VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4
F R E E
NEW AND OF INTEREST
Blood Rites: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Another action-packed supernatural adventure! Page 4
Behind the Scenes of Coraline at the SF Playhouse
A Comparitive Analysis: The Work of Huck Fairman Page 9
Holiday Gift Guide
Time Is On Keith’s Side By Keith Richards, James Fox, Contributor Little, Brown, $ 29.99, 564 pages
LIFE, the autobiography of Keith Richards, has all of the salacious and jaw-dropping tales of rock and roll redlining that is to be expected of one of the most musical figures of our time. But what may be lost in the tales of excesses and madness is what has driven this man from childhood…an all-consuming love affair with music. His philosophy is simple: “People really do want to touch each other, to the heart. That’s why you have music. If you can’t say it, sing it.” As a boy, Keith’s mum Doris played music every day, exposing the boy to Louis Arm-
strong, Ella Fitzgerald, Big Bill Broonzy, Sarah Vaughn and more. He recounts an early memory of being taken to and sitting in a music repair shop by his beloved grandfather Gus with a biscuit and a cup of tea, music floating through the air, instruments being fixed and tested, vats of hot glue blubbering, guitars and violins hung and turning on conveyer belts. He writes fondly of Gus merely leaving a Spanish gut-string guitar on top of the piano for the little boy to stare at with awe, a “sweet, lovely little lady” See LIFE, cont’d on page 26
Looking for just the right book to give a special person in your family? Page 13
San Francisco (Postcard History) First class! Page 27
97 Reviews INSIDE!
Children’s Books Jackie’s Gift By Sharon Robinson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis Viking Juvenile, $16.99, 32 pages When Jackie Robinson moved to Brooklyn, his was the first black family in the neighborhood and prejudice ran high. He was befriended by the Satlow family, two doors down, whose young son Steve was a huge fan of Jackie. The best day of Steve’s life was when the Robinson family invited him to a Dodgers game and he got to walk home with Jackie. When Christmas came around, Steve was helping the Robinsons decorate their tree when Steve mentioned his family did not have a tree. Later that day, Jackie brought them one. Only what was a Jewish family who lit a menorah to do with a tree? And what will the family say to the Robinsons? When the Robinson family brought over tree decorations, the mistake was shared. Horrified at the error, Jackie asked for forgiveness, but still the silence was thick, until Steve caught his mom’s attention and they giggled. That
year, the Satlows had a tree and a menorah. This Robinson family story was told each Christmas. Author Sharon Robinson is Jackie’s daughter. Jackie’s Gift is a beautiful story rich with lessons skillfully woven into the drama. Reviewed by Susan Roberts I Didn’t Do It By Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest with illustrations by Katy Schneider Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99, 32 pages Dog lovers won’t be able to resist the beautifully illustrated I Didn’t Do I. They will enjoy the romp through fourteen poems depicting a pup’s day, innocently told from the pup’s point of view. They’ll learn what it might be like to be born a pup; they’ll share in a pup’s bewilderment of seeing himself in the mirror; and they’ll know the pup likes the same things as his owner, such as when the pup snuggles down under the covers with his human. The authors shares the pup’s heartfelt love in lines like, “When I am
grown, I will keep you safe the way you keep me safe now.” “When I am grown I will keep you safe the way you keep me safe now.” Award-winning artist Katy Schneider created beautiful oil-on-board renderings with loose, emotion-filled strokes celebrating a pup’s joy, innocence, laughter and love. Readers will enjoy the twenty-nine soulful-looking pups sprinkled throughout the book. They will flip through the pages to see what kind of pup comes next, and then flip through again to pick their favorite, and check them again — just to be sure. Readers will fall in love with the dachshund of “What Did I Do?” and the hound of “She Flies.” Reviewed by Susan Roberts My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story By Jamie Lee Curtis HarperCollins, $16.99, 30 pages What more can be said about moms and all the perfect ways they love us? It’s all been said, written, expressed. And yet, once in a blue moon, a writer, or two, pio-
neers their way onto a creative path to deliver just that. In My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story, Jamie Lee Curtis (famous for her work as an actress) and Laura Cornell spell out all the wonderful ways that mom shows her loyalty to and for her child. The child in the story really does believe that (his/ her) mom hangs the moon at night, along with growing all the food they eat, flying planes, rowing ships, and much more, “She buzzed every bee./She spun every spider./ She growled every bear./She striped every tiger.” With lively, colorful illustrations that stretch readers’ and listeners’ imaginations and poetically lyrical language, this story is an instant favorite. “She buzzed every bee. She spun every spider. She growled every bear. She striped every tiger.” From the first vibrant page, we are transported into a world that swirls with a perfect union of fantasy and reality, after all, of course moms can conquer the day and sometimes the world, or so it seems! This is a brilliant book for a young reader from mom, or better still, a perfect gift for the special mom in your own life, a beautiful reminder of all that she means in your world. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez See CHILDREN’S, con’t on page 10
Book Review 1776 Productions. LLC 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Ph. 877.913.1776 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 Megan Roberts Sky Sanchez-Fischer EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jen LeBrun Mary Komlofske WEBSITE/SOCIAL NETWORKING/ APP DEVELOPMENT Ariel Berg Gwen Stackler Robyn Oxborrow DISTRIBUTION Reliable Distribution Mari Ozawa MEDIA SALES firstname.lastname@example.org
The San Francisco Book Review is published monthly by 1776 Productions, LLC. The opinions expressed in these pages are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the San Francisco Book Review or Sacramento Book Review advertisers. All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders. All words © 2010, 1776 Productions, LLC. December 2010 print run 10,000 copies.
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IN THIS ISSUE Children’s Books............................................. 3 Science Fiction & Fantasy............................... 4 Horror............................................................ 5 Biographies & Memoirs.................................. 6 Humor-Fiction................................................ 6 Tweens........................................................... 7 Young Adult.................................................... 8 Sequential Art................................................ 8 Popular Fiction............................................... 9 Modern Literature........................................ 11 Romance....................................................... 11 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers........................... 12 Philosophy.................................................... 12 Holiday Gift Guide...................................13-20 Humor-NonFiction....................................... 21 Home & Garden............................................ 21 History......................................................... 22 Music & Movies............................................. 23 Travel........................................................... 23 Sports & Outdoors........................................ 23 Science & Nature.......................................... 24 Business & Investing.................................... 24 Current Events............................................. 25 Parenting & Families.................................... 25 Local Calendar.............................................. 26 Crafts & Hobbies.......................................... 27 Technology................................................... 27 Popular Fiction............................................. 28 Reference...................................................... 28 Cooking, Food & Wine.................................. 30 Self-Help....................................................... 32
FROM THE EDITOR The holiday season is upon us once again, and not only does it have us looking forward to friends, family, and the beginning of a new year, it also has us looking back. Producing a monthly paper (or two) is a major project, but even with all the electronic options now available, there is just something about paper. We like exploring that new technology, but it just doesn’t match the feeling of picking up the new issue and flipping through it. We hope you find it that way too. And if you don’t, then next year as we roll out new electronic versions of the newspaper, you should find one that meets your needs. This issue’s Gift Guide was entirely designed by Associate Editor Kaye Cloutman. With Heidi having to design seventeen ads for this issue, we needed a little design help. There are, as usual, some spectacular books released just for this season in a variety of formats and price points. You can find a book for almost everyone on your list and probably more than a few for yourself. Some of my favorites were the Chess Masterpieces (Abrams), Exploring Wine (Wiley) and The Jedi Path (becker&mayer!). The Jedi Path comes in a metal vault that must be seen to be believed and might just be one of the coolest Star Wars items ever made. Speaking of The Jedi Path, I interviewed author Daniel Wallace for our Audible Authors program (AudibleAuthors.net). If you haven’t checked out some of the podcast interviews there, take a couple of minutes to look. Recent interviews include William Blatty (The Exorcist), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and Tony Diterlizzi (Search for WondLa). We’re now getting about one or two new interviews up each week, and with a variety of authors. Thanks for picking up the paper. As always we hope to introduce you to new books and authors you otherwise would have missed. Happy reading, Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief email@example.com 1776 Productions, LLC
Science Fiction & Fantasy Lord of Emperors: Book Two of the Sarantine Mosaic By Guy Gavriel Kay Roc, $16.00, 448 pages In the concluding volume of the Sarantine Mosaic, after Sailing to Sarantium, we continue where we left off: talented mosaicist Crispin, now Imperial Mosaicist to Valerius II, is working on a magnificent dome for the Emperor and Empress of Sarantium (a fantasy version of ancient Byzantium and Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora). But because this is a large, complicated city, and Crispin is now an important person, he finds himself unavoidably inveigled in plots and conspiracies, as the Emperor plans for a war in Crispin’s homeland. Then a new character enters the play, Rustem of Kerkakek, a physician from the eastern desert kingdom of Bassania; a reward for saving his emperor’s life. Now Sarantium has a host of unusual citizens, while Crispin keeps his allies together – a slave girl and mistress, the exiled queen of Antae, Gisel, and this new and enigmatic character, Rustem. “After everything he had been through, surely he deserved an adventure he would actually remember.” Guy Gavriel Kay continues to build on the momentum and creativity of Sailing to Sarantium, but also introduces new and interesting characters, as well as creating new plotlines that weren’t visible in the first book. He instates the key for a sequel: building on the story already established, but at the same time taking the reader down new and undiscovered avenues. Reviewed by Alex Telander Betrayer of Worlds By Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner Tor, $25.99, 317 pages Betrayer of Worlds is a welcomed addition to Larry Niven’s exploration and chronicles of Known Space. The plot and sub-stories are intricate and psychological, but the players are driven by questionable motives. Though the forth in a series, the book can stand alone. However, one may not experience all the depth and subtly involved if they have not read more of Niven, or the earlier books in the series.
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“After everything he had been through, surely he deserved an adventure he would actually remember.” Betrayer of Worlds, co-written by Edward M. Lerner, is a prequel to Niven’s Ring World series, in an age of science fiction prequels. The plot follows mostly the intergalactic travails of Louis Wu, the child of genius Carlos Wu and the stepchild of famous Known Space adventurer Beowulf Shaeffer. At stake are intergalactic thrones and kingdoms. Not a lot exists about the feline Kzin in this story, but rather the inside jostlings of the manipulative Puppeteers, genocidal Pak, and marine Gw’oth. Though they all seek to escape an explosion at the galactic core as a fleet of worlds, these intergalactic civilizations have their imperialistic ambitions and internal problems. Though not a dull moment, it is hard to follow all the workings of the intricate plot despite a listing Dramatis Personae. The voice of the work weaves between extrapolation and cliché. Many others have written their shared dreams and nightmares of the vast cosmos. Though nobody’s fault, the science fiction reader has been to this territory before. Reviewed by Ryder Miller Winter Song By Colin Harvey Angry Robot, $7.99, 411 pages Spaceman Karl Allman, a man with two brains -- one his own and one downloaded into his head from his dying spaceship -crash lands onto a frozen rock of a forgotten world. He finds a people who’ve devolved into their Norse origins as they ride the cusp of survival with poisonous food and broken vestiges of technology on an abandoned planet that’s reverted to a violent subsistence tribal culture. Karl and his splintering brain discover that winter isn’t the only enemy here. The disgraced Bera, a native of the planet that’s been abandoned for many years, nurses Karl’s injuries. She accompanies the spaceman on a mad escape across the winter landscape as Karl struggles to return home to his wives and unborn child, even as he struggles with his emerging feelings for the squinting Norsewoman. A surprisingly well-developed piece of science fiction with complex characters who act in realistic and sometimes disturbing ways, the story focuses on human relations over science, much to benefit of the book. The science grows naturally and serves more to underline the universalities of human be-
Blood Rites: A Novel of the Dresden Files By Jim Butcher ROC, $25.95, 372 pages
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is back for another action-packed supernatural adventure. In Blood Rites, the twelfth book in Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” series, readers find Harry accepting a case as a favor to Thomas Raith, his vampire acquaintance. Harry will be undercover on the set of an adult film to protect producer Arturo Genosa, who believes he is the target of a curse. But it is the women around Genosa who are dying. Harry believes there is something more to Thomas’ involvement in the case, and his investigations lead him to the home of Thomas’ vampire family. As he is introduced to the Raiths, Harry is forced to look at his own family tree. Startling connections await him. When things start to crumble around Harry, series regulars such as Murphy, Kincaid, Bob, Mister, and Ebenezar are there to help. So is Mouse, the newest animal in Harry’s life, who will definitely be a fan favorite. True to Butcher’s style, the plot is non-stop and full of fire, magic, and explosions. This thrill of a read is one you won’t want to put down. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin havior, showing people as petty, cruel, brilliant, and strong. Reviewed by Axie Barclay Coronets and Steel By Sherwood Smith DAW, $24.95, 672 pages While it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, Coronets and Steel is certainly a type of novel that many readers would like, blending the popular genre of urban fantasy with some spicy romance set in the modern world. Kim Murray is a California girl looking for something new and fresh to bring some excitement into her life; the world she lives in is mundane and boring. In her spare time she practices ballet and fencing, reminding herself of another time. She lives with her parents and grandmother, who is from Europe and only speaks French, but she falls suddenly ill, and after talking with her, Kim decides to blow off her life and travel to Europe in search of her grandmother’s family and history. She spends her days looking for details and clues without finding much, though she does notice that strange guy who seems to be following her. Then Kim is kidnapped and is thought to be someone completely different, someone with an interesting past; she also finds herself involved with two dark and handsome
men, and is looking for her grandmother’s secret husband; she also has the ability to talk to ghosts. All these abilities, combined with her fencing make for a steamy adventure tale. Reviewed by Alex Telander Player One: What Is to Become of Us By Douglas Coupland House of Anansi Press, $15.95, 256 pages An airport cocktail lounge becomes an unlikely bunker when disaster strikes, trapping four people who have each embarked on new paths in life -- one is looking for love, another for proof of her humanity, a third for escape from a crime, and the last for a second chance at success -- along with a peculiar presence called Player One that knows what is going to happen over the next few hours. The uncertainty for the future brings them together, as they try to define (or redefine) themselves in a new world. After two underwhelming efforts in The Gum Thief and Generation A, Coupland makes a tremendous return to form with Player One, an exploration of how we relate to others and our world. The characters are rich and interesting, and Coupland gives each of them a chance to shine in every “hour” (chapter). See PLAYER, cont’d page 5
We e k l y colu m n : A F T ER T H E M A N U S C R I P T S a n Fr a nc i s coB o ok R e v ie w.com
PLAYER, cont’d from page 4 No one takes you inside someone’s thoughts more convincingly than Coupland, with all the inanity, the anxiety, the random facts and fixations. Amidst strange situations, implausible circumstances, and a possible apocalypse, it’s those genuine glimpses beyond the veil that keep you hooked. Welcome back, Coupland. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Grim Reaper: End of Days By Steve Alten Variance Publishing LLC, $25.95, 550 pages Steve Alten is an undeniably natural story teller, his writing is engrossing and his characters infiltrate your imagination. The stories he tells are reminiscent of the horrors that we currently face and the atrocities that have echoed throughout the ages. We start with the remnants of the physical survivors from the current Middle East conflict; patchwork remedies do not repair the body or touch the soul. Add to the personal struggles of the survivors, a plague producing virus called “Scythe” developed by the Defense Department suddenly released in Manhattan by the virgin microbiologist who developed the tool. Finding the antidote is the all consuming concern of a small group of veterans. Greed, corruption, power are illustrated as part of this epic, countered by instances of selflessness, courage and hope. Paralleling Dante’s classic Inferno, the author describes the passage through the Nine Circles of Hell as the hero miraculously eludes the Grim Reaper also know as the Angel of Death in his attempt to apply the antidote. This fantasy adventure recalls the moral outrages and physical atrocities that have afflicted
civilization throughout the ages. There is only one nostrum that encourages survival and that elixir exists in the ethereal bond of hope. For those who crave science fiction, stories of mass destruction, descriptions of intrigue and magic, this is the book that will satisfy you. The sudden jolt of adrenaline had quelled his fatigue. He sprinted past Rockefeller Plaza, refusing to gaze at the multitudes of dead piled high on the ice rink. Reviewed by Aron Row Infinite Days By Rebecca Maizel St. Martin’s Griffin, $9.99, 310 pages There are a lot of vampire tales out there telling the tale of a human that wants to become a vampire. I’ve never read a story about a vampire that wants to become a human … until now. Infinite Days is the story of Lenah, a 500+ year old vampire who, after a one hundred year slumber, awakens as a 16-year-old girl in the 21st century. With little knowledge and instruction, Lenah must once again learn how to live life as a human. With her coven searching for her, Lenah must find away to protect not only herself, but her friends. The format of the story-telling in this book is beautifully woven between the past when Lenah was a ruthless vampire who killed without regret, and the present with Lenah learning how to manage in a society where she is no longer on top of the food chain. The supporting characters were just as endearing as Lenah and the interaction between them all never tires.
Infinite Days is a story that grabs you at the very beginning and never lets go, not even at the end. It’s highly recommended for any and all vampire lovers. Reviewed by Missy Wadkins Libyrinth By Pearl North Tor, $10.99, 336 pages Haly, the protagonist and reluctant redeemer of this novel, “hears” books; they literally speak to her. As clerk and resident of the Libyrinth, she’s dedicated to the preservation of a vast library whose contents originated in Earth’s distant past. Along with kitchen servant Clauda and Libyrarian Selene, Haly foils a plot concocted by the book-destroying Eradicants, thus launching a quest for “The Book of the Night.”
the manifestation of universal harmony. Literacy should never be taken for granted and Libyrinth exemplifies that premise. Anyone who reads it will emerge with a better understanding of the timeless power of the written word. That’s Pearl North’s gift to her readers. Reviewed by Richard Mandrachio
Read our review of Gauntlgrym: Neverwinter, Book at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
“And in the awareness of that unity of all things, desire and fear and pain became meaningless and fell away.” If Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 were to continue its narrative further into the future and occur off-world, it would be this novel. Particularly touching are passages quoted from Bradbury’s classic as well as Anne Frank‘s diary, both of which nicely complement Pearl North’s plot, characterizations and overall theme. This compelling story works on a number of levels: It is a fully realized universe where magic and technology intertwine. In this realm, characters discover their true destinies and reading is the song of life. Books themselves are depicted as catalysts of global unity and environmental preservation. On yet another level, they become
Read our review of Cold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy), at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season By Norman Partridge Cemetery Dance, $30.00, 125 pages Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season may not be the best Halloween anthology out there. However, if you’re looking for a short collection of not too many stories that are gripping and will get you in the mood for Halloween, then look no further. Norman Partridge is best known for his Bram Stoker Award Winning book Dark Harvest. With Johnny Halloween, he features seven stories on the subject of Halloween: some are ordinary stories of fun and trickery, others are dark and twisted,
and others make you stop and think about not just the meaning behind Halloween, but why we do the things we do on October 31. “Three Doors” is a play on the idea of a djinn granting three wishes, or the better known horror story “The Monkey’s Paw.” In this story, a man discovers he has a special power: He is somehow granted three knocks on three doors, and whoever opens the door will be under his power to do his bidding. And now he has a plan to get the woman of his dreams back. The most poignant and moving tale of the collection has little to do with Halloween at all. “The Man Who Killed Halloween” is the infamous story of the Zodiac Killer, during the fall of 1969, who took lives mercilessly and with no clear intention. The reason for his killings remains a mystery to this day. Reviewed by Alex Telander
The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard By Robert E. Howard Robert E. Howard Properties, LLC, $150.00, 560 pages Robert E. Howard is best known for his creation of the barbarian Conan, and rightfully so as the character and his adventures helped create the swords and sorcery genre of pulp fiction. Howard was a prolific writer though and created numerous characters who traveled this world and others in numerous adventures; and fantasy wasn’t his only genre. Howard was also a writer of horror stories and corresponded with the father of weird horror, H.P. Lovecraft. For the first
time since they were originally published, a span of time that covers almost a century, all of Howard’s horror stories have been collected into one omnibus, The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard. Every poem, short story, or novella that Howard wrote that touched on the weird, supernatural, or evil can be found within this collection. You’ll also find many of Howard’s famous protagonists amongst the pages. Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn make an appearance here as do Professor Kirowan and John Conrad. Howard is a wonderful writer who manages to seep his stories in pathos and emotion without succumbing to the melodrama and purple prose. This collection is a must for fans of horror. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard
R e a d T H E B A C K PAG E b y p u b l i s h e d a u t h o r s a t S a n F r a n c i s c o B o o k R e v i e w. c o m
Biographies & Memoirs Memoirs of a Geezer: Music, Mayhem, Life By Jah Wobble Serpent’s Tail, $14.95, 344 pages Legendary post-punk bassist and selfproclaimed “geezer,” Jah Wobble writes a hell of an entertaining memoir. Coming of age in London’s East End in the early British punk scene, Jah Wobble was Public Image Limited’s original bassist, responsible for the deeply spooky heartbeat of songs like “Poptones” and “Careering.” A long solo career has since seen him transcend the limitations of post-punk for the more open and experimental environs of world music. “the open ‘E’ string becomes spiritually vehicular. You can ride the sonic boom to Heaven.” Hilarious and intelligent, his memoir covers all the expected ground— squats, drugs, fights, alcohol, rehab, and redemption—while maintaining a compelling interest in the spiritual energy of a strong bass-line. Wobble’s evocation of the primal resonance of the OM in an open “E” string is convincingly fresh, not New Age-y at all, as befits an East End geezer. But he never lets himself get away with “gushing”: the great virtue of Jah Wobble’s memoir is the strength of its voice, as if he were regaling us with stories from the music industry in our local pub while drinking orange squash (he’s
23 years sober). If nothing else, his memoir will teach American readers the virtues of East End slang— and of being a geezer. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis Julita’s Sands: A Memoir By Emily Placido Xlibris, $23.99, 648 pages Here is a powerful memoir full of love, aging, and rediscovery of a mother as an individual, not just ma. Placido tells the story of her mother’s decline, due to dementia, from moving her mom into Placido’s own home to eventually making the decision to move her into a nursing home while trying to hold on to her job, marriage, and life. A bonus is the small bits of Julita’s story as a young girl growing up in Cuba at the beginning of each chapter. They are only a page or two long, but allow us to know Julita as a young girl, full of ambition, love, and joy. “I saw Michael Jackson once. All my life I thought he was a woman.” Tender care and honesty are the hallmarks of Placido’s acceptance of her mother and her decline. The humor that she and others find in the situation is a huge unexpected gift to the reader, and I think, to Placido and her family. Moving isn’t even the right word to describe the blooming relationship she develops with Julita by taking care of her. Julita doesn’t walk well, gets uncomfortable with change and new faces, gets
Humor-Fiction Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff By Don Bruns Oceanview Publishing, $25.95, 296 pages Skip and James are best buds. They do everything together, except for loving Em, which Skip does by himself. Their latest venture is a private investigator gig that’s bound to make them a mint. All they need is the license, which has just arrived in the mail – and a truck, of course, and a few tricks of the trade they can buy from
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Jody who taught them what little they know about being a P.I. Of course, they need to keep their day jobs until they can build the business. James’ new day job leads them to an Airstream trailer parked on a dusty lot next to an almost-abandoned mall, along with the rest of a fly-by-night carnival. The carnie owner wants them to find out who’s causing the accidents that are drawing the wrong kind of publicity, or does he? To get through the book, you just have to hang on tight – pretend you’re on the dragon’s tail ride and your life depends on it. Sometimes the humor tries too hard, but the author has a good sense of plot and decent writing skills. I enjoyed the ride. Reviewed by Marj Stuart
increasingly tired, becomes incontinent, but still relishes her meals and repeats at every dinner: “I love wine. Wine is good for you. I’ve been drinking wine since I was three years old.” The humor sprinkled throughout the book makes you realize that it is important to laugh, even when you want to cry. Placido has written her story, but it is also the story of many of us. Most of us will have to face care of our elder parents in one way or the other, and many already have. Placido shows us how it can be done with love, friendship, and a strong marriage. If you are a fan of long goodbyes and movies such as The Notebook, or if you have had to care for an elderly parent, this is exactly what you are looking for. Just remember to bring along some tissues for the ending. I cried like a baby. Sponsored Review Rachel Carson: A Biography By Arlene R. Quaratiello Prometheus Books, $18.00, 152 pages Rachel Carson is an American icon. She not only stands out as an avid environmentalist, but she is one of the contemporary female writers who translated the mysterious beauty of nature into poetic literature for the layperson. This recent short edition examining the life of Rachel Carson attempts to diagnose the influences that molded this remarkable woman, who maintained her identity and dignity in the “man’s world” of the ’40s and ’50s. “Carson believed that ‘a large share of what’s wrong with the world is man’s towering arrogance --- in a universe that surely ought to impose humility and reverence.’ “ The author dryly covers the details of her formative years, the influence of her mother in shaping her love of nature, and her education where she initially majored in English but became enamored of the sciences and switched her emphasis to the latter. Her classic books Under the Sea-Wind, The Sea Around Us, and The Edge of the Sea are reviewed as are the controversies engendered by her criticism of synthetic chemicals and their interference in the interdependence of natural processes. Carson has been viewed in different lights as the public became aware of the dangers that resulted from meddling with natural interactions. While the facts are present, this short history lacks the sense of wonder that was the essence of Carson. An earlier biography by Linda Lear, also used
A woman who confronts her past to strengthen her faith.
Available Now! Warning! Book not suitable for children.
Meet Suzy Conner, a woman who was losing all hope and faith in God. Throwing her camping gear in the trunk of her car, she drove until the car was out of gas to a forest path in Tennessee, where she found a deer that guided her way. This is Suzy’s story of coming back confronting herself, the past trials, tribulations, and her own faith in God.
as a resource for this book, would be more satisfying. Reviewed by Aron Row Tears of a Clown By Dana Milbank Doubleday, $24.95, 261 pages Glenn Beck has described himself as a “rodeo clown,” but Dana Milbank isn’t fooled. While Beck runs around crying and screaming on his hit TV show and radio program, Milbank gives him far more credit than your average circus performer. Unlike Bozo, Beck has a devoted audience full of people who are very angry, very frightened, and who take him very seriously. Tears of a Clown examines Beck as the entertainer-cum-demagogue he is. Milbank employs an extremely cunning technique, too, one that will likely enrage Beck’s more rabid fans: he quotes the man himself, often full paragraphs at a time, so the context remains clear. This not only shields Milbank from accusations of putting words in his subject’s mouth, it also shows how much time Milbank spent studying Beck. Little of what’s in here will shock those who dislike Beck, from detailed accounts of how he bullied Van Jones out of a job to his numerous accusations against President Obama (he either hates white people or he’s Hitler; Beck hasn’t decided). But as Beck denounced Milbank’s book before it was even written, it’s unlikely to reach the very people who most need to read it: Glenn Beck’s millions of loyal fans. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell
Read our review of 703: How I Lost More Than a Quarter Ton and Gained a Life, at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
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Tweens Misguided Angel (A Blue Bloods Novel) By Melissa De La Cruz Hyperion Children’s, $16.99, 272 pages I have been eagerly awaiting the next installment to the Blue Bloods series and this book did not disappoint. A warning to fans of the series, Schuyler and Jack are absent for a large part of the book, so do not be surprised. I know this was a shock and disappointment to some. Schuyler and Jack have fled to Florence on a secret mission, and while some new developments are revealed they were more of a setup for a future book. The bulk of the story follows Mimi Force as she deals with heading up the council, seeking vengeance on Jack for leaving her, and coping with her grief over the loss of Kingsley. All of this must be pushed aside when one of the young blue bloods is kidnapped and viciously murdered, and the killing is streamed live online. Mimi has to track down the killer before he or she can strike again. To help do so, she brings in Deming, one of the twins from another coven, who has experience in this sort of investigation. The identity of the murderer is not a huge shock, but the killer’s background is, and readers are definitely left wanting to know more about who they represent. A wonderful addition to the series. Reviewed by Debbie Suzuki Magic Tree House #44: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time By Mary Pope Osborne Random House Books for Young Readers, $12.99, 113 pages A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne is the 44th installment in the Magic Tree House series for young readers. Osborne’s story tells the continuing adventures of Annie and Jack. Merlin the Magician has requested that this time the brother and sister duo travel — via the tree house — to Victorian England to assist an already successful Charles Dickens. This book, as many in the series, delivers humor, mystery, and action, which young readers can’t seem to get enough of. Parents may find the stories formulaic, but the settings are vastly different and, dare we say, educational. Without knowing it, children begin to learn about the life
of a famous writer living in a different era and culture. As Jack and Annie travel and chimney sweep through a newly industrialized London, A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time scratches at the surface of child labor during the Victorian era. The writing is simple enough for strong beginning readers, although the length may be daunting for some. To the delight of Magic Tree House fans, a cold winter evening might provide just the quiet time for an adult to read this latest Merlin mission and to dip into the Victorian times. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 9: Halt’s Peril By John Flanagan Philomel, $17.99, 386 pages Halts Peril by John Flanagan is the ninth book in the much-beloved Ranger’s Apprentice series, of which I have been a long-time fan. In this installation of the series, ranger Will, his mentor Halt, and his friend Horace, a knight of the Realm, are on the trail of a cult leader. His cult, The Outsiders, has been manipulating and stealing gold from the peasants of the surrounding kingdom. As they give chase across the countryside, Halt is ambushed and struck by an arrow laced with poison. He starts to fade fast. Will must find a cure to his master’s aliment in a foreign wilderness before his mentor fades completely. The book’s writing is on par with many of the other books in the series. Unfortunately Book 9 isn’t as eventful or thrilling as the first eight. This installment sometimes creeps instead of the series’ usual galloping action. The story almost comes to a complete stop when it takes our sly ranger Will four chapters to pry information from a local smuggler. Another downside is the fact that the book doesn’t actually add anything to the overall story line of the series. It mostly ties up the loose ends left by the previous installment. This is not to say this is a bad book. It is still filled with Flanagan’s trademark suspense, medieval combat, and intense action. I recommend that any Ranger’s Apprentice fan pick up this installment at their local book store. Reviewed by Andrew Olson
Behind the Scenes of Coraline at the SF Playhouse by Heidi Komlofske I wasn’t quite sure why Director of Marketing, Dan Meagher, got in touch with the San Francisco Book Review to write a story about the west coast premier of Bill English’s stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best selling novel Coraline. If Dan had been asking me to review the book...well...no problem there. After all, that’s what we do here. But, a play? Feeling a little out of my element, I decided to put a unique spin on it -- look at it from the angle of learning about how a play is produced. You know...”the back-stage view of things.” As the actors rehearsed their songs behind closed doors, English, like a proud new father, wove us through secret passageways to give us the behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to produce a play. Set on a relatively small stage, the props were meticulously organized, the on-stage props were crafted to appear and disappear easily. The score was designed for three keyboards played by Stephin Merritt...a regular piano, a toy piano, and a piano that’s been “adjusted” with things like playing cards, nuts and bolts, paper clips, ear plugs, insulation, washers, and all sorts of other bizarre objects, that dampen the strings and make the piano sound really weird. I had read about this as I was doing my homework before going to the play and thought “well, this is either going to sound really neat or be quite annoying.” I was pleasantly suprised at the mood these little toy pianos set when played at the right scene transitions. The cast is unbelievably small, and I hadn’t realized that so many of them were playing multiple roles until they all came out for a bow after the show. English says “some of them only have four seconds to change costumes before needing to be back on the stage.” It is Maya Donato, the 11-year-old actress who plays Coraline, who steals the show! Incredibly poised and professional, I couldn’t help but ask myself throughout the show if my 10-year-old would be able to remember this many lines. We had an opportunity to meet Miss Donato after the show as she munched on what she called her “after-show fuel,” consisting of Skittles and a soda. Transformed from her drab costume to comfortable attire, complete with bare feet, Bill English put his arm around her shoulders as they excitedly swapped observations on what they perceived as things going wrong during this, the last evening of the play before it officially launched the next day. There’s really nothing like seeing a small production play in San Francisco. The intimacy with the stage and the actors is unparalleled. Coraline will be playing at the SF Playhouse from Nov 16 - January 15, 2011. For tickets, call their box office at 415.677.9596 or visit their website sfplayhouse.org.
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Young Adult The Fledgling Handbook 101 (House of Night) By P.C. Cast and Kim Doner St. Martin’s Griffin, $12.99, 176 pages Ever since Marked came out, I’ve wanted to know what Zoey Redbird’s Fledgling Handbook looks like. So, when I got the chance to read The Fledgling Handbook, I was over the moon. Though I have my own issues with some of the characters, I’m a fan of the House of Night series. P.C. Cast does not fail me with this guide. With a gorgeous cover, thick pages and beautiful drawings, you’ll get lost in the history and mythology behind not only the House of Night, but vampyre folklore as well. I also think the pages where you can add your own notes about your changing vampyre-self is a cute little touch and makes it feel like a true school handbook. Over everything, my absolute favorite thing is the vampyre history stories that include places and historical figures that we all know and are familiar with. I read through
the book in less than an hour, then spent more time going through and studying the pictures and footnotes. With less than two hundred pages, it’s an extremely easy read. The price seems a little steep for this guide, but it is a welcome addition to anyone’s House of Night collection. Reviewed by Missy Wadkins Wildwing By Emily Whitman Greenwillow Books, $16.99, 320 pages Young adult fans of historical romance and time travel will love this new read by author Emily Whitman. Transported by an old elevator from her drab servant life in 1913, Matilda finds herself in a medieval time and an awkward predicament as she is mistaken for the king’s charge. Now she doesn’t have to answer to anyone, but things turn sour as she soon falls for the handsome falconer Will and wants to answer to the call in her heart. This is a heartwarming romance that doesn’t just stop the romance at the characters -- the entire setting of the
novel screams romance from shipwrecks to dungeons to wedding gowns fit for a fairytale. Matilda and the lot of characters are all beautifully written and wrapped into a wonderful read. There are many surprises throughout the story that will have your head reeling and your heart on a roller coaster until the very end. Wildwing is a wonderfully written story that has just the right amount of detail and an abundance of emotion. It’s a great read for teens and adults alike. Reviewed by Missy Wadkins The Klutz Book of Inventions By The Legendary Creative Madpersons at Klutz and Ideo Klutz, $19.99, 198 pages Life’s challenges will never seem difficult again when you read The Klutz Book of Inventions. With 162 hilarious (and useful!) ideas, you’ll never be caught without the right tool for the job. Klutz fans know that humor and fun are found in every book. John Cassidy and Brendan Boyle keep this tradition alive. It’s impossible not to laugh aloud while reading through this col-
lection of creative contraptions. Forgot your pencil? No problem - paint your nails with Pencil Lead Nail Polish and it’s like carrying ten pencils at your fingertips! Want to better understand your cat? Color changing Mood Collars give you a peek into your pet’s mind. The Coin Return Couch comes with a gravity-fed system built under the cushions. Never again dig for spare change. Klutz’s invention-making process is based on cooperation and fun. Parents and teachers can use this book to inspire kids of all ages to create inventions of their own. Have family or classroom competitions where the only rules are the limits of the imagination! Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin
Read our review of I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend, at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
Sequential Art The Amulet of Samarkand (A Bartimaeus Graphic Novel) By Jonathan Stroud and Andrew Donkin, with illustrations by Lee Sullivan and Nicolas Chapuis Hyperion Children’s, $19.99, 144 pages After the continued success and popularity of the Bartimaeus trilogy, Jonathan Stroud turns his hand to adapting the first book in the series into a graphic novel with some very talented artists. The books are similar to Harry Potter, except the wizards don’t have much power and have to summon djinn to do all their work for them. Stroud’s first effort in writing a comic book is a good one; while he is a little wordy at times, he does an excellent job of turning the almost 500-page book into a 140-page graphic novel. The creatively conceived book is bursting with the fantastic: with the likes of djinn, imps, afrits, and all other manner of strange and unusual creatures and demons, along with an alternate London and world. The artists do a fantastic job of bringing this world to rich, detailed, colorful life. And then there’s the fun and
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interesting character of the millennia-old djinn Bartimaeus. Lavishly drawn with just the right amount of humor, bravery and wit, Stroud keeps his character similar to the one in the books with his impatience, distaste, and at times indifference toward wizards. If you’ve read the trilogy, this graphic novel will serve to remind you of how much you enjoyed the series. If you are new to the trilogy, the graphic novel might inspire you to start reading the books. Reviewed by Alex Telander The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb By R. Crumb Norton, $17.95, 110 pages The once underground comic artist Robert Crumb is by now practically mainstream, publishing stories in The New Yorker (co-illustrated by wife Aline KominskyCrumb), as well as a well-received 2009 edition of The Book of Genesis. Even his daughter, Sophie Crumb, has picked up the family trade and was recently profiled in The New York Times as an emerging comic artist.
So it may be hard for some readers to remember the shocking, nasty, perverse sexual energy of Crumb’s early work. Such readers would be advised to watch the 1994 documentary Crumb, or to pick up some old issues of Weirdo (the comics anthology Crumb edited in the 1980s) to recall his underground glory days. For the rest of us, this latest Crumb sketchbook details his domestic side, in “sweet” portraits of girls, cats, blues musicians, and bucolic sketches of the French countryside. What these sketches lack in perversity, they make up for in artistry, testimony to Crumb’s position as a major American artist. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis Betrayer of Worlds By Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner Tor, $25.99, 317 pages Betrayer of Worlds is a welcomed addition to Larry Niven’s exploration and chronicles of Known Space. The plot and sub-stories are intricate and psychological, but the players are driven by questionable motives. Though the forth in a series, the book can stand alone. However, one may not experience all the depth and subtly involved if they have not read more of Niven, or the earlier books in the series.
Betrayer of Worlds, co-written by Edward M. Lerner, is a prequel to Niven’s Ring World series, in an age of science fiction prequels. The plot follows mostly the intergalactic travails of Louis Wu, the child of genius Carlos Wu and the stepchild of famous Known Space adventurer Beowulf Shaeffer. At stake are intergalactic thrones and kingdoms. Not a lot exists about the feline Kzin in this story, but rather the inside jostlings of the manipulative Puppeteers, genocidal Pak, and marine Gw’oth. Though they all seek to escape an explosion at the galactic core as a fleet of worlds, these intergalactic civilizations have their imperialistic ambitions and internal problems. Though not a dull moment, it is hard to follow all the workings of the intricate plot despite a listing Dramatis Personae. The voice of the work weaves between extrapolation and cliché. Many others have written their shared dreams and nightmares of the vast cosmos. Though nobody’s fault, the science fiction reader has been to this territory before. Reviewed by Ryder Miller
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Popular Fiction Poison Reality By Lord Muhammad Aadam Xlibris, $19.99, 146 pages Poison Reality is Lord Muhammad Shaheed Aadam’s sequel to his novel Speed Pimpin’, which told the tale of Prince Pepe le Mack, a consummate ladies man who used the power of attraction to work his way into the minds, and beds, of a veritable harem of beautiful women. In Poison Reality, the descendants of the Speed Pimpin’ characters, in the year 2030, take center-stage in a book loosely related to its predecessor, and very much intertwined with the current political climate in low-income areas of Los Angeles, as well as America’s relationship with the Middle East. Kind of. It’s all very confusing—and not very engrossing. What charm Speed Pimpin’ had, Poison Reality loses, becoming politically focused (although with present-day problems, in spite of the fact that the book takes place in the future) and interspersing the political jargon with not only the sex that permeated Speed Pimpin’, but also some anti-Semitism and homophobia that were certainly lacking from its predecessor. While being politically correct has, in our society, become somewhat dangerous, Aadam’s lines about Jews controlling the financial sphere and demons surrounding a house of homosexual men during an orgy are bigoted, ignorant, and wholly unnecessary. Added to the convoluted family lines extending from Speed Pimpin’ to Poison Reality, the impending American monarchy in the book, the sex, the Muslim mafia, and the unconvincing dialogue, the homophobia, and racism take the book from something best read by someone who enjoyed Speed Pimpin’ to a story that doesn’t need to be read, period. Ambition is good, but sometimes people overstep their capabilities, and Aadam has done just
that with this book. For a series that began with an enjoyable, if inconsistent, book, Poison Reality is enough to destroy any affinity Speed Pimpin’ created. Sadly. Sponsored Review The Starry-Eyed Cave Girl By Vertis Nephew Xlibris, $19.99, 157 pages Vertis Nephew’s The Starry-Eyed Cave Girl is a well-written short novel, with intriguing and realistic characters and a mostly-engaging plotline. The Guzmans could be any modern American family, beginning to slip further away from each other. There are five main characters here, which might be a little much for this short book. Vanessa is clearly the best-rounded character; there are more chapters devoted to her story than there are for any of the other characters. Her journey of self-discovery is inspirational, and the elements of philosophy and personal/familial history make the story she writes authentic, as evidenced from the excerpts. Vanessa is the only character who gets any actual sense of closure in this book. The next bestdeveloped characters are her brothers, Cesar and Alex. Cesar dreams of being a football star, but his performance is lacking. He wonders if he might need a backup plan to get through college, but never comes up with any ideas. His rigid insistence on avoiding the party scene is admirable but somewhat unrealistic in a high school atmosphere dominated by cliques and bad behavior. Alex spends his time infatuated with a classmate, but is paralyzed by the thought of connecting with her. He gets credit for asking his sister for help, but the book ends with him having never even struck up conversation with the classmate. Alex’s connection to the bully is another See STARRY, page 10
In this tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy, a business
man traveling around the world fights off women with other ideas by establishing rules for remaining faithful while on the road.
On sale now! ISBN 978145021604-3
A Comparitive Analysis Tales of the City, Hymn, and Noah’s Children: One Man’s Response to the Environmental Crises By Huck Fairman Xlibris
With the publication of his latest work, Noah’s Children, Huck Fairman has assured his place as one of the most thoughtful and provocative writers in the field today. He emerged on the scene a few years ago with the publication of Hymn, the story of a journalist who is foundering personally and professionally. When she rededicates herself to her job, she is given the opportunity to profile a media-wary film director on the set of his latest work, but as their relationship evolves, secrets emerge that could jeopardize both of their futures. Hymn, perhaps my favorite of his three books thus far, deftly moves between writing styles as it switches from Christine’s first-person diary to excerpts from her novel in progress to letters exchanged by the characters, all framed by the backdrop of the seasons over the course of a year. Several of Fairman’s predominant themes are already prevalent in Hymn. In his second effort, the Tales from the City duology, Fairman presents two shorter, but no less engrossing, examinations of sudden change on a larger scale. St. Mary’s Bar offers a week-in-the-life glimpse at a loose gathering of friends, an ersatz Algonquin Round Table, whose comfortable interactions are shattered by a friend’s story of another man’s apparent assault and mistreatment by police. Slipshod Watchman returns to the first-person style to explore a man who becomes a life-defining crossroads for two intriguing women. As his recollection of events meanders between past and present, the reader assembles the full story of a tragic attack that might have been prevented. Both are takes of sudden, explosive violence, and the loss of the sense of personal security felt in the aftermath, as if some cozy invisible blanket had been torn away forever. Here we have the catalyst for change in each character, felt most deeply by the protagonist McKim in Slipshod Watchman after Rachel’s death and Errol after observing Clayton’s assault in St. Mary’s Bar. Fairman’s greatest asset as a writer is abundantly clear in these paired stories: an innate ability to create characters that feel like real people who have been somehow conjured from the pages of fiction. These are genuine, fully-realized individuals summoned up and tossed headlong into the chaotic, unforgiving whirlwind of life and its sometimes-crushing responsibilities. None of these themes are flaunted for timeliness or convenience; they are integral, key parts of the story, demanding attention from character and reader alike. Here, change is forced upon the characters, and much like Christine and David in Hymn, the choices that are made in its wake can be devastating or uplifting. And nowhere is the theme of change more emblematic than in Fairman’s latest work, Noah’s Children. Hamilton Warring is a man defined by change: on a professional level as a local newspaper reporter trying to spread the word about the environment in peril, and on a personal level as a man trying to learn from previous mistakes as a husband and father. But Ham struggles to make meaningful connections -- with his increasingly estranged daughter, with the intriguing women he encounters, with a public seemingly indifferent to the looming threat of global warming. When he spearheads the creation of Earthstudies, a Web-based forum for discussion and information collection, Ham takes his mission across the country, embarking on a journey that may alter his life forever, for better or for worse. But he is no superhero. He is as believable as any of the other Fairman creations I’ve encountered. He is deeply flawed, obsessive, myopic, sometimes even somewhat misanthropic. In his flaws and foibles, his virtues and fears, he is real. His happiness, his interactions with others, his very ability to live is affected by what he learns, his conduct, and his decisions. He encompasses all of the qualities of a Fairman character. I can easily imagine encountering any of these people on the street, that’s how convincingly they’re conceived. They are subject to real tragedies, great and small, in worlds far grayer than those of heroes and villains, and their lives are composed of victories and defeats. Each of these stories is a worthwhile journey, both for the character and the reader. I look forward to seeing where Fairman takes us next. Review by Glenn Dallas
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CHILDREN’S, cont’ from page 2 Princess Baby on the Go! By Karen Katz Schwartz & Wade, $7.99, 14 pages What does a darling little girl take on an overnight trip to Grandma’s house? Help Princess Baby pack her suitcase in Karen Katz’s Princess Baby on the Go! When asked if she’s ready to leave for her sleep-over, Princess Baby finds she isn’t quite. She is still looking for something very important to pack. Help her look in her closet, check under the table, and peek under her pillow. Even her pet cat helps along the way. Each surprise item she finds goes into her open suitcase. Even the smallest readers can use the book’s built-in handle to take to their next play date and share with friends. Designed as a “lift-the-flap” book, every page requires readers to lift up a flap to help find Princess Baby’s belongings. Readers will love discovering what Princess Baby finds throughout the house. Parents can introduce the skill of making a hypothesis—guessing what Princess Baby will find next—and kids can practice packing for a real or imaginary journey of their own. Simple words and colorful illustrations make this sweet and fun board book a treat for even the youngest readers. Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin Annie Shapiro and the Clothing Workers’ Strike By Marlene Targ Brill Lerner Classroom, $9.95, 48 pages Annie Shapiro and The Clothing Workers’ Strike tells how 17 year-old Annie Shapiro, a recent immigrant from Russia, stood up and
walked out of work when primarily female seamstresses were unfairly taken advantage of by their bosses in the early 1900s. Her courageous act of walking out when her boss randomly decreased their pay sparked a strike that grew to more than forty thousand workers. Initially when she asked for help from the unions, she was refused, but the strike continued and grew until they had to take action. She made her first public speeches before wealthy women, asking for money to carry on the strike, and she received their support. While money was the issue that sparked the walk out, women carried signs demanding, “We Want To Be Treated Like People” demanding they be treated humanely. Wellresearched on the conditions that existed for clothing factory workers, like bosses refusing to allow workers bathroom or water breaks (in un-air conditioned shops!) the book includes a play that re-enacts the highlights the difference one person can make. Reviewed by Susan Roberts The Chiru of High Tibet By Jacqueline Briggs Martin; Linda Wingerter, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $17.99, 40 pages The Chiru of the Chang Tang in Tibet is an endangered species, as it is hunted and killed for its special shahtoosh wool, the finest wool in the world. George B.
Schaller is the scientist, who set out to save the Chiru by protecting its secret birthplace, but he could not do it alone. He received valuable help from four experienced mountain climbers who stopped climbing mountains to trek the Chang Tang in search of the Chiru birthing place. The Chiru of High Tibet is a true story that is inspiring to both children and adults, and it will keep readers and audiences captivated from beginning to end. Author Jacqueline Briggs Martin traveled to the Chang Tang reserve in Tibet to write about the Chiru, and the result is a story that teaches not only about the Chiru and Tibet but also about persevering and working together for a greater cause. Linda Wingerter’s illustrations provide a perfect way for children to visualize the plains of the Chang Tang in Tibet and the story of the Chiru. The beautiful illustrations present a perfect expression of how mankind seems very small in the middle of the Tibetan mountains. Reviewed by J Rodney The Book About Tony Chestnut By Laurie Monopoli Hug-A-Chug Books, $19.95, 48 pages The Book About Tony Chestnut contains a well-executed story that celebrates the importance and value of sibling love. It presents the readers with a situation most will experience in their early years of fitting in a new environment and finding new friends. While some factors can continually change in one’s life, the loving bond within the family is more often the only
constant. Tony Chestnut is the perfect epitome of a big brother. His selflessness and enthusiasm to embrace new things will make any younger sibling feel safe and in high spirits at all times. The audio narration provided in the CD also includes engaging songs that do not sound like your typical redundant nursery rhymes or compositions. The melody and rhythms accurately capture the empathy and kindness which makes Tony Chestnut a real hero. This is a true gem of a read for children ages 3-7, and they will enjoy the kind of payit-forward love that resonates throughout the pages. Sponsored Review
STARRY, cont’d from page 9 loose end; it’s unlikely that Ramon would have stopped at one act of minor intimidation. Juan and Yancy, the parents, are the least-developed of all the characters. Juan remains in a seemingly dead-end job, while Yancy’s conclusion seems to come completely out of the blue. It’s clear Nephew spent much time crafting this story, and while it is still a little rough around the edges, it is nonetheless a joy to read. Sponsored Review
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Modern Literature My Sister’s Veil By K.C. Marshall Xlibris, $15.99, 192 pages My Sister’s Veil is a piece of fiction that follows the journeys of three African American women through a dark life in the ghetto, as they rise and fall with ironic love and lessons in life. They drag themselves up, and gain some amazing insights into the community as a whole, finally reaching their crowning moment. They alone see how self-hatred, self-destruction, and selfmedication harm and abuse the community as a whole, causing so many people to keep themselves down rather than letting them wear the crowns of African queens. “Love is the most powerful thing in a person’s life.” Toni Patterson rises from poverty to luxury and fast cars with her football player boyfriend, but finds she’s still unfulfilled and aching, until a lesson from the veil shows how healing comes from helping oth-
ers. Terri McDaniels leaves luxury for a hustler and drug dealer, facing death and poverty in order to see how unity will help her community. Tina Douglas rises from being too black and the daughter of an alcoholic mother to a strong woman delivering heavy healing to her neighborhood. As with many self-published novels, this one could have used a last round of editing for further polish and style, accuracy. For the most part, this is a smart, thought-provoking book that reads more like a parable, delving into the deeper issues that affect and undermine the African-American community.My Sister’s Veil is K.C. Marshall’s first book and the winner of the 2010 Black Caucus of America Library Association First Novelist Literary Award. Sponsored Review Juliet By Anne Fortier Ballantine, $25.00, 447 pages Julie Jacobs is overwhelmed with grief when her beloved Aunt Rose, who raised her, dies. But making it worse is that her aunt left her whole
estate to her twin sister, Janice, who never seemed to appreciate their aunt. All Julie gets is a key to a safe-deposit box — in Siena, Italy — and a promise that something valuable was left there by her late mother. Julie then finds out that her real name is Giulietta Tolomei, and she comes from a long family line in Siena: a family that has a longstanding feud with a family called the Salimbenis. She also finds nothing much of value in the safe-deposit box, but a stack of drawings and documents from her mother. But they all allude to the original Giulietta Tolomei, who was supposedly the real-life inspiration for Shakespeare’s Juliet. Julie reads about the story of Giulietta and her Romeo and the tragedy that came of their love affair, and she tries to unravel the mystery of the possible treasure that is by their tomb, all the while trying to elude danger. Juliet is a novel that brings together elements of love stories (old and new), mystery and thriller into one satisfying whole. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim American Music By Jane Mendelsohn Knopf, $23.95, 256 pages Author Jane Mendelsohn as produced a taut, sui generis story that should be a major contender for novel of the year. The
Romance Atlantis Betrayed By Alyssa Day Berkley, $7.99, 277 pages A powerful sword with a special crystal known as The Siren becomes hot property in Alyssa Day’s Atlantis Betrayed, the sixth book in the Warriors of Poseidon series. Powerful and gorgeous warrior Christophe evaporates into thin air, surveying what it will take to abscond with the treasure. At the same time, the Scarlet Ninja blurs into the scene, seeking the jewel. Christophe trails the Scarlet Ninja home, only to discover her identity: Lady Fiona Campbell. Both Christophe and Fiona try to fight the attraction between them, but eventually the passion becomes too hot to handle. The duo teams up in the bedroom and to steal the jewel, but they don’t count on a third party interfering with their heist. An evil force plans to separate the rugged, handsome warrior and the gorgeous woman. Day’s sixth foray into this mysterious world offers the best of both worlds: a beautiful kingdom under the sea and hot, fastpaced action laced with humor on land. Supporting characters, especially Hopkins, Fiona’s butler and protector, provide comic relief. Vampires, shifters and paranormal ro-
mance are outside my normal reading realm, and I haven’t had the opportunity to read the first five novels in this series. This book, with its suspenseful action and spicy romance, has convinced me to dive in and read the beginnings of the Warriors of Poseidon series. Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler Murder in Plain Sight By Marta Perry HQN Books, $7.99, 384 pages The Amish are unbelievably peaceful people. They wish only to be left alone to work and practice their religion and traditions as they’ve always done. Generally, they don’t live a modern lifestyle, even as those around them do. They make a serious effort to blend in, rather than stand out. Therefore, when tragedy strikes, the pain is multiplied because their customs don’t match well with those of the Englische, as they refer to the rest of us. When a young woman is murdered and an even younger (unconscious) Amish man is found next to her
body, the Amish community doesn’t completely understand the danger to the young man, Thomas. However, Geneva Morgan does. It is her family who has watched over both segments of the population surrounding Springville. At her request, her son, Trey grudgingly hires an attorney from Philadelphia to represent Thomas. He hadn’t planned on Jessica Langdon, neither she him, for that matter. The past resurfaces again and again in this taut, wellwritten suspense novel. Because she cares more for her client than her job, she finds herself unemployed just when long-sought answers finally appear. I could have used a bit more explanation about the ravens, but maybe that’ll come in the next book. There will be a next book, won’t there? Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz Damsel in Disguise By Susan Gee Heino Berkley, $7.99, 344 pages Julia St. Clement and Lord Anthony Rastmoor’s romance was epic…until he gambled her away one unfortunate night. Thus ended their romance. In fact, Rastmoor believes that she married his cousin and died in childbirth. Julia’s done nothing to dispel that belief. Years later she learns of
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storyline is truly unique: A severely injured Iraq war veteran is treated by female physical therapist at a U.S. Army hospital. As she works on him, she sees and hears stories that radiate from his body --these stories involve events in 1623, 1936, and 1969. What’s the meaning of these past lives, and what is their relationship to each other and to the wounded soldier? The typical reader will want to race through the pages to find the answers. A love of music is one common factor, from the creation of the modern drum cymbal to one of jazz’s greatest concerts. But this is a story that involves more than just mortal humans and their musical creations, there are ghosts and guardian angels in the mix. Suffice it to say that Mendelsohn brings to life the words of Jackson Browne, “Tracing our steps from the beginning...Trying to understand how our lives had led us there.” There are few writers other than Jane Mendelsohn who would tackle so mething this brilliant, stunning and divinely thought-provoking. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano
a conspiracy to kill her estranged lover and disguises herself as a man—complete with a fake “wife”—to warn him. He quickly discovers her ruse but must play along with it for both of their safety. He doesn’t know whether to punish her for her deceit or take her into his arms and make up for lost time. Her “wife” disappears and a dangerous plot to steal a hidden family fortune is revealed. Julia and Anthony must work together and overcome a hurtful past, and in the process they uncover the potential for a beautiful future. Damsel in Disguise is a regency romance rife with death plots, steamy scenes, complicated plot twists, intricate characters, and loads of laughter. The words are vivid and dance across the pages to create a beautiful and amusing tale. Julia makes a pretty awful man as moustache-clad, shifty-eyed Mr. Clemmons and it’s hilarious when Rastmoor’s seemingly innocent sister begins to fall for “him.” I can’t wait for the next adventure in this series! Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
December 10 11
Mystery, Crime & Thriller Evil at Heart By Chelsea Cain Minotaur Books, $17.99, 308 pages Serial killer Gretchen Lowell is still at large, and detective Archie Sheridan, who headed up the original Beauty Killer task force and nearly died at Gretchen’s hands, is still recovering from his attempt to capture her. Perhaps more dangerous than Gretchen is the public’s growing fascination with her. As Archie convalesces and ponders Gretchen’s next move, evidence of new slayings turns up in a rest stop bathroom, and reporter Susan Ward resumes her investigation of Gretchen, Archie, and the Beauty Killer’s undiscovered victims. Heartsick and Sweetheart, Chelsea Cain’s previous novels in the series, were both tour-de-force thrillers, and Evil at Heart moves with the same brutality, breakneck pace, and unsettling attention to detail, while simultaneously expanding the history introduced in the earlier books in grim and intriguing ways. Gretchen remains a fascinating and compelling character, and Archie’s story continues to unfold with new depths and revelations. While the series is beginning to falter a bit under the weight of its own mythology, the darkness and thoroughly believable emotion at the heart of the novel carry you through. I don’t know how much longer Cain can continue the arc as it stands, but I’ll definitely keep reading. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
The Bells: A Novel By Richard Harvell Crown, $24.00, 384 pages The Bells, a sprawling and extensive historical first novel by Richard Harvell, incorporates historical detail, as well as musical detail, in a manner that encourages the reader to truly suspend his or her disbelief. Harvell invites the reader to enter the world of Moses Froben, fictional renowned castrato soprano, who came from the most humble and, in some ways, awful of beginnings, survived horrible ordeals at an abbey where he was stripped of his dignity by cruel peers before being stripped of something else by a choirmaster inflamed by his voice and unwilling to lose it to puberty, and manages to have a sincere, albeit doomed, love affair with his one childhood friend, before making a name for himself on the Venetian stage. The book covers the period from Moses’ childhood through adulthood, and allows the readers to follow him in his trials and successes and cheer for the boy as he struggles to achieve his destiny. The son of a deaf Swiss peasant who would ring her town’s church bells to feel the vibrations, Moses’ mother imbued her son with preternatural hearing and a sense of sound. While some aspects of The Bells feel dramatic and a tad contrived, overall it is a beautifully written novel about a different time, and about love, friendship, and human determination. Reviewed by Ashley McCall
Building Cultures of Trust By Martin E. Marty Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $22.99, 192 pages The United States has a deficit of trust. We no longer trust our politicians, businessmen, athletes, or each other. Instead of listening and having conversations with each other, we are shouting and talking right through one another. More concerned with getting our voice heard, instead of listening to what other people have to say. In this book Professor Marty examines the ways that we can go about re-
building trust, by building cultures of trust. Cultures, as he defines them, are groups that you are a part of, whether in the local bridge club or the local fantasy sports club. Each culture, group, has its own ways of trusting each other and by building it from the ground up we can restore trust into this country. An enlightening book, you do not know how bad our issues are until you read this book; he mainly focuses on the scientific/religion divide, that both sides are not listening to each other or even acknowledging that each side has a valid point. Hopefully this book will help heal the divide and restore trust in America. Reviewed by Kevin Winter
12 December 10
Bitter Legacy By H. Terrell Griffin Oceanview Publishing, $25.95, 360 pages Bitter Legacy is W. Terrell Griffin’s latest mystery. The book title refers to black slaves who joined the Seminole Tribe back in the 1800s. One of them seeks Matt Royal’s legal help in establishing title to mineral rights in central Florida. Suddenly Matt and his buddies become prime targets of a series of truly bad guys who are taking orders from someone who wants to make sure the Seminoles don’t succeed. Personally, this is my favorite way to absorb history. Hope was deserting Lester as he tore open Logan’s shirt, exposing a patch of reddened skin that would become a bruise, but no entry wound. Much of the story is spun out by Matt himself in first person. His breezy tone belies the heavy-duty violence that both sides engage in using guns, knives, and hand grenades. The plot wouldn’t be complete without a bit of romance. J. D., the new woman in town, doesn’t hesitate to show her willingness to participate in unraveling the mystery, including a no-holds-barred battle in a sleazy biker bar and romantic assignations with Matt. Griffin knows how to keep the reader on edge and fills this fast-paced mystery with interesting characters, including an albino woman, the token multimillionaire, and plenty of people from the seamier side of the lagoon. Reviewed by Marj Stuart
Velocity By Alan Jacobson Vanguard Press, $25.95, 388 pages This novel comes at the reader with Velocity. This is the third installment in the Karen Vail series. Vail is a forensic artist working for the FBI and trouble always seems to find her. The reader should be warned that this story starts to unfold two thirds of the way through the second book Crush, but Jacobson gives the reader enough of the back story in Velocity so that reading Crush isn’t necessary, but I highly recommend it because Crush is a good read and gives you a good feel for the characters. In Velocity, author Alan Jacobson has Vail looking for her boy friend, Robby Hernandez, who has disappeared while on vacation with Vail in the Napa Valley. Vail finds herself in many situations that force her to buck authority in search of the greater truth about what has happened to Hernandez. Jacobson uses Vail to take the reader on a fastpaced journey through several states and harrowing situations involving the DEA, FBI and Mexican drug cartels. The visions of the scenery along with Jacobson’s brilliant storytelling make this an outstanding read. Jacobson describes in detail the breathtaking scenery and beauty of the Napa Valley. The reader gets good insight into the wine-making business. There are many secrets that unfold throughout the story to keep the reader involved and intrigued. Reviewed by Marc Filippelli
A timely discussion in which the author seeks to make a strong case for the claim that there are objective moral values in a secular world.
NOW At book retailers everywhere
A r c h i v e d p u b l i c a t i o n i s s u e s a t S a n F r a n c i s c o B o o k R e v i e w . c o m /a r c h i v e s
is the season for giving!!!! Weâ€™re here to help pick the best gifts
for the book lovers in your life.
Suggested Gifts for
The Artsy Fartsy Collector Gericault
by Nina AthanassoglouKallmyer Phaidon Press Inc, $69.95, 240 pages, 9780714844008
This new monograph explores the life and works of Theodore Gericault (1791-1824), whose compelling career and legacy continue to captivate audiences, artists, and critics alike. In her comprehensive survey, Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer pays tribute to established Gericault scholarship while reassessing the career of an artist too easily miscast as the archetypal 'tortured soul' of arthistorical Romantic mythology.
by Anne Distel Abbeville Press, $135 400 pages, 9780789210579
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) stands out among the great artists for his willingness to paint pictures that are straightforwardly pretty and charming: he chooses familiar and sympathetic human types as his subjects, and depicts them with an appealing immediacy, using an attractively bright and rosy palette.
Van Gogh in Auvers
by Wouter Van der Veen and Axel Ruger, The Monacelli Press, $75, 304 pages, 9781580933018
In the last seventy days of his life, Vincent van Gogh experienced an unprecedented burst of creativity. He painted at least one canvas per day, often more, and wrote dozens of eloquent, personal letters to family, fellow artists, and friends. For the ďŹ rst time, this volume gathers all that he produced during these last few months and presents it in a day-by-day chronology that reveals his intense focus on the continuing development of his signature artistic method as well as his innermost thoughts and concerns.
by Jane Mayo Roos Phaidon Press, $69.95 208 pages, 9780714841489 This new monograph examines the life and works of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), whose compelling career and legacy continue to captivate audiences, artists and critics alike. As one of the greatest and most prolific sculptors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Rodin transformed sculpture-making and reinvigorated what was considered to be a dying art form. Born into a working-class family, Rodin had little formal education in the fine arts and struggled against poverty throughout his career.
Chess Masterpieces by George Dean, Maxine Brady, and Garry Kasparov Abrams, $65 272 pages, 9780810949232
These remarkable chess sets span civilizations, chronicling the game and its design beginning with the earliest known pieces and coming up to the surprising present. Considering chess through the perspectives of art and history, the engaging text touches upon the influences of local cultures and available materials, as well as the battles, rulers, and political factions that often inspired thematic sets.
by Jonathan Clarkson
Phaidon Press Inc, $69.95 240 pages, 9780714842950
This lavishly illustrated monograph of the great British landscapist John Constable (1776-1837) presents a definitive survey of the painter's life and works. Jonathan Clarkson offers a comprehensive assessment of Constable's oeuvre, from his earliest line drawings to his last masterpieces, including pencil drawings, quick outdoor oil sketches, painstakingly worked studio canvases, and less well-known portraits.
Making the Scene
by Oscar G. Brockett, Margaret Mitchell and Linda Hardberger Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, $85, 377 pages Theatrical scene design is one of the most beautiful, varied, and lively art forms. Yet there are relatively few books on the subject, and almost none for a general audience that combine expansive scholarship with lavish design. Making the Scene offers an unprecedented survey of the evolving context, theory, and practice of scene design from ancient Greek times to the present, coauthored by the world's best-known authority on the subject and enhanced by three hundred full-color illustrations.
Arts and Theater
Art of McSweeney's by McSweeney’s Chronicle Books, $45 264 Pages,
by Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, Ricky Jay, and Noel Daniel TASCHEN, 670 pages, $200
It features hundreds of images, interviews with collaborators such as Chris Ware and Michael Chabon, and dozens of insights into McSweeney's quirky 9780811866231 creative process and the visual experience of reading.
Magic has enchanted humankind for millennia, evoking terror, laughter, shock, and amazement. Once persecuted as heretics and sorcerers, magicians have always been conduits to a parallel universe of limitless possibility whether invoking spirits, reading minds, or inverting the laws of nature by sleight of hand.
by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico The Monacelli Press, $60 352 Pages Concise and informative texts by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico, leading authorities on graphic design, provide invaluable commentary on the artists’ 9780811866231 creative development, design philosophies, sketch booking techniques, and visual influences.
by Michael Uslan, Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith Abrams ComicArts, 208 pages, $24.95
Art + Science Now by Stephen Wilson Thames and Hudson 208 pages, $50
In the twenty-first century, some of the most dynamic works of art are being 9780500238684 produced not in the studio but in the laboratory, where artists probe cultural, philosophical, and social questions connected with cutting-edge scientific and technological research. Their work ranges across disciplines—microbiology, the physical sciences, information technologies, human biology and living systems, kinetics and robotics—and takes in everything from eugenics to climate change to artificial intelligence.
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." - Charles Dickens
The eternal love triangle that has been the cornerstone of Archie comics for almost seven decades is finally untangled in this seven-part story written by Michael Uslan and illustrated by veteran Archie artist Stan Goldberg. The journey begins when Archie finds himself strolling up Memory Lane, and marries the wealthy and cultured Veronica Lodge. Later we see what happens when he strolls down Memory Lane and marries the wholesome, peppy girl next door, Betty Cooper.
Bloom County: The Complete Collection Volume 1 by Berkeley Breathed IDW Publishing, 304 pages, $39.99
This is the strip that brought to the comics pages a unique amalgam of contemporary politics and fantasy, all told with a hilarious humor and wit. 9781600105838 Over the years, favorite characters came to life including Opus, Bill the Cat and Steve Dallas. This collection also contains a series of “Context Pages” sprinkled throughout the volumes, providing perspective for the readers and presenting a variety of real-life events and personalities that were contemporary and topical at the time of original publication.
Prince Valiant: 1939-1940, Vol. 2 by Harold Foster Fantagraphics Books, 112 pages, $29.99
In this second volume, Prince Valiant helps his father reclaim his throne in kingdom of Thule, fights alongside King Arthur, and is made a knight of the Round Table in recompense for his bravery and wit. Bored by the peace he helped to create, Val decides to independently pull together the forces to battle the Huns’ descent on Southern Europe. When Val’s army breaches the Huns’ stronghold, however, he discovers that corruption reigns still further 9781606993484 west in Rome.
These Modern Art Books will make the best stocking stuffers! 36
Book & Wine Pairings Exploring Wine
The Culinary Institute of America's Guide to Wines of the World 9780471770633
PAIR WITH 2003 Roederer Estate Brut Rose Mendocino
Secrets of the Sommeliers How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals 9781580082983
PAIR WITH Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port Madera
The Finest Wines of Bordeaux A Regional Guide to the Best Châteaux and Their Wines 9780520266575 $34.95
PAIR WITH 2007 Ventana Le Mistral Monterey
Matt Kramer On Wine A Matchless Collection of Columns, Essays and Observations by America’s Most Original and Lucid Wine Writer 9781402771649 $19.95
PAIR WITH Old Vine 7 Deadly Zins Lodi
Washington Wines and Wineries The Essential Guide
PAIR WITH 2006 Martin Rays Cabernet Sauvignon Sta. Cruz
Wine Atlas of New Zealand Second Edition
PAIR WITH 2005 1886 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
Reading Between the Wines
Oz Clarke: Grapes and Vines
How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals
A Comprehensive Guide to Varieties and Flavors 9781402777302 $24.95
PAIR WITH Gloria Ferrer Blanc De Noir Sonoma
PAIR WITH 2005 Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay Livermore
Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of your favorite wine and enjoy trips to countless wonderful places contained within the pages of these perfect travel volumes. Planning out your next vacation destination has never been this easy! 9781741792119
Great gifts for the other dudes in your life...
Star Wars Art: Visions $40 9780810995895
The Jedi Path $99.99 9781603800969
The Art of Avatar $29.95 9780810982862
Seven Mozart Librettos
A landmark event in the world of music, Mozart's seven major librettos have finally been translated in verse with a sparkling poetic quality that matches the magnificence of the originals. WW Norton & Co. $50
Fall of Giants With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again. Dutton Adult $36 9780525951650
Wonders of LIFE $29.95 9781603201416
Great Migrations $35 9781426206443
Battle At Sea Wild Wonders of Europe $50 9780810996144
Special features within the book include: graphic and dramatic battle catalogs relating the stories of the men, ships, and organizations behind history's greatest naval 9780756639730 conflicts. DK Adult $40
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead Contains the funniest material from the National Lampoon and sought out stories about the survivors of its first electrifying decade. 9780810988488 Abrams $40
50 Years of the Playboy Bunny Hubble $29.95 9780810989979
The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs $35 9780691137209
Playboy presents the complete official account of the iconic Playboy Bunny coinciding with the Bunny's 50th anniversary. 9780811872263 Chronicle Books $35
Decade presents 500 engaging photographic images, both iconic and idiosyncratic, selected by acclaimed photo editor Aemonn McCabe and arranged in chronological order to tell the story of the first decade in our new millennium. Engaging with debates in photography, while providing a visual record of world events both regional and international, this book provides an extraordinary insight into our recent history - dramatic, nostalgic, intimate and educational by turns.
John Pawson is an architect and designer whose exceptional work combines an essential simplicity with a keen attention to the details of everyday life and human experience. Filled with exquisite photographs and detailed drawings, Plain Space will be the next musthave book for fans of John Pawson and a perfect introduction to his work for anyone interested in the absolute best of contemporary design.
GALEN ROWELL’S SIERRA NEVADA
In this intimate portrait, Jerry Kobalenko shares a series of journeys he has taken around the High Arctic by foot, skis, kayak, and ship that provide a multifaceted view of this most beautiful and most vulnerable part of the Arctic, combining natural history, exploration, and personal experiences gathered during 20 years of Arctic travel.
HOWARD HUANG’S URBAN GIRLS
$75 ARCTIC EDEN
The twentieth century’s most celebrated adventure photographer, Galen Rowell, spent much of his life roaming the world with his camera, chronicling exotic locales on all seven continents. Yet he always returned to the land where he started out, both as an adventurer and a photographer: California’s Sierra Nevada. Indeed, in the two years before his death in a 2002 plane crash, Rowell became increasingly focused on photographing the “Range of Light,” producing some of the strongest images of his career.
Arriving in New York in 1967, Paul McDonough's visual experience became high-octane, as spontaneous aesthetic and the metropolis collided in the improvisational theater of street photography. This first-ever monograph of his powerful work reveals the intimacy in actions and relationships found in the crowded streets of Urbania.
When photographer Howard Huang began shopping his fashion book around New York in 2002 he had no idea he was about to become the master of urban photography. Back then the Taiwanese immigrant thought "urban girls" were just women who lived in the city, explaining, "English is my second language; I was still learning." Nonetheless, when the editor of Black Men magazine asked if he knew how to shoot sexy women he said, "Sure!" and set about staging the magazine’s voluptuous singers, models and actresses in fantasies inspired by his love of comic books and anime. afgfeg
UFO: Albert Watson
One of the world’s most successful photographers, Albert Watson is known for graphic, sculptural images that capture the essence of people, places, and things. His has been a career of unparalleled productivity, ranging from fashion to iconic portraits to reportage. His first book, Cyclops, published in 1994, established him as a leading photographic talent who combined a brilliant vision with extreme technical excellence. UFO—which stands for Unified Fashion Objectives—presents a 40-year retrospective of Watson’s best work, pulled from his vast archive. In its pages, a memorable era of style, beauty, fashion, personality, and power is captured for posterity. UFO is a landmark publishing event from one of the $135.00 world’s greatest photographers.
The Great Castles of New York Metropolitan $29.95 Gardens of China Home Design 100 $60 9781580933032
Next Houses $50 9780810954014
Living with Books $45 9780500515433
KAMI GARCIA & MARGIE STOHL Authors of Beautiful Creatures Series “Our Christmas wish is for all the people we love and admire to be brave enough to follow their dreams.”
Alienology This dazzling book is a field guide to other worlds, from the solar system to the laws of time and space; from the many species and cultures in faraway galaxies to the primitive state of alienology studies here on Earth.
Fantasy Filled with exquisite detail on every page, this is an absorbing and inspiring fantasy experience not to be missed.
The PIXAR Treasures The Pixar Treasures is a scrapbook of instinct and inspiration, experiences readers can touch, and visions that exist only in the imagination.
CHUCK FISCHER Creator of A Christmas Carol Pop-Up “Charles Dickens creates amazing pictures with his prose and what better way to visualize them than in the art of a three-dimensional pop-up book. I hope my book will, to paraphrase Mr. Dickens, “honour the spirit of Christmas and keep it all the year!” A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book features artist Chuck Fischer's richly painted depictions of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, brought to life in intricate pop-up scenes by paper engineer Bruce Foster.
Oh The Places You’ll Go! In celebration of its 20th anniversary, this classic bestseller has been transformed into a popup book by master paper engineer David A. Carter.
Of Thee I Sing
Built To Last
This new book—inspired by Parents will be happy to talk three classic, award-winning to their own children about books—reveals the how and how creative or kind or strong they are and reiterate, why behind some of the most fascinating and enduring as the president does, their structures humankind has place in the American family. ever created. $17.99
STONE OF TYMORA TRILOGY
Young people eager to enter the world of R.A. Salvatore will enjoy this series swashbuckling swordplay, hair’s-breadth escapes and startling plot twists that have enthralled fans across the globe.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations.
2011 Calendar by Auey Santos Just die of cute! 13 adorable babies with witty quotes from the world's best authors, humorists and satirists. A great gift for any new parent, baby enthusiast or someone who prefers having babies on their wall instead of in their house! Photography and Design by Auey Santos of Oakland CA. Her work can be viewed at www.aueysantos.com Calendar is 13.5X19 and printed on #100 premium linen paper. Portions of the profits will be donated to benefit Autism advocacy charities.
Humor-NonFiction In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy By Adam Carolla Crown, $25.00, 256 pages While bragging about his illiteracy and unschooled youth, Adam Corolla has compensated for this deficit in his education by sharpening his insights into the daily absurd behavior of the general public. Political correctness be damned, this comic rips the innards out of the pompous pretensions that are part of the daily make-up. From Girl Scout cookies, peanut allergies, to ethnic stereotypes and political issues, no topic is omitted in this fast reading chronicle of crude, coarse complaints about all the daily hurdles that usually irritate and sometimes infuriate us. This book was dictated orally to a typist, and reads like a series of disconnected thoughts. The discontinuity of themes is somewhat bewildering at times and the repetition of the “F” words and other crass language seems a necessary part of his image and an essential component of his macho temper. While he may be institutionally unschooled, his acumen and apprehension of human frailties is sharply tuned. He is to be admired for his perseverance and grit in achieving his successes. As a spokesperson to a population that appreciates foul-mouthed juvenile humor, he has an appreciative audience in the American public. Reviewed by Aron Row
I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections By Nora Ephron Knopf, $22.95, 160 pages Renowned humorist, journalist, and screenwriter Nora Ephron writes about time’s further erosion on her body as she bewails her failing memory at the fairly young age of 69. She really doesn’t like to grow up, and hasn’t educated herself to the consequences of aging. The tip-of-thetongue phenomenon is activated, names and face recognition fade as she bewails her brain’s damaged memory-retrieval network. Gifted with an A-type personality of a person who has hobnobbed with celebrities and historic personalities since the 1960s, the revelation that her cerebral filing cabinet no longer functions efficiently is reviewed with black humor. This remorse and a n g e r over the consequences of maturing cover the first two essays. The remainder of the book is filled with articles dealing with memories of her family, especially her parents and siblings, and other impressions. Mostly the contents reflect a memoir of incidents that stand out in her memory. Especially fascinating is her entry into the journalistic world at a time when women were rarely deemed worthy to be recognized professionally. Her writing style is light, casual, informal, and sparkles with her inimitable wit and down-to-earth real-
Woodland Style: Ideas and Projects for Bringing Foraged and Found Elements into Your Home By Marlene Hurley Marshall Storey Publishing, $24.95, 160 pages This is a truly creative book on natural foraging and decorating infused with a whole host of quality photographs. From beginning your trek, to choosing what types of plant to use (and which to avoid), how to harvest without “hurting,” and how to utilize these materials in unique and artistic ways, Woodland Style has appeal for anyone with a free weekend and a sturdy pair of sandals. Author Marlene Hurley Marshal knows not to ramble on in her in-
structions, providing succinct and informative paragraphs outlining how to forage and have a great time in the process. The “When to Collect What” page was especially useful for the planning stage of such a trip. After talking about the various uses of flora, Marshall shows her readers successful samples from her own foraging trips. The included photographs picture a wide variety of wreaths, statues, vine-and-branch “huts,” and my personal favorite, the birch porch -an outdoor living area cleverly decked out in birch-bark and boughs, its cathedral ceiling spread with an appealing web of tiny lights. While some of the designs and ideas may be a bit over the top for the average reader, they are nonetheless fun to sift through, and the majority of Marshal’s advice is applicable and purely “green.” Reviewed by Meredith Greene
ism. Resembling a series of daily newspaper columns, the book provides a typical Nora Ephron fast read. Reviewed by Aron Row Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey By John Zeaman Lyons Press, $22.95, 306 pages Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Author John Zeaman takes you on a journey into his real-life experiences of dog-walking. Unlike most of us who perform this chore, John actually derives some wisdom from these daily outings and shares his musings with all of us. As a work-at-home father of two children with busy schedules, the walking of the family pet fell on John’s shoulders and over the years he turned an ordinary chore into something special, even inspirational. Who would have thought a book about the simple task of walking the family dog could be so engaging and inspiring? Zeaman’s style of writing is what truly makes this book so enjoyable. He captures your attention with bits of everyday humor, a touch of wisdom and even some interesting facts about the nature he encounters; all of which will inspire you to take a closer look at life. Along the way, he meets some wonderful walking companions, goes through a bit of a mid-life crisis, and watches his dog grow old. Dog Walks Man will get you to better understand that dog-walking is a lot like fishing, only without the fish. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt
True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World By Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd Knopf, $19.95, 248 pages College grads, or dropouts for that matter, over the age of 50 are bound to recall the ubiquitous little book titled, The Official Preppy Handbook. The handbook was published in 1980 and provided a tongue-incheek survey of the mysterious world of the people who attend private, preparatory schools to ease their way to an Ivy League education. In this follow-up version, there are numerous additions to the material and people covered -President and Mrs. Obama being the most prominent. Yes, Barak and Michelle are bona fide preppies. “So many loafers, so little time.” The rules in the original book were clearly defined, whereas True Prep feels more like a set of guidelines. Maybe it’s just that the world in general is a bit more gray thirty years later? What has not changed is the reverence bestowed by the authors upon the more sacred elements of the preppy lifestyle. Being a preppy takes dedication and a willingness to be out of the mainstream as in resisting the shopping orgies of the 1990s. The book is packed full of charming illustrations and plenty of self-deprecating humor that the co-authors have managed to keep fresh after all these years. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano
Home & Garden Perfect Table Settings: Hundreds of Easy and Elegant Ideas for Napkin Folds and Table Arrangements By Denise Denise Vivaldo Robert Rose, $29.95, 352 pages Home economics not offered at your school? Here’s your chance to catch up on napkin folding techniques, creating party favors, and setting a beautiful buffet table. Add flare to your holiday meals and parties. Denise Vivaldo’s Perfect Table Settings has over 250 color photographs demonstrating the beautiful art of table decorating, flower arranging, and napkin folding. Divided into four parts, you’ll learn how to festively spruce up your home for any oc-
casion. Easy-to-follow instructions will fit any beginning decorator’s needs, while advanced projects will keep advance designers busy. Family and friends will admire your decorating skills when you choose one of 25 theme party table settings for your next event (including Grecian Get-Together, German Feast, Italian Pasta Party, Hawaiian Luau, and Oscar Night). Need an idea for the perfect hostess gift or tips on 21st century etiquette? Follow Vivaldo’s simple tips and entertaining will never be more fun! Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin
T H E B A C K PA G E , w r i t t e n b y p u b l i s h e d a u t h o r s a t S a n F r a n c i s c o B o o k R e v i e w . c o m
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History The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Lincoln: And 44 Other Forgotten Figures in History By Graeme Donald Osprey Publishing, $16.99, 288 pages History is an ever-evolving patchwork tapestry, one that is constantly resewn and patched as new information and old stories alike come to light. In The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Lincoln, Graeme Donald takes the reader behind the scenes of historic turning points big and small, to illustrate strange coincidences, unsung heroes, and dark corners rarely explored in standard texts. We learn about the more altruistic siblings of John Wilkes Booth, Hermann Goring, and Reinhard Heydrich, as well as the man who unintentionally foiled two assassination attempts against Hitler, and the three men who had the misfortune to experience both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. Graeme deftly mixes those deserving of recognition with those who are overrated, painting a picture of past events that is at once more fascinating, more human, and a bit less familiar. The details are rich, the stories compelling, and the characters larger than life. It’s when you start digging into the real minutiae that history comes alive, and Graeme’s book delivers in spades, adding vividness and personality to strange and influential moments in time. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Christmas Days By Derek McCormack House of Anansi Press, $14.95, 296 pages Most of us think we know a lot about Christmas -- trees, carols, candy canes. Christmas Days addresses Christmas traditions, but makes what could be a ho-hum predictable book surprising by uncovering information about holiday traditions you probably never considered: fake snow, cranberries, wrapping paper, toy trains. Who first had the idea? Where did these innovators come from? What were the first advertising campaigns like? “The National Association of Professional Santa Clauses held a convention in 1937. On the agenda was determining what the standard length of a Santa Claus beard should be.” Author Derek McCormack reached back to the 1800s and follows the development
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of some traditions to the 1990s. This pocket-sized book is divided into twenty-four chapters (one for each day of Advent) and includes some wacky illustrations that aren’t what you’ll find in your average Christmas book. First, a confession. I’m from the U.S. If I had been from Canada I suspect I would have loved Christmas Days since it looks at Christmas traditions from a Canadian viewpoint. The towns, businesses and inventors are mainly Canadian and some of the traditions are uniquely Canadian. So at times I felt like the person who didn’t quite get the joke. Despite that, I was still able to enjoy the book since McCormack focused on such oddball details. Congratulations for making it fun to rediscover Christmas. Reviewed by Jodi Webb America the Story of Us: An Illustrated History By Kevin Baker History, $29.95, 415 pages History buffs and coffee table book collectors alike will enjoy this full-color, deluxe history of the United States. Based on the History Channel’s acclaimed series of the same name, America The Story of Us brings to life the story of how the country was developed. What does it mean to be an American? Kevin Baker’s illustrated history helps answer this question. Detailed drawings, maps, photos, charts, and historical documents fill the pages. Each entry’s main idea is highlighted in yellow and serves as conversation starters and summary points for future reference. U.S. history’s pivotal moments are presented in an easy-to-read format, ideal for serious reading or browsing. Important events include: the arrival of the first English settlers, the Revolutionary war, westward expansion, the Gold Rush, both World Wars, the 9/11 attacks, and the election of Barack Obama (who writes a special introduction to the book). Each section is no more than three pages. In addition to high points of American history, controversial issues are addressed as well -- the persecution of Native Americans, the tragedy of slavery, and the struggle for Civil Rights. A great historical read! Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin San Francisco (Postcard History) By Robert W. Bowen Arcadia Publishing, $21.99, 127 pages “The Frisco girl on western shore—a kiss or two she would adore.” So quips a postcard of a Gibson Girl from the Golden Age of Postcards featured in San Francisco. These postcards of the era, beginning with the eas-
ing of postal regulations in 1901, celebrate, document, and commemorate the city, as well as in the history of printing and photography, from early 20th Century views of Market Street where cable cars vie with promenaders and horse-drawn carriages, to a bird’s eye view of the entire city just before the 1906 earthquake and fire killed over 3,000 people and flattened neighborhoods. Photographers of that fateful time caught the homeless standing in bread lines, on streets covered in ash thick as snow. Within the year, travelers were sending news of the quake around the world on these little cards. By 1915, when the city had recovered, postcards advertised the Panama Pacific International Exposition welcoming the world to San Francisco. To the end of World War II, the small cards collected here record the changing face of the city and her most enduring landmarks, from the elegant St. Francis Hotel to the distinctive Hunter-Dulin skyscraper, where Dashiell Hammett’s fictional detective Sam Spade had his office. Reviewed by Zara Raab Battle of the Bulge By Steven Zaloga Osprey Publishing, $25.95, 286 pages December 16, 1945: Hitler’s army, aiming to capture the port of Antwerp and thus rout Allied forces, launched an attack on overextended American defenses in the Ardennes. Badly weakened in forces and supplies, the Wehrmacht assault was halted January 3, as American reinforcements arrived and “Lightning Joe” Collins’ VII Corps rushed heavy armored divisions against the Panzer troops. But the Panzer divisions had managed to open a gap in American lines as far as the Meuse River — the “bulge” – and encircle the critical road junction at Bastogne. It took another month of hard fighting in the snow-covered fields of the Ardennes for the Americans to erase that bulge. Historian Steven Zaloga has collected documentary photographs of troops in the field, officers, tanks and guns, and the inevitable wreckage of war, as well as casualty charts and maps, and an array of helpful reader aids: a detailed chronology, glossary, bibliography, and index. In workmanlike prose, without attempting to convey the terror and excitement of battle, Zaloga analyzes both Allied and German strategies, leadership, squabbles among generals, problems in supplies and terrain, and other factors leading up to and culminating in the
defeat of German forces by the Allies in the decisive Battle of the Bulge. Reviewed by Zara Raab Patton: The Pursuit of Destiny By Agostino von Hassell Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 193 pages Of the authorized biographies and major works about General George Smith Patton Jr., this snapshot bio is by design the most concise. Von Hassell and Brestin refer the reader to other works to cover what they leave out, and thus, focus their attention on the chain of events that exemplify Patton as a true American war hero. A lightning rod of contention even before the spotlight of WWII brought him into international focus, Patton’s steady diet of shoe leather is overshadowed by his shining achievements. A leader by example, endeared to those who served with him, adored by those whom he rescued, respected by his greatest enemies, Patton teaches us that it takes tenacity to overcome personal weaknesses and courage to overcome fear. This little book is an excellent selection for students of military history, particularly those interested in the development of tank warfare. It is a remarkable tribute to Patton that the tactics he initiated are still taught at the training base in southern California that he established. His extensive library on warfare is still maintained at West Point. As von Hassel and Brestin point out, Patton’s legacy endures despite the stain of scandal because he was a soldier’s soldier. When the cavalry was called, it was Patton who led the rescue. Reviewed by Casey Corthron
Read our review of Calaveras Big Trees at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
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Music & Movies Alfred Hitchcock By Bill Krohn Phaidon Press, $9.95, 103 pages He has been given the title of “Master of Suspense,” and with enough credits to back it up, he most certainly deserves it. Alfred Hitchcock, just hearing his name will give some of you the shivers, closing your eyes, shutting out swooping flocks of birds from above. The same name will remind you to periodically peek out from behind the shower curtain before you rinse the shampoo from your hair. He was a brilliant mastermind of revealing just enough
to pique the curiosity, along with summoning the fear, in his watchers. Alfred Hitchcock (Masters of Cinema) reveals the beginnings of his legacy and walks us through his career. Bill Krohn, a critically acclaimed cinema critic, shares odds and ends from Hitchcock’s life, supported by some astonishing photography from his earlier years, as well as from sets of some of his most famous, and less obvious, works: North by Northwest, Spellbound, Notorious, and Strangers on a Train among many more. This book is unique in that it includes storyboards, a short story written by Hitchcock, recollections of those close to him, a chronology, and a filmography. At times, the narrative leaves the reader a little jumbled, so much information in such a slim
South Pacific: Paradise Rewritten By Jim Lovensheimer Oxford University Press, $27.95, 288 pages Broadway musicals are a mirror that take a look at society and recreate on the stage. Two of the must successful creators of musicals were Rodgers and Hammerstein. They created such iconic musicals as The King and I, Oklahoma, and The Sound of Music. What these share in common with South Pacific is that they turn the mirror onto the United States and take a look at gender and race relations in post-World War II America, though at the same time they wanted to
Perusing the book is like looking at a large and sumptuous dessert tray: It is a feast for the eyes that makes the mouth water, but only gives the reader the smallest glimpse of what could be if the countries were sampled directly and fully with all the senses. It serves to whet the appetite for travel, so one longs to try all of the essential experiences, such as “meandering the winding medieval lanes of old Toledo” in Spain or “swimming above the ruins of ancient settlements in Lake Ohrid’s tranquil, translucent waters” in Macedonia. The one drawback to the book is its tiny print. The type in the entire book is probably only 7 or 8 points, which is far too small to read comfortably. Aside from that, The Europe Book is a pleasure to explore. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim
Discover Germany By Andrea Schulte-Peevers, Kerry Christiani, Marc Di Duca, Anthony Haywood, Catherine Le Nevez, Daniel Robinson, Caroline Sieg Lonely Planet, $24.99, 400 pages The bulk of this handbook is separated into chapters that represent the six primary regions of Germany, as well as two dedicated to the cities of Berlin and Munich. There are also sections that cover the country’s top itineraries, best experiences, transportation, general information, and one entitled “Germany in Focus” that describes its history, cuisine,
volume, but the photos and tidbits alone satisfy. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez
Travel The Europe Book By Lonely Planet Lonely Planet, $24.99, 256 pages The Europe Book’s subtitle says it is “a journey through every country on the continent,” and indeed it is. Every country, large or small, well known or less touristfrequented, gets equal treatment. The four to six pages afforded each country include gorgeous color photos and short paragraphs about landscape, history, people, marketplace, trademarks, music, books, film, city life, food, festivals, random facts and “essential experiences.”
Sports & Outdoors NFL Unplugged: The Brutal, Brilliant World of Professional Football By Anthony L. Gargano Wiley, $25.95, 270 pages Anthony Gargano strives to live up to the title of NFL Unplugged, and largely succeeds in telling a bold and action-packed tale of the blood, sweat, and tears behind the games and the athletes we cheer on each football season. He draws his stories from the top to the bottom of the roster, from owners and coaches, to star players, to solid players, all the way down the unknown athletes who may spend their entire NFL career sitting on a bench.
Though they all live, breathe, eat, and sleep football, Gargano gives almost everyone character beyond the game, and humanizes these mighty titans of the turf. Best yet, there is plenty of humor behind the pain and sacrifice, which balances the glamour of stardom. The prose is lively and down-toearth, and Gargano’s own love for the game is apparent. While this may leads to a few spots of bias, by and large, he gives readers a realistic and thought-provoking view of the people behind the helmets. Sports fans will love the book, but casual fans or even non-fans will find much to chew on, and all will find inspiration from the stories, and perhaps, a large dose of appreciation for the men (and women) who push their bodies beyond pain and beyond failure, for the love of football. Reviewed by Angela Tate
Bad Sports By Dave Zirin Scribner, $24.00, 224 pages This book should carry a cautionary notice. Something like, oh, maybe: WARNING! If you are subject to high blood pressure or heart palpitations, read this book in very small doses. Preferably not more than one or two pages at a time. Don’t misunderstand. This is a great book. A much-needed book. It’s just that the contents are so inflammatory, they’ll irritate any sensible person beyond reason. Dave Zirin is a youngish sportswriter
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create a commercial success. In this book Jim Lovensheimer takes a closer look at the themes of South Pacific, how in the earlier drafts they were more critical of racism in America, but they toned it down for audiences. Lovensheimer says South Pacific is more a work in 1949 America, in than it accurately portrays World War II, with its definitions of what is masculine, the proper place for women in society, and racism. This is an excellent read for those who want to go deeper into the story of this iconic musical. Reviewed by Kevin Winter
art, architecture, weather, and people. The entire color-coded manual includes detailed maps, photographs, contact information, planning tools, a glossary, and insights from experts. This new addition to the reputable Lonely Planet series of travel guides is as informative and user-friendly as the others. Handy tips on communication, accommodations, currency, transport and worthwhile sightseeing are interspersed throughout. Clear, crisp images appear precisely where they’re required and beautifully delineate German settings, inhabitants and culture. Intricate transit maps and those that represent the larger portions of this nation are printed too small to view properly, but that’s just a minor quibble in this otherwise comprehensive, educational, and very enjoyable guidebook. Reviewed by Richard Mandrachio
who apparently likes to take on controversial topics, as well as social issues. This book is an eye-opener to anyone who enjoys professional sports and is old enough to remember the days before television became the be-all and end-all of sports. There is little resemblance (as in most things) to the world in general before and after TV, but the chasm is most pronounced in the sporting world. This well-written book is seemingly very well-researched and documented, including annotations and citations for the fifteen chapters, plus Intro and Outro, which all together take up 30 of the 224 pages. The topic that is so incendiary is the way in which a select group of very rich (mostly white) men have purchased professional athletic teams, and then proceeded See BAD, page 24
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Science & Nature The Traveller’s Guide to Planet Earth By Lonely Planet Publications Lonely Planet, $22.99, 344 pages The BBC and Lonely Planet combined forces to release this compendium of special geographic sites. Chapters go by topographical features such as mountains, jungles, deserts, and oceans, thus reflecting the episodic broadcasts. These sections are subdivided into specific attractions and their locations around the globe. On-screen action is described then elaborated upon in terms of actual experience. Historical and scientific observations are included along with annotated travel tips. The text is accompanied by numerous maps and photographs of each individual feature. “To gaze up to the summit of one of Earth’s great mountains is to feel the insignificance of man.” Given the outstanding reputation of both companies, it comes as no surprise that they would produce such an exceptional book as this one. The 6- by 8-inch size makes this paperback compact enough to be portable yet large enough to be reader-friendly. Its lush pictorial format makes it enjoyable and educational, and the general graphic layout is superb. This guide may not provide very detailed information for actual visits, but its general tour and transport suggestions
could come in handy for anyone serious enough to undertake one of these excursions. The Traveller’s Guide to Planet Earth is like a special edition of National Geographic that revels in the majesty of our world’s natural wonders, a volume to cherish for years to come. Reviewed by Richard Mandrachio Art and Nature: Three Centuries of Natural History Art from Around the World By Judith Magee Greystone Books, $45.00, 256 pages The illustrations in this natural history collection of art are breathtaking. This edited assemblage of three centuries of art which covers five continents in five chapters, the Americas, Australasia, Asia, Africa, and Europe displays the techniques along with the personalities of the scientists and artists who sought to record the flora and fauna of the regions that aroused their interest. Selected from the collections of the Library of the Natural History Museum in London, Judy Magee presents a magnificent album of some of the finest art in nature. Included in the Americas are the awesome plates of Catesby, Bates, Audubon, Humboldt and others. Exotic plants, natives and animals make up the painting of Australasia, while Asia holds a tropical vision of its alluring surrealistic life forms. The John Reeves collection of plants and an-
imals is mesmerizing. Finally Europe where artists sought to earn a living from drawing nature and scientists sought to capture nature’s magic produced such artists as the renowned Ernst Haeckel along with names such as Ehret, Fitch and others. The illustrations are woven within a wonderful historical tapestry describing the times, cultures, economies, and constraints on the artist. For those who treasure natural science and art, this is an exemplar edition. What motivated these artists, collectors, and travelers to risk their lives and future livelihood in search of the unknown. Reviewed by Aron Row The Short Range Anti-Gravitational Force and The Hierarchichally Stratified Space-Time Geometry in 12 Dimensions By Christina Anne Knight Xlibris, $15.99, 146 pages Short Range Anti-Gravitational Force is a fascinating book describing the universe as a twelve-dimensional structure. That structure allows for a number of solutions to a wide variety of mysteries in physics. With the universe described in twelve dimensions, and then sub-divided into three strata, it allows for a variety of phenomena that current physics has a problem even describing. For example, it allows for matter and anti-matter to be in
Business & Investing Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now By David Meerman Scott Wiley, $24.95, 256 pages The days of taking hours — or even days — to respond to queries from the media are gone. As are the days of snubbing non-mainstream media outlets. The power is in the hands of individuals now and content can go viral instantly. In order to remain relevant today, businesses must be willing to change their traditional practices. If they don’t, their sluggishness in responding could unwittingly earn them the reputation
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of being secretive and haughty. On the contrary, proactive businesses that are prowling the real-time Web for information that could affect their customers are positioned to take action immediately, which could result in unexpected, windfall-like opportunities. Here, Scott teaches the reader to influence news as it is breaking, use new media during crisis communication, use the input of the masses to achieve buy-in with a new product, and build a organizational culture around speed. A wealth of case studies brings life to Scott’s concepts and shows their range of applications. Particularly interesting are Scott’s innovative uses of social media in customer service departments. This book is a must-read for small business owners and those in the fields of public relations and marketing. The book makes an excellent pair with Scott’s The New Rules of PR and Marketing. Reviewed by Megan Just
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose By Tony Hsieh Grand Central Publishing, $23.99, 253 pages Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is written by Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay), CEO of Zappos. com Inc. His story begins by endearing the reader to who Tony Hsieh is, decisions he made along his life’s path, and how he got to where he is now as a self-made, successful businessman. It ends with sound, commonsense advice with business seminarstyle training and education. Hsieh takes you on a step-by-step tour through his successes and failures to convey the ebb-and-flow challenges of starting and running a successful start-up
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the same universe, albeit separated by a few dimensions. It is written in a way that requires minimal physics background, making it a great read for someone who at least keeps up a little bit, maybe watching some shows on the Learning Channel. Although most of the terms are described in the context of the book, a number of them require at least some basic background in physics. This should not detract from the book, by any stretch; there are a lot of fascinating topics, and the discussions of the applications makes for some great reading. The concept has a number of interesting applications to a wide variety of issues in physics, and those applications allow for some of the natural behaviors that puzzle physicists today. Allowing for the topics discussed, Knight keeps it conversational. Even when she goes off on a tangent for a moment, she usually comes back to the topic. Although there are some occasional issues with wandering here and there, overall it is a great book. For someone looking for a focused book, it may be lacking, as the tangents do get a little distracting, but it can be interesting to someone who is looking for a refresh on physics. Overall, Short Range Anti-Gravitational Force is a great book for anyone interested in physics. Sponsored Review BAD, cont’d from page 23 to blackmail, bribe or otherwise coerce the taxpayers of their respective communities into funding huge stadiums or arenas under threat of moving the team somewhere with more cooperative taxpayers (read= suckers!). In the meantime, of course, prices for everything have escalated beyond inflation. Tried to buy a ticket, a beer or parking at a sporting event lately? Hah! Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz company. His humorous, witty, satirical antidotes allow the reader to take a peek into the dynamics of his company’s culture with actual emails, blogs and employee comments on working at Zappos. Corporate lingo is minimally used; when it does appear, Hsieh rightly defines the meanings as if you were sitting down with him enjoying a cup of coffee and just picking his brain about his experiences. He gives business strategies for thinking outside the box, trying new, yet at times risky, tactics to get the results he envisions. Delivering Happiness is one of the best business strategy books written in a long while. Hsieh inspires drive without pretense or unattainable grandeur. Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson
Current Events My Nuclear Family: A Coming-of-Age in America’s Twenty-first-Century Military By Christopher Brownfield Knopf, $26.95, 314 pages From the first chapter of My Nuclear Family, it is clear that former Navy Lieutenant Christopher Brownfield’s memoir is set in a military that is vastly different than the one we see portrayed in the news and movies. With a theme that centers around energy, Brownfield takes readers inside the USS Hartford for a rare glimpse of the life aboard a nuclear submarine, and then on to Baghdad, where he served on a civil-military affairs team focusing on electricity and oil. Brownfield’s background as an English major and his sharp eye for detail have produced an engrossing memoir that is as well-written as it is humorously entertaining. This young, talented former submariner who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is gives the reader a complete view of the modern Navy by sharing everything from the subtleties of the mundane (the grueling boredom of standing watch) to the moments of tragedy (the 2003 grounding of Brownfield’s submarine) and triumph (helping an Iraqi artist share his paintings of war with Americans). Along with his personal experiences, Brownfield adds his research on topics such as dependence on oil and the history of the Navy’s nuclear submarine force. Also interesting are Brownfield’s accounts of his interactions with politicians while in the Green Zone, including a dinner with Sena-
tor Lindsey Graham, a feast at the home of Dr. Ahmed Chalabi, and his response to an inquiry from Senator Barack Obama. Reviewed by Megan Just Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice By Mark R. Warren Oxford University Press, $24.95, 297 pages Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice by Mark R. Warren is an academic, thoughtful study of fifty white activists. Warren searches for the answer to: How do people who are not themselves victims of discrimination come to develop a commitment to act for racial justice? While whites have been fighting against racial injustice in the U.S. for a long time, Warren writes, rarely are their efforts or means studied. Especially since, as Warren indicates, such whites are often mistrusted by both their own race and the race they are fighting for. While some called the time after President Obama’s election post-racial, Fire in the Heart is realistic in understanding that racial injustice continues, but Warren’s book searches for a way to combat it. In eight chapters, Warren weaves together the stories and shines the light on how these activists started along their path against racial injustice and created a more purposeful life. Warren then moves through their commitments to act, their collaboration with whites and then multiracial collaboration. Before his conclusion, Warren spends a chapter looking at the new identities within multira-
Parenting & Families Twenty-first Century Motherhood By Andrea O’Reilly Columbia University Press, $32.50, 398 pages The collection of essays, Twenty-first Century Motherhood: Experience, Identity, Policy, Agency impresses on the reader the expansiveness of the scholarly research into motherhood. Tapping into the legitimacy of the discipline which Editor Andrea O’Reilly has helped put onto the academic map, O’Reilly organizes the collection to examine four distinct themes of motherhood. First approaching the theme of experience of mothering, O’Reilly includes essays about
mothering as a Chicana, a Muslim, and other shifts in the maternal experience in this century. The section about identity follows with essays formulating the representations of motherhood in literature and film. One essay in this section looks at the role of the male caregiver and another at the role of reproduction. The third theme, policy, looks at the effects of governmental, health, work or medical procedures on modern mothers. Some of the topics touched upon in this section include cross-racial surrogacy, breastfeeding and work policies, and college access. Essays in the agency section examine the motherhood movement and the power of mothers. With a view to the impact of the Internet and internationalism on the role of mothers, O’Reilly highlights how mothers have become or are becoming empowered. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey
cial communities. A list of the activists and organizations concludes the book. Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey Spellbound: Inside West Africa’s Witch Camps By Karen Palmer Free Press, $25.00, 256 pages In Ghana, women are accused of practicing witchcraft in startling numbers and the only thing that decides their fate are the death throes of a dying chicken. When a woman is suspected of being a witch, the village chief slits a chicken’s throat to determine her destiny. She’s innocent if the animal dies on its back. If it dies beak down, she’s guilty and is banished to one of 3,000 isolated witch camps. In Karen Palmer’s Spellbound: Inside West Africa’s Witch Camps, readers are taken on a journey inside the workings of a country whose belief in witchcraft affects the lives of women who don’t fit into the cultural definition of an African woman. Palmer spent three years in Ghana and lived in the witch camps. Along with her cultural analysis, Palmer’s interviews present a picture of a country where women are denied the basic human right to a fair trial. You’ll be spellbound as Palmer weaves her narrative, combining Ghana’s history with true stories of accused women to show how Africa’s belief in witchcraft has such a strong hold on its people. Best nonfiction read of 2010! Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11 By Anthony DePalma FT Press, $25.99, 324 Pages Nearly a decade after the attack that brought down the twin towers, emotions still run high and the effects are still felt. Without over striking, Depalma disturbs the latent dust that has settled in the aftermath, carrying us through the debris with those who breathed in the foul air declared “safe” by the governments’ highest authority on the subject, the Environmental Protection Agency. In his seasoned style, Depalma paints the politically charged atmosphere of September 11, 2001, not merely describing the events and reactions, but explaining the motives for the decisions made in the high octane seconds that would resonate for years. Our nation’s desire to ap-
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pear undaunted by the blow in the face of our enemies, blinded us. As with the government’s denials about Agent Orange from another era, Depalma tracks the bureaucratic trail from apathy to resistance, along with the straggling grifters who mingle their claims with the real heroes in the hope of mooching a pinch of the allotment. In a narrative to rival any legal thriller, Depalma presents both sides of the hottest law suit in the country, 10,000 plaintiffs versus the city of New York, while following the money haggling legislation at its flanks. You will hang on with every page to its surprise conclusion. Reviewed by Casey Corthron The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons By Rhodes, Richard Knopf, $27.95, 384 pages Ever since the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the specter of nuclear annihilation has hung over the world like a suffocating gray curtain. Nuclear weapons changed the landscape of war forever, influencing global policies and spawning new alliances and rivalries. The Twilight of the Bombs is the concluding chapter in Richard Rhodes’s effort to catalogue and understand the impact of nuclear weaponry throughout history. “Nuclear weapons operate beyond good and evil. They destroy without discrimination or mercy: whether one lives or dies in their operation is entirely a question of distance from ground zero.” Focusing on the end of the Cold War and the years that followed, Rhodes takes us through the aborted August coup against Gorbachov, the collapse and fracturing of the Soviet Union, the SDI and NMD antinuke debacles, the tragedies of September 11th, and two mismanaged wars in Iraq, all examined through the radiation-tinted lens of nuclear weapon involvement. Through arms races and attempts at disarmament, treaties and flare-ups by rogue states, the bombs have always been out there, looming, and polarizing in their very existence. And the result of his exhaustive research is a read as fascinating as it is terrifying. Lavish in its detail, peppered throughout with direct quotes and exacting momentby-moment breakdowns of these crucial events in recent history, The Twilight of the Bombs isn’t simply an important work... it’s a must-read. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
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Local Calendar Author Appearance – Fen Montaigne, “Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica ” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Hazel Rowley, “Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Cookbook Author Appearance – Elisabeth Antoine Crawford, “Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey Through Northeastern Italy” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco Author Appearance – Arlie Hochschild, “Global Woman, nannies, maids and sex workers in the new economy” 7:00–8:00pm Revolution Books - 2425 Channing Way Berkeley, 94704 Author Appearance – Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz, “The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel and the Ordeals of Divine Election” 7:00–8:00pm Marin Jewish Community Center - San Rafael
Author Appearance – Karen Burrell, “The Spirit Within, Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages” 12:00–4:00pm Bent Creek Winery - Livermore Author Appearance – John Addiego, “The Tears of the Mountain” 4:005:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Karen Burrell, “The Spirit Within, Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages” 5:00–8:30pm Little Valley Winery Tasting Room Pleasanton
Author Appearance – Karen Burrell, “The Spirit Within, Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages” 12:00–5:00pm Rodrique Molyneaux Winery - Livermore Author Appearance – Kate Morton, “The Distant Hours” 2:00– 3:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Richard A. Muller, “The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide” 4:00–5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance – Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio, “What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance – Christian Lander, “Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews” 7:30–8:30pm Pegasus Books Downtown - 2349 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
Author Appearance – Edmund Morris, “Colonel Roosevelt” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance – Andrew Lam, “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
Author Appearance – Thomas Larson, “The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
10 Author Appearance – Nina
Lesowitz, “The Courage Companion: How to Live Life with True Power” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance – Wendell Potter, “Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
12 Author Appearance – Karen
Burrell, “The Spirit Within, Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages” 2:00–3:00pm Livermore Public Library - Livermore
14 Author Appearance – Karen
Burrell, “The Spirit Within, Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages” 6:30–7:30pm Castro Valley, CA Public Library - Castro Valley
18 Author Appearance – Karen
Burrell, “The Spirit Within, Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages” 2:00–3:00pm Dublin Public Library - Dublin
Are you a
BOOKSTORE hosting author events? Make sure we know about it! Send your events to: calendar@ sanfranciscobook review.com
that it took him years to even touch, then grasp with intense desire. Then, some pivotal points: buying his first rock and roll song, “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard” and an early exposure to “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley, struggling to hear it and other wondrous music like it on his cheap, tiny radio in bed at night, feverishly twisting the antenna to get a clear signal from Radio Luxembourg. The story of hooking up with Mike “Mick” Jagger and the equally driven Brian Jones is now chiseled into music lore. But the early Stones considered themselves “unpaid promoters” of the Chicago blues, turning people on to Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and Jimmy Reed. Keith considers one of the greatest contributions of the Stones is turning the American people on to the blues, their own indigenous music. The music lover and the musician will be enthralled with this book. It’s a dirty little pleasure to be the proverbial fly on the wall as music icons, media personalities, derelicts, thieves, addicts, groupies and more weave their way through Keith’s particular lens. But be prepared for his harrowing tales of hard drugs use with the wretched horrors of heroin addiction. It is with razor-like honesty that only Keith Richards can paint with a survivor’s brush. Is it all true? Maybe that depends if you believe that the Devil really came a-knockin’ on Robert Johnson’s door and he said, “Hello, Satan, I believe it’s time to go. Reviewed by Larry LeFrancis
V i e w p o i n t s
LIFE, cont’d from page 1
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G o t o S a n F r a n c i s c o B o o k R e v i e w . c o m /c a l e n d a r f o r a u t h o r e v e n t s
Crafts & Hobbies Stitch ‘n Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics By Debbie Stoller Workman, $17.95, 356 pages A yarn-phobe from early days of awful holiday knitted gifts, I converted to a knitting devotee after my grandmother’s failed attempts at teaching finally took hold when she gave (threw) me the original Stitch ‘N Bitch. Something clicked and I was hooked. (For more hooking, see Stoller’s other book The Happy Hooker.) Stoller’s latest edition is packed with hip patterns and easy to follow directions, containing over 41 patterns and ways to freshen up your stitches with lace, beads, cables, colorwork, and instructions on making your own patterns, complete with familiar Stitch ‘N Bitch tongue-in-cheek humor. According to Stoller, knitting helps connect us. It’s easy to chat with friends and family while knitting, or just have a good time and keep one’s hands occupied. In a tech-crazy world, getting back to the basics can feel invaluable. But knit one, purl two gets old. This is for those knitters who’ve taken Knitting 101, and have graduated to Master’s work in the yarn arts. It’s a book designed for those who aren’t advanced knitters, but who’d like to be. The next project for this wanna-be-advanced knitter? Something in the baby category for my best friend and baby. Reviewed by Axie Barclay
A Homemade Christmas: Creative Ideas for an Earth-Friendly, Frugal, Festive Holiday By Tina Barseghian Harlequin, $14.95, 128 pages The subtitle of this book is Creative Ideas for an Earth-Friendly, Frugal, Festive Holiday and it marginally delivers on these claims. Divided into five sections (Greeting, Trimming, Cooking, Giving, and Celebrating), this illustrated handbook was apparently penned for the purpose of getting folks to “slow down” and enjoy their winter holiday in a more relaxed, “green,” and less-materialistic fashion by hand making cards, garlands, cookies, and gifts. After reading it, I am convinced that the author’s intent was heartfelt, but ninety percent of the tips contained in the pages were ideas I’d heard before. Indeed it could all be gleaned with a rather quick series of Internet searches, such as making your own wreaths, infusing olive oil or decorating with branches. These searches would save you the book’s rather steep cost of $15. I was also surprised by the book’s lack of emphasis on the “green” and Earth-friendly ideas mentioned in the subtitle. Buying paper items is mentioned often, but the author does not recommend buying recycled paper, and
there are far more purchased items than hand-crafted ones. That being said, the remaining ten percent of the book did harbor a few creative ideas and tips that I’d not thought of (or heard of) before, such as making your own drip-free candles for a fraction of the cost of buying them. This book may be useful to folks who have never celebrated Christmas before, nor ever embarked on a craft project in elementary school. Reviewed by Meredith Greene Crafting a Meaningful Home: 27 DIY Projects to Tell Stories, Hold Memories, and Celebrate Family Heritage By Meg Mateo Ilasco STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book, $24.95, 160 pages The things we surround ourselves with in our homes are things that speak to our hearts, our memories, on a deeply personal level. They’re there to make us feel good. They’re also a statement to anyone we welcome in our private spaces about who we are. Crafting a Meaningful Home is a rich book full of unique projects with well written, step-by-step instructions to create items to adorn your home. Each project is an inspiring springboard to motivate a crafter to create something that shares memories, histories, and cultures with our guests. Each project teaches a different craft technique and even the novice crafter can follow the well-presented directions with great success and accomplishment.
The projects themselves are as varied as the artists who contributed, and each chapter begins with a little introduction to the artist and the inspiration behind the particular piece. Each project invites the reader to jump in, get your hands dirty, to draw upon the things that reflect who you are, where you’re from, your family, your fount of inspiration. Crafts include a hook rug, decoupaged plates, a collage, luminarias, even a family crest. Crafting a Meaningful Home invites the reader to create something as unique and special as they are – an individual work of art, forged in family tradition, heritage and kinship. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin
Read our review of Handy Dad at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
Technology Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World By David Easley and Jon Kleinberg Cambridge University Press, $50.00, 727 pages Understanding how networks, crowds, and markets work is becoming increasingly important, not only for computer scientists and game theorists but also for economists, and people who want to understand how we are connected to each other in large groups. This book is a text for undergraduate students, mainly in the fields of computer science and economics. It explores our highly connected world and provides different ways to look at it, from maps of interconnectivity to playing games. The authors do an excellent job explain-
ing key concepts throughout the book. The math gets no harder than pre-calculus until you get into the more advanced material. The book builds upon itself; it starts off simple and easy, and then starts layering different concepts on top of each other. This is what a good textbook is supposed to do, build upon itself. An excellent resource for students in this growing field of study. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Powering the Future: New Energy Technologies (Worlds of Wonder) By Eva Thaddeus University of New Mexico Press, $24.95, 125 pages How are we going to power are homes, run our vehicles, and live the life that we want? These are important questions to ask, as we move away from a coal- and gas-
based energy system. We know that coal and gas pollute the environment and that there is less and less gas and coal left in the world. In this short book, written for middle school students, Eva Thaddeus looks at new energy technologies that do not pollute the atmosphere and that are renewable, from solar and wind, to geothermal and biomass. The future of energy is changing and will change during the lifetimes of these young students. There will be careers and jobs in these fields. Easy to understand and insightful, Thaddeus does not use too many large words, and when she does, she provides definitions. The focus of the book is on the state of New Mexico, but the technologies she talks about can work anywhere. Reviewed by Kevin Winter
S a n Fr a nc i s coB o ok R e v ie w.com
Read our review of My New iPad: A User’s Guide at SanFranciscoBookReview.com
December 10 27
Popular Culture Truly, Madly, Deadly By Becca Wilcott ECW Press, $17.95, 300 pages Truly, Madly, Deadly is a guide to the HBO hit series, True Blood. Based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, True Blood follows Bon Temps telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse, as she dives head-first into the paranormal world of vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night. This companion contains what most would expect from such a book. There’s a episode-by-episode guide for the first two seasons of the show that takes you deeper into the story. Character biographies, cast members, interviews, and a section on Charlaine Harris are also included, giving you more tidbits into the True Blood world. The most amazing part for me, however, has nothing to do with the show but more so the whole vampire phenomenon that has taken over the world--including folklore, discussions of vampires being sexual predators, and a look into the alternative lifestyle of actually living like a real vampire.
For any fan of True Blood or just vampire fans who are curious, this is a wonderful guide to add to your collection. Reviewed by Missy Wadkins Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter By Bissell, Tom Pantheon, $22.95, 240 pages I once spent an anniversary with a (nowex) boyfriend sitting in the office reading while he got through “just one more level” of Kingdom Hearts. I’ve also lost too many friends to the terrible and addictive drug known on the street at “WoW.” And yet I’m no different from these people. I’ve logged more hours playing Lego Harry Potter than studying for any exam I’ve ever taken. Even the really important ones. I’ll grant you my gaming experience just barely includes the controversial, often ultra-violent stuff like the Halo and Grand Theft Auto franchises, but my point is that I can relate, however tenuously, to the experiences Tom Bissell reports on in Extra Lives. Bissell’s addiction is serious, though.
Reference How to Shop for Free By Kathey Spencer & Samantha Rose Lifelong Books, $14.95, 226 pages Every woman I know would love to find the secret of shopping for free. To get anything you want and pay nothing is a dream come true! In How to Shop for Free author Kathy Spencer shares this “secret”. Too bad she spent 90% of the book plugging her personal website and giving tips no average person has time to follow. Spencer’s secret is coupons! She blathers on about coupon combinations and how important it is to get 20 of the same coupon so you can “stack” them. Once you have obtained 20 of said coupon you must file them away in a three-drawer filing cabinet, organized by date, time, when the coupon expires, etc. Spencer IS the crazy coupon lady you see at your local store. Her techniques make sense and I am all for using coupons to get a good deal, but this is ridiculous. If you have free time on your hands to cut coupons, and then go to 10 different stores to compare prices, and then buy 40 tubes of toothpaste at one time (she
28 December 10
really does that) then this book is for you! For the rest of us, unless you have a coupon for this book, it’s not worth it. Reviewed by Nicole Will Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks By Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley Langdon Street Press, $14.95, 94 pages Given my cynical nature, I was intrigued by the claim implicit in Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley’s Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks. Having read their book, I believe that most individuals will not complete a book within seven weeks. However, I believe their method is plausible. Furthermore, even if the reader doesn’t finish in the allotted time, the writing advice in this book is sound and, if followed, could lead to a publishable manuscript. Redmond and McKerley propose that those who want to use their method free up fifteen hours per week for the writing pro-
While you and I were watching Barack Obama win his historic Presidential election in November 2008, Bissell was playing Fallout 3. And yet in Extra Lives he manages to make a convincing argument for the relevance of video games, even when that argument basically boils down to “they’re relevant because we say they are.” Whether we like it or not, first-person shooters, RPGs, sims, and platforms are here to stay, so it wouldn’t hurt to educate yourself on this digital new world. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell Reality Matters By Anna David It Books, $14.99, 182 pages One writer measures himself against the Jersey Shore rubric of acceptability, while another explains how American Idol led to his new tattoo. A third ponders where the sweet girl from Married by America ended up, while others reminisce about their brief experiences on reality TV, the time they tried out for The Real World, or how they wish What Not to Wear would revolutionize their ward-
cess. From there, they outline a seven-week process which covers researching, plotting, writing, marketing and revising. While these authors suggest that nonfiction has a greater chance of publication, they address all forms of children’s literature, with the exception of rhyming or ABC books. I do not believe that most people will set aside fifteen hours per week for writing. However, if they did, I believe that Redmond and McKerley’s method would work. For those less concerned about time, this book affords an excellent introduction into the genre of children’s literature and the process to publication. Reviewed by Annie Peters The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction By Philip Athans Adams Media, $14.95, 244 pages Have you ever read a well-told epic fantasy or science fiction novel and thought to yourself, “I want to write something like that”? The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction will make that possible. Author Philip Athans narrates his work for an audience from that perspective: the initial desire to write a fantasy or science fiction novel and nothing else. He gently breaks down the different categories and
robe. All are unified by one simple thing: the impact reality shows have had on their lives. A collection of essays orbiting the curious planet known as reality television, Anna David’s Reality Matters runs the gamut from open hostility to devoted worship as a handful of writers each fixate on one particular show. Whether it’s the dubious reality of The Hills, or the propriety of celebrating extravagance with The Real Housewives of New York City, the influence of reality television on us is undeniable. But Reality Matters is well aware of the ridiculousness of its idolatry, and seems to take a certain perverse pleasure in walking the tightrope between praise and denigration. After all, could you find a better person to write an introduction about the gray area between reality and fiction than James Frey without tongue being firmly planted in cheek? That spirit also pervades the highlight of the book, Neil Strauss’ hilarious closer featuring an imaginary pitch meeting with reality show mogul Mark Burnett, wherein he pitches show ideas such as Megan Fox Gets Married and Project Runaway. Reality Matters is as varied and eclectic as the genre it examines, but love those shows or hate them, you’ll find something here to entertain you. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
subgenres of fantasy and science fiction, explaining the distinctions and mechanics of writing this type of novel in sagaciously simple vernacular that even the most tried low-attentionspanned individual can handle. This book is not about writing in general, such as sentence structure, proper grammar or punctuation. It is about the world of writing with imagination and asking the what-if questions of ourselves manipulating reality. Athans takes a story idea and shapes it into a novel as an example and exercise used to illustrate his points. Introduction and original story written by author R.A. Salvatore, Athans solicits the guidance from other well-known fantasy and science fiction writers as well. The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction is definitely a must-have implement in this type of writer’s tool chest. Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson
e R e a d e r C o m p a r i s o n C h a r t a t S a n F r a n c i s c o B o o k R e v i e w . c o m /e R e a d e r s
A don’t-miss read! n ed . . . I n te ll i g e n t . . . ree fili ev a b l e . re m a r k a b l y b
Bruce Wayne guides his readers on a voyage through a legendary poetic expedition.
s t f
Searching for the right life partner can be challenging and traumatic. Finding Your Soul Mate reveals the journey we are all on, experiencing life with a loving God leading us to fullness so that we can love and be loved. Tatyana Noel’s heartwarming biographical story transforms the reader bringing life and light to our human frailties.
Available on Amazon, Xlibris, findingyoursoulmatebook.com facebook.com/TatyanaNT
Senior Inspector Gerard de Rochenoir of the elite French National Police is attempting to solve two daring jewelry robberies in the heart of Paris when one of the victims turns up murdered. Gerard's investigation takes him to the glamorous Caribbean island of St. Barth, where he crosses paths with Sofia Mostov, a striking jeweler with a mysterious past and a possible link to the crimes. The mystery begins to unravel and leads Gerard around the world and straight to another murder.
“This collection of verse is an endeavor indeed!”
San Francisco Book Review
An operatic rhapsody consisting of fifty ‘Marbles of Pearl’ that were extracted over the course of twenty years from Royal Treasuries throughout the Pantheon of Mythology for readers’ pleasure. ISBN 9781453527665 | sagittariot.com
Take a jour�ey to self awareness where the answers to living without wor�ies, fears and obligations reside. Humans always look for happiness through spiritual channels in hope of finding the answer to living in peace and contentment, often not understanding why they do what they do.
ebook $9.99 soft cover $19.99 hard cover $29.99
Available at: samijarroush.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris
A lesson in life worthy for all to learn.
A true story about a boy placed
in a Roman Catholic Boarding School in England during World War II.
Born when Fascism was very well established, author Dr. Nicholas La Bianca superbly pens down a recollection of the early years of his rich and colorful life in his unforgettable, stirring memoir.
Available at Xlibris, Barnes & Noble and Amazon To learn more about this book and the author, visit drnicklabs.com
Discover how the story ends!
www.thepenancewalk.com Most of the people go through life trying to cope with the immediate physical needs that the everyday life presents and very rarely try to explain to themselves in a rational way the reason for being on this earth. Religion, for the most of them, answers all the questions that may come to their mind, and each one comes up with a personal explanation for them. Because different religions usually have different answers, many try to find out in a rational way what are the correct answers and how people should live in order to better fulfill their destiny as human beings. This book tries to raise some of these questions and tries to bring forth feasible solutions to allow all people to strive for the common good.
History of a Dark Matter World Immerse yourself in a believable, full-bodied civilization and a complex story of fate, political schemes, death, and science in Edward J. Fisher's Lands of In-KO-8 Trilogy.
“A refreshingly thought-provoking look at our nation and humanity from a bird’s-eye point of view without judgment or classiﬁcation.”
watch the video trailer http://bit.ly/fKZ7JX
A v a i l a b l e n o w! I S B N 9 7 8 145 3 5 19 6 0 8
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On Sale Now! ISBN 9781436372299
A world of poetic fantasy and enchantment for children of every age in this series of
whimsical fairy tales and poems. This colorful new anthology of inspiring musings by Skies is based on the cartoon series Polyphony - Be You And Accept Me Too!, winner of the 2010 Gold Pixie Award for animation.
Reader’s Favorite-2010 Moonbeam Award-2009
Available at: skyethetroll.com | Amazon.com
For more information on this and other books by Dr. La Bianca, go to:
The Book About Tony Chestnut
John Lehman, BookReview.com March 2009 Young Adult Fiction Book of the Month
Deeeelightful. What a good book. The characters are well drawn and interesting, the plot is compelling and the story moves. Such good work. Well thought out and clever. Bravo!!!! "Reminiscent of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events... heavy on tweeny charm."
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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble ISBN: 978-0981587905
Healthy Music For a Child’s Heart, Body and Mind!
"Must Read!..The story idea, ingenious, and the writing is laugh-out-loud hilarious..."
$16.99 ISBN 978-1452817194
Heavy discipline meted out by the Teaching Order of Priests and the bullying was almost unbearable. John was gradually befriended by one of the priests owing to the priest’s physical attraction towards him. He was initially pleased to have the attention of a sensitive father figure, as his own father had died before the war. When invited to stay during a summer school holiday at the Order’s Novitiate College, the relationship came to a climax when the sexual advances by the priest increased and became intolerable. The boy felt a strong urge to go to Confession, but whom could he trust? With a developing stoicism, he was determined to stop the sexual part of their relationship and eventually taught the priest a lesson he would never forget.
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Cooking, Food & Wine Culinary Ephemera: An Illustrated History By William Woys Weaver University of California Press, $39.95, 299 pages “Ephemera are printed materials that were never intended to be kept for any length of time.” For many of us this introductory definition is useful, having only a vague notion of what ephemera are. This historic study deals entirely with ephemera related to food and cooking. The study is scholarly and obviously is the result of extended research, yet the language is not academic; it is easily understood by anyone interested in the subject. The writing is good; the text reads easily. The study is based on university and public library research, as well as various historic collections. The book is predominantly detailed descriptions and explanations of 352 culinary ephemera, each illustrated by a very good color or monochrome photograph. This very specialized book is not for everyone — it was written for those interested in these ephemera or collectors of them. For them, this book is a must. It is a good read and an excellent reference book. The text is divided into eighteen distinct chapters listing ephemera in various categories, such as postcards, handbills, menus, wrappers and so on. The index is thorough. This medium-sized book is produced on heavy, glossy paper stock with excellent layout. Reviewed by George Erdosh The Food Stylist’s Handbook By Denise Vivaldo Gibbs Smith, $50.00, 264 pages In this weighty manual by Denise Vivaldo, longtime Los Angeles food stylist and food -styling business owner, aims to educate prospective food stylists about the industry. The book mostly focuses on the business aspects of the industry, such as what is expected at a styling job for a magazine image versus a television cooking show. Vivaldo teaches readers how to write a press release, business plan, and contract of work. One hundred pages of the book do contain food-styling instructions. Bacon, for example, should be arranged across a wire rack or weaved on a wooden skewer before cooking to achieve a crispy, curled look. Salads should be arranged leaf by leaf. Make coffee appear hot by spooning detergent bubbles into the cup, and always make
30 December 10
your own “ice cream” with a recipe of shortening, powered sugar, and corn starch. Although the styling section is interesting, the tricks used to make a food look appetizing are useless if the stylist does not know how to prepare the food item in the first place. Therefore, this book is best for a person who is already has a high competency in culinary arts. Reviewed by Megan Just Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages By Stanley Marianski Bookmagic, LLC, $26.95, 686 pages Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages, by Stanley and Adam Marianski, is the definitive, complete reference guide on the subject, sort of a Bible for carnivores. The great thing about this hefty book is that it not only offers recipes, but is designed to educate the reader about meat technology and the actual process of sausage making at home. Intended to “bridge the gap that exists between highly technical textbooks and the requirement of the typical hobbyist, the book’s main saving grace is that it doesn’t contain a lot of jargon that needs decoding, it also provides many useful illustrations and drawings. More significant, the authors intentions are not merely to provide recipes meant to be followed like a roadmap, but to foster genuine understanding and to inspire the reader to experiment and create his own recipes. And the home enthusiast need not worry: the meat technology offered in the book lives up to USDA standards. Though the hefty volume (almost 700 pages) might prove intimidating to the beginner, Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages is a welcome one-volume reference guide, though for many, it will be best enjoyed in small doses. Reviewed by Aaron Stypes The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook 3rd Edition: Cookware Rating Edition By America’s Test Kitchen Boston Common Press, $34.95, 728 pages The America’s Test Kitchen has produced a wonderful resource with the third edition of their Family Cookbook. The recipes may not be any you haven’t seen before, but the absolute thoroughness of the text and the helpful photos accompanying each recipe push this beyond an ordinary cookbook. Stand-out features include sug-
Doughnuts By Lara Ferroni Sasquatch Books, $16.95, 110 pages The word “doughnut” brings the stereotypical image of cops munching on a couple during their coffee break. But everyone loves good doughnuts, and they are the bright spots in a morning of boring meetings. Yet making them at home? Very few would invest the labor and risk the messy kitchen. Working with dough guarantees some kitchen mess, and deep-frying assures additional oil spatter and a smelly house. Lara Ferroni makes home doughnut production look easy, though cleaning up the mess is still the work waiting for you at the end. For a baker, making doughnuts is a snap. If you are not a baker, following Ferroni’s recipes will assure success (well, maybe not the first time). The recipes are easy to follow, giving both active and total time before the doughnuts are ready. The professional photo illustrations are beautiful.
gested items and utensils for your kitchen and charts on emergency substitutions, measurements, and food safety. Best of all is that the editors don’t patronize the cook, whether they be novice or professional, and their love of fresh ingredients, the best methods, and just plain old cooking shines through. The packaging is excellent as well, with each menu course separated by tabbed folders and the cover made of the slippery plastic that doesn’t hold stains. The day I received this book I tried a number of recipes, both unknown and familiar, and while the recipes are exact, they also allow room for improvisation (and the editors do encourage readers to be flexible in the kitchen and to not take the text as the sole method of cooking), which went down well with my family. The recipes are standard American fare, with a few international dishes, but all are very easy to make, which makes the Family Cookbook a must-have for any cook. Reviewed by Angela Tate
See COOKING, page 31
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Besides the standard doughnuts we are accustomed to, recipes list their foreign cousins, such as picarones, sopapillas and crullers, as well as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan doughnuts. The baker has a choice of glazes and fillers. The layout would’ve been more convenient if each recipe appeared on a single or facing page. Reviewed by George Erdosh Cooking Light Complete Meals in Minutes: Over 700 Great Recipes By Editors of Cooking Light Magazine Oxmoor House, $29.95, 532 pages With over 700 recipes, 500 color illustrations, and icons noting 15 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes cooking time, this cookbook offers light, healthful meals that compete favorably in our fast food society. “Cooking Class: how to sear scallops. For the best sear, pat scallops dry with paper towels before seasoning them, and cook them in a very hot pan.” With traditional recipes like Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken Cacciatore, or Veal Piccata and different dishes like Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw, Chickpea and Spinach Curry, or Pork Medallions with Nectarine Cranberry Chutney, readers will find interesting alternatives to answer the age-old daily question of what is for dinner. Each recipe has complete nutritional details, providing the needed information for special diets, as well as for the overall health conscious preparation of delicious meals. With a lay-flat binder format with colorful tabbed sections, it is easy to choose recipes for appetizers and beverages; fish and shellfish; pizza and pasta; meatless main dishes; meats; poultry; soups, salads and sandwiches; side dishes; and desserts. In addition, a variety of tips, “Cooking Class” how-to boxes for fundamentals, along with the Kitchen Companion of nutritional analysis, metric equivalents, and index, put the finishing touch on a cookbook that makes a great kitchen addition you will use frequently, rather than just let sit on a shelf. Reviewed by Angie Mangino Skinny Dips By Diane Morgan Chronicle Books, $18.95, 144 pages Skinny Dips contains recipes for fifty-five dips and thirteen “dippers” (cheese straws, poached shrimp, bagel chips, etc.) that the author, foodie Diane Morgan, has revamped to remove the fat and calories while leaving the deliciousness in place. While
Skinny Dips includes some standards, such as Bean Dip and Salsa, it also introduces a few you’ve probably never served before like Curried Cauliflower Dip and Pumpkin Hummus. In fact, Morgan offers up options I’ve never even considered before, and makes them sound and look delightful. I went from making dips once or twice a year on special occasions, to having a list of ones I want to try just because it’s Tuesday. “Would it be possible to develop a book full of healthful, calorie-conscious, big-flavored, party-worthy dips and, in addition, create irresistibly crispy dippers? Beyond that, could I serve these dips to unsuspecting guests and have them convinced they were indulging in fabulous party fare, calories be damned? The results: yes and yes!”
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In addition to the recipes, this book offers helpful information for each recipe: nutrition facts, serving suggestions, make-ahead tips, and more. The descriptions and photographs that accompany the recipes are so tempting that after just a few pages you’ll find yourself taking notes of all the recipes you want to try. Say goodbye to sour cream and powdered onion soup mix. Say hello to delectable treats! Reviewed by Jodi M. Webb Chocolate Magic: A Collection of Devilishly Decadent Recipes By Kate Shirazi Pavilion, $14.95, 111 pages Few things make a better gift than a box of handmade chocolate treats. Tthe mere act of unwrapping allows the one-of-a-kind scent of cocoa confection to drift into the face of the recipient, the fragrance a present itself. Just the words “chocolate truffles” tend to provoke salivation, let alone learning how to prepare them for yourself and those you love dearly. With Kate Shirazi’s Chocolate Magic, you can do just that. “The recipe uses industrial quantities of chocolate. Brilliant.” After covering basic chocolate recipes, Shirazi sashays through the pages tossing delectable ideas into the air. They land on the lap of the reader with deft precision and inspire one to experiment with flavor. Shirazi’s writing style is endearingly down-to-earth and rather evolves into “charming” by the end of the book, making the recipes all the more fun to try. Beet the Choccy Cake (yes, the recipe includes raw beets) was a fresh twist on a rather staunch classic; kids and adults alike will wonder aloud how such a cake can exist, while licking crumbs
A Perfect Gift for t he Holidays!
“...a good working cookbook for chefs interested in expanding the use of alcohol in their dishes.”
now! e l b a l Avai 5 $14.9 from their lips. The ramped-up Millionaire’s Shortbread proves exquisite and will come in handy this holiday season for tea, parties, gifts, and for sampling solo. Reviewed by Meredith Greene
T H E C R I T I C A L E Y E . . . w h a t ’s i t l i k e t o b e a b o o k r e v i e w e r ?
--San Francisco Book Review Sacramento Book Review
Read our review of Abundance: Finding the American Dream In A Japanese Kitchen at SanFranciscoBookReview.com Listen to our interview of Taro Arai on AudibleAuthors.net.
December 10 31
Self-Help Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done By Joseph R. Ferrari Wiley, $15.95, 237 pages I’ll get around to it. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll think about that later. Do these phrases sound familiar? Or maybe the procrastination you have encountered is through someone else; you may have missed out on an opportunity because of their inability to get things done. Either way procrastination has a sneaky way of seeping into our daily lives and sapping our precious time and energy, even our health, if you can believe that. “[T]ake time to decide, don’t take time to stall.” Dr. Joseph R. Ferrari has compiled over twenty-five years of research on the topic of procrastination and its effects on people and their situations. What is born out of this study is Still Procrastinating? : The NoRegrets Guide to Getting It Done. Who knew that procrastination had such deeply rooted beginnings? It is a learned behavior; this is good news for those of us that have suffered through the agony of feeling incapable of either starting or continuing and finishing things. Ferrari has astounding reasoning and explanations as to why this behavior plagues twenty percent of the population. The text is a surprisingly quick read; there is a lot of repetition and statistics, and it reads like a case study at times. If you can get through that, the concept and “cure” are rather engaging and hopeful. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez
32 December 10
Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear By Srinivasan S. Pillay Rodale, $25.99, 233 pages Most all of us experience a multitude of fears in our lives, not only situations we find ourselves in, but in the decisions we must face daily. Not surprisingly, many of our fears result in anxiety, depression, and apprehension over events that affect us. Oftentimes, we strive to do our best, and even endeavoring things we enjoy, we discover we are sabotaged by our own crippling fears that seem irrational. Indeed, the author shows us that the biggest roadblock to happiness is fear. In Life Unlocked, Dr. Srini Pillay addresses specific problems, such as fear of success, anxieties within personal relationships, financial worries, traumas to the human psyche, and even fear that can result in bigotry. As clinical professor of psychiatry and the former director of the outpatient Anxiety Disorders Program at Harvard’s McLean Hospital, the author has both the academic and real-life qualifications to help us understand the biological condition of the human subconscious mind that alerts us to danger, thus locking us into our physiological selfprotection mode. With helpful exercises and proven techniques, Life Unlocked shows us that we can be free from the fears that keep our lives bound to the slavery of our fear. Reviewed by Christina Forsythe The Art of Comforting By Val Walker Tarcher, $15.95, 294 pages This reviewer did not know what to say recently when a new friend described losing his son to a drug overdose. The Art of Comforting is a book for exactly those situations
THE MOUNTAINTOP –A Family Odyssey by Ruth Rodgers is a riveting family saga of survival and overcoming hardship through sheer grit and determination. A relentless 100-year journey of four generations of struggle; written as an historical document and ancestral biography the story is unique, intriguing and often shocking – keeping the reader wanting to know more. Timeliness of political and social events are conveyed through the entire narrative. Rodgers does a fine job interweaving historical facts, chronologically detailing the accounts of her and her family’s life. The hardships she endured were necessary encounters in order to build up to the spiritual awakening she underwent and speaks to the determined ability she has as a woman, a person o f faith, her values and her inner strength. This story will capture your attention and inspires the reader to never lose hope. when a friend or family member is in distress and we long to offer more than trite encouragement. Walker does an excellent job demonstrating common mistakes in the words we use and the actions we take in our faltering attempts at comforting those dealing with a deadly disease or the raw emotion of bereavement. We learn that it’s not helpful to compare one person’s suffering to another’s. Walker uses illuminating tables that list unhelpful platitudes next to phrases that demonstrate better sensitivity. Readers are reminded to put the human relationship first, even in our hectic impatient world. We learn to focus on the immediate future when delivering bad news because those in distress often view the distant future as uncertain. Walker uses personal examples and inspiring testimonies of professionals who comfort people in their vocations to demonstrate effective techniques. Comforters must get themselves out of the way to help others. It’s often best to just listen and follow what the distressed have to say. A touching instructional for all who aspire to comfort the afflicted. Reviewed by Grady Jones
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble Xlibris.com
The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Man Skills By Joshua Piven Chronicle Books, $24.95, 507 pages Man Skills, is a latest release from the Worst-Case Scenario series. Covering everything from changing a diaper to surviving a pirate attack, Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, and Ben H. Winters have done a good job in organizing the well over one hundred survival techniques into different chapters like Great Escapes, Sports and Hobbies, Love and Sex, Domestic Disasters, Work, and Out and About. Although some of the information seems repeated from other books in the series, it is good to be reminded about things like grilling safety and it is entertaining to read about what to do if you are caught slacking. Much of the information seems more entertaining like how to drive a tank or how to vomit correctly. The CD included with the book has bonus information on it, but it is difficult to navigate due to the many menus. This book does provide a fun read for folks interested in short paragraphs full of tantalizing tidbits. Reviewed by Linda Welz
T hou s a nd s of b o ok re v ie w s at S a n Fr a nc i s coB o ok R e v ie w.com