.” Publicity-shy Bill Watterson is a difficult yet sympathetic subject. The first chapters make for slow reading, but the rest of the book provides insight into the artistic challenges of cartoonists. The behind-the-scenes look at syndication and licensing sheds light on Watterson’s decision to end his award-winning series. What’s missing most from the book, however, are Calvin
and Hobbes. The lack of illustrations seems absurd. It would have been nice to see the development of Watterson’s work for oneself, and not just have it merely described. This is essential reading for die-hard Calvin and Hobbes fans who want to stalk Watterson. Martell will give you all the reasons why you will never find the man. So instead of attempting something both discourteous and criminal, read this book instead. Reviewed by Rachel Anne Calabia The Chronicles of Arthur: Sword of Fire and Ice By John Matthews; Illustrated by Mike Collins Aladdin, $21.99, 128 pages John Matthews, having published more than a few books on Celtic myths as well as reconstructions of the “historical” King Arthur, for his first foray into graphic novels teams up with artist Mike Collins. The Chronicles of Arthur: Sword of Fire and Ice follows Arthur as a child, living on an idyllic island among the mysterious Nine, as he awaits his mentor Merlin, who appears on occasion to put him through trials. At the same time a terrible shrouded evil, understanding the danger that young Arthur represents, has dedicated itself to murdering him before he can fulfill his destiny. Matthews’s expertise shines through much of this work, adding a fine interesting gloss on the old tale, taking it at times in unexpected directions. Collins’s illustrations, while not as stylized or artistic as I generally prefer, proves well suited to the story, adding to the excitement. In the end, this is a work perhaps best suited to younger readers, who will find kinship in Arthur’s tribulations and challenges. But then again, the story of King Arthur always seems to have a way to bring out the youth in all of us. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
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Biographies & Memoirs Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Journals 1820-1842 By Ralph Waldo Emerson; edited by Lawrence Rosenwald Library of America, $40.00, 913 pages Ralph Waldo Emerson was a prolific eloquent essayist, philosopher, and poet. Readers well familiar with his works remember him for leading the transcendentalist movement in the 19th century, influencing society with the “less is more” way of thinking. Emerson began writing a journal in his late teens. By the time he reached his 30s, he’d made his writings an art form of literary significance and interest. “Could it be made apparent what is really true that the whole future is in the bottom of the heart, that, in proportion as your life is spent within--in that measure are you invulnerable.” This collection of some of Emerson’s best and vital writings from his never-beforepublished Selected Journals 1820-1842 takes the reader through passages on religion, travels abroad to Italy, France, Scotland and England, travels on the sea, and other varied topics. This particular collection of writings, paired with a companion volume Selected Journals 1841-1877 contain what many believe to be Emerson’s most significant biographical and historical works. Emerson often used passages from his journals in lectures and essays, making these works the incubator that led to much of Emerson’s most renowned work. This is deep reading, and due in part to the sheer size of this book, it’s not to be tackled quickly. Emerson’s words are meant to be savored and pondered, and this collection will provide endless hours of reading and delving into what made Emerson such a beloved writer for all times. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original By Robin Kelley Free Press, $30.00, 588 pages You’ve most likely heard the song “Round Midnight,” but you might not know the man behind that song. In Robin D. G. Kelly’s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, you’ll know all about the man and have a higher appreciation of his music.
Often misunderstood, Monk has been described as “mad,” “brooding,” and “childlike.” And with his trademark goatee, dark glasses, and beret--with much about him remaining inscrutable--he has been perceived simply an icon of hipster cool. “The myths surrounding Monk have gotten in the way of the truth, and the truth about his life and music is fascinating and complicated--and no less original or creative than the myth.” After sixteen years in the making, in a first full biography of the jazz legend, Kelly finally uncovers the real story of Thelonious Monk. We are brought back to the tumultuous time in which Monk lived and performed: where he played, who he played with, the songs he wrote. We are given many behind-the-scenes access to the jazz scene: the clubs, their owners, the reporters, the musicians, the festivals. We are allowed access to the man behind the music: as a family man, revelations of mental health issues, complex relationships with friends. Above all, we get to know the gripping saga of an artist’s struggle to “make it” without compromising his musical genius. No detail is spared. Monk’s story, from roots in slavery, to the Great Migration north, to the cultural explosions of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, encapsulates a vivid tableau of twentieth-century American life and music. This biography is, at its best, a fitting tribute to one of America’s most original and lasting creative geniuses. Reviewed by Dominique James A Hundred or More Hidden Things By Mark Griffin Da Capo Press, $15.95, 304 pages He came from a small town in Ohio, but Vincente Minnelli always carried a great big multi-colored world with him wherever he went. Father of superstar Liza Minnelli and director of such hits as Meet Me In St. Louis and Gigi, Vincente (born Lester) Minnelli was a man of few words but seemingly never-ending enthusiasm for the magic of film and theater. “I loved Vincente but he was a difficult man to know … He was a man of mystery; the mystery unfolds in his work in the vivid memories he has given the world for generations to come.” Griffin’s book is a dazzling up-close parade of some of the most beloved movies of all times, all directed by Minnelli. Unfortunately, it’s these very details that hamper
the book. Instead of a portrait of Minnelli, A Hundred or More Hidden Things is more a detailed rendering of the logistics of his movies – who got the lead, offstage backstabbing, production issues – all of these are covered in rich detail. However, there is very little said about Minnelli himself, other than speculation of his rumored homosexuality, and that he was a minimalist communicator whom some actors loved and others hated. Even a tumultuous marriage to Judy Garland barely garners a handful of paragraphs. A great book if you are interested in the man’s movies, but sure to be a disappointment if you’re looking for lifedetails of the great director himself. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach By Meryl Gordon Mariner Books, $14.95, 368 pages Brooke Astor, one of America’s most wealthy and philanthropic class lived a life full of challenges, concessions, and from the photographs in publications like Town and Country and W what appeared to be a fairytale-like existence. Having gracious and highly devoted friends like Annette and Oscar de la Renta only added to the mystique. The recent trade paperback publication of Meryl Gordon’s meticulous hard cover account of Mrs. Astor’s life extends from the very beginning all the way to the end 105 years later. Gordon sought input from the close friends, family and employees who populated her life. Mrs. Astor Regrets is so well written that the reader is easily able to gaze into the homes and gardens where Mrs. Astor lived and feel the presence of the family and friends who surrounded her. Yes, there are some sadly arresting betrayals and huge character flaws revealed, most notably those of Anthony Marshall her eighty-five-yearold only child who was recently sentenced to one to three years in prison for robbing his mother’s estate of millions of dollars. Anthony felt that his allowance was inadequate. All of which confirms that yes, the fabulously wealthy are very very different than the rest of us. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Prison Transformations:The System; the People Inside and Me By Stephen Chinlund Xlibris, $ 19.99, 252 pages Stephen Chinlund is an Episcopal priest and has been working with prisons and inmates for many years, on both sides of the fence. He as been a prison warden and an advocate for inmates and prison reform. The
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thesis he expounds in Prison Transformations is that prisons are a necessary part of society – some people do need to be separated from society for a period of time – and that prisons can be a redemptive place for those inmates who are interested in changing their lives. Chinlund mixes his life history working with prisons, along with stories of the inmates he’s worked with and known, and how prison provided them a chance at a new beginning after release. His arguments that prisons serve a necessary part of society goes against many of his fellow prison reform advocates, and the redemptive quality of prisons disagrees with the popular opinion that prisons only serve as training ground for further criminal activity after release and that, once a person has been arrested or incarcerated, they’ll always be a threat to society. Prison can be the catalyst for change, provided the inmate wants to change, and is given the tools or skills to make those changes (along with the skills to manage their life after release.) Even as people point to the 50%+ recidivism present in most prison systems, the part that is often not noticed is the flip-side to those percentages. Many people go through prison once, learn the necessary lesson(s) they needed, and never go back. Chinlund’s points are well served by looking at those people. Prison doesn’t have to be a waste of an inmate’s life, nor does it have to be a stepping stone to a further life of crime. Sponsored Review Mother California By Kenneth Hartman Atlas & Co, $22.00, 197 pages In February 1980, just out of California’s juvenile prison system, drunk and stoned 19-year-old Kenneth Hartman stomped out and punched a homeless man into unconsciousness in a park outside of Long Beach. He was arrested the following day and began a new era of criminal murder. Mother California is a story of redemption behind bars, and traces Kenneth Hartman’s gradual conversion to a compassionate person—a reforming activist who’s quite ashamed of his crimes. His three decades in prison takes him through a half-dozen institutions and most of the time was spent in solitary confinement. After years in the prison system, Hartman discovers an avoSee MOTHER, page 18
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Romance Back in Black By Lori Foster Berkley, $7.99, 320 pages Long-time fans familiar with the SBC Fighters series (centered around the hunky muscled men of SBC Fighting) will not be disappointed with the return of president Drew Black (Causing Havoc, Simon Says). Drew, foul-mouthed and rough around the edges, is a perfect match to the up-and-coming sport, yet his partners believe he may need just a bit of smoothing. Gillian Noode, a public relations expert, may be just the woman for the job. Sophisticated and refined where Drew is crass and irreverent, the two polar opposites work together to promote the sport Drew holds dear. But not without a little head-butting along the way. While Back in Black starts iceberg slow, readers will be rewarded after just a few chapters with redhot action and unexpected suspense. An action group, Women Against Violent Sports, spearheaded by one especially rabid member, has targeted the SBC and seems intent on bringing the organization and Drew in particular, down. Between the dark, erotic burgeoning relationship between Drew and Gillian and a secondary sweet romance between SBC fighter Brett Bullman and WAV founder Aubrey Porter, Lori Foster has penned yet another winner. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Archangel’s Kiss By Nalini Singh Berkley, $7.99, 352 pages After nearly dying in the process of stopping a crazed, bloodthirsty archangel, vampire hunter Elena Deveraux has been made an angel and she is infused with ambrosia, thanks to Raphael’s (the Archangel of New York) love for her. When Elena wakes from a yearlong healing coma, she discovers she has shed her mortality. Being an immortal, however, does not necessarily mean that Elena cannot be harmed or killed – in fact, she finds herself even more powerless and weak in this new angelic skin than in her position as a hunter. As Elena and Raphael’s relationship deepens and strengthens, Elena faces a myriad threats, as she has become a walking target others can use to hurt Raphael. The most formidable threat, however, is posed by Lijuan, the eldest and most powerful of
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the angels who is far beyond the bounds of morals and scruples. Archangel’s Kiss is another stunning, sexy paranormal title from the undeniably talented Nalini Singh. Fans of Angels’ Blood will not be disappointed in this sequel, as Elena and Raphael’s romance is both steamy and emotionally poignant. As the dangers mount, readers will find themselves hooked and hungry for the next book in the series. Reviewed by Thea James Inked By Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn, Eileen Wilks Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 437 pages Anchored by three New York Times bestselling authors, and one USA Today bestselling author, and tied by the theme of supernatural tattoos, Inked is riveting but very flawed. The standout story belongs to Marjorie M. Liu, whose imagination and starkly lush writing style has become more and more exciting over the years. Her novella is an interlude in her Maxine Kiss series, but is so well written, those unfamiliar with Liu’s work won’t find it difficult to enjoy the tale of loss and betrayal in the heartbreaking landscape of WWII-era Shanghai. The accompanying stories by Karen Chance, Yasmine Galenorn, and Eileen Wilks range in tone from snarky and silly, to complicated and interesting, to gritty supernatural procedural, respectively. Of the three, Chance’s tale is the weakest, with a sarcastic heroine whose attitude is less hard-edged and more annoying, and a supernatural world which is introduced in a clunky, awkward manner. Galenorn’s novella is a mix of paranormal and fantasy, and though her heroine has been seen many a time in urban fantasy, Galenorn’s strength lies in creating strong, explosive chemistry between her protagonists. Wilks’ story is straight procedural romantic suspense. It is gritty and edgy, and the supernatural world she has created is woven so deeply into the real world, it feels as though it is the real world. Lily Yu, her heroine, is fascinating, and her relationship with lupi Rule is romantic and realistic. In conclusion, Inked is a strong anthology, and a nice introduction to unfamiliar writers. Reviewed by Angela Tate Double the Heat By Lori Foster and Deirdre Martin Berkley Sensation, $15.00, 352 pages Well-known bestselling authors Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Elizabeth Bevarly and Christie Ridgway band together in this latest anthology of four contemporary roman-
tic novellas centered around finding love where you least expect it. After a no-strings one night stand, in “Hart and Soul” Hart Winston finds himself on the doorstep of Lisa Vogle, alternately intrigued and worried as to why she’s so anxious to contact him. In “Breaking the Ice” long-time Martin fans will be very excited as she serves up another winner in the hot and steamy romance between Russian hockey player Sebastian Ivanov and fashion student Lennie Buckley. New to New York, they explore the city and each other. In “Double Booked” Amanda Bingham and Max Callahan are two acquaintances booked into the same condo during their vacation. Max is determined to cure Amanda of her workaholic ways and introduce her to the wild side. In “Original Zin” John Henry Hudson, under doctor’s orders to relax, is willing to put his boring, overworked life on hold to get to know the beautiful blonde, blue-eyed limo driver Zinnia Friday. Zin, a Napa native, has no time for romance. Her sole goal is to work her way up and as far from her past as she possibly can.
Double the Heat serves up light-hearted romance with a delightful spin. While the leading story by Lori Foster is lackluster at best, the following three more than make up for the bland beginning. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley SEX, cont’d from page 6 Claire has compiled a collection of steamy tips, exercises and wild, wicked readings that will inspire a sensuality, a way of thinking, a way of living, building a daily habit, that could change your love life. Each entry offers up some poetry or inspiring quote, and a brief but appealing post with captivating, arousing ideas for boosting the level of heat in anyone’s intimate life. Written from the female perspective for the female reader, St. Claire doesn’t leave out the guys, and each entry elaborates on ways fellas can get involved, and the fringe benefits of doing so! St. Claire has been creative with the weekly chapter titles and individual entries, with such delights as: “Lust around the world,” and “Dressing for Sex-Cess.”These entries promise all kinds of fun! Whether you consult the pages every day, skip a few now and then, or dip in at your sexy whim, you will discover a more passionate life. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin
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Popular Fiction Flaherty’s Crossing By Kaylin McFarren Champagne Books, $6.00, 235 pages Kate Flaherty doesn’t want to visit her estranged father on his deathbed. She has enough problems in her marriage right now not to want to add him back into her life. But as a dutiful daughter, she returns to him, bring with her the memories of her mother, killed in a car accident years before. The memories she has of her father are dispelled by the reality of his cancer-wasted body and the morphine-induced delirium. As she comes to terms with his pending demise, he lets slip a devastating confession about her mother’s death, driving Kate into the night, and has her own accident. Seeking refuge in a late-night diner leads to her own confessional conversation with the employee closing for the night. Flaherty’s Crossing goes beyond Kate’s coming to terms with her father and her memories of him, and the obvious couple with relationship problems finding that
they still love each other after all. McFarren not only realistically presents Kate’s emotional roller-coaster, but also gets into Kate’s husband’s head, presenting male emotions within a troubled relationship. A well-written book, dealing with difficult issues of love, loss, healing, and faith, and never slipping into maudlin territory. A great debut novel. Currently available as an ebook download and a physical book in April 2010. Sponsored Review Unfinished Desires By Gail Godwin Random House, $26.00, 396 pages Unfinished Desires is a beautiful, intriguing novel that revolves around several generations of students and nuns at Mount Saint Gabriel’s, a Catholic boarding school for girls, housed in a former mountain resort in North Carolina. The school closes in 1990, and by 2001, school alumni have convinced Mother Suzanne Ravenel, longtime Mount Saint Gabriel’s headmistress
and former student, to write a memoir of the school’s rich history. Mother Ravenel, now a blind, elderly woman living in a retirement home for nuns, agrees to tape-record decades of her Mount Saint Gabriel’s memories, even though it means she will have to face her own senior year at the school in 1934, where events were set in motion that indirectly culminate in a sinister tragedy one terrible night in 1952. In Unfinished Desires, author Gail Godwin, a three-time National Book Award finalist, uses dozens of fully developed characters--including an entire class of 9th grade girls--to weave a terrifically complex world of subtleties. The story itself is told through transcripts of Mother Ravenel’s tapes, as well as the perspectives of core of characters involved in the tragedy, all of whom are delightfully cross-connected through family, marriages, and current and past classes at Mount Saint Gabriel’s. Reviewed by Megan Just Dragon Phoenix Blog By Big Dipper, Vanna, and Meng Qi Global Sea Enterprises, $18.00, 418 pages Dragon Phoenix Blog is a multi-author novel written by three Hong Kong writers. Together, they have crafted a tale of two
See DRAGON, page 19
Modern Literature Three Days Before The Shooting By Ralph Ellison Modern Library, $50.00, 1101 pages The great American novel is the white whale for American writers. In his uncompleted second book, Three Days Before the Shooting, Ralph Ellison personifies the quest for the great American novel and how difficult it can be. After the success of his first novel, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison spent the next forty years trying to complete his second novel, the so-called “Oklahoma novel.” What we have instead are basically two stories which, when combined together, are a novel almost in its completed form. The story revolves around the shooting of a white racist senator in Washington, by a black man in gallery. From there, the book shows how the senator became so racist by dipping into the past when he was known as Bliss and was being raised by the Reverend Hickman in the South. With Hickman at his bedside, the senator relives his memories of his time with Hickman before he ran away and finally became the racist senator.
The second plot in the collection follows a white reporter as he waits in the hospital near the senator for word about the senator’s condition, wondering why the senator would want Hickman at his side. It is a story of the consciousness of race in America and the impact it can have on the psyche of the nation. Combine these two stories and you get Ellison’s masterpiece. The editors have done a wonderful job of putting this together from the fragments that Ellison has left over the decades. After the two stories, you get into the mind of Ellison’s thinking, the editors present fragments of scenes that did not make it into the rest of the main story; as well as individual scenes rewritten two to three times. Some of the differences are minor and others are major. Even though Ellison had difficulty finishing the book and left it unfinished, it might be better that way. The story is left up to the reader in how it will end. The writing is like listening to jazz, with stops and starts, long solos and wild percussion. The language is varied between people and even between scenes. You go from the deep South, to the far north. It is a work that goes across generations and cultures. Yet, at its core, it is looking for what America truly is, and it never did quite got there, which is why Ellison left it unfinished. This
young men, descendants of two of the wisest men in Chinese history, that were also the human forms of two stars, brought to earth to help the poor. The two main characters are named Dragon and Phoenix, and they are brought together in the aftermath of a tsunami while helping the victims, and both then move one as students at one of the worst performing schools in Hong Kong, where they help transform it into one of the best. From there, they end up trying to recover three ancient Chinese treasures, competing with the US government, a shadowy Japanese group, and mysterious force that doesn’t want them to succeed. Using three authors for the story both allows for different styles throughout the book, each usually fitting the mood and scene. There are occasionally changes that don’t flow as well, but, overall, the style works well. The story is an uplifting, optimistic story of how people with positive attitudes and a willingness to help can make a change in other people’s lives and their
is why Ellison is such a great writer, not just because he published Invisible Man, but because he made something greater than that with this book. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Gorgeous East: A Novel By Robert Girardi St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 334 pages Long thought to be a thing of the past, the French Foreign Legion comes alive and current in this new novel by Robert Girardi. Gorgeous East, on the surface, is the story of the Legion’s efforts to save its soldiers taken as hostages by the people of the non-selfgoverning territory of the Western Sahara -- a group of beheading fanatics which brings with them the terror of stinging bee colonies. But as this reviewer finds out, this story is really about the soldiers trying to save themselves from the Foreign Legion itself. True, the Legion started as an escape outlet, returning to them identities they have lost. But with the promise of a better future, each soldier feels the need to invest more of himself … to the detriment of actu-
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ally experiencing the present that’s in front of him. Unpredictable and volatile, the plot is a real page-turner. The characterization is superb, with each of the major and minor characters given distinct memorable qualities. Best of all, the locations are effectively rendered in words that they become sensory, mentally and emotionally indelible. After reading this work, you might find yourself researching about the French Legion and its work. Reviewed by D. Harms
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Poetry & Short Stories Nothing Between Us By Wendy Barker Del Sol Press, $14.95, 89 pages The speaker of Wendy Barker’s new book, Nothing Between Us, is a young, white English teacher. She works at an alternative school in 1960’s Berkeley, where many of the students are already involved in crime or prostitution. Her husband, a musician named Greg, is kind, yet detached, preferring to disappear into his symphonies and LP’s. As the free love ethic of the counter culture takes hold in the Bay Area, the speaker finds herself falling in love with Ty, the handsome, black High School coach. What follows is a love story as sensual, vibrant, and conflicted as the Sixties.
You will meet a man who loses what he needs in search of what he thinks he wants; a pastor who is shunned by those he preaches forgiveness to; and a man with a new set of eyes. Riske’s stories reveal impulses and happiness, the search of and, sometimes, the consequences following. You will experience all of it through a keyhole, unnoticed, but aching all the same for these that live it.
“Color, even in rain. Tie-dye, paisley, fringes. Afros, naturals. His hovering at my classroom door, racket brushing his leg.”
The Stranger Manual: Poems By Catie Rosemurgy Graywolf Press, $15.00, 94 pages The Stranger Manual, Catie Rosemurgy’s second book of poems, will make you smile. Most of us think of poems as solemn things, written to convey urgent messages to mankind; we open a book of poems and expect to weep. Thus, it was a delight for me to read Rosemurgy’s book and catch myself laughing. The imaginative poet can assume difference voices, create places and people, and still speak to a collective human experience. Rosemurgy does all this by giving us the convoluted but never quite nonsensical narratives of Miss Peach, a character whose complexity is doubled by her elusive physicality. Miss Peach may be hard to categorize, but this doesn’t stop her from speaking. In fact, it is her fluidity that gives her freedom. But she is who she is: an American and never quite free! Full of wit, honesty, and humor, Rosemurgy’s poems provide a soft critique of the paradox of American culture: the liberty, the countless options, and the being simultaneously trapped in materialism, individuality, and the pursuit of youthful beauty. The Stranger Manual will make you question who you are, how you speak, and what you do, but mostly, it will make you laugh out loud. Reviewed by Viola Allo
Nothing Between Us, a novel in verse, is both innovative and captivating. Barker constructs the story through a series of linked prose poems, each an encapsulation of the strife and confusion the speaker feels about her affair. Of course, the story is marked by the cultural icons of the time: VW Beetles, macramé, marijuana, granola. But rather than indulge in nostalgia, Barker delivers a refreshingly honest view of the Sixties. In Barker’s capable hands, these well-known icons become fresh new metaphors with which this wonderful poet captures the ridiculous, the terrifying, and the beautiful of that strange, heady decade. Reviewed by Katie Cappello Precarious: Stories of Love, Sex, and Misunderstanding By Al Riske Luminis Books, $16.95, 242 pages A dwelling teetering on the lip between dark and light, resignation and defiance, brokenness and unity; the short story, a world of possibilities within the confines of so few pages, and to capture them is to watch lightning bugs bump into the walls of a jar. What will the characters make of it? How will they get out? Al Riske has taken this form and made light in his collection Precarious, not that he has made light of his characters, though. He has given them voices of volume, of life. Each story carries weight of its own, leading to the common denominator that we are all flawed.
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“The trouble with ice is that you can’t really see it.” Riske uses words to bring us closer to the glow in the jar. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez
Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty: Poems By Tony Hoagland Graywolf Press, $15.00, 85 pages Tony Hoagland is known for his wry humor and satiric style, which made instant classics of his previous volumes of poetry, What Narcissism Means to Me and Donkey Gospel. In his new book of poetry, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty,
Hoagland seeks to capture that same magic, but falls a little short. “If you want to talk about America, why not just mention / Jimmy’s Wok and Roll American-Chinese Gourmet Emporium?” His well-known humor is certainly present in poems which compare human mating rituals to those of animals, examine the psychology of Britney Spears, and suggest that America’s essence can be found in a mall food court. His writing showcases a post-modern and selfreferential bent; poems about poems, or about writing, abound and are sometimes t hought-provok ing yet just as likely annoyingly clever. Hoagland unfortunately has the tendency to get in his own way. He is so skillful in crafting the sound bite or clever turn of phrase that the poems are often unable to reach that deeper level of thought or feeling which can be so powerful. While the poems are often laugh-outloud funny, they leave readers hungry for more substance. Reviewed by Katie Cappello Day Out of Days: Stories By Sam Shepard Knopf, $25.95, 282 pages Imagine discovering the lost notebook of America’s greatest living playwright and being able to plumb the depths of his unique imagination. This is what you feel reading Sam Shepard’s Day Out of Days, a work of staggering genius. On the side of a highway, a man encounters a severed head that begs him for a final rest. A traveler trapped overnight in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant must endure Shania Twain playing in an endless loop. In a roadside motel, a lonely actor encounters a long lost love whom he only just remembers. Some stories go on for a few pages, others are only a paragraph. Some are dialogues, a few are monologues, there is even an occasional poem. Still, all the stories carry threads of common themes: travel, self-discovery, and the burdensome weight of the past. Through it all, Shephard transports his reader along on a highway through his life and mind. Overall, Day Out of Days is such an amazing trip that you’ll be sad when you turn the final page. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
We Don’t Know We Don’t Know By Nick Lantz Graywolf Press, $15.00, 96 pages Has any other recent writer compared modern political speeches with those of first century philosophers? If not, then Nick Lantz is the first with his book of poems We Don’t Know We Don’t Know. Lantz takes excerpts of Donald Rumsfeld’s discourse and the writings of Pliny the Elder to build powerful expressions on humans ability to know and not know. Readers will be pulled into the mind of an interrogator in “Will There Be More Than One ‘Questioner”?,” back to Adam’s naming of the animals in “[ ]” and the recognition of the unknowing in “‘Of the Parrat and other birds that can speake’.” Lantz’ imaginative writing is able to describe our ability the “know” when we, ourselves, are unable to even begin describing such a thing to another. Mostly, Lantz allows for the readers imagination to work with blacked out words, long empty brackets, and relating opposite imagery. His structural usage helps to hold together the complex imagery and thoughts as readers slowly take in each poem. Nick Lantz will gain quite a n audience with We Don’t Know We Don’t Know and will have people talking for many years. Reviewed by Robyn Oxborrow EASY, cont’d from page 1 the back roads in “Drive Like a Lady Blues.” Ponsot reveals her belief in the exquisite potency of language through a child’s first words in “Language Acquisition.” These are just a few examples of Ponsot’s vision. For both its form and content, Easy is a delight for the reader. Reviewed by Annie Peters
MOTHER, cont’d from page 15 cation for writing and the meeting through a cell phone of his future wife and her child. One is taken on a journey through the anarchy and moral code that rules in some prisons where physical punishment is the sole form of control. Hartman traces his newly discovered spiritual and literary inclinations and learns to accept responsibility as a family man. The last chapter is the discovery of the development of an honor program which helps motivated prisoners to escape future incarceration. Reviewed by Claude Ury
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Mystery, Crime & Thrillers Paganini’s Ghost: A Mystery By Paul Adam Minotaur Books, $24.99, 275 pages You can hear the soaring, magical notes of Paganini’s violin in this delightful mystery that weaves turbulent events 200 years ago into a trail of murder, betrayal and budding passion today. At times, the plot becomes secondary to the factual recreation of history, with even Napoleon Bonaparte, for once, playing a minor role. It is no matter, though, because you become fascinated with Italian history and its dependence on music. “The standard of play is higher than it’s ever been. In Paganini’s day only Paganini could play Paganini. Now every student at Juilliard, the Royal Academy or the Moscow Conservatory can play it.” There is also a sharp insight into the exhausting daily grind of today’s young virtuosos. Paul Adam, following on The Rainaldi Quartet, has again created truly human characters with their own foibles and weaknesses. Violin maker Gianni, trying to recreate his life after the death of his wife, joins forces with troubled police detective Antonio, searching for a lost manuscript, a jewel encrusted miniature violin, and their own destinies. A bibulous priest and related characters add to the spice. You are so eager to find out what happens to the characters that the mystery’s solution passes almost forgotten. At times, more meticulous editing would have knocked out unnecessary repetition and sharpened the prose. Reviewed by Martin Rushmere The Man from Beijing: A Novel By Henning Mankell Knopf, $25.95, 384 pages The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell begins with the murder of 19 people in a present day Swedish village. When Judge Birgitta Roslin realizes that her mother was raised in the village, she begins her own quiet investigation into the murder and connects the only clue at the crime scene with an unknown Chinese traveler. Reading through old letters and diaries, she finds that a 19th century relative of the murder victims immigrated to America and was a section chief--and apparently a brutal one --during the building of the transcontinental railroad. Next, we are introduced to an influential present day
Chinese businessman named Ya Ru, and we learn that his ancestor was treated badly by a section chief while working on the transcontinental line. Now we just need to watch Judge Roslin figure it all out. “I haven’t come all the way to London to tell you something I’m not sure of. I’ve come here because this all really happened, and I’m scared.” This is an excellent book with smooth reading and a good plot. We are given a glimpse into the Swedish law enforcement/ judicial system and a look at the mistreatment of immigrant workers during the great railroad projects in the United States. More importantly, we are given a look at the divergent views held in present day China. Reviewed by Douglas McWilliams A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery By Todd, Charles William Morrow, $24.99, 336 pages In a Duty to the Dead, Charles Todd—the name for a mother-son writing team—give readers a mystery set against the backdrop of England in the First World War. Nurse Bess Crawford is attempting to honor the dying wishes of one of her patients to set right a family scandal. The problem is the family wants to leave well enough alone and Crawford does not know the nature of the secret. Todd made a name for himself writing stories set in and after World War I staring Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge. Todd’s familiarity with the time period shows, though some of the turns in the plot seem a bit unrealistic. On the other hand, Todd integrates the sections that are thriller with others that are character driven in a seamless manner. By far and away, the best feature of the book is Todd’s ability to develop characters with distinctive voices; when the reader is done they will feel like they have met several different individuals. Reviewed by Nicholas Sarantakes Divine Misdemeanors By Laurell K. Hamilton Ballantine Books, $26.00, 352 pages Although her true skill may be in merging an alternative world full of mystical, fantastical and mythological creatures into that of normal humans, author Laurell K. Hamilton is perfectly capable of writing a quality paranormal thriller complete with entertaining and exciting sex scenes. Perhaps that’s why the latest installment in the Meredith Gentry series is so disappointing, particularly as a follow-up to the incredibly well-written
and strong “Swallowing Darkness” in which Merry chooses the life of her lover, Frost over that of the Unseelie crown. Encouraged by the Goddess to leave the Midwest for the bright lights of Los Angeles, Merry and her men return to the Grey Detective Agency and a life of normalcy. When a serial killer targets the demi-fey, Merry is invited by the police to consult on the murder stalking her kind in the western lands. From that point, the story breaks down. The interactions between Merry and her men are glossed over. Entire subplots and minor characters float in and out with little development. Most conflicts are resolved in a few lines of dialogue and the killer is handed over on a silver platter. In truth the entire novel seems to be a series of ideas hastily strung together with the flimsiest of dialogue. One can only hope Ms. Hamilton is using Divine Misdemeanors as a springboard to a strong future plotline. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Redemption By Laurel Dewey The Story Plant, $24.95, 400 pages The main character is Jane Perry, a former Colorado law enforcement officer who is determined to make a new life as a private investigator after alcohol abuse, dampened her police career. The story begins in a Denver bar during an undercover operation designed to nab some really bad drug dealers. After a wild barroom brawl, the real plot begins. It is triggered by Jane’s encounter with Kit, a sixty-eight-year-old new age believer who Jane meets outside an AA meeting later that night. Kit’s teenage granddaughter, Charlotte Walker, has been abducted in California and Kit is desperate to find her before it’s too late. The time factor is doubly critical as Kit is dying of cancer. The wild ride that follows keeps the reader in suspense until the very end of the book. This second book by author Laurel Dewey, featuring spunky heroine Jane Perry, is reminiscent of Stella in Bad Day For Sorry; however, Redemption veers off at the intersection of New Age metaphysics and hardboiled addiction. Dewey’s skilled character development reveals an intimate knowledge of the pain and suffering carried by victims of abuse and the grip of addiction.
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A black box warning is in order, because a reader can easily feel like a chain smoker within the first few chapters. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Altar of Eden By James Rollins William Morrow, $27.99, 398 pages Altar of Eden hooks you in the first sentences. Dr. Lorna Polk is an endangered species research veterinarian working at a quiet facility near the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. She becomes embroiled in what first appears an exotic animal smuggling venture when Jack Menard, a Border Patrol field supervisor, asks for her professional expertise on a case. Lorna and Jack have painful history to set aside as they endeavor to solve the case that begins with the discovery of an abandoned fishing trawler with a cargo of unusual animals. Lorna realizes the animals have been altered. Some are gentle and intelligent, one is cunning and lethal. From here the story takes off with rapid action reminiscent of a Jason Bourne novel. There are bombings, a creepy hunt in the swamp, merciless death and mayhem, narrow escapes, intriguing genetic discoveries, shootouts, and a final disturbing revelation of the unethical methods of the scientist behind an attempt to uncover the tree of intelligence with pernicious motives. If you’re not into action and a little gore, pick another book. The only slight disappointment was near the end when Rollins introduces elements that push the boundary of believability. This reviewer read on in captivation. Reviewed by Grady Jones
DRAGON, cont’d from page 17 hostile parties in the adventure parts of the story are resolved without resorting to force. There is a great deal of introduction to Hong Kong and Chinese culture nestled in and among the storyline, that proves an additional depth. An interesting blend of writing style and culture. Sponsored Review
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Tweens Stories From Scotland By Barbara Ker Wilson Oxford University Press, $9.95, 227 pages The stories of Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen have dominated children’s storytelling for centuries, as well as printed versions of the myths and legends of Greek, Roman, and Native American cultures, but they’re hardly the only options on the bookshelf. For readers seeking new fables and tales of heroism, consider Stories of Scotland. This book is a marvelous compendium of tales for young and old alike, featuring the thrilling exploits of kings and heroes, the standard cautionary
tales of curious fairyfolk and their encounters with the world of man, and a collection of stories about the Fians, a far-famed group of warrior brethren. Two of the highlights of the book are Black Colin of Loch Awe, a story of love and enchantment, and The Adventures of Iain Direach, the nigh-ridiculous tale of a young man burdened with Herculean task after Herculean task, all to please his less-thanpleasant stepmother. Some of these stories bear a striking resemblance to myths from Ireland and other neighboring countries, but each story has a flavor all its own, wholly beholden to the spirit of Scotland and its people, timeless and distinctive. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
The Girl with the Mermaid Hair By Delia Ephron Harper Teen, $16.99, 314 pages Sukie Jamieson lives a perfect life — she has perfect grades at her nice private school, a perfectly designed house, and perfect hair and looks. Her parents are perfect — goodlooking, charismatic, and successful. Sukie has a perfect system for maintaining her appearance and her cell phone provides the perfect means to constantly check her looks (she snaps “selfie” photos with the camera).
Sukie generally manages to fight off a nagging feeling that she’s missing something deeper in life, until her mom gives her a mirror that belonged to her grandmother, which seems to show her odd things sometimes. And when her parents start acting strangely, a confused and lonely Sukie has nowhere to turn but to her reflection. Well-known screenwriter Delia Ephron’s novel for young girls reflects the obsession with appearance that is so deeply entrenched in our society today; at times it seems like a morality tale or fable. Unfortunately, despite her noble intentions, Ephron just can’t seem to make up her mind, not sticking with a solid tone or direction. In the end, The Girl with the Mermaid Hair is left with no sure legs on which to stand. Reviewed by Cathy Lim
All Unquiet Things By Anna Jarzab Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 352 pages Neily’s ex-girlfriend, Carly, goes from a intellectual, good girl to dumping Neily to go out with a known drug dealer and his fast moving crowd. Along the way, she finds out a secret that gets her killed supposedly by the father of her close friend and cousin, Audrey. Audrey does not believe her father killed Carly and neither does Neily. Despite their differences, Neily and Audrey team up to try and find Carly’s real killer but will they be able to solve this mystery before they find themselves in danger? Throughout the story, the narration switches from Neily to Carly several times. The beginning of the book was difficult because it began with Neily’s point of view and he is a character who is hard to like. There is also a great deal of flashbacks so the reader really needs to pay attention to when the events took place. However, I found the flashbacks to be well done and they gradually reveal more and more about each character. After the slow start, the story moves along nicely as the identity of the murderer is finally revealed. The ending will come as a great surprise. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki
Old Magic By Marianne Curley Simon Pulse, $9.99, 369 pages Kate can probe minds. Jarrod, the new boy in school, has powers he doesn’t realize. They are strongly attracted to each other, but Kate is an outsider, and Jarrod wants to fit in with the crowd. When a bully ridicules him in science lab, windows break and beakers explode. Kate knows Jarrod’s anger caused it, but Jarrod is oblivious. Since his arm is severely cut, Kate takes Jarrod to her grandmother, a witch. Jarrod resists Kate’s insistence that the bad luck haunting his family must stem from an ancient curse. Then, his brother’s accident and his parents’ revelation of earlier tragedies convince him. However, Jarrod still can’t accept Kate’s insistence that he has powers he must learn to use. Kate’s grandmother sends them back through time to try and prevent the curse at its origin. But are these two a match for their enemy if Jarrod won’t accept his own powers or have faith in Kate’s? This story starts well with an intriguing premise. The pacing bogs down a little toward the middle, with scenes belaboring points already made. But in the last half the story picks up again, moving to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan
Young Adult The Sky Is Everywhere By Jandy Nelson Dial, $17.99, 288 pages The Sky is Everywhere is a ‘first-love’ love story that, cloaked in Lennie’s grief for her sister’s recent death, will seep into your heart. The characters spring off the page, so full of life, so clear and confident in who they are, even as they wrestle through life’s angst. Complex, yet pure, it’s easy to fall in love with Lennie when her new budding womanhood learns to dance with Joe, whose music lifts its way into Lennie’s heart. The story is sprinkled with quirkiness, like when Lennie writes short poems and stuffs them randomly in a tree, under a rock, wherever she happens to be when inspiration meets with paper and pen. Or when Lennie and Joe lunch in a tree, or when Lennie slips away to her secret hideaway that is an ‘outdoor bedroom’ kept in the forest by an eccentric, romance-infused hotel owner. Full of compelling subplots, Lennie learns the truth of her mother who left her two toddler daughters behind and she learns her sister’s heart-pounding secret. Author Jandy Nelson wraps the deep emotions of grief with the delightful emotions of first-love. Her writing sparkles with fresh phrases. A must read when you want to curl up and get lost in ‘what-if’ wonderlove. Reviewed by Susan L. Roberts
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They Never Came Back By Caroline B. Cooney Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 200 pages The summer school students at Greenwich High get a lot more excitement than they bargained for when Cathy, a visiting student, is identified as being the missing daughter of Cade and Rory Lyman, a couple who fled the country five years before, after loosing thousands of family’s life savings in a fraudulent investment scheme. They Never Came Back is told through the alternating perspectives of Cathy, who isn’t ready to accept the past she’s tried so hard to leave behind and of the 10-year-old Lyman daughter in the foggy, sickening days after her parents abandon her. As Cathy’s classmates become increasingly involved in the mysterious circumstances, Cathy is forced to decide if she will protect the parents who abandoned her or if she will be the one to bring them to justice. Longtime-favorite young adult author Caroline B. Cooney has once again connected with teens in this clever page-turner that insightfully addresses the Wall Street indiscretions that are so often in the news today. Especially enjoyable in They Never Came Back is how Cooney has made the summer school students’ prowess with texting, social media, and laptops a pivotal component of how the plot develops. Reviewed by Megan Just
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Health, Fitness & Dieting Solid to the Neck, Mid-Back and Shoulders: Simple Exercises to Improve and Prevent Injuries By Janique Farand-Taylor iUniverse, $14.95, 148 pages Most everyone either has neck pain or knows someone who does. Some people see a doctor or a chiropractor, others just are so used to the pain, they accept it as a part of life. But many of the causes of neck pain are not only treatable, but preventable. Sports physiotherapist Janique Farand-Taylor has written a exercise guide book to help correct and prevent neck pain and injuries. The exercises are all uniformly simple and most don’t require much more than equipment or time. Not only are there a multitude of exercises, Farand-Taylor explains many of the causes of neck, upper back, shoulder, and head pain, and gives a series of exercises and stretches to help alleviate the specifics behind the issue. Farand-Taylor is not only a sports physiotherapist for the Ontario Freestyle Ski Team and a Certified Personal Trainer, but also a former Olympic athlete (1984). And while most of us may not have the sorts of sports injuries that professional athletes have, the techniques used for them are easy for the rest of us to do. A easy to read, follow and use book for the lay-person wanting to improve their health, or avoid future health problems. Sponsored Review The Perfect 10 Diet By Michael Aziz, MD Cumberland House, $24.99, 422 pages FACT: Every diet book says the same thing – Fats are evil! Carbs are evil! Dairy is evil! Luckily, Dr. Michael Aziz has decided to say something different. The Perfect 10 Diet educates dieters on using whole foods and grains to balance 10 key hormones in the body, and by balancing these hormones the dieter will not only lose weight but will also lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Dr. Aziz also steers dieters away from the low-fat craze, stating that the body benefits from the saturated fats in whole milk and butter. This diet does have the popular “staged” approach to help facilitate the hormone balancing process. Stage one allows poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables while cutting out grains (a.k.a.: No carbs!) Stage two allows the addition of whole grains, and stage three
allows the addition of the occasional sweet treat. This book educates dieters about the benefits of making good decisions when it comes to food and provides plenty of information about how to actually do so. Since starting this diet I have never felt better and truly feel that this will be easy to follow long term. This book is about making life changes and those changes will only be for the better! Reviewed by Nicole Will Nutrition at Your Fingertips By Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN Alpha Books, $18.95, 405 pages Essential vitamins, complete proteins, and metabolism: these are common terms that are thrown around in our society. But what do they really mean? How much sodium is too much? How can you decrease your cholesterol? Can someone please translate these food labels? Never fear! In this expert guidebook, you’ll find all the answers to your diet-related questions at the turn of a page. This book acts as an introductory-level nutrition class set at your own pace. It’s a user-friendly tool that, when read from cover-to-cover, will provide keen insight into the impact your food choices make on your health. It’s a page-by-page checklist to maintaining your body’s appropriate intake of all things healthy, while avoiding the unhealthy. Use the book in segments. Read the chapter on sugars today, or dive into carbohydrates. Each section acts as a stand-alone, while including suggested reading throughout the book if you want more detail. Keep this book around the house—you’ll certainly refer to it repeatedly over the years as your diet and health fluctuate. If you’ve ever had the slightest curiosity about the varying effects of tomatoes or table salt to your health, this book is for you. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott
The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers Behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight By Michelle M. Lelwica Gurze Books, $18.95, 284 pages Lelwica has her doctorate in theology from Harvard divinity school and has published and lectured widely on the nexus between spiritual hunger and “food issues” in the lives of modern American women. As a religion, the focus on food and weight provides us with the key elements of religious practice: idols (thin women), with rituals (counting calories, points, etc.), community (millions of us talking about food and weight), judgment and penance (burning 400 calories on the treadmill), and most importantly the promise of peace and happiness (salvation through Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc.). As one of the flock, I recognized the sad accuracy of this comparison. Even more, I appreciate that Lelwica has found concrete solutions for breaking away. She recommends two actions: first, realize the lie: we really are intelligent and experienced enough to know that being a certain weight will not solve our problems or bring us peace. Be critical of popular culture and then cultivate a practice of mindfulness that can put each of us where we belong: feeling our bodies and our hungers and making more helpful decisions about what we need to fill them. Offering a path away from misery, Lelwica’s book is lucid, well researched, thoughtful, detailed, convincing, and compassionate. Reviewed by Marcia Jo
Navigating the eReader Labyrinth Just selecting an e-Reading device from among the horde of available gizmos appears to be a hotly contested debate by itself. The Kindle users wage verbal war against the Apple fans, while the Sony buyers throw a few left jabs at the Nook users. Around their knees, a myriad of other devices swim like a school of technological fish in a swirling, chaotic soup of information. To make things a bit easier for our readers, we’ve compiled a chart for a little side-by-side comparison of the most popular eReaders, as well as a brief look at each device’s pros and cons, according to various consumer reports and blogs. Go to www.sacramentobookreview.com/archive/ereaders/
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Reference PresentationZen Design By Garr Reynolds New Riders Press, $34.99, 252 pages PresentationZen Design is a graphic design book for non-designers who want to create more effective multi-media presentations. As Reynolds states, “We know what we like when we see it, but we lack the visual literacy to articulate our thoughts…” So he provides a nomenclature and a way to organize your thoughts when communicating with words and images. In addition to a crash course on the principles of good design, he helps you clarify your content and make it more meaningful. “Design is about people creating solutions that help or improve the lives of other people-often in profound ways, but often in ways that are quite small and unnoticed.” Reynolds uses the basics of Zen--simplicity, harmony, and balance--as the basis of good design. He balances these big picture ideas with the more practical details of typography (fonts, spacing, placement), images (JPEG, TIFF, cropping), and photography (don’t use Auto Mode). He employs numerous images to visually drive home his message, and in clear concise text, demonstrates how to maximize your presentation’s impact by employing unifying themes, visual clues, depth (created by using large foreground elements) and decluttering (less is more). While you know that you live in a visual world, how often do you stop and think why one thing is more appealing than another? AlthoughPresentationzen Designfocuses on presentations, I found it to have a much broader application. Want to attract more people to your website, have more followers on Twitter, make an impression with your business card? It all comes down to aesthetics. And if you understand that the color red implies assertiveness and urgency, and that green connotes dignity, loyalty and professionalism, then you have an advantage in the marketplace. Reviewed by Bruce Genaro Head First 2D Geometry By Lindsey Fallow; Dawn Griffiths O’Reilly Media, $19.99, 325 Pages Fiction meets textbook as kids are ushered into a realm of crime-solving, economic problems and rock venue planning… armed only with protractors, pencils and a ton of scratch paper. The folks at Head First Labs certainly had fun with this piece.
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The slightly corny ‘crime scenes’ notwithstanding, the problems presented actually provoked a bit of interest with this reader’s family, including the adults. After initially scoffing at the rather silly names and cartoony appearance of the pages, the actual language of the various problems proved quite easy to decipher, as well as the simple manner in which one invariably retains the axioms and rules presented. A far cry from the droning, dull and hefty volumes--which hover ominously in the mind’s eye at the mention of the word ‘geometry’--the lessons in Head First 2D Geometryproved rather fun, conceptually helpful and quickly shanghaied one’s hands into measuring angles and scribbling calculations. This book is a must-have for middle school students, but happily it can be read and understood by far younger (and older) audiences. Reviewed by Meredith Greene 500 Poses for Photographing Brides: A Visual Sourcebook for Professional Digital Wedding Photographers By Michelle Perkins Amherst Media Inc., $34.95, 126 pages There are hundreds of advice books on the shelves today for the rapidly-expanding digital photography market. Some are more tech-heavy, some are more showy; some spotlight composition, others are little more than coffee table books to briefly skim through while killing time. 500 Poses for Photographing Brides handily walks the tightrope between handbook and gallery, illustrating great technical and artistic ideas with a dazzling array of portraits. (My personal favorite is the bride sitting outside the church, pink sneakers glowing underneath her dress.) Indoors, outdoors , standing, sitting, kneeling ... all angles and styles are represented, and tips from the photographers themselves are interspersed throughout. A brief guide to posing the subject is also included, with myriad valuable suggestions for how to make the most of each shot. I’ve done freelance photography work for several weddings, and I’ve tackled many of the situations described in the book. The advice within is simply stated and essential for the success of professionals and amateurs alike. The book is gorgeous, informative, and easy to understand... what more could you want? Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
The Best of Wedding Photojournalism: Techniques and Images for Professional Digital Photographers, 2nd Edition By Bill Hurter Amherst Media Inc., $34.95, 122 pages The Best of Wedding Journalism, 2nd edition, is much more than a gallery of stunning digital photography, although it is that too. This is a field guide, idea-filled notebook, and a feast for the eyes--all bound together for both the experienced photographer and the novice. The images draw in the art enthusiast, but the text is highly technical and informative for the skilled professional. Bill Hurter has compiled the works of many talented wedding photojournalists, such as Marcus Bell, Jim Garner, Yervant, and many more to exemplify the technique and impact of his advice. Following Hurter through the text is a be h i nd-t he - scenes field trip into the creation and expression of image. He discusses such topics as the history of photojournalism, how to choose the right equipment for the mission, creativity, and ideas for the wedding shoot, principles of posing, lighting, and beyond. And the layout is exquisite, eye-popping color and stunning black and white prints grace each passage of text. “Just observe, be ready, and and you will be rewarded with some priceless images.” With technology steadily climbing to the unthinkable photography is surpassing the limitless. Hurter’s book holds not only a lesson to be learned, but an art to be esteemed. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures By Dan Roam Portfolio, $20.00, 286 pages Dan Roam’s new book, Unfolding the Napkin, is the sequel to his award-winning and best-selling first book, The Back of the Napkin, and the condensation of the four day workshop he offers to such entities as Google, Microsoft, and the United States Senate. Roam’s premise is simple yet seems to have passed most everyone by: sharing ideas is much easier when done visually. The Back of the Napkin shared Roam’s idea with the world Unfolding the Napkin is the workbook that allows you to implement it into your life
and work. Step-by-step, Roam guides the reader through the process of seeing problems visually, imagining their solutions as such, and then sharing the answers with others so that they not only understand the problem and solution, but are interested in helping solve it. Unfolding the Napkin is also full of exercises, review sessions, and quizzes that help the reader remember the steps. I don’t know if problems are easier to solve when you draw them out, as Roam asserts, but the man makes a convincing argument and the book is $1,075 cheaper than the seminars he leads! Reviewed by Jonathon Howard From Camera to Computer: How to Make Fine Photographs Through Examples, Tips, and Techniques By George Barr Rocky Nook, $39.95, 286 pages In his rather charming introduction, “fine art” photographer George Barr related to the reader that ideally he be able to go along with each budding photographer and peer over their shoulder as they embark on each capture, to supply helpful advice. In this book, Barr instead conveys intricate details and steps on how to capture and enhance ‘artistic’ photographs, instead of merely “shooting” commercial images or fixing “red-eye”. Besides the basics of image capture, one learns specific tactics for taking a good shot, importing it into the PC-keeping the most image data possible--and then how to enhance the natural beauty of one’s photographs. The instruction on how to ‘mask’ off a portion of a picture which does not need enhancement I found most illuminating; Barr used a picture of a rocky waterfall to illustrate his point, masking off the crystal-clear water and brightened the light to enhance the colors in the surround rocks, which before had been quite dark. The result was not a ‘skewed’ or unrealistic picture, but one which matched more closely the way the human eye would view the scene. This is a must-have book for digital photographers. Reviewed by Meredith Greene
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Cooking, Food & Wine New American Table By Marcus Samuelsson Wiley, $40.00, 368 pages “New” is the operative word in Marcus Samuelsson’s latest book, New American Table, as this is definitely not a trip down memory lane with your grandma’s file box recipes. Instead, it is a collection of recipes for America today, respecting its food history, but equally acknowledging the melting pot of ethnicities that contribute to the diversity of modern American cuisine.
not Noir. There are tasting guidelines, food pairings, and buying suggestions. While Grumdahl does give an excellent introduction to major wines and regions, she almost completely ignores any wine growing area outside of the usual suspects. French, Italian, Australian, and Napa/Sonoma wines are all well-covered, but little to no mention of the wines of California’s Central Coast or the upcoming Oregon and Washington wineries. This is a good introductory guide to major wines, told in a conversational style (sometimes too conversational), with humor and interesting insights.
“America may have once been the land of meat and potatoes. From what I’ve seen of it, it’s now a land of couscous and noodles, dolmas and tiraditos, tacos and sushi, dumplings and ceviche.”
The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices By Katie Luber and Sara Engram Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99, 192 pages A clearly presented recipe book remains a well-appreciated thing among busy moms, novice cooks, and singles alike. One comprising understandable information on a vast number of delicious spices—along with just how to use them—might well be worth its weight in cardamom. No more bumbling about the spice cabinet, wondering which green/brown particles to shake over the poultry. Engram and Luber pour out their knowledge of tantalizing tastes from the moment one opens the cover. A rundown of great spices in alphabetical order wrapped in chic design kick-starts the reading process, bolstered by a bevy of brilliant photographs. The recipes continue the thrilling theme with eye-catching plates of Spice-Crusted Cheese Truffles, an unbeatable steak marinade, Coconut Curry Shrimp, and chicken skewers redolent with cumin and coriander. Not forgetting the dessert-loving public, the writers included such delights as Roasted Peaches in Rosemary Streusel, topped with spiced whipped cream. Tucked in here and there on the page margins reside intriguing spice facts and lore. My gifts to brides from now on will be this book, as few cookbooks I’ve seen can match its practical inspiration. Reviewed by Meredith Greene
Samuelsson’s recipes cross cultural barriers and combine ingredients in ways that most others don’t. He thinks nothing of blending Asian, Latin, African, and European flavors and does so as freely with classic American dishes, such as New England lobster rolls with wasabi or fried chicken flavored with red curry and coconut, as he does with recipes from other countries, like Argentinean empanadas with Indonesian sambal. The recipes are not contrived, nor outlandish, just really interesting and consistently delicious. Samuelsson articulates it best when he says, “My approach to food has always been to take something traditional and make it untraditional by adding flavors that I like.” With over 300 recipes to choose from, this book will pique both your interest, and your palate, and teach you to approach cooking as Samuelsson does, in a more subjective and untraditional way. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport Drink This By Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl Ballantine Books, $26.00, 284 pages Food and wine writer, Grumdahl, provides a good beginners guide to the world of wine told in a conversational style with plenty of examples of accessible wines that can easily be found in most parts of the country. Starting with a quick overview of the wine world, she takes the reader on a tour of nine major varietals, starting with the ever popular Zinfandel and running through Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Pi-
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 25th Anniversary Edition By Kevin Zraly Sterling, $27.95, 224 pages Kevin Zraly has been teaching his Windows on the World wine course for 34 years, and has graduated almost 20,000 students. He took a great deal of the information from his course, and wrote a book that is a selfguided version. Now, twenty-five years later, comes the latest edition, updated, yet again, with new wines, wineries, and regional in-
formation from around the world. It is a wonderfully conversational book, with plenty of asides one can almost imagine being told by Zraly as he digresses from course material. There are tasting note and instructions on blind tasting and a quiz at the end of each chapter. The sidebar notes are almost extensive enough to form their own sub-chapter of information, though, often, it is just factoids or short lists. A highly enjoyable guide to the world of wine, both for beginner and intermediate wine lovers. The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook By Editors at America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Illustrated, $39.95, 650 pages The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbookis designed for people who not only appreciate recipes that have been tried and tested, but also like to know how and why they work. The book is a comprehensive collection of all of the recipes prepared on its namesake TV show for the past nine years. Each recipe is prefaced with an explanation about why it works, and describes not only what often goes wrong with similar recipes, but also details the processes used in perfecting these recipes. Tips for eggplant parmesan, that include baking the eggplant in batches on sheet trays, result in a dish that is faster and healthier, while an incomparably flaky pie crust is achieved by using vodka (which evaporates when baking) instead of water, as the liquid in the dough. The table of contents is organized by different show themes and features chapters on everything from salads, soups, roasts and pastas, French to Tex-Mex, brunch, side dishes, desserts, and so much more. In addition to the vast recipe collection, the book also features an extensive shopping guide complete with photos, descriptions and brand recommendations for everything from food to cookware to small appliances. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport
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Raw Energy By Stephanie Tourles Storey Publishing, $16.95, 271 pages Heavy on idealism, light on research, yet loaded with fresh fruits and nuts, Raw Energy is what the author calls an “uncook” book. The raw food movement has seen mounting popularity, particularly in trendy diet fads that swear by its health benefits. Raw Energy is no exception. “Never fear--no great culinary prowess is necessary to make my delicious raw snacks. Your basic kitchen skills, sometimes applied in unusual ways, will see you through these recipes.” Author and licensed holistic esthetician Stephanie Tourles claims, “Unlike animals in the wild, which live their entire lives on raw foods, man attempts to build healthy cells out of primarily deficient, dead foods that are lacking in enzymes…”(18). Unfortunately, Tourles doesn’t offer much evidence to back her claims, and her suggested reading list doesn’t provide any references more recent than 2007. So, don’t read the book for its scientific strengths. Yet, the recipes found in Raw Energy are certainly appealing. You’ll find lots of date, nut, and fruit ingredients. Unlike other raw cookbooks which attempt crackers, breads, and even entrees, Raw Energy provides only snacks. Expect plenty of smoothies, cold soups, salsas, and juices. Some of Tourles’s better ideas include Fabulous Coco-Walnut Fudgy Brownies made with dates and raw cocoa powder; Autumn Glow Persimmon Pudding Parfait using pureed persimmons; and BananaChocolate Chip Frozen Fruit Cream using frozen bananas. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott
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Children’s Books Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl! By Tedd Arnold Cartwheel Books, $5.99, 30 pages In Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl Buzz and Liz both have pet flies. The two youngsters meet at the park where their pets quickly fall in love. Though both of the children are happy for their flies, they are deeply saddened that they have lost their pet. The pets, too, feel some sense of loss and decide to be friends instead. I have been a volunteer reading and comprehension tutor at a local elementary school for a few months now, and I have to say this book is perfect for the children I work with. There are many things I can pull from to teach these children certain skills, like the double consonant words, and how to read with expression. Author and illustrator Tedd Arnold has made my job a little easier and has made the children’s tutoring sessions more engaging. He has split the book into chapters, albeit small ones, but nonetheless there is a sense of accomplishment when a first grader masters his or her first chapter book. This is an invaluable tool for me, and would make a great addition to any home or school library. The $5.99 cover price is reasonable enough to where I can purchase the other stories in this series. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun Calendar Mysteries #1: January Joker By Ron Roy, John Steven Gurney, Illustrator Random House Books for Young Readers, $4.99, 77 pages Rob Roy has begun a new Calendar Mysteries series starring younger siblings of the three third grade sleuths in his popular A-Z Mysteries series. These new mysteries are for first and second graders who are just getting into early chapter books. Lucy began making a grape trail on the floor. “I don’t know,” she said. “But maybe green aliens like green food.” In January Joker, strange noises in the night and a bright light wake Brian and Bradley Pinto, Nate Hathaway, and Lucy Armstrong. Venturing into the backyard, they see two little green creatures that disappear when the light suddenly goes out. The next day, pets vanish; faces appear in the window; a mysterious phone call comes from outer space. Have aliens really kidnapped Josh,
24 March 10
Dink, and Ruth Rose? Did they eat Pal and Polly? This is a story that gets funnier with each chapter, as the friends decide to negotiate with the aliens and get their siblings and pets back. All isn’t over for the aliens, even after the mystery is solved: The four young sleuths get to have their own revenge. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan Saving the Baghdad Zoo By Kelly Milner Halls Harper Children’sGreenwillow Books, $17.99, 64 pages It is an eye-opening and heart-breaking documentary of the post war collateral damage to the Baghdad Zoo, which was once home to 500 animals. The war is known as the Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the Second Persian Gulf War that was launched on March 20, 2003. Throughout this book, we learn that few hands-on individuals have contributed much of their time and expertise with deep sense of compassion to these left-behind and surviving animals, which were obviously unhappy and unhealthy. Extra care and cure were contributed generously, knowing that there was once a Baghdad Zoo, home to a large range of animals from common to rare to endangered. They have been priceless to the people in Baghdad and the Iraqi nation. The effort to recover the Zoo was not too late. Together with Major William Sumner, Kelly Milner Halls had compiled various facts and anecdotes along with both heartbreaking and heart-warming photographs that carry us through the process of restoration. The re-opening of the Baghdad Zoo has become the oasis of hope to the people of Baghdad and around the globe. This book is recommended to grade 3 and up, but it is more likely to be appreciated by higher graders. Reviewed by Sophie Masri Woof: A Love Story By Sarah Weeks HarperCollins, $16.99, 32 pages Young children’s literature is alive and well! The dynamic duo of author Sarah Weeks and illustrator Holly Berry have teamed up to create a colorful, delightful, and endearing picture book. Woof is the story of a dog who, at first glance, becomes smitten with a lovely white kitty. His tale is set forth in rhyming verses guaranteed to delight both the listener and the reader. The illustrations are created using an imaginative combination
of original woodcuts and photographic images. The effect is just eye-catching enough to enliven the story without being jarring. Woof is big enough for the reader to hold it while allowing the listener to easily turn the pages. Although the story line is a bit improbable, it sets the stage for a dialogue about ways of communicating that can take place between the person reading the book and his or her young listener. Clearly, woof and meow are not the only way for the two characters to share their feelings. Music is the key to their understanding of each other. Delightful - 5 Woofs (or meows). Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Shipwrecks: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea By Mary M. Cerullo Dutton Juvenile, $18.99, 64 pages Shipwrecks -- Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea takes on two topics at the same time: the fate of ships sunk in the oceans and the living, breathing cities down in the waters. Mary Cerullo, the author, presents the information in two opposing contexts: the shipwrecks happened in warm waters at the Gulf of Mexico and in the cold Atlantic Ocean; the ships involved were a slave-trading ship and an elegant overnight steamer; the ocean cities discussed consisted of a tropical paradise and a dull but practical habitat. With the juxtaposition of these elements, what results is a set of information that is interesting and enjoyable to remember. The facts are not boring (they don’t sound textbook-like) and the context is not one-dimensional. The ideas and facts presented deal with marine science, fisheries, archaeology, history, engineering, social science and even piracy! It’s one work from which many discussions with a child can be started. Reviewed by Donabel Beltran Marching For Freedom By Partridge, Elizabeth Viking Juvenile, $19.99, 68 pages From a children’s point of view, Marching for Freedom brilliantly depicts the story of what led up to and what happened on the five day march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, March 21-25, 1965. Author Elizabeth Partridge interviewed the children involved with the historic march. In particular, she focused on the then 14-yearold Lynda, the youngest to walk, and who enlisted the assistance of five adult women to get her parent’s permission. Partridge documents how the marchers stayed focused on
non-violence, and how the children’s fears and commitment to change their lives kept them marching, even while getting beaten and demoralized by the hate-filled members of the law enforcement. The political goal of the people who marched was to be allowed to vote; in the bigger picture, it was to regain their dignity. The five day march inspired President Johnson to push through the Voting Rights Act outlawing literacy tests and poll taxes. The march also authorized the attorney general to appoint federal registrars, if necessary, to make sure all qualified citizens were free to register to vote. Reviewed by Susan Roberts Lawn to Lawn By Dan Yaccarino Knopf For Young Readers, $17.99, 34 pages When little Pearl moves with her family to a new home at Ritzy Estates, she forgets something important in all the hustle and bustle of packing: her four lawn ornament friends, Betty the deer, Flo the flamingo, Norm the gnome, and Jack the jockey. When the lawn ornaments realize they’ve been left behind, they know their only option is to find Pearl— or risk going to the curb to be swallowed up by a garbage truck, never to be heard from again. With the help of a map and some kind-hearted friends, they make their way to Ritzy Estates, ultimately entering through the wrought-iron gates in a most unexpected way. “Flo didn’t know what she was more afraid of--leaving the lawn or being left behind.” Only Pearl knows the lawn ornaments are real, and, when she and her friends are finally reunited, she sees no problem whatsoever with having them take up their familiar places on the manicured lawns of Ritzy Estates. Tacky eyesores to some, loyal companions to others—whatever the case, Lawn to Lawn provides an amusing look at the exciting, secret lives of these plastic knick-knacks. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell
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