Page 1


Sept 2010

Book Review VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1




Promises to Keep

A family bands together to fight cancer Page 4

Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer


A touching memoir from a bold country star Page 6

Expanded Science Fiction & Fantasy Page 9


Getting Across the Golden Gate By Kevin Starr Bloomsbury Press, $23.00, 215 pages


If the dreams of spanning the Golden Gate go back to frontier days, the objections are almost as old and as numerous. The Sierra Club complained on environmental grounds that a bridge would profane the site, and famed photographer Ansel Adams agreed that a bridge would destroy the grandeur of the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Taxpayers, particularly in the northern counties, objected to the price tag of $35 million in a time of deep economic depression;

steam ship lines objected to the obstruction of their waterway; engineers objected to the design — by Chicago engineer Joseph Strauss –– they claimed the bridge could not survive an earthquake along a major fault. But in the early 1930s, upward of 300,000 cars were ferried across the bay in a single year, creating traffic delays and disgruntling motorists. In the end, newspapers, boards of supervisors, and civic and booster clubs, parSee GOLDEN GATE, page 5

One Book Sacramento Library Insert Page 13

The Fairy Godmother Academy #2: Kerka’s Book

Kerka’s quest to bring her sisters back together Page 24

112 Reviews INSIDE!

Children’s Books Animal Soup By Todd H. Doodler Golden Books, $10.99, 14 pages What fun for the preschooler to identify real animals from the graphic illustrations and then to combine parts of each of two animal names to create their own inimical laughable creative clone. See what you get when you combine a squirrel with a whale: It emerges as a recombinant squale. “What would I be if I pounded my chest...and scooped fish right out of the ocean?” Have you heard of a tigeroceros? This recipe calls for the union of a tiger and a rhinoceros. Each of the turn-able cardboard pages hypnotizes the viewer with appealingly colorful pictures of the real animals. Between the two pictures is a flap page which lifts to reveal the resultant fusion of the two animals. This is a puzzle book in words and pictures, and the child will erupt in laughter to see the magic produced by blending creature features and names. Try combining a long necked critter with one that is endowed with a spouting trunk, and this will yield a girelephant (giraffe + elephant). With their active imaginations, youngsters are sure to invent variants of the combination names provided for the newly invented creatures. The book provides great fun and provocative fodder for the youngster. Reviewed by Rita Hoots Chippy Chipmunk Parties in the Garden By Kathy M. Miller Celtic Sunrise, $19.95, 40 pages Wildlife photographer and author Kathy M. Miller spent two years photographing chipmunks in her garden. Using 86 full colored photos of these chipper, cheeky, creatures, she knits together a natural story of how Chippy chipmunk behaves and interacts with plants and animals in her back-

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yard. There are bluebirds and cardinals along with a dandelion-snacking cottontail rabbit in the trees and bushes that Chippy scampers amongst. Flowers, rocks, and all sorts of plants invite this chipmunk to search for nuts, seeds or berries to fill its mouth and swell its cheek pouches. Always watchful for predators, Chippy spies a box turtle and joins a chickadee, woodpecker, nuthatch, and blue jay in a peanut party at the bird feeder. Suddenly, a red-tailed hawk spots our Chippy, who runs and escapes. Chippy stacks his bounty in his burrow and is now ready to party. The pictures are amazing and highlight the descriptions of how a chipmunk interacts with its surroundings. To complete this wonderful photographic sojourn with the familiar chipmunk, the book adds factual details. Did you know that a chipmunk’s cheek pouch can hold 6 acorns or over 30 sunflower seeds and that they love to dig? The photos and descriptions create a delightful narrative and introduction to nature study. Reviewed by Rita Hoots Circus Fantastico: A Magnifying Mystery By Molly Idle and Lynn Gordon, Creator Accord Publishing, $16.99, 31 pages Ella the Dancing Elephant is the somewhat snooty star of Circus Fantastico. However, the show is growing stale, and props are disappearing. Ella solves the mystery of the missing props when she spies a hotdog walking across the yard. Apparently, a flea circus has been borrowing the props for its big comeback! Seeing a way to enliven her show, the ringmaster asks the fleas circus to join Circus Fantastico. The story does not end there, however, as Ella is a complex character, who hides because she no longer feels needed. Only when

the ringmaster assures Ella that she is necessary to make Circus Fantastico both the “Biggest and Littlest Show on Earth,” does the story end happily. As compelling as this story is, what makes this book unique is the inclusion of a magnifying glass which attaches to the book with a ribbon. While listening to the story, children can pour over the illustrations to find tiny fleas getting into mischief. With their attention held by the clever illustrations, children will have the opportunity to absorb the important lesson of how Ella remains important despite the new additions to her life. Reviewed by Annie Peters Ugly Pie By Lisa Wheeler Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16.00, 32 pages When Ol’ Bear wakes up and eats sweet molasses for breakfast, he’s just not satisfied. He has a hankerin’ for pie — Ugly Pie. He sets off down the hill to find some. Grampa Grizzle’s house is his first stop, but all Grampa Grizzle has is pumpkin pie … and some ugly, wrinkled raisins. Ol’ Bear accepts the raisins then heads back out on his search for Ugly Pie. With each stop, instead of finding it, he finds other kinds of pies and more ugly ingredients. He takes the ingredients then heads back home, where he realizes he has all he needs to make his own Ugly Pie. And what better way to enjoy it than with the friends and neighbors who follow the taste-bud-temptin’ aroma to his den? “Apples, nuts, red raisins, too! We love Ugly Pie — we do!” Ugly Pie, a fun baking adventure, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Heather Solomon, is sure to keep children engaged as they turn the pages. Kids will love Ol’ Bear’s determination and his quest for something ugly, but tasty. The colorful, detailed illus-

trations in this book make Ol’ Bear’s adventure come alive. And if readers happen to get a hankerin’ for some Ugly Pie as they read, they can follow the secret recipe — complete with directions for Ugly Crust and Ugly Topping — at the back of the book and make some of their own. This creative story bakes up fun for all! Reviewed by Genny Heikka The Oceanology Handbook: A Course for Underwater Explorers By Professor Pierre Aronmax, Edited by Emily Hawkins and Clint Twist Candlewick Press, $12.99, 80 pages Designed as a traveler’s diary, Oceanology Handbook is a wonderfully illustrated guide to watery adventures, myths, and facts. The book features four pages of stickers, which repeat some the book’s intricate pen and ink illustrations, a listing of the wind scale and a removable letter from Professor Pierre Arommax. An entertaining page-turner for 9 to 12-year-olds, the book also captivates the read-to-me set. The book displays some cursive writing, which trip up some students. Parents will find themselves learning alongside, understanding more about the early days of diving or how submarines were developed. Oceanology Handbook delivers information using short chapters on a wealth of subjects. Readers will be entertained learning about the history of ships, myths of the sea, ocean explorers, coral reefs, currents, undersea cables, and a variety of sea life. Activities and questions appear throughout, challenging budding oceanologists to study more about the particular subjects. When entries seem too fanciful, a Publisher’s Note intercedes, clarifying an item or two. Although the book has a clever fictional quality to it, the assorted factual information is rich and deserves the attention of any youngster who has ever shown interest in the sea. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey

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Book Review 1776 Productions 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Ph. 877.913.1776 EDITOR IN CHIEF Ross Rojek ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kaye Cloutman GRAPHIC DESIGN/LAYOUT Heidi Komlofske Rowena Manisay COPY EDITORS Joe Atkins Megan Just Lori Miller Viola Allo Glenn Rucker EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jen LeBrun Mary Komlofske

IN THIS ISSUE Children’s Books.............................................2 Modern Literature..........................................4 Cooking, Food & Wine....................................5 Biographies & Memoirs..................................6 History...........................................................7 Technology.....................................................7 Historical Fiction............................................8 Science Fiction & Fantasy Insert....................9 One Book Sacramento Library......................13 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers...........................21

WEBSITE/SOCIAL NETWORKING/ APP DEVELOPMENT Ariel Berg Gwen Stackler Robyn Oxborrow Deborah Lewis

Art, Architecture & Photography.................22

DISTRIBUTION Sacramento Distribution Service



Science & Nature..........................................23

Poetry & Short Stories..................................22

Tweens.........................................................24 The Sacramento Book Review is published monthly by 1776 Productions. The opinions expressed in these pages are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sacramento Book Review or Sacramento Book Review advertisers. All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders. All words © 2010, 1776 Productions.

Welcome to two anniversary editions. September marks the second anniversary of the Sacramento Book Review and the first anniversary of the San Francisco Book Review. We’re very proud of managing along for so long and continuing to do well enough to keep doing this for the foreseeable future. Both Heidi and I enjoy this business (except for some of the late nights with hard deadlines), and I always see the day we process the new books as Christmas each week. So thanks to all of you that keep picking the paper up, and as always, we hope you’ll find some new books that delight you. This month has our Science Fiction & Fantasy insert. From Suzanne Collin’s Mockingjay to China Mieville’s Kracken, there is a plethora of books for almost every taste. Even folks who don’t like traditional science fiction can enjoy William Gibson’s newest novel, Zero History. We always take pleasure in putting together these roundups of new books and hope you find them helpful. And speaking of Mockingjay, our Kids Book Review iPhone app, which was released in July, now has an Events feature that has all of the Mockingjay tour stops in it, including those in Northern California. The app is free, has about a thousand book reviews in it and our Audible Authors interviews with children’s/tweens authors, and also has an events feature. Coming soon will be our Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror book review app for the iPhone and iPad. (And for the wine drinkers in the audience, you can also check out our Livermore Valley app – a guide to the wineries and businesses of the Livermore Valley.) Thanks again for picking us up. We appreciate the support and, as always, hope you pass it on to someone else when you are done reading.

Young Adult..................................................25

Happy reading,

Business & Investing....................................26

Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief 1776 Productions

Current Events.............................................26

September print run - 10,000 copies.



Music & Movies.............................................28

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


Coming Up... The October issue will feature books on cooking and restaurants, as well as Halloween and Fall books.

Relationships & Sex......................................28

September 10


Modern Literature Holding Still for as Long as Possible By Zoe Whittall House of Anansi Press, $15.95, 302 pages Canadian writer Whittall’s second novel tracks the lives of a group of 20-somethings as they navigate their way into adulthood in Toronto. She focuses on three main characters who narrate their own sections: Josh, a transsexual paramedic who channels his insecurities into patching up the injured; his girlfriend Amy, a Bohemian wannabe from the posh suburbs; and Billy, a former teen idol who suffers from panic attacks. In a take on “six degrees of separation,” their lives and their friends cross paths and love triangles are drawn. Though the story line becomes too predictable, Whittall creates distinct characters and voices, a difficult task for an author using multiple narrators. The pacing of the story is well done, with chapters that mirror the text messages the characters send each other – short and breezy. But this results, unfortunately, in a slightness of depth. In an unusual deviation from the first-person, Whittall starts each section with a brief scene that employs omniscient voice and shows paramedics on emergency calls. These vignettes offer substance to the novel and stay with the reader longer. An enjoyable read that is strong on character but short on plot. Reviewed by Deb Jurmu A Bad Day’s Work: A Novel By Nora McFarland Touchstone, $14.99, 288 pages Lilly Hawkins is having the worst day ever. After a string of bad luck, this TV news “shooter” finally has the scoop she needs to get her career back on track: exclusive footage of a murder crime scene. But when she brings the tape back to the studio, it’s completely blank. Now her boss is threatening to fire her, while crooked cops and a street gang are threatening her with bodily harm if she doesn’t turn the tape over to them. Her job and her very life depend on her finding the real tape and solving the murder. The first in a new series, A Bad Day’s Work introduces us to Lilly Hawkins, a tough shooter lacking in people skills. Lilly is smart and funny, and the cast of characters that surrounds her is well-developed, if a little clichéd at times. The story will keep readers guessing, and the ultimate culprit will come as a surprise to most. This

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is a fun one; Lilly’s future escapades will be eagerly anticipated. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Shades of Morning By Schalesky, Marlo Multnomah Books, $13.99, 338 pages To an outside observer, 35-year-old Marnie Wittier—independent woman and bookstore/coffee shop owner—seems to be living her dream life on the California coast. Likewise, on the eastern seaboard, Taylor Cole leads an outwardly peaceful life as a successful lawyer and horse rancher. In Shades of Morning, Marlo Schalesky scratches beneath the surface to reveal the unrest in their lives. Something happened in the past that split these two former lovers. The unlikely key to reuniting them may be Emmit, a Downsyndrome teenager. Schalesky writes contemporary Christian novels with universal themes, in this case, regret. Shades of Morning is a predictable read except for the angelic twist in the end. The amusing antics of Emmit offer some respite in a storyline mostly driven by flashbacks and relentless reminders of mistakes Marnie and Taylor made 15 years before. For Marnie and Taylor, unresolved regret has placed their lives in a holding pattern. This is a nice, undemanding piece of fiction which may move some readers to consider their own cycles of regret. Reviewed by Diana Irvine Elysiana By Chris Knopf The Permanent Press, $28.00, 304 pages It’s the Summer of ’69. Drugs, booze and free love roll as endlessly as the tide across Elysiana Beach, a twenty-five-mile long stretch of South Jersey coastline filled with a cast of unforgettable characters, caught up in the inevitability of their own personal quests. Alternately brain-damaged, bombed, brilliant and blustery, the summer denizens of Elysiana weave their own pieces of a much larger tapestry as the season rolls on to a score-settling, hurricane-filled climax. Elysiana is one of those novels whose appeal lies not so much in a loaded, complex plotline, as in its incredible array of characters. It doesn’t matter what path the characters are going down, it’s enough that they’re going and that they’re being themselves

Promises to Keep: A Novel By Jane Green Viking, $25.95, 343 pages

Promises to Keep is a book about the effect of one woman’s cancer on her husband, aging parents, young children, best friend, and sister. However, the first mention of cancer (book jacket included) does not appear until nearly halfway through the book. First, we meet the cast of characters and become involved in their personal, pre-cancer, day-to-day struggles. Steffi (the sister) can’t seem to settle down and grow up. Lila (the best friend) is 42 and has just fallen in love for the first time. Reece (the husband) is a workaholic, and Steffi and Callie’s long-divorced parents cope with loneliness. At a surprise birthday party for Callie, Reece gives a celebratory toast to Callie’s nearly five years of remission from breast cancer. Just fifty pages later, Callie’s troublesome headaches have taken a vengeful life of their own and she is hospitalized with what will eventually be diagnosed as a rare and lethal complication of cancer. But even in the face of this tragedy, Callie’s friends and family band together to make the best of Callie’s last weeks on Earth. An epilogue shows us how the characters are coping one year after Callie’s death. Author Jane Green’s constantly rolling points of view and shifts between sub plots give this story the intimacy of the first-person voice but with the completeness of a third-person narrative. Reviewed by Megan Just while doing it. Knopf skillfully outlines each character in clear detail and then builds them stronger and more tangible through their every action, no matter how minute or inconsequential. Pretty much every character in the story produces some emotional response in the reader, whether it’s disgust, admiration, respect or sympathy. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a story that will engage you from page one. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz The Sky That Wraps By Jay Lake Subterranean Press, $40.00, 406 pages Jay Lake is a first-class wordsmith, an author who relishes the possibilities of language, utilizing words to their utmost to craft incredibly detailed worlds both hauntingly familiar and mind-bogglingly different. From a desolate prison to dense cityscapes, from rooftops to cemeteries, from Shakespeare in space to ghosts in smalltown Texas, The Sky That Wraps meanders along the creative spectrum, lovingly realized with linguistic aplomb. In addition to wonderful stand-alones like Journal of an Inmate and A Very Old Man With No Wings at All, this collection includes several stories set in the same world as his novel Green, as well as multiple tales in his Portland Wizards series, where a curious form of urban magic rules the streets. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Lake’s stories are his titles, each one a lyrical enticement to read. Skinhorse Goes to Mars and Achilles, Sulking in His Buick are but two examples. (Even the title of the collection is a marvelous fit, as The Sky That Wraps is the shortened version; the full title

is The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black.) Nobody transports you to other worlds quite like Jay Lake does. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Ape House By Sara Gruen Spiegel & Grau, $26.00, 306 pages Sara Gruen’s new novel Ape House will be certain to please fans of her wildly popular 2007 novel Water for Elephants. Humananimal relationships and the dangers of animal exploitation are again Gruen’s focus, but here she explores the fascinating world of human-ape communication. When an animal rights group bombs the Great Ape Language Lab, researcher Isabel Duncan is wounded in the blast and the matriarchal family of bonobos she loves go missing, ultimately kidnapped by an unscrupulous TV programmer. Isabel, sympathetic journalist John Thigpen, and hordes of paparazzi descend on the unhygienic compound where the apes are imprisoned, the unwitting stars of a hugely popular reality TV show focused on their junk food, sex, and grooming rituals. (“Ape House” might be the logical heir to “Jersey Shore”). While the set-up may sound improbable, Gruen’s characters – both human and ape – are finely drawn and ultimately believable. Gruen’s research into the use of American Sign Language as a means of communicating with the bonobos informs her story (and the reader) without weighing it down. This is a satisfying, entertaining page-turner of a novel. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis

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Cooking, Food & Wine The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition By Peg Bracken Grand Central Publishing, $22.99, 206 pages Fifty years ago, cookbooks were not the plentiful item they are today. Housewives who panicked each evening about what to fix for dinner relied on mothers and mothersin-law (however unapproachable), or friends who were also strapped for ideas. Then came Peg Bracken and her I Hate to Cook Book. The most popular section, from an author who (allegedly, at least) wanted to spend minimal time in the kitchen, was the 30-Day-by Day entrees. This 50th anniversary edition, with a few adjustments by her daughter, Jo Bracken, is every bit as welcome. Despite the jokey approach, the recipe ingredients and quantities are rigorously correct, the recommendations for cooking time and serving impeccable. Yes, we have books with household hints, recipes for special diets, dinner guests, and kids’ parties, but all in one fairly skinny volume? I don’t think so. Bracken was a pioneer in short cuts long before packaged meals and cheap take-outs. Even if tuna casserole has fallen out of favor, personal experience confirms there are no better, easier cookie recipes. Her overnight macaroons have been my standby by longer than I care to mention. Reviewed by Jane Manaster The Top 100 Cheap Eats By Hilaire Walden Duncan Baird, $9.95, 128 pages This small-format (5½x6¾-in) recipe book is a paperback, though pages are printed on sturdy paper stock and the cover is of a durable (and washable) paper to take the abuse and spatters of a kitchen. “Cheap food can be just as nutritious, interesting, and delicious as more expensive food.” Nice illustrations are scattered throughout to enliven the book. All recipes are printed on a single page for convenience — they are mainly simple recipes using readily-available ingredients. The recipes are good with a considerable variety from an international repertoire though hardly exciting. They are designed for everyday cooking, yet some may be used when guests are expected. Preparation times are given mostly in the five-to-15-minute range, though for an average home cook these are grossly conser-

vative. Most complete preparations will take at least twice as long. Instructions are oversimplified for most cooks; beginners and inexperienced cooks may have trouble with the shorthand. Some preparation techniques are troublesome to understand. Some listed ingredients are not used during instructions and some are used that are not in the list. The brief index is very poor and without cross reference. Chicken with Tomato Salsa, for example, is listed under C: Cajun chicken. Reviewed by George Erdosh A Cook’s Journey to Japan: 100 Recipes from Japanese Kitchens By Sarah Marx Feldner Tuttle, $27.95, 160 pages Sarah Marx Felder was writing for a food magazine when she decided on a whim to quit her job, sell her house, and move to Japan to write a cookbook. Setting aside a mere two years for the task, by the time her journey was over, she’d in fact spent over four years compiling recipes from all over the country, “from the northern tip of the southern tip of Kyushu.” The result, A Cook’s Journey to Japan, is part cookbook, part travelogue. There’s no shortage of Japanese cookbooks out there, but what sets Marx Felder’s apart from most others is the stories that accompany her recipes. She introduces us to the friends she cooked and ate with: Hitomi, her aunt Hiromi, Atsuko, Reiko, and others. As you start to recognize their names and their recipes, the book starts to feel a little more personal. The almost innumerable photographs by Noboru Murata are another major plus. Since Japanese cuisine places such emphasis on the aesthetics of food, these are an invaluable addition that many other cookbooks simply omit. A Cook’s Journey to Japan is a trip everyone ought to take at least once. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell The Way to Make Wine: How to Craft Superb Table Wines at Home By Sheridan Warrick University of California Press, $21.95, 272 pages The Way to Make Wine is a brief but detailed introduction to the world of at-home winemaking, for both the novice and more experienced winemaker. In fifteen brief chapters—the first ten focused on the basics and necessities

Reviewer Spotlight George Erdosh

George is a culinary scientist, food writer, and certified cooking teacher with a strong science and research background (Ph.D., McGill University, Montreal). He is the author of 10 published food-related books: a six-book series for young readers Cooking Throughout American History and The African-American Kitchen; Start and Run a Catering Business (in its 4th edition, translated into five languages), Tried and True Recipes from a Caterer’s Kitchen and What Recipes Don’t Tell You, as well as numerous articles and magazines and newspapers. Originally an exploration geologist, he switched career to be a high-end caterer, a business he ran for more than 10 years, before switching to food writing and running cooking classes. of at home winemaking—the last five dedicated to techniques intended to improve the taste and quality of the hobby winemaker’s product—author Sheridan Warrick provides detailed and thorough information, from what types of materials are best suited to grape fermentation to measurements of different additives required to help ensure the success of your wine. The book is written in simple, yet technical, language that is clear but relatively unexciting, making the reading process seem longer than it otherwise would. But, to be fair, The Way to Make Wine is a how-to guide to crafting wine at home, not a novel, and the writing is clear, relatively concise, and appropriate to the subject matter. The prose of the book will not inspire anyone casually interested in crafting wine at home, but it will provide those who are serious about delving into the world of home winemaking the information required for success. Reviewed by Ashley McCall Eating Local: 150 Recipes from the Farm to Your Table By Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35.00, 304 pages Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher are my newest green heroes for their recently released cookbook Eating Local. The ingredients found locally in my county are the primary stars of my cooking and it thrills me to no end that I am on a first-name basis with the farmers who grow the produce. Visiting the local farmer’s market on weekends is essential therapy for me. In this volume, Sur La Table introduces us to the wonderful families and individu-

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als who grow everything they sell and serve to the community. Eating Local will prompt you to get familiar with Community Supported Agriculture and local farmers because the best organic ingredients are the ones that are grown closest to you. I won’t even begin to discuss the importance of freshness in food but I am thankful that Eating Local has covered and discussed the subject extensively and in a fun and wonderful manner. “The revolution in how individuals think about their food is well under way,” Fletcher says.”Local- sustainable family farms -- community: These words add up to a whole new way of purchasing, cooking and appreciating food. Eating Local is a guidebook to this movement. The people profiled here are on the front lines of the movement, and the recipes are for anyone who wants to participate in it,” she concludes. Eating Local is a superb book that gives its readers a deeper understanding and commitment to local food and a necessary appreciation for the passionate people who make it possible for us to have the best edibles on the table at all times. Reviewed by Kaye Cloutman

GOLDEN GATE, cont’ from page 1 ticularly the California Automobile Association, united in their support: Construction began on the bridge historian Kevin Starr compares to the Great Pyramid of Egypt and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Starr, author of Americans and the California Dream, delights as much in the details of history and on-going maintenance as he does in the contours of the bridge itself. Reviewed by Zara Raab

September 10


Biographies & Memoirs The Scouting Party: Pioneering and Preservation, Progressivism and Preparedness in the Making of the Boy Scouts of America By David C. Scott and Brendan Murphy Red Honor Press, $24.95, 403 pages Despite shortcomings (that are not necessary to discuss here), Boy Scouts of America are squeaky clean. It comes as a shock to learn the conflict that embroiled the organization in its early years. The Scouting Party delves into the confrontations between three men, each supported by political and publishing notables including President Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst. Boer War hero Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts movement in Britain, was challenged by artist-naturalist-Indian-admirer Ernest Thompson Seton who initiated the Woodcraft Indians, and by Daniel Beard, who illustrated works by Mark Twain and who launched the Sons of Daniel Boone. Every step of the way provoked antagonism. Even Baden-Powell’s motto was criticized: Be Prepared -- the relationship to his initials no coincidence. Long after B-P achieved hegemony in the Scouting movement, Seton and Beard continued to spar. As the book takes the reader through the movement’s expansion, it becomes almost a diatribe against Seton. He is demonized for his churlishness and aggression, even his personal hygiene. The photographs of successive leaders and administrators, some wooden and a tad smug in the style of the day, contrast with bold images of the non-conformist, perversely endearing Seton. Reviewed by Jane Manaster LOCAL AUTHOR Tales of Addiction and Inspiration for Recovery: Twenty True Stories from the Soul By Barbara Sinor Modern History Press, $32.95, 101 pages Dr. Sinor is a psychologist and a writer who has a passion to help people heal from addictions. At her public appearances in Northern California over the past few years, she requested of her audiences that they write to her of their own addiction stories. From their submissions, she compiled these twenty stories. The stories include viewpoints, advice, and regrets from addicts, drunkards, and the people who love

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them. Some were addicted only a short time, some for a lifetime. Not everyone wins the battle, but everyone’s story has the possibility to help another addict still suffering. Pain and failure mix with hope and success in these stories, and Sinor has interwoven amongst them all a very personal lesson of her own: the drama, struggle, and heartbreak she and her husband have faced with their son Richard’s fight for victory over alcohol. Twenty tales of addiction and grace, this is a good book for people in recovery, people on the brink of recovery, and people who struggle to maintain hope in another’s recovery. Reviewed by Marcia Jo Two Cents Plain: My Brooklyn Boyhood By Martin Lemelman Bloomsbury, $26.00, 314 pages Two Cents Plain takes the cutting edge form of a graphic novel, but it’s a classic coming of age story set in Brooklyn in the 1950s and ’60s. Lemelman’s detailed pencil drawings, sprinkled with Yiddish sayings and dialogue capturing the colorful, broken English of his immigrant parents, tell the story of his hard-working parents fleeing the Holocaust after WWII and setting up shop in Teddy’s Candy Store, selling ice cream, cigarettes, sodas, egg creams, newspapers, and toys. Between recipes for egg cream and black and white malts, spats with his brother, and stories about the lively characters in the neighborhood are glimpses of real suffering: an enraged father trapped in drudgery, inhaling vodka and working long hours; an hysterical mother; cramped, squalid living quarters infested with ants, roaches and rats; packing boxes for furniture; children sharing a bedroom with parents or sleeping next to the refrigerator; screaming arguments. Even-handedly, with humor and not an ounce of self-pity, the author follows the neighborhood’s decline and the traumatic event forcing them to close the store and move. One Yiddish saying goes, “Life’s the biggest bargain. You get it free.” It’s what comes after you’re born that costs. Reviewed by Zara Raab

Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer By Chely Wright Pantheon, $25.95, 288 pages

Country music--the music of America. It speaks of traditional values and American values. So what happens to the world of country music when one of its biggest stars twists those values upside down? You get Like Me, Chely Wright’s personal journey and struggle of being gay in the country music world. Wright gives a detailed background of her life, from her times from a small town to her life as a country music superstar. Wright shares her story of discovering she was gay and the great lengths she went to in order to hide that from the world. She speaks with pure emotion discussing her first crush and how her being closeted ruined her relationship with her one true love. Chely Wright shares her experiences with other celebrities, the rumors about her sexuality, and the adversity she faced without even coming out. She writes straight from the heart and her beautiful poetic writing style shines throughout the entire book. Chely Wright is a brave woman for speaking up about homosexuality in country music and I hope that this will inspire others to be true to themselves and feel safe coming out. Reviewed by Nicole Will Mentor: A Memoir By Tom Grimes Tin House Books, $24.95, 256 pages This book began as a eulogy, one written by a writer for his former teacher at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Tom Grimes met Frank Conroy, the author of Stop-Time and a writing instructor, when he was still an applicant to the Workshop. Conroy seems to have spotted an earlier version of himself in Grimes and came to take him under his wing. It was Conroy who gave Grimes, a budding but riddled-w ith-doubt writer, the confidence to write and sell his first novel. “Writers always look toward the future.” Frank Conroy was such an influence on Grimes that the latter is now also a college instructor. Conroy was 54 when he met the young Grimes, the age that Grimes is now. They established a father-and-son type relationship, the type that led Grimes to write to Conroy, “You’ve changed my life... love, love, love.” Oddly, the first meeting between these two was not a pleasant one. Grimes, in fact, tore up his copy of Stop-Time, he was so angry about being ignored by an idol. But Conroy helped Grimes to live out his dreams. Now Grimes has returned the favor with a heartfelt and moving tribute to his lifelong friend and mentor. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano

Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House By Daum, Meghan Knopf, $24.95, 245 pages Meghan Daum’s new memoir had me from its first line: “Yesterday, a piece of my house came off in my hands.” Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House is about much more, however, than single women’s real estate woes, although Daum hilariously documents plenty of those. “We were all touched by the same strain of crazy.” At root, this is memoir about the idea of home for a generation who grew up rootless, raised by baby boomers who associated social mobility with escaping from the towns they grew up in. Moving from suburb to suburb with her parents, Daum never develops a sense of place as a child; as an adult, having inherited the so-called “geographical solution” from her parents, Daum becomes a “real estate addict,” moving twelve times in seven years. This wasn’t all bad: a flight from New York to Nebraska resulted in her well-received 2003 novel The Quality of Life Report. Lame roommates, electricity you can smell, dog hair, and divorced parents are the materials with which Daum weaves this appealing memoir, its bright and funny surface not quite concealing the more serious knob and tube wiring underneath. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis

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History The Sierra Nevada Before History By Louise A. JacksonMountain Press Publishing Company Mountain Press, $15.00, 210 pages Ancient folklore holds together this book’s two parts, one the hard science of geology, climate, and biology, the other the anthropology of Indian cultures thriving in the Sierras before the first ‘white’ man made his appearance in the mid-16th century. Monache Indians, for example, tell of a devastating winter of terrible storms “a long time ago, before my grandfather, his grandfather, and his grandfather,� which drove the people to starvation, cannibalism, and migration. The Tubatulabal tribe recount how the Prairie Falcon, Lim’-ik, created the Sierra mountain range. These tribal stories lead into Jackson’s discussion of the region’s climate and geology. Each tribe whose descendants still inhabit the southern Sierras—Tubatulabal, Yokuts, Western Monache, Sierra Miwok, Yosemite and Paiute––possesses distinctive folk tales illuminating the linguistic, cultural, and social differences among the tribes. Photographs of cultural artifacts, such as basketry and grinding slabs, and of habitats and hunting gear, reveal something of daily village life,

and show how the tribes adapted to their particular environment, whether high sierra, foothill, or coastal region. Detailed maps demonstrate the extent of habitation, and intertribal trading patterns. Jackson, an amateur historian with a passion for her subject, provides extensive notes, references, and both detailed bibliography and index. Reviewed by Zara Raab Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality By Christopher Ryan, Cacilda JethĂĄ Harper, $25.99, 400 pages This should have been an interesting book. It should have been an entertaining book. It should have been a well written book. Instead, it was none of these. Sex at Dawn claims to get to the origins of modern sexuality in humans. While they might get to that point, there are so many tangents, loops, and wanderings through the forest that most readers will give up before the ending. They make persuasive arguments--when you can find the arguments--that human sexuality was not about monogamous pair relations, one man and one woman raising a child. Instead, it was a group of men and women having sex with each other and

not forming strict bonds with each other, that women could have multiple sexual partners without breaking the bonds of the group, and the same with men. They look at the closest human relatives the bonobos, one of the few primates to have sex for fun. The problem with this book is that it cannot stop laughing at itself and can’t take itself seriously. The readers are treated like idiots. Avoid this one. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Alameda Naval Air Station (Images of America) By William T. Larkins, Alameda Naval Air Museum Arcadia Publishing, $21.99, 127 pages The Alameda Naval Air Station was home to thousands of Navy personal, their families, and civilians working on the base across from San Francisco and just south of Oakland. It was made into a Naval air base in the early 1940s and was home to many Naval ships and airplanes. Many planes would come to the Alameda base to get repaired and then sent back to their squadron, some would come and get re-designated and go to their new homes. Alameda was also home to the Naval air reserve which sometimes saw active duty in the mid1960s. This collection

Technology Flash CS5: The Missing Manual By Chris Grover Pogue Press, $39.99, 756 pages Professional programmers and developers use Flash to make nifty political cartoons and multimedia websites , tutorials, presentations, visual effects for film and TV shows, video games. I liked how author and producer Chris Grover didn’t extol the program’s uses too much--nor waxed poetic on its history--but got right into “What’s new about Flash CS5.� As a relatively new user of Flash I delved into this piece eager to learn some shortcuts, especially after slaving nearly three days over a thirty second animation piece not too long ago. Grover’s “Up To Speed� gray boxes hit my not-quite-savvy-with-coder-lingo reader group just right, being basic, back-fill information that you should know before proceeding. The narrative is easy to understand and thankfully Grover tells you where to

find the things he’s talking about and didn’t take subtle jabs at the novices’ expense. The section on ‘text’, especially walking the reader thorough making vertical containers, helped me a great deal. I would have liked to see more on embedding fonts, but the manual is already quite thick without it. Reviewed by Meredith Greene Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green� Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future By Robert Bryce Public Affairs, $27.95, 394 pages Power Hungry - The Myths of “Green� Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future is written by author and managing editor of the web-based magazine Energy Tribune Robert Bryce. Bryce has a thing or two to say about fossil fuels, hydrocarbons, nuclear and natural gas. This man has spent two decades studying energy and he spells out a no-nonsense plan of action with compel-

brings to life the years the Alameda Naval Air Station was active until it closed in 1997. The main focus of this book is on the planes and the ships that called Alameda home. From the aircraft carriers, to cruisers and other ships that would come in for some R & R. To airplanes flying to other bases and stopping to get fuel and supplies, Alameda was home to a wide range of people. Of great interest are the pictures of the many planes, from single prop to jet engine planes in the later years. Reviewed by Kevin Winter

TBDSBNFOUPCPPLSFWJFXDPN ling statistics to back up his every word. “We don’t care what energy is. We want what it does. We would gladly fill our fuel tanks with jelly beans, marbles, or Hostess Twinkies if we thought they could deliver the power [we] need.� “We don’t give a damn about energy. What we want is power.� Power Hungry - The Myths of “Green� Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future provides a four-part breakdown of the dilemmas and potential solutions we as a humanity are facing. Part One identifies the need for power, our hunger for it. Part Two covers the myths of “green� energy. Part Three is the argument for natural gas to nuclear; N2N, and finally in Part Four he invites us to rethink how we can move in a better direction for cheaper, more abundant energy. Throughout this book, Four Imperatives: power density, energy density, cost and scale are used as his basis for logical analysis. Bryce states, “We use hydrocarbons – coal, oil and natural gas – not because we like them, but because they produce lots of heat energy,

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from small spaces, at prices we can afford, and in the quantities that we demand.� For example, Bryce cites that an average coal mine will produce more energy output in an average day than the daily output of solar panels and wind turbines in the United States combined! II Bryce deftly sets out to debunk the myths of the ever popular going green campaign and answers more specific technological difficulties and cost containment issues. “The hard truth is that we must make decisions about how to proceed on energy very carefully, because America simply cannot afford to waste any more money on programs that fail to meet the Four Imperatives.� His views will undoubtedly be rejected or disbelieved, but he backs up those views with hard evidence provoking the reader to do the math for themselves, verify statistics and basically, check up on him with more than ninety pages of references, statistical appendixes ,and energy data notes. This is the must-read book for the Twenty-First century. Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson

September 10


Historical Fiction The Doctor and the Diva: A Novel By Adrienne McDonnell Pamela Dorman Books, $26.95, 432 pages Here is historical fiction at its best. In 1903 Boston, young Doctor Ravell is just starting to make his way in the rapidly changing field of obstetrics. A well-known family approaches him on behalf of a sister and her apparently barren marriage shortly before he hears the lady in question sing a beautiful aria at a funeral. “What would happen to her life, her voice, her aspirations of Italy, after the little creature came? Surely it would be eons before such perfect stretches of solitude were hers again”. Doctor Ravell has had great luck and a reputation for insightful solutions for turnof-the-century infertile couples, and he agrees to help. Erika von Kessler has two dreams, one to have a child and the other to become a world famous opera singer. She has the voice, but has nearly given up on bearing a child. For her husband, having a child has become an obsession. Doctor Ravell saves the day by crossing an ethical line in the sand that could land him in prison, without thinking of the consequences to all involved. Sadly, the baby girl is still born and his secret is safe. Unfortunately, another of the doctor’s secrets is revealed and he is run out of Boston. He finds himself the manager of a coconut plantation in Trinidad. That could have been the end of the story, but when one holds onto their dreams as strongly as these characters do, there is no ending. Every act is a new beginning. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler The War That Came Early: Hitler’s War By Harry Turtledove Del Rey, $16.00, 516 pages Harry Turtledove reckons he has let us in on a military secret. Soldiers curse continuously, moan about their fate, try to get laid as often as possible, despise superiors and try to stay alive. Lest anyone forgets this, he reminds them constantly in the first part of a series on the alternative history of World War II. “People were saying the Maginot Line would save France. People were saying it would have to save France. Luc Harcourt didn’t give a

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damn about what people were saying. All he knew was, he was getting sick of being marched backward and forward and inside out.” The starting point is England and France standing up to Hitler’s smash and grab of Czechoslovakia, instead of appeasing him. The thorough research and original insights into what might have been are lost in the tedium of predictable conversations between fighting men from all the belligerents, compounded by obscure actions that serve little purpose. The best sections deal with U.S. civilians in Germany coping with Nazi officialdom, while the plight of a Jewish family who are proud of their German background provides an unusual angle on the Holocaust. For armchair generals and veterans, this is a splendid book to pair with a 1940 map and move colored thumbtacks around.//The framework of a thought-provoking tale is there. The materials need to be used differently in the next book. And a note for the publisher: the term is “alternative” not “alternate.” Reviewed by Martin Rushmere A Penny for the Violin Man By Eli Rill Circle of Life Publishing, $24.95, 403 pages This saga of a struggling Jewish family in Brooklyn centers on high school teacher Norman Schecter, a less-than-affluent liberal activist striving for teacher unionization. Schecter’s efforts are kindled after his star student is permanently disabled at a campaign rally. The book begins as the Nazi party rises to power and ends with the 9/11 travesty. The pages weave back and forth during the 1930s, somewhat confusingly, before advancing incrementally to this century. The tenement neighborhood is mostly home to Jewish families, but by the process of sequent occupation it becomes multi-ethnic and embrace the progress of civil rights as they come into focus. The Schecters’ tribulations follow a path of ups and downs paralleling the pattern all families take over generations, different only in detail. Despite the ‘foreign’ enriching Yiddish expressions, and perhaps because of the four-letter words, this is a universal story, highly acceptable to readers who enjoy a vicarious sense of belonging. And the violin man? He is a Greek of tragic background who plays in neighborhood courtyards, welcoming pennies from appreciative audiences. Reviewed by Jane Manaster

Trying to Please

By John Norwich Axios Press, $20.00, 432 pages Memoirs can create a variety of responses in a reader; Trying to Please by John Julius Norwich is entertaining, witty, and a plain old-fashioned good read. Norwich is the son of a British politician and his socialite wife, and has lived a supremely enjoyable life. His memoir covers his early years living with his parents and beloved nanny, his educations at Eton and Oxford, his stay in Canada during World War II, his time in the Royal Navy, and everything one could ever want to know about his professional and private life. He has written many books over his lifetime and presented numerous television documentaries. Norwich himself feels that he has led an overall undistinguished life, but after reading this extensive book, many readers will be disinclined to agree. Throughout all, even while recounting sad events like the death of his parents, Norwich retains his congenial viewpoint that makes his writing so pleasing to read. Some readers may be vaguely disconcerted by the ease with which he speaks of the marital indiscretions of both his parents and himself, but overall, Norwich’s life experiences make for a very delightful read. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Tears of the Mountain By John Addiego Unbridled Books, $25.95, 387 pages It’s July 4th, 1876, and as the citizens of Sonoma County prepare to celebrate the centennial of their nation, one man starts his day unaware of the pivotal events in store for him. Jeremiah McKinley looks forward to the festivities and reuniting with old friends but a troubling dream of his first wife, and a disconcerting visit from a strange little boy who speaks with Jeremiah’s dead father’s voice are just the beginning of the mysteries this Independence Day has in store for the McKinley family. Using alternating chapters to flash between the present day and then back in time to the McKinley family’s pioneer trip across the country to California, Addiego wields perfect control of the story, using simple and elegant descriptive prose and charming sentence bridges to flow between one chapter and the next. Unfortunately, while the story starts off strong, towards the end it begins to take on a murky feel and instead of clarifying, events begin to feel more unfocused. The premise is unique and promising and the beginning events give a delightful chill, but don’t hold out for a strong finish or you’ll be disappointed. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz

The King’s Mistress By Emma Campion Crown, $26.00, 450 pages In The King’s Mistress, medieval scholar Emma Campion paints a literary portrait of King Edward III’s 14th century court and all the intrigue that goes along with it. At the heart of the novel is protagonist Alice Perrers, a bride at 14, a mother at 15, and a lady to Queen Philipa by age 16. Alice and her husband, a much older Janyn, are merchants who seem to live as courtiers with royal favor. But when their patron, the dowager queen Isabella, dies and Janyn disappears, Alice longs for her simple life as wife and mother. “In truth, I am uneasy about even our slight intercourse with the royal family. I do not think crowns bring peace and contentment.” Though the first quarter of the novel is Alice’s happiest times, it is also the least captivating. Things get interesting thereafter when Alice becomes singled out as the King’s mistress. In the meantime she uncovers dark secrets her husband kept and navigates her way through a treacherous world at court. Early on, Alice reflects, In truth, I am uneasy about even our slight intercourse with the royal family. I do not think crowns bring peace and contentment. That’s just the beginning. Reviewed by Elizabeth Kalfsbeek

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Book Review


Sept 2010


Science Fiction & Fantasy Mockingjay

By Suzanne Collins Scholastic Press, $17.99, 400 pages Mockingjay is one of the most anticipated YA novels of the year, concluding the dystopian trilogy started in the Hunger Games. It is the story of a future where two children from each of the districts making up the country are sent to take part in very violent televised games, with only one set of them surviving, provided both actually do survive. In Hunger Games, Katniss takes her sister’s place in the lottery, going to the Hunger Games instead, and against all odds, survives. In Catching Fire, Katniss is lauded among the districts and then subjected to a new Hunger Game with previous survivors for a 75th anniversary special. Finally, in Mockingjay, Katniss becomes part of the revolution to overthrow the brutal system. There is a major change of focus in Mockingjay, not so much on the characters, but on the subject of war and conflict. In the first two books, the majority of the emphasis was that one did their best to make sure you left something better for those that came after you. The children and their parents participated in the Hunger Games because winning them would make life better for the residents of the winning district‌or also because not participating would bring retaliation down on any district that dared to try and boycott them. But in Mockingjay, there is a lot of death, but it seems more for shock value than for examples of selflessness. Katniss herself goes from being a driving character to reacting to the events and things around her, almost becoming easily manipulated with no change to explain why. Collins does deliver a well-concluded final book, but it lacks some of the humanness that gave her many rabid fans of the first two books and could disappoint readers who were looking to see more development in Katniss and a better conclusion to her story. Reviewed by Ross Rojek

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September 10


E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY The Auslesen Seven: In the Land of the Unicorn By Zachary Schmitz Xlibris, $29.99, 247 pages Orphans Chris and James’ lives are changed forever after a chance encounter with a genie who transports them to a magical world of wizards, mystical creatures, and a centuries-old war between the Elites and the Ribelles. Chris discovers that he is the Chosen One whom the magical world has waited generations to arrive. He is their only hope for ending the war and bringing peace to the land. Zachary Schmitz’s debut novel is full of memorable characters, magic spells, dangerous enemies, and exciting adventures. Schmitz takes the reader on a fast-paced journey through mysticism and magic. Chris and James must create entire new identities for themselves and adapt to an entirely foreign world while discovering who they are individually, as friends, and as members of the Auslesen Seven. Many of Schmitz’s themes—wizarding school, the Chosen One, wands choosing their masters, and fighting against dark forces—will be familiar to fantasy fans. While Schmitz’s habit of addressing the reader was a bit distracting, his story is intriguing. This book is the first of an intended series, so it doesn’t come to a finite conclusion. The reader is left wondering what will happen next to the mischievous duo and what dangers will lay waiting for them along the precarious path toward freedom. Sponsored Review Tome of the Undergates (The Aeon’s Gate, Book 1) By Sam Sykes Pyr, $17.00, 490 pages Lenk is an adventurer, a profession that many consider to be the lowest of the low, and he has surrounded himself with similarly degenerate company: Denaos the rogue; Asper, a priestess with a cursed secret; Dreadaeleon, an immature wizard; Gariath, the last of the race of dragonmen; and Kataria, a savage creature called a shict. The group spends as much time trying to kill one another as they do trying to accomplish the mission set before them: recover a powerful book stolen by demons before the demons can use it to set their mother-demon free. To complicate matters, a race of purple-skinned warriors are seeking the very same tome, and will not hesitate to kill anyone who gets in their way.

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Tome of the Undergates is the first in the Aeon’s Gate series by Sam Sykes. Despite the author’s apparent obsession with bodily functions, specifically that of flatulence, this is a very solid beginning to what promises to be an epic storyline. Sykes writes with a wry humor; there is intense fighting action to be found here, certainly, and a complex plot filled with unexpected twists, but the underlying depraved sense of humor is undeniable. This series has great potential. Reviewed by Holly Scudero An Artificial Night: An October Daye Novel By Seanan McGuire DAW, $7.99, 368 pages Often times you’ll read certain books and simultaneously imagine what they’d look like on the big screen. The action sequences, descriptive scene settings or dialogue simply lends itself to that medium. An Artificial Night is such a book. It is wildly and beautifully descriptive, with scenes that will simply take your breath away. If Hollywood doesn’t snatch up the rights to this book, they are even crazier than Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean III. That being said, the third installment in the October (Toby) Day series is even better (if that could be believed) than the prior two. Author Seanan McGuire seems to have hit her stride and should enjoy a long career. Part private investigator, part knight errant for the fae community in San Francisco, Toby’s faced challenges that would bring lesser mortals (or immortals) to their knees. But when the fae children of her fair city are stolen from their beds, she leaps into action with little regard for her own well-being. Toby will have the brave the dark lands of Blind Michael and wrestle the children back, lest they become a permanent riders in the Wild Hunt, changed forever. Racing against the clock and her own death, Toby plunges head-long in a wild adventure leaving the reader breathless with anticipation. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Final Crisis By Greg Cox Ace, $15.00, 305 pages It starts with the death of a god. The battle between good and evil has tipped toward the side of evil, and the Justice League of America scrambles to solve the mystery. As dangers mount and the heroes are scattered by threats both personal and global, a dark force conquers humanity, removing free will from the Earth and assembling a mindless slave army of billions. Can even the might of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and their allies stop the master plan of a new pantheon of evil gods? Final Crisis is Greg Cox’s attempt to distill

Jump Gate Twist (Jon & Lobo Series) By Mark L. Van Name Baen, $12.00, 736 pages

Mark L. Van Name has risen quickly among Baen’s stable of science fiction novelists and with good reasons. Many of those reasons are on full display in Jump Gate Twist, an omnibus containing One Jump Ahead and Slanted Jack, the first two novels in his Jon and Lobo series plus two short stories set in the universe. Jon is the human protagonist and first person narrator while Lobo is the living, space-faring warship who provides dry responses to Jon’s rhetorical questions. The dialogue between Jon and Lobo is entertaining and provides a strong narrative current. I was reminded a bit of Steven Brust’s assassin Vlad Taltos and his familiar Loiosh in that both duos communicate on a silent, mental wavelength. Jon is not exactly normal human. As a result of experiments conducted while Jon was younger, his body is teeming with nanobots which provide him a level of superhuman abilities, not the least of which is the ability to communicate with machines. “Strongly recommended. Engaging characters and brisk plot in two novels, plus two short stories under one cover. A must have omnibus!” One Jump Ahead introduces both characters as Jon acquires Lobo when vacationing on the planet Macken, and Jon is convinced to help save a young kidnapped girl. Before the second full novel, we get a very early glimpse at Jon before he is the experienced courier and ex-military man. The story, “My Sister, My Self,” is set on Jon’s birth planet Pinkelponker and offers readers the only glimpse at Jon’s sister Jenni, the memory of whom haunts Jon in the two novels in the omnibus. In Slanted Jack, the second novel in the omnibus, Jon runs into an old ‘business partner’ who lures Jon back to his side in order to save the life of a young boy who is contention point between a religious cult (with ties to Jon’s home planet of Pinkelponker); a crime lord who wants the boy for his own purposes; and strong-armed government. While the setting of the books is a vast galaxy, Van Name does a great job of making these stories personal and intimate deftly balancing character and action. One of the cooler SF-nal elements allowing for such widespread travel are the Gates, which allow quick travel across galaxies and are thought by some to be relics of an ancient civilization or even gods. All told, I highly recommended this book both as an introduction to Van Name’s work and a great value for containing two flat-out entertaining science fiction novels. Reviewed by Robert H. Bedford a galaxy-spanning story from the DC Comics universe into a single tome, and given the amount of material – both in the comic miniseries itself and in backstory to help new readers get caught up – his effort is an admirable one. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of characters wander in and out of the story, and many of them get not only adequate description and history, but time to shine. Unfortunately, it’s an almost insurmountable task. Eventually, some of the namedropping, especially in larger scenes, leaves unfamiliar readers a bit lost. The translation process from comic to novel also hobbles Cox’s efforts. In a multi-issue comic series, it makes sense for Superman to disappear for a bit, because odds are, a single issue will be wholly devoted to him and his activities in the meantime. But in the novel, his absence is palpable, even at times, detrimental to the read. And in a story of such scope, where characters and major players are dying and suffering and being transformed before our

very eyes, understanding is crucial. We need to care about these characters in order to invest ourselves in the storytelling. For Batman, Superman, and some of the other big name characters, that’s easy. When it comes to Black Lightning, the Tattooed Man, detective Dan Turpin, and others, more time to explore them and their importance to the universe would have been beneficial, both to the reader and the characters. Even Darkseid, the master architect of the catastrophe that threatens the universe, is under explained. His goals, his methods, his reasons are inscrutable. This may be intentional; after all, Darkseid is a new god, and the ways of gods are often inscrutable to mere mortals. But as an antagonist, a story-driving force, a reader desperately needs to understand Darkseid. And for the most part, a non-comic reader who has picked up Final Crisis won’t. Is Final Crisis a worthwhile read? Absolutely. It’s challenging and interesting, surprising and action-packed. But it’s also occa-

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY sionally frustrating. Might want to do a bit of homework before picking it up. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Queen of Shadows (A Novel of the Shadow World) By Dianne Sylvan Ace, $7.99, 400 pages Miranda Grey is slowly going crazy. She started out sane enough, picking up an old guitar and teaching herself how to play, singing on street corners for tips. Then a strange thing happened. She found she could manipulate the emotions of her audience. They’d leave her shows just a bit sad or high as a kite. But her gift was a doubleedge sword. As she could manipulate the emotions of others through her music, she began to know things about others, horrible things. Now she’s drowning in a sea of secrets and can tell no one lest they commit her. Until she meets David Solomon, vampire king of the South. As he begins to help her heal, they both become embroiled in a vampiric civil war. Dianne Sylvan is an incredibly talented writer. She draws the reader not only into the story but into the very marrow of someone who is starting to question their grip on reality. If you aren’t familiar with the Austin area, you will be, once you turn that last page. While the story drags a bit in the middle, Queen of Shadows concludes with a great flourish, leaving the reader euphoric. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Ghost of a Chance By Simon R. Green Ace, $7.99, 260 pages The Carnacki Institute is humanity’s first, last, and only defense against incursions of a supernatural nature. Other-dimensional forces, demonic entities, convergences of time and space – the Institute is equipped to handle all of them. Its resident experts in hauntings and ghostly visitations are the arrogantly capable JC Chance, the techmistress Melody Chambers, and the sullen telepath Happy Jack Palmer. And their latest assignment is a doozy: London’s Oxford Circus tube station. Something is down there, summoning ghosts and visions and all manners of diabolical weirdness. And when agents of the rival Crowley Project arrive on the scene, the intrepid trio might be in over their heads. Jumpstarting a new novel series, Ghost of a Chance features all of Green’s trademark

banter, plot twists, and ultra-vibrant supernatural eeriness. While the main protagonists are still a little cookie-cutter at this point – the multilayered threat in the Oxford Circus station takes center stage – I’m most definitely looking forward to their further adventures. I have no doubt that Green will deliver on their potential in spades. As a first installment, Ghost of a Chance stirs interest and satisfies. I’d expect nothing less from Simon R. Green. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Twelve By Jasper Kent Pyr, $17.00, 457 pages Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov is a peculiar soldier in an unusual war. Napoleon Bonaparte’s march through Russia in the year 1812 made history, but in this alternative history by Jasper Kent, creatures called the Oprichniki are asked by Aleksei and his comrades to join the fight against the French on the side of the Russians (at least that’s what the Russian soldiers believe). As Aleksei observes these creatures, condemning his friend and fellow soldier to death in the process, he realizes that the only side these creatures are on is their own. It’s not his cowardice or failure to act but in fact creatures of a terrifying legend called the Voordalak that becomes his greatest failing and his redemption. Rich and detailed, Twelve chases battles and skirmishes from field to town and back again, from brothel to hospital and lonely barns in the snow-deeps of a Russian winter. This vampire novel leaks Russia from its very pages. The characters make this conglomeration of human frailties, misguided loyalties, communism, and vampires proof that, in the right hands, the vampire novel isn’t dead, or undead, but flourishing. Reviewed by Axie Barclay The Evolutionary Void By Peter F. Hamilton Del Rey, $28.00, 694 pages Picking up precisely where The Temporal Void left off, The Evolutionary Void,—the third book in Hamilton’s Void Trilogy— immediately kicks into high gear. Edeard has finally managed to master his awesome psychic abilities, but he finds that his troubles are far from over. Second Dreamer Araminita finds herself trying to outrun her destiny as every Commonwealth faction in the universe

hunts her down. The cult of the Living Dreamers ruthlessly pursues their goal of settling into their perfect lives within the Void, while Oscar Monroe feverishly works on his own plan to thwart the utter destruction that will be the ultimate result of their pilgrimage. While I found some of his character interaction scenes--and pretty much all of his action scenes--to be portrayed in a somewhat stilted manner, Hamilton does continue to excel in character development. And does this book have some characters! This story is a very detailed mapping of overlapping layers of storylines, of which, the few mentioned above are but a small portion. Several philosophical arguments are also part of the tapestry which makes for an interesting read, even if you don’t find yourself fully immersed in the pages of this particular book. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz Revenant (A Zoe Martinique Investigation) By Phaedra Weldon Ace, $15.00, 352 pages Those unfamiliar with the storyline may very well find themselves lost through much of the latest offering in the Zoe Martinique series. Zoe is back with the same cast of characters from her earlier novels with new powers and abilities. On a positive note, long time readers won’t have to wade through long explanations of information by the time they reach this fourth novel but for the uninitiated Revenant does not work as a stand-alone novel. Zoe is a Wraith. She has the ability to shed her body and walk on the Abysmal plane. She conceals the ability from her friends and family as she is encouraged to trust no one. However when bodies began showing up around Atlanta, Zoe has little choice but to come clean as she turns to them for help. Part paranormal fantasy part mystery, the fast-paced storyline will keep readers engaged to the very end. Author Phaedra Weldon’s descriptive writing style and intriguing characters make this fairly complex world a worthwhile read, although much more enjoyable if readers start from the first in the series. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Wings of Fire By Holly Black, Orson Scott Card, George R. R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Todd Lockwood Night Shade Books, $15.95, 499 pages This enchanting collection is a sampling of all things dragon; philosophy, magic, mechanism, environment, menu, subterfuge, climate, culture, and dragons as friends and protagonists. I met several old

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winged friends and made some new ones. This was not a story that failed to entrance. Often anthologies are offered with one or two prominent writers to carry their more earthbound colleagues. Not so with Wings of Fire. The level of writing is so consistently high one feels seized and borne aloft! “Hear a dragon’s riddling: as round as an apple, as deep as a cup, and all the kings horses can’t pull it up. Which was a well of course.” Some stories were origination sources for series dear to lovers of science-fantasy. In St. Dragon and the George we meet Gordon Dickson’s Teaching Assistant Jim Eckert, transmuted into Gorbash, before the mourned Mr. Dickson injected Aragh or the sandmirks or the Welsh archer. In Weyr Search Lessa of Ruatha Hold sabotages her family’s slayer and is impressed to become the loved and loving companion of the golden queen of Pern’s Dragonfolk. Some jewels stand alone, limned by flame. Ursula K. Le Guin pits Winter Dragon against moonshine. S. P. Somtow’s dragon underlies Bangkok and supplies both enchantment and wondrous nourishment. Jane Yolen steals the Wart from theOnce and Future Kingand performs a draconian transformation of Merlin. A wondrous volume! Reviewed by David Sutton Return By Peter S. Beagle Subterranean Press, $35.00, 104 pages A bow and arrow-wielding mercenary confronts painful memories and an ancient evil in Return, a new Innkeeper’s World story from the pen of mythopoeia, Hugo and Nebula Award winner and two-time World Fantasy Award best novel nominee Peter S. Beagle. Soukyan, the narrator, has long been hunted by unchangeable Hunter’s triads, but the latest attack is different. Soukyan dons a disguise to return to that place he fled as a boy many years before. What he finds is the ancient secret of the Order of Brothers he was once invited to join. Only through the help of the magic given to him by the “man who laughs” can Soukyan hope to overcome the indomitable Hunters and their half-mad masters. Beagle’s story reads like an ancient legend due to its intimate first-person perspective, its ancient sounding grammar and vocabulary, and its intense sequences of battle and ancient

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY magic. Coupled with a spectacular cover and interior illustrations by Chesley Award winner Maurizio Manzieri, this lush limited edition novella is entrancing and utterly compelling. Familiarity with The Innkeeper’s Song is not required to enjoy this captivating heroic and mythic fantasy. Reviewed by John Ottinger Kraken By China Mieville Del Rey, $26.00, 509 pages Billy Harrow works for London’s Natural History Museum, where he has spent months preparing an exhibit displaying an incalculably rare specimen: Architeuthis dux, otherwise known as the giant squid. But when the squid vanishes before its illustrious debut, Billy finds himself plunged into a magical flipside of London whose existence he had never suspected. This is a world where cultists and magicians are policed by sorcerer-cops, and where creatures of myth and humanfaced monsters instill terror with mere whispers. Billy is more important than he had ever imagined. He may hold the power to bring about the end of everything – or to prevent it. In the wake of his absolutely stunning The City & the City, Mieville returns to his urban fantasy roots with Kraken, a dark and thoroughly enrapturing novel that combines mystery, fantasy, and philosophy in equal mind-bending doses. As he questions the nature and depth of faith, he challenges the reader with a plethora of powerful and bizarre characters, each with a personal agenda. His deft balancing of horror and humor is a pleasure, and as always, his world is dazzlingly detailed. Kraken is yet another outstanding work from a truly singular voice in modern storytelling. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas And Another Thing... By Eoin Colfer Hyperion, $14.99, 273 pages In the final moments of Mostly Harmless, the fifth book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, things were not looking up for our protagonists. Downtrodden earthling Arthur Dent, galactic traveler Ford Prefect, interstellar reporter Trillian, and Arthur and Trillian’s daughter Random were facing the destruction of themselves and the entire Earth, not only here, but in every reality. Douglas Adams didn’t exactly leave

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them in a situation conducive to further adventures. Or even continued breathing for more than a few seconds. But that didn’t faze Eoin Colfer in the slightest, and his addition to the series, And Another Thing... picks up right where Douglas left off, as former intergalactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox accidentally rescues our heroes and sends them off on another mindboggling and baffling journey across the galaxy. As a diehard Douglas Adams fan, I had a kneejerk reaction when I heard that there would be a new book appended to Douglas’s five-part trilogy, but I tried to give Colfer the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad I did. His affection for the source material is undeniable, and his knowledge of the five preceding books borders on the encyclopedic. There are references galore for loyal Hitchhiker’s fans to recognize and appreciate, even as he strives to leave his own eclectic and eccentric fingerprints on the universe and its many wonders. In fact, I wish Colfer had had the confidence to put more of his own voice and ideas into the novel. The same enthusiasm that is such a boon to his efforts often serves as a hindrance. Colfer tries too hard to remind of us of Douglas’s universe, and those repeated references prove to be more a distraction than reassuringly familiar color. Along the same lines, the near-constant interruptions by “the Guide” to explain references in the narrative grow more jarring with every appearance, disrupting the flow of scenes more often than not. Reading And Another Thing... is akin to hearing someone tell one of your favorite jokes, but fudge a few details and fumble the punchline. The book is far from perfect, but there is a lot to recommend about it. It was wonderful to spend more time with these brilliant and infuriating characters, and to see them stumble and gracelessly dance among the myriad threats and curious back alleys of the universe. Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian are in fine form, and even Random manages to wrestle an iota of sympathy from the reader. But I admit, most sincerely, that I hope there are no more attempts to add to the Hitchhiker’s Guide universe. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories By Michael Sims Walker & Company, $17.00, 467 pages Vampire stories are even more popular today than they were during the age of Bram Stoker and other Victorian authors. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight to movies, books, and television shows, vampire stories--and more than just the classics-are all around. This new collection goes back to the roots of the vampire stories. The stories are set in Slavic lands: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and even Transylvania

The Sky People By S.M. Stirling Tor, $14.99, 301 page

Mr. Stirling has set The Sky People in the same science fiction writers’ wishful universe as In the Courts of the Crimson Kings. Just as his Mars was a blend of Burrough’s Barsoom and his own wonderful weapons sense, this adventure takes place on a Venus of great atmospheric density and wonderful diversity of life. “We could make for the coast and try to build a boat ,,, have you seen the stuff that lives in the ocean here? I wouldn’t try a long voyage on anything that didn’t outweigh the pleiosaurs . . .” Again, the hands or tentacles or claws of forerunners have seeded the planet with older versions of Earth life. We have dire wolves, evolved to the intelligence of modern wolves, dinosaurs, sabertooths, and wonderfully attractive Earth-derived humans -particularly their womenfolk. Also, we have brutish Neanderthals who, with Stirling’s cruel imagination, acquire AK-47s. Marc is a highly selected member of the planetary staff, clinging to his Creole heritage. He finds himself embarked on a dirigible voyage across thousands of kilometers of hostile planet, only to discover that one of the crew is a saboteur. Marc’s adventures, his outsized pet, and his romance make for one of the most engaging, if self-indulgent science-fiction fantasies, it has been my pleasure to read in the past few years. If you are in search of some pure fun, buy this book. Reviewed by David Sutton (that mysterious locale and even more mysterious peasants.) What we also get are different kinds of vampires as these are vampire stories written before Stoker’s Dracula, when the idea of vampires and what made a vampire was ever changing and evolving. But the sexual tension is present no matter the circumstances. We get vampires that are invisible, vampires that only go after family members, and people who become vampires because they were excommunicated when they died. You can see the growth and progress of the vampire mythos in this wonderful collection. Reviewed by Kevin Winter The Bear By R.A. Salvatore Tor, $27.99, 416 pages The Bear is the last of the four Saga of the First King books set in the early days of Salvatore’s Corona world. Bransen Garibond, the Highwayman, is deeply depressed and disillusioned with the ongoing Honce war. He has rejected the objectives of both sides and wants only to return to his family. Inevitably, it is impossible for him to avoid the warring factions and he finds himself

strangely drawn to the side of an old enemy, the Bear of Honce. Salvatore’s signature style of detailed action and expansive battle scenes is on full display in this book. Unfortunately this habit of minute description is a drawback outside of the action. The informationfilled dialogue rendered the conversations awkward and the relentless explanations of motives and emotions made the characters more difficult to sympathize with rather than less. This was especially problematic for Bransen’s character as it turned his legitimate disgust with the war into tedious and self-indulgent moodiness. Fans of the series or the Corona world may enjoy The Bear but new readers might do better to skip this one. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace Imager’s Intrigue By L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Tor, $27.99, 485 pages In Modesitt’s third book in his popular “Imager’s Portfolio” series, the world of Terahnar is poised on the verge of change, and Matre Rhennthyl, master imager for the Collegium, finds himself at the center of a series of events that threaten the stability of his country, Solida. In the previous book, Rhenn was assigned as a liaison to the civic patrol, using his talents for imaging to protect the citizen’s of L’Excelsis from crime. Imaging, the power SF&F section cont’d on page 17

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40+ exciting programs inside...

The Sacramento Public Library proudly announces Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, as the 2010 One Book Sacramento selection. Notable Book – The New York Times Q Terrific Read of the Year – O, The Oprah Magazine Q Best Book of the Year – Huffington Post Q

Community members are encouraged to read Zeitoun as well as attend related One Book Sacramento events, including screenings of related films, book club discussions, disaster preparedness programs, and community-wide activities. A thought-provoking tale of courage, culture, community and tolerance, Zeitoun tells the true story of one family’s struggle through and after Hurricane Katrina. Turn the page to learn more about the 40+ Zeitoun-themed events happening in your community!

Meet the Author Dave Eggers will discuss his writings at a special free program. Eggers, is the author of numerous books, including the memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and the novel What Is the What, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. In 2009, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. October 20, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street, Sacramento.

For more One Book Sacramento information, please call the Sacramento Public Library at (916) 264-2920 or visit

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Zeitoun Book Discussions

Join other community members for an exchange of comments and views of Dave Eggers’ fascinating and true-account book at any of these Sacramento Public Library locations: September 15, Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Del Paso Heights Library September 21, Tuesday, 6 p.m.: South Natomas Library (call for off-site location) October 2, Saturday, 11 a.m.: Arcade Library October 9, Saturday, 1 p.m.: Fair Oaks Library October 16, Saturday, 10 a.m.: Carmichael Library October 19, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.: Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library October 28, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.: North Natomas Library

Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal will show and discuss their Academy Award-nominated documentary. Their film tells the redemptive tale of two unforgettable people living through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. September 23, Thursday, 7 p.m.: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, Central Library

October 30, Saturday, 2 p.m.: Rancho Cordova Library November 13, Saturday, 10 a.m.: Carmichael Library (audio book club)



Start your own Zeitoun book discussion group with Book Club in a Bag. Each bag contains eight copies of the book, discussion questions, and discussion leader tips. Everything you need to help you run your own book discussion group! You may request a Book Club in a Bag at any Sacramento Public Library location.



A Village Called Versailles

Filmmaker S. Leo Chiang will show the incredible story of Versailles, a tight-knit Vietnamese neighborhood on the edge of New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When the storm devastated New Orleans, Versailles residents rebuilt their neighborhood faster than most other damaged neighborhoods in the city, only to find themselves threatened by a new toxic landfill slated to open just two miles away. As the community fights back, it turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change. October 6, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: Valley Hi-North Laguna Library

Treme View HBO’s pilot episode, Treme, the new television drama series. Treme is a neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. The series begins three months after Hurricane Katrina where the residents of New Orleans, including musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and ordinary New Orleanians, try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane. September 14, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.: Arcade Library October 2, Saturday, 3 p.m.: Belle Cooledge Library October 14, Thursday, 6 p.m.: Valley Hi-North Laguna Library October 19, Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Carmichael Library

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Store Your Memories in the Clouds

Learn how to store family photos and important documents in an online computer resource which is safer than in a shoebox or photo album. “The Cloud” refers to storing computer information and images on the World Wide Web. September 8, Wednesday, 7 p.m.: North Natomas Library

Disaster Preparedness

Learn to be better prepared when a disaster strikes and how to create a personal emergency plan and a survival kit during a community flood. September 29, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: Carmichael Library September 30, Thursday, 6 p.m.: Rancho Cordova Library October 7, Thursday, 6 p.m.: Fair Oaks Library

Neighborhood Emergency Training

Learn to become an American Red Cross volunteer during a community emergency or disaster. Register online at September 11, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon: Clunie Community Center, McKinley Library, 601 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento.

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts Spike Lee commemorates the people of New Orleans with a four-part epic documentary that not only recounts the events of late August 2005 but asks why they unfolded the way they did in the first place. Weaving interviews with news footage and amateur video, Lee uses the film to give meaningful voice to the people who were left behind. With a detached and unsentimental eye, he delivers a poignant account of a major moment in recent U.S. history.

te ens Mardi Gras Mask Making with ArtWorks (For ages 13 and up)

October 6, Wednesday, 4 p.m.: Valley Hi-North Laguna Hi Library September 24, Friday, 5 p.m.: Isleton Library

Writing Workshops ArtWorks programs are inspired by 826 Valencia, a non-profit organization founded by Zeitoun author Dave Eggers to support students, ages 8 through 18, and to develop their writing skills.

Citizen Journalism

There is a movement in cities across the country for everyday people to become journalists, through blogs and local e-newsletters. Learn a few journalistic techniques – research, interviewing, and the pyramid style of writing. Then try your hand at telling the story of someone else in the workshop. October 7, Thursday, 3:30 p.m.: Elk Grove Library 

All in the Family

Looking at family photographs, even if they aren’t our own? Help to remember the things that are important to us. Bring in family photographs, or best yet, bring in a family member to photograph and to interview, and we’ll help you create a simple family scrapbook, using words and collage. Adults welcome. October 9, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Franklin Community Library

Simple Acts of Kindness

Create a scroll book that proclaims something you’d like to do in your daily life to help others or to address injustice. It could be a simple act of kindness or ways to add creativity to each day. Special papers, paints, gel pens, ribbons, and collage materials will be available to create the book.

October 14, Thursday, 4 p.m.: North Natomas Library

September 7, 14, 21, and 28, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.: Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library

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Mardi Gras Mask Making with ArtWorks (For ages 5 to 12) September 9, Thursday, 4 p.m.: Del Paso Heights Library September 22, Wednesday, 1:45 p.m.: Courtland Library September 23, Thursday, 4 p.m.: Ranch Cordova Library September 30, Thursday, 4 p.m.: North HighlandsAntelope Library September 30, Thursday, 4 p.m.: South Natomas Library October 6, Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.: Elk Grove Library October 16, Saturday, 2 p.m.: Arcade Library October 21, Thursday, 4 p.m.: Arden-Dimick Library October 27, Wednesday, 4 p.m.: Rio Linda Library October 28, Thursday, 3:30 p.m.: Franklin Community Library

Keep Our Waters Clean (For ages 6 to 10)

Kids will learn the importance of keeping our local water ways free of pollution. September 14, Tuesday, 4 p.m.: Valley Hi-North Laguna Library September 16, Thursday, 4 p.m.: Del Paso Heights Library

Salaam: A Muslim American Boy’s Story with author Tricia Brown (For ages 5 to 12) Author Tricia Brown will discuss her heartwarming book, Salaam: A Muslim American Boy’s Story. The non-fiction book tells of the daily life of Inram, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He likes to do the same things as most kids his age. Inram knows that some people don’t understand what it means to be a Muslim. He wants to help everyone see that Muslims strive to be good people, just like people of other faiths do. September 23, Thursday, 4 p.m.: Del Paso Heights Library October 17, Sunday, 2 p.m.: Central Library October 23, Saturday, 1 p.m.: Rancho Cordova Library

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Safety Fair

Celebrate National Emergency Preparedness Month at a Safety Fair, cosponsored by the Sacramento Office of Emergency Services. Find life-saving information to help prepare for natural disasters and home emergencies. September 18, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: North Natomas Library September 25, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library

New Orleans-Style Jazz Music Enjoy New Orleans style-jazz music with a concert by Fulton Street Jazz Band. The musical group is one of the West Coast’s premier Classic Jazz and Swing bands and has been a favorite at the annual Sacramento Jazz Festival and Jubilee. September 29, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Clunie Clubhouse, adjacent to the McKinley Library

locati ons

Arcade Library, 2443 Marconi Ave., Sacramento Arden-Dimick Library, 891 Watt Ave., Sacramento Belle Cooledge Library, 5600 South Land Park Drive, Sacramento Carmichael Library, 5605 Marconi Ave., Carmichael Central Library, 828 I Street, Sacramento Courtland Library, 170 Primasing Ave., Courtland Del Paso Heights Library, 920 Grand Ave, Sacramento Elk Grove Library, 8900 Elk Grove Blvd., Elk Grove Fair Oaks Library, 11601 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks Franklin Community Library, 10055 Franklin High Road, Elk Grove Isleton Library, 412 Union Street, Isleton McKinley Library, 601 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento North Highlands-Antelope Library, 4235 Antelope Road, Antelope North Natomas Library, 4660 Via Ingoglia, Sacramento Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento Rio Linda Library, 902 Oak Lane, Rio Linda Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library, 7335 Gloria Drive, Sacramento South Natomas Library, 2901 Truxel Road, Sacramento Valley Hi-North Laguna Library, 7400 Imagination Parkway, Sacramento

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY to turn thought into matter is a feared ability in his world and only Solidar allows the practice openly, using Imagers to hold in check the ruling elite. His success in his new position is threatened by an outbreak of a new drug that is filling people all across the city. As he gets closer to discovering the truth, his enemies begin to use everything at their disposal to stop him from uncovering their plans. In this story of a world moving away from magic and a feudal system to a market-based society, the author examines complicated social issues while managing to hold the reader’s attention with a fascinating story. It’s interesting to watch Rhenn untangle clues and bring all the pieces together, but fans of heroic fantasy may find the lack of action and extensive character list a bit too complicated and slow-moving. Modesitt is known for his rigorous magical systems and detailed plotting, in the Imager’s Intrigue, fans of the author will not be disappointed. Reviewed by Marcus Jones The Very Best of Charles de Lint By Charles de Lint Tachyon Publications, $15.95, 427 pages The Very Best of Charles de Lint is a short story collection compiled, in part, with the help of de Lint’s fans. De Lint includes a very nice introduction that explains the impetus for this urban fantasy collection and how he collaborated with his fans to choose the stories. He and his fans did a wonderful job as these stories are lovely and quite diverse. A few of them could be read to children before bed, and a few of them address issues one hope’s a child never has to know about. The collection includes the sweet and touching Pixel Pixies about a bookstore hob trying to keep the Mistress’s store safe from an invasion of pixies and Laughter in the Leaves about a trickster pesting an otherwise peaceful home. Couched within the same binding, though, are Into the Green, a story about suspicion and prejudice, and In the House of My Enemy, a story about domestic abuse. In some stories the reader is taken on a whimsical journey and in others on a serious exploration of the issues of identity and trust. This is a collection definitely worth picking up. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, Book 4) By Ilona Andrews Ace, $7.99, 384 pages Magic Bleeds is book four in the Kate Daniels series and it doesn’t disappoint. Kate Daniels works for the Order, a paranormal protection agency, as a liaison between them and the mercenary guild. She’s an appealing blend of toughness and vulnerability, and

though her stubbornness can be frustrating, Kate is intelligent and very layered. In Magic Bleeds, her secret heritage comes back to haunt her in the form of an egomaniacal killer, who wreaks havoc on the supernatural creatures of Atlanta. Also haunting Kate is her relationship with Curran, the Beast Lord and master of the city’s weres, and their struggle to make room for one another is the bulk of Kate’s inner turmoil, even as her very existence makes it difficult for her to open up to others. The primary strength of Magic Bleeds lies in the world-building, and that it is so self-contained, a new reader can pick up any book in the series and never feel lost. Also, the cast of characters around Kate are just as interesting and flawed as she is, making her tech/magic world so colorful and well-written that there are times where it seems modern-day Atlanta is full of beasties and knights. The plot of Magic Bleeds is intricate and page-turning, and the action is thrilling. In a sea of kick-butt, take-charge women, this is definitely one of the top urban fantasy series, and Kate Daniels is a unique and very human protagonist. Reviewed by Angela Tate Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Siege By Miller, Karen LucasBooks, $16.00, 401 pages No backup. No escape plan. No support. No time to rest. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are two of the Order’s most capable Jedi, but they’re low on options. On the run from overwhelming Separatist forces on a backwater planet in the Outer Rim called Lanteeb, ObiWan and Anakin have uncovered a plot to unleash a horrific bioweapon on the galaxy. But when they reach a small mining town in the hopes of laying low and regrouping, the Separatists track them down. As the two Jedi prepare to make a final stand, can they save themselves, let alone the galaxy? Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Siege picks up right where Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth left off, with the Jedi in dire straits. It was a terrific cliffhanger, one that is picked up with great urgency here. Casting the heroes in the unfamiliar role as underdogs, author Karen Miller maintains tension throughout the book, tempering it with moments of surprising weakness for the heroes. This is the most human Anakin and Obi-Wan have

been in quite some time, and their growing despair is handled with grace. Clone Wars Gambit: Siege is a better read for the emotional development of the characters than for the action, which is an oddity for a Star Wars novel. Admittedly, the reader knows that nothing catastrophically bad can happen to the heroes, since they must survive to appear in the third film -- and every Clone Wars novel takes place between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith -- but Miller’s choice to focus on whether their spirits, their values, and their very resolve will survive the siege is far more compelling. Their struggle is balanced nicely by the subplots. We get glimpses into the plotting of the Sith lords, the attempts by Republic senators to rescue Anakin and Obi-Wan, and disagreements between the Jedi and the Chancellor, all adding detail and color to the bigger galactic threat, the war itself. In the most interesting sidestory, Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka bonds with a Jedi named Taria Damsin, who has been shelved from active duty by an affliction that will slowly weaken her until it takes her life. Taria’s past with Obi-Wan nicely parallels Ahsoka’s growing loyalty to Anakin, providing a nice counterpoint to Anakin’s ongoing conflict between his struggle with Jedi detachment and his secret relationship with Padme Amidala. Not only does Clone Wars Gambit: Siege wrap up all the loose ends from Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth, but it raises a lot of important issues for the characters. It offers both poignant questions and a satisfying conclusion. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Dragongirl By Todd J. McCaffrey Del Rey, $26.00, 429 pages Deadly Thread is falling once again on Pern, and as they’ve done for generations, the dragons of Pern rise with their riders to flame it from the sky. This time they have more than one foe to battle -- a devastating plague has been cured but not before decimating the populations of all weyrs. Hailed as a savior of Pern after her successful trip back in time, Fiona struggles to meet new challenges and the complex relationships that develop around her as she takes her place as the senior weyrwoman of her own weyr. As a long-time fan of the Dragonriders of Pern series, I was delighted to see that Todd McCaffrey has stayed true to the incredible world originally created by Ann McCaffrey. Unfortunately, Dragongirl feels slightly

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overpopulated with various characters that seem to clog the story without really moving the plot forward. I would also recommend reading Dragonheart, the first book in this particular series, before picking up Dragongirl, as McCaffrey offers absolutely no backstory or summarization of the events that lead up to the second book, which makes for a somewhat confusing read if this happens to be the first book you read in the series. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz Humans By Robert J. Sawyer Tor, $14.99, 381 pages In the novel Hominids, author Robert J. Sawyer offered a fascinating idea--a world where Neanderthal man survived and Homo sapiens went the way of the dinosaurs. When a single Neanderthal scientist, Ponter Boddit, appeared in our world from an alternate dimension, he offered a wonderful outsider’s perspective on our society. Now, in Humans, the second book in his Neanderthal Parallax series, Sawyer takes us one giant leap further, by describing in vivid detail the Neanderthal society. Not only does character Mary Vaughan explore their world as Ponter explored ours, but a budding cultural exchange is born, highlighting the many differences between our worlds. What will this mean for both societies? I have said in the past that Robert J. Sawyer is probably the most accessible science fiction writer working today, and I feel confident in striking the world “probably” from that statement. Humans is at once a thoroughly enthralling look at our past, our present, and our possible future, and a wonderful examination of what makes us human. It is like one incredibly detailed Venn diagram, comparing and contrasting our best and worst qualities, all under the guise of telling one tremendously good “What If...?” story. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Five Odd Honors By Jane Lindskold Tor, $27.99, 367 pages Inhabiting the world of the Chinese zodiac, Five Odd Honors is a vibrant work and steeped in heavy culture, as readers of Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series might expect. Written with Lindskold’s lyricism and complex prose, the characters and culture feel successfully foreign and strange as the author paints an elaborate, beautiful, and complex work with recognizably hu-

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY manizing themes of redemption, pride, loyalty, betrayal, and hatred. If unfamiliar with the series or Lindskold’s style in general, Five Odd Honors can be a difficult book to get into. The elaborate cast of characters comes with complex names that can lead to confusion, leaving at least one reader wishing for a list of those involved along with notes as to their affiliations. There’s also a lot of talking among the characters, but the action is worthwhile as Brenda and the Thirteen Orphans struggle for the Lands of Born from Smoke and Sacrifice. This third installment of the Breaking the Wall series is an elaborate tapestry of a novel, entertaining with lovely prose and characters with complex lives and emotions. Reviewed by Axie Barclay The Fuller Memorandum By Charles Stross Ace, $24.95, 304 pages For some reason, fighting elder gods and facing the Apocalypse is done more in comedy than in serious prose. The Fuller Memorandum leavens it with some serious on why they fight, but it’s so aggressively in the passive British voice and is so the antiJames Bond (married, geeky, and into beer) that the seriousness is quickly left behind. The book is a fun read; it has a nice, quick pace about it, the characters are people you would work with, and it’s nice to see a character that looks forward to things being boring and laying around with his wife in bed; the hero, Bob Howard is introduced to us in an assignment that goes wrong, and actually runs from fights. The characters mesh rather well, when they aren’t missing each other by that much, and the story is rather solid, without the jarring Shyamalan twists that seem to populate stories nowadays, with each twist earned and welcomed. This is definitely one of those books needed to cleanse the palate from Conan-type reads, and is decidely welcome in that regard. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim Waking the Witch By Kelley Armstrong Dutton, $25.95, 320 pages Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld goes beyond standard paranormal fiction, using an ensemble cast of women in a deep supernatural universe, moving from one set of characters to another through the books, yet intertwining their stories to provide a rich background for the readers. Waking the Witch bridges the space between adult readers of her Otherworld series and her YA Darkest Powers books, with a younger heroine taking center stage.

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Savannah Levine is the daughter of Page and Lucas, a witch and sorcerer from previous Otherworlds stories and when her parents are on vacation, takes on a murder investigation of her own. Working with a half-demon private investigator, Savannah starts looking into the ritualistic deaths of three women in a rural Washington town. As the investigation progresses, small town secrets start coming out and increase the amount of danger Savannah finds for herself; when her own magical power start deserting her, she begins to have to rely on her own natural wits and talent. The mystery is fairly well developed, and while there are romantic overtones, it is a small enough part of the story to keep Waking the Witch from being classified as a paranormal romance. The one downside to the book, depending on how you view it, it that it isn’t self-contained. It ends on a cliffhanger, so the reader doesn’t get a conclusion, yet fans know they have another story to look forward to reading. Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) By Stacia Kane Del Rey, $7.99, 346 pages Stacia Kane puts the horror back into urban fantasy with book one of her new series entitled Unholy Ghosts. Chess Putnam is a Debunker, a ghost hunter and witch for the Church of Real Truth, whose duties are to clean up hauntings to convince humans they don’t exist following the Church saving the planet from a mass resurrection of angry ghosts who went on a bloody rampage. She’s also in deep trouble because of her drug habit, and in lieu of repayment to her drug lord, she is forced to go behind the Church’s back to exorcise an airport notorious for wicked, heavy ghost infestation. Kane’s writing is excellent and unique, with certain characters speaking their own vernacular. The world is fully realized and a very gritty and bleak landscape unusual in urban fantasy. Chess’s drug addiction may be a turn off for some, and while it can lead her into bad situations, she remains sympathetic and compelling. There are possible love interests for Chess but they don’t overwhelm the storyline. Unholy Ghosts is a perfect blend of horror, suspense, and romance, and those interested in a new and fascinating series should pick this up. Reviewed by Angela Tate

A Matter of Magic By Patricia C. Wrede Tor, $15.99, 448 pages

A Matter of Magic combines two novels by Patricia C. Wrede, both previously published under their own titles. The first book, Mairelon the Magician, introduces Kim, a thief disguised as a boy and living on the London streets, and Mairelon, the street magician who Kim’s engaged by a wealthy stranger to rob. However, Mairelon proves more than a mere rabbit-out-if-a-hat magician and Kim proves her talent beyond a mere thief. This complex tale is filled more with hiding beneath the sofa cushions rather than actual action, but the dynamics between Mairelon and Kim keep the reader entertained, while Hutch, Mairelon’s body servant, chews his mustache over the magical drama. The second book, The Magician’s Ward, is far more action-packed, taking place a year after the events in Mairelon the Magician. Now an apprentice to the wizard who rescued her from a dark fate on the streets, Kim is getting ready to “come out” in society, driven mad by dress-makers, and is heavily worried over the magically inclined in the lower city being suddenly in service to an old enemy. A Matter of Magic is a good read for all ages who still understand that everything is magical. Reviewed by Axie Barclay Amberjack : Tales of Fear & Wonder By Terry Dowling Subterranean Press, $40.00, 361 pages I don’t know that any subtitle has ever been more apropos than Tales of Fear & Wonder. Those two traits are the only consistent trends in an otherwise wildly eclectic collection of stories. Dowling crafts vividly realized worlds without burying the story in world-building details, and while this can be confusing at the outset of a story, those details blossom and come to enrich the narrative. Even the stories that didn’t resonate with me were still gorgeously described. The very titles of his stories—The Fooly, Toother, Flashmen, The Magikkers, The Suits at Auderlene—sound like elements of his own private language. In short, Terry Dowling is inimitable. The stories featured in Amberjack all have poetry, giving an interesting flow to the collection as a whole while offering an intriguing glimpse of what’s to come. The centerpiece of the volume is undoubtedly the short novel The Library, which stars Tom Rynosseros, the protagonist from Dowling’s first novel. While the book is obviously part of a much larger fictional universe, this doesn’t hinder the reader’s enjoyment in the slightest. The stories of Amberjack are infused with fear and wonder, and they make for a potent storytelling combination. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

Bullet By Laurell K. Hamilton Berkley, $26.95, 356 pages The nineteenth book in the Anita Blake series, Bullet, rocks. Haven fans won’t want to miss this one, with the tension between Anita and her Lion coming to a head at last. With far less talk and police work than recent Anita novels, Bullet is nonetheless packed with action. Anita and Richard grow far more at peace with themselves and one another, even reaching some level of normal, or at least as normal as Anita’s animator and serial killer life will allow. Anita, local werewolf king Richard, and the master of St. Louis, Jean Claude, spend less time analyzing and agonizing over the triumvirate they’ve created and more time acting to secure their power base in St. Louis, which can’t happen a moment too soon. “I knew better, but sometimes the illusion of safety is all people have. I didn’t even have that, and hadn’t had it for years.” In short, Bullet packs the heat, including a girl fight, tigers and lions but no bears to speak of, but metaphysical disasters, shapeshifter workouts, and a few bloody massacres, the worst being Anita’s heart as she fights to protect those she loves and those depending on her, a list that’s growing all the time along with the power in St. Louis, against the Mother of all Vampires, who isn’t as dead as they thought. Reviewed by Axie Barclay

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY Song of the Dragon: The Annals of Drakis: Book One By Tracy and Laura Hickman DAW, $24.95, 368 pages Everyone knows the prophesy of the human that will one day break free of his elven oppressors and free the world of the cruel tyranny of the Rhonas Empire, but few think of it as anything more than a story. In fact, the elves’ Devotion spells ensure that the slaves of the empire remember none of the discontent that comes along with their status. But the latest spoil of the bloody elven conquests, a dwarf named Jugar, is determined to bring about the end of the empire, and his actions may give an enslaved human warrior named Drakis the courage to fulfill the prophesy. The first volume in this epic fantasy series, Song of the Dragon promises good reading to come. The world imagined by Hickman is not your typical fantasy realm, with powerhungry elves that resemble aliens more than the traditional ideal and an empire based on conspiracy and lies, held together only by a powerful magic. The plot twists will keep readers guessing and completely enthralled in the story, while the imperfect characters are inherently likeable. The next volume in this series will definitely be anticipated! Reviewed by Holly Scudero

invested in the characters. Series fans and those interested in alternate history or exploration stories will enjoy Tongues of Serpents. Those who enjoy books more focused on character development may want to skip this title. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace

Tongues of Serpents By Naomi Novik Del Rey, $25.00, 288 pages Tongues of Serpents is the sixth book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. This alternate history fantasy series is set during the Napoleonic Wars and centers on Britain’s Royal Aerial Corps of dragons. In this installment, the former Captain Laurence has been transported to New South Wales along with his dragon, Temeraire. They arrive in the midst of a local rebellion and, to avoid entanglement, accept an assignment to explore the interior of Australia. At its heart, this narrative is a straightforward account of a colonial expedition, but several surprises await the survey party not limited simply to encounters with the unknown. Novik does an admirable job of depicting the hubris of colonization along with the doubts that many explorers may have experienced. Temeraire’s arguments in particular are amusing for their objective simplicity. The story is readily accessible to both long time fans and those new to the series, but it may be harder for new readers to become

Being a fan of mythology, especially Greek myths, I couldn’t wait to read this book. Unfortunately, the majority of Discord’s Apple was not engaging enough to fill me with anticipation to reach the end. The last few chapters, however, did finally get me excited after learning about the connection between Sinon and Evie, as well as the origin of the Storeroom. Upon finishing the book, I was left feeling empty. One possible reason for this is Vaughn had the book set up in different points of view. While this sounds intriguing, she left little for the reader to figure out for themselves. I would recommend this book to fellow lovers of mythology who have a few hours of time and no other books left on their reading lists. Reviewed by Deborah Lewis

Discord’s Apple By Carrie Vaughn Tor, $23.99, 299 pages Evie Walker returns home to Hopes Fort, Colorado, to take care of her dying father. She takes notice of the Storeroom, a room forbidden to her when she was younger. Gradually, she learns its purpose and the contents it protects. Some of these are Excalibur, Cinderella’s slippers, and the golden apple that started the Trojan War. The story revolves around the latter bringing characters, such as Sinon and Hera, from the past into this approaching apocalyptic modern world. “She could feel a key sitting in her hand, even though she couldn’t grasp it. She could sense the door about to open. The door to the Storeroom, and what it meant. And unlike that great Grail of adulthood, understanding really would come. When her father passed away.”

Moonshine By Alaya Johnson St. Martin’s Press, $14.99, 288 pages Author Alaya Johnson has infused new life into paranormal romance with her outstanding breakout novel Moonshine. An interesting melding of supernatural in Prohibition-era Lower East Side, one where the Gangs of New York isn’t just a

show on Broadway but an actual street gang of roving boy vampires. These are boys who control their area with an iron tooth, no machine gun necessary. While the new twist is intriguing, main character Zephyr Hollis steals the show. In a time where young women were encouraged to be just a little more independent, a little more daring, Zephyr embodies the spirit of a new woman. Born into a family of infamous demon hunters, her father the best of the best, Zephyr is more than capable of not only taking care of herself but spends her day campaigning for the disenfranchised. While teaching night classes to Others and immigrants alike, she meets Amir--not vampire, not werewolf and definitely not in need of her remedial classes. Moonshine is everything you could hope for in a debut novel--incredibly well written with great characters and perfect pacing. I cannot wait to see what come next from this talented writer. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Zero History By William Gibson G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $26.95, 416 pages William Gibson, founder of the cyberpunk style of science-fiction, has moved to primarily modern thrillers in his most re-

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cent novels, though still with strong themes of technology, pop-culture and counterculture. While the novels themselves are set in a current era, they still carry the feel of the cyberpunk era – gritty, paranoid, and technologically advanced. Zero History is no exception, bringing characters back from Spook Country to again look at the relationships between people, technology, and society. Freelance journalist Hollis Henry is once again pressed into working for Hubertus Bigend, founder of Blue Ant, a trend-forecasting firm. Bigend wants to get into the recessionproof business of military contracting, particularly clothing lines with potential for consumer sales. Hollis is joined by the drug-addicted translator Milgrim as they try and track down a secretive military clothing designer. Some of Milgrim’s past begins to catch up to him and Hollis, even though his life off the grid has left him with “zero history.” As one might expect in a Gibson novel, there are plenty of plot twists and social commentary along the way to a satisfying conclusion. Reviewed by Ross Rojek

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Mystery, Crime & Thrillers Hailey’s War: A Novel By Jodi Compton Shaye Areheart Books, $22.99, 304 pages Hailey’s War by Jodi Compton brings us Hailey Caine, a cadet who has been dismissed from West Point two months before graduation. After spending time in Los Angeles getting reacquainted with her music producer cousin CJ and her gang-banging former schoolmate Serena, Hailey finds herself in trouble and moves to San Francisco to become a bike messenger. When Serena asks Hailey to escort a young Mexican woman – Nidia Hernandez – from Oakland to a remote Mexican village, Hailey reluctantly agrees. Everything is fine until the two cross the border into Mexico; after that, things are not so fine – Hailey is wounded in an ambush, and Nidia disappears. Now Hailey is going to try to discover just what is going on and try to rescue Nidia – if she’s still alive. And if that means running with the gang bangers, that’s okay, too.?The central theme of this book is a little hard to figure out. A good deal of material deals with the makeup and lifestyle of LA gangs. Perhaps an equal amount of time is spent searching for Nidia. And there is the question of why Hailey seems so driven. A decent book, but not a thriller. “Don’t let him provoke you into conversation, okay? We’re keeping this guy on a need-to-know basis, and what he needs to know is nothing.” Reviewed by Douglas McWilliams The Hornbrook Prophecy By Robert Wickes Crystal Dreams Publishing, $18.95, 360 pages It’s 2010, and the United States is on the verge of bankruptcy. Robert Wickes’ The Hornbrook Prophecy brings us President Winston Dillard – very liberal, very left wing, very power hungry. Dillard’s plan to cure the economy is to raise taxes and increase the minimum wage, giving little thought to the higher rates of unemployment and business failure that this may cause. Opposing Dillard and his policies is Senator Henly Hornbrook, the conservative and independent senator from Washington State. But Hornbrook and his associates cannot

forestall Dillard’s legislation, since Dillard’s political adherents control Congress. “Being ignorant and utterly without a clue as to how to mend this mess is unforgivable in a President.” Once Dillard’s legislation is passed, there is a tax payer revolt, rioting, looting, and threats of secession. The President declares martial law, suspends upcoming elections, and attempts to place all blame on Hornbrook; soon a mob is attacking Hornbrook’s ranch. But all is not lost, as there is a dramatic turn in events, and Hornbrook and calmer heads carry the day. Primary characters are mostly caricatures, and there is a great deal of academic discussion on political thought, history, and the Constitution that slows down the story. The book will probably be appealing to those with conservative views but less so to political liberals. Reviewed by Douglas McWilliams Mr. Peanut By Adam Ross Knopf, $25.95, 335 pages Some books are easy to recommend. Some books are impossible to endorse. Then there are some books you can finish reading and realize that it’s the kind of book that is written so intensely toward a particular taste that you can neither easily recommend it nor refuse to endorse it. It lies in an area where no responsible reviewer, friend or colleague can give you a definitive answer. Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross is one of these books. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but so was Rome and we all know how that turned out for Julius Caesar. At its core this is a book about marriage and murder and revolves around a cast of oft-interesting, oft-not characters who circle around each other as the mystery unfolds. At the end of a day, this book just wasn’t for me. The ending didn’t justify the many tangents and the runaround approach taken by the author. There is certainly intelligence and a Hitchcock-like feel to it in places, though and it will most certainly resonate with many. Simply put, this is a book that you have to judge on your own. It’s easy to see why some would call it brilliant; I just call it self-indulgent. Reviewed by Albert Riehle

The Dark End of the Street: New Stories of Sex and Crime by Today’s Top Authors By Johnathan Santlofer Walker & Company, $16.00, 291 pages Fraud, robbery, infidelity, murder... from crimes of passion to meticulous plans, small-time scams to acts of revenge, The Dark End of the Street encompasses all of these, although most of the stories lean more toward the criminal than the carnal. While this provides a great deal more variety in the storytelling, it also makes for a wildly uneven read, even moreso than the standard highs-andlows of the average short-story collection. A few of the stories, most notably Francine Prose’s The Beheading, feel entirely out of place in both tone and genre. The high points make up about a third of the book, and I’ll summarize some of the best below. Scenarios by Lawrence Block offers the reader multiple narrative possibilities from a single scene, while Michael Connelly’s The Perfect Triangle concerns itself more with the wheeling-and-dealing that never sees the light of a courtroom. A con artist makes his move in Laura Lippman’s Tricks, and in Midnight Stalkings by James Grady, a thief’s plan begins to unravel before her eyes. Any fan of the crime genre will find a story or two to enjoy in The Dark Side of the Street, but overall, the collection is a bit of a disappointment. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Book of Nathan By Curt Weeden; Richard Marek Oceanview Publishing, $25.9, 272 pages Book of Nathan by Curt Weeden and Richard Marek is the New Jersey version of The Da Vinci Code. All Rick Bullock, aka Bullet, wants to do is keep Zeus off Death Row. Zeus, who cannot say words recognizable to most human beings, recently transferred from the homeless shelter Bullet runs to death row without passing go. Complications that Bullet has to deal with keep getting in the way of getting Zeus back, including babysitting a sex-crazed bimbo related to a Mafia member determined to clean up her act, and a worldwide nonprofit organization or two with iffy ethics that will do anything to get their hands on the book that never made it into the Bible.

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“His hood fell from his head. The lady gasped, made the sign of the cross, and ran into the night, the sound of her footsteps gradually swallowed by the white noise of the city.” The authors get a bit preachy at times and include more than a few clumsy transitions, but they also know how to turn a phrase. For example, they define a homeless shelter as a last-chance changing room for those who want to claw their way back into the ranks of the socially acceptable. And they do a good job of keeping you on the edge of your seat. Reviewed by Marj Stuart The Nearest Exit: A Novel By Olen Steinhauer Minotaur Books, $25.99, 404 pages The Nearest Exit picks up right where Steinhauer’s phenomenal debut, “The Tourist” left off. Abandoned by his family when they discovered his secret past, Milo Weaver has rejoined the secret CIA Tourism Unit, this time as Tourist, one of the roving amoral agents who carry out any mission no questions asked. Unfortunately Milo isn’t the man he once was, older and wiser, in his time as a husband and father he has grown a conscience. What is he to do then when he receives the most reviling of orders: assassinate a teenage girl? Steinhauer’s taut plot and breathless prose pull you along, almost daring the reader to try and not turn the page. His protagonist Milo Weaver, both flawed and charismatic, is most gripping characters I can recall encountering in an espionage novel. Be warned however, readers are better off starting off with his first novel. Even if you can pick it up in the middle, much of the nuances and references of the story will be lost otherwise. That aside, I finished the “Tourist,” excited for Milo Weaver’s next adventure, now I am left awaiting the third with equally baited breath. Reviewed by Jordan Magill

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Poetry & Short Stories Not a Muse: The Inner Lives of Women, a World Poetry Anthology By Kate Rogers, Viki Holmes Haven Books, $20.00, 516 pages Editors Kate Rogers and Viki Holmes have amassed a collection of verse written by 100+ poets from 24 countries. Each poem celebrates the role of a woman, especially those non-traditional tasks a woman performs unfailingly, without question. History classifies women as muses, but unlike the Greek dossesses, today’s women have too much filling their plates to be put on a pedastal and encourage inspiration. Women find their own inspiration and use it to keep them moving in a hectic world. Broken into categories, each delectable composition celebrates woman as creator, family, archetype, explorer, myth maker, home maker, landscape, lover, freedom fighter, keeper of secrets, keeper of memories, and ageing. It’s a timeless tribute to what it means to be a woman growing up, and throughout the 21st century. The collection examines choices and how those decisions define who we are. Readers

may recognize their reflection in words by literary giants, including Margaret Atwood, Erica Jong, and Sharon Olds, and the fresh voices of Cecilia Chan, Kavita Jandal, Christina Pacosz, among others. If the lyrical rhythms aren’t enough to keep you mesmerized, the underlying nuances of language, expressed metaphorically, will. It’s a thorough assessment of women and freedom of expression. Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (Library of America) By Shirley Jackson, Edited by Joyce Carol Oates Library of America, $35.00, 827 pages Now You’re IT!! Lovers of Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Alfred Hitchcock will find much to admire in Shirley Jackson’s deft portrait of psychopathology in We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Two sisters, suspected by villagers of murdering their entire family, live in isolation in a splendid manor. Their lives take a further turn for the macabre when a long-lost cousin disrupts their idyll. In the second of the two complete novels collected here, ghosts in The Haunting of Hill House, lead a young woman researching psychic phenomena at Hill House to a curious, abrupt fate.

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within. . .” These novels keep company in this compact Library of America edition with dozens of short stories written in clear, hypnotic prose. Whether it’s villagers gathering on the town green for a lottery, a New York street corner where a housewife’s nerves snap, a cocktail party with an ominously prescient teenager in the kitchen, or a char woman’s simple wheedling, the settings are ordinary, but nothing else is quite what it seems: Middle-class American games at mid-century veer unexpectedly into cruelty, insanity and murder, just when it’s your turn to be “it.” Reviewed by Zara Raab

Art, Architecture & Photography Creamier: Contemporary Art in Culture: 10 Curators, 100 Contemporary Artists, 10 Sources By Editors of Phaidon Press, Editor Phaidon Press, $39.95, 448 pages Every three years Phaidon produces a collection of the 100 top young artists choosen by 10 curators, and each curator gets 10 picks. As with previous collections, this one is thought provoking and a great introduction to artists that we might not have heard of. One great way to get exposure in the artistic community! A good number of the artists chosen are from New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, and London, with a few from China and Japan, and other towns in the United States. Many of the artworks chosen are performance-based and installationbased. You cannot go and buy their works at the gallery and take them home to hang on your walls. Instead, you experience the

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art in a tangible way, through performances and displays. There are a scattering of painters, sculptors, and photographers, but they pale in comparison to the performance artists. This time, it is in the form of big newsprint and not stapled, so be careful, since pages many fall out. A perfect book to read while it is on a table, not so much on a lap. A great book for those wanting to know the future of the world of art. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Short Stories of the Transparent Mind By Joakim Eneroth powerHouse Books, $50.00, 128 pages Swedish artist Joakim Eneroth entertains our perceptions in Short Stories of the Transparent Mind. The photography within this book does exactly what it needs to: expand our dialogue and present our world in a new way. Eneroth’s images have a way of slowing down our thoughts and movements to take notice of the walls, people, and scenery we may

take for granted. One set of images that really strikes a chord is titled “Alone at Last.” This set displays eight images taken out of the same window. The trees on different days and at different times will grab audience’s attention; peering closely at each limb and leaf. Another set that will stir readers is “The Past is Gone, the Future is Cancelled,” in which Eneroth opens with, “The same voices but with new faces, different faces turning into one impression.”As Eneroth brings together the faces of family and friends, it becomes difficult to distinguish one from another. We begin to question the faces of those close to us, and start to really look at them in a new way. Reviewed by Robyn Oxborrow Penguin 75 By Paul Buckley Penguin Books, $25.00, 256 pages Have you ever looked at the cover art for a book and wondered what they were thinking? Then this is the book for you. It is a feast for the eyes, with 75 book covers broken down from the often differing viewpoints of the authors, editors, and designers.

Designing art for books is, well, an art of collaboration. Editors pass on assignments based on talents, moods, experience, and whim. The illustrator or photographer is often only given a simple summary of the text and told to run with it. There are times that the author has a say or is allowed to have an opinion and times when the author doesn’t know what it will look like until the book is printed. Cover art can make or break a designer and most definitely a book. Careers and dreams can be made and lost in that decision. Books and authors can be reborn with something as basic as a “simple repackage.” Penguin 75 is like a peek behind the curtain. The commentary is funny and thought provoking, while the art included will make you fall in love with books all over again. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler

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Romance Night Myst (Indigo Court, Book 1) By Yasmine Galenorn Berkley, $7.99, 342 pages Yasmine Galenorn has written some good books, but this one just falls flat on its face. It is hard to get through this book. It starts off with a runaway witch who can control the wind, going back home to Washington to take over the family business and investigate the disappearance of her aunt. In this small town she runs into old friends, old flames, and old enemies. Essentially you have people who can use magic facing off against a race of vampire Fae, made by vampires, and who now want to take over the world and place humanity into slavery. It is up to the good witches to save the day. It is so difficult to get through this book because the characters are uninteresting and get boring quickly. Not only do they get boring, but the main character gets on your nerves from the beginning with her moping romps around town and through her own haunted past. The dialogue is difficult to

wade through for its own pretentiousness, and basically it is uninteresting, as well. Few characters show any emotional depth, and the main character, by the end, is as mopey as she was at the beginning. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Spy Glass By Maria V. Snyder Mira, $13.95, 432 pages This is the third book in the Glass series and despite having lost her magic Opal finds herself yet again in trouble. She may not have magic but she is now immune to magic which is both a help and a hindrance as she tries to find out what Tricky and his group did with the blood they siphoned out of her. She hopes this blood can help her regain her powers. During this mission she must also make the difficult decision if Kade is really the man she should be with or if she can love Devlin despite what he has done to her in the past.

While I still found Opal to be a tad whiny I thought she improved greatly during Spy Glass. I was glad we see more of old friends like Eve, Nic, and Valek as they were some of my favorite characters from the previous books. The pacing of the book was wonderful and the story will keep you guessing until the end. The resolution of the Opal-KadeDevlin triangle was a little abrupt and may come as a bit of a surprise to some but this was a great closing book to the Glass trilogy and one you should definitely pick up. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki Falling Is Like This By Kate Rockland Griffin, $13.99, 304 pages Author Kate Rockland hits the ball out of the park with her debut novel Falling is Like This. It’s a time for change for young writer Harper Rostov. She’s left her tabloid job with no other job prospects in the pipeline and she’s finally come to the conclusion it’s time to breakup with her slacker live-in boyfriend. The relationship is

just not working out and Harper is woman enough to admit it. Now she has no choice but to move back home with her parents in New Jersey until she gets back on her feet. Harper can’t quite bring herself to leave the city completely. On a sojourn into Manhattan, she meets Nick Cavallero, guitarist for the punk band Hitchhiker’s Revenge. They embark on a whirlwind affair despite their almost decade age difference. Readers are left to wonder to the very end. Will Harper give up everything for a guy? With almost perfect prose, beautiful familial relationship, and quick moving storyline, readers will be delightfully surprised by Falling is Like This. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley

Science & Nature California Rocks: A Guide to Geologic Sites in the Golden State By Katherine Baylor Mountain Press, $16.00, 114 pages California is a vast state that comprises much of the USA’s west coast along the Pacific Ocean, but there’s so much more to the Golden State than a glorious coastline. This guide book is an excellent starting point for folks young and not-so-young to learn about California’s geographic features. It’s a state that has been formed over millions of years by water, waves, volcanoes and tsunamis. Author Katherine Baylor has refined the wide array of possible examples into eight geographical regions within which are located 65 remarkable, natural features, some wellknown and some seemingly obscure. Her guide book lends focus and a sense of discovery to travel within the state. The book is illustrated with beautiful color photographs along with good quality charts and maps. Baylor strikes a balance between everyday language and scientific terminology. There is enough geology presented at the

opening of the book and within the write up for each featured locale to provide a sense of scale (time-wise and land mass affected). Also included are the historic significance of the feature, the geologic description and tips on what to expect in order to enjoy your visit. Recommended for teachers, parents and adventurous folks who travel. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano 2030: Technology That Will Change the World By Rutger van Santen, Djan Khoe, and Bram Vermeer Oxford University Press, $29.95, 352 pages We are at the apex of a technological turning point. Computers are evolving faster than ever; we have cracked the genome; and bioengineering is within our reach. And that’s a good thing, because our looming global crises are astonishingly complex and will demand the best humanity can muster. Where will we be in 20 short years? 2030: Technology That Will Change the

World ably covers a wide swath of scientific disciplines, encompassing electronics, chemistry, biology, social engineering, and many others, assessing where we are now and comparing it to where we might be in the year 2030. But there is an underlying urgency to the book that makes me think the subtitle should be changed. After all, instead of technology that could exist in 2030, or should exist by extrapolating existing technology and current trends, this is more about technology that must exist in 2030 to ensure our survival. There is a pervasive sense of imminent change throughout the book, both change we need to confront and change we need to enact. Each proves to be a daunting prospect. With insights from experts representing dozens of fields, 2030 is at once an impressive forecast and a worrying rallying cry. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Trail Writer’s Guide By Cinny Green Western Edge Pr, $16.95, 160 pages Well here’s an interesting two-fer! Cinny Green’s Trail Writer’s Guide takes you hiking through New Mexico and Colorado wilderness areas in an intimate journal recording

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each exploration. And alongside the trials of the trails at 60-years-old,the facing pages show readers how to create a written record of outdoor adventure. The left hand pages are virtually a deftly controlled stream of thought and the righthand ones relate the adventures that befall she and Maureen ‘Mo’ Burdock, her illustrator and life partner. All is not sunsets and landscapes, but a forthright account of the pitfalls to be factored in when companions have to agree on how fast to walk, how high to climb, and where to pitch the tent. Cinny Green’s literary awareness allows her to bless the book with quotations that readers will underline and remember. Dedicated and wannabe hikers will be equally captivated, and for the latter a hiker’s and a trail writer’s glossary will provide speedy adjustment to a new language. I searched in vain, though, for a map or two. Reviewed by Jane Manaster

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Tweens Dragon Keepers #3: The Dragon in the Library By Kate Klimo Random House Books for Young Readers, $15.99, 218 pages Book three of The Dragon Keepers series starts off with multiple puzzles. Emmy, the growing dragon Jesse and Daisy take care of, is inexplicably moody. Dogs have been mysteriously released from the pound. A book Miss Alodie was guarding has disappeared. Sadie Huffington, a witch, has kidnapped Professor Andersson, holding him hostage in a castle she’s built across town. “The next minute, the stone floor beneath them gave way, like an elevator in free fall, taking them down with it. Faster and faster they fell, the cool air whistling past their ears.” In public, Emmy masquerades as Daisy and Jesse’s large pet sheepdog. At the library’s annual Pets Allowed Sleepover, the three encounter a shelf elf named Wink. They follow him through a hole in the floor and fall into a vast underground scriptorium. There they learn what happens to dragons when they die and the true story of St. George and the Dragon. They also acquire floor plans to the castle and a magic mirror that once belonged to the witch. Emmy, sprouting wings, flies her keepers back to their point of entry. The next day they set off to rescue the professor. But mazes and dangerous spells await them. Just when all seems lost, Emmy has new surprises for her keepers. Humor and suspense combine in this lively read. Shroades’s illustrations delight. Readers will look forward to book four. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan Rocky Road By Rose Kent Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 295 pages “Ice cream warms the heart, no matter the weather,” Delilah Dobson reminds her twelve-year-old daughter Tess in Rose Kent’s new book Rocky Road. But the level-headed tween isn’t convinced being uprooted from San Antonio and moving to Schenectady will solve her family’s woes. Now her Ma is set on opening an ice cream shop named A Cherry on Top in a rundown neighborhood, and Delilah’s flash-in-the-pan ideas

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The Fairy Godmother Academy #2: Kerka’s Book have landed the Dobsons in trouble before. Tess, along with her deaf younger brother, Jordan, struggle with Ma’s decision-making prowess and realize their single mother has an even bigger obstacle to face: her mood swings. Some days, Delilah’s energy levels soar off the charts until she crashes months later. To complicate matters, the family lives in a low-rent apartment complex adjacent to an assisted living facility. Within these walls, Tess and Jordan find a cadre of strength in the residents. The intriguing cast of characters includes Winnie, a former nurse, and Chief, a retired Navy officer. With their guidance, the family discovers traveling down a rocky road can make you stronger. While I appreciate the author’s efforts to introduce the bi-polar storyline, the resolution seems whipped up neatly, like a swirling mound of sweet cream. Readers will enjoy the vivid comparisons Kent uses, and the ice cream recipes at the end of the novel definitely delight! Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler Nocturne By L.D. Harkrader Mirrorstone, $9.95, 245 pages Fifteen years ago, Flannery Lane was left on the doorstep of the village wizard, Monsieur Anatole. A mysterious note advised, she will do better with someone of her own kind. Monsieur Anatole has raised Flannery as his niece, admonishing her never to use her own magic. Why? Magic draws evil to itself. “Flan squared herself before the immense gates, and as she stood there, searching for a bell or knocker on the fat stone pillar, the gates groaned and swung open.” But, it’s hard not to use natural talent. At fifteen, Flan surreptitiously dabbles in small spells. An incident at the local blacksmith’s earlier eroded villagers’ trust in Anatole’s protective magic. People come to him now only for simple amulets and spells. When a sudden curse weakens his powers, he becomes bedridden. Flannery tries to cure his curse while keeping his condition secret. Two mysterious strangers come to town. Each takes an interest in Flan: one claims he wants to become a vampire hunter. But, does he? The other claims he’s a relative of the last Viscount Blakely, the vampire hunter who protected the village when he was alive. But, is he? People disappear. A violin plays a nocturne in the still of the night.

By Jan Bozarth with Andrea Burden, illustrator Yearling, $6.99, 224 pages

Kerka Laine is ready to begin her training as a fairy godmother, and she is overjoyed when her dreams finally take her to Aventurine, where she will undoubtedly begin to uncover her own special magic. Her elation is quickly replaced by despair at the quest she is given: She must find her little sister’s voice before the sun rises on the Three Queens mountain range. She is offered some small help from the queen of the Willowood fairies, but otherwise she finds herself with very little guidance. Worse, it’s not just her own fate that depends on this quest, but the future of her sisters depends on it as well! Kerka’s Book is the second installment of the Fairy Godmother Academy series, a whimsical series for young girls, designed to entertain, empower, and inspire. Kerka is smart and resourceful; many girls can identify with the heavy losses she’s seen in her life, and will admire her resolve in the face of a challenge. The concept of the Kalis dance is exciting, and Kerka’s burgeoning magical powers promise an exciting future for her as a fairy godmother. This series is highly recommended for young readers. Reviewed by Holly Scudero This suspenseful tale brings new surprises on each page, and the author avoids a predictable ending. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan Seaglass Summer By Anjali Banerjee Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99, 163 pages Poppy wants to be a veterinarian like Uncle Sanjay, who lives on Nisqually Island, off the coast of Washington. But Poppy has never had even a pet. Her mother is allergic to fur. All of Poppy’s notions of animal care come from her uncle’s visits to her home in Santa Monica. “I hold the seaglass up to my eye, but the world isn’t clear anymore. The glass is starting to look cloudy. For the first time I notice black speckles suspended inside.” Normally Poppy accompanies her parents when they visit relatives in India. This summer she visits Uncle Sanjay instead. Expecting to help save the animals at the clinic, Poppy brings her own animal first aid kit. At the clinic, she encounters a no-nonsense assistant, an unfriendly receptionist, and the receptionist’s scoffing son, Hawk. Soon Poppy learns that animal care involves the gross and the traumatic: Jars of floating organs or tape worms. Cuts that peel skin from muscle and bone and spurt blood. But, Poppy rallies to each challenge. Then one day a cat has to be put to sleep. This tender coming of age story deftly handles several issues: straddling two cultures, accepting death, and dealing with the first glimmers of romantic interest. The

author’s sensory detail makes Nisqually Island vivid and real. Her understanding of children creates a charming and believable protagonist. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan The Dreamer By Pam Munoz Ryan Scholastic Books, $17.99, 372 pages Young Neftalí Reyes is haunted by the beauty of words, writing down and saving them, like private treasure. He thinks in images, so that each glimpse of nature becomes mystical. He collects twigs, shells, feathers, which often makes him and his brother, Rodolfo, late for school. Their tyrannical father dismisses anything creative as weak. Rodolfo has to give up singing and go into business. Neftalí is unable to give up words or dreaming. His mother and his young sister, Laurita, offer silent support. His Uncle Orlando is a sympathetic ally. When Father learns the older Neftalí has enrolled in university as a poet, he gathers up Neftalí’s writings and burns them, saying they disgrace the family name. But dreams don’t die. Neftalí’s latest poem is about to be published in a noteworthy newspaper, so he takes a new name for himself. Thus begins the future of a world-renowned South American poet and political activist. Muños-Ryan’s lyrical storytelling, interspersed with poem-like questions, and Sis’s dreamy line drawings create a magical world. It was only at the end that I discovered this is a childhood biography of one of my favorite poets. I’ll let readers discover who Neftalí became. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan

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Young Adult A Little Wanting Song By Cath Crowley Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 265 pages A Little Wanting Song is exactly what it sounds like, a soft, melodic story about aching for more than we have and loving what we don’t expect ourselves to. Set in dusty Australia this unique young adult novel revels in the timeless angst of youth, tugging on the reader’s heart strings because the desires of Charlie and Rose are not just understandable, they are palpable. With two wonderfully rich protagonists, Charlie the subdued song writer, and Rose, the pent-up dreamer, this book takes one on a journey through the multitudes of love, from the bitter-sweetness of a difficult boyfriend to the deepness of friendship to the unease of self acceptance. I found the story not only engaging in its raw presentation but the writing equally (and yet contrastingly) dynamic with its poetic tone. A lovely, well-rounded YA book with edge and brilliance, otherwise known as a diamond in the rough. Reviewed by Natalie Fladager Sea By Heidi R. Kling Putnam Juvenile, $17.99, 336 pages Sienna is a 15-year-old girl still trying to recover from her mother’s disappearance over the Indian Ocean three years ago while on a relief mission. Her father convinces her to join him on a volunteer team working with orphans from tsunami-ravaged Indonesia. There she meets Deni, who is dealing with the possibility that his father was killed in the tsunami. When Sienna and Deni first meet, they both instantly feel a connection and are bound on the journey to face their own fears regarding their parent’s fate. This story was beautifully written. I loved reading about the Indonesian culture and seeing the hope that many of these orphans retain even after a horrible, natural disaster. I found some of Sienna’s actions irritatingly selfish and had to keep reminding myself that she was only 15. The story will definitely draw you into the lives of those who survived the disaster. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki

The Cardturner By Louis Sachar Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 336 pages It is not a brilliant observation to say that I would have little knowledge or interest in the game of bridge had Lois Sachar’s The Cardturner not come along. The Cardturner is no exception to the Sachar legacy, and although centered around an out-of-date topic, it revives bridge and gives the game new life. Alton Richards is a normal seventeenyear-old with a family of oddities and a tendency to attract bad luck. His mother has pushed him all his life to be kind to his Uncle Lester, a rich, aged hermit who has an affinity for bridge. Currently job-less (and girlfriend-less), Alton accepts the offer of being Uncle Lester’s, or as he prefers to be called, Trapp’s cardturner in the bridge game. During his biweekly visits to the bridge club, Alton tries to prove himself in the eyes of his uncle who sees him as little more than a glorified monkey. Alton, however, discovers that the Richards family is not the only contender for favorable position in inheriting Trapp’s fortune. The Castaneda family has powerful influence over Trapp, and regularly makes visits, usually in the form of the pretty Toni Castaneda. Alton struggles with his growing feelings for Toni and jealousy of her; Toni is looked upon by Trapp as an actual individual with opinions. As Alton continues to make the visits, he realizes that the relationship between Trapp and the Castaneda families lies farther back in a dark history of abuse, lies, and deceit that all started with the game of bridge. There really is no way to overstate the genius of The Cardturner. It is a well-layered, sophisticated book that keeps in touch with the sarcastic teen narrator but appeals to a much wider audience — the epitome of brilliance. Well played! Reviewed by Alex Masri Rip The Page! By Karen Benke Trumpeter, $14.95, 237 pages Rip the Page! inspires creativity to flow, sparkle, whoosh, and claim a child’s imagination. Author Karen Benke, creative writing coach and poetteacher, uses playful, inviting, inspiring language to form “hooks” to snag the interest and “reel in” the imagination of children to write. Leaving behind grammar, spelling,

sentence structure, and the formal challenges of writing, she entices young writers to be themselves and write from the joy of their heart. Hence, the book’s title, Rip the Page! “This book is a not-so-secret, combustible collection of ideas to excite and encourage the creative writer in you.” Ripping a page from a book is highly frowned upon, yet, if the book belongs to the reader, she encourages them to cross the line and do it. Stretch. Get outside the box. Anything is possible. Benke offers dozens of exercises. Bits of stories, other children’s poems and inspiring words from children’s authors weave their way through the exercises. They are more like finding candy on the sidewalk and creating a story on how it happened to be there. Rip the Page! would be great for an individual writer on their own, and wonderful as a guideline for teachers or home-school parents to inspire young hearts to write. Reviewed by Susan Roberts

to join the military and Bet’s to get a formal education. She decides to disguise herself as Will and attend his new school while Will goes off to join the military. The story is predictable but still enjoyable as we see the surprise Bet receives when she see what living with a group of other young men is really like. Bet’s spirit makes her likeable but it would have been nice to see more of the growth of the relationships among Bet, Will, and Will’s uncle. The book is a short read so that may be why some aspects feel under developed. It was also a little disappointing as the story began to focus more on Bet’s romantic interest rather than her adventures in trying to gain an education in an all-boy school. What is there is well written and this is a nice, quick read for those who are fans of Baratz-Logsted. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki

The Education of Bet By Lauren Baratz-Logsted Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16.00, 192 pages Will and Bet have been friends since they were little even though Will is the son of a wealthy family and Bet the daughter of one of the house maids. After Will is sent down from yet another school Bet comes up with a plan that fulfills both of their desires, Will’s

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Business & Investing Marketing in the Moment: The Practical Guide to Using Web 3.0 Marketing to Reach Your Customers First By Michael Tasner Prentice Hall, $24.99, 224 pages Feel like Web 2.0 caught you and your business by surprise? Then you might want to get ahead of the curve by reading Marketing in the Moment by Michael Tasner. Tasner has created an interactive, tactical book to help explain how your business can make the most of the latest trends on the Internet. Starting with an explanation of Web 2.0, Tasner explains the shifting marketing world and what is coming next. While Tasner, the owner of a Web marketing firm and author of many books, suggests reading the book twice (at least), even from a first reading you will find yourself engaged with the frequent checklists, to-do lists, and learning from the case studies and “Tas Tips.” Relying on a variety of different businesses as examples, Tasner packs the book with practical information about how to build on your company’s Web 2.0 marketing using microblogging, video, mobile

technology, virtual reality communities, collaboration tools, applications, and opensource code. A helpful chapter on devising your own action plan concludes Marketing in the Moment, helping to level the playing field for Web 3.0. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey Turn Clicks Into Customers By Duane Forrester McGraw Hill, $24.95, 221 pages Turn Clicks Into Customers is one of those “good idea, but ...” books. It’s a good basic book for anyone who is trying to get a handle on how the Internet works for business, but the book needs a little more detail for anyone else. The two appendices are a good example of this; although they offer quite a few sites to explore, they lack any sort of grading or detailed description that would make it useful to someone trying to make an informed decision about which sites to use. The book seems to operate on the assumption that social networking has only existed since the early 1990’s; the Internet has been used for informal get-togethers far longer than that.

Another minor shortcoming is that the author relies on Google and Bing as if they are the only two search engines. I appreciate the need for examples, but they are the only search engines named (even Yahoo is mentioned only for its video, not that it’s a major portal). This is the book to get your Luddite family, not your more tech-savvy friends. It’s not a bad book, it just repackages information everyone already knows without advancing the subject. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work By Sally Helgesen, Julie Johnson Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $17.95, 135 pages Few books on management point out that women have limitations that need to be worked on; The Female Vision doesn’t shy away from these. It shows that men and women bring a lot to the table, and that women need to solve some basic issues as managers, most notably the need to actually not multi-task and to not just make

intuitive leaps, but how they should be acted upon. It was somewhat interesting to read that women weren’t all that, as far too many feminists have made it a point to inform us, and that business needs their non-masculine perspective in order to succeed. Everyone does bring something important to the table. It’s also nice to be reminded that strictly analytical approaches are not always the best way. The Female Vision professes a “take care of your people and your business will take care of itself” approach” that is rather refreshing, rather than the standard “business first, people second” approach. You need to endure the first few chapters as the authors try to find their voice, but when it’s found, it’s a rather good book. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim

right leaders like Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and Andrew Jackson have in his candidacy and why did they support Hillary Clinton? Was viability as a candidate of concern to the black voters? While Obama made a strong showing in the South Carolina primary the first with a large number of black voters, there is no comparison made with other states with large black population. Cobb looks at the politics of the civilrights generation with a certain element of honesty according to this review. Reviewed by Claude Ury

to its definition. In fact, the word seems to be used so vaguely in the media that it can both comfortably describe liberals and conservatives. What gives? Jeffrey A Miron, an economist at Harvard means to rectify the confusion with his latest book, Libertarianism from A to Z. Mr. Miron’s book is a collection of issues, as the title suggests, organized alphabetically and the libertarian position on that subject. You might think the book only covers pressing politically issues but, you’d be wrong libertarianism creeps over into ethics and morality so the book has thoughts on tax policy and zoos, abortion and advertising. Mr. Miron’s intent is noble but he errors in imagining that libertarians are as unified in their beliefs as conservatives or progressives. His book contains many positions that other libertarians might oppose. This fact frustrates Mr. Miron’s stated goal of clearly showing just what libertarianism is. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard

Current Events The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise By Garret Keizer Public Affairs, $27.95, 385 pages This is a highly entertaining and sometimes maddening survey account of noise around the world and its impact on humans. Garrett Keizer occasionally cites relevant points, such as that one’s reaction to noise is often tied to personal factors. If I’m married to a professional pilot, the noise from the nearby airport does not bother me the way it troubles my neighbors. He also notes, importantly, that we do not become “used to” noise, and that its damage to our ears is permanent. But Keizer also includes considerable material of little relevance that seems to be an attempt to justify his travels around the globe in the name of doing research. Is he serious about discussing the noise made by foreign sex workers? Keizer also makes one whopper of a questionable pronouncement, which is that noise is something imposed on us against our will. If we enjoy something,

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such as rock music, it is not noise. Nonsense. I love Live at Leeds by The Who but played at any volume it remains noise, even if a joyful one. This compilation of random thoughts and scientifically based findings on noise is interesting but meandering. The editor was missing in action. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress By William Jelani Cobb Walker & Company, $23.00, 191 pages Historian William Cobb of Spelman College traces the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States in 2008. The latter was the most remarkable development of the 2008 election is shown in a very limited manner. What did the polls show of an increasing black support for Obama? Did this have anything to do with name recognition or merely increasing black support for Obama? What role did such civil

Libertarianism, From A to Z By Jeffrey A. Miron The Basic Book Group, $24.95, 198 pages The word Libertarian and the political philosophy it represents received a great deal of attention during the U.S. presidential primaries in 2008, because of Ron Paul, who while registered as a Republican calls himself a Libertarian. Libertarianism is a word that is thrown around a lot, usually without any reference

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Reference 1,001 Facts That Will Scare the S#*t Out of You By Cary McNeal Adams Media, $12.95, 312 pages Did you know that the Bible is the most shoplifted book in the world? (Fact No. 94) Or that one percent of the entire population of Greenland resides in one apartment building? (Fact No. 983) How about the iceberg spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1956 that was the size of Belgium? (Fact No. 998) Some of these items are surprising, others are funny, and still others utterly horrifying. But they are all fascinating. Cary McNeal’s 1,001 Facts That Will Scare the S#*t Out of You does an admirable job of living up to that promise, offering whole chapters on insects, illness, drugs, and bathroom activities. He talks about frogs that break their own bones to create weapons (No. 570) and Queen Isabella of Spain, who lived to be 50 but only bathed twice in her lifetime (No. 999). Not only that, but McNeal offers a joke or comment after each of his 1,001 facts. You may find some of them inappropriate or offensive, but the very fact that he even made the attempt is pretty entertaining. You know what you’re getting as soon as you pick up the book. What more could you ask for? Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

class will give most people these concepts. Thus we suggest that individuals concerned with a detailed understanding of these subjects seek more nuanced texts, or at the very least use the 101 Things I Learned series as a starting point for further reading. Reviewed by Joe Atkins A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie: And Other Lessons for Succeeding in Life By Antwone Fisher Touchstone, $19.99, 226 pages With so many articles and books written on and about women it leads one to wonder where all the men go to find their answers,

their support. With life lessons such as learning to polish their shoes to maintaining good personal hygiene, Antwone Fisher provides a go-to guide for young, and older, men alike in A Boy Should Know How To Tie A Tie. They will learn the importance of balancing healthy eating habits (and how to prepare a meal through a few recipes) and how to develop a healthy spiritual side to their lives. Fisher knows the importance of an

encouraging male role model (due to many life-altering challenges, and triumphs, of his own). He teaches real-life wisdom, not prepackaged preaching, writing with the precision and authority of a well-loved big brother, he does not lecture but, rather, leads the reader into a series of brief chapters, recipes, statistics and his own story throughout each section, stressing the significance of knowing who one is in their identity and getting to who they want to be. This read is an inspiring and honest one on one conversation with much return reference material. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez

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101 Things I Learned (TM) in Film School By Neil Landau, Matthew Frederick, Contributor Grand Central Publishing, $15.00, 212 pages Matthew Frederick started the 101 Things I Learned and he’s expanded his architectural drawings to each new subject. A drawing accompanies each lesson so that the reader can understand the text and reinforce it with an image. In an interesting way, this technique is like learning a second language. The lessons vary in magnitude, some compile basic vocabulary for a novice film enthusiast, others engage difficult concepts like the fourth wall, how to utilize different lenses, or what the angles of a camera shot tell the viewer. That said, much of this book is about the issues behind making a film, not necessarily about the wrestling with understanding film as a viewer. The majority of the text is spent discussing how to shoot utilizing the principles of thirds, how to create and stick to a filming budget, how to keep the crew making the same movie, and primarily how to write a story. The writing advice is simple and relatively basic, a gloss of any 101 creative writing

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iju Monsters except people who can already rattle off Mothra’s origin story the way most people can recite “The Three Little Pigs”? Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup By Peter Doggett HarperStudio, $24.99, 400 pages If you think that John Lennon was the Beatles, all on his own, then you may want to purchase this account. But if you think that the band was only the sum of its four parts, a pass may be in order. Peter Doggett has produced a history of the four mop-heads and their dissolution that is nothing less than strange. He’s combined well-worn stories with outlandish attempts to read the minds of the individual musicians. At one point, he writes that Paul McCartney felt that his relationship with John Lennon was, “non-sexual, but it ran deeper than anything he had experienced with a woman.” And how is it that Mr. Doggett presumes to know this? There’s also the troubling fact that Doggett presents the whole group of talented musicians as scruffy characters who battled

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personal demons when they’re weren’t battling each other. Everyone loses and no one wins in this tired expose. The author has apparently felt the blow back as he’s gone to some post-publication lengths to indicate his sympathies with McCartney, something which is not evident in Money itself. After the breakup, the Beatles were no longer the Beatles, so “in the end” what’s the point? Reviewed by Joseph Arellano

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Relationships & Sex Creating a Healthy Life and Marriage: A Holistic Approach: Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit By Judith Desjardins Spirit House Publishing, $28.95, 385 pages Creating A Healthy Life and Marriage by Judith Anne Desjardins is a holistic, thought-provoking venture which delves into the caverns of childhood experiences and traumas, relationships and how the past plays into the present. While it is weighty in subject matter and pages (385), it stands as an intellectual therapy session with personal stories from the author herself. Desjardins attempts to define the relationship between childhood and adulthood; how a healthy balance of understanding where we came from and the experiences we often enjoyed, and sometimes just barely survived, clearly identify the people we become. I thought this would be a book on cultivating a healthy marriage, and it is, but it

time warps readers back to their formative years and why they think and feel the way they do about relationships, intimacy and sex today. She has put thought, feeling and years of research into this manual and the writing is concise. It is best read as a whole and not necessarily a “thumb-through” until read through once, as it can be a bit overwhelming with personal stories and therapy lingo. If you’re looking for more, both out of yourself and your relationships, start here. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez Please, Ma’am: Erotic Stories of Male Submission By Rachel Kramer Bussel, Editor Cleis Press, $14.95, 200 pages Please, Ma’am: Erotic Stories of Male Submission, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussell, pays homage to male submissives who long for and need a commanding woman. Although told from the male point of view, these stories are written by male and female educators; technical writers; bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism enthusiasts; and erotica dabblers from around the world. The compilation of short stories is the companion piece to Please, Sir: Erotic Stories of Female Submission.

In the introduction, Bussell says these stories are about fantasy fulfillment: “It’s about giving up one kind of power to gain another.” That statement reverberates through most of the stories in the anthology. Teresa Noelle Roberts’ “I Live to Serve” gives readers an introduction into what it means to serve. In “Thrift Store Whore,” Sommer Marsden serves up a fascinating story of surrender in a dressing room. Dominic Santi’s “Porch Swing” relies on the roll of the dice and neighborly voyeurism. The final piece, Graydancer’s “I’ll Do It. For Her.”, summarizes the craving for pain, the “sheer joy of domination.” Several stories in the collection stand for the outrageous situations that may actually take place in houses, bedrooms or backyards around the globe. Others present men who use their need to be controlled to get what they want from the women they desire. Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler

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Killer Kaiju: Film’s Greatest Japanese Monsters By Ivan Vartanian Collins Design, $27.99, 144 pages A kaiju, for those of you who had better things to do on Saturday nights than watch poorly-dubbed movies on local cable access stations, is loosely defined as a “strange beast” or “monster.” But you’ll probably know kaiju better by their proper names: Gamera, Gigan, Mothra, Rodan, and, of course, Godzilla. They’re big, otherworldly, and they usually do a huge favor to local governments by destroying a whole metropolis and thus ensuring that taxes go (and, thanks to sequels, remain) through the roof. Killer Kaiju Monsters: Strange Beasts of Japanese Film is an attempt to catalog these beloved creatures of Japanese cinema, and the kaiju it covers are well-represented. But the problem is the book describes only a handful of the dozens of often wacky and hilarious monsters from decades of film. Worse still is all but one of the kaiju featured are from the Godzilla films. I would have liked to have seen more space given to kaiju who are less well-known. After all, who is likely to buy a book called Killer Ka-

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Sacramento Book Review - September 2010  

A printed publication reviewing more than 100 books a month in 40 different categories

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