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Beatrice and Virgil Man and his animals Page 5

Dewey the Library Cat A kitten found in a library book return box Page 6

Under Heaven


Historical fantasy set in China Page 7

Lost States

Once lost, now found, and totally worthwhile Page 8


Cooking, Food & Wine Insert

The Most Famous Catcher That No One Remembers By Stephen King Cemetery Dance Publications, $25.00, 113 pages


It’s a known fact that Stephen King is a big baseball fan, and possibly one of the biggest Red Sox fans (if you doubt this, just read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon). After the mighty tome of Under the Dome and with a four-novella book called Full Dark, No Stars due out in November, there’s another little story King is releasing to keep fans occupied. Blockade Billy is a short, little book – just over a hundred pages – about baseball

that is a perfect read for the start of summer and America’s favorite sport. Way back when, in the early days of baseball when the players weren’t making much money and it was all about the rule and the game and the sport, the Titans of New Jersey had a bad start to the new season. Their everyday catcher, while driving drunk, killed a woman and went to prison, while See BLOCKADE, page 18

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Clone Brews

Raise a glass to a fine home brewing guide that brings commercial microbrews to your backyard Page 16

The Farthest

Substantial, synergistic specifics of space Page 24

85 Reviews INSIDE!

Biographies & Memoirs The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini By Benvenuto Cellini Everyman’s Library, $28.00, 504 pages Benvenuto Cellini was a widely celebrated artist of sixteenth-century Florence. His skills were sought after by popes, dukes, and wealthy people all over Europe. Fortunately for us, Cellini was also a capable writer whose favorite subject was himself. The happy result of this narcissism is his autobiography, a gift to readers which has not been surpassed either before or since. Cellini’s story does focus on his art, but he also spends a great amount of time relating the wonderful adventures he pursued, even those that perhaps do not reflect well on his character. These escapades include a number of salacious encounters with women, both married and unmarried, and escapes from prison – all of which he undertook while creating works of inestimable beauty and grace. Cellini’s biography reads as well today as it did four hundred years ago, especially in this Everyman’s Library edition, with its sturdy cloth binding and an introduction by James Fenton. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Titian: The Last Days By Mark Hudson Walker & Company, $27.00, 320 pages Titian, the 16th century artist, is a figure shrouded in mystery. Very few of his paintings exist today, and those that are known are scattered in museums and galleries around the world. No one is sure when or where or why they were painted, or what they may mean. Even more mysterious are the paintings Titian was working on when he died, both in style and subject, as well as in more basic elements such as location, since many works were immediately stolen from his studio upon his death. In Titian: The Last Days, Mark Hudson sets out to try to answer some of these riddles. Hudson’s exploration of Titian’s life and times is finely researched, and he intersperses these passages with information about his own quest to solve the mysteries of Titian. These digressions are equally illuminating when they could have been nothing more than distractions. The writing is well executed, and the subject matter is interest-

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ing, even to those readers unfamiliar with 16th century Italian artists. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets By Cadillac Man Bloomsbury, $15.00, 289 pages Most people have preconceived ideas about the homeless. Most of these ideas are negative, and like most stereotypes, unfounded. Land of the Lost Souls is Cadillac Man’s true account of homelessness, his life on the street, and how he got there. He introduces us to people on the fringe of society that are often disregarded, such as the “ladies of the evening.” There is much more than what is visible on the surface and he does a great job of bringing that to light. The amount of courage, honesty, and faith throughout the pages of this book will pull at every reader’s heart strings. “It’s wintertime. My brethren are out there. Some by choice, others by circumstance. In their makeshift shelters, hiding amongst the shadows of night. ‘Please come for me,’ they say. My tears flow freely. Theirs don’t, the frost prevents it. And you know them, maybe a friend or family member. ‘Please forgive me,’ they say. Time is short, a new place beckons their arrival: The Land of the Lost Souls.” Written very candidly, this book doesn’t always follow proper writing techniques and does use profanity. However, this only adds to the character of this book and keeps it completely real throughout. As a social work student, even I have had my own ideas of the homeless. Cadillac Man’s story helped me see a different side to this issue which left me much more compassionate, which is exactly what social workers strive for. Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets is an important book for EVERYONE to read. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun Cleopatra: A Biography (Women in Antiquity) By Duane W. Roller Oxford University Press, $24.95, 272 pages The mysterious Queen of the Nile is back in a big way! In Cleopatra the reader is provided a very in depth look into the life and times of one of the most memorable figures in history. This is a very detailed look at

her past, her ancestral roots, and how she was really born to be the Queen of Egypt. Cleopatra provides a new perspective on the queen who is mostly remembered for being seductive and using men as she pleased. In this book we learn that she was not in fact that way and that she used her intelligence to truly get what she wanted. Most people don’t know she was very politically aware and that she made many smart decisions in her time as queen. I have always been fascinated by the thought of Cleopatra and I found that even in the distorted image presented to me in the media I still admired her for her seduction. Now that I have read this book and have a real understanding of all of her accomplishments I admire her for her intelligence and grace. Cleopatra was a true queen and this book gives her the respect she deserves. Reviewed by Nicole Will This Is Getting Old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity By Susan Moon Shambhala, $14.95, 192 pages Growing old can be a bummer, but Susan Moon tries not to let it get to her in This is Getting Old. This collection of short essays does not shy away from any aspect of aging, from sore knees to foggy memory, but also maintains a sassy sense of humor with relation to it all. These stories are thought provoking but fun, inspirational but a little silly at times. Moon reflects on her tomboy childhood as she embraces her future, and writes a devotional to her mother’s final days while also remembering her prime. She talks about how aging makes her feel invisible at times and worries about the prospects of her sex life. “It’s not my fault when I have a senior moment...I’ve had a lifetime of junior moments, when one word follows another in logical--and boring--succession, when each action leads to the next appropriate action. I think I’ve earned the right to break free from the imprisonment of sequential thinking.”

Basically, this book is a gathering of musings on all aspects of getting old, including topics that many people tend to avoid speaking openly about or even avert their thoughts from. Perhaps if more people were as open about aging as Moon is, we wouldn’t all be so uncomfortable with the idea. This one is a great read for anyone pondering their future. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Apparent Danger By David Stokes Bascom Hill Books, $26.95, 393 pages Apparent Danger tells the story, in excruciating detail, of the somewhat forgotten murder trial of fundamentalist minister Frank J. Norris in the 1920’s. What might have been considered the murder of the decade if it had taken place now, because it took place during the heyday of sensational murder trials of the 20’s knowledge of it has dimmed. “What is certain is this: in the next fateful seconds, at 4:40 pm on July 17, 1926, J. Frank Norris, the leading fundamentalist in the nation, heir to William Jennings Bryan himself, with the portrait of Bryan looking on, fired three shots into the massive frame of Dexter Elliot Chipps.” David Stokes, an evangelical minister himself, used published and private documents to tell the tale of Dr. Frank J Norris’ rise to power as a minister of what was at the time, the largest Protestant church in the land, the murder of D. E. Chipps, the trial and other goings on in Fort Worth, Texas. The details included run moment to moment, press clipping by press clipping and while that definitely puts you inside the times and the story, it can get a bit tedious. That being said, it was a compelling read. The opening up of the the fundamentalist movement in America and the under the sheets relationship with the Ku Klux Klan in the South is frightening to say the least. The 1920’s were not called Roaring for nothing and David Stokes, in his telling of the Frank J. Norris story, brings one aspect of it front and center. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler

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

IN THIS ISSUE Biographies & Memoirs..................................2 Children’s.......................................................4 Art, Architecture & Photography...................4 Modern Literature..........................................5 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers.............................5 Young Adult....................................................6 Tweens...........................................................6 Science Fiction & Fantasy...............................7 Current Events...............................................8 History...........................................................8 Cooking, Food & Wine....................................9 Sonoma Wineries Insert...............................10 Health, Fitness & Dieting............................. 17 Business & Investing.................................... 17

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The San Francisco Book Review is published monthly by 1776 Productions. The opinions expressed in these pages are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the San Francisco Book Review or San Francisco Book Review advertisers. All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders. All words © 2010, 1776 Productions. June 10 print run - 10,000 copies.

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

Reference......................................................19 Popular Fiction.............................................19

FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to June and our our new issue of San Francisco Book Review. We have a great Cooking, Food & Wine insert to give you some great ideas of things to do now that the weather has turned nice enough to eat outside more often. We’ve dusted off our grill and are already planning the summer BBQs for ourselves and one or two good get-togethers with our friends and reviewers (many of whom overlap those two categories). At the end of May, we went to see John Waters talk about his new book, Role-Model. Waters’ role-models aren’t those that most parents would hope their children would end up looking up to, but Waters finds strength and inspiration in one of the most eclectic groups of people ever gathered in one book. Not only does it explain so much about him, but it also opens your eyes to finding strength in the most unexpected places. June also brings the kick-off of the library summer reading programs for kids. Have a child out of school and needing out-of-the home entertainment? Check out your local library branch’s schedule and not only keep your kids busy, but also learning something in a fun environment. This month’s issue also has a three-page insert of businesses from the Dry Creek region of Sonoma Valley. It seemed like a good fit for the Cooking, Food & Wine insert and was great fun for me and Heidi to visit Sonoma and do the “research” needed for putting it together (wink). We’re grateful to Mushal Winery for hosting us during the Dry Creek Passport weekend and introducing us to so many great wineries and winery owners. Thanks again for picking up the latest issue. We’re always hopeful you’ll find something good to read that you never heard of before and will enjoy enough to share with your friends.


Happy reading,

Pop Culture...................................................20

Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief 1776 Productions

Sequential Art..............................................21 Calendar.......................................................22 Travel...........................................................23 Science & Nature..........................................24

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Children’s Kate, The Ghost Dog: Coping With the Death of a Pet By Wayne L. Wilson Magination Press, $9.95, 47 pages Patiently waiting for the doorknob to turn, they greet us after school. They lie close during dinnertime, tails sweeping the floor, anticipating a dropped morsel, and at bedtime, they cuddle close and lick away our day. Pets are more than friends. They are family. More than part of our everyday routine, they are the guardians of our hearts, showing us in so many ways how to love. When a pet passes away, it is crushing; sometimes the world implodes around us into a meaningless blur. In Kate, the Ghost Dog: Coping With the Death of a Pet, Aleta is lost without her beloved Kate. Finding herself missing everything about her, she hides in her room, throws things at the door, and evades her best friends, Cassie and Nina. Her family

gathers around her and tries to console her, to no avail. Rollerblading, school and, even, the annual weekend fair no longer hold her interest, and something has got to get through to Aleta before her grief consumes her. With the help of her faithful friends, family, and wise Uncle Jimmy, Aleta realizes that true remembrance is not experienced through sorrow, but honored in celebration, that through her memory, Kate will live forever. Wayne L. Wilson has crafted a compassionate account of a young girl’s loss and struggle to cope. He offers consolation and understanding through his characters to a grieving, young Aleta, providing empathy to those who may be experiencing the emotions sorrow can cause. Accompanied by colorful and realistic illustrations, this is a comforting read. Young readers will surely share the universality of theme. Although the suggested reading age is 8-13 years, which seems an older audience than the text evokes, this is a tale of encouragement, hope, and light waiting at the end of darkness. Sponsored Review

Ubiquitous By Joyce Sidman Harcourt Children’s, $17.00, 40 pages Poetry, animal imagery, and scientific information—Ubiquitous has it all, in a package that is entertaining and informative for children and adults. The book features creatures that have survived for millions—even billions—of years by relying on their diverse, remarkable skills. From wellknown creatures like sharks (375 million years old), beetles (265 million years old), and squirrels (36 million years old) to more hidden, mysterious creatures like mollusks (500 million years old), lichens (400 million years old), and diatoms (190 million years old), Ubiquitous serves as a powerful reminder of the miraculous feats of survival taking place every second of every day in the world around us. The poetry accompanying each creature is tightly linked to its subject not only through content but also through form; many poems take the shape of the creatures they describe, which are depicted in beau-

tiful hand-colored lino cuts. The highlight of the book, however, is the descriptions themselves, which explain how “nature’s survivors” managed to hang around—and thrive—for so many centuries. Curious little minds will find much in this sophisticated scientific journey. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell

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Art, Architecture & Photography The Art of the Disney Princess By Glen Keane Disney Editions, $40.00, 176 pages Whatever our age, many of us are still princesses at heart. The Art of the Disney Princess takes that idea and runs with it. Inside these pages you’ll find a great collection of art that celebrates and re-imagines the world of the Disney princesses. The art itself is more like fan art than actual sketches from Disney artists or concept art, but it’s wonderful to look at anyway. Hands down, the best thing about this book is its variety. Practically every Disney princess is featured, from classic favorites like Belle, Snow White and Cinderella, to less-featured princesses such as Kida, Tiger Lily, Pocahontas, and the newest Princess, Tiana. The art was made in a marvelous range of media, from digital art and photography to traditional watercolors, ink, and paint – with a few extras like paper collage thrown in for good measure. This reader would have appreciated a little more explanation about the processes or background

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of each piece. Still, this is a great addition to the collection of any Disney princess fan, young or old. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller American Modern By Thomas O’brien Abrams, $50.00, 240 pages New York interior designer Thomas O’Brien is founder of Aero Studios, proprietor of retail outlet AERO, and owner of his own product line for Target. Now, with American Modern, O’Brien achieves his anticipated first venture into the world of publishing. This hardcover volume is organized into seven chapters, each depicting one home and one variation of modern style: traditional, urban, casual, American, elegant, formal, vintage. These include O’Brien’s own residences, one of which is a converted Long Island schoolhouse. From urban loft to country estate, every example is represented through large photographs of various rooms and their design components accompanied by specific descriptions. Though largely pictorial in content,

American Modern is a cut above the average coffee table volume. It contains a successfully eclectic juxtaposition of design concepts, both antique and modern. Elements of proportion, lighting, texture, authenticity, color, mood, tone, balance, and harmony are covered throughout the text; this is done in such a manner as to instruct readers how they can integrate this expert’s principles into their own decorative plans or system of restoration with comfortable yet elegant results. By acknowledging utilization of traditional things for modern living, this book provides long overdue credit to a master designer. Reviewed by Richard Mandrachio Faces: Photography and the Art of Portraiture By Paul Fuqua and Steven Biver Focal Press, $29.95, 167 pages For 150+ years, capturing the face for all time has been a quest of photographers. Learn to artistically capture the face with Paul Fuqua and Steven Biver’s comprehensive guide to portraiture, Faces: Photography And The Art Of Portraiture.

“Let’s face it: photography involves the creation of a representation of a reality, not a duplicate of it.” Seamlessly combining beauty and inspiration with information, this book exposes the tips and techniques from inception to post-production on how to create striking portraits, including: 48 double-page spreads pairing stunning studio portraits with lighting diagrams and discussions on the decisions behind each shot; galleries showcasing the work of renowned photographers and portraits from the past; discussions of pre-production and street photography; in-depth section on light modifiers and how they work; and, detailed explanation of postproduction finishing touches. From modeling and posing to lighting and composition, Fuqua and Biver’s Faces contains everything you need to know to unmask the unique and aesthetic intrigue of any face through photographic portraiture. Reviewed by Dominique James

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Modern Literature Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel By Yann Martel Spiegel & Grau, $24.00, 197 pages It’s difficult to read Yann Martel’s newest novel, Beatrice and Virgil without considering his Mann Booker Prize winner, Life of Pi. The two works share several commonalities – animals, a protagonist adrift – but are so diametrically opposite one for the other that it’s hard to not make the association. Yet, where Pi concretized abstract topics of alienation and companionship (by literally placing the protagonist in a life boat with a tiger), Beatrice and Virgil takes a gravely palpable phenomena, genocide, and drains it of substance and physicality, leaving a languid story in its wake. “Henry, on the other hand, stood wideeyed. A tingle of excitement passed through him. Now here was a stage full of stories. He took in a set of three tigers, standing across the room.”

Martel’s protagonist, a novelist named Henry, lives in Canada. His second novel about animals proved wildly successful and he writes his next on the Holocaust (if this sounds a like a transparent stand in for the author, you’re not alone), because he’s “noticed… how little actual fiction there was about the Holocaust.” Putting aside the accuracy of that statement for the moment, his publisher’s rejection causes Henry to abandon writing and with his wife flee to an unnamed city. Seemingly having no need to worry about money, Henry spends time acting in local theatre, taking clarinet lessons, etc. One day he receives a piece of strange fan mail containing a Flaubert short story, “The Legend of Saint Julian Hospitator,” about a young man who delights in hunting animals, who fulfills a curse by murdering his parents, and redeems himself by aiding a leper who turns out to be Jesus in disguise. Also enclosed is a scene from a surreal Beckettesque play involving a donkey and a monkey (Beatrice and Virgil) and a plea for help. Discovering that the playwright, a strange, cold man, and a taxidermist by profession, serendipitously lives in the same city, so Henry searches him out. Agreeing to collaborate on the play, Henry comes increasingly to see it as that which he tried to create, a

work with the Holocaust used as metaphor, in this case for brutality towards animals. More than a few readers will be offended at analogizing the treatment of animals to genocide, but that has little to do with Beatrice and Virgil’s literary merits. Neither does the claim that the Holocaust is under used in fiction. Yet there has indeed been much Holocaust fiction – even science fiction -- from Jonathan Little’s ruthlessly sadistic “The Kindly Ones” (which counted among its many laurels 2009’s “Worst Sex Scene Award”), to Amis’s brilliantly creative “Time’s Arrow.” If anything, the Holocaust seems overused in fiction, a metaphor for evil pulled too often from the tool kit of lazy writers wishing to earn easy pathos. More than anything, this novel suffers from a plodding pace. Of the several characters, the most interesting and genuine are the monkey and donkey, which doesn’t say much for the rest. Gone is Life of Pi’s fabulous intimacy and emotional resonance, replaced instead with a distant perspective and a detached overly authorial voice. As he’s shown before, Martel has a real gift for folding abstract philosophy into a gripping story, but here it seems sadly that it was the latter which was lost. Reviewed by Jordan Magill

Mystery, Crime & Thrillers Blood Oath: The President’s Vampire By Christopher Farnsworth Putnam, $24.95, 400 pages Nathanial Cade has been in service to the United States ever since swearing a blood oath to President Andrew Jackson. He also happens to be a vampire. In the tradition of Hell Boy, author Christopher Farnsworth introduces readers to the supernatural side of American politics in the same shoot-’em-up, cliché-filled style that is characteristic of the genre. Cade, now partnered up with a political golden boy who isn’t thrilled to discover vampires exist, is trying to stop the original Dr. Frankenstein from creating an army of perfect zombie soldiers and setting them loose on American soil. Farnsworth, a scriptwriter, writes in a cinematic manner that doesn’t lend itself to deep characterizations. Sticking with welltrod ground, the villains are either Muslim extremists or psychopathic government black-ops operatives, while Cade is the typical brooding, conflicted hero. Blood Oath

has a fun, easy-to-follow story that makes it the perfect book for beach reading, but it can’t quite overcome some fairly pedestrian and unrealistic plotting. Reviewed by Theresa Lucas

“We took many risks,” Mary said. “And we did a lot of learning on the job. We did some things that were pretty amateurish and got away with them. I feel we were more lucky than smart.”

Plane Jane By Robert Fischer iUniverse, $13.95, 267 pages This is an adventure story featuring Mary Jane, a pilot who is discharged from the air force for refusing to wear a veil (burqa) in Saudi Arabia. She immediately gets on a quest to repossess a luxury 707 jet from a wealthy Saudi prince. For this kind of task she needs a partner, and so she works with Jesus Martinez in her self-styled adventure. The many risks they face include the possibility of being cap- tured and getting executed, but they will not relent, and they travel from Paris and San Francisco to Saudi Arabia.

Apart from the dizzying and dazzling adventure, the reader also is taken on an international, multicultural journey, where much of the action is made more complex by the intersection of culture and personal history (or experience). I enjoyed this book and look forward to Robert Fischer’s next offering. Reviewed by Emmanuel Sigauke The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool: A Mystery By Richard Yancey Minotaur Books, $24.99, 261 pages Theodore “Teddy” Ruzak isn’t your average, every day private investigator and it’s not just because he doesn’t have a license or because his idea of finding out if his client’s husband is having an affair is to call and ask him. Ruzak is out of the ordinary because the man is almost entirely composed of wit and heart. What he lacks in investigative skill and experience he makes up for with a dogged determination and a quick slick line for ev-

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eryone who dares to get in his way. “Like a lot of guys, I refused to waste my time reading the instructions; I preferred to waste is fooling with the gadget. The same principle applied to my aversion to self-help books.” In The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool by Richard Yancey, we are taken on slick, sly, witty and wild ride. Katrina Barnes comes to Teddy Ruzak because her husband is cheating on her again, and this time, she fears he loves his new mistress. Soon though, Ruzak’s been fired and Katrina goes missing and if Ruzak doesn’t search for her, it’s possible that no one will. Richard Yancey has crafted a must read. This is the 3rd book starring Teddy Ruzak but I had no problems jumping right in and I was left wanting to read the first two. With slick, sharp dialogue and laugh out loud lines and predicaments, I guarantee you’ll enjoy this book. Don’t miss out. Reviewed by Albert Riehle

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Young Adult Shadow By Jenny Moss Scholastic Press, $17.99, 375 pages The land of Deor is dying. Queen Audrey is predicted to die before her sixteenth birthday. Her parents are dead, her father murdered. Shadow, an orphan girl the same age as the queen, has been assigned by three mysterious men to stay near Audrey at all times until she’s old enough to rule. Fyren, the dead king’s cousin, is regent until such time. Sir Kenway, a knight from a neighboring castle, visits Audrey each day. Shadow, feeling jealousy twinges, thinks he is courting the queen. “The medallion I’d taken felt heavy in my skirt. I would have taken it out, but I didn’t want Sir Kenway to know I had stolen it. Fumbling for it in my pocket, I tried to trace its ridges, but my fingers brushed against a roughness on the metal. Dried blood, I knew.”

Tweens The Owl Keeper By Christine Brodien-Jones Delacorte Books For Young Readers, $17.99, 306 pages Maxwell Unger is home schooled because he has an allergic reaction to sunlight. While climbing his favorite tree in the moonlight one evening, he makes two interesting discoveries. The first is a silver owl, which according to his late Gran, is watched over by an Owl Keeper who will unite the silver owls in times of darkness and protect the land and its people. However, according to Maxwell’s parents, silver owls are extinct and Owl Keepers are only a myth. While tending to his new owl friend’s broken wing, Maxwell makes the second discovery: another friend of the night named Rose. “If you look into the dark long enough, you’ll see things others don’t.” Max being a bit shy and quiet quickly grows to anticipate meeting up with Rose after dark every night by the Owl Tree. Rose

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Then, shortly before the queen’s sixteenth birthday, Audrey is poisoned. Shadow is a suspect. She last sees the three mysterious men in robes conferring with Fyren. One of them is stabbed. Sir Kenway spirits Shadow out of the castle through a hidden tunnel, and adventures multiply. In this fast-paced story full of twists and turns, revelations abound; no one is who they seem. Shadow is a likeable heroine, and most of the characters are well-drawn and believable. Ingen, however, seems contrived, more of a plot function than a plausible character, as she leads Shadow and Sir Kenway to the book’s most surprising revelation. All in all, though, a good read. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan Leaving Gee’s Bend By Irene Latham Putnam Juvenile, $16.99, 240 pages This book is about a girl named Ludelphia Bennett. Her mama just had a baby and is terribly ill. She needs medicine badly, but in Gee’s Bend they don’t have any medicine or doctors. In Camden, they have medicine

and doctors but it is over 40 miles from Gee’s Bend. Ludelphia wants to save her mama so Ludelphia decides to go to Camden to find medicine. In her travels, Ludelphia discovers a whole new world. Leaving Gee’s Bend is my favorite book so far. Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t put it down. Ludelphia Bennett is a brave 10-year-old girl who goes on an exciting adventure. I would recommend this book to everyone! Reviewed by Peyton Ozawa, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder By Obert Skye Shadow Mountain, $19.95, 363 pages I think Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder by Obert Skye is an excellent book to read. Leven Thumps is a boy who got sucked from reality to Foo. Foo is a place where dreams from reality become true and imaginary creatures come alive. Leven needs to restore the balance between Foo and reality so he can stop the creatures and dreams in Foo from escaping into reality. Leven fights his way to Foo’s oldest tree to chop it down and equal-

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


Want to be a part of a growing book review publication? San Francisco Book Review is looking for an ad sales person Local San Francisco Bay Area ad sales Opportunity for Sacramento area ad sales + national sales Make up to 50% commission on a sliding scale Ad sales experience is a plus Training provided Please send your resume to: is adventurous and Max, missing the opportunity to have friends, begins to trust Rose as she convinces him to sneak into the Chocolate Factory where his parents work. This is where the true adventure begins. The factory makes two kinds of chocolate milk, and the one that Maxwell drinks every day before bed is the blend that is poisoned just enough to make you forget … Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon By David Almond Candlewick, $15.99, 119 pages Paul finds himself home from school one day, bored with the basement apartment he shares with his parents, when he decides to go outside and touch the sky. On his journey upstairs, he meets some of the strange denizens of his apartment building, and the word spreads of his ambitious plan. But Paul’s ideas don’t end there. He also believes that the moon is a giant

hole in the sky, and he wants to investigate. At first, The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon seemed like a typical boy-goes-on-awacky-adventure kids’ book, but as the story progressed, it revealed surprising depths to some of its characters. (Others, like the jogger and the flighty Mabel, remain fairly one-note, but still add some loony color to the book.) Almond’s willingness to temper what could be a simple lark with more realistic undertones elevates the book above the norm, creating a unique look at the possible consequences of realizing your dreams. Pretty heavy stuff for a kids’ book, to be sure. In the end, though, it all turns out okay, as it should. Paul’s plan to climb to the moon has united an eclectic group, and left the reader thoroughly entertained. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Dewey the Library Cat By Vicki Myron; Bret Witter Little, Brown And Company, $15.99, 214 pages Though written for the tween population, this true story can be enjoyed by all ages. It begins with the rescue of a tiny kitten found in the drop box

of the city library. With temperatures well below zero, this eight-week-old kitten was presumed to be seeking a warm, dry spot when he became trapped in the bottom of a book drop box. Found the following morning by the librarians, the kitten was weak, malnourished and the frostbite on his paws made it hard for him to stand. Dewey the Library Cat takes you into the hearts of the librarians who nursed Dewey back to health, seeking the support of their community to allow him to become a permanent member of the library staff. This is one cat’s journey that will make you laugh and make you cry as you read about the lives Dewey touched. This enjoyable tale also includes several pages of full color pictures of Dewey as he grew into a very handsome and sociable feline. A highly recommended read for those who love true life stories. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt

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Science Fiction & Fantasy The Devil in Green By Mark Chadbourne Pyr, $16.00, 347 pages Set shortly after ancient deities and mythical monsters have emerged to shatter society as we know it, The Devil in Green is a fusion of what is most quintessentially fantasy. The quasi-medieval realm of swords, knights, witches, and dragons, the retooling of ancient mythologies, in particular Celtic, and the Christian concern with good, evil, and the free will to choose between: all have been superimposed by Chadbourn on our cockily rational modern age. “Coming up fast on him was a thing with the body of a man, but a head that was just a white skull with an angry red light seeping out of its hollow orbs. Its clothes were black, tattered in part as if it had been wrapped in a shroud, but gleaming black armor lay beneath. The creature shimmered as it bore down on the traveler, appearing to change shape slightly so that its limbs elongated, the hands stretching into bony talons. It swung one and took the traveler’s head off at the neck.” Clunky dialogue clanks in more relaxed passages, but Chadbourn keeps the suspense building and the blood pumping, exhibiting a delightful assemblage of the nightmarish: yellow-toothed hounds, redeyed fiends, malevolent child figures, and dark things that skulk in shadows. The plot follows a very tired trajectory regarding the perils of institutionalized religion, although Chadbourn manages the descent gradually enough to make it work. Chronologically, Green comes on the heels of Chadbourn’s Age of Misrule series. Not having read that series, I cannot compare, but I can say that this book does not require the former trilogy as a prerequisite, although Chadbourn fans undoubtedly will find plenty of references. The start to a new trilogy, The Dark Age, Green should give to genre fans those elements they love most. Reviewed by Ariel Berg Deceiver: Foreigner #11 By C.J. Cherryh Daw Hardcover, $25.95, 355 pages Eleventh in the Foreigner series, the longest single protagonist’s career in science fiction, Deceiver is as elegantly complex and satisfying as its predecessors. The cover art is classic. Nand’ Bren’s supposed-to-be vacation on his west coast estate of Najida proves anything but. Having given his Lord of the Heavens a territorial standing, Aiji Tabini, with his usual concealed intent-within-ac-

tion, has thereby injected Bren and Bren’s loyal aishid deep into the intrigues of an unsettled and piratical region of Mospheira. The group at risk includes the Paidhi Aiji’s beautiful and deadly alien lover, Jago; and Toby, his brother, whose leman is also Bren’s own ex-lover. “The room was a shambles, three bodies on the floor, blood everywhere. . . a lone survivor in a brocade coat standing amid the carnage, a whiite-haired, lanky aristocrat . . .The man turned away . . . and spun about with a pistol in hand. It went off. The whole room went to ceiling in a burst of thunder.” Complicated and aided by the Aijii-Dowager Ilisidii and a rapidly maturing Cajeiri, Tabini’s wayward son, the situation moves in Ms. Cherryh’s inimitable style from detail to nuance to emotionally wrenching risks. Herein we see the evolution of Bren beyond responder to initiator, forced as always by the physically superior race among whom he moves to engage in combat of the mind. As always physical risks are distraction from the swordplay of intellect, and the combination makes this another must-have from the master of cultural conflict. Reviewed by David Lloyd Sutton Dead in the Family By Charlaine Harris Ace Hardcover, $25.95, 320 pages Sookie Stackhouse has had a long shelf life as the protagonist of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries and it seems as if the author may be running out of ideas. Sookie, a telepathic waitress, has been through it all. She’s been in love with a couple of vampires, had a fling with a shape shifter, and been through far too many violent encounters. Dead in the Family picks up after Sookie has been badly injured in a war between the Fae and she’s looking for nothing more than time to heal. But Sookie’s life is always complicated and when the master of her vampire lover comes to town, Sookie ends up in the middle of vampire politics yet again. Dead in the Family is more introspective and less action-oriented that Harris’ other books and, while it’s nice to see the violence dialed down a bit, it takes away a lot

of the suspense. The book’s strength lies in the way it delves into the history of some of the secondary characters and that Sookie is always a charming heroine. But it’s unlikely anyone other than a diehard fan will find Dead in the Family to be a very strong installment in the series. Reviewed by Theresa Lucas Distant Thunders By Taylor Anderson ROC Hardcover, $24.95, 400 pages Distant Thunders is the fourth book in the Destroyermen alternate history series. The USS Walker and her crew have been transported to an alternate earth teeming with unidentifiable wildlife where humans have not evolved. The Americans have allied themselves with the cat-like Lemurians and are in a war against the aggressive reptile-like Grik. In this installment, the Alliance is recovering from a costly battle and attempting to begin a peaceful relationship with newly met humans who are descended from Brits transported hundreds of years ago. The main strength of this book is the large cast of characters who are immediately engaging. Unfortunately, this is overshadowed by the frequently artificial dialogue and repetitive writing. This is an extremely slow-paced story concerned more with the minutiae of the war machine and politics. There’s an underlying theme of paternalistic neocolonialism that is alternately interesting in relation to the social history of the transported Americans or slightly unsettling. Fans of the series will likely enjoy re-visiting favorite characters and exploring more of this alternate earth. New readers might be put off by the slow pace but it may be worth a try for those that enjoy military history. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace Under Heaven By Guy Gavriel Kay Roc, $26.95, 592 pages Guy Gavriel Kay is a historical fantasist, using historical places and times and recreating them for his stories. The majority of his previous books have been European-based, which makes Under Heaven a pleasure to read for people familiar with his books. In Under Heaven, Kay uses the Chinese Tang Dynasty as the framework for his story of the Empire of Kitan, and Shen Tai, the second son of a famed general who is thrust into the complex and dangerous court politics. Some of the danger comes from his older brother who is an adviser to the First

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Minister to the Emperor, and involved in his own intrigue. Shen Tai is honoring his father’s memory by spending a year burying the dead from one of his father’s most famous battles. Hundreds of thousands of unburied bones exist on a plain between Kitan and the kingdom of Tagur living among the disquiet ghosts having to listen to their cries after dark. His task has been noticed by the frontier forts from both kingdoms, and his willingness to bury not only the dead of Kitan but also those of Tagur earns him a reward from the Queen of Tagur, who is also the daughter of the current Kitan emperor. The gift of 250 “Heavenly Horses” puts Shen Tai at risk not only from political and military factions who want the horses, but wanting to keep the horses from their rivals. Creating chaos throughout the kingdom is a growing conflict between the First Minister and a barbarian general that has a great deal of influence over the emperor and controls three military districts. Shen Tai however, is more interested in finding information about his sister, who was adopted into the emperor’s family and then given to a barbarian prince as a wife during Shen Tai’s time away. Calling Under Heaven a fantasy novel is not quite correct. There are elements of fantasy within the story, but is it mostly a novel of what could have been. Kay creates a rich setting, detailed characters and a storyline that moves from the strategic to the minor, giving secondary characters a chance to shine. This shift in story perspective from a central character, to a minor one, is a strength of Kay’s, providing a different view of events, seen through new eyes, and give him a chance to flesh out those characters usually written as background filler. Under Heaven is an excellent novel, regardless of its classification, and a very nice shift from Kay’s previous European-based ones. Reviewed by Ross Rojek

June 10


Current Events Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know By Robert Paarlberg Oxford University Press, $16.95, 218 pages For a biased assessment of global food politics, Robert Paarlberg’s Food Politics ought to be called on the carpet for its lack of transparency. The subtitle, What Everyone Needs to Know, alleges that the reader will be informed about the multiple dimensions of a complex global problem. Instead, the book leans heavily toward the perspective of large, industrialized agriculture. The author also fails to present his complete biography (found online in a quick Google search), which includes being a member of the Biotechnology Advisory Council to the CEO of the Monsanto Company. Paarlberg’s arguments lack depth. The book shamelessly touts genetically modified crops and the use of chemical fertilizers as

the solution to a complex problem of global hunger, rather than highlighting the wide variety of possible solutions being employed at the community level. In addition to being biased, Paarlberg’s argument feels out of touch. When he attempts to dismiss the contemporary movement to eat locally and sustainably, he quotes an economist from 1798 as the source of what’s wrong with today’s politically-charged movement. Reader beware! Food Politics offers one side of the story, and is certainly not the conclusive answer to “what everyone needs to know.” Keep researching if you want the complete picture. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott Sex Trafficking By Kara, Siddharth Columbia University Press, $24.95, 298 pages Siddharth Kara has laid bare a sordid reality of our world: sex slavery. Not only has he done so with statistics and even economic analyses ranging from the international slave trade to the massage parlors of L.A., he has researched personally and at great risk. His accounts of doleful lives and his limning of the faces of actual slaves caught in this horrific web make this an urgently intense book.

History Tocqueville’s Discovery of America By Leo Damrosch Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27.00, 304 pages In Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, Leo Damrosch, a professor of literature at Harvard, examines Tocqueville’s nine-month tour of America in 1831–1832. As an outsider from France, Tocqueville met with all manner of citizens during his trip throughout all parts of the young nation, from the established cities of New York and Boston to the western frontier in Ohio and throughout the Southern states. The interviews he conducted during his journey formed the basis of his Democracy in America, a book still widely quoted today and prescient in its observations and conclusions about slavery, class, and society. Tocqueville and his colleague Gustave de Beaumont were in the United States ostensibly to compile observations for a report for the French government on the American penal system. While they did visit many penitentiaries, they spent most of their time traveling, speaking with

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citizens, and attending parties. Damrosch thoroughly examines and quotes from the diaries and letters of both men, and this insider’s view into their take on the morals and mores of citizens in Jacksonian America is fascinating. Damrosch brings a storyteller’s approach to his subject, sweeping readers along on a very pleasant ride. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It By Michael J. Trinklein Quirk Books, $24.95, 157 pages America wasn’t built in a day. While the map we’ve all grown up studying seems like it was destined from the beginning, that was hardly the case. Hundreds of propositions for states and additions to the country have been put forth over the last few centuries, and Lost States proudly presents the stories behind many suggestions that never quite made the cut. Trinklein’s book is essentially an alternate history atlas, full of maps either adapted or

I am filled with admiration for the courage and persistence it took to create this essential text. What could have been a dry overview of distant distresses has, with Mr. Kara’s recounting of his own delvings, been made something so immediate that the reader has a sense of the grit and smells, human tragedies, and human perversion involved. An examination of not only sex trafficking but of the extent and details of modern day slavery in general, Kara’s focus moves from Italy to Moldova to Albania, to Thailand, the U.S., and Nigeria. Offered in this book are some possibilities, some possible tactics and overall strategies for alleviation of this disgrace to humanity, with a good grasp of the realities of the problems and their ramifications. Buy and read this book! Reviewed by David Sutton The Autobiography of an Execution By David Dow Twelve, $24.99, 271 pages David Dow’s strangely titled book is a journal of his legal defense work in death

invented to illustrate the potential impact of the states that never were. I thoroughly enjoyed my glimpses at Yazoo, Nickajack, Absaroka, Forgottonia, Rough and Ready, Polypotamia and many others, serious suggestions and the pipedreams of ambitious crackpots alike. Lost States also compiles a list of other countries that have been proposed as potential acquisitions for the United States, including Albania, Guyana, and oddly enough, England. Some of the ideas here are positively mindboggling. (“New Connecticut” is a personal favorite of mine.) As if that weren’t enough, the cover of the book folds out into a map featuring many of the unrealized territories! From front to back, Lost States is an absolute treat. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History By Sarah Rose Viking, $25.95, 272 pages If you think of tea as a delicate beverage for quiet, proper people, Sarah Rose has a story for you: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed His-

penalty cases, and a memoir of his personal life with his wife and son (he was late to marry). Unfortunately, it never quite decides what it wants to be, so it offers a notso-fascinating look at both aspects of his life. There seem to be two characters vying for attention here: David Dow the brassknuckled street-fighting attorney and David Dow the gentle family man. The one thing that is obvious is that Dow has an immense ego, something he quotes his wife as remarking upon. Then there’s the writing style. Dow admits that he is not an accomplished writer; Execution is practically devoid of style. The quirky narrative bounces from tense legal cases to family matters without any apparent structure. On the plus side, this stream-of-consciousness approach does not require a lot of attention from the reader, because Dow does not stick to any one topic for very long. This is an airplane-ride book, offering a far less substantive treatment of the deathpenalty debate than a prospective purchaser might expect. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano

tory. In the nineteenth century, a Scottish botanist secretly smuggled tea plants out of China and kept them viable long enough for the East India Trading Company to replant them in the Himalayas. In an age when most people think corporate espionage must involve flash drives and cuttingedge technology, this story is nothing less than remarkable. The Scottish botanist was Robert Fortune, and here, Rose has recounted his story in a way that befits the most thrilling, swashbuckling tale of adventure on the high seas. Fortune’s dangerous mission was to steal not only tea plants, but also the secrets surrounding how the Chinese turned them into the much sought-after beverage. Though this is a book dealing with historical and sociopolitical facts that have had far-reaching consequences even into this century, For All the Tea in China is as hard to put down as any fictional bestseller. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell

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June 2010



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

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

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June 10


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

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C O O K I N G ,

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





Cooking for Two: 2010

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

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

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Sonoma Visits

By Ross Rojek

Photographs courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos by Ari ArJot Sandhu and Heidi Komlofske

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

21253 Geyserville Avenue Geyserville, CA 95441 707.857.3356

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

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

Rates starting at $149/night double occupancy

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

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

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

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

S p e c i a l

A d v e r t i s i n g

Photos by Ari ArJot Sandhu

Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen

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

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

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Seghesio Family Vineyards




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

Ridge Lytton Springs

Amista Mazzocco Mauritson Dry Creek Vineyard Nalle Norton Rd.

A. Rafanelli Passalacqua

Lambert Bridge


Vineyard of Pasterick










Kinley Rd.









St. Mill Alderbrook

14730 Grove Street Healdsburg, CA 95448 866.734.4374

Tasting Room, Picnic Grounds and Bocce Courts Open Daily 10am - 5pm S p e c i a l


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

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Recent Seghasio Zinfandel Releases:

Pezzi King


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


Photos by Ari ArJot Sandhu

Optima Stephen & Walker Gallo Family Williamson

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Passport Weekend 2010

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P.O. Box 1796 Healdsburg, CA 95448 Phone: 707.433.3031 Fax: 707.433.3137


Manzanita Creek Seghesio


Everett Ridge



West Wines

Mill Creek

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

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Mounts Michel-Schlumberger Quivira






(9100 Skaggs Springs Road)

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Amphora Collier Falls Kokomo Papapietro Perry Peterson

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Yoakim Bridge Rd.


Raymond Burr


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MacPhail Family Wines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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C O O K I N G ,

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business & Investing 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown By Simon Johnson; James Kwak Pantheon, $26.96, 320 pages Money and politics have gone together since the beginning of American time, and according to Johnson and Kwak, they are at the root of the recent financial crisis— and will be at the root of the next crisis. In their somewhat dry but thoroughly researched book, Johnson and Kwak begin at the creation of the American financial system and continue through the throes of the Great Depression to the Asian and Russian financial crises of the 1980s and 1990s. This context provides the foundation for the authors’ analysis of the 2008 crisis, which most of 13 Bankers is dedicated to examining. Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, and Kwak, a consultant at McKinsey, show the connection that Wall Street has to Washington DC, through lobbyists and campaign contributions, and

through ex-bankers holding key regulatory positions. Because of these influences on the rules governing Wall Street firms, what Wall Street wants, Wall Street gets—regardless of the risk to national economic health. Until this changes, say the authors, banks will continue to take unnecessary risks in pursuit of profits, which will surely lead to another financial meltdown. It is hard not to be swayed by their argument. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell Smart Growth By Hess, Edward D. Columbia University Press, $27.95, 230 pages The golden rule of Wall Street states that all public companies should grow smoothly and continuously, as evidenced by everincreasing quarterly earnings, and that all companies either “grow or die.” But introducing a researchbased growth model called “Smart Growth,”

Edward D. Hess in his book Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth challenges this ethos and its dangerous construct, which often pressures businesses to pursue senseless, non-essential, short-term strategies for the sake of showing a semblance of consistent growth which often deters real growth. “Growth can be good and growth can be bad. It depends. Growth should not be assumed; rather growth should be a conscious decision made only after evaluating the risks of not growing versus the risks of growth and devising ways to mitigate the risks of the chosen path.” This book, a new and radical contribution to business thought, takes aim at the four “sacred shibboleths of business” that drive short-term behaviors that in too many cases defer or destroy long-term value creation, decrease competitiveness, and can lead to premature corporate demise. In Smart Growth, Hess accounts for the complexity of growth from the perspective of organization, process, change, leadership, cognition, risk management, employee engage-

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ment, and human dynamics. He shows that authentic growth is much more than a strategy or a desired result, and that it is a process characterized by complex change, entrepreneurial action, experimental learning, and the management of risk. All in all, Hess provides a blueprint for building an enduring business that strives to be better, rather than simply bigger. Reviewed by Dominique James

Subscribe to San Francisco Book Review Sign up to receive this monthly publication in the mail. Send $18.00 for annual subscription, along with your mailing address, to: Subscriptions 1776 Productions 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814

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Self-Help The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- and Start Standing Up for Yourself By Beverly Engel Wiley, $14.95, 256 pages When I first saw the title of this book, I thought it would be filled with tips about how to overcome personal flaws and become a stronger person. Well, I was partially right. This book was primarily written to help women in abusive and controlling relationships break out of the “nice girl” pattern and learn to walk away. Engel indicates that nice girls are the ones who come off as easy targets and are more likely to be victimized. She breaks out the seven different types of nice girls and provides tips to help that particular type become stronger and more able to stand up to those who are abusing them. Engel does a great job of reminding readers that they are strong and that they need to make small changes in order to stop being trapped as a nice girl. This book was very hard for me to get in to because I felt like I could not relate to any of the situations the author was discussing. I think this would be a great read for women who need help developing their voice and shedding the nice girl image. It is probably not the right book for casual readers. Reviewed by Nicole Will

LOCAL SF AUTHOR! Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond: Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need By Nancy Anderson New World Library, $14.95, 235 pages If you are in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, you may be one of the 78 million Americans still asking the question: “What should I do with my life?” It’s probably not that you don’t know the answer – more that you are not sure if the answer you think you know is correct. If you are still debating with yourself, you might just find the validity of your own answer in Nancy Anderson’s intriguing and helpful book, Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond: Reach Your Full Potential and Make The Money You Need.

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

Armstrong’s personal sense of faith shines radiantly; like-minded readers will take much away from these readings and reflections, and they might even find the courage to seek their own truths. Reviewed by Holly Scudero

“Midlife and beyond is when the authentic self emerges through layers of family and cultural conditioning to find answers to questions of ultimate concern: who am I, why am I here, and what should I do with the rest of my life?” Anderson covers the wide gamut of midlife crises you might be experiencing, and describes how to get over them, such


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The Hidden Power of the Gospels By Alexander Shaia HarperOne, $26.99, 365 pages In The Hidden Power of the Gospels, Shaia presents the four gospels in a new sequence. In the New Testament, the order is Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, but Shaia posits that if one reads Mathew, then Mark, John, and finally Luke, the sequence guide the seeker through the transformative cycle of change, loss, enlightenment, and maturation. Shaia calls this the Journey of

as: how to overcome the primary obstacles in finding passion, namely, fear of poverty and fear of criticism; how to increase effectiveness in personal and professional relationships; effective marketing strategies for networking with like-minded people to build a new career and establish the perfect niche; clarifying objectives and recognizing opportunities; and defining the happy ending so that you can live life as a whole, fully functioning individual. If you seek clear-cut guidance, Anderson’s Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond will help you look inward, re-evaluate and change course for the real and fulfilling life you’ve always sought. Reviewed by Dominique James Making Peace With Your Office Life By Cindy Glovinsky Griffin, $14.99, 368 pages If you’re like me, you spend the majority of your waking hours with people you’re not related to, not friends with, and whom you might not even like all that much. Because if you’re like me, you work in a busy office full of different personalities, motives, deadlines, and opinions all crashing into each other and vying

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

for your attention. So what’s a person to do when quitting isn’t an option and violence isn’t the answer? According to Cindy Glovinsky’s new book, Making Peace With Your Office Life, the answer is… well, not simple. But there is an answer, and it seems to lie mainly in advice that’s at least as old as I am: prioritize. Prioritize your professional tasks, but don’t necessarily give them priority over your personal ones. Give weight to coworker concerns, but not so much that you forget about yourself and your own needs. Yes, you’ve read or heard all this before, but that doesn’t mean Glovinsky’s advice is useless. Making Peace With Your Office Life offers many anecdotes and organizational tips that will doubtlessly prove useful. That is, if you can make picking it up at your local bookstore a priority. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell

BLOCKADE, con’t from page 1 their scrawny beanpole of a backup catcher was mowed down in a play at the plate and ended up in the hospital. Then the Titans found a young rookie from Iowa, William Blakely. Blakely is a strange character – in that great Stephen King way – who does an impressive job catching and hitting to boot. At his first big play at the plate, Blakely tags out the runner as the man flies over the catcher and is left with a sliced Achilles heel, never to play properly again. Blakely wins over the team and the fans in that first game, as well as others to come. He starts hitting balls out of the park, doing a great job catching, and making some great plays at the plate. The nickname – Blockade Billy – sticks and a legend is born. The season continues, and while the Titans don’t win every game, they do well and Blockade Billy continues to wow the crowds and the team. Then a terrible secret is discovered. About Blakely. His career is over; the Titans’ games are stricken from the record, and every effort is made to eradicate the name of William Blakely from history. The story is told in third person to King from the former third-base coach, who remembers this high time of baseball and the infamous character of Blockade Billy. King writes in his colloquial, easy-to-read style, slowly giving out the details and keeping the reader completely hooked, needing to know what the story is behind Blockade Billy. But I’m not going to give that away here; you’ll have to read the book to find out. Reviewed by Alex Telander

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Reference Write Starts: Prompts, Quotes, and Exercises to Jumpstart Your Creativity By Hal Zina Bennett New World Library, $14.00, 219 pages Write Starts is a series of vignettes spread out as chapters. It embodies the spirit of books on writing like “Bird by Bird” or “Writing Down the Bones,” but it is shorter and more direct and concise. It contains more prompts and exercises to stimulate and support the craft of writing. Each chapter is one to two pages long and explores a writing topic, followed by a oneparagraph prompt. The book is bolstered by words and quotations from famous, inspiring writers such as Flannery O’Connor and Anais Nin. This book is fresh, relevant, and current. For those who love the art of the written word, Write Starts might feel like having a writing coach at your elbow while you work. Hal Zina Bennett would be the perfect coach, boasting over 30 years of writing experience. Although best suited for an audience

fiction and short story writers, Write Starts also offers a few pieces and insights that will support poets and non-fiction writers. Reviewed by Allena Tapia Windows 7: The Missing Manual By David Pogue O’Reilly Media, Inc., $39.99, 887 pages Funny! And therefore engaging. If your kerosene-powered keyboard does not support a feature, the authors tell you why, and how to work around the problem. They also tell you whether it is really a problem, and if you can save the cost of another gadget. Coverage is immensely broad, nicely indexed, and eminently readable. “People learn best when information is engaging, clearly written, and funny. Unfortunately, most computer books read like dry catalogs. That’s why I created The Missing Manuals.” Of particular value is the extensive and probably exhaustive index of all the key-

board shortcuts supported by this new and rather nifty operating system. And there is a frank and open discussion and listing of feature drops, additions, and nomenclature mutations since Vista. An absolute necessity for any Microsoft evolution, and particularly so for this one. Discussions are honest. A section is titled “Control Panel Terminology Hell.” It explicitly tells you that the control panel goes through more reorganizations than a bankrupt airline, and proceeds to guide you through the wreckage, chuckling. Just scanning through this book you will probably find features you had no idea were available and probably would never have stumbled upon on your own. It is worth buying just for that, even if you have documentation for the OS. It is equally worth acquiring for the clear insight of the writers. Reviewed by David Sutton Life After College By Edited by Nadia Bilchik Hundreds of Heads Books, $16.95, 409 pages Life After College is filled with advice from experts and recent college grads on how to do function in the “real” world. There’s chapters on many topics ranging from trav-

eling to writing the cover letter that could help you land your next job. The problem I have with this book is the “no duh” advice given. I don’t think an educated adult needs to be told not to cuss in the work place or to make sure to delete those questionable pictures from your Facebook page before your potential employer sees them. Much of the advice is also repetitive, saying the same thing but in different ways. This comes across as your mother nagging you (which every college graduate is trying to get away from) more so than helpful advice. There are some more worthreading advice given, like to start saving for your 401(K), or paying of your credit cards before spending your graduation money on a trip or other unnecessary expenditure. Though this book is a good idea in concept, it is not executed well. If you’re looking for a gift to give the soon-to-be college graduate in your life, I suggest putting your money towards something else. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun

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

more off-kilter than the rest, this book will have you turning one page after another while, if you’re like me, chuckling aloud. Maeve is the type of female protagonist I’d like to see more of: self-reliant yet capable of real learning. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley The Language of Secrets By Dianne Dixon Doubleday, $24.95, 257 pages Justin Fisher has struggled with his past for his entire life. His memory is full of holes, and he’s never really wanted to know what was concealed in them until he and his wife moved to California, where he was born. Now memories are starting to surface, and he’s about to discover his tragic history and all the unpleasant things he’s tried so hard to forget. The secrets he discovers have caused irreparable harm to others, and they just might spell the end of everything he’s built of himself. Dianne Dixon’s The Language of Secrets is an intriguing mystery that strings the reader

along to the very end. The narrative is told in bits and pieces, switching between Justin’s present, his past, and the lives of his parents. The secrets that cocoon all of their lives are fascinating, so outlandish they just might be believable, and the story is told with great skill; Dixon has a wonderful way with words that will inspire readers to stay up long past their bedtimes. This one is sure to be a hit with anyone who picks it up. Reviewed by Holly Scudero One Day By David Nicholls Vintage, $14.95, 437 pages Through the course of twenty years there is one day, July 15, that opposites Emma Morely and Dexter Mayhew connect, reconnect, reminisce, and change each other’s lives, for better and for worse. The devilishly witty, wise, and talented bestselling author, David Nicholls, has written his latest and possibly most prolific book, a novel that digs at the depths of personal trials, the grudging need for a significant other, and the bitter-sweet reality of how one single moment in time can make the greatest and most lasting impact.

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“You were feeling a little lonely and you just needed a shoulder to cry on. Or sleep with. And that’s what I was. A shoulder to sleep with.” From the first paragraph, Nicholls’s superb writing ability glows with a neon brightness. While most would argue the story matches his syntax charisma, I found it rather dreary. In line with the gritty novels of fellow Englishman Nick Hornby, One Day exemplifies aging in such a way that makes youth feel tired. And though Emma and Dex’s ambiguous relationship is often tangible, it is by the end of the novel exhausted and therefore undesired. The heavy undertone of human nature’s penchant for holding on and the inevitable doom of having to move on makes you as a reader wonder if life, with all its twists and turns, would be better if we could just love what we know would make us happy. Reviewed by Natalie Fladager

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

ly capable of standing on its own two feet. While there can be no doubt in the reader’s mind that the two main characters will be a happy couple by the very end, Wilde’s tight writing and chemistry she has given her characters will keep the reader turning the pages until that happens. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Tell Me Lies By Jennifer Cruisie St. Martin’s Paperbacks, $14.99, 411 pages In Tell Me Lies, protagonist Maddie Faraday’s life has taken a serious nose-dive. Her husband is cheating, her mother is only worried about avoiding scandal, her neighbors can’t mind their own business, her small town has an unspoken code of conduct, and, oh yeah, her first lover is back in town and maybe still in love with her. Now if she can only keep most of this from her daughter, figure out why her house is getting burgled, and decide what she wants from her life, things might start looking up.

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

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

Jennifer Crusie is one of the most dependable current writers for consistently solid stories, but this book is a marked exception. The characters are unrealistic and often despicable. There’s very little chemistry between Maddie and the love interest. It would probably be more accurate to describe the supporting characters as “unsupporting” because, as they say, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Small town setups can be a solid backdrop for good comedy but, in this case, it seems merely to serve as an excuse for nonsensical law enforcement. Casual romance fans will want to skip this one; even solid Crusie fans will probably be left unsatisfied. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace Crazy For You By Jennifer Cruisie St. Martin’s Press, $14.99, 372 pages Jennifer Crusie returns with Crazy for You, a joyfully comic tale of love, lust, high school politics, deranged stalkers, and even more deranged dog-napping. Quinn McKenzie enjoys her job, loves her family, and is mildly pleased with her relationship with the high school football coach – but she’s bored to tears with her life. A chance encounter with a stray dog sends Quinn look-

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

ing for new, exciting experiences – including some with her lifelong best friend, a sexy, commitment-phobic mechanic named Nick. Crazy for You is a finish-in-one-gulp book that will please long-time fans, and send newer Crusie readers racing to order other backlist titles. Quinn is a fizzy but strong-minded heroine caught in a series of ludicrous but completely believable situations, and her longsimmering chemistry with Nick has genuine heat. Crusie specializes in fully fleshed-out secondary characters. Dog lovers will adore the plot twists with Katie, the wiry stray with a mind of her own. In addition, anyone who’s ever taught (or attended) high school will appreciate Crusie’s deft rendering of teenagers and the occasionally regressed adults who deal with them. The result is a read with real wit and wisdom. Reviewed by Jennifer King

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

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Sequential Art The 120 Days Of Simon By Simon Gardenfors Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 416 pages Simon Gärdenfors was not a familiar name to me and, likewise, I imagine the name means nothing to other people in the United States. In Sweden though, Mr. Gärdenfors is not only a cartoonist but also a rapper, television presenter, and radio host. He might even be considered “a big deal.” The 120 Days of Simon is his first book translated and published in the American market. The comic, all 416 pages of it, deals with Mr. Gärdenfors’ four-month social experiment in which he asked strangers on the Internet to put him up at their house for a day or two. Simon gave himself only two rules: he couldn’t return to his apartment and he couldn’t spend more than two nights at the same place. Simple rules, but Simon gets in to all sorts of trouble. Gärdenfors’ line work and style is great: think newspaper funnies from the ‘30s and ‘40s and you’ll have the idea. The subject matter is far from that ‘innocent’ era though as it includes drugs, sex, racism, etc. Simon finds himself getting into all sorts of trouble during his 120 days. 120 Days is an interesting graphic novel removed from the influences of the American scene that helps display the diversity of this field of literature. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess (Olympians) By George O’Connor First Second, $9.99, 80 pages Like the previous book in this series, Zeus: King of the Gods, this is a graphic novel about a deity attributed to the ancient Greeks. Athena is the goddess of war and wisdom. Athena’s book begins with a one-page summary of Zeus’s book, so readers can pick up

this volume without worrying about coming in part way through the story. On other hand, Athena’s story is more episodic that Zeus’s, so this series of adventures could be read independently. The art is reminiscent of classic comic books, with a lot of darker blue and gray tones, which suits Athena well. Inevitably, the book deals with some violent subjects – Athena is the goddess of war – but most of the violence is implied rather than shown, making it bearable for readers of any age. This is a great book for anyone who is learning about Greek mythology for the first time; it also makes an interesting refresher, in a new medium, if you have perhaps forgotten about these ancient stories. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller Super F*ckers By James Kochalka Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 143 pages Aspiring amateur superheroes from all over are coming together for the big team tryouts. Several of the team’s members are trapped in an alternate dimension. A strange creature has plans for another teammate and a struggle for power is tearing the team apart as a pocket of the past may collide with the present and destroy the world. And none of these plotlines will be resolved, let alone considered. This is the world of Superf*ckers. Like the Justice League if they were all lecherous self-centered teenage jerks, the Superf*ckers are less about saving the world and more about getting laid and getting high. In James Kochalka’s anarchic, swear-laden epic, Jack Krak, Orange Lightning, Princess Sunshine, Grotessa, Ultra Richard, and the others bicker and scheme and screw each other over on a daily basis. It was a bit too random and mean-spirited

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for my taste, but if you’re looking for some inventive cursing and a lot of irrational silliness, Superf*ckers will most definitely deliver. (The series starts with issue #271, after all.) But if you’re looking for coherence, family friendly language, or heroic role models, you’ve definitely picked the wrong book. The title should have been your first clue. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

as repulsed from the person that they share with. It’s an interesting exploration of what is generally glossed over in most science fiction. Combined with one of the most interesting book designs (there is a flip-out map and character information that can be read even while reading the book), and this book is definitely worth the price. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim

BodyWorld By Dash Shaw Pantheon, $27.95, 384 pages Some comics are pretty straight-forward; BodyWorld is not one of those. BodyWorld explores what we consider of ourselves, and the boundaries that separate one from another. An alien race is conducting an experiment in consciousness, and have dispatched agents to spread a plant that, when burnt, causes individuals to share their consciousness, even allowing some to control the actions of others. They can share memories and sensations, and it creates some interesting issues. This book will make you explore those boundaries, especially as to whether or not those boundaries should be crossed, as various pairs see the pluses and minuses of being able to share their deepest, darkest memories, and the ramifications of that sharing; couples find that they are both more deeply sympathetic to as well

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Local Calendar 3

Author Appearance - Mitchell Kusy, “ Toxic Workplace: Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco


Author Appearance - Laura Fraser, “All Over the Map” 4:00– 5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance - Susan Rebecca White, “A Soft Place to Land” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera


Author Appearance - Adele Langendorf, “The Shipyard Murders” 2:00–3:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance - Marcy Gordon, “Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010: True Stories from Around the World” 4:00–5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera


Author Appearance – Hilary Thayer Hamann, “Anthropology of an American Girl” 6:00–7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco

Author Appearance – Linda Greenlaw, “Seaworthy” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. - 2251 Chestnut St, The Marina, San Francisco Author Appearance – Peter Laufer, “Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. – 2275 Market St, The Castro, San Francisco

12 Children’s Author Appearance – Lisa Shulman, “Moon Might Be Milk” 11:00– 12:00pm Books Inc. - 2251 Chestnut St, The Marina, San Francisco

Author Appearance – Margery McAleer, “Doing Time in “Q”: the Story of One Man’s Life in Prison” 2:00–3:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearances - Sue Blalock, C.E. Grayson, and K.T. Sparrow, “Destination: Future” 3:00–4:00pm Borderlands Books - 866 Valencia St., San Francisco CA 94110 Author Appearance – Peter Laufer, “Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets” 4:00–5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

15 Author Appearance – Alix Dob- 18 Author Appearance – Brando kin, “My Red Blood” 6:00–7:45pm Hayward Main Library - 835 C St. at Mission Blvd., Hayward, CA 94541

Author Appearance – Jane Smiley, “Private Life” 7:00– 8:00pm Books Inc. – Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco Author Appearance – Amie Miller, “She Looks Just Like You: A Memoir of (Nonbiological Lesbian) Motherhood” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. – 2275 Market St, The Castro, San Francisco Author Appearance – Richard Wirick, “Kicking In: Stories” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. - 2251 Chestnut St, The Marina, San Francisco

16 Author Appearance – Andrew Joron, “ Trance Archive:New and Selected Poems” & Will Alexander 7:00– 8:00pm City Lights Bookstore - 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133

17 Author Appearance – Alan

Fleishman, “Goliath’s Head” 7:00– 8:00pm Books Inc. - 855 El Camino Real, 74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Author Appearance – Neil Landau, “101 Things I Learned in Film School” 4:30–5:30pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

Polakow-Suransky, “The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa” 7–8pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

Author Appearance – Bill Morgan, “The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation “ 7:00–8:00pm City Lights Bookstore - 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

YA Author Appearance – Heidi R. Kling, “Sea” 6:30–7:30pm Books Inc. - 855 El Camino Real, 74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto

Author Appearance – Emily Winslow, “Whole World” 7:00–8:00pm Books Inc. - 301 Castro St, Mountain View

Author Appearance – T.J. Stiles, “First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt” 7:00–8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street , Berkeley

Author Appearance – Elaine Aron, “The Undervalued Self” 7:00–8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

Author Appearance – Eric Poole, “Where’s My Wand” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. – 2275 Market St, The Castro, San Francisco

13 Author Appearance – Harry &

Author Appearance – Lee Kravitz, “Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc - 1344 Park St, Alameda

10 Author Appearance – Sasha

Author Appearance – Zhi Gang Sha, “Tao I: The Way of All Life” 7:00– 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

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Steven Stark, “World Cup 2010: The Indispensable Guide to Soccer and Geopolitics” 4:00– 5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

Skyhorse, “Madonnas of Echo Park” 7:00–8:00pm Books Inc. – Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco Author Appearance – Alan Downs, “Velvet Rage” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. – 2275 Market St, The Castro, San Francisco

19 Author Appearance – Joshilyn Jackson, “Backseat Saints” 7:00– 8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street , Berkeley

21 Author Appearance – Geneen Roth, “Women, Food and God” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street, Berkeley

Author Appearance – Jeffrey Deaver, “Burning Wire” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc - 1344 Park St, Alameda

23 Author Appearance – Eric

Pooley, “Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth” 7:00–8:00pm Books Inc. - 855 El Camino Real, 74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto Author Appearance – Tim Wise, “Colorblind: The Rise of Post Racial Politics and the Retreat From Racial Equity” 7:00–8:00pm City Lights Bookstore - 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco Author Appearance – Janelle Brown, “This is Where We Live” 7:30–8:30pm Books Inc. - 2251 Chestnut St, The Marina, San Francisco

28 Author Appearance – Michael Pollan, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” 7:00–8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street , Berkeley

30 Author Appearance – Bruce

Wrisley, “Stay or Move” 7:00–8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street , Berkeley EVENT DETAILS AND MANY MORE AT www.sanfranciscobookreview. com/local/calendar

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Travel Discover Australia By Edited by Lonely Planet Lonely Planet, $24.99, 408 pages Travel guides exist to provide information about the things one needs to know about where one is going: hotel accommodations, dining, points of interest, special events, and so on. All of this information can be presented in a lukewarm fashion, with plain writing and generic photography; or it can be given in such a way as to make the planning as adventurous as the trip. Lonely Planet aims for the latter effect. Their Discover Australia – Experience the Best of Australia is a journey for the eyes as well as the mind. The information you need is presented through enticing full color photographs, regional history, and an easy-to-follow layout that will help the traveler make arrangements for lodging, dining, and everything

else. You will learn what most people there know about the country you’re visiting, and you will learn “inside secrets” that even most residents do not know. Australia is a vast country with varied and completely separate climates and unique ecosystems. There are great expanses of wilderness – and great metropolitan cities that can make a visitor forget that there is anything more than shopping, nightlife, fine dining and museums. Lonely Planet brings the allure of Australia to life in the most inviting way imaginable. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin Discover Spain By Edited by Lonely Planet Lonely Planet, $24.99, 400 pages I am something of an armchair traveler, and Lonely Planet has always been my number one carrier to all kinds of exotic destinations. If you’ve never seen an episode, you’re likely to find them on your local PBS stations. Lonely Planet’s Discover Spain – Experience The Best of Spain is an outstanding, concise and bountiful source for making

the most of a visit to this grand and diverse country. The book is full of information on most anything anyone travelling abroad would want to know – food, lodging, activities, points of interest, geography, and history. This guidebook equals any I’ve ever seen, including those from Frommer and Fodor. Anyone can utilize this book, brimming with bright, full-color pictures and detailed maps, to plan a wonderful trip. Major cities are featured, and each section is broken down by region. Within each regional section, in each city, there is information on getting around, places to find local cuisine, hotel accommodations, festivals and events, and so much more. Specific details such as telephone numbers, addresses and rates make this guidebook to Spain a must-have for planning and to take with you. Perfectly sized to fit into a carry-on pocket, even a handbag, this book is a valuable companion. You won’t want to leave the States without it. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin

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Science & Nature 101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for Memory By Terry McDermott Pantheon, $25.95, 271 pages Memory. Everyone knows what it is — and what it feels like when it fails us. But how much do we truly know about memory and how it is made? Very little, from a scientific point of view. Terry McDermott takes us into the lab and life of one scientist as he searches for the physiological underpinnings of memory, and it is quite a ride. “There is no guarantee, Gary Lynch liked to say, that something is important just because you happen to study it. ‘You always imagine those animals out in a herd, the wildebeests, they’re running along, and a lion jumps up and takes out this guy named Clyde,’ he said. Then the world proceeds as if Clyde never happened. ‘They don’t talk about Clyde anymore. It’s just not good form to talk about him.” Gary Lynch has spent more than 30 years pursuing leads many other scientists thought were just plain crazy, let alone supported by conventional wisdom. But Lynch is anything but conventional, as McDermott often makes amusingly clear in 101 Theory Drive. Lynch’s personality and tenacity both help him and hurt him as he works toward goals only he believes are attainable. He is sure, for example, that a process called long-term potentiation is the way memories are formed in the brain, and while the rest of the scientific community either ignores or criticizes his research and discoveries, he doggedly pursues ways to prove his hypothesis. The book is a fascinating portrait of one brilliant, eccentric scientist and an insight into some of the groundbreaking science that seeks to explain memory. Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim Eaarth By Bill McKibben Times Books, $24.00, 253 pages McKibben tries to warn us that not only is the planet heading for disaster, but he knew it 25 years ago and has taken strides to announce it to the world. Although he paints a grim picture of our future, he paints an even grimmer picture of what we have to do to change it. It’s not so much that we’ll perish, but like we need to put ourselves

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on a diet before we grow too lazy to get out of bed. “Change—fundamental change—is our best hope on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.” Like others of recent times in the 21st century, Bill McKibben is making a clear case. We’re just out of time. He shows case after countless case of how the world is changing and makes a convincing argument that we are causing it. The most powerful element of the book is its readability. He blasts everything from industry to land conservation to overpopulation, to make a most indelible point. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets By Peter Laufer The Lyons Press, $19.95, 250 pages Forbidden Creatures gives the reader a true sense of why we simply cannot attempt to domesticate the animals of the wild. The author tells many real life stories of these creatures being raised in homes as if they were common house cats, only to have them turn on the humans who care for them. Most of these tales have not made national news and may surprise you. You’ll read the horrific details of the 911 call for help while the owner of an exotic pet watches her monkey kill her best friend. Or the family who awakes to find their python has killed their baby. Author Peter Laufer reveals the large network involved with animal smuggling and the exotic pet trade which still exists, even in the United States. He explores the motivation and logistics behind animal smuggling and exposes who is doing this dangerous trading, as well as the greedy consumers whose support of wild animal trafficking make it the third most lucrative illegal business in the world. The author has done an impressive job exposing this inhumane and very dangerous side of Forbidden Creatures, making this book a must read for anyone considering the purchase of an exotic pet, or those who wish to support the efforts to put an end to the smuggling. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt

Life: Extraordinary Animals, Extreme Behaviour By Martha Holmes; Michael Gunton University of California Press, $39.95, 305 pages Life: Extraordinary Animals, Extreme Behaviour is the companion to the new BBC series narrated by Oprah Winfrey. This is an absolutely beautiful book. In a ten-byten-inch coffee table format, the book filled with some of the most amazing color photographs you may ever see of extraordinary animals. However; it is much more than a book full of pictures. Each photograph or group of photos is accompanied by factfilled pages which celebrate the extreme behavior of these sometimes unusual, sometimes common, but always extraordinary species. You will learn about their habitats, their place in the food chain, and their history. “For most animals, it is a huge achievement just to survive, to see another dawn.” A main focus of this book and the BBC series, is to document the extraordinary ends animals and plants go in order to simply survive. Between finding food, fighting off the competition, and attempting to reproduce, for most animals, it is a huge achievement to simply survive the day. This book highlights some of the most exciting examples, grouped by the different ways animals face the universal challenge of survival. If you are looking for a wonderful gift for the animal lover on your list, this book is it. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt The Atlas of Global Conservation By Jonathan Hoekstra, Jennifer L. Molnar, Michael Jenning, Carmen Revenga, Mark D. Spalding M. Hoekstra University Of California Press, $49.95, 234 pages Mankind has had an affect on nature ever since we since we discovered farming, from damming of rivers to fertilizing crops. Then came the Industrial Revolution and the waste and pollution we have put into the air since then—the greatest changes we have made to this planet we call home. In The Atlas of Global Conservation, the Nature Conservancy and other groups, attempt to document the changes that have

taken place, both good and bad, whether concentrations of species or endangered waterways. Each page brings up a different map, a different way of looking at the world, interspersed with articles on how we have changed our planet and what people are doing to lessen their impact. The maps are readable and easy to understand. At the end is a section on how people are doing their part to help conserve nature. This is a different way of looking at the world and an informative read that we can all benefit from and use to help our planet. Reviewed by Kevin Winter The Farthest Shore: A 21st Century Guide to Space By Edited by Dr. Joseph N. Pelton & Dr. Angela P. Bukley Apogee Books, $27.95, 416 pages This book and its corresponding web-based, interactive teaching and learning system encompasses the past, present, and future activities in space research and exploration. It studies this field’s scientific, commercial, legal, technological, social, literary, and artistic aspects: topics cover advancements in communication, tourism, global warming, advantages of robotics, investment opportunities, and space as an inspiration for creativity. Diagrams and photographs augment the text which includes contributions by astronauts, artists, entrepreneurs, and the world’s leading space experts. “The future of humankind and the future of space are inherently intertwined.” Written in comprehensible and usually enjoyable terms, this reference affords the casual reader a clear glimpse into the field of space exploration. Through a holistic overview, it promotes knowledge that is international, intercultural, and interdisciplinary. Although some contents suffer from poorly reproduced graphics, and its format could have been more user-friendly than the textbooks it resembles, information is provided in such a descriptive and positive manner that meanings retain their impact. For anyone who has ever thought this subject boring or conventional, The Farthest Shore: A 21st Century Guide to Space will change that attitude; it puts into perspective our place as finite human beings in an limitless universe. Reviewed by Richard Mandrachio

t hou s a nd s of re v ie w s at w w w. s a n f r a nc i s cob o ok re v ie

San Francisco Book Review - June 2010  

Monthly book review publication

San Francisco Book Review - June 2010  

Monthly book review publication