July 2010 VOLUME 1, ISSUE 11
F R E E
NEW AND OF INTEREST
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly Itâ€™s never too late Page 2
The Invisible Bridge
A romantic elegy to Hungarian Jewry in historical fiction Page 5
Diverse and healthy for the grill By Johnathon King Chronicle Books, $19.95, 144 pages
A book for healthy grilling all year? Living in sunny California--where the outdoor barbecue is used spring, summer, autumn, and sometimes in between winter rain showersâ€”I knew this book belonged on my counter, pages open and liberally sprinkled with cracked pepper. Having reviewed Stonewall Kitchen books before, I was nonetheless impressed with this diverse piece as well as its focus on tasty-yet-good-for-you dishes, all written down with a reverence for outdoor cooking.
The Lamb-Mint Sliders were a hit with our family, served with a grilled summer squash salad with tomatoes and lemon-mint vinaigrette. The pistachio-lime butter worked wonderfully as a glaze on chicken breast, not only imparting the delicious flavor of California nuts but the lime zest seemed to sprint alongside with its tangy freshness. Not neglecting the side dishes, King, Stott and Gunst included some delightfully healthy recipes designed to compliment the seared flavors of the hot food and so without See GRILLING, page 2
A fascinating look on the true face of the Confederate States of America Page 8
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery Strahan and Anders Weave Potent Magic Page 17
82 Reviews INSIDE!
Popular Fiction The Friday Night Club: A Novel By Jacob Nelson Lurie BookSurge Publishing, $11.99, 350 pages It has finally hit him: Davis Robertson is about to get married, and he’s no longer sure he’s making the right choice. He thought he loved Pam, but the past few days have raised some doubts. A crazy bachelor party in Vegas has brought back memories of his college days with the Friday Night Club, various exgirlfriends and lovers, and the woman he believed for many years to be the love of his life. These reflections will lead him to make a decision for his future, but what will that decision be? Lurie’s The Friday Night Club is a coming-of-age story written for men, with a storyline that many will be able to identify with on some level. The days of college parties, the typical bachelor party at a strip club (gone horribly wrong), and the drugs and drinking are all crucial elements of life for many, and Davis’s struggle to come to terms with his past will resonate deeply with some readers. Davis is a surprisingly realistic protagonist, despite his potentially unrealistic past, and his battle with his inner demons will keep the pages turning. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Molly Fox’s Birthday By Deirdre Madden Picador, $14.00, 240 pages Can one have an entire novel about a character who never once steps foot in the story? Apparently one can. On Molly Fox’s birthday--could be forty, no one quite knows--she’s jetted off to New York leaving her Irish flat in the hands of the narrator. The narrator (whose name we never learn) is a successful playwright. One who enjoys a long friendship with the actress, but doesn’t seem to know her all that well. The playwright takes possession of the flat with the intention of churning out her latest masterpiece but instead spends the day puttering around the pad indulging in various remembrances of mutual friends and past events. “Molly Fox is an actor, and is generally regarded as one of the finest of her generation.”
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Molly Fox’s Birthday is an interesting novel, not quite crossing the line into enjoyable, yet still a worthwhile read. This is a novel which inspires the reader to ponder on what makes us who we are and how well do we ever know those around us. Are we, as people, merely a collection of interrelated experiences that bind us to one another? Deidre Madden will have readers examining their own lives and relationships. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley The Season of Second Chances By Diane Meier Henry Holt, $25.00, 285 pages Professor Joy Harkness is a single, middle-aged professor teaching at Columbia. She loathes her drab disconnected life in New York and, at the last minute, accepts a teaching position at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Her move to a new life in a smaller community sets the stage for The Season of Second Chances. Harkness has flaws that inspire reader attachment to her character. She has been obsessively committed to her career, keeping messy personal relationships at a safe distance. Harkness lives vicariously through characters on the pages of her favorite books. When she moves to Amherst and buys an old house in need of renovations, she begins an odyssey of involvement in the personal lives of new friends and coworkers. Harkness falls for a very likable younger man with issues. She discovers that she likes the life and energy of the new friends she makes through the unraveling of tragic events beyond her control. Naturally, she has a nemesis readers will love to hate though that hate will be tempered with pity when Harkness learns more about her enemy. “I didn’t know why I was crying. I didn’t know what to wish for. I wanted something to stop or something to begin. I wanted to feel more. I wanted to feel much less. I wanted to go back to being me, and I feared, with the greatest dread of my life, that I might do just that.” It has it all, love, deceit, intimacy, violence, and the most perilous and wonderful element—friendship. This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed this book. Reviewed by Grady Jones
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly By Connie May Fowler Grand Central Publishing, $23.99, 288 pages
If you only read one book this year make sure this is the one. How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is an incredible tale of rebirth and yearning, with layers upon layers of goodness. Although the first forty or so pages may have the reader questioning why they pulled this book off the shelf, the story picks up with such velocity, hours will go by unnoticed. Soon they will arrive at the end with a gasp and a hankering to start all over again. Clarisa Burden, a thirty-something writer, is trapped in an unhealthy marriage that is stifling her ability to write. Her husband Iggy, a verbally abusive and unsuccessful artist, paints and sculpts mostly naked young women while complaining how her success “strangles” him. When a friend comes to visit on the warmest summer solstice recorded in Hope, Florida history, Clarissa embarks on a twenty-four hour period of time that will change her entire life. Connie May Fowler has crafted a well-written, clever novel filled with twists, turns and a eclectic, eccentric cast of characters. Perfect choice for your book club. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Nothing But a Smile By Steve Amick Anchor, $15.00, 336 pages This is a story about a guy and two gals, to use the vernacular of the novel. Wink returns from World War II with one functioning hand (not the one he draws with) and a concern about what to do with the rest of his life. His stopover in Chicago to deliver a message to a buddy’s wife turns into a new career producing pin-up girl photos for GI magazines. Set in more innocent times, the romance that filters through the plot sounds down-to-earth and sometimes corny. So does the language. But the author offers a composite glimpse of life when posing suggestively as a pin-up girl was beyond the pale of the GIs and their brides who were settling down in the suburbs and the House Unamerican Activities Committee was hunting down “deviant” acts. Author Steve Amick knows a lot about black-and-white photography and what was needed to make photography an art in those pre-digital times. Sometimes he wants to tell the reader too much, to the detriment of the plot. But he still managed to keep me turning the pages and looking for his next book. Reviewed by Marj Stuart
What Becomes By A. L. Kennedy Knopf, $24.95, 224 pages What Becomes is best read in spurts lest the stories began to run together like a letter left out in the rain. Each story, in this collection of twelve tales of the brokenhearted, will leave the reader more unsettled than the last. Each character in Kennedy’s short tales is damaged, some beyond repair. Whether conveyed through the feelings of supporting characters or by the unease of the main protagonist, the reader may not know exactly what is wrong, only that something is dreadfully horrific. She describes so eloquently, so realistically the inner life of human condition where pain is brutal and intimacy fleeting, one feels they must look away if just for a second. Most painful of the bunch, is most likely “Story of my Life” in which a routine visit to the dentist goes painfully wrong. She concludes the four pages of torture with the advice “it’s best, if you can, to close up every story with a kiss.” Even if that kiss comes from a homeless man. “Love-sick. Love-sickened. Love-sickness. There’s bound to be a workshop you can take for that.” Despite its dark undertones, What Becomes is an incredible work of art and shouldn’t be missed. Just make sure you’ve filled your anti-depressant prescription first and go hug a puppy immediately after you turn that last page. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley GRILLING, con’t from page 1 sacrificing flavor. Being only somewhat familiar with grilling techniques, I found the included recipe “Variations” and “Helpful Hints” useful and practically worded. Reviewed by Meredith Greene
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Book Review 1776 Productions 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Ph. (916) 503-1776 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR IN CHIEF Ross Rojek email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kaye Cloutman firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGN/LAYOUT Heidi Komlofske email@example.com Rowena Manisay COPY EDITORS Joe Atkins Megan Just Lori Miller Viola Allo Glenn Rucker EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jen LeBrun Mary Komlofske Aiya Madarang WEBSITE/SOCIAL NETWORKING/ APP DEVELOPMENT Ariel Berg Gwen Stackler Robyn Oxborrow Deborah Lewis DISTRIBUTION Reliable Distribution Mari Ozawa ADVERTISING SALES firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN THIS ISSUE Popular Fiction...............................................2 Current Events...............................................4 Biographies & Memoirs..................................4 Modern Literature..........................................5 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers.............................6 Music & Movies...............................................6 Poetry.............................................................7 Reference........................................................7 History...........................................................8 Historical Fiction............................................9 Business & Investing......................................7 Cooking, Food & Wine..................................10 Children’s.....................................................11 Humor-NonFiction.......................................13 Horror..........................................................13 Science Fiction & Fantasy............................. 14 Young Adult..................................................15 Tweens.........................................................16 Technology...................................................16
FROM THE EDITOR Well as the summer in the Central Valley heats up, so does our publication. There are some great summer books in this issue— something for every taste. And speaking of taste, the summer Cooking, Food & Wine books should provide some new ideas and recipes for everyone; from vegan and vegetarian to meat-lovers grilling. And as far as wine goes, we’re working with several local AVA’s for some special advertising supplements in upcoming issues like last month’s Dry Creek insert. Look for a focus on Livermore in August. This month also marks the launch of our first iPhone app. We decided to start with Children’s Books, being that we have reviewed almost 800 of them so far, and because there wasn’t already a Children’s Book review app on the market. We’re every excited about it, and by the time you read, this it should be approved by Apple and available for download. Not only does it have all of our reviews in one handy place, but you can also mark them as Favorites for easier recall when at the store or library, post them to your Facebook page, or Twitter them. We’ll have some new elements to it in weeks to come, and also another book review app for another genre coming soon. For all that the media says that books are dead or dying and that people are losing the attention span to read an entire book, authors keep writing good ones and publishers keep printing them. Sure, we have a vested interest in the whole book market, but as long as people write good books, they’ll find an audience. And we’ll be reviewing them. Thanks again for picking us up this month. We hope you find something good to read. Happy reading, Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief email@example.com 1776 Productions
Sequential Art.............................................. 17 Romance....................................................... 17 Home & Garden............................................18 Local Calendar..............................................19 Art, Architecture & Photography.................21
Coming Up... August will have a Back To School theme, September will be our bi-annual Science Fiction & Fantasy insert, and October will be another Cooking, Food & Wine insert. We’re just starting to look at the upcoming Fall books, and it looks like there will be some great reading coming up.
Science & Nature..........................................21
Current Events Not only is such an approach methodologically unsound, it is unhelpful. This problem may arise partly from Vaisse’s refusal to place neo-conservatism where it belongs, as the latest and most extreme form of the democratic Utopianism that some academics describe as Wilsonian, though it predates the 28th President running all the way back to the first stirrings of the Republic. One possible explanation is Vaisse’s apparent desire to stand on both sides of various divides, with assertions like “neoconservatism is such a diverse thing that the term has always been close to meaningless,” (which, if true, leaves one wondering why he believes it can be written about coherently in the first place). He at once condemns those who paint neoconservatism as a fundamentally Jewish movement, yet in his conclusion claims it to be “first and foremost an attempt by certain Jewish intellectuals to rationalize…their alienation” and “a classic pattern…of the last to be admitted to society’s elite ranks attempted to shut the door behind them.” This misses the mark. Neocon founders like Kristol and Nathan Glazer flirted with Trotskyism at CCNY and, just as they accepted that militant utopian ideology, so they and their intellectual progeny find
Biographies & Memoirs Memoirs of a Wannabe Sex Addict By Julia Morizawa Fanny Press, $14.95, 151 pages Here is a collection of erotic short stories, stories every woman might have, but not stories every woman will necessarily tell. Intelligent erotica covering fear, power, dominance, an inability to speak, Julia Morizawa’s beautiful prose and haunting images explore women and men in their search for understanding, love, sex, and belonging. It’s a twenty-something’s second coming-ofage story, wrapped in prose that captures the sense of confusion of a generation. “My pimp called several times before I finally responded and paid him a visit.” Through these brutally honest sex-capades, this collection of memoirs, true or not for the author but ringing true for women, is a snapshot of life, sex, and accompanying
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vulnerabilities, complexities, and relationship experiences that force people to grow, prompting them on the path to change. From The Slave’s fear of love to The Addict’s desire to impress her pimp to The Girlfriend on her first romantic date with a man and her innocent hope for the possibility of love, Morizawa’s debut collection of erotica is an impressive read with an array of identifiable characters connecting to the darker side of the feminine. Reviewed by Axie Barclay Silent Tears By Kay Bratt AmazonEncore, $10.77, 323 pages Kay Bratt was your typical American mom. Married with two daughters, a career, and a loving circle of family and friends, it seemed like nothing could frazzle this seemingly ideal American Dream. Her husband was asked to head his company’s expansion into China, so the family packed
up and made the move halfway around the world. Acculturation was difficult for all, but Kay needed a something to do to fill her time. She decided to volunteer at a local orphanage. Silent Tears is a series of Kay’s journal entries throughout her time in a Chinese orphanage. She witnessed children dying simply because they weren’t fed, babies with life threatening heart complications, and the ever common sufferings of the cleft palate and cleft lip babies. In China, it is common to just abandon your baby at the local train station, or if their medical bills are too expensive, just walk away from them at the hospital. Babies are left in their cribs for almost the entire day leaving the backs of their heads flat, all fed with the same bottles which transfers viruses much quicker, and bathed in cold water. Kay slowly gained the trust of the organization, pulled together many volunteers, and with millions of dollars in donations, slowly began to raise the standards to which they treated the children and provided medical treatment. The book is gut wrenching, but leaves the reader with the idea that change is possible no matter the obstacles. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun
appeal in a similarly utopian nationalist millennial movement, albeit one that sees democracy rather than class equality as its ultimate perfection. This ideology combined well with other similar beliefs, such as a faith in the justice of absolutist meritocracy. In the wake of the Bush Administration’s departure, the Neoconservative movement has badly fractured. Some, like Francis Fukuyama, have moved into the realist camp, while others like David Brooks have taken on a more suspicious Burkian view of any grand enterprise. Stalwarts like Kristol and Dan Senor have instead doubled down, arguing instead that the failure of the Iraq enterprise resulted not from a strategic miscalculation, but from tactical blunders. One thing is certain, the neocons are not gone from the stage of American politics, nor will they be the last movement to embrace Wilsonian Universalist principles, and we should understand them for what they are, not based on such vague “biographies” as this one. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
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servatives’ opposition to Clinton and their prominence under Bush 43. Unfortunately, this neat division is far from persuasive. On the first age, does it logically follow that because neo-conservatives critiqued the welfare state, all critics of the welfare state were necessarily neo-Conservatives? Vaisse bases his assertion of this association on Nathan Glazer’s writing, a curious choice since elsewhere he seems less inclined to take neocons at their word. Yet if one were to presume that all those who rejected a centralized welfare model were neocons, then the roles would be so long and varied, from Bill Clinton to John McCain to Tony Blair, as to make the term meaningless. The same might be said of the “Second Age:” if every anti-Communist democrat in the 1970s was a neocon, it leaves little room for thoughtful analysis. Scoop Jackson and Irving Kristol were both members of the CDM, but this doesn’t mean that they were both neo-conservatives. As Jackson was fond of pointing out, he saw communism much as had Truman and Kennedy. Does this mean that they were neoconservatives, too? Failing to offer a consistent definition, Vaisse often lurches disturbingly close to an approach and language that carries a whiff of McCarthyism, complete with “fellow travelers” and brands doled out based on one’s associations (“are you now or have you ever been a member of the CDM? Have you ever contributed to Commentary?”).
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Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement By Justin Vaisse; Translated by Arthur Goldhammer Harvard University Press, $35.00, 366 pages Throughout Neoconservatism: Biography of a Movement, the author Justin Vaisse never offers a concise definition of “neoconservative,” instead floating between several, remaining ever frustratingly vague. One gets the sense that Vaisse feels much as Justice Potter Stewart felt about pornography, he can’t describe neoconservativism, but he knows it when he sees it. His choice of where to apply the label is a Rorschach test: Scoop Jackson was as was Pat Moynihan (until he changed his mind), as was Al Gore. Dick Cheney wasn’t (but some of his best friends were), while Ronald Reagan is a toss-up. If this sounds a bit like a party game (name that neo-conservative!), it isn’t the only one offered by Vaisse’s book. Another, perhaps even more entertaining one can be played by counting how many times he uses the words Jewish and Trotskyite in the book (double points if in the same sentence). Vaisse postulates three neoconservative“ ages”: the first, from the mid-60’s to 1972, when a few liberals opposed the centralized welfare state of the Great Society; the second, runs from McGovern’s defeat, through the formation of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM) to the election of Bush 41; and the third being neocon-
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Modern Literature Chef By Jaspreet Singh Walker & Company, $14.00, 250 pages Award-winning short story writer Jaspreet Singh’s first novel opens fittingly on a train as the narrator, Kirpal Singh, is traveling from India to Kashmir. Though ill, he is returning to Kashmir after an absence of fourteen years to prepare the wedding feast for his former Army commander’s daughter. At twenty, Kirpal joined the Army after his father, a heroic officer, died on Siachen Glacier in a war with Pakistan. In the shadow of this glacier, Kirpal apprentices under the camp’s chef, Kishan, who teaches him to “cook without fear of failure.” When Kishan is transferred to a post on the glacier, Kirpal takes over the kitchen. Except for the lack of a love life, he seems content until meeting Kishan again and encountering a Pakistani prisoner, a woman labeled a “terrorist.” Though Kirpal begins to question the conflict, his emotions simmer below the surface. Using the power of food, he tries to bridge the divide. Stories told mainly through flashback run the risk of causing “reader’s whiplash;” however, Jaspreet Singh’s sense of rhythm and his lyricism move the novel fluidly through time. Kirpal’s journey is complex and layered like any flavorful dish. Sit back and delight in this delectable story. “The carrots and onions were having better sex than me. Zucchini made scandalous love to paneer, mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes.” Reviewed by Deb Jurmu Anthill: A Novel By Wilson, Edward Osborne Norton, $24.95, 380 pages As much as I revere and admire E.O. Wilson, I cannot applaud this latest publication. Anthill, a novel that attempts to embrace the reader with the importance of preserving our habitat and educate readers about the interdependence of all life forms, reads like a recipe badly put together. There are heroes and villains, mixed with a bit of sex, a touch of violence and a sauce of redemption. Unfortunately, the characters are one dimensional, the incidents somewhat incredible. Starting with an adventure of two youths through the untamed river
country of Nokobee Swamps, the author introduces us to the youthful hero, reminiscent of Huck Finn in his love of the wild. Flashes of Wilson’s childhood from his earlier autobiography appear in the descriptions. Further chapters describe the ant world as the myrmecologist details ant behavior and how a rogue gene in one colony expresses itself as an overly aggressive super organism that wreaks havoc on the environment. Further chapters detail how the young boy completes law school and uses this competency to save his beloved habitat from being destroyed by greedy developers. Our hero is rescued from the murderous rage of the bad guys by a crazy red-necked hermit as a sort of deux ex machina. The same message with which Wilson tries to engage his audience could have been more effectively provided through a factual, non-fiction account.? “Nokobee was a habitat of infinite knowledge and mystery, beyond the reach of the meager human brain, as were the habitats of his ancestors.” Reviewed by Rita Hoots Hotel Iris By Yoko Ogawa Picador, $14.00, 164 pages In a remote resort town on Japan’s coast, a seventeen-year-old girl, Mari, is working the front desk of the Hotel Iris when a guest is thrown, bodily, screaming, out of Room 202 by a middle-age man. “Shut up, whore,” the man says in his serenely powerful voice. So begins lonely, inexperienced Mari’s sentimental education, a violent sexual awakening under the tutelage of a middle-aged translator. “The translator’s hand was soft. So soft, it seemed my hand would sink completely into his. This hand had done so many things to me--stroked my hair, made my tea, stripped me, bound me--and with each new act it had been reborn as something different. But was the hand that held mine now the same one that had killed a woman?” When Mari first meets the translator, his touch recalls her grandfather, whose body she tended during his painful illness and whose death left her all alone with a cool, controlling mother. Full of a teenage girl’s loathing for her own body, Mari is in thrall to the translator’s – his adoring manner and widower’s sorrow, as well as his stories about a Russian girl in a novel he claims to be translating. When she follows him to his ramshackle house on an island, he shows
The Invisible Bridge By Orringer, Julie Knopf, $26.95, 602 pages
If it is an author’s highest goal to fully absorb her reader into the novel, then Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge stands as a marvel. When her characters joyed, I smiled. When they faced terror, my mouth went dry and my breath grew short. As they suffered, I found myself pushing back tears. As a reader, I am rarely sentimental, yet something here seized my heart, and through almost 600 pages, this author artfully cupped it in her hands. “Andras cuffed his pants and stepped into the water. When the wave rolled in, the ground slid away beneath his feet and he had to catch Klara’s arm to keep from falling. He knew that feeling... it was Klara, her draw upon him, her inevitability in his life.” As Europe races towards war, a young Jew, Andras Levi, travels to Paris to study architecture. Through school, where he is a star, and the theater, where he works, Andras meets a parade of colorful characters. When set up with a girl, he instead falls in love with her mother, Klara. The two become swept up in a passionate affair, and in time she reveals the dark secret which forced her to flee Hungary 16 years earlier. Orringer weaves a web of gripping digressive sub-plots, each of which pulls us along, but there is never any real doubt where these characters will end up--Andras and Klara will spend the war back in their native Hungary. With the library of novels written describing the Holocaust in Poland and Germany, and more seeming to appear every day, I found it fascinating to read Orringer’s well researched descriptions of the experience of Hungarian Jews. Hated by the Fascist Arrow Cross Party, yet “protected” from Hitler by the regent Horthy, they suffered abuse, humiliation, and often murder, but through much of the war were spared becoming grist for the mill of Nazi genocide. Hungarian Jews, as the last of Europe’s great communities to be destroyed, as well as being perhaps the least considered, here receives a very fine elegy from the descendant of one survivor. At heart, The Invisible Bridge is a war romance, much in the vain of “The English Patient” or even more, Halprin’s superb “A Soldier of the Great War.” As such, one often has to suspend disbelief and the prose can at time graze against the purple. Coincidences abound. Our hero Andras may indeed be too good to be true, though he does suffer from an excess of intellectual pride and a certain naïveté. Yet, if you are someone inclined towards historical romances, such things are besides the point; you read on because you are compelled to do so, to see what becomes of these people, to pray that you see them safely and happily to the end. This would be an evocative piece of fiction even if it weren’t Orringer’s first novel. As such, it is simply extraordinary. Reviewed by Jordan Magill another side. In fact, this translator of Russian home-remedy pamphlets may have murdered his wife. Exquisitely written and beautifully observed, this novel is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Reviewed by Zara Raab Time Among the Dead By Thomas Rayfiel The Permanent Press, $26.00, 158 pages In Time Among the Dead Thomas Rayfiel recounts the waning days of William, an elderly Victorian-era English gentleman who, through a journal supplied by his grandson, Seabold, examines his formerly unexamined life. What is revealed is unexpected, as well as moving, painful, and ultimately fully human, no matter what the era.
William’s journal entries show him to be a prickly, stand-offish sort who has strained relations with his grandson and most everyone else. His journaling and declining health unleash at first a dribble and then a torrent of memories, emotions, and visions which lead him to question the decisions he made in his life. They also lead him to a better understanding of Seabold, and the hope that he will lead a fuller life than did his grandfather. Time Among the Dead accurately reflects the language and social mores of the time, and reads like a true Victorian-era journal. Rayfiel’s greater accomplishment, however, is to capture the revelatory impact the stirred up memories have on William as he realizes his life was not lived as it could, or perhaps should, have been. Time Among the Dead is fully satisfying on all levels. Reviewed by Doug Robins
“This journal proves a dangerous pastime. I liken it to a patch of quicksand, the blank page.”
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Mystery, Crime & Thrillers Exit Blue By Ivan G. Goldman Black Heron Press, $23.95, 230 pages The United States, mostly controlled by conservatives (the Reds), has been pursuing questionable policies for years to include an endless number of military actions – the latest being an invasion of Denmark. Liberals (the Blues) have finally had enough of conservative blundering, and a number of the Blue states have seceded from the Union. So much of the military is engaged in invasions elsewhere that there are not enough troops to stage a civil war. Everybody – Reds and Blues alike – are wondering where both parts of the country are really heading. Enter Delmore LeCort (loser, hired to write a book but actually to spy on the President); Bunny (female President, beautiful, conservative, not too bright); Beanie (Bunny’s sister, beautiful, liberal, with her own agenda); Magoo (Vice President who really establishes national policy and seems to get younger every day); and a host of other strange people.
“No, it’s true. I’m a mongrel, Mr. Vice President. Ruf, ruf.” Ivan Goldman’s Exit Blue is an entertaining book that satirizes government, politicians, business, and to some extent the ordinary citizen. Some of the situations presented and the thought processes revealed are probably uncomfortably closer to the truth than we would like to admit. This is a light, easy read. Recommended. Reviewed by Douglas McWilliams The Bone Thief: A Body Farm Novel By Jefferson Bass William Morrow, $24.99, 359 pages The author of this true-to-life, crime scene investigation novel is two persons: Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Together as Jefferson Bass, they have written several novels based on the work of Dr. Bass, who is a highly respected forensic anthropologist. There is no criminology that relies on magic equipment crafted from the fanciful imaginings of a screenwriter as on CSI shows. Their characters employ intellect, observation, and footwork to solve a most perplexing series of body part thefts. Dr. Bill Brockton, the main character, is a forensic anthropologist who works at the Univer-
sity of Tennessee managing the Body Farm, where decomposition of human remains is studied. He and his research assistant Miranda Lovelady are drawn into a mystery involving the FBI, while at the same time they are on a quest to find fresh transplant hands for a colleague who received a massive dose of radiation while performing an autopsy. The radiation is destroying the surgeon’s skillful hands. The story is told in first person by Dr. Brockton. The underlying theme of the story is Brockton’s introspection on choices he and others make, relationships and human frailty. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano I am Not a Serial Killer By Dan Wells Tor, $9.99, 272 pages Sometimes it’s best to just keep on reading. I’ll admit, as I read the first part of I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, I was formulating a review in my head that chastised for stealing a bit
Music & Movies You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates By Sam Cutler ECW Press, $17.95, 326 pages It’s rare to have achieved as much access to some of the greatest rock and roll acts of the ‘60s as Sam Cutler did. His rock and roll memoir tells of his life as the tour manager for the Rolling Stones before they made their first trip across the pond. Centered around the infamous Altamont concert that resulted in four deaths and countless acts of violence and destruction, the book devotes much time in explaining the disaster and Cutlers role in it, clarifying misconceptions that exist decades later and no doubt revealing some of the burden he has felt over the years. The concert proved fatal to Cutlers professional relationship with the Stones, as he fell on
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the sword and remained in the States after the they fled back to England. Yet, despite the damning press Cutler rebounds from this and finds himself soon managing the Grateful Dead, to very wild and entertaining results. Written in an honest and self deprecating style, the book is an interesting read for anyone who is a fan of that golden age of rock. With backstage accounts from the road, Cutler sheds new light on two of the most popular acts of a generation and greatly entertains in doing so. Reviewed by Leonard Jackson Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories By Edited by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman It Books, $15.99, 346 pages One of the weird things about being a writer is that there are few stories about how people became writers; there are plenty of books on how to become a writer, but few on how they fell in love with writing and got their first break. Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories
is an exploration of that aspect of things and takes a long, loving look at how screenwriters such as John Carpenter and Shane Black learned their trade, became experts at it, and how much they really don’t know. It’s interesting to look at these men and women, realize that they are masters of their craft, and to see how much each relied on luck more than skill. There’s definitely a matter of them putting themselves in the right place at the right time with the right script, but it’s weird how much luck played a part in their success, as well as social skills in a profession not noted for them. Tales from the Script is definitely a book any would-be screenwriter needs to read, if at gunpoint; this book will scare off those that shouldn’t be in the profession and will encourage the rest. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim
too much from Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series. The main characters are both sociopaths, both involve themselves in local crimes, both have rules they follow to keep from hurting people and aside from Wells’ character, John Wayne Cleaver being a freshman in high school, it seemed that I’d already read this story. Then everything changed. I quickly forgave Wells for similarities between these books because of the completely original turn he takes. The result is a book that kept the pages turning and the thrill level high. It’s the story of a boy struggling against his sociopathic tendencies while faced with an inhuman evil that only he seems to understand. And what he understands is that no one will ever believe the truth, so he alone is faced with abiding evil or facing it alone. With a creepy and compelling protagonist and a malevolent antagonist this book propels you toward the finish with verve and vigor. Pick it up. You won’t put it down. Reviewed by Albert Riehle The Lock Artist By Steve Hamilton Minotaur Books, $24.99, 304 pages Michael has a preternatural skill for getting past locks of any kind. His impressive talent has made him the premier boxman (a locksmith-for-hire) for the criminal element all across the United States. His reputation is only enhanced by the fact that he hasn’t spoken a word to anyone in years. But when the chance for a truly big score comes around, it could be the catalyst for Michael to finally leave the criminal life behind, or it could be his ultimate undoing. While The Lock Artist is slow to start, once the story gets rolling, it becomes an enthralling read. Michael’s journey from innocence to corruption has a few cliché moments, but the storytelling is so good that you don’t mind at all. While jumping back and forth between back story and the main plotline, Hamilton weaves a tapestry of life experiences that makes Michael an utterly believable and thoroughly captivating character, well worthy of your time. In short, The Lock Artist is a terrific coming-of-age tale and a great crime novel all wrapped in one, with a liberal sprinkling of romance and teenage rebellion to boot. I hope it finds a well-deserved spot on many readers’ bookshelves. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
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Poetry & Short Stories The Third Bear By Jeff VanderMeer Tachyon Publications, $14.95, 275 pages “Does it matter?” answers a creature seemingly a rabbit, when the girl to whom he has been entrusted asks him why he is there. It is the presence of the unknown and the frustration of those who wish it explained which provides the thematic glue for award-winning fantasist Jeff VanderMeer’s collection. Otherwise these stories, most of which are reprinted from earlier publications, are extremely difficult to summarize. Ocean gods battle for mastery, two men become obsessed with a stamp from a country which does not exist, and a disillusioned author camps out in Siberia with two pistols and a penguin to write a story which will change the world. Some have the calm omniscience of myths, other the enthralling timelessness of fairytales, and still other the creepy, technophobic foreboding of industrial fantasy. Many are reminiscent of Japanese surrealist author Haruki Murakami, whose characters’ ordinary desires and fears lead them to bizarre encounters. Lushly imaginative and thick with atmosphere, the meanings prove elusive while the stories brim with emotions, ranging from
horror, alienation, and sorrow to humor, curiosity, and love. VanderMeer’s stories are provocative marvels which collectively build into something colossally unforgettable. Reviewed by Ariel Berg One More Story: Thirteen Stories in the Time-Honored Mode By Ingo Schulze; John E. Woods, Translator Knopf, $25.95, 269 pages It feels strangely appropriate to read acclaimed German author Ingo Schulze’s short story collection in translation. After all, it adds one more layer to what are central themes of his 13 stories: incomprehension and misunderstanding. In several, it is between cultures. In others, it is generational. In almost every story, it is between genders. His narrators, all male, many who are writers, all have a sort of detached passivity endemic to those who prefer observation to engagement. They are frequently paired with emotional, combative, principled women who try to control their reserved partners who cause the women endless frustration. Underpinning many of the stories is the displacement felt by East Germany; once held frozen under the regulative scrutiny of the
Reference Mr. Manners: Lessons from Obama on Civility By Anna Post and Emily Post Andrews McMeel Publishing, $10.99, 64 pages Anna Post is the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, the late great arbiter of all that constitutes etiquette. Post certainly faithfully carries on the family tradition in her delightful Mr. Manners: Lessons from Obama on Civility. This book is not about Barack Obama, the President; it is about Barack Obama, the well-mannered gentleman. In an exquisite photo-essay, with little text, Post shows us that, indeed, “manners maketh the man.” If ‘good manners’, as my own mother instructed, is the abil-
ity to put others at ease, Mr. Obama is the quintessential well-mannered gentleman. This little book tackles a big job: to illustrate how manners affect everyone, from the ordinary citizen to the most powerful man in the nation. Photos of the President in many different situations, from everyday family life to State affairs, illustrate the point the text makes: “Etiquette,” states Post, is really all “about how your actions affect others,” not just following a set of rigid rules of appropriate behavior. Good manners may not take you as far as the White House, but employing them can do nothing but maximize your potential. This book would be a wonderful graduation gift, or a thoughtful and appropriate gift to the newly employed graduate heading off to their first job. Delightful! Reviewed by Claudette Smith
Soviet Union, now inundated with the capitalistic fervor of the West. The stories often begin with an expression of bewilderment by the narrators, most of whom seem to be recounting them to ask help in deciphering their meaning. The openness of the narrators gives the stories an illusory simplicity, which only contributes to the state of disorientation in which they ultimately leave the reader. Schulze’s carefully crafted tales are cerebral delights, revealing a deeper complexity with each reading. Reviewed by Ariel Berg Simplify Me When I’m Dead By Keith Douglas Farber & Farber, $23.00, 50 pages English soldier and poet Keith Douglas died in World War Two at the age of 24, but he left behind poems that capture the irreversible damage of war. The loss of life on the battlefield echoes through the people Douglas calls “heroes,” who he understands as both victims and witnesses. He was one of these heroes. He foresaw his own death in the deaths of so many others. Simplify Me When I’m Dead highlights his roles, however short-lived, as a witness of war and a soldier. The fact that he was a participant in the war keeps his gaze close to the fragile puzzle of life so easily unraveled by the muzzle and the bullet. Keith Douglas writes in a voice filled with despair but that cannot give in to fear, because the soldier facing certain death must keep a firm handle on the weapon of his emotions. Readers will find, at the core of his poems, the kernel of the truth that we are made, as individuals, by our experience of life and our closeness to death. The poet is not so different from you and me; we all speak from the places we know and the things we have seen. Reviewed by Viola Allo Boys and Girls Like You and Me: Stories By Aryn Kyle Scribner, $24.00, 229 pages Aryn Kyle, award-winning author of The God of Animals, shows her range with a short story collection. With insightfulness and wit, Kyle explores the lives of girls and women struggling to find their place in life. In the collection opener “Brides”, high school freshman Grace has been cast as just one of the Townspeople in the school play until she ingratiates herself with the female lead and learns an unsavory lesson on get-
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ting ahead. Two of the stories center around protagonists who muddy their lives with affairs with married men; another focuses on how sixteen-year-old Kate must handle her volatile sister’s affairs with older men. Kyle includes a shortshort, “Femme,” written in third person plural. This chorus of voices emphasizes the central theme of commonality in women’s lives. While showcasing the shared experience, Kyle presents well drawn characters that stay with the reader, a sure sign the author has succeeded. Even as these girls and women make poor choices, Kyle peels back the layers to reveal the emotions beneath and, at the core, the human desire to belong. With any luck, readers unfamiliar with the short story genre will pick up this superlative collection. “The thing about writing college papers for other people is that it helps to be a little drunk while you’re doing it.” Reviewed by Deb Jurmu Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives By David Eagleman Vintage, $13.00, 114 pages We want to know what happens to us when we die. But we won’t find out, with absolute certainty, until we die. We will not find answers in David Eagleman’s Sum but a mosaic of forty imaginative possibilities. The tales in Sum are outlines of scenarios and potential reactions we might experience on finding ourselves dead. We might find that, in death, we are not static but continue living our lives, except that we do so in reverse, or on the scale of each of our cells no longer bound to our bodies but scattered across the globe. We might witness the limitless lives we could have lived, our more ideal selves who accomplished more than we thought we could. We might relive the moments of our lives all lumped together and categorized, so that we experience all our joy in one sitting and all our pain in another. Eagleman’s Sum reads like a collection of crisp, almost philosophical pieces. His are primarily second person narratives, where the “you” urges the reader to be receptive. This lends his afterlife possibilities much conviction but also has the effect of letting us know that none of this should be taken too seriously. Reviewed by Viola Allo
History A Few Good Women: America’s Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan By Evelyn Monahan, Rosemary NeidelGreenlee Knopf, $32.50, 475 pages A Few Good Women is a book full of surprises. In addition to well known examples of women serving as Army nurses, it also covers military barriers women crossed to become Japanese translators, chaplains, and officers. This isn’t only a record of what women have done. Perhaps the most revealing parts are the how and why (or why not) of women in the military.
genocide, to problems with seeing genocide as merely perpetuated by groups, examining why the international community should care, why persecuting individuals for genocidal acts is a must, and also special problems pertaining to matter of intent regarding genocide. May’s arguments all seem to indicate that in a world gone global, we need to get along, to help others, more than ever before. Genocide is very academic in nature and dreadfully thought-provoking in content with well-thought-out arguments for someone interested in real-world issues. An extensive bibliography finishes out the work. Larry May is very passionate about a very dark issue that is easy to ignore in our safe part of the world. A professor of philosophy and law, he also has six awards in philosophy, law, and international relations. Reviewed by Axie Barclay
“Take the women into the armed service, who then will do the cooking, the washing, the mending, the humble homey tasks to which every women has devoted herself?”
The Highland Clans By Alistair Moffat Thames & Hudson, $22.95, 176 pages Bloody and lyrical, Alistair Moffat’s account of the clans, from vague origins in the Caucus Mountains, modern day France, and Vikings to their crushing defeat at Culloden, traces the threads of history that led to that fated moor and what it means to be a Scot. A sweeping tale of generals, bards, and gods, the history of the highlands from the Celts to the Clearances and beyond, Moffet captures the history and the heartbreak involved with the rugged land that Scots feel so drawn to, their blood gone deep in the glens and lochs for generations, although their leaders sold them out and cleared them off their family holdings in order to make room to graze sheep and cattle. Evocative images of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Rob Roy MacGregor, and Somberled are weaved amidst tales of battles and cattle reiving, with language as rich as a bard’s.
Those who played a role in this campaign — those for and against female service — will amaze you with reasons ranging from quaint to cruel to ridiculous. A Few Good Women successfully illustrates that the fight for women to serve was not a straight line but a constant give and take for decades. This book’s only drawback seems to be too much information. In their effort to include everything learned, the authors occasionally give us stories that feel out of place with the rest of the chapter or that have only tenuous ties to female military service. But overall this book is an eye opener, especially the sections covering the World War II era. Reviewed by Jodi M. Webb Genocide: A Normative Account By Larry May Cambridge University Press, $28.99, 283 pages Author Larry May argues that genocide, the worst of horrors, is a very personal crime— one treated very technically by law. In his book, Genocide, May focuses on Rwanda genocide as an example, as he examines genocide as defined by international law. “Genocide should not be seen as morally unique and significantly worse than legally than other serious international crimes.” The book covers a range of academic discussions, from a general discussion defining
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By Stephanie McCurry Harvard University Press, $35.00, 431 pages Good history teaches readers about the past, excellent history offers perspective on the present. By this standard, Stephanie McCurry’s Confederate Reckoning surely achieves excellence. Against the library produced over 150+ years since the “Lost Cause” attempting to rewrite Confederate realities, McCurry offers a carefully researched and well-grounded frontal assault, examining secession’s causes and actualities. She quickly disposes of the claims that the war was really about anything other than slavery, demonstrating that fanciful patinas such as “states rights” merely meant linguistic obfuscation of that brutal reality. Through numerous sources, she shows that the “property” that made up their “peculiar institution” was first and foremost in the minds of the men who tore the Union asunder. “What secessionists set out to build was something entirely new in the history of nations: a modern proslavery, anti-democratic state.” Yet McCurry goes further, examining the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the Confederate enterprise, going all the way back to the planter elites’ manipulation and fraud in passing secession in several states. The contradictions inherent in the South’s efforts from the beginning often astound: as the South argued for “essential liberty,” it was the first to conscript its citizens and imposed onerous in-kind taxes. At the same time, the slaver class insisted that their “property” was sacrosanct, and must remain beyond the government’s reach. To argue for the Confederacy’s anti-democratic nature, McCurry points both to the status of African Americans and women as both considered devoid of political authority. While her claim is accurate, this seems an odd conflation: in its treatment of women the South was similar to much of the rest of the west as well as the North, while in its candid assertions of the positive attributes of slavocracy, the South was in modern history unique. Nonetheless, the South’s troubles with politically assertive women, including several riots led by women, illuminates a fascinating lost bit of history. Nor were these the only cases of the deep segregation in the Confederacy along various lines. For example, McCurry doesn’t consider the South’s refusal to bury Jewish war dead in military cemeteries. As modern citizens decry government actions and hearken back to an ideal that never was, so too did the South assert a wish to return to a fictional revolutionary era utopia. This desire allowed them to not only ignore the long odds against their success, just as Tea Partiers fail to consider their program’s (such as it is) absurd contradictions. While on occasion she allows her overwrought prose to get the best of her, McCurry shines a light on the South’s brutal reality and thus encourages us to cast a cold analytical eye on our own. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
“What sped the clansmen in the charge at Culloden were the names of their places and the memory of their great beauty. It was what bound them to the land for millennia, what formed the rhythms of their language, and what tore out their hearts as the white-sailed ships slipped over the horizon.” While perhaps not for a reader without some knowledge of Scottish history, this book is entertaining and informative as it follows the clans from their illustrious beginnings to their squalid defeat at Culloden and beyond. Reviewed by Axie Barclay
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Historical Fiction Eleanor the Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine By Norah Lofts Touchstone, $15.00, 311 pages Rereading Norah Lofts’ Eleanor The Queen, originally released in 1955, is like reconnecting with a long-lost childhood friend. A reconnection to be anticipated and, finally, greatly enjoyed. The same elements that attracted a 10-year-old reader over 50 years ago are still there – well-drawn characters, crackling dialogue that rings with verisimilitude, a beautiful, intelligent and heroic heroine, and a rip-roaring story: and all based on historical fact. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a young girl when left orphaned by her father’s death; the sole legitimate heir to lands so great that whichever king won her hand in marriage would become the wealthiest king in Christendom. Given no choice, she soon marries the future king of France. After 15 years of marriage, during which she failed to produce a male heir, Eleanor was divorced from the king. Within weeks, she was remarried to the future king of England, Henry Plantagenet. She bore him five sons, and three daughters. Two of her sons became kings of England in their own right, including Richard the Lion-Hearted. The dynasty founded by Henry and Eleanor ruled England for hundreds of years.
Five stars if for no other reason than pure nostalgia; but well worth reading for any history buff, romance fan, historical fiction fan, or “tween.” Just plain good storytelling here! Reviewed by Claudette Smith
Roar! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle: A Business Fable By Kevin Daum, Daniel A. Turner, Contributor Wiley, $22.95, 210 pages With all of the ways to get the word out about a new product, it can be difficult to actually get the word out. ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle presents an interesting oldfashioned way to cut through the jungle of marketing and make sure that your product or service gets the attention it deserves. It’s a 5000-year-old secret that uses biblical advice; the book breaks down customers into four types and shows how to deal with each one and to use them to get you more customers. The advice will enable a businessperson to look at their marketing,
make some minor tweaks to it, and then use it to help their salespeople sell the business without using a script. The book takes the form of a story about a series of lunches between two friends, which helps break down the lessons into easy-to-learn steps, making it a very easyto-read book. It’s an easy one-night read, as well as entertaining. It also shows how the advice can be used for a single-person business, a nice feature considering the number of home businesses today. All in all, a great read! Reviewed by Jamais Jochim
The Long Song: A Novel By Andrea Levy Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.00, 313 pages Historical fiction compels less through plot, which can be culled from any history text, than through atmosphere, the ability to immerse the reader in a particular world. It is this aspect at which Andrea Levy succeeds so well in The Long Song, which concerns the final, tumultuous years of slavery on Jamaica in the early 19th century. “Now, all knew that lavish words were as scarce to Kitty as beef in her dutchy pot, but upon hearing that her daughter, whom she had missed for so many years, had just fallen out from the long grasses – her hair picky-picky and nasty with thistle, skin clawed raw, dress slashed to a scrap and covered with mud and bush, eyes wild as a hounded beast, bearing up a lame man with a head cracked to crooked, who trembled within her grasp while she raved upon all who came too close, that the massa was dead – Kitty stood with-
out breath or blink for so long that Miss Rose believed she had turned to stone.”
these two women against the turbulent backdrop of Chinese culture and politics.
Specifically, it is the story of July, daughter of a black slave and a white overseer, who as a child is claimed by Catherine, the simpering sister of the plantation’s owner. Viewing July as something between a pet and a servant, Catherine renames her ‘Marguerite’ (which amusingly fails to stick), and soon relies on her for everything including companionship, a dependence which the clever July uses for her own ends. The British slave owners, steadily sweating through their finery in the Jamaican heat, are relegated to the background of the story, their imperiousness collapsing into fear as their control slips. The slaves, on the other hand, are fully-fleshed individuals whose growing conviction that they deserve freedom is complicated by the institutionalized racism which has them judging worthiness from skin color. Most vibrantly characterized is July, and her sad, funny, and moving story is richly-drawn. Reviewed by Ariel Berg
“The wind whispers like our old conversations through trembling leaves. The air is pure and the sun warm. Once again, I see you running toward me with sunshine in your face. You look like a jumping cloud in your indigo floral Chinese dress, your golden hair bouncing.”
Pearl of China By Anchee Min Bloomsbury Press, $24.00, 278 pages In the waning years of the 19th century, two young girls from a small Chinese village forge an unlikely friendship. Willow is the only child of a poor Chinese widower. Pearl, destined for literary fame as Nobel Prize winner Pearl Buck, is the golden-haired daughter of American missionaries. Pearl of China traces the lifelong relationship of
Business & Investing
Real-Time Marketing for Business Growth: How to Use Social Media, Measure Marketing, and Create a Culture of Execution By Monique Reece FT Press, $39.99, 372 pages Real-time Marketing for Business Growth is an absolutely wonderful hands-on guide to master the marketing process of your
business. Monique Reece will take you through a proven step-by-step process to create an executable marketing plan, to accurately predict sales, to integrate your marketing practices with social media, and to refine your brand for a competitive advantage. This is not just a book that talks about marketing techniques; this is a guide that allows you to use it as a workbook and create a real-time marketing strategy for the growth of your business.
As a teenager in Shanghai, author Anchee Min participated in a campaign to prevent Pearl Buck from visiting her beloved China during Richard M. Nixon’s historic visit in 1972. Buck was denounced as an “American cultural imperialist.” Years later, in America, Min broke down in tears after reading Buck’s 1932 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Good Earth. Through the composite character of Willow, Min introduces a new generation of readers to the influences that shaped Buck and allowed her to write so adeptly from a Chinese peasant’s perspective. While Pearl of China lacks overall cohesion, the story is compelling and worth reading. Hopefully it will whet the appetite of readers unfamiliar with Pearl Buck to explore the fine body of work by this great writing talent of yesteryear. Reviewed by Diana Irvine
management experience working with Fortune 500 companies. Real-time Marketing for Business Growth is an amazing tool filled with her knowledge and experience in the field. Anyone who wishes to better understand marketing and how to make it work for their business would make a wise investment in their future by choosing this book. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt
“A mission statement answers: Why do we exist?” Monique Reece is the founder and CEO of MarketSmarter. She has more than twenty years of marketing and executive
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Cooking, Food & Wine Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods By Tracey Ryder, Carole Topalian Wiley, $29.95, 324 pages As much as it pains me to admit this, food is more than just a vital part of our lives, it’s also become (are you sitting down?) political. Our First Lady has dedicated her time in the White House to making sure American kids get more fresh fruits and vegetables on their plates. It seems like there’s a new documentary every year exposing unseemly facts about the mass-produced food industry. And, of course, there’s the oft-lamented national obesity epidemic. Face it: what you eat and where you get it can say as much about your personal politics as how you vote or which talk radio programs you listen to. Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods doesn’t overtly contribute to the political food climate. It is what it claims to be: a celebration of local food. But with its emphasis on cooking locally and seasonally, it lends its voice to the growing movement of people like Mrs. Obama who seem to understand that, if changes aren’t implemented now, Americans are headed toward a frighteningly unhealthy future. Edible doesn’t rely on doom-and-gloom prophesies, though. Its anecdotes, profiles, and recipes are joyful, vibrant, and inspiring. Reading it, I kept thinking I was holding onto what will eventually become the local food movement’s Holy Bible. And, really, once I finished it, I felt compelled to share the gospel of Edible with anyone and everyone who seemed willing to hear the good news. I can’t help but despair slightly, though. While I’m extremely fortunate to live in an area chock full of local food, not everyone has access to fresh, local produce, and the local food movement underlines this lack of availability in urban or economically depressed parts of the country. But I continue to hope that Edible, and other books like it, will inspire the sea-change this country needs to improve its nutritional profile and provide healthier, happier futures for generations to come. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food with Advice from Top Culinary Professionals By Rick Smilow; Anne E. McBride Clarkson Potter, $16.99, 360 pages Food and cooking are inspiration to many who are in search of a new career. From its cover and table of contents, this book appears to be the perfect choice as reference material; everything is covered in the culinary field.
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Alas, this promise is hardly fulfilled in its pages. The first 75 pages give a very good summary of available culinary fields and how a hopeful food professional should go about choosing one. But the remaining 300 pages are disappointing; a large number of question-and-answer interviews are given in eleven different culinary fields, mainly of well-known professionals high in the respective careers. Unfortunately, the great majority of those seeking a career will not gain much by reading interviews of the successful few. This book is more like a broad reference book on the subject, better suited for public library shelves. But the inexpensive binding and flimsy pages would not make it far in that setting. For those aspiring to work in the food industry, a book more specific to their chosen field would give far better guidance. Reviewed by George Erdosh Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener By Ruth Lively The Taunton Press, $29.95, 300 pages Each spring, I plant an herb and vegetable garden and tend my fruit trees as my mind fills with images of the delicious dishes I will prepare. By midsummer, however, I’ve exhausted my supply of recipes and creativity and am usually stumped for new ways to prepare the latest onslaught. I mean, harvest. Not so this year, however, because I have discovered Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener. Indeed, this cookbook has me quietly cursing my vegetable plants under my breath for taking so long to mature. I really cannot wait to try some of these recipes! Furthermore, while these dishes are elegant enough for entertaining, they appear uncomplicated to prepare and tasty enough to tempt my young sons. With sections on snacks and drinks, breakfast, salads, breads and sandwiches, soups, pasta and beans, desserts and sweets, and preserving, I should have plenty of opportunity to use our produce. Indeed, with six promising new recipes for zucchini and more than a dozen new recipes for tomatoes, I may not be surreptitiously pawning off my excess produce on my neighbors by August! Reviewed by Annie Peters
ook Passage, the liveliest bookstore in the Bay Area for more than thirty years, is my newest treasured find. This fiercely independent bookstore in Corte Madera, California, and at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, hosts more than 700 author events a year. Their list of guests includes famous writers James Rollins, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Anna Quindlen, Lewis Black, Isabel Allende, Amy Tan, and Salman Rushdie to name a few – and many once-unknown authors say that an event hosted by Book Passage President Elaine Petrocelli helped lead to their success. She is often called by major media to comment on books, authors, and the book business. Last June 17, I had the pleasure of attending their “Cooks with Books” event, which celebrated and honored Anthony Bourdain and his newly released book Medium Raw. The book signing that started around 10 am at the Ferry Building was jam-packed, for lack of a better word. With more than 300 attendees, his title had sold a whopping 1,136 copies that morning alone, and the crowd was especially elated over Bourdain’s warmth and renowned antics. He proceeded at noontime to Battery Street for the special luncheon prepared for him at Il Fornaio. I arrived at this venue earlier and was very privileged to meet and speak with Bourdain as well. His unique signature scribbled on the first page of my Medium Raw copy also included a knife. Whether this was some sort of a threat to only deliver a great review of his book is beyond me. He really was a very likable guy, down-to-earth, and approachable—his aura will brighten up any place. This luncheon had a very long line of people waiting for the doors to open. The fee included a copy of Medium Raw, a signing and photo-op with Bourdain, a threecourse meal paired with wines, courtesy of Trione Vineyards, and a guaranteed intimate and unforgettable experience. More than 250 people filled the place, the staff was gracious, and the service was excellent. Donald George, acclaimed National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and Gadling.com travel writer and editor commemorated the event with a heartfelt and moving introductory speech. Later that night, Bourdain continued with a sold-out dinner at the Left Bank Brasserie at Larkspur. “It was the most memorable Cooks with Books event I have ever done. The owner, chef, and staff truly went out of their way to make sure that this was a book launch to remember. Bourdain’s signature skull insignia printed on their black shirts, black linen table cloths, and guest table menu on black card stock created an extraordinary off-the-chart experience,” explained Marguerita Castanera, Director of Cooks with Books Events. Executive Chef Sean Canavan wowed the crowd’s taste buds with his heavenly house-made charcuterie, which was prepared the day before. “Left Bank was a full-house with 250 attendees and more than 30 additional guests paid to sit at the patio that evening. It was the biggest Cooks with Books event that we have ever done, and Tony Bourdain truly delivered with his graciousness and wit,” Castanera added. The 15-year-old Cooks with Books Program organized by Book Passage started at Island Café which eventually blossomed into a regular partnership with Left Bank Restaurant. I truly relished the intimacy and pleasure of meeting like-minded aficionados, and most especially, the gifted author Bourdain, whom we all celebrate and admire. Read my review of Medium Raw at www.sanfranciscobookreview.com.
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Children’s Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo By Kevin Waldron Templar Books, $15.99, 48 pages Mr. Peek the zookeeper has a rough start to his day. After putting on his jacket, he realizes he has put on a few pounds. He heads to work in a glum mood. While making his rounds he mutters things to himself about his diet, age, and his wrinkles. But the animals think he is talking about them! His son meets up with him later and they discover they are wearing each other’s jackets. Mr. Peek is now very relieved and changes his attitude for the rest of the day and promises not to get too carried away next time. Now he makes his afternoon rounds saying positive things which the animals are reassured to know that Mr. Peek doesn’t feel that way about them after all. Mr. Peek should have never been so hard on himself to begin with and his negative words made the zoo animals also feel bad. Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo shows how little things can affect our mood in big ways. The story is easy to follow and Kevin Waldron’s illustrations are superb. I
can see this as a valuable addition to any classroom library. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun The Humblebee Hunter By Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Jen Corace Hyperion Children’s, $16.99, 32 pages Inspired by the father of modern biology, Charles Darwin, The Humblebee Hunter is about a father and his children who are always studying nature and performing science experiments. The father shares stories of fossils, giant tortoises, and the humorous dances of the blue-footed booby. The children help measure how deep worm holes go, test if seeds will grow in salt water, and play a bassoon above worm holes to see if worms noticed the sounds. (They did not.) The story concludes with a grand humblebee experiment. The father involves all seven of his children, charging his youngest with the job of distracting their terrier, while everyone else counts how many times their bee visits a flower in a minute. (How often do you
think a bee visits a flower in a minute?) The Humblebee Hunter will inspire any young aspiring scientist to continue with experiments, for that’s exactly how we learn about nature. The notes following the story introduce the child to Charles Darwin and his children, as well as how the name ‘humblebee’ used to be the name of what we now call the ‘bumblebee.’ Reviewed by Susan Roberts Max Spaniel: Funny Lunch By David Catrow Orchard Books, $6.99, 40 pages Having taught two sons to read, I know there comes a point when they have learned the basic rules and are ready for the thrill of reading whole books. Those first books must be special, however. They must be something than can be read without too much difficulty. They also must be fun and entertaining so the children almost forget that they are using a new skill. Max Spaniel: Funny Lunch is just such a book. Here, we follow an adorable spaniel named Max and his enormous tabby friend through Max’s crazy day as a chef. The text is simple and well spaced so as not to overwhelm new readers. Catrow also employs some
clever word play that will make children laugh. Furthermore, the illustrations are eye catching and funny, so new readers will be turning pages to see the next one. Before they even realize it, they will have read an entire book! Funny Lunch will provide novice readers with just the sort of wonderful experience that will encourage them to reach for the next book. Indeed, I will keep this book for the day my last son is ready to read his first whole book. Reviewed by Annie Peters Shark vs. Train By Chris Barton Little, Brown And Company, $16.99, 40 pages Literature, sports, politics... they all have their great rivalries, ones where competition stirs the spirit of the masses and drives the contenders to greater heights than See SHARK, con’t on page 12
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SHARK, con’t from page 11 ever. And to the pantheon of truly epic rivalries, Chris Barton proudly introduces two new worthy combatants in Shark Vs. Train. As shark and train do battle in pie-eating contests, card games, and physical and intellectual challenges of all kinds, they learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, even coming to question where the rivalry came from in the first place. Tom Lichtenheld’s illustrations are marvelously simple, offering funny little background details for the sharp-eyed reader while never detracting from the main imagery. I could choose to see all kinds of context behind those words and images--a battle between the makings of man and the forces of nature, technology matching wits with the best evolution has to offer--but, come on, it’s a kid’s book. Just sit back and enjoy the spectacle. Shark Vs. Train is the best struggle to come out of nowhere since “Monkey vs. Robot.” I just couldn’t bring myself to pick a side. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Nobody By Liz Rosenberg; illustrated by Julie Downing Roaring Brook, $16.99, 32 pages This sweet tale makes a reader smile one moment, and gives a heart tug the next. George is an only child. Except for his puppy dog Flo, he has no one to play with. Make that Nobody to play with. Nobody is George’s imaginary friend, and Rosenberg uses the name with double meanings all the way through the book. “George sat and waited because he wasn’t allowed to turn on the stove when Nobody was around.”
As a good friend should, Nobody encourages George and cheers him on. One morning, while Mom and Dad are still asleep, Nobody wakes George up and talks him into cooking breakfast. All kinds of ingredients go into the mixing bowl, including anchovies, stray eggshells and even puppy treats. Not surprisingly, Nobody helps George clean up spills, and a grand mess awaits George’s parents when they come into the kitchen. But all is not disaster. With humorous wordplay and Downing’s lively illustrations, the story clips along to a satisfactory conclusion for all – even Nobody. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan The First Pup: The Real Story of How Bo Got to the White House By Bob Staake Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 32 pages Once upon a time, a man named Barrack Obama ran for president of the United States—and won! His daughters, Malia and Sasha, were excited, but then it got even better; their dad announced that as soon as they moved into their new house in Washington DC, they were going to get a puppy! Meanwhile, at a farm in Texas, a puppy had been born that was smart, playful, and in need of a loving home. Would he end up being the First family’s first pup?
“The black dog with white markings sat confused for a second, but when he saw the First Family at the end of the red carpet, his tail started wagging, his tongue hung out, and he ran to them...” Written in playful, semi-fairytale style, Bob Staake tells the story of Bo, the Obama’s puppy, and how he got from a farm in Texas to the White House. The book is chock full of absolutely charming illustrations in bold colors that play out across wide, two-page spreads and will immediately captivate any kid. And to be honest, I couldn’t stop laughing at the bleary-eyed expression on the President’s face when his daughters wake him up the night after his inaugural celebration to demand their puppy! Reviewed by Heather Ortiz Time for Bed, Baby Ted By Debra Sartell Holiday House, $16.95, 32 pages A clever bedtime story that encourages a child to guess what animal Baby Ted is acting out while he gets ready for bed. While on the surface it appears the child is delaying going to bed, the father cleverly reframes each animal Baby Ted portrays into the next step his son needs to prepare for bedtime. The story ends when the father tells his son he is a ‘big boy’ who did a good job tucking himself into bed. An excellent role model for parents as well, to reframe a child’s delaying tactics into positive play. Time for Bed, Baby Ted, shows how bedtime can be made positive, nurturing and full of humor.
“Let’s get this baby chicken ready for bed. We’ll CLUCK him up, PLUCK him up and tuck him into bed.” Illustrator Kay Chorao shows Baby Ted lovingly nestled in his father’s arms, comically hanging upside down like a bat, and shyly proud his dad called him a ‘big boy.’ A comforting bedtime read. For the delight of the sleepy child, Time for Bed, Baby Ted is written in rhyme: “Let’s get this baby chicken ready for bed. We’ll CLUCK him up, PLUCK him up, and tuck him into bed.” As creative as the book is, Ted acts out just too many animals for my taste, but I think that might have been the point. Kids never give up, and this will help put to sleep even the most active. A great story for both parent and child. Reviewed by Susan Roberts
Arrrrgggghhhh! i should have checked the san Francisco book review website before buying this book!
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Humor-Nonfiction The Bible of Unspeakable Truths By Greg Gutfeld Grand Central Publishing, $24.99, 283 pages I have briefly seen Greg Gutfeld on Fox News’s Red Eye show while channel surfing but had no idea he was so funny. In The Bible of Unspeakable Truths, Gutfeld uses clever, sardonic humor reminiscent of Jon Stewart’s shtick, with a conservative bent. Gutfeld’s talent demonstrates those on the left do not have a monopoly on irreverent humor in political commentary. Nothing is sacred as Gutfeld uses a conversational resembling free association thinking to tackle a wide--and I mean wide--range of topics. Here are some experts from his library of Unspeakable Truths: “Mexicans Are Good People—It’s Mexico That Sucks. Those Who Can’t Bomb,
Teach. Keith Olbermann Is Batpoop Crazy. Self-Esteem Is Worse Than Heroin. Free Range Is Crueler Than a Cage.” Gutfeld’s prose transitions in and out of humor and seriousness very smoothly and this highlights the editorializing thrown into the mix. The humor is quick-witted with ample self-deprecation likely to make you chuckle, though belly busting laughs are not present on every page. This book is unlikely to appeal to readers with prudish sensibilities, but those not offended by smatterings of R-rated material will likely find it entertaining and engaging. Reviewed by Grady Jones Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland By David Rose Scribner, $16.00, 180 pages A follow-up to the popular They Call Me Naughty Lola, David Rose compiles some of the quirkiest and scariest lonely hearts advertisements in Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London
Horror The Best of All Flesh Edited by James Lowder Elder Signs Press, $14.95, 279 pages Easily the most popular literary apocalypse, at least these days, is the rise of the zombie plague. There is a desperate finality to it that eludes many other end-of-theworld scenarios. In The Best of All Flesh, zombies are everywhere. They swarm, they hunt, they feed. They terrify us, they outnumber us, they outlast us. But then again, they surf. They dance. They party. They raise us for companionship, or food, or both. By merely existing, they bring out the best and the worst in us. Perhaps what makes zombie stories so enthralling is that the zombies are so rarely the real monsters...they turn us into monsters, or they reveal the monsters inside us that were already there. And that is the unifying theme in this collection: zombies are bad, but often, we’re worse. The stories within span the spectrum from the viscerally satisfying (One Last, Little Revenge) and the touching (Sitting with the Dead) to the insane (Electric Jesus and the Living Dead) and the depressing (Night Shift). Some strive for comedic O. Henry-style endings, others for a despair that will linger with you. No matter your taste, there’s a zombie story here for you. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
“’Scarface’, ‘Mad Dog’, ‘Pretty Boy’, ‘Baby Face’ - if I had an underworld crime nickname it would be ‘Screwed by Ex-Wife’s Solicitor and Currently Sleeping in a Caravan’. Man, 42. Screwed by ex-wife’s solicitor and currently sleeping in a caravan. Box no. 5543.”
In the age of electronic dating sites and Facebook followings, the self-promotions seem old-fashioned, ranging from satire to sincerity. Despite the awkwardness of looking for a soul mate, a one-night stand or a date, the writers of these “searching for...” ads show that a sense of humor and a touch of honesty may lead you to what you’re looking for. At least the bawdy British humor kept me chuckling. Rose divides the ads into themed chapters and uses an appropriate ad as the chapter title. Pages are laid out to resemble newspaper columns, and Rose adds footnotes to explain obscure references. Readers will find Rose’s compilation the perfect escape into a humorously lonely world. Pass the pina coladas and let’s take a walk in the rain. Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler
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The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2 By Ellen Datlow Night Shade Books, $15.95, 306 pages Plague, zombies, black magic, the unknown, darkness, monsters... The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2 hits a lot of the classic high notes of the genre, without feeling like any story is a retread or a pale copy. Slow burn storytelling is the order of the day in Datlow’s latest collection of the macabre and the morbid. Virtually every story included is heavy on atmosphere, encouraging the reader to delve deeper, making you an accomplice in your own terror and unnerving – Just as it should be. Please indulge me while I briefly summarize a few outstanding examples. The End of Everything questions the definition of “monster,” by featuring a serial killer who is mysteriously immune to zombie attacks. What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night turns the idea of a child’s nightmare on its head, while Technicolor presents the horror story as meandering college lecture. The Lion’s Den tells the curious tale of a zoo haunted by a suicide that affects the animals in horrifying ways. I can honestly say I’ve never read a story quite like it. With Ellen Datlow at the wheel, you simply can’t go wrong. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
Review of Books. Rose shares his experience as the procurer of personal ads and how, despite all the peculiarities, he enjoys the insight into the relationship game. This collection contains some of the most hilarious and creative personal ads that have appeared in the LRB since the section’s inception in 1998.
learn from the professionals
Publishing a newspaper
in aModern World
by heidi komlofske owner/co-publisher of SBR & SFBR
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Science Fiction & Fantasy Shakespeare Undead By Lori Handeland Griffin, $13.99, 291 pages Ghosts and witches and sorcerers – Shakespeare was certainly no stranger to the supernatural. But is it possible his experience with the mystical went a bit deeper than his stories? In Shakespeare Undead, Lori Handeland imagines a London where two plagues threaten the populace, the invisible horror of the Black Plague and the unearthly horror of the walking dead. When the playwright crosses paths with the city’s resident hunter of all things monstrous, they are both far more than meets the eye. But with zombies descending on London en masse, a sinister plot afoot, star-crossed lovers, a new play to perform, and secrets on both sides, can the bard and the hunter save themselves or the city? Shakespeare Undead is a curious hodgepodge of romance, comedy, supernatural mystery, and winking tribute, and it’s in this last aspect that the book is most successful. The romance often dominates the story, with varying degrees of success, but the sly references and blatant callbacks to Shakespeare’s works are a fun diversion. And with the avalanche of zombie-infused fiction on the shelves these days, the humor, style, and attention to detail of Handeland’s book stand out. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas The Hounds of Avalon (Dark Age, Book 3) By Mark Chadbourn Pyr, $16.00, 320 pages In the third installment of Mark Chadbourn’s The Dark Ages series, England is recovering from the cataclysmic event known as the Fall, a period when technology is waning and magic is ascendant. The earth is plagued by creatures both mythical and monstrous, along with god-like beings from parallel universes who war amongst themselves to determine whether to protect humanity or let it perish. Now, against a backdrop of eternal winter, the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, humans chosen by Existence and granted magical powers, join to fight a new threat. During the Fall, the rules of Existence are broken,
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awakening a being known as the Void. From beyond the edges of reality, this new threat seeks to destroy the Brothers and Sisters of Dragon, the only force able to stop its destruction of all life. England’s only chance for survival is two friends, Hunter, a suave silver-tongued assassin, and Hal, a bookish records clerk. Together, they must decode the clues hidden in the myths of King Arthur to find the dreaming hero who will defeat the Void and save the world. If all of this sounds like a lot to pack into one novel, it is. Filled with threads woven from quantum physics, Celtic myth and eastern mysticism, The Hounds of Avalon builds a complex story that’s equal parts swashbuckling adventure, dark fantasy, and philosophical discussion on the nature of reality. Chadbourn’s imagination creates some memorable monsters and an ensemble cast of characters that are a pleasure to spend time with. Readers who missed the previous two installments will find the story easy to follow. The conclusion is satisfying, but leaves room for future installments. Don’t finish this book expecting every questions to be answered. Reviewed by Marcus Jones Much Fall of Blood By Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Dave Freer Baen Books, $27.00, 595 pages Sometimes a collaboration works, sometimes it doesn’t. Much Fall of Blood is one of those where it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s essentially the usual multi-thread story of several people with grudges take down the usual evil despot in a14th century Europe where magic is real, Mongols have taken over a good chunk of it, and gunpowder is just beginning to make its presence felt in war. The bad news is that the bad guy and his main minions are just filling space; their tactics only seem to work when used against each other. There is also what feels like a mandatory feminist element as the grandson and granddaughter of Vlad the Impaler share in the duty of guardian of the Carpathian Mountains. The good news is that there is one of the more interesting romances. It’s based on a misunderstanding where the man offers the woman his tent, as he doesn’t understand her culture and language, and evolves into a practical joke based on mistaken identities and roles, making it fun to see it climax. I could recom-
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery By Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders Eos, $15.99, 544 pages
Sword and Sorcery is one of the most enduring forms of fantasy fiction, predating even The Lord of the Rings. Its popularity and acceptance have have had their ups and downs, but if this new anthology is any indication, S&S is again at a high level of quality and popularity. Strahan and Anders have gathered stories from some of the brightest writers – old hands and new kids – set in the vein made so popular by writers like Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber. Steven Erikson, co-creator of the popular Malazan saga, focuses his great opener, “Goats of Glory”, on a band of scoundrels combating demons. The second tale, and possibly the strongest, “Tides Elba” is a brief. humorous episode in Glen Cook’s popular Black Company milieu. Gene Wolfe’s “Bloodsport” plays with gender expectations and, in typical Wolfe style, leaves more questions than answers upon its ending. Greg Keyes’s trickster hero, Fool Wolf, searches for a sword and lost companion. I have enjoyed Keyes’s novels; “The Undefiled” proves his facility with a shorter tale. Scott Lynch brings his snarky gusto to what is perhaps the quirkiest tale here, “In the Stacks”, in which aspirants in a school of magic are required, in order to graduate, to return one book to a library which houses all the magical knowledge in the known universes. Closing out the anthology is what might be Joe Abercrombie’s first short work, “The Fool Jobs”, a precursor to his (at the time of this review) forthcoming novel The Heroes, itself set in the same world as his popular First Law Trilogy. Abercrombie shares with Lynch a fine hand for ironic wit, which is on full display in “The Fool Jobs”. Abercrombie’s pleasing style wins out in shorter form just as nicely as in his novel-length fiction. The anthology also includes a new Elric story by Michael Moorcock, as well as stories by Bill Willingham (creator of the comic Fables), Tanith Lee, C.J. Cherryh, K.J. Parker, Garth Nix, Tim Lebbon, Robert Silverberg (with a new Majipoor story), Michael Shea, Caitlín R Kiernan, and James Enge (a Morlock Ambrosius story). This is an absolute must-have for fans of the genre and of great stories. Reviewed by Rob H. Bedford mend the book on that alone, as it’s one that even guys would enjoy, but I’m otherwise hesitant to do so. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim Deadtown By Nancy Holzner Ace, $7.99, 326 pages Victory Vaughn, known as Vicki to her friends, doesn’t exactly have an easy office job. As one of the few active shape-shifters in Boston, it’s her responsibility to keep citizens safe from renegade demons, vampires with the munchies, and all the other things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately for Vicki, all that paranormal slaying doesn’t leave a lot of time for romance with her on-again, off-again werewolf boyfriend. In Nancy Holzner’s debut novel Deadtown, the emphasis is definitely on the action–and lots of it.
Deadtown appears to be the first entry in a new series, and its zippy, quick pace should please fans of both action-adventure tales and world-building urban fantasy stories. Vicki is both tough and smart, reminiscent of a furrier version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her supporting cast is equally vivid, especially her teenage zombie apprentice, Tina. Even the bad guys aren’t completely unsympathetic–although that won’t stop Vicki from administering some vigilante justice. Readers impatient for new releases by authors like Charlaine Harris or Kim Harrison will enjoy the time they spend with Deadtown. Reviewed by Jennifer King
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Young Adult The Fire Opal By Regina McBride Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 292 pages Irish history and legends; shape-shifting; romance; mystery; all of these intertwine in this eerie tale. ”Yet there was something eerie about the light in the house an atmosphere of shadows and pale iridescent glitter. The light seemed to be missing some important quality that light needed. The entire effect was unsettling and caused a slight pounding in my temples.” When Maeve O’Tullagh is in her teens, strange events unfold: Her hated neighbor, Tom Cavan, uncovers the ancient armor of a Viking corpse goddess, a Valkyrie. Soon after, Maeve’s baby sister, Ishleen, dies. Maeve and her mother both can hear swan songs. Maeve’s mother becomes pregnant again, and is sure Ishleen has returned. A swan-woman gives Maeve two protective talismans, one for herself and one for her mother. A sea-woman creeps into their home, and afterwards Maeve’s mother seems spirit-robbed. Later, the same happens to the second Ishleen. Maeve goes on a quest to save them, and finds that the fire opal is a key to their rescue. The story is set in the village of Ard Macha on the Irish coast, when Elizabeth Tudor’s English forces are trying to subdue Ireland. Maeve’s two brothers, Donal and Fingal, have joined the Irish resistance and Spanish ships have come to aid the Irish rebellion. Regina McBride is a master storyteller, interweaving the supernatural with the realistic. Her lyrical writing lures a reader on, and the ending seems to hint at a possible sequel. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan Fever Crumb By Philip Reeve Scholastic Press, $17.99, 325 pages For 14 years, Fever Crumb has been raised as the only female member of the Order of Engineers in London. She is used to science and thinking and behaving rationally. One day, she is assigned to leave the building where the Engineers live and work
to help an archeologist with a new find. The assignment is supposed to last a month but, of course, things change drastically. Fever is not only introduced to a strange world of emotions and different people and customs, but she is also led to question her very identity. Philip Reeve has created a future world a thousand years distant in which the technology of today is mostly artifact and shrouded in mystery, and civilization has reverted to that much more like the 17th or 18th centuries. Reeve’s way of weaving in bits of culture from today is fascinating. Those references, however, are merely ancillary to the core of the story, a plot that is intricate and engrossing, with perfectly paced action and empathetic characters. This is the first in a series of books that are prequels to “The Hungry City Chronicles,” and if they are as good as this, a trip to the library is now in order for me. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim The Daughters By Joanna Philbin Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 275 pages Fourteen-year-old Lizzie Summers and her two best friends have something very important in common: they are daughters of celebrities. Lizzie is the ugly duckling daughter of an entrepreneurial supermodel. Carina is the daughter of a billionaire mogul ala Donald Trump, and Hudson is the daughter of a pop diva. As Daughters, they have access to things other 9th graders-including their classmates at the upscale private school they attend in Manhattan – can only dream of. However, these privileges come with a price, especially for these young teens, whose insecurities are magnified when their own small successes are so closely intertwined with their parents’ fame. When a photographer seeks Lizzie to be the next face of “natural beauty,” Lizzie isn’t sure the attention is warranted, but the ego boost may be just enough to convince her she has a chance for romance with her childhood playmate, recently morphed into a handsome young man. Author Joanna Philbin, who is the daughter of a celebrity herself and holds an M.F.A. of Creative Writing, has penned an upbeat, genuine tale set in an intriguing world otherwise only accessible via tabloid magazines. Readers of The Daughters will be excited to know two more Daughters books by Joanna Philbin are planned to follow. Reviewed by Megan Just
Alchemy and Meggy Swann By Karen Cushman Clarion Books, $16.00, 159 pages Newbery-award winning author Karen Cushman quickly pulls us into Meggy Swann’s life. A 13-year-old, rural-bred girl born with a disability, she is unwanted by both her parents and moved to “Elizabethan” London where she uses her compassion, brain, and quick wit to survive. Delivered to a small, barren January-cold room—her father’s house—he sees she is not a son, and is a cripple, and rejects her, leaving her to her misery. Determined to survive, she, with her only friend Louise, a disabled goose, enters the vile city streets in search of food. Lacking social skills, and those she does have come from living above a tavern, she cusses, curses, and spews her anger at every person she encounters. While many spat on her crippled body with fire and damnation, a few approach her with kindness. Meggy’s life takes many down turns as she learns who she is and who she can be. Meggy is a delightful character and her story a pleasure to read. “‘When I look at you, I see not your crooked legs but your black eyes that blaze and snap and those cheeks like apples ripened in the sun,’ he said, which irritated but also oddly pleased the girl, which irritated her the more.” Reviewed by Susan Roberts The Body Finder By Kimberly Derting HarperCollins, $16.99, 336 pages Violet is a teenager with the morbid ability to sense the dead bodies of animals or people that were killed unnaturally and who or what killed them. Only her parents, uncle, and life-long best friend, Jay, know about her ability. For the most part, her abilities do not cause her much of a problem until a serial killer starts killing teenage girls near her home town. When one of the victims turns out to be someone she knows Violet feels that she has to help track down the murderer. She begs Jay to help her but this adds to her emotional turmoil as she finds herself being attracted to Jay as more than just a friend.
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This book immediately grabbed me and did not let me go until the last page. The story line was amazing, the characters were great and it was nicely paced. I loved the romantic tension between Jay and Violet and it was also nice to find a YA book in which the parents are not totally clueless or deadbeat. If you want something different from the vampire, werewolf, and fairy craze this is definitely a book to pick up. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki The Shadow Project By Herbie Brennan Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 355 pages New York Times bestselling author Herbie Brennan delivers again in The Shadow Project. Prepare yourself for his next bestselling tale! Petty thief Danny Lipman breaks into a seemingly uninhabited house only to discover an underground bunker below. In the hopes of finding something of real value to steal, he continues to explore further witnessing a bizarre incident in action. The agency’s officials recognize his natural abilities upon his capture and coax him into becoming an operative for them, offering him a deal he cannot refuse. The problem is there’s no time to train him. Powerful forces are preparing to battle against the agency and they need Danny now. Remote viewing, out of body experiences and the spiritual realm charm this freaky tale taking on an unfathomable life of its own leaving audiences hanging on every word. Seizing readers this story mesmerizes with credible characters and a seeped in science-fiction style accounting of a government agency carrying on a secret mission called The Shadow Project. Based in true government “secret” facts, this chronicle opens eyes to outlandish, albeit plausible possibilities. Descriptively entertaining and fascinating, Brennan shares his love of all things paranormal making readers into believers! Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson
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Tweens Legends: Beasts and Monsters By Anthony Horowitz Kingfisher, $9.99, 116 pages Gorgons and dragons and banshees, oh my! Mythical creatures have been lurking in our cultural woodwork for centuries, and Anthony Horowitz is happily reimagining their classic tales in Legends: Beasts and Monsters. The Dragon and Saint George, The Sphinx’s Riddle, The Legend of Medusa and The Heroism of Perseus...Horowitz gives each his own personal tweak and polish, retaining much of what made the originals so iconic while giving the stories a welcome update and dusting. It’s obvious he’s having a lot of fun with this collection, especially with the featured illustrations and his miniquiz of monsters at the end of the book. While it’s somewhat disappointing that all of the included stories are from Western cultures--one is Native American, the rest are European--Horowitz’s choices are among the cream of the crop when it comes to exciting and inspiring myths. (The mini-quiz is a bit more egalitarian in its scope, however.) I hope Legends: Beasts and Monsters will serve as a gateway for younger readers to explore the vast amount of mythology stories on the shelves. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
Enchanted Glass By Jones, Diana Wynne Greenwillow Books, $16.99, 292 pages Before Aidan Cain’s granny died, she told him to visit a magician named Jocelyn Brandon if he needed help. Sinister stalkers start watching Aidan’s foster home, so he takes her advice, setting off for Melstone House. But the magician has died. His grandson, Professor Andrew Hope, has moved in and is writing a book. Both Andrew and Aidan have magical abilities, but Andrew has forgotten everything his grandfather taught him. He vaguely remembers the colored glass panes in the kitchen door have some function, as do the colored panes in the roof of the shed. Aidan’s power is still developing. Whenever he takes off his glasses, he can see magical powers that emanate from others. As Aidan and Andrew begin exploring Melstone House’s “fieldof-care,” they make a disturbing discovery: a reclusive neighbor, Mr. Brown, is trying to steal and fence off some of the grounds. People with odd resemblances to each other start appearing. The stalkers show up again. Soon it becomes apparent that Mr. Brown has powers of his own and has sinister intentions toward Aidan. While the book started slowly, Diana Wynne Jones has created another magical, whimsical world and an enjoyable read. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan
The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before By Ann M. Martin Scholastic Books, $16.99, 224 pages If you were a fan of the original BabySitters Club then you definitely want to pick this book up. If you are not familiar with this series it’s a perfect read for the tween set. The Baby-Sitters Club starts off with four friends who love to babysit and follows their adventures in babysitting, friendships, and more. This prequel follows Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey the summer before the start of the club. I was nervous about revisiting this classic series but was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to slip back into the Baby-Sitters Club’s world. Claudia worries she may be growing up faster than her best friends, Kristy and Mary Anne, and possibly out growing their friendship. Kristy is having to deal with her mother’s new boyfriend, Mary Anne takes her first sitting job, and Stacey prepares for the move from New York City to Stoneybrook. What finally brings these four widely different girls together? Read this prequel to find out. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki
The Basilisk’s Lair (Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist, Book 2) By R.L. LaFevers Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $15.00, 150 pages In the second book of R. L. LaFevers’ series, Nate once again finds himself in an adventure where he must save the day. Aunt Phil has undertaken Nate’s education in beastology since his parents disappeared. In the middle of the Sahara Desert, they are met by Arab friends with a telegram: A basilisk has escaped from its lair in a remote part of the Sudan. Aunt Phil arranges to travel by plane, then by canoe, then by donkey, to save the Dhughani people from the escaped basilisk. To her displeasure, Nate’s pesky, oil-eating, pet gremlin, comes along. On this trip, Nate is only supposed to observe and learn while his aunt captures and returns the basilisk to its lair. But Nate peeks in Aunt Phil’s Book of Beasts and is not happy with what he discovers: a basilisk is the king of serpents, born of a cockerel egg, hatched by a serpent. Its breath is venomous, its scales poisonous; its glance kills from twenty feet! Things don’t go according to Aunt Phil’s plan, and it becomes Nate’s job (with the help of the pesky gremlin), to rescue Aunt Phil. Action-packed, with humorous illustrations, this is a delightful read for young children. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan
Make: Technology on Your Time Volume 22 By Make Editors O’Reilly Media, $14.99, 176 pages The summer issue ofMAKE magazine is all about remote control. The largest portion of the magazine is turned over to nine projects “to automate your life,” though it seems some supervision is still required. Sadly, this is the first issue of MAKE I’ve reviewed that has no project in it that is appropriate for my abilities. A remote control lawnmower is way beyond my ability to construct, wire, and program. As are the TV-B-Gone hoodie, control of home appliances through a web-
chat client, and the automatic chicken coop. I had to sit out on the sidelines this time and just enjoy other people’s ingenuity. In addition to the projects, there are a couple of really interesting articles on pinball machines and heavy metal music (the kind with instruments that look like they belong in a factory and not a music store.) A good read but, I’m still waiting for the MAKE editors to make good on their promise and start incorporating CRAFT like projects into their magazine. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard
Technology Facebook: The Missing Manual By E. A. Vander Veer Pogue Press, $19.99, 257 pages Have you ever wondered what all of those other gadgets on Facebook do, but were too busy chatting with your friends to investigate? I would venture to say that 90% percent of the traffic on Facebook is purely social networking; however, there is a growing percentage of Facebook users and businesses that use Facebook as a marketing and sales place. What Facebook: the missing manual does in the first few chapters is walk the user through creating an account, joining groups, networks, blogging, profile and security settings.
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The sections I enjoy most are the business advertising sections. I understand why so many businesses are getting on Facebook; it represents an incredible business opportunity, and what author E. A. Vander Veer does is succinctly walk the user/reader through creating an account setting up Facebook advertising. Vander Veer includes side bars called tips (Informational snippets on how to do things) and others called notes (the consequences of the topic being discussed). Facebook: the missing manual is very good for the beginner to intermediate user. However, I felt this book was a little light on the business functionality of Facebook, but still good for the basics. Reviewed by Marc Filippelli
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Sequential Art FoxTrot Sundaes: A FoxTrot Collection By Bill Amend Andrews McMeel Publishing, $16.99, 144 pages If you’re a fan of FoxTrot, then it’s time to buy a new book. The Fox family is back in FoxTrot Sundaes, with all the traits you love and remember. Jason is just as geeky, Paige is just as shopping-obsessed, and Roger is just as loveably clueless as always. As its name half implies, this new addition to the FoxTrot line is a collection of just Sunday cartoons. This makes a nice touch, since all of the cartoons are in color. However, the one downside was that serial jokes that take place over several weekdays are no longer, making the collection feel almost episodic. Still, the best part of this series is the way the family interacts, and there’s still plenty of family humor here. Add into the mix a ton of pop culture references from Iron Man to Indiana Jones to Band Hero, and you’ve got a cartoon geek’s paradise in one book. A must-have for FoxTrot fans, but also accessible to those who’ve never read the strip before. And if you fall into the latter category, you don’t know what you’re missing! Reviewed by Alyssa Feller
Grendel: Behold the Devil (Grendel [Graphic Novels]) By Matt Wagner Dark Horse, $19.99, 184 pages To this day I can remember when, as a teenager, I first experienced Matt Wagner’s dark crime boss Grendel. With the brilliant three color art work, the story within the story, and the shifting between traditional panels and long form narration, Wagner explored and expanded the understanding of his medium much the same as Alan Moore did in his own work. Grendel: Behold the Demon carries the pleasant sensation of revisiting an old friend, even as it transported me back decades to when I first encountered the beguiling anti-hero of the title. While a new concept, Behold the Demon follows the original pattern. Christine Spar, daughter of Grendel’s traumatized ward as well as the Devil’s chronicler, recalls a missing section of his journals. What experience could so unbalance the dark crime boss that he would excise it from his own
journal? That is the tale here contained, as Grendel confronts the magical realism which always lingers beneath the surface of these stories and glimpses the dark depths of his future legacy. Can even the Devil emerge from such a thing unscathed? Reviewed by Jordan Magill
that endears their relationship to the reader. As expected from Quinn’s books, there is a great deal of humor that will have you laughing out loud. Not as good as her Bridgerton series, but still an enjoyable read. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki
way, this time the jerk wasn’t the hero but rather the heroine. Allie Baci will do anything to hang onto her family’s Napa Winery. Anything, including manipulate Penn Bennett, neighbor and star of Build Me Up, an Extreme Home Makeover knock-off, into remodeling a cottage on her property, a famous landmark of the area. Long ago dubbed the “Nun of Napa” Allie is willing to use Penn in the bedroom as well, provided no one ever find out. While the romance between the main characters is annoying at best, the secondary romance between Allie’s cousin, Gil and his best friend Claire make the story bearable. Even enjoyable. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley
Solomon’s Thieves By Jordan Mechner First Second, $12.99, 139 pages Solomon’s Thieves is one of those books that you need to run from. It’s the first of three books of the adventures of Eric, a Templar who joined the order because his sweetheart was forced to marry someone else and he has the luck to be out on the town as the Templar order is arrested. He then has to find the Templar treasure so he can clear the Templar name. It gets worse from there. For a story from the Prince of Persia writer, you would expect more swashbuckling, but there are none of the expected acrobatics and quips, and all of the grit and pain of
a pulp novel. Eric is also billed as the last Templar; although he is the only one who shares the Templar ideals, even though both of his Templar friends survive and he falls in with a crowd of them. The art isn’t bad, but it’s also not great. The problem is that it hails back to the Kubert school of illustration without mastery of the form; it makes a great movie storyboard, but it just lacks the details to make it interesting. This book just has little to recommend it. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim The Art of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets of Life and Death By Todd Hignite Abrams ComicArts, $40.00, 224 pages Most biographies merely tell the story of their subject and forget the passion that make them worth writing about. The Art of Jaime Hernandez skimps on none of the details while remembering the passion of why Jaime Hernandez does what he does. Hernandez is most famous as one of Los Bros Hernandez, one of two brothers that brought us Love and Rockets, a comic that virtually redefined See HERNANDEZ, con’t on page 21
Romance Ten Things I Love About You By Julia Quinn Avon, $7.99, 384 pages Annabel comes to London sponsored by her grandparents, in hopes of making a match that will save her family from the poor house, but she quickly finds herself in a bind. Lord Newbury, a good friend of her grandparents but a disgusting old lecher who only wants an heir, decides she would make the perfect broodmare for him. However, Annabel soon finds herself attracted to Lord Newbury’s nephew Sebastian, causing a scandal as she is said to be playing one against the other. Uncle and nephew detest one another, and the situation is further complicated by the fact that unless Lord Newbury can sire another son, Sebastian stands to inherit everything. The chemistry between Sebastian and Annabel is sizzling, but it’s the ease of their banter and the humor they find in each other
Crush on You (Three Kisses) By Christie Ridgway Berkley, $7.99, 304 pages In the past, romance readers were expected to put up with quite a bit from their romantic heroes. Jerk-like behavior was considered to be the gold standard. The more arrogant, the better. Only through the love of a good woman will he be redeemed, thanks to the power of love. Luckily, we see less and less of this type of characterization in modern romances, which is why Crush on You is so frustrating. Although, you have to hand it to author Christie Ridge-
Line of Fire: The Firefighters of Station Five By Jo Davis Signet, $6.99, 320 pages Had any author other than Jo Davis had a crack at this storyline, this tale of suspense and romance would have been contrived and predictable. Young firefighter Tommy Skyler has a serious jones for beautiful nurse Shea
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Ford. Yet she sees him as an immature golden boy, a player. As a woman who has had her heart-broken more than once, she’s not about to let Tommy have a crack at it. But when Tommy’s brought into the emergency room of her hospital, she’s convinced to give it a try. Tommy Skyler was on the fast-track to football stardom when the tragic death of his brother derails his plans. Now a firefighter at Station Five in Sugarland Tennessee, he does his best to live up to his parents expectations and save lives. Shea takes a chance on Tommy despite her many misgivings about his intentions. Davis breathes new life in the Firefighter/ Nurse romance with deep, rich characters who hold the story together through their personal dramas. The right mix of suspense and romance makes this the perfect summer treat. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley
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Home & Garden Real-Life Decor: 100 Easy DIY Projects to Brighten Your Home on a Budget By Jean Nayar & the experts at PointClickHome.comFilipacchi Publishing, $21.99, 128 pages The economy might be in shambles but your home doesn’t have to be. Real-Life Décor contains helpful, doable projects for the homeowner who wants to spruce up their home on a budget. No more broken chairs or ratty throw pillows, Real-Life Décor has clear and concise step-by-step instructions to guide even the craft-challenged through renewing home accents in thrifty and inventive ways. Make a pocket pillow to store your glasses and book so it’s ready every time you want to curl up on the couch. Or create a stylish pot rack from an old step ladder. “A pair of scissors, some hot glue, and a little imagination.” Organized by headings such as furniture fix-ups and easy accents, author Jean Nayar’s focus lies on practical home and ecofriendly DIY design. Each project is marked by skill level required, from beginner to advanced, and covers projects from needle and thread to table saw. There’s a picture of the final project, a comprehensible materials list, and set of instructions. Each project is adaptable to any given home, leaving room for each individual’s own flash and flair to come through and create something unique, smart, and eye-catching for their home interior for less. Reviewed by Axie Barclay The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs: 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow and Enjoy By Charles W. G. Smith Storey Publishing, $12.95, 145 pages This delightful book will benefit any gardener hoping to eat what they grow. Complete with tips on how to grow, where to grow, and lots of full-color photos, this guide book is an herb-filled education sure to enhance your garden. The book covers 27 herbs ranging from common basil and dill to the rarer hyssop and borage. Edible Herbs is packed with expert gardener tips. You’ll learn which herbs attract beneficial insects, how to propagate and spread herbs, the difference between varieties, and the best time
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and soil in which to plant. This is a truly comprehensive guide as the author also imparts kitchen wisdom, telling you how to use and preserve each herb, and providing recipes for each. In fact, this is as much cookbook as gardening guide. You’ll find instructions for preparing basil pesto, pizza, refreshing beverages, marinades, and even a mustard recipe. Preservation techniques range from dehydration to making jams. This well-written, easy-tonavigate book also provides interesting historical facts about herbs, and tips for getting the most from them. This claims to be a beginner’s guide, but most gardeners will find practical use from this book. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott The Big-Ass Book of Home Decor By Mark Montano Stewart Tabori & Chang, $22.50, 271 pages Mark Montano’s The Big-Ass Book of Home Décor offers 100 creative home ideas for items big and small. From plates to windows, tables to beds, and walls to ceilings, there are ideas for emulation and inspiration. The ideas are organized according to the items you can decorate them with, but with a little imagination, each idea can actually be used anywhere. One section that particularly stands out is that on decorating Ikea furniture--no more plain wood! There are some projects I wouldn’t do, though, for safety purposes, the broken mirror wall lamps and chandelier, in particular. If your idea of decorating is of the traditional and classic, this book might not be for you. But generally, I find the book very useful, as well as pretty enough to be a coffee table book. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun The Organic Farming Manual By Anne Larkin Hansen Storey Publishing, $29.95, 437 pages You don’t have to be a farmer to appreciate this book. But if you are an aspiring farmer, this guide will sure help! Written for beginners, this hefty manual reads like a textbook, but if you like gardening, it’s a lot more fun. It’s well-researched, thorough, and filled with stories from real organic farmers across America—a highlight of the book. For anyone interested in the organic food movement, this text provides essen-
tial background on organic farming history in our country, government standards for becoming certified, and the philosophical perspective behind it. The book also includes the essentials of becoming a farmer, detailing how to find the right land for your use, understanding your soil, planting crops, and raising animals. Finally, the book offers detailed steps on applying for organic certification. “The real test is how responsibly you have acted toward the earth and toward all those who consume the food you produce.” This informative read is eye-opening for any Americans interested in how organic food is grown. You’ll learn just as much about conventional farming practices as you do about organic methods, and understand the important differences. Whether you’re a home gardener or a backyard farmer, you’ll take away helpful techniques about pruning, harvesting, and pest control. This is a useful and enjoyable guide from a farmers’ perspective on sustainable food. Reviewed by Amber Stott The Vegetable Gardener’s Book Of Building Projects By the editors of Storey Publishing Storey Publishing, $18.95, 151 pages This is a handy do-it-yourself book for the serious gardener. You’ll find everything you need to help your garden grow and to help you enjoy your peaceful outdoor setting. The book begins with a basic list of tools, materials, and tips for building, such as how to mark the layout of your project or countersink a screw. This section is short, allowing you to dive right into the well-laid projects. The projects are the highlight of this book. You’ll find schematics and instructions for building everything from a garden cold frame, raised garden bed, or basic tomato cage, to a garden swing. You’ll find designs for bird feeders, sitting benches, garden gates, and arbors. If you want these features in your garden, this book shows how to build them.
more time in your garden. If you’re looking for some crafty garden projects, this book will come in handy. Reviewed by Amber Stott HERNANDEZ, con’t from page 20 what comics could do in the 1980s independent scene. Usually centering on the stories of Maggie Chascarrillo and showing her evolution from teenager to fortyyear-old woman, the comic was filled with stories fully rooted in reality. They rarely featured super-heroes and pulp heroes, and when they did, they were presented solely as people, at parties and at home rather than at business. Coolest of all, this book has several of Hernandez’s comics reprinted fully, as well as parts of his sketchbooks. It’s an interesting demonstration of the development of his art style, arguably one of the most identifiable of any comic book artist and writer. This is definitely a book for anyone that loves comics, and for those who don’t have a clue why you love them. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim
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“The built-in benches on this handy planter provide a convenient and comfortable perch for tending your plants.” The plans are simple to follow and don’t lack for beauty. The window box planter has three dimensions and a decorative wooden front panel. The outdoor storage bin has wrought iron handles. Practical, structurally sound, and aesthetically-pleasing, the designs in this book will inspire you to spend
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Local Calendar 7
Author Appearance – Sylvia Browne, “Psychic: My Life in Two Worlds” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco Author Appearance – Kevin Starr, “Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Suzanne Rivecca, “ Death Is Not An Option” 7:00–8:00pm City Lights Bookstore - 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Author Appearance – Maile Meloy, “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
Author Appearance – Peter Ward, “Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
10 Author Appearance – David
Author Appearance – Charles Fracchia, “When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush” 7:00–8:00pm Sunset Branch Library - 1305 18th Avenue (at Irving), San Francisco
13 Author Appearance – T. Cooper, “The Beaufort Diaries” 7:00–8:00pm City Lights Bookstore - 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
erman, “Stein, Stoned” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
Author Appearance - David Helvarg, “Saved by the Sea – A Love Story with Fish” 6:00–7:00pm San Francisco Public Library - 100 Larkin Street Author Appearance – Julia Whitty, “Deep Blue Home” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Jane Green, “Promises to Keep” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
15 Author Appearance - Elaine Beale, “Another Life Altogether” 6:00–7:00pm Main Library - 100 Larkin Street (at Grove), San Francisco
11 Author Appearance - Barry
Author Appearance – Oren Harman, “The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
12 Author Appearance - William
Author Appearance – Jon Clinch, “Kings of the Earth” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Powers “Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Waldman, “Red Hook Road” 1:00–2:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Dalia Roddy, “A Catch in Time” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance – Paul 14 Author Appearance – Hal Ack- 17 Harding, “Tinkers” 7:00–8:00pm
R. Christensen & Connie A. Walker 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Eisler, “Inside Out” 12:00–1:30pm Bay Book Company - Strawflower Shopping Center, 80 North Cabrillo Hwy, Suite F, Half Moon Bay
16 Author Appearance – Ayelet
Author Appearance - Joy Hilden, “Bedouin Weaving of Saudi Arabia and its Neighbors” 7:30–8:30pm Pegasus Books on Solano - 1855 Solano Avenue, Berkeley
Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
18 Author Appearance – Paul
Harding, “The Dog Park Club” 2:003:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Susan Pease Gadoua, “Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce” 4:00– 5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Kristine Carlson, “Heartbroken Open: A Memoir Through Loss to SelfDiscovery” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
20 Author Appearances - Brian and Wendy Froud, “The Heart of Faerie Oracle” 7:00–8:00pm Bay Book Company - Strawflower Shopping Center, 80 North Cabrillo Hwy, Suite F, Half Moon Bay
21 Author Appearance - David
22 Author Appearance - Professor
Richard Walter, “Essentials of Screenwriting” 7:00–8:00pm Borders, Union Square - 400 Post Street, San Francisco
23 Author Appearance - Professor Richard Walter, “Essentials of Screenwriting” 7:00–8:00pm A Great Good Place For Books - 6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland
24 Author Appearance - K.D.
Koratsky, “Living with Evolution or Dying Without It” 12:00- 2:00pm Rendez Vous Cafe - 106 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo
25 Author Appearance - Ishmael
Reed, “Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: the Return of the Nigger Breakers” 2:00–4:00pm Main Library - 100 Larkin Street (at Grove), San Francisco
28 Author Appearance - Jennifer Weiner, “Fly Away Home” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
29 Author Appearance - Jennifer Weiner, “Fly Away Home” 1:002:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Release Party - Michael Wertz, “Dog Dreams” 6–9pm San Francisco Center for the Book 300 De Haro Street, Suite 334, San Francisco
Helvarg, “Saved by the Sea – A Love Story with Fish” 6:30–7:30pm Potrero Branch Library - 1616 20th Street (at Connecticut), San Francisco Author Appearance - Diane di Prima, “Making It Happen” 7:00p–8:30pm Excelsior Branch Library - 4400 Mission Street (at Cotter), San Francisco
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Find out why the answer could be yes in a new groundbreaking book: Living With Evolution or Dying Without It
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"From the Big Bang to Gang Bangers in LA, K.D. Koratsky helps us understand how the universe has evolved to this point--and where it's headed from here. An enlightening, if sometimes unsettling, read. -- Mike Ball, Author of “What I've Learned So Far” and Winner of the 2003 Erma Bombeck Award
“Koratsky is to evolution what Webster's is to words. He is the deﬁnitive name in describing the human condition.” -- Jess Todtfeld, Former FOX-TV Producer President, Success In Media, Inc.
"Koratsky takes the principles behind evolution and applies them to social groups, societies and governments. His conclusions on why we've ended up where we are now will be hotly debated, as will his suggestions on using actively evolutionary principles for reform in health care, prisons and welfare. Agree or disagree, it is a debate that should happen." -- Ross Rojek Sacramento/San Francisco Book Reviews
“Finally! A book about Evolution...that does not merely enter that rocky arena of whether or not it is fact: brilliant author K.D. Koratsky takes the stance of challenging us to examine our current values and compare those with societies that have either thrived or died in the past. Koratsky’s no-nonsense writing addresses so many issues such as how we deal with criminals, our puzzling use of welfare...and healthcare. Swallow or gulp before ﬁnishing this book because it is bound to change minds in a natural way for those strong enough to admit Koratsky is right!” -- Grady Harp TopTen Amazon Reviewer
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Art, Architecture & Photography San Francisco: A Past to Present Photo Tour By Whitman Publishing Whitman Publishing, $12.95, 120 pages As long as tourists flock to San Francisco, publishers will produce books to cater to them. San Francisco: A Past-to-Present Photo Tour, takes a different approach than most. It presents an array of the most popular tourist traps… err destinations, and shows how they have changed over the decades. Photos of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown etc., illustrate the startling changes the city has gone through. We also get a section on the Transamerica tower; hardly a must-see destination. Tellingly, the controversial edifice does not show the site as it was before the building went up; a classic, human scaled building known affectionately as the “Monkey Block.”
The chief gimmick here is ‘historic’ postcards, which the tourist can use to recreate the age-old images. There are pockets for the cards and instructions on how to recreate the view, with the tourists in the picture. San Francisco is not a comprehensive guide to the city. It is really closer to a gift set, one that should appeal to visitors who enjoy photographing the City by the Bay. Reviewed by Bruce Marshall
Science & Nature Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light By Jane Brox Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25.00, 368 pages After reading Brilliant, you’ll never take life for granted again. From the great blackout of 1965 to the many “brown-outs” of recent times, Brilliant illuminates the dark areas from the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The author, Jane Brox, has composed an enlightened look into the evolution of artificial light. The book is written in an easy reading style with lively language and interesting anecdotes that entertain as well as inform. One of the most inviting prologues I have ever read lures you into the book. Brox covers it all, from the first lanterns at sea, to gas light and the emergence of the incandescent electric lamp. She remarks that during wartime some parts of Europe returned to old light. London endured a self-induced blackout to evade enemy bombardment. Even New York prepared itself to avoid becoming a target. All this makes us aware of how artificial light can cast an ugly shadow, and forces us to consider its use with care. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky
In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise By George Prochnik Doubleday, $26.00, 342 pages As they say, silence is golden. The commodity is increasing in value due to its scarcity. Quietude itself is increasingly difficult to find in this overly stimulated, polluted, sensory world. While working at the computer I hear the hum of the electronics, ambient sounds of traffic, insects, phones, and other residents. “When it comes to imperiling mental health, noise pollution of course wins hands down.” A complete avoidance of noise is impossible, even for the deaf. This is the area that George Prochnik explores as we encounter the damage caused to our acoustic nerves and brains by the plugged-in audio devices, the raucous entertainment, the canned music designed to evoke primitive impulses. Uncovering ways to erase noise is the challenge, and it seems fitting that the word is actually derived from the Latin root nausea.
Investigating quiet places like monasteries, religious retreats, schools for the deaf, and secluded woodlands, the author finds that our other senses are awakened. Silence can provide a whole new perspective on this world. Think of a place without leaf blowers, traffic din, media mania, talkaholics and all the disturbing sounds that continuously assault us when we are paying attention to them and when we are not. Then imagine the peacefulness of a refuge for silent reflec-
tion. In such a place the world becomes illuminated and enlarged. Find a quiet spot to read this book; you will be rewarded. Reviewed by Rita Hoots
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July 10 20
A monthly printed publication featuring about 100 book reviews in 30 genres