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Mar 10 VOLUME 1, ISSUE 7




Jetpack Dreams Don’t hog all the coolness, Boba Fett Page 5

Smart on Crime

San Francisco DA Kamala Harris Page 8


Ruby’s Spoon Hooked by Isa Fly Page 9

Henri Matisse Gouache genius Page 10


Science Fiction & Fantasy

A unique perspective in America’s history By Jackson Taylor Touchstone, $ 14.99, 416 pages


The Blue Orchard is an account of the life of the author’s grandmother, Verna Krone, who came from a poor family in Pennsylvania and had to leave school to help supplement the family’s income. Determined to escape poverty, she eventually became a nurse and worked for a prominent black doctor in Harrisburg during the decades preceding the Civil Rights movement. Jackson Taylor presents this story in the first-person narrative, but the novel is the result of ten years of research and extensive interviews. Verna worked for a politically prominent doctor

who offered safe, but illegal, abortions. The demise of his political clout eventually led to their arrest. The Blue Orchard, while presented as a novel, has an extremely strong sense of authenticity. It’s an incredible portrayal of America’s social and political history from a perspective not often presented in literature. Taylor’s dedication to an honest combination of fact and personal interpretation is obvious and commendable. His writing is excellent, and his subtle characterization See BLUE, page 5

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Death in North Beach

I left my heart in San Francisco Page 15

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil

How can unspeakable evil be so good? Page 20

113 Reviews INSIDE!

Travel Frommer’s New York City 2010 By Brian Silverman; Kelsy Chauvin; Richard Goodman Wiley, $19.99, 486 pages As always, Frommer’s doesn’t disappoint. New York City 2010 is the quintessential guide for anyone even thinking of travelling to the Big Apple this year. It couldn’t be easier to navigate a trip with this sleek, fullcolor, five-inch by eight-inch guide, complete with a pull-out map. While all the basics are covered, such as where to eat, sleep and shop, Frommer’s takes it to another level. Everyone’s gotta eat, but Frommer’s will give you the dish on N.Y’s best bagels, where to find your burger bliss and the surge of new restaurants sprouting in Brooklyn, not to mention a list of unforgettable dining experiences. “One of the few constants about New York City is that things are always changing.”

In the Best of the Big Apple section, writers break down the best day in New York’s other boroughs, the best neighborhoods for strolling, the best incentives for hotel-hopping and more. If you only have one, two or three days to spend in the city, the guidebook makes maximizing your itinerary a no-brainer. There is even an essential New York eating itinerary for the foodie. With hundreds of other covered topics, Frommer’s New York City 2010 is as invaluable as travelers checks. Reviewed by Elizabeth Kalfsbeek Paris Underground By Mark Ovenden Penguin (Non-Classics), $25, 176 pages I’m one of those people who has an interest in what interests other people. I know that seems confusing, but follow me for a minute. When someone is truly passionate about something, it doesn’t really matter if I’ve never even heard of what it is they love. I could listen to them talk about it for hours. In that way, Paris Underground is a triumph. Author Mark Ovendon is obsessed with the Parisian transit system, and it’s infectious. I flipped through the book, smiling at the obvious joy with which it had been compiled.

But the fact remains that this is a book full of microscopic maps and pictures of old French signs. It’s a comprehensive history of Paris transit. If you can’t even make it through this review without feeling like you want to take a nap, this book is not for you. But if you love public transit (and I won’t judge), or if you want to add to your collection of obscure knowledge for your next Trivial Pursuit tournament, this book ought to be right up your alley. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell City Secrets Books: The Essential Insider’s Guide By Robert Kahn Universe, $19.95, 384 pages The City Secrets series of travel guides are unique in the travel guide landscape. Rather than suggest a list of restaurants, museums, and shops to visit, they enlist chefs, art history professors, and designers to reveal their favorite places in a given city. The result is a truly wonderful compendium of off-the-beaten-path places that you’d never

find on your own. The good folks at City Secrets now turn their attention to books, inviting famous writers, editors, and other literary luminaries to suggest their favorite now-forgotten titles. Organized alphabetically by title, each entry includes a short essay on why the contributor selected the work, and these illuminating and often very personal vignettes could almost lead you to read this collection straight through, entry after entry. But it’s best to peruse the titles at random, like stumbling through a completely unorganized bookstore selling only forgotten literary gems. The suggestions run the gamut: a study on the stork’s mechanics of flight from 1889 is soon followed by a work by a 1940’s Hungarian writer, which is later followed by a young German writer’s newest novella, published in 2005. There is truly something for everyone here. Reviewed by Margo Orlando Littell

Spirituality Lifelines By Askhari Johnson Hodari, Yvonne McCalla Sobers, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Broadway, $19.99, 230 pages Lovers of wise sayings and quotations will be enchanted by Lifelines, an exhaustive compilation of African proverbs assembled by Askhari Johnson Hodari and Yvonne McCalla Sobers. This book of wisdom in confident African words is broken up into sections, organized so that they follow the human journey from birth to death. Each section contains an assortment of sayings from different African countries and communities (ethnic or cultural groups). These sayings present a wealth of knowledge that is indigenous but also alive in the African diaspora. The proverbs touch on a diversity of important life events and issues: parenting, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, marriage and love, ethics, spirituality and community, age/ seniority, and death. The authors provide an introduction to each section of the book, illuminating the relevance of the sayings to their lives. The authors’ personal essays and the collected proverbs highlight themes relevant to Afri-

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cans: the honoring of respect, kinship, community, compassion, generosity, hard work, and foresight. I am deeply grateful to the authors for putting together this collection, a book that will appeal to readers of all backgrounds but one that I can turn to for a celebration of the rich words of my African people and ancestors. Reviewed by Viola Allo Dogs & Devotion By The Monks of New Skete Hyperion, $16.99, 95 pages For a truly inspirational and beautiful look into the bond we share with our beloved canine companions, Dogs & Devotion is an outstanding tribute. The Monks of New Skete offer in their writings a way to look at our four-legged friends and by taking a moment to better understand of how they live so that we, too, may find some wisdom in treating ourselves a little better. “Dogs place such modest conditions on their happiness.” This book is filled with lovely photographs and is full of insight for taking life a little less seriously, making the little things in life a reward

worth celebrating and, as we all know, learning to give of yourself unconditionally. The authors believe that dogs have a lot to teach us about how to live, perhaps most importantly, the quality of devotion. Dogs are masters of the art of devotion, not only in their loyalty to us, but also in the way they approach every aspect of life. This book is an absolute must for the dog lover and, who knows, if it is out on the coffee table, it might inspire a few people to have their first relationship with a new furry friend. Dogs & Devotion: A Celebration of the Bond Between Dogs and Their People would make an excellent gift and a great addition to your library. Reviewed by Doreen Erhardt Have a Little Faith By Mitch Albom Hyperion Books, $23.99, 254 pages Perhaps the choice of the word “faith” by Mitch Albom is strategic. In our modern world (and indeed, throughout history), “religion” connotes the deadly poison of prejudice, intolerance, and violence. Using the word “faith” instead of “religion” allows the author to propose something universal, something that exists in all religions, cultures, and societies. Humans may practice diverse religions, but we all desire the deep comforts found in community, kinship, rituals, traditions, kindness, and faith.

These are positive desires that we have in common. This focus on the positive gives me hope, hope that we will one day live in a world where people see beyond difference to find commonality. Perhaps the most powerful message of this book is one that tells us to value our elders. They have much wisdom to impart. However, our American society usually shuns them in its celebration of youthfulness and its avoidance of the fact of aging. The elderly enrich our lives and communities. They are beacons of strength and courage. If we want heroes, we need look no further than these sages in our midst. I have read several of Mitch Albom’s other books and essays, the deeply personal fiction and non-fiction works he’s famous for. This newest book is a classic example of his literary genius and will surely be an outstanding addition to his collection of writings that continue to inspire so many readers. We’re fortunate to have a writer like this around! Reviewed by Viola Allo

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

San Francisco

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 COPY EDITORS Autumn Conley Diane Jinson Joe Atkins Megan Just EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jen LeBrun Jordan Dacayanan DISTRIBUTION Reliable Distribution Mari Ozawa ADVERTISING SALES

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.

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

Become a Book Reviewer If you would like to review books for us, send three sample reviews in the body of an email to reviews@1776productions. com, along with the category areas you are interested in reviewing. Reviews are uncompensated, except for a review copy of the book and publishing credit. But you do get to read books before all your friends, so that should count for something.

IN THIS ISSUE Travel.............................................................2 Spirituality.....................................................2 Music & Movies...............................................4 Sports & Outdoors..........................................4 Science & Nature............................................5 Relationships & Sex........................................6 Home & Garden..............................................6 History...........................................................7 Current Events...............................................8 Business & Investing......................................9 Historical Fiction............................................9 Art, Architecture & Photography.................10 Science Fiction & Fantasy & Sequential Art.. 11 Biographies & Memoirs................................15 Mystery, Crime & Thrillers...........................15 Romance.......................................................16 Popular Fiction............................................. 17 Modern Literature........................................ 17 Poetry & Short Stories..................................18 Local Calendar..............................................19 Tweens.........................................................20 Young Adult..................................................20

FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to another issue of the San Francisco Book Review and our semi-annual Science Fiction & Fantasy insert. Plenty of new great Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sequential Art books coming out and we have 113 reviewed to get you started looking for your next great book. We’ve had some exciting changes in our Sacramento Book Review website, and we’ll be making the same changes with the San Francisco Book Review’s site as well. Easier to find local events, some great columns from our reviewers, featured book reviews, and our Audible Authors program of podcast interviews. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Viewpoints columns, I encourage you to take a look. Basically, we’re bringing back the old-fashioned newspaper columns, where you’ll find weekly columns on cooking, relationship advice, photography, mental health, and home and gardening. If you’re curious about professional book reviewing, check out our column called The Critical Eye. For you budding authors, we have a weekly piece written by some of our publicists called After the Manuscript. Also online, we have a great compare and contrast of some of the multitude of ereader options written by Meredith Greene, one of our regular reviewers (and Viewpoints columnist). Notoriety is catching up to us. We’ve found a few soft cover books that we reviewed in hard cover format several months ago that caught us by surprise with our review quoted on the cover. It’s akin to framing the first dollar bill your business ever made. We’ll keep those first books in a special place. We thank you for picking us up. We hope you find the publication helpful or at least entertaining. And, when you are done, please pass the paper along to someone else, or recycle it. Happy reading, Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief 1776 Productions

Health, Fitness & Dieting.............................21

Coming Up...


Spring is coming! Look for our expanded Home & Garden section in the April issue. Get some great ideas on what to plant and how to prep your yard for the sunny weather. We’ll also have some books in celebration of Mother’s Day.

Cooking, Food & Wine..................................23 Children’s.....................................................24

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Music & Movies Right Here on Our Stage Tonight! By Gerald Nachman University of California Press, $29.95, 455 pages Gerald Nachman continues his survey of lesser-known areas of American popular culture with Right here on Our Stage Tonight: Ed Sullivan’s America. Ed Sullivan’s America was a place where vaudeville, Broadway musicals, Hollywood stars, night clubs, horse races, radio, “Uncle Miltie” on television, and newspapers competed for the mass audience entertainment dollar. Sullivan was there, not as a performer, but as a master of ceremonies. He covered the Broadway and sports beat as a newspaper columnist and became an American institution with his long-running television variety show. Then came rock and roll music. It was Sullivan who inadvertently ushered in the new era. The Beatles made their national television debut on the The Ed Sullivan Show in early ‘64. They not

only changed the culture, they made Sullivan an icon. Nachman excels at evoking a bygone time. He is a skilled reporter who does not rely solely on previously published accounts. He has done first-person interviews with dozens of key individuals. The sections on Elvis and The Beatles are highlights, but Nachman betrays his lack of rock and roll credentials with some major gaffes. He calls the Beatles’ “Meet The Beatles” the first ‘concept album’ when of course it was “Sgt. Pepper’s” in 1967. He marks the beginning of the decline of the Sullivan show to the The Doors one-shot appearance during the 6869 season. The song they performed,“Light My Fire,” was the number one single during the Summer of Love- 1967. The parts of the book dealing with the early days of Sullivan’s variety show, then called “Toast of the Town” are hilarious. The show had a total talent budget of $375! Sullivan’s career as a sportswriter makes for a fascinating read. One is surprised--and proud--to learn that he was an early champion of civil rights who used his column to condemn racist practices. Nachman , who

Sports & Outdoors The Book of Surfing: The Killer Guide By Michael Fordham It Books, $19.99, 288 pages The Book of Surfing is nothing less than a Bible of surf lore. A historical treatise, a who’s-who of influential names, a how-to guide, a travelogue, a film retrospective, a surf lingo-to-English dictionary... it encompasses all of these and more, unified by one very simple ideal: the love of surfing. Fordham’s book richly covers the hows, whys, and wheres of surfing, allowing the greenest novice to gain some valuable tips and advice, and offering plenty to be appreciated by enthu-

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siasts and survivors of a thousand wipeouts as well. How waves are formed, how weather patterns affect the surf, how to choose a board, what to bring, how to behave, how not to behave... the list is virtually endless. An absolute wealth of information is presented, cleverly dispersed throughout the book so as not to overwhelm, and peppered throughout with vivid and enthralling photography that not only explains concepts and adds color, but captures the imagination. And despite all of the terminology and technique behind it, in the end, The Book of Surfing is just that, a celebration of one man’s genuine adoration for riding the waves. Even if you never pick up a board, it is a joyful and entertaining read. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

hails from the Bay Area, has previously written Raised On Radio probably the best book ever written on Golden Age of Radio. I do wish he could resist his habit of trying to relate past events and personalities to modern ones in an attempt to make them “relevant” to today’s readers. Was Sullivan really television’s first “reality star”? Was the player piano of his boyhood home an early version of the iPod? We also get a bit too many descriptions of Sullivan’s strange appearance, voice, and mannerisms. The book is a bit padded and that is one reason why. But, overall, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of America’s somewhat crazy cultural history. And it is damn entertaining too! Reviewed by Bruce Marshall The Gesualdo Hex: Music, Myth, and Memory By Glenn Watkins Norton, $39.95, 416 pages The story of the Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo might be fascinating. Unfortunately this book by Glenn Watkins is disjointed and frankly boring. Watkins tries to tell the story of Gesualdo and the affect

that the music of Gesualdo has had on modern-day composers. Through the use of music and memory. He explores the late careers of a big-name composers, such as Stravinsky and Schoenberg, how they came to know Gesualdo and the affect that Gesualdo had on their lateperiod pieces. Watkins then attempts to delve into how Gesualdo has affected performance works and pairings of different works and other medias, such as movies, television, and art. This books is flat and boring. Mr. Watkins claims at the beginning that this is for the average reader. It is not. If you do not know who Gesualdo is, or have a deep background in music, you will be confused and frustrated. The writing is a bore to read, and he goes too deep into Schoenberg and Stravinsky, never really explaining Gesualdo’s influence until much later in the book. The book falls flat on all accounts. Reviewed by Kevin Winter

When The Game Was Ours By Larry Bird, Earvin Magic Johnson, and with Jackie MacMullan HMH, $26.00, 340 pages Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson are names synonymous with basketball. They have a lot in common, but in the beginning, the only thing they had in common was their deep-rooted dislike for each other. A very real rivalry started when Magic’s Michigan team beat Larry’s undefeated Indiana team for the NCAA championship title. The interest in these two phenomenal players and the East Coast – West Coast showdowns nearly saved the entire NBA from bank-

ruptcy. Eventually these two grew not only to respect each other, but like one another. When the Game was Ours is an in-depth look into what basketball used to be like. Today, players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, seem more interested in their own statistics and endorsement deals than to focus on what the game is really all about. Larry and Magic weren’t great players simply because of their numbers, but because they had the ability to make the other players on the court better. This is a must-have book for serious basketball fans. It takes a look back into the style of playing I wish was still around today. The honesty throughout When the Game was Ours (especially through Magic’s HIV diagnosis) makes you hanging on the rim for the next page. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

Science & Nature Jetpack Dreams By Mac Montandon Da Capo Press, $16.95, 288 pages Everyone thinks jetpacks are cool. You, me, everyone. Friends, neighbors, total strangers, they’re all unified by one simple idea: jetpacks are cool. Boba Fett has one, James Bond too. Jetpacks are one of those quintessential pieces of technology that people in the ‘50s figured we’d have by now. So where are they? Where are all the jetpacks we were promised by popular culture? That’s the question Mac Montandon seeks to answer in Jetpack Dreams, his thorough, occasionally meandering, love letter to everyone’s favorite not-yet-realized form of transportation (except for Futuramaloving tube travel enthusiasts, of course). Exhaustively exploring the rich history of personalized pyrotechnic-propelled portability, Montandon goes so far as to meet with aspiring jetpack designers and pilots, some of whom have dedicated their lives to following in the footsteps of the Rocketeer and Buck Rogers. But perhaps the best part of the book is the ongoing examination of why we find them so fascinating, and why we even want jetpacks at all. Montandon may not have soared across the bright blue sky with rocket-powered ease -- yet -- but he has crafted a merry tribute to a quirky piece of aviation history. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Giant Molecules By Walter Gratzer Oxford University Press, $24.95, 254 pages Many reviewers will choose to focus on one or more of the various aspects of the book that Walter Gratzer has put forward. Gratzer has garnered a new category of 21st century scientists. The author reveals technological advances in synthetic structures and showcases their importance. The basis of all the giant molecules is the carbon atom. Everything is based upon the marvelous way in which the bonds are formed with various other elements and compounds. By his exhaustive study, we glimpse through a window into a fantastic building block of matter. During the 1950s, the introduction of polymers blazed a trail to study synthetic structures that opened a new way to look at organic chemistry. Gratzer lays the groundwork for his discussion in the first seven chapters.

In the last chapter, he builds a case for giant molecules, which is the most far-reaching consideration surfaced in developing carbon fibers. Among these, carbon chains bond to form parallel structures creating sheets of molecules, much stronger than steel and considerably lighter. The study of carbon filaments, the latest development, sets the stage to make remarkable devices, super strong materials that may replace aircraft aluminum and anything else where lightweight strength is essential. A wonderful compilation of scientific thought. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the Notorious By Strauss, Alix Harper Paperbacks, $14.99, 325 pages Looking for a grisly, gruesome, yet morbidly fascinating read? By its very nature dark and disturbing, Alix Strauss’s Death Becomes Them won’t appeal to everybody, but for those willing to come along for the ride, it’s a compelling and original book that explores the suicides of the rich, famous, and notorious. “Suicide and darkness have long plagued the ultracreative. Their selfdestructive vices and passion for excess follow them like a trail of empty bottles, and often beg the chicken or egg question. Is it their sadness that makes them so brilliantly creative, or does their brilliance and ability to create induce their sadness?” Strauss, a journalist and short-story author, has written the ultimate celebrity tellall book: one which delves into the final days of famous troubled and tortured souls ranging from Sylvia Plath to Vincent Van Gogh to Kurt Cobain and Hunter S. Thompson. Not only does she recount the methods of their suicides, she looks at the factors leading up to those fateful decisions, as well. Troubling yet fascinating, Strauss weaves a compelling batch of vignettes, devoting no more than a handful of pages to each suicide, but they resonate with depth. Sigmund Freud, for instance, had a severe cigar habit that led to mouth cancer, with holes in his jaw making his final days sheer agony. Facts like these help us to answer the biggest question of all, why? Eerie, yet a genuine page-turner, Death Becomes Them is a must-read for anybody curious about death and able to handle the often dirty details that go along with it. Reviewed by Mark Petruska

The Faith Instinct By Wade, Nicholas Penguin Press, $25.95, 310 pages Many of us are concerned about the political and social strife unfolding across the globe, supported by religious views. However, we also see acts of compassion motivated by the same faith that causes wars. What is it about religious behavior that makes humans capable of love and hate in the same breath? Where does religion come from? Where is it going? What purpose has it served in human history? These are the questions Nicholas Wade answers in The Faith Instinct. He reviews biological and anthropological research on the evolution of religious behavior. He argues that humans have a genetic propensity for religiosity. As our ancestors evolved, religious practices conferred benefits on social groups, enhancing their survival, especially in the form of better cooperation within groups and defense and warfare against outsiders. Early forms of religion (ritual dance, trance, ancestor worship, animism) and modern forms of religion (polytheisms, monotheisms) function to organize human societies. This is evident when human societies switch from hunting and gathering to farming and a sedentary way of life (10,000-5,000 B.C.). Readers might find this book overly academic but agree with the conclusion that religions is “nature and nurture” and will be around for a long time to come. Reviewed by Viola Allo The Vanishing of a Species? A Look at Modern Man’s Predicament by a Geologist By Peter Gretener Qualitas Publishing, $19.95, 280 pages Peter Gretener’s collection of concise essays is an interesting, diverse read that will push readers to think about their roles as stewards of the Earth. His essays ask us to consider what we do to the planet through our unchecked consumption of its resources and what kind of future we are creating for our species. Western lifestyles are not sustainable, he argues, because they are wasteful of so many resources and ever hungry for more than what we need for survival. Technology, modern and ancient, defines our species. Man, the advanced toolmaker, is the mammal that has come to dominate the Earth like no other. However, if man does

not moderate his technological inventions, balance them with humanistic and environmentally desirable outcomes, man risks creating a truly inhospitable planet and will eventually cause his own extinction. What can we do to prevent this? Gretener asks us to change our expectations, develop more realistic standards of living, curb our hunger for material wealth, and slow down our production of unnecessary goods and gadgets. Gretener calls us to form a global human revolution, a change in attitude and education toward a more internal awareness and satisfaction, not hinged on the accumulation of external objects. I support this revolution! Reviewed by Viola Allo Ask The Animals By Bruce R. Coston St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 274 pages Ask the Animals is a compilation of stories. The author draws upon his more than twenty years practicing veterinarian medicine. The book started as a collection of articles that appeared in Bryce Mountain Courier, a monthly newspaper. The author foreshadows the drama with an illustrious introduction. He paints a graphic picture of the heartbreak of an elder man having to put his dear pet down. He lovingly expresses the plight of a vet faced with the heart-wrenching dilemma of dragging a destitute, elderly man through expensive treatment or yielding to charity to extend the life of an old and feeble, dying pet. With 38 chapters, Bruce Coston slowly develops the common thread to this compilation. The first 50 pages outline his background. After, his passion begins to breathe and grow, cataloging some rather moving anecdotes. He tells his stories with fervent tearjerking details. It’s a courageous and gutwrenching account of man’s mammalian companions. It’s a punctilious glimpse into the lives of the creatures we love most dearly—our pets. This memoir is a reflection on what makes us human. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about the lives of animals. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky BLUE, con’t from page 1 brings this bit of history alive. This book will appeal to a wide range of readers, but especially to those who enjoy an inside look at the machinery of politics and their effect on community. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

March 10


Relationships & Sex Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth From Real Couples About Lasting Love By Charlie and Linda Bloom New World Library, $14.95, 233 pages Is it the bragging? Is it the deadpan remarks about repetitive, mind-blowing sex? Is it the surreptitious digs at those whose relationships haven’t lasted? Is it the constant reference to every religion under the sun? Whatever it is, the book has the potential to give readers a big, fat, festering cavity from its constant, sticky sweetness. Secrets of Great Marriages features dozens of couples taking turns reminiscing about how great their marriages are and speculating as to why. The members of the married couple that wrote the book are both counselors and they bolster each essay with sound bites of advice specific to the situation. Sounds good, right? Sounds useful to those in new or young marriages? Hmm … not so fast. Readers who look to this book hoping for sound advice on staying happily married will instead get nothing more than a healthy dose of self-absorption. After about five stories, it was obvious why each marriage was untouchable: the subjects were so enamored with themselves that they didn’t seem to have time for fighting or divorce! Reviewed by Allena Tapia

Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match By Amy Spencer Running Press, $22.95, 235 pages For everyone out there tired of pounding the pavement searching without success for your soul mate, your remedy is here in the form of Amy Spencer’s Meeting Your Half Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match. Spencer outlines a no-brainer strategy for anyone desiring a fulfilling relationship with The One. And here’s the best part: you can stop looking. By using dating optimism your half orange will come to you! Sound too good to be true? “It’s not up to you to design your perfect man from head to toe,” writes Spencer. “It’s up to you to figure out how you’ll feel your best self in a relationship … and then you just need to let the world bring you your big surprise.” The author’s advice is easy to follow and relate to because, well, she used to be one of us. As a freelance writer who often publishes relationshipadvice articles in Cosmopolitan and Glamour, Spencer became discouraged at her own lack of a fulfilling relationship. With wit and candor, she explains the tried and tested methods of finding your perfect match using dating optimism that worked for her and others. Reviewed by Elizabeth Kalfsbeek

A Little Bit Married By Hannah Seligson Da Capo Lifelong Books, $15.95, 228 pages Are you an upwardly mobile, twentysomething in a committed, long-term relationship? Do you live with your partner? Are you in no hurry to tie the knot? Then you are one of a growing majority known as A Little Bit Married. In her fascinating new book, journalist Hannah Seligson investigates the phenomenon of long-term, marriage-like relationships that seem to have taken the place of actual marriages. This cultural shift, made possible by the advent of birth control and the desire to avoid divorce, is so pervasive that a large majority of people now live together in a “trial period” before getting hitched. “Uncertainty is the most certain thing in a relationship, which doesn’t always metabolize that well in a culture that’s obsessed with ‘being sure.’” But there are problems, as Seligson clearly points out. How much do you sacrifice for your non-spouse? Where do you spend the holidays? How, and when, do you broach the subject of children, religion, and the future of the relationship in an environment of growing inertia? Written primarily for a female audience, but with an open and engaging style that

appeals to men as well, A Little Bit Married helps readers answer these hard questions and understand their own complicated relationships. Everyone, from disapproving parents to free spirits, should read this book. Reviewed by Katie Cappello The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It By M. Gary Neuman Wiley, $14.95, 219 pages The author begins this book by insisting that cheating is not the woman’s fault, but then addresses solely women for the next 200 pages. Ok, so, this is the book’s audience, but Neuman really alienates his audience with the constant admonishments about what women do and how women drive men to cheat. The book spends very little time in addressing the man, his thought processes, his decision-making skills (or lack of), and his viewpoints in doing the dirty deed, and, instead, focuses on the woman. Don’t get me wrong, I have nary a doubt that Neuman knows exactly what he’s talking about. He details interviews with dozens (out of hundreds) of cheaters and non-cheaters, but more attention could have been paid to the male side of things when talking about cheating. Reviewed by Allena Tapia

Home & Garden Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition) By Pat Welsh Chronicle Books, $32.5, 455 Pages Starting off with a sweet dedication to her late husband, garden editor and TV-Host Pat Welsh launches into a month-by month guide on organic gardening in southern California. Narrowing in on her home regional area and the respective plant life Welsh continues to update her original text. First printed in 1991, Welsh kept adding more to her “handbook” and addressing changing conditions, and thus the third edition of her book presents itself to eager California gardeners.

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“Every neighborhood, every yard has physical characteristics that produce slightly varying climates.” Welsh first touches on the unique climate facets of Southern California; she addresses the issue of micro-climates within a climate zone and how this affects one’s plans and growing techniques. Not just focusing on how one can prune and divide perennials, Welsh covers the five types of soil, soil additives, improving drainage on lots and includes several pages on manure and their varying applications. Having a backyard vegetable garden, I especially appreciated the two homemade organic vegetable fertilizer “recipes” for Western Soil—one all-purpose and one high-nitrogen. In our home, this book will be used frequently in the coming months, and for some years to come. Reviewed by Meredith Greene

The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual--and the Modern Home Began By Joan DeJean Bloomsbury USA, $28, 295 pages The setting for this book is Paris in the late 17th and early 18th centuries where the notion of comfort in daily living became all the rage among the ruling aristocracy and the wealthy upper class. Today, we take the notion of comfort for granted such as flush toilets, running hot and cold water, showers, private bedrooms and cotton clothing that gently envelops the body. Back then, the ideal was reflective of the age of magnificence embodied by layers of stiff clothing, standing around or perching on a straight chair. Thanks to some

clever and unrelenting ladies and gentlemen in the courts of Kings Louis XIV and XV, there was rapid change that took only one century to take hold. Along with the royal shift came the first foray into investing in “the market” which produced a boom with vast monetary rewards for a new non-royal upper class. Author Joan Dejean is a well-respected authority on France and all that is uniquely French. She delivers the equivalent of a university-level course in this well-written and nicely-illustrated book that is worthy of a place in the library of a designer or a student of design. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano

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History Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town By Elyssa East Free Press, $26.00, 292 pages Dogtown is a place where witches once lived; where the American Revolution created destitute widows; where artists of all kinds found inspiration; and where, in 1984, a disturbed man committed a brutal murder. Elyssa East arrives in Dogtown about a decade after the killing, hoping to be inspirited by the land like her favorite artist, Marsden Harley, was in the 1930s. Instead of the peace she was looking for, she discovers a deserted forest that is haunted by its dark, lingering past. Dogtown explores her experience in the 3,000-acre woodland, the people who protect and fear it, and the history that made Dogtown what it is today, presented in alternating chapters. It isn’t often that one finds a story about an empty, nearly forgotten plot of land engaging, but Dogtown is exactly that. East writes clearly and concisely, giving equal weight to her perspectives and the perspectives of those she writes about, which lends her credibility as an author. Despite not being linear, the story is cohesive and an easily understood, entertaining read. Reviewed by Kayli Crosby The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 2 By Larry Gonick Harper Paperbacks, $18.99, 260 pages Larry Gonick has a gift for explaining complex subjects with seemingly simple cartoons. Statistics, taxes, genetics, chemistry, sex... Gonick has tackled them all, and nothing is more complex and worthy of his singular attention than world history. As a history minor in college, I have a deep and abiding affection for world history, and I admit that reading The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 2 thoroughly impressed me with its depth of detail, the expansiveness of its scope, and simply how much actual history it covered. This is no mere recap of European and American history; it is truly a look at the modern world. And while I found the book more informative than funny, the simplistic artistic style itself adds a lighthearted touch to often unpleasant moments of human history. Gonick pulls no punches, even with the events of the last few years, like the World

Trade Center attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s more important than ever to know where we’ve been, in order to understand where we’re going, and hopefully The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 2 will shed some light on the subject for new readers. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas The Marne, 1914 By Holger H. Herwig Random House, $28.00 416 pages Holger Herwig has done something impressive. He is one of the very few historians of World War I to write in English, using French, German and British sources. The result is an authoritative account of one of the most significant battles of the 20th century. Herwig offers his readers a careful analysis of the opening battles of World War I. He rejects the argument that Barbara Tuchman made popular that war plans drove the European powers into the conflict. Herwig shows that there was a good deal of diplomacy in the summer of 1914 and the various general staffs tinkered with their plans as they saw fit. He also rejects recent scholarship that minimizes Kaiser Wilhelm II’s influence. For better or worse—and it was generally for the worse—the Emperor was a crucial decision maker. Herwig weighs in on the controversy involving Richard Hentsch, a lieutenant colonel on the German General Staff. While Hentsch made mistakes, Herwig argues that he has proven to be a handy scapegoat for bad generalship. The text is littered with useful maps. The writing, though, is only adequate. Reviewed by Nicholas Sarantakes Bohemia in America 1858-1920 By Joanna Levin Stanford University Press, $65.00, 469 pages Bohemia in American has always been seen through rose tinted glasses by the middle class through Puccini’s La Boheme to the modern day Rent. A life that is not defined by the cares of work and home. A life left to explore one’s self, to become the next great American artist. Though Bohemia started off in Paris, it quickly found a home in the United States, where it always straddled the lines between the growing middle class and true Bohemianism. It spread out across the country, to San Francisco, and even cities in the Midwest, such as Fort Worth. Yet, in the end, Bohemianism could not deal with its own success as it became increasingly respectable and middle class. It became a right of passage of sorts, a way for college students

to live right after college, before settling down. Joanna Levin paints this picture of Bohemia in the United States in clear and broad strokes: a life that was always struggling to find its place. Even though the work is academic, it is approachable to the average reader, and the average reader will not get bogged down with big words. Bohemia is a way of life that has and will always hold the imaginations of Americans. Reviewed by Kevin Winter A History of Egypt By Jason Thompson Anchor Books, $17.00, 382 Pages Historical books replete with the human dramas of auld times past tend to grab one’s attention; this automatic intrigue gives an inch to the chronicler’s pedestal, merely for writing on a historical subject. In hearing the word ‘Egypt,’ images of pyramids, hieroglyphs, pharaohs, tombs, and mummies are conjured up, but Thompson puts forth a deeper look into less well-known areas of Egypt’s history, specifically the pre-dynastic and post-dynastic realms. The only blight detected in the prose resides in the preface, which could have been re-worded to sound a little less self-congratulatory; this does not distract away from the history presented, however. The writer begins his book on the pivotal importance of the seasonal inundation of the Nile, and lyrically laments its interruption via the Aswan Dam. Thompson’s attention to geographic details is helpful in establishing a visual idea of the realm of Egypt’s early inhabitants. The Suez Isthmus, for example, was virtually impassible, serving to effectively isolate Egypt from its eastern neighbors and, apparently, the Sahara Desert was once a lush, forested valley harboring fresh-water lakes. From the words used and the depth of information relayed, one is convinced that this subject has been long held dear to the author. Reviewed by Meredith Greene Splendid Isolation: The Jekyll Island Millionaires Club 1888-1942 By Pamela Bauer Mueller Pinata Publishing, $18.00, 276 pages Jekyll Island is a small islet off the coast of Georgia, which between the years 1888 and 1942 was the site of an exclusive club

and resort of America’s wealthiest and powerful men. While Splendid Isolation could be the standard tale of prices and leisure, Mueller opens the history of this island by using employees of the grounds to narrate the tale of the rise and fall of the resort. A native of Georgia, Mueller’s love for the state, its culture, and its peoples shine through and her easy, unrushed tone is soothing. She also proves that the men and women who populated the isolated retreat were more than their wealth: for example, the United States’ Federal Reserve had its roots in secret meetings held on the island between members. Another plus is the description of the stunning scenery and wildlife preserved on the island. Though the fictionalized narrative form may make Splendid Isolation appear a bit trivial beside other non-fiction works on the island, Mueller’s enthusiasm for Georgia history is infectious, and the book is an excellent purchase for those interested in the Gilded Age and in Georgia. Reviewed by Angela Tate Know Your Enemy By David C. Engerman Oxford University Press, $34.95, 459 pages The rise of area studies in universities around the country can be traced to the support of Soviet Studies after World War II. The rise of Soviet Studies, and the experts that they produce has not been well documented. It first started out as a way to combine different disciplines under one roof, and to combine all those areas of research to produce well rounded students. But the field quickly changed with a lack of finances and many professors going back to their own discipline, as well as a struggle for policy relevance. Yet from Soviet Studies, we get such names as Huntington, Brezenski, and Rice. They shaped policy, yet not all experts wanted to shape policy, they wanted to do basic humanistic and historical research. Engerman argues that the brief success led to the fall of Soviet Studies, from departmental infighting, and, at times, a lack of focus in the faculty. But Engerman only bases his study on two main campuses, Columbia and Harvard. Other places, such as Berkley, Washington, and Stanford only get a brief mention. While his argument might be solid, its base is a little weak. Reviewed by Kevin Winter

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March 10


Current Events & Politics Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare Edited by Richard Kim and Betsy Reed Health Communications, $15.95, 320 pages Editors Richard Kim and Betsy Reed present a compilation of highlights from written reporting and editorial commentary on the rise of Sarah Palin from mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska to the vice presidential spot on the Republican ticket in the 2008 race for president of the USA. The contributors include Gloria Steinhem, Amy Alexander, and Rick Perlstein. The book is divided into eight chapters, each of which contains an array of articles or essays - 48 in all, that address an aspect of Ms. Palin’s life, career, or political views. Several of the pieces include excerpts from transcripts of TV interviews conducted by Charles Gibson of ABC News and Katie Couric of CBS News. Of course, there are many direct quotes from Ms. Palin that she made during various campaign trail speeches during her public service career and comments that she posted on her blog. Although the subtitle, Sarah Palin – An American Nightmare, pulls no punches in casting her as a troubling woman, elements of the book are, considering their authors, seemingly of an observatory nature. A fitting companion for this work would be Hoodwinked by John Perkins. Each of these volumes contributes to a picture of the current economic and political situation in the world today. Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Tower of Thieves By Andrew Spencer Brick Tower Books, $24.95, 259 pages Could another book on corporate greed deliver anything new? The answer is yes. Tower of Thieves offers a personal look at the avarice and entitlement attitude inside the ivory tower of a financial behemoth. It’s the story of John Falcetta, a con man who deceived his way into the inner sanctum of AIG. Spencer sets the stage by revealing Falcetta’s checkered youth. His narrative feels like you’re watching an inevitable train wreck, but you can’t look away. Falcetta reaches a crossroads as an executive who is told by AIG leadership to issue a check to another executive via a Bermuda account ostensibly to bypass the payment of taxes. While Falcetta tries to avoid involvement in the Bermuda scheme, he runs his own scheme to em-

8 March 10

bezzle money from AIG. Though Falcetta is a swindler, he is also a devoted husband and father, a man with a strong work ethic, pardon the pun. Finally, we see a penitent Falcetta seeking redemption. “Because Grabcheski focused on practicality more than the underlying ethics and morality of situations that confronted him the idea of a payment made by a US corporation from a secret Bermuda payroll operation apparently was not something that burdened him.” This reviewer found Falcetta’s contrition hard to believe. Unfortunately, the human wreckage caused by those such as Falcetta gets lost in the story. Spencer makes a noble effort to get inside Falcetta’s head and offers this worthy read on the infuriating things he found. Reviewed by Grady Jones The Breakthrough By Gwen Ifill Doubleday, $15.00, 320 pages It seems that it would be hard to write a book about a historic event that has not yet occurred. And yet this did not stop Gwen Ifill, the author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, from writing a book with such a title, even before the 2008 presidential election took place. Ifill herself was at the center of a controversy after it was determined she had authored the book, prior to moderating a 2008 vice presidential debate. Though Ifill makes some interesting points and claims, it does seem that she relies too much on assumed prejudices and inherent inequalities. Her writing also often implies that African American politicians should somehow be seen as separate from their Caucasian counterparts, which seems to fall into the argument that race should play an obvious place in politics, when today, the driving idea seems to be that race should not, in fact, make a difference. Focusing so narrowly on the differences, perceived or real, between politicians of different races, seems a little more divisive than informative. Reviewed by Susie Kopecky Can Capitalism Survive?: Creative Destruction and the Future of the Global Economy By Schumpeter, Joseph A. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, $10.00, 195 pages Written just before WWII, Can Capitalism Survive? chronicles Schumpeter’s critical analysis of the structural issues that

maintain and erode the integrity of capitalism. Schumpeter interestingly predicts many events that have occurred in the process of globalization; he notes that imperialist wars (ex.: Vietnam, Iraq) will spell economic catastrophe before anything else; likewise, he anticipates our current “Green” frenzy, “The conquest of the air may well be more important than the conquest of India was—we must not confuse geographical frontiers with economic ones.” This is a prophetic assertion in that capitalism has sold us environmental demise and will, in turn, now sell us “green” sustainability. While Schumpeter has long been praised for his conception of capitalism as a process of “creative destruction,” we mention that this is only one of eight chapters and not the only takeaway. Since Schumpeter’s analysis, we’ve seen the rise and fall of Keynesian economics, the development of neo-liberalism and its current failings, and how “creative non-destruction” of our financial institutions has temporarily stabilized our GDP while leaving a record number of un/underemployed workers to the detriment of our social wealth. Hence, “in breaking down the pre-capitalist framework of society, capitalism thus broke not only barriers that impeded its progress, but also flying buttresses that prevented its collapse.” Lastly, Schumpeter’s insights help illuminate how the structure of capitalism is defined by its dialectic—our current climate of alarming crises coupled with excessive profits and rewards for those fortunately holding capital. Reviewed by Joe Atkins LOCAL AUTHOR Smart on Crime By Kamala Harris Chronicle Books, $24.95, 208 pages Due to budget constraints and prison overcrowding, the headlines now scream about the early release of state prisoners. Kamala Harris is an experienced prosecutor and is currently San Francisco’s District Attorney. With this background she is witness to crime, criminals, victims, and the workings of the system. The prison complex is rupturing from overpopulation and financial distress. For relief, she advocates identifying the nonviolent inmates who make up 75 percent of the incarcerated population and enrolling them in supportive programs to enable the parolees to get back on track. Since lessons

are not learned within the caged environment, then it is up to the public to push for new programs that will divert illegal activities through community partnerships, eradication of truancy, vocational training, and ‘back on track’ programs. “We spend $200 billion a year fighting crime .. Yet more than two million people are incarcerated. And two-thirds of them will be back behind bars within a year or two of their release.” The book title itself was bewildering in its ambiguity, which intrigued further inspection. At first it appeared to push crime but once within the pages, the concise explanatory chapters on myths about crime and possible solutions to amend the problems are straightforward and filled with illustrating anecdotes. The information in the book is not new, but the message urges the public and the politicians to reevaluate how finances and policies should be directed in our woefully unmanageable prison predicament. Reviewed by Rita Hoots Down to the Wire By David W. Orr Oxford University Press, $19.95, 261 pages Orr provides an eye-opening case for the selfish role our governments play. We now have matured enough at citizens to realize the great havoc we raise on a planet doomed by our indulgences and failure to heed ecological warnings. We must assume responsibility of our planets maintenance, not for our political pride or correctness, but for our very existence. In chapter eight, titled What Is to Be Done?, Orr calls upon leaders to lead the world into balance with nature to curtail a catastrophe from global warming. He outlines the political manifestation of the problem and proposes five challenges. Each involves the willingness of leaders to refrain from selfish pride and acknowledge that a problem exists. The lives jeopardized by climate change and rising sea levels are not hundreds of thousands--as in the Indonesian tsunami that killed 230,000--but rather in the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who reside in low-lying cities. Still, many policy makers sit on the sidelines and pretend our environmental issues will simply disappear. I praise people like David Orr, who are brave enough to lay it all out in clear English: wake up, people! We are out of time. Down to the Wire is a book everyone must read. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky

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Business & Investing What’s Next, Gen X?: By Tamara Erickson Harvard Business Press, $19.95, 229 pages In this handbook, author Tamara Erickson presents a comprehensive look at the childhoods, mindset, culture, school environments, expectations, and habits of a large portion of Generation X in America. She also backs up her information with a well of statistical data and includes useful information to help Xers to find satisfying careers. “This book better be heavy on content and good, practical advice… If I see chapters on “Embracing Change”, I’m going to vomit…” Though at times a tad repetitive, the prose not only describes Generation X, but runs informative statistical comparisons on the generations before and after—the Baby Boomers and Generation Y. This skillfully illustrates how generational differences effect the groups’ ability to interact in the workplace. As a parent, I appreciated Erickson’s accolade of Gen X parents, citing that, due

to their own largely ‘latch-key’ upbringing in single-parent homes, many X-ers choose family over ambition and favor entrepreneurial roles over corporate counterparts. Erickson includes just enough humor, lauding X-ers as the most innovative generation, as well as the one which, on the whole, feels the most disenfranchised. Reviewed by Meredith Greene The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life By Avinash K. Dixit; Barry Nalebuff Norton, $17.95, 472 pages It’s nice to see that some things you learn in school can be taken with you later. The Art of Strategy shows that all of that math has practical value. The Art of Strategy explores how game theory applies to business and life in general. Suffice it to say that means dealing with a lot of math. However, dealing with that math, and some relatively obscure math at that (at least for us non-mathematicians) does have some great payoff in that we learn a lot about how interrelated things can be; even the most obscure relationships are explored, and how they

Historical Fiction Ruby’s Spoon By Anna Lawrence Pietroni Spiegel & Grau, $26.00, 384 pages Ruby Tailor is a 13-year-old girl living in Cradle Cross, an English town surrounded by water, most of it rank and unpleasant, who , on her grandmother’s orders, cannot go near the water, but dreams of living by the sea. She lives in a world with very little excitement—that is, until Isa Fly comes to town. With an insidiously seductive personality, an elusive past, and a blind eye, Isa Fly turns Cradle Cross on its head, captivating Ruby and infuriating many of the townsfolk. Oh, and there’s something else. Ruby’s Spoon, as the forward tells you, “is the tale of three women—one witch, one mermaid and one missing.” Ruby’s Spoon initially seems a little forced, with the dialect and colloquialisms of its cast of characters coming across as intentional, and certain aspects of the story not gelling immediately. But as the story continues, it deepens and becomes

more complex, and engrossing, and Pietroni lures her readers in with a guile and skill that would suit Isa Fly herself. Books that prominently feature witches and mermaids as characters may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but, in spite of that, Ruby’s Spoon succeeds as a novel, and proves itself a fun, enchanting read. Reviewed by Ashley McCall Requiem By Fire By Wayne Caldwell Random House, $25.00, 352 pages In the follow-up to his debut novel Cataloochee, Southern writer Wayne Caldwell returns his readers to the colorful terrain and peoples of his earlier outing, telling a tale of individuals pitted against government entities determined to alter their way of life. Based on actual events, the 1928 National Park Commission takeover of a half-million acres of private property in Tennessee and North Carolina, now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Requi-

can affect your life and business. It’s fun to explore those relationships, and the book is fun to read for as much math as there is. In that regard it’s great that this book was written with great enthusiasm, and is one of those few academic books written with respect for its audience. The Art of Strategy is one of those books that you will read and probably let your friends borrow; this book will definitely be one you want on your shelves to be re-read every so often. Reviewed by Jamais Jochim The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis By Joshua Kosman Portfolio Hardcover, $26.95, 280 pages In The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis Joshua Kosman, a business reporter at the New York Post, indicates that it is likely half of the 3,188 American Companies bought by private equity companies between 2000 and 2008 could collapse. He also analyzes the links between the private equity elites and Washington power players who have helped them avoid government scrutiny.|One of the highlights is the notion that the takeover of seven of the fifteen largest for-profit hospital chains by private equity firms was to the detriment of their patients’ health.

em By Fire tells the story of the residents of Cataloochee during this time of displacement and unrest. A cast of colorful, realistic, and often sympathetic characters enliven Requiem By Fire, adding even more credibility to a story that is, in many very concrete ways, based largely on fact. By providing his audience with interesting characters who defy stereotype, who refuse to be tied to one-dimensional representations and come alive on the page, Caldwell has made the residents of Cataloochee come alive, and has engendered our sympathy for their struggle, their frustrations and, ultimately, their fate. Reviewed by Ashley McCall Impatient With Desire By Gabrielle Burton Voice, $ 22.99, 244 pages Crafted from research, including 17 letters written by Tamsen Donner herself, Burton has created a fictional journal of Tamsen Donner and the Donner Party that is insightful and heart-wrenching. It is as if she has given the Donner Party a voice more than 150 years later, and that voice was one of hopes, dreams, fear, isolation, strength and, ultimately, courage.

The author does a superb job of discussing the story of private equity leading up to the early 90’s. This period that became prevalent during the “junk bond” age and the savings-and-loan meltdown in the 1980’s. Many books have been published on the financial crisis in 2009, but this present volume should be on everyone’s financial bookshelf. Reviewed by Claude Ury

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How the party came to end up trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter of 1846/1847 was really a complex mix of mistakes, mishaps, and foolhardiness, but many of the group made it through. Burton paints Tamsen Donner as a woman ahead of her time, educated, ambitious, strong, and, ultimately, a woman you would like to have known. The struggles that they went through are seemingly unimaginable, but Impatient with Desire makes them all real. What parent wouldn’t die just a little inside, knowing that their child is starving and they can’t do a thing about it? What role do the rules of society play when you and your family are freezing, starving, and trapped? Powerful questions and just as powerfully written, this novel kept me entranced. Reviewed by Gwen Stackler

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March 10


Art, Architecture & Photography The Graphic Eye: Photographs by Graphic Designers from Around the Globe By Stefan G. Bucher Chronicle Books, $35.00, 236 pages This book could hardly be called high art, but rather a collection of everyday scenes and observations from a group of graphic designers who simply love taking photos. Covering the everyday mundane to the intangible fleeting moment, the images contained within are as varied and diverse as the people who pressed the shutter. The premise of the book is simple. The author asked 120 top graphic artists to submit favorite images from their private stash of photographs. And since graphic artists are already trained to compose and arrange graphic elements–the impact of the submitted images were often compelling and visually exciting. The result is a stunning collection of random images–covering everything from the organic to the contrived. The Graphic Eye can certainly benefit anyone who wishes to walk into a scene and isolate elements into a perfect image. The book reminds us that once in awhile, we just need to change our perspective to find the beauty in things. Reviewed by Auey Santos Read Me By Dwight Garner Ecco, $26.99, 288 pages Do you love to read? Do you love books? And do you know why? You may not realize it, or you may not even want to admit it, but part of the reason why you love to read and why you love books is because of the ads that promoted them. Publishers have put out ads, buying spaces and created eyecatching layouts in order to convince you to part with your hardearned money. In a book all its own, Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements, Dwight Garner assembled more than 300 vintage book ad illustrations. Surveying these book ads of yore--10 decades, beginning in the 1900s--from Rudyard Kipling’s Kim to Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, you’ll discover how an entire book industry managed to gang up on you in order to keep you reading. But more than simply a sales tool, Garner’s compilation, a hundred-year showcase of how publishers encouraged you, plodded you, pleaded with you, motivated you, threatened you, scared you, sweet-talked

you—all for the purpose of making you buy a book, has turned into a collection of important and lasting literary documents. Reviewed by Dominique James Mario de Janeiro Testino By Mario Testino Taschen, $39.99, 200 pages Brazil has always been in the news for a number its qualities, one of which is its unabashed sexuality. Just listen to a friend who has been to Rio, or thumb through Mario Testino’s Mario De Janeiro Testino, and all of this is instantly confirmed. In fact, because of the oozing sensuality you’ll see and “experience” in Testino’s book, you might even be inspired to want to go down there yourself. While many have been inspired by Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro--Paul Gauguin and Cole Porter among them--this city is not without its detractors. And yet, there is much beauty to be photographed, if only one knows where to point the camera. In this case, Testino does more than what the others have done. With his pictures, he has captured the city’s essential inner being. How did he do it? And what made him able to take such effervescent pictures of Rio de Janeiro? Testino isn’t exactly a visitor. He had become a “carioca” long before he became the worldwide celebrity photographer that he is now. As Caetano Veloso says in the forward: “The impression left by Mario’s photographs of Rio is that of a complex, rich and multilayered love, overflowing with intimacy and the lucidity of dreams brought to life.” Reviewed by Dominique James A Year in Fashion: A Look a Day By Pascal Morche Prestel Publishers, $29.95, 740 pages Pascal Morche, a freelance art and culture journalist living in Munich, has presented a century of the best fashion, which will certainly appeal to any fashionista. This book features fashion icons and images brilliantly presented in 365 spreads – one for each day of the year. Included are photos of designers and their creations, top models and movie stars. The full-page descriptions include fascinating fashion trivia in this book, which quality makes it suitable for a well-dressed desk or a coffee table. In this outstanding volume, Mr. Morche provides glimpses of the fashion world, See FASHION, page 16

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Henri Matisse Cut Outs: Drawing With Scissors By Ed Giles Neret; Xavier Giles Neret Taschen, $200.00, 486 pages

Wheelchair-bound for the significant portion of his days, Henri Matisse, the “wild beast” of color and leader of Les Fauves, in his seventies and eighties, had largely stopped painting. Though this is not to say that he was not creating art; in fact, it was one of his most prolific and controversial periods of productivity. Instead of painting, Matisse was cutting out pieces of colored paper and gluing the cut-outs together to create deceptively simple collages of pure form and color. He referred to this as “painting with scissors,” and named the technique “gouaches découpés.” Though the technique was akin to the type of art that school-children create, it was nonetheless important or controversial. His work of the time (which was on a very large scale, more often than not wall-sized collages) was oft met with harsh criticism or complete dismissal of any artistic merit, being taken as nothing more than the last putterings of an aging artist. Though, there were those who could still see the great Matisse sense of style come through in the works, and in 1947, at nearly 80 years old, he published a compendium of prints of his paper cut-outs, along with his thoughts concerning them, called “Jazz.” Taschen’s Henri Matisse: Cut-Outs – Drawing With Scissors by Gilles Néret, Xavier-Gilles Néret, and Henri Matisse is a big and beautiful double-hardcover collection of Matisse’s paper cut-outs. The red book, Cut-Outs, is a documentation of the history surrounding this period of creation by Matisse. It reveals the back-story in depth and detail, and offers insight into Matisse’s life and though process from an outside, and analytical perspective. The blue book, Jazz, is a facsimile of Matisse’s original, and highly original, publication of the same name. It is the finest representation of Jazz that there is, save for having access to an actual copy from Matisse’s print-run. Cut-Outs documents Matisse’s later life, beginning with his travel to Tahiti, going through his variety of medical troubles, and fading out with analysis of and thoughts on, both by Matisse himself, and not, his work. Peppered throughout are prints, including centerfolds, of his paper cut-out work in all of its diversity. There are also intimate photographs of Matisse living and working, the most powerful of which show him in his home surrounded by his favorite artwork, offering a glimpse into what he drew his inspiration from. Jazz opens up to be an unbound folder with unbound pages, paying homage to the format of the original. Though the touch is nice in a manner that stays true to the artist and author of Jazz, it can make the book rather cumbersome to handle, even when taking it out of the slip case the first time, and, thus, a bit more taxing to read, seeing as one has to make an effort to do something about the order and organization of the pages. However, this becomes less than a minor annoyance, especially when the possible ideas behind it become more apparent. Jazz, the musical genre, is spontaneous and free, and the art in Jazz, the cut-outs, share obvious earmarks of those traits, and, therefore, it makes sense that the pages are not bound in a particular order, to be viewed in only one way. Rather, the content of Jazz is left to be arranged, or not, in a manner that is pleasing to the viewer, much like the strips of paper that Matisse created his Cut-Outs from were arranged, making the book itself an intrinsic extension of Matisse’s art, as opposed to a binding that simply contains it. Jazz is a paper cut-out just as much as the gouaches découpés within. The content of the pages of Jazz consists of prints of some of the best of Matisse’s cut-outs, as well as his hand-written thoughts and doodles concerning them. And, while, in the cut-outs, it is apparent that his technical skill, the level of craftsmanship, and dexterity had degraded in his late age, it is also still clear that he had a masterful eye and mind for composition, form, and color. The technicality, the craft, takes a back seat to the creativity, the art, and the art has not degraded in the least, and has in fact only expanded, progressed, and continued to manifest. Matisse’s creativity obviously stayed with him, and sprang from him, until death. Henri Matisse: Cut-Outs – Drawing With Scissors is an inspirational and everrelevant volume about an inspirational and ever-relevant artist. Reviewed by Jordan Dacayanan

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Mar 10 E X P A N D E D


Science Fiction & Fantasy Sequential Art The Chronicles of Arthur: Sword of Fire and Ice By John Matthews; Illustrated by Mike Collins Aladdin, $21.99, 128 pages John Matthews, having published more than a few books on Celtic myths as well as reconstructions of the “historical” King Arthur, for his first foray into graphic novels teams up with artist Mike Collins. The Chronicles of Arthur: Sword of Fire and Ice follows Arthur as a child, living on an idyllic island among the mysterious Nine, as he awaits his mentor Merlin, who appears on occasion to put him through trials. At the same time a terrible shrouded evil, understanding the danger that young Arthur represents, has dedicated itself to murdering him before he can fulfill his destiny. Matthews’ expertise shines through much of this work, adding a fine interesting gloss on the old tale, taking it at times in unexpected directions. Collins’s illustrations, while not as stylized or artistic as I generally prefer, proves well suited to the story, adding to the excitement. In the end, this is a work perhaps best suited to younger readers, who will find kinship in Arthur’s tribulations and challenges. But then again, the story of King Arthur always seems to have a way to bring out the youth in all of us. Reviewed by Jordan Magill

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY & SEQUEN T I A L A RT SEC T ION Dust of Dreams: Book Nine of The Malazan Book of the Fallen By Steven Erikson Tor, $17.99, 816 pages Dust of Dreams is book nine in Erikson’s massive fantasy series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Huge in scope, with hundreds of characters, places, events, and ages-old back story tying it all together. Fallen is both high and low fantasy, blending gods, kings, and magic, along with foot soldiers in one army or another, marching to their next battle, unsure of even which side they are on. The previous book to Dust of Dreams, Toll the Hounds, received some negative reviews from readers due to its more philosophical themes, and while Dust does have some pondering from characters, it is a much more action-driven novel, sure to please the readers of the previous volumes. Here, several of the major players in the world are all converging. The Malazan army is headed to the Wastelands to meet their final destiny, along with armies from almost every other major player from previous books. Erikson begins to bring together many of the storylines from the multitude of characters, but little gets resolved, with the book, creating more cliffhangers than resolving them. The good news is that the final volume in the series should be released next year, wrapping up all the dangling stories and providing the conclusion readers have been anticipating. If you haven’t read the previous volumes, this is not the place to start, but the series is stellar (if dark and mature themed) and worth the time commitment. Star Wars: Crosscurrent By Paul S. Kemp LucasBooks, $7.99, 334 pages Jaden Korr is a Jedi Knight adrift in the universe. Disillusioned by the recent civil war, questioning his place in the Jedi Order, and haunted by a dark vision of the future, Jaden takes off for the outskirts of charted space in desperate pursuit of answers. But when his search is cut short by the arrival of a ship out-of-time, Jaden and his unlikely allies must prevent an eons-old threat from unleashing a treacherous new menace upon the galaxy. Well, it has finally happened. The Star Wars franchise has succumbed to the one science fiction trope it had managed to avoid for so long: time travel. And not for the better. Crosscurrent is all about the past, both

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in crises of the spirit--the consequences of choices made, the regret of paths not taken-and in actual, tangible threats--the timedisplaced Sith warship and its crew, the mysteries that await Jaden on the icy moon. In truth, the book feels overloaded with plot. And while there are plenty of worthwhile little moments in the novel, Crosscurrent eventually falters under an abundance of ideas and a dearth of direction. Only diehard fans need apply. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Brain Thief By Alexander Jablokov Tor, $24.99, 383 pages Books that combine the futuristic vision of science fiction with hard-edged mystery and crime elements, such as Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels, can be good, albeit not necessarily clean, adrenaline-pumping fun. However, Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov, despite some positive aspects, falls a bit flat. The main character in Brain Thief, Bernal Haydon-Rumi, stops by his boss’s house after a business trip and things immediately go askew. His boss, Muriel, flees the house and steals the car of a thief who was burglarizing her neighbor. The thief, in turn, knocks Bernal out and steals his car. The plot continues as Bernal follows cryptic notes left by Muriel and encounters further strange occurrences and people, including an artificial intelligence, investigator, cryo-therapist, and serial killer. In Brain Thief, the characters never come to life, especially Bernal who is basically a cipher. Jablokov has a dry writing style that makes it hard to care about what is going on in the book, no matter how unusual. In addition, it can be difficult to make sense of the plot and determine what exactly is going on. On the positive side, Jablokov addresses interesting ideas, such as artificial intelligence, and has a quirky perspective which would appeal to certain readers. Reviewed by Doug Robins Demon Bound By Catlin Kittredge St. Martin’s Paperbacks, $7.99, 352 pages Magically gifted, female Detective Inspector Pete Caldecott, is inexplicably working again with the roguish Jack Winter and finds herself in the dark so far as Jack is concerned. She knows that something is wrong with Jack and that he is hiding something

from her, but he’s not telling (much to her irritation). Turns out, Jack has made a deal with a demon--and in exchange for his life, he has paid with his soul. Thirteen years after the deal, the demon comes collecting and Jack and Pete have a major problem on their hands. Demon Bound, book two of Caitlin Kitteredge’s ongoing Black London series, ratchets up the ante in this thrilling sequel to Street Magic. As in Street Magic, Pete and Jack are wonderfully developed, unique characters. Whereas the first book was predominantly narrated from Pete’s point of view, Demon Bound gives readers much more insight to the inner workings of Jack Winter – an effective, engaging touch. Although Ms. Kitteredge is an American and her “Brit-speak” colloquialisms and dialect are awkward and unconvincing, the writing is otherwise strong, making Demon Bound a noteworthy addition to the gritty urban fantasy subgenre. Reviewed by Thea James Death’s Mistress By Karen Chance Onyx, $7.99, 432 pages Dory is a dhampir, a rare offspring of a human and a vampire, and she’s made a name for herself in the magical underground community as a gun for hire. She regularly takes down vampires who have crossed her father (who is a member of the ominous vampiric senate) and her acerbic wit and lethal skills have not made her many friends. Clare, her former roommate and the one person she cares about, returns from the faerie realm with an infant son and asks for Dory’s help. Her baby’s life is being threat ened, and it will take a powerful amulet to save him. Of course the story wouldn’t be complete without some romantic tension, and the Bogart to Dory’s Bacall comes in the form of LouisCesare, one of the few vampires who doesn’t taste the blunt end of Dory’s wrath. Death’s Mistress is the sequel to the equally enjoyable Midnight’s Daughter, and with it, Karen Chance has crafted a wonderfully entertaining new series around a genuinely enjoyable character. Vampire series have nearly always been popular and are even more so nowadays, but Chance has started something that feels like it could outlast the trend. Reviewed by Amanda Mitchell Galileo’s Dream By Kim Stanley Robinson Spectra, $26.00, 544 Pages Galileo encounters a stranger, who introduces him to a glass apparatus that he later uses to fashion into a telescope. The stranger brings him to the future, where he walks

the surface of Jupiter’s moons and finds himself involved in a complex development. In the past, Galileo struggles with superstitions and religious beliefs. Confounded by it all, he faces his own demise for his beliefs. Robinson shows the real Galileo with all his faults and limitations and how he deals with them. Galileo’s Dream has been referred to as a cross genre novel—part science fiction, part history. This is nothing new. In the last 20 years, many novels have begun to share genres with science fiction. Among them, Sign of the Anasazi, You’ve Got Murder, both sci-fi mysteries, etcetera, have appeared. The Da Vinci Code is historical fiction. Although no one argues with that, a good argument can be made for the entertainment angle. It is intriguing. For science enthusiasts, it is a revelation of the great Galileo, but for those who long for science fiction, 544 pages remains a little daunting. Still, Robinson delivers extraordinary insight with excavating detail. If you have the time, it’s worth the read. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky Dead Matter By Anton Strout Ace, $7.99, 320 pages With his handy collapsible bat and his psychometric abilities, Simon Canderous— agent for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs—is always ready to spring into action when the city’s paranormal denizens start getting too lively. But even Simon is pushed to his limits when the Lord of the Undead declares him the Chosen One, his technomancer girlfriend Jane gets sucked into the computer system of a mysterious building, and his partner Connor teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown. “’It’s okay,’ she said. ‘All the ghosts, gargoyles and blood were enough theatrics for one night. And probably more entertaining than Momma Mia would have been anyway.’” The idea of a governmental agency dedicated to policing the supernatural seems like a veritable mine of storyline gold… which is why Strout’s insistence on dumbing down his paranormalenhanced creation is so puzzling. The reader’s enjoyment of the story is hampered by cumbersome childlike nomenclature such as the “Department of Things That Go Bump In The Night” and the “Mayor’s Office of

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E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY & SEQUEN T I A L A RT SEC T ION Plausible Deniability.” Add to this the somewhat stilted dialogue and you end up feeling like you just read a very long children’s story. Fortunately, the great characterizations of Simon, Jane, Connor and their supporting cast save the book from total meltdown. Recommended if you’ve got a few hours to kill and you aren’t picky about how your supernatural encounters are served up. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz The Conqueror’s Shadow By Ari Marmell Spectra, $26.00, 448 pages Seventeen years ago, Corvis Rebaine, Terror of the East, laid waste to Imphallion. His campaign culminated in the city of Denathere, where he discovered both the object of his desire and his inability to use it. Now he resides in a sleepy farm village with his wife, a former noblewoman who he had kidnapped to ensure his own safe escape from Denathere. Rebaine is content to let new wars rise and fall around him until his own family is threatened. Now Rebaine must gather his former allies and a new army to face Audriss the Serpent, a new threat who follows in Rebaine’s own discarded footsteps. Ari Marmell’s The Conqueror’s Shadow is an epic fantasy novel with a dark sense of humor. The world woven here is classic fantasy but with Marmell’s own unique twists. Captive demons, haunted forests, demon-forged weapons – these ideas have been done before, but in this novel they are received as a breath of fresh air. The dialogue is witty, the characters are completely fleshed out, and Rebaine’s own history is teased out as the main story progresses. The ending comes together with a bang, leaving the reader satisfied but still quietly hoping for more. Reviewed by Holly Scudero The Great Bazaar and Other Stories By Peter V. Brett Subterranean Press, $20.00, 104 pages The Great Bazaar and Other Stories is more of an expansion of Peter Brett’s debut novel The Warded Man than it is a short story collection. Brett explains in the introduction that “The Great Bazaar” takes place in the gap between chapters fifteen and sixteen of that novel, and that the two other stories in the collection are scenes he needed to cut from the novel. Despite this, The Great Bazaar and Other Stories should not be considered bonus material for The

Warded Man. The title novella works very well on its own and serves as an excellent introduction to Peter Brett. The novella is a quest for treasure and it does not require any prior knowledge of Brett’s work to enjoy. The title story has action and adventure and it draws the reader in very quickly. The other two stories are clearly scenes, rather than complete stories, and likely will reward Brett’s fans more than the new reader. These scenes do entice the new reader to read The Warded Man, though. While readers unfamiliar with Peter Brett’s work may question whether or not to jump into this short collections of deleted scenes and miscellany related to The Warded Man, The Great Bazaar and Other Stories should delight all fans of epic fantasy. Brett’s prose is nimble and accessible and he leaves the reader wanting to know more. Reviewed by Joe Sherry May Contain Traces of Magic By Tom Holt Orbit UK, $24.95, 339 pages Being a seller of magical bric-a-brac may not seem like a steady gig, but in a world where science and magic have successfully melded together, it puts food on the table. Chris Popham is a mediocre sales rep for JWW (makers of the BB27K portable folding parking space) who finds himself suddenly bringing his work home with him. Why do all these demons keep popping up? Why is his best friend suddenly acting so weird? Is the fey spirit powering his GPS trying to seduce him? Chris needs answers and fast, before his mediocre life disappears forever. “I guess I’m just not a rut person. And if it means having to kill a few demons now and again, there’s worse ways of making a living. Accountancy. Insurance. Anything with children.” Pocket dimensions, dehydrated water, a GPS-powered by a condemned spirit…Tom Holt’s story starts with the promise of being a helluva road trip. However, halfway through the book, the story suddenly takes a side trip through time, plows through some probability potholes and when the dust clears you realize you just missed the proverbial ‘left turn at Albuquerque’ and now have no idea where you are. Fortunately, if you can read your way past a few chapters of seemingly muddled storyline, the tale will eventually get back on track and deliver you happily to a reasonably satisfying destination. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz

Principles of Angels By Jaine Fenn Gollancz, $14.95, 310 pages For a millennium, Khesh City has floated above the planet Vellern, offering delights to tourists from around the galaxy and operating under a death-by-democracy form of government. Operatives known as “Angels” police the city, while gangs rule the dregs of society that exist below the city streets. But the status quo is fiercely interrupted when Taro, an Undertow prostitute, now turned informant for the city Minister, and Elarn Reen, a famous musician on tour to Vellern, find themselves embroiled in a plot to destroy the city. A plan concocted by the Sidhe, an ancient enemy of the human race. While Fenn’s writing style flows nicely in this SciFi environment, the utter lack of context for the story throws a huge wrench into the works. We’re asked to care about the annihilation of a city without being told what significance its destruction holds. We’re asked to regard the Angels with awe without being told what makes them so special. We’re told to fear the Sidhe without being told specifically what they did to earn such contempt. In short, the reader is asked to emotionally invest themselves without any reason to do so, leaving the fate of the city firmly parked in the Indifferent Zone. Reviewed by Heather Ortiz Friday Night Bites By Chloe Neill NAL Trade, $15.00, 357 pages Vampires are real and living in Chicago! Of course, they always have been, but only recently have they gone public. Newlyfanged Cubs fan, Merit, has been named Sentinel of Cadogan House, protector of the oldest and most prestigious of Chicago’s feudal house system. So, when unauthorized vampiric raves and the chaotic threat of an old enemy threaten, Merit must act to protect her new home and brethren from them. “We have reminded humans about our existence. Tonight, we remind them of our connections. We will need every advantage we can get, Merit. For whether her plans are long term, short term, some sort of minor insurrection, outright rebellion, the demand of political rights—something is coming.”

In Friday Night Bites the follow up to Some Girls Bite, Chloe Neill tells the firstperson story of the sexy, sophisticated vampire Merit with her trademark smartass humor and lots of flavor. On the down side, this book does have its issues. If you drink a shot every time a male character is described as “pretty,” you’ll be legally unable to drive after just a few pages. It also includes terms like BFF’s and even has a Judy Blume reference. Then again, if you’re a Charlaine Harris fan, you’ll enjoy this Sex and the City spin on the Vampire Soap Opera. In the end though, this book delivers with action, romance, and intrigue. The end, designed to set up the next installment, is less than climatic, but overall, it’s a good read. Reviewed by Albert Riehle Blood Cross By Faith Hunter Roc, $7.99, 321 Pages Jane is an American Indian shape-shifter gun for hire. She hunts rogue vampires, which gets her into all kinds of awkward situations. Some of these involve romantic entanglements. Her best friend, Molly, brings two children into the mix, further complicating the situation.|In her confrontations with the head master Vamp, Leo blames Jane for his death. Another character, Hunter, helps broaden the fantasy world. Jane has a lot of close calls in a dangerous realm, but always comes out on top. We see that Faith Hunter writes with excitement and enthusiasm, eager to pull in as many character traits as she can. In some ways, it makes the reading smooth and fast. In others, it tries to pull together too many threads and make you wonder what she wants to echo in her voice. It vaguely reminds me of the Harrison Ford Indiana Jones series. Although her story is fresh, it’s a little too busy for my taste. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky Between Planets By Robert A. Heinlein Baen Books, $7.99, 227 pages But few outside of Robert Heinlein’s devotees know that many of his works were aimed at, and market to, children before they became popular among adults too. Between Planets is one such novel . At one time serialized in altered format in the magazine Boy’s Life, the tale is bursting with crisp prose, action-adventure, and a dash of romance. The storyline explores what would happen

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March 10 13

E X PA NDED SCIENCE FIC T ION & FA N TA SY & SEQUEN T I A L A RT SEC T ION should a young man be caught in the middle of a war not of his making and on which he has no opinion. Would that boy declare for one side or the other? Would he wither away into nothing? Or would he become that rare kind of man, a hero? The plotting is a bit simplistic in its progress, and the romantic element is underdeveloped, but the story is nonetheless engrossing. Fans of classic science fiction, middle school students, or readers that prefer optimistic endings will enjoy Between Planets. Reviewed by John Ottinger Jade Man’s Skin By Daniel Fox Del Rey, $15.00, 419 pages The dragon, freed from her chains, has devastated the army mustered against the emperor and now kills any who sail her waters. Those loyal to the emperor vigilantly protect him in the mountains, while the emperor’s enemies regroup. Meanwhile, a boy magically bound to the dragon struggles to control her to protect those he loves. So goes Jade Man’s Skin by Daniel Fox, the sequel to Dragon In Chains, with one final volume in the works. Fox’s novel picks up immediately where the last ended without introduction; new readers might flounder initially, but will eventually find their footing, and it is worth the effort. Jade Man’s Skin is in many ways a typical fantasy, replete with dragons, royal power-struggles, and mystical beings, but its feudal Chinese setting is refreshing. While Fox’s world could be better fleshed out, what’s there is wonderful. Fox relies on language, ethereal and poetic, as much as plot to immerse readers in his fantastical realm. The point of view leaps around among the sizable ensemble, ranging from the emperor’s wily concubine to an elderly sailor, gradually mounting to a climax extremely satisfying yet also anticipatory, jettisoning the reader into the final volume. A gripping read. Reviewed by Ariel Berg “His doom, their collective doom came spiraling slowly down from her skithrone to settle on the peak. Massive and dreadful, too dreadfully close. One great foot landed squarely on the furnace where wood and charcoal still glowed furiously hot; she didn’t seem to notice.”

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Shadow Prowler By Alexey Pehov Tor/Forge, $24.99, 400 pages Shadow Prowler, the first in a fantasy series by Russian author Alexey Pehov, chronicles Harold, a professional thief, and his companions as they prepare to fight the evil Nameless One. Harold’s king has volunteered Harold to help retrieve the Rainbow Horn, a magical artifact that keeps the Nameless One powerless. The action in this story is relentless, an impressive feat since for most of the book Harold is essentially packing for the trip. Preparations begin in the capital city of Avendoom. Harold is burdened not just with researching the strategy for obtaining the Horn but also with a pesky city demon demanding favors from him. The city of Avendoom is one of the delights of this book. It’s an old city with distinct boroughs and begins to feel much like another supporting character. Shadow Prowler contains excellent worldbuilding and characterization (though female characters are disappointingly thin), but is not exactly innovative. The book is entertaining but events proceed much as one would expect with the standard fantasy setup and characters. Still, the story is a satisfying beginning to a series and will appeal to fans of epic fantasy. Reviewed by Rachel Wallace Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 By David Peterson Archaia Studio Press, $24.95, 192 pages Mouse Guard is a comic series written and drawn by David Petersen, following the adventures of the Mouse Guard--those rodents tasked to protect the paths and travels between the various mouse villages and cities. Petersen achieved quick acclaim for the series, due, in a large part, to his exquisitely detailed art. The current story line in Winter 1152 follows several members of the Mouse Guard as they try to improve relationships with some of the far flung parts of the Mouse Territories, and a continuing sub-plot from the first collection (Fall 1152) regarding conspiracy against the Guard itself. Readers of Red Wall or The Secret of NIMH will enjoy this medieval tale of daring-do staring the brave members of the Mouse Guard.

Red: A Haida Manga By Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Illustrator Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95, 108 pages The quest for revenge is a story that has been told through the generations and through many formats. Revenge is something that has fascinated audiences. This story takes it through the perspective of Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest, but yet the themes of revenge are still the same. It follows Red, and his sister, growing up as orphans until raiders strike and they kidnap Red’s sister. Red then grows up to be the leader of the village, but with only one thought and goal on his mind, revenge against the people who took his sister. Red meets with a carpenter who can build bigger and better weapons. What Red does not know is that his sister has married one of the people in her new home, and she now has a son, yet the thought of getting back his sister drives Red forward. The art in this book is very stylized, which at times can make it difficult to follow. If you combine the pages, it forms on big image as well. The story is decently told, and the art is interesting. Reviewed by Kevin Winter Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection By Don Roff; Chris Lane Chronicle Books, $19.95, 144 pages Dr. Robert Twombly is living a nightmare. A mysterious infection is causing millions to die, only for them to rise as zombies and attack the living. He is one of the survivors, having barricaded himself in his lab with a few others. Food supplies are low. Hope is dwindling. This is his journal. Zombies plunges the readers directly into the action, quickly bringing us up to speed, as well as horrifying us with details both analytical and visceral. Twombly is an admirable narrator, seeking to understand both the infection and its results, a scientist to the last. The illustrations are purposely rough, more to evoke a mood than anything else, and they’re terribly effective. Sadly, we learn very little about who Twombly was before the outbreak, but this is intentional, leaving him a blank slate onto which the reader can project his or her own fears and experiences. Twombly becomes any of us, trapped in similar circumstances. Zombies follows the fine tradition of other “in the now” works -- like the tremendous World War Z -- and it’s an excellent addition to the genre. It’s real enough to unsettle you, and that makes for a great read. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas

Cirque Du Freak: The Manga, Vol. 3 By Shan, Darren Yen Press, $10.99, 191 pages Tunnels of Blood is the final installment in the Cirque Du Freak series featuring the half-vampire assistant Darren Shan (yes, the author used his own name for the main character). Still grieving over the tragic death of one of his friends, Darren tries to find meaning in it by staying close to his master -- the vampire Mr. Crepsley -- and his other friend, Evra the snake boy. An old friend of Mr. Crepsley suddenly arrives and seeks his help to resolve a grave matter happening in another city. While in the big city, Darren discovers romantic love and develops a stronger friendship with Evra. His loyalty to Mr. Crepsley, on the other hand, gets shaky, and it might not be long before he ceases to be the vampire’s assistant. Though fantastic in its setting, the story of this sequential art piece is universal and down-to-earth. Illustrations-wise, the panels are rich in lines and shadows but not too busy. Many of these panels can speak for themselves without the grounding of a text. Generally, this is a work satisfactorily suited for readers 12 years and above. Reviewed by Donabel Beltran-Harms Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip By Nevin Martell Continuum, $24.95, 256 pages Nevin Martell’s Looking for Calvin and Hobbes is made of equal parts of solid research and obsessive fanboyism, akin to an unauthorized biography of the “J.D. Salinger of cartoonists.” Publicity-shy Bill Watterson is a difficult yet sympathetic subject. The first chapters make for slow reading, but the rest of the book provides insight into the artistic challenges of cartoonists. The behind-the-scenes look at syndication and licensing sheds light on Watterson’s decision to end his awardwinning series. What’s missing most from the book, however, are Calvin and Hobbes. The lack of illustrations seems absurd. It would have been nice to see the development of Watterson’s work for oneself, and not just have it merely described. This is essential reading for die-hard Calvin and Hobbes fans who want to stalk Watterson. Martell will give you all the reasons why you will never find the man. So instead of attempting something both discourteous and criminal, read this book instead. Reviewed by Rachel Anne Calabia

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Biographies & Memoirs Far From the Land: An Irish Memoir By Thomas J. Rice iUniverse, $24.95, 358 pages Pretty Maggie Rice has no illusions about the hard life that awaits her in 1932 when she leaves her successful boarding house speakeasy in New York City and returns to her native Ireland and charming Arty, her alcoholic husband. A decade later, abandoned by Arty, Maggie gives birth to her last child, Thomas Rice, author of Far From The Land: An Irish Memoir. Sonny (Thomas) becomes Maggie’s favored “man of the house” much to the resentment of the “sisterhood,” his five high-achieving and exacting older sisters. One by one, his sisters emigrate out of Ireland. Maggie and Sonny are left to settle into a future filled with hard work on their small farm south of Dublin until a neighbor’s timely advice to 16-year-old Sonny changes the course of their lives. Rice’s memoir is filled with entertaining vignettes of rural Irish culture. While a little more historical detail in the beginning and a little

less romantic detail at the end would have improved his memoir, most readers, Irish and otherwise, will enjoy his honest and heartfelt story. Reviewed by Diana Irvine Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1874-1945 By Carlo D’este Harper Perennial, $15.99, 845 pages Now available in paperback, Warlord, Carlo D’Este’s highly acclaimed biography of Winston Churchill, is well deserving of the praise heaped upon it. This riveting chronicle of the military side of Churchill’s life is fascinating and colorful, providing readers with a balanced view of the complex man who led Britain through its darkest moment in history. D’Este, a proven author, military historian, and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, makes ample use of printed and archival material to present an objective, vivid account of Churchill’s military successes and failures, his boyish obsession with the glamour of war,

his impetuous recklessness, and his oftenarrogant leadership style. D’Este traces Churchill’s evolution from headstrong student to adventurous journalist to fearless soldier, as well as from articulate statesman to influential leader. Warlord reveals an impatient man who failed to recognize his own weaknesses, as well as an optimist whose perseverance was unequaled. The result is a commanding history of a man who has been both loved and hated, honored and maligned. Although the book suffers from occasionally sloppy copy editing and a somewhat poor index, Warlord is nonetheless a superbly enjoyable read. This fast-paced biography of Churchill is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and highly memorable. Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power By Ross King Harper Perennial, $13.99, 256 pages The Prince is widely read, but its author and his context remain to most little understood. That is why Ross King’s Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power should be welcome by all those long fascinated by that work. Part of the Eminent Lives Series, King writes for

a lay audience, to entertain as much as elucidate. Through humor and insight, King manages not only to humanize his subject-perhaps the most maligned thinker of Western thought--but actually makes one sympathize with his plight. Perhaps most importantly, King excels in his description of the chaos and violence of 15th century Italy, with its warrior popes, bloody mercenaries, and endless vendettas (not to mention the likes of da Vinci who makes a brief, fascinating walk-on). All of this contributes to a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Machiavelli’s plight. King also gives an intimate view of the man, a scholar and diplomat, but also a writer of bawdy plays and a lover of the prostitutes for which Florence was famous. If you read The Prince in college--and who didn’t--you are sure to learn something from this fun biography of an important thinker. Reviewed by Jordan Magill

Mystery, Crime & Thrillers LOCAL AUTHOR Death in North Beach By Ronald Tierney Severn House Publishers, $28.95, 214 pages Prolific mystery writer Ronald Tierney has the perfect recipe for enjoyment in this, his second book featuring Carly Paladino and Noah Lang. Take two detectives with a quirky office assistant, add a puzzling murder with clues good enough to baffle a seasoned mystery lover and top off it with a generous sprinkling of visits to Zagat-rated restaurants. By the end of the book, the reader will be hungry for a trip to San Francisco. The story begins with the body of a local legend found in North Beach. Carly and Noah are employed by a handsome man about town who looks like a prime murder suspect and needs to find the real killer. As the plot unfolds, the list of suspects grows quite long. Author Tierney excels at character development whether male, female, or somewhere in between. He knows his city as only a resident would and does a spectacular job of portraying San

Francisco including an array of typical characters that live there. Moreover, he knows where to dine and how to keep a reader’s attention. This is a perfect rainy day book! Reviewed by Ruta Arellano Code 15 By Gary Birken Jove, $7.99, 401 pages Code 15 weaves a murder mystery based upon the human drive for revenge and retribution together with the reality of medical care--where the leading cause of death is medical errors. Dr. Morgan Connolly is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Dade Presbyterian Hospital who starts having a bad run of luck. She loses a couple patients and withstands the irate harangue of a distraught father. Then her own father dies from a random attack. Her emergency room begins to have a string of deaths related to medical errors that are so severe they are termed Code 15 and require reporting to the state authorities. Soon, her superiors begin to think her grief is an obstacle to her ability to perform as the hospital Chief

of Emergency Medicine. In her frustration at lack of progress identifying her father’s killer, she investigates on her own and determines the rash of Code 15 deaths is related. “If I have anything to say about things, you and this hospital are going down.” Gary Birken effectively carries the reader along, introducing new information and slowly weaving an interesting mystery that is a race for Dr. Connolly to acquire the proof to put away the man she thinks murdered her father and the Code 15 patients. Reviewed by Vicki Hudson Is It Rags or Riches? By Kevin M. Weeks Xlibris, $15.99, 396 pages Is it Rags or Riches? is the third in Weeks’ Street Life Series. Here, Washington DC detective Hanae Troop goes to Georgia to chase clues about The Paradox, a serial killer suspected in a new death, yet there are questions about the death itself. In Georgia,

Troop’s counterpart is less than thankful for her help, even though there are some obvious similarities in local crimes. Confusing the issue is The Paradox’s new victims, former members of the Strictly Business drug cartel, who have left to try and make a new lives for themselves. There are plenty of complications along the way, as Troop sorts through the differences between DC and Georgia. Weeks tells a good urban thriller, with good dialog, characterizations and detailed scenes. His strength is in making boring police procedures not drag the story down, but be part of the action. Is it Rags or Riches? keeps the action going, and holds enough mystery to draw readers through the story. Troop is an engaging character, and her interactions with the various Georgian residents, including detective Paul Yeomans, give life to the Peach State. A good series for fans of thrillers or urban fiction. Sponsored Review

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

March 10 15

Romance A Case For Love By Kaye Dacus Barbour Publishing, $10.97, 320 pages In this third installment of the Brides of Bonneterre series, Alaine Delacroix, a television reporter for a noontime news-magazine, cannot break into the big time no matter how hard she works. When her family’s home and business are threatened by Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises, she must tread carefully between her familial obligations and her professional objectivity. Between her friendship with daughter Meredith Guidry and her burgeoning attraction to eldest son Forbes Guidry, it’s easier said than done. Although advertised as a David vs. Goliath struggle between Alaine and the large mega-corporation, A Case for Love centers on the theme of “letting go and letting God.” Attorney Forbes Guidry is a control freak through and through. Used to managing his own life as well as the lives of his siblings, parents, clients, and even the groups at church, Forbes is at a loss when his involvement with Alaine risks both his job and his relationship with his powerful parents. Forbes soon learns he can’t control everything— including his feelings for his new client and his frustration with his parents and siblings’ choices. Focused on the redemptive powers of letting go, A Case for Love explores the difference between doing what is easy and doing what is right. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Slow Heat By Jill Shalvis Berkley, $7.99, 336 pages Wade O’Reily, a catcher for the Santa Barbara Heat, a Southern California professional baseball expansion team, has gotten himself into a pickle with his playboy ways. When a paternity suit comes to the attention of the front office, they order Wade to clean up his act. In steps team publicist Samantha McNead to the rescue. She sets herself up to serve as a decoy girlfriend in hopes to lure the paparazzi and management into believing Wade has turned his act around. Although Samantha and Wade are supposed to be having a “fake” relationship, they can’t keep their hands off each other. In a women’s bathroom, on the beach, in a car, on a couch, in the shower-the romance between the two is red-hot.

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Libraries Blossom Amid Bad Economy By Meredith Greene Although positioned as a light-hearted, contemporary romance perfect for the beach, Jill Shalvis has stepped up to the plate and created two richly, deep characters who face real life conflict. Readers can’t help but to feel for Samantha, trying to hold her own in a family of power-hungry barracudas, or Wade, who was raised by a single, alcoholic, absent father. Slow Heat is touching, funny, and poignant: pure romantic fiction at its best. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Naked Dragon: A Works Like Magick Novel By Annette Blair Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 336 pages Centuries ago, Bastian Dragonelli was a Roman warrior. Cursed by Killian, Sorceress of Chaos, Bastian and his legion were turned into dragons and sent to the Island of the Stars. First of his legion to be returned to Earth, he must seek his heart mate and make her quest his own. If successful, his brothers will also be saved and returned. McKenna Greylock needs a handyman to help turn her family’s run-down Victorian into a bed and breakfast so she doesn’t lose her home. Who better than the newly human Bastian to help her save her family home and defeat the evil land developer Elliot Huntley? “On the Island of Stars, on a plane beyond ours, a Roman legion exists. Cursed for performing their duty with spirit and might … One dragon per phase might be turned and sent back.” With whimsical and delightful supporting characters both magical (a teacup fairy named Dewcup and a tiny guardian dragon) and non-magical (family friends, newly handicapped Steve, a very pregnant Lizzie and their three delightfully scampish children), Naked Dragon is pure fun. Containing everything a fan of paranormal romance could wish for--dragons, goofy faeries, treasure, love, and most important, good conquering evil--Annette Blair has crafted an original and entertaining tale of love and redemption. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley

Americans seem to feel renewed interest in literature in the presence of want. Libraries across the nation are reporting a 5%-10% rise in individual attendance. Apparently, folks are not only visiting libraries for the Internet connections, DVD, and periodicals; several city library systems are reporting a marked incline in books being checked out and new cards being issued. More than two million books were checked out in 2009 in the Spokane Public Library system in Washington State, for instance–a 5.6% rise over the year previous–according to a January 2010 article in The Spokesman-Review, along with nearly 14,000 new library cards issued. Folks interviewed in the article like the one-stop-shop approach for research and entertainment, all for free. The presence of Internet terminals seem to be functioning well as a draw. According to 2009 reports available online at, last year in the Sacramento Public Library system alone, terminals were used 985,755 times, but libraries also lent out 163,822 items, while 87,434 people attended 2,600 programs and librarians answered almost half a million reference questions. In California public libraries statewide, the number of items lent out in 2008 rose nearly 25% over the previous year; the 2009 report also projects that Internet usage in libraries will increase over the next five years by 23%. Libraries have taken notice of such statistics and are evolving along with their patrons. Many libraries can be followed on Twitter, for up-to-the minute news on new titles, classes, programs and even available jobs. Find your library on Twitter for a comprehensive list: The Sacramento Public library can be followed at The San Francisco Library can be followed at:

Ecstasy Unveiled (The Demonica Series) By Larissa Ione Forever, $6.99, 432 pages Writing a series isn’t an easy feat by any means. Carefully crafting and successfully immersing your audience into an alternate universe partnered with a few over the top characters may keep readers clamoring for a book or two. But unless the author is a true professional, an artist, most series wane as the author recycles content over and over again. Larissa Ione is such an artist, a professional. Each book in the Demonica Series is better than the last. Ecstasy Unveiled is a shining star— no, a floodlight, in an over-populated genre quickly reaching Chinese proportions. The hero Lore is a half-breed demon who bartered his service; he has to serve as an assassin for his dark overlord. With one last kill between him and freedom, Lore will do anything to get the job done. The heroine, Idess, an earthbound angel, cannot allow Lore to kill her charge or she’ll never be allowed into Heaven. When the two clash, sparks flash in dark, wicked, and edgy pas-

sion, everything a reader of paranormal romance could ever desire. The action is fastpaced and well crafted. Clear some time in your schedule. You won’t want to put this done until you reach the last page. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley FASHION, con’t from page 10 ionista to reflect on one’s eternal longing for beauty as well as the limits of what is wearable. A Year in Fashion allows one to see the contrasts day to day as one pokes around in these many days of wardrobes. Lively presentation is made between haute couture and ready-to-wear, daring high heels, glamorous eveningwear, not to exclude the superficial and the profound. This brilliant study is a welcome addition to the growing number of books being published on fashion. Reviewed by Claude Ury

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Popular Fiction Things We Didn’t See Coming By Steven Amsterdam Pantheon, $24.00, 208 pages More a series of linked short stories than a novel, this debut Things We Didn’t See Coming follows an unnamed protagonist through a shifting post-apocalyptic landscape. His role changes by chapter: a child in the days before Y2K, a sneak thief in love, a horseman warning holdouts about a coming flood, a security guard corralling refugees, and a rising senator’s aide. Amsterdam writes with careful, almost Spartan prose, avoiding pitfalls of melancholy or self-absorption. At best, his sentences are searing in their sparsity. The struggles for survival leave little time to take in the surroundings. While the style strengthens this work, it is also its weakness. Chapters leap forward in time, and one never gets a sense of what’s happening or why. At times it can feel like Amsterdam is trying to cycle through every post-apocalyptic cliché, from “A Boy and His Dog” anarchy to sexually-obsessed dystopia, with no apparent connection between them.

Nonetheless, the main character here continues to compel one to read on. His plight and wants holds the attention, daring us to continue and find out what he next encounters. Amsterdam’s talents carry this work and, I suspect, will compel our attention to his next endeavor as well. Reviewed by Jordan Magill Art Damaged By Nora Novak iUniverse, $15.95, 221 pages Nora Novak is a Southern Californiabased mixed-media artist specializing in collage-type photo-reference art of female models. Her first book, Art Damaged is about a Southern California-based mixedmedia artist and her highly glamorous and enviable lifestyle, which could be a recipe for a poorly written wish-fulfillment novel. Instead, Art Damaged is a fun escapist novel exploring the modern art world. Novak’s protagonist, Nina Valliere, pulls the curtain back on the personalities, people, and places, all while letting the reader vicariously enjoy Nina’s chaotic work, love life, and

art career. And as one can see the car wreck coming, Nina’s lifestyle can’t be sustained without something having to change, and eventually Nina also comes to that realization. The dialog sparkles with realism and humor, the story is peppered with popculture references that don’t feel like paid product placements as some chick-lit books seem to do. With Novak and Nina’s obvious similarities, one must wonder how much of Art Damaged is fact or fiction. But, regardless of life imitating art (or art imitating life), Novak has produced a good first novel in the vein of early Jackie Collins or Danielle Steele (or even a Sydney Sheldon). A worthwhile debut novel, and one would hope to see if Novak can deliver the same quality and enjoyment in a plot and setting outside her comfort zone. Sponsored Review LOCAL AUTHOR Surviving Chadwick: A Novel By Phillip Wilhite iUniverse, $15.95, 232 pages Bay Area author Phillip Wilhite offers an analysis within the context of a novel of the 1970s which was a historical era for all Americans, but most especially for African Americans and the Black Panther Party.

Surviving Chadwick is the story of a minority’s struggle to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of racial and educational equality. Isaiah Isaacson tried desperately to keep hold of his black identity and resist the changes that are crucial to survive and strive at Chadwick, an elite boarding school in California. It is a story of a certain African American who was awarded a scholarship to a mainly white school. School for this young man proved to be just as tough as one could imagine. His beliefs were challenged and he clung more and more to his past, finally vowing to get himself expelled from the school. This reviewer was very moved by the coming of age story of how Isaiah tried to find what society means to him. Isaiah learns how to take the best advice from his parents, how to reminisce of one’s teenage experiences, and also learns to face obstacles. Reviewed by Claude Ury

Modern Literature The Vera Wright Trilogy: My Father’s Moon, Cabin Fever, The Georges’ Wife By Elizabeth Jolley Persea, $19.95, 552 pages The lauded masterpiece of one of Australia’s most acclaimed authors, Elizabeth Jolley’s The Vera Wright Trilogy is shockingly little known here. The first two books are out of print and the third was never released. Persea Books has ridden to the rescue, reissuing the trilogy in one magnificent volume. Loosely based on Jolley’s own experiences, Vera’s story begins in 1939 England, as she leaves school at seventeen to become a nurse in a military hospital. Told in the present tense over several decades, Vera recounts her story not in a neat, tight narrative but as a series of overlapping memories marked by yearning obsessions: with sophistication, with marriage, with foods restricted during wartime, and above all with charismatic personalities, the most intense of which culminates in her first child born out of wedlock. Vera is a remarkable protagonist, a quiet rebel involved in a con-

tinuous struggle with societal and familial expectations. Her decisions less wise than provoked by a desire to find a life that satisfies her. Jolley melds restraint and passion in writing that can simply be described as musical. Jolley deserves to be counted among the great voices of the past century, and her trilogy deserves to be read, discussed, and adored. Reviewed by Ariel Berg The Girl Who Fell from the Sky By Heidi W. Durrow Algonquin Books, $23.95, 272 pages Rachel’s father was a black G.I. and her mother was Danish; this is part of who Rachel is. Also part of Rachel is the fact that her mother left her father and moved to Chicago, and that her mother killed herself and Rachel’s siblings when Rachel was young. She tried to kill Rachel too, but somehow Rachel survived. Now she lives in with her grandmother, who lives in a predominately black neighborhood in Portland.The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is the story of Rachel’s life as a biracial girl growing up in the

1980s, a time when American still insisted on a strong line between black and white. Heidi Durrow has done a magnificent job portraying a wide spectrum of emotions in this slim novel. Rachel initially deals with the tragedy by burying it away. She is a smart and well-behaved girl, characteristics which only serve to bring her animosity from the other kids at school. Durrow follows Rachel’s life as she gets older, turning into a troubled teenager trying to figure out where she belongs in society and dealing with her own maturing emotions while struggling with the repressed memories of her past. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Hummingbirds By Joshua Gaylord Harper, $25.99, 352 pages In his sophomore novel Hummingbirds, New York author and girls’ prep school teacher Joshua Gaylord introduces his readers to the world of Carmine-Casey School for Girls. At Carmine-Casey, the schoolyard dramas of teenage experience play out through diverse and privileged students, and the teachers who impact their lives. And in some cases their fantasies. The novel’s protagonist, Leo Binhammer, comfortable with his role as Resident Dreamboat Teacher at Carmine-Casey has

his life quickly turned upside down when a new male teacher, the charming and hilariously named Ted Hughes, seizes some of his fan base. Binhammer soon learns he and Hughes have shared more than just students. As a novel about male teachers in an allgirls prep school, it would be very easy for Hummingbirds to slip into some sort of stereotypical male fantasy about short skirts and bubblegum, but Joshua Gaylord manages the subject--and even broaches the topic of teacher-student flirtation and intimacy--without pandering to convention or cheapening his story or characters. What the book offers is a glimpse of some imperfect, but believable, characters and situations--and, while it may sound simple, in the case of Hummingbirds, that’s a lot. Reviewed by Ashley McCall

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

March 10 17

Poetry & Short Stories Day Out of Days: Stories By Sam Shepard Knopf, $25.95, 282 pages Imagine discovering the lost notebook of America’s greatest living playwright and being able to plumb the depths of his unique imagination. This is what you feel reading Sam Shepard’s Day Out of Days, a work of staggering genius. On the side of a highway, a man encounters a severed head that begs him for a final rest. A traveler trapped overnight in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant must endure Shania Twain playing in an endless loop. In a roadside motel, a lonely actor encounters a long lost love whom he only just remembers. Some stories go on for a few pages, others are only a paragraph. Some are dialogues, a few are monologues, there is even an occasional poem. Still, all the stories carry threads of common themes: travel, self-discovery, and the burdensome weight of the past. Through it all, Shephard transports his reader along on a highway through his life and mind. Overall, Day Out of Days is such an amazing trip that you’ll be sad when you turn the final page. Reviewed by Jordan Magill We Don’t Know We Don’t Know By Nick Lantz Graywolf Press, $15.00, 96 pages Has any other recent writer compared modern political speeches with those of first century philosophers? If not, then Nick Lantz is the first with his book of poems We Don’t Know We Don’t Know. Lantz takes excerpts of Donald Rumsfeld’s discourse and the writings of Pliny the Elder to build powerful expressions on humans ability to know and not know. Readers will be pulled into the mind of an interrogator in “Will There Be More Than One ‘Questioner”?,” back to Adam’s naming of the animals in “[ ]” and the recognition of the unknowing in “‘Of the Parrat and other birds that can speake’.” Lantz’ imaginative writing is able to describe our ability the “know” when we, ourselves, are unable to even begin describing such a thing to another. Mostly, Lantz allows for the readers imagination to work with blacked out words, long empty brackets, and relating opposite imagery. His structural usage helps to hold together the complex imagery and thoughts as readers slowly take in each poem. Nick

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Lantz will gain quite a n audience with We Don’t Know We Don’t Know and will have people talking for many years. Reviewed by Robyn Oxborrow Erotic Poems By E.E. Cummings Norton, $12.95, 72 pages Many know and love e.e. cummings, one of the masters of modernist poetry. His style is distinctive in its use of punctuation and grammar, and poems such as “in Just-” and “maggie and millie and molly and may” are staples of school curriculums. But many don’t know that cummings was known during his lifetime as a master of “adult” poetry, and his collection of erotic work has been collected into a new, exciting volume. The poems in erotic poems might not be appropriate for the classroom, but they are as celebratory and memorable as cummings’ other work.

Now available! VIII Tales Two: A Decidedly Darker Set By A. K. Adams Xlibris, $19.99, 177 pages

“A nice collection of short fiction by a new writer.” San Francisco Book Review

“Lady, I will touch you with my mind. Touch you and touch and touch until you give me suddenly a smile shyly obscene.” e.e. cummings was as playful with words as he was innovative, and this playfulness can be seen both in his joyfully sensual poems and his erotic line drawings. This is not porn by any stretch of the imagination; rather, the energetic sketches echo figure studies done by modernist contemporaries like Pablo Picasso. And the poems rely on sound and metaphor to convey their sensualism. Worms wriggle through soft dirt, a crisp city rises, fur turns electric, and jiggling, hushing, and oh’s abound. Some are purely romantic, some are downright X-rated, but all are filled with joy for the act of love. Reviewed by Katie Cappello Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty: Poems By Tony Hoagland Graywolf Press, $15.00, 85 pages Tony Hoagland is known for his wry humor and satiric style, which made instant classics of his previous volumes of poetry, What Narcissism Means to Me and Donkey Gospel. In his new book of poetry, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, Hoagland seeks to capture that same magic, but falls a little short. His well-known humor is certainly present in poems which compare human mating rituals to those of animals, examine the psychology of Britney Spears, and suggest that America’s essence can be found in a mall food court. His writing showcases a post-modern and self-referential bent; poems about poems, or about writing, abound

and are sometimes thought-provoking yet just as likely annoyingly clever. Hoagland unfortunately has the tendency to get in his own way. He is so skillful in crafting the sound bite or clever turn of phrase that the poems are often unable to reach that deeper level of thought or feeling which can be so powerful. While the poems are often laugh-out-loud funny, they leave readers hungry for more substance. Reviewed by Katie Cappello The Stranger Manual: Poems By Catie Rosemurgy Graywolf Press, $15.00, 94 pages The Stranger Manual, Catie Rosemurgy’s second book of poems, will make you smile. Most of us think of poems as solemn things, written to convey urgent messages to mankind; we open a book of poems and expect to weep. Thus, it was a delight for me to read Rosemurgy’s book and catch myself laughing. The imaginative poet can assume differ-

ence voices, create places and people, and still speak to a collective human experience. Rosemurgy does all this by giving us the convoluted but never quite nonsensical narratives of Miss Peach, a character whose complexity is doubled by her elusive physicality. Miss Peach may be hard to categorize, but this doesn’t stop her from speaking. In fact, it is her fluidity that gives her freedom. But she is who she is: an American and never quite free! Full of wit, honesty, and humor, Rosemurgy’s poems provide a soft critique of the paradox of American culture: the liberty, the countless options, and the being simultaneously trapped in materialism, individuality, and the pursuit of youthful beauty. The Stranger Manual will make you question who you are, how you speak, and what you do, but mostly, it will make you laugh out loud. Reviewed by Viola Allo

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

Local Calendar of Events 5

3:45 pm - Patricia C. McKissack discusses her book about AfricanAmerican history, Scraps of Time Hayward Public Library, 835 C St. @ Mission Blvd., Hayward


7 pm - Elif Batuman presents The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

11 6 pm - Award-winning author

3 pm - Zoe Carter presents Imperfect Endings Books, Inc., 1760 4th Street, Berkeley

Mary Gaitskill presents Don’t Cry Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera


7 pm - Zoe Fitzgerald Carter discusses her memoir Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Tale of Life and Death Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

7 pm - Nafisa Haji talks about her novel The Writing on My Forehead Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera 7:30 pm - Cara Black talks about her latest book, Murder in the Palais Royal Books, Inc., 1760 4th Street, Berkeley


7 pm - Thomas Goetz talks about The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera 7:30 pm - Writer and radio essayist, Jill Hunting, reads from her latest book Finding Pete: Rediscovering the Brother I Lost in Vietnam Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley 7:30 - 8:30 pm - Linda Hawes Clever, M.D.: The Fatigue Prescription: Four Steps to Renewing Your Energy, Health, and Life SF Public Library, Sunset Branch Library, 1305 18th Ave. (at Irving)

10 10 am - Special for kids! Laura

Numeroff talks about The Jellybeans and the Big Book Bonanza Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

4 pm - Bestselling children’s author, Laura Numeroff, whose books include the Jellybeans series and the If You Give series Clayton Books, 5433 Clayton Road, Suite D, Clayton

7:30 pm - Josh Macphee and others discuss Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley

13 1 - 3 pm - Pam Peirce, author,

Golden Gate Gardening: The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California SF Public Library, Main Library, Lower Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 100 Larkin St. (at Grove) 3 pm - Chaz Brenchley and Daniel Fox, authors of Jade Man’s Skin Borderlands, 866 Valencia Street, SF 6:30 pm - Jandy Nelson discusses her novel, The Sky is Everywhere Books, Inc., 1760 4th Street, Berkeley 7:30 pm - My Baby Rides the Shortbus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley

14 12:30 - 2:30 pm - Lierre Keith,

the author of the controversial book, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability SF Public Library, Main Library, Lower Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 100 Larkin St. (at Grove)

5 pm - Gordon Edgar talks about Cheesemonger Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

irreverent memoir You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera

15 4:00-6:30 pm - A Talk by

21 7 pm - David Deardorff and

Sunsara Taylor - “From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change! WE NEED A TOTAL REVOLUTION!” Sponsored by Revolution Books - Pacific Film Archive Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, Tkts: $10-20, free for students with I.D. 7 pm - Roy Morris, Jr. talks about Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Became Mark Twain Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera

16 6 pm - Mingmei Yip discusses her novel Petals from the Sky Book Passage, 1 Ferry Plaza, SF

18 7 pm - Danielle Trussoni

presents her thriller Angelology Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera 7:30 pm - Kevin Killian presents Impossible Princess, his third collection of gay short fiction Books, Inc., 2275 Market St, SF

19 7 pm - Stephen Batchelor talks about Confession of a Buddhist Atheist Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera 7 pm - Jo Nesbo discusses his novel The Devil’s Star Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera

20 3 pm - Steve Englehart

discusses his book, The Long Man Borderlands, 866 Valencia, SF

Kathryn Wadsworth talk about What’s Wrong with My Plant (And How Do I Fix It?): A Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera

23 7:30 pm - Chris Moore, author of Bite Me Books, Inc., 601 Van Ness, SF

25 7:30 pm - Al Sandine, author of Taming the American Crowd Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley

26 4:00 and 7:00 pm - Brandon

Mull makes his exclusive California appearance for Fablehaven Book 5: Keys to the Demon Prison Clayton Books, 5433 Clayton Road, Suite D, Clayton

29 7:30 pm - Arthur Phillips reads from his highly acclaimed 4th novel This Song is You Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley

30 7:30 pm - Barb Traub of

Desert to Dream, an unprecedented photographic record of an evolving decade of Burning Man 2251 Chestnut St, SF

31 7 - 8 pm - Author Novella

Carpenter: Farm City SF Public Library, Bernal Heights Branch Library, 500 Cortland Ave. (near Moultrie)

7 pm - Comedians and real-life married couple Jeff Kahn and Annabelle Gurwitch talk about their

Go to for a complete listing of events and details. Are you a local book store? Take out a Directory Listing for only $25/mo. Email email your events to Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

March 10 19

Tweens Stories From Ireland By Ita Daly Oxford University Press, $9.95, 152 pages Every society has its own signature tales of morality and heroism to stir the spirit, to inspire a sense of cultural pride, and to keep the kids entertained. Whether they’re cautionary tales of fairyfolk and their curious ways or the valiant escapades of legendary warriors and kings, these stories resonate throughout the ages, capturing the hearts, minds, and imaginations of generations. Stories from Ireland compiles oral tales from centuries past, featuring Ireland’s fairy people, the Tuatha De Danann, as well as the legend of Cuchulainn and the narratives of the high kings of Ireland. My personal favorites were The Story of Diarmuid and Grainne, which bears a remarkable resemblance to a old Scottish tale of vengeance and loyalty, and King Fergus and the River

Monster, a marvelously rousing story of triumph. The inclusion of a pronunciation glossary is a wonderful touch, especially for any readers that might want to continue the tradition for their own children. Not every entry in Stories from Ireland is appropriate for tiny ears, but many are worthy of sharing with your young ones. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes By Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda Candlewick Press, $29.99, 12 pages In this incredibly detailed and involved pop-up guide to mythological gods and heroes, Reinhart and Sabuda, travel around the world from one culture to another. Starting Anubis in ancient Egypt, the reader then spends a page on Mount Olympus with the Greek gods and then another with the

Young Adult The Sky Is Everywhere By Jandy Nelson Dial, $17.99, 288 pages The Sky is Everywhere is a ‘first-love’ love story that, cloaked in Lennie’s grief for her sister’s recent death, will seep into your heart. The characters spring off the page, so full of life, so clear and confident in who they are, even as they wrestle through life’s angst. Complex, yet pure, it’s easy to fall in love with Lennie when her new budding womanhood learns to dance with Joe, whose music lifts its way into Lennie’s heart. “His delight quotient mesmerizes me.” The story is sprinkled with quirkiness, like when Lennie writes short poems and stuffs them randomly in a tree, under a rock, wherever she happens to be when inspiration meets with paper and pen. Or when Lennie and Joe lunch in a tree, or when Lennie slips away to her secret hideaway that is an ‘outdoor bedroom’ kept in the forest by an eccentric, romance-infused hotel owner. Full of compelling subplots, Lennie learns the truth of her mother who left her two toddler daughters behind and she learns her sister’s heart-pounding secret.

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Author Jandy Nelson wraps the deep emotions of grief with the delightful emotions of first-love. Her writing sparkles with fresh phrases. A must read when you want to curl up and get lost in ‘what-if’ wonderlove. Reviewed by Susan L. Roberts Lips Touch: Three Times By Laini Taylor Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99, 266 pages A first kiss can be a wonderful, magical experience. But it also can change your life forever, and not always for the good. In Lips Touch, Laini Taylor has written three enchanting stories about the pivotal moment of a kiss. The stories are widely diverse from “Goblin Fruit”, a modern story inspired by the poem The Goblin Market to Spicy Little Curses Such as Thes, set in Raj India, to Hatchling, the longest and most fantastical tale. Each story, although different, is tied together with the theme of a magical kiss that can create or destroy. The writing is beautifully lyrical, with a voice that is totally unique and a joy to read. The description, the settings, and the characters are wound together to create a story that gives you just a glimpse of something wonderfully magical. These settings have the potential to produce many

Jason’s Argo, and the other Greek Heroes. Then comes Thor and the Norse mythology, Pele and the Oriental myths, and finishing with the Aztec god of wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. Each page has one major pop-up, and then several smaller ones along side them under sidebar information explaining the other heroes or gods. The large pop-ups are some of the most colorful and detailed pieces of paper engineering done so far in the Encyclodedia Mythologica series. While there isn’t a lot of information on each page, the bits that are there, combined with the art, provide a springboard for a young reader to seek out other sources. The pop-ups are probably not suitable for younger readers unsupervised, but will engage them as well. The Girl with the Mermaid Hair By Delia Ephron Harper Teen, $16.99, 314 pages Sukie Jamieson lives a perfect life — she has perfect grades at her nice private school, a perfectly designed house, and perfect hair and looks. Her parents are perfect — goodlooking, charismatic, and successful. Sukie has a perfect system for maintaining her

novels of their own, but instead Taylor gives us just a hint, a taste, of their magnificent potential. This is a book that is hard to put down, and yet makes you want to slow down and enjoy each sentence. These stories are something to savor, to go back and be reread with the same joy and appreciation as the first time around. The writing itself if more than worthy enough to stand alone, but the illustrations that have been added in really take this book to the next level. Each series of wordless paintings acts as a prologue of sorts to each story. And yet, these pre-stories somehow weave themselves into the writing as well, which brilliantly adds a hint of foreshadowing to each plot without ruining it or giving anything away. The illustrations in themselves are gorgeous and the two color printing makes them pop without creating the full-color look of a picture book. The artwork is just one aspect that makes the overall design of the book so perfect for these stories, and almost a work of art in and of itself. The typesetting, font, and title treatment all work together to create a book that is a perfect gift. Lips Touch// is so different from anything else in its field that it brings a breath of fresh air to the genre, and gives the reader a product that is a delight to read. Fantasy and romance fans alike will not want to miss out on this excellent display of originality. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller

appearance and her cell phone provides the perfect means to constantly check her looks (she snaps “selfie” photos with the camera). Sukie generally manages to fight off a nagging feeling that she’s missing something deeper in life, until her mom gives her a mirror that belonged to her grandmother, which seems to show her odd things sometimes. And when her parents start acting strangely, a confused and lonely Sukie has nowhere to turn but to her reflection. Well-known screenwriter Delia Ephron’s novel for young girls reflects the obsession with appearance that is so deeply entrenched in our society today; at times it seems like a morality tale or fable. Unfortunately, despite her noble intentions, Ephron just can’t seem to make up her mind, not sticking with a solid tone or direction. In the end, The Girl with the Mermaid Hair is left with no sure legs on which to stand. Reviewed by Cathy Lim

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President By Josh Lieb Razorbill, $15.99, 303 pages Oliver Watson isn’t a popular kid. Out-ofshape, less than sharp, and socially inept, he remains off the radar of most of his fellow classmates. Just as he prefers. Oliver also happens to be a millionaire mastermind, equally capable of brilliant technological advancements and incredible villainy. He has achieved his every desire thus far, save for world domination (which should really wait until he’s old enough to appreciate it), and now he wants to occupy the highest office in the land: class president. But can even a diabolical megalomaniac dominate the shark tank that is middle school? I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil is absolutely hysterical, a real treat. Poignant social satire is deftly mixed with childish wish fulfillment. (Blowdarts that make the target gassy? Secret messages on a teacher’s cigarettes?) You’ll have flashbacks to your worst moments of school, and laugh through each of them as Oliver uses all of the tools in his vilSee GENIUS, page 21

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

GENIUS, con’t from page 20 lainous arsenal to overcome every obstacle in his path. Admittedly, there are a few dark moments in the book--Oliver’s vindictiveness runs surprisingly deep for an otherwise likable protagonist--but for the most part, it’s a hilarious romp and a great read. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas Fire: A Companion to Graceling By Kristin Cashore Dial, $ 17.99, 461 pages The anticipated sequel to Graceling—a world of superhumans with mismatched eyes—has just the bright, colorful spark that transformed Graceling into one of the greatest fantasies of its age. Fire is a novel about monsters, a land beyond the land where Graceling was set: the Dells. It is home to Fire, who is Cansrel’s daughter. She is loved for her impeccable beauty, brilliant hair, and ability to grasp the hearts (and minds—yes, she’s got mind control) of most eligible bachelors. While she is hated for being the offspring of one of the most fearsome human monsters who took the Dells, her lifestyle has never been near to normal. Now the Dells are ruled by the inexperienced King Nash, who lusts for her and her current lover, and childhood friend, Archer. Fire leaves Archer to stabilize the kingdom and defeat Nash’s rivals. Fire then meets Brigan, Nash’s brother, who loathes her for destroying his family. She struggles to lift the kingdom from the ruins her father created, while dealing with inner emotions. The stereotypical teenage romance is a cheesy concoction of love and hate. Yet this book is apart from the conveyor line, suitable for girls and boys alike, and even the sophisticated and refined reader. Reviewed by Alex Masri

Health, Fitness & Dieting Solid to the Neck, Mid-Back and Shoulders: Simple Exercises to Improve and Prevent Injuries By Janique Farand-Taylor iUniverse, $14.95, 148 pages Most everyone either has neck pain or knows someone who does. Some people see a doctor or a chiropractor, others just are so used to the pain, they accept it as a part of life. But many of the causes of neck pain are not only treatable, but preventable. Sports physiotherapist Janique Farand-Taylor has written a exercise guide book to help correct and prevent neck pain and injuries. The exercises are all uniformly simple and most don’t require much more than equipment or time. Not only are there a multitude of exercises, Farand-Taylor explains many of the causes of neck, upper back, shoulder, and head pain, and gives a series of exercises and stretches to help alleviate the specifics behind the issue. Farand-Taylor is not only a sports physiotherapist for the Ontario Freestyle Ski Team and a Certified Personal Trainer, but also a former Olympic athlete (1984). And while most of us may not have the sorts of sports injuries that professional athletes have, the techniques used for them are easy for the rest of us to do. A easy to read, follow and use book for the lay-person wanting to improve their health, or avoid future health problems. Sponsored Review The Perfect 10 Diet By Michael Aziz, MD Cumberland House, $24.99, 422 pages FACT: Every diet book says the same thing – Fats are evil! Carbs are evil! Dairy is evil! Luckily, Dr. Michael Aziz has decided to say something different. The Perfect 10 Diet educates dieters on using whole foods and grains to balance 10 key hormones in the body, and by balancing these hormones the dieter will not only lose weight but will also lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Dr. Aziz also steers dieters away from the low-fat craze, stating that the body benefits from the saturated fats in whole milk and butter. This diet does have the popular “staged” approach to help facilitate the hormone balancing process. Stage one allows poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables while cutting out grains (a.k.a.: No carbs!) Stage two allows the addition of whole grains, and stage three

allows the addition of the occasional sweet treat. This book educates dieters about the benefits of making good decisions when it comes to food and provides plenty of information about how to actually do so. Since starting this diet I have never felt better and truly feel that this will be easy to follow long term. This book is about making life changes and those changes will only be for the better! Reviewed by Nicole Will Nutrition at Your Fingertips By Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN Alpha Books, $18.95, 405 pages Essential vitamins, complete proteins, and metabolism: these are common terms that are thrown around in our society. But what do they really mean? How much sodium is too much? How can you decrease your cholesterol? Can someone please translate these food labels? Never fear! In this expert guidebook, you’ll find all the answers to your diet-related questions at the turn of a page. This book acts as an introductory-level nutrition class set at your own pace. It’s a user-friendly tool that, when read from cover-to-cover, will provide keen insight into the impact your food choices make on your health. It’s a page-by-page checklist to maintaining your body’s appropriate intake of all things healthy, while avoiding the unhealthy. Use the book in segments. Read the chapter on sugars today, or dive into carbohydrates. Each section acts as a stand-alone, while including suggested reading throughout the book if you want more detail. Keep this book around the house—you’ll certainly refer to it repeatedly over the years as your diet and health fluctuate. If you’ve ever had the slightest curiosity about the

varying effects of tomatoes or table salt to your health, this book is for you. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers Behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight By Michelle M. Lelwica Gurze Books, $18.95, 284 pages Lelwica has her doctorate in theology from Harvard divinity school and has published and lectured widely on the nexus between spiritual hunger and “food issues” in the lives of modern American women. As a religion, the focus on food and weight provides us with the key elements of religious practice: idols (thin women), with rituals (counting calories, points, etc.), community (millions of us talking about food and weight), judgment and penance (burning 400 calories on the treadmill), and most importantly the promise of peace and happiness (salvation through Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc.). As one of the flock, I recognized the sad accuracy of this comparison. Even more, I appreciate that Lelwica has found concrete solutions for breaking away. She recommends two actions: first, realize the lie: we really are intelligent and experienced enough to know that being a certain weight will not solve our problems or bring us peace. Be critical of popular culture and then cultivate a practice of mindfulness that can put each of us where we belong: feeling our bodies and our hungers and making more helpful decisions about what we need to fill them. Offering a path away from misery, Lelwica’s book is lucid, well researched, thoughtful, detailed, convincing, and compassionate. Reviewed by Marcia Jo

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

March 10 21

Reference Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures By Dan Roam Portfolio, $20.00, 286 pages Dan Roam’s new book, Unfolding the Napkin, is the sequel to his award-winning and best-selling first book, The Back of the Napkin, and the condensation of the four day workshop he offers to such entities as Google, Microsoft, and the United States Senate. Roam’s premise is simple yet seems to have passed most everyone by: sharing ideas is much easier when done visually. The Back of the Napkin shared Roam’s idea with the world Unfolding the Napkin is the workbook that allows you to implement it into your life and work. Step-by-step, Roam guides the reader through the process of seeing problems visually, imagining their solutions as such, and then sharing the answers with others so that they not only understand the problem and solution, but are interested in helping solve it. Unfolding the Napkin is also full of exercises, review sessions, and quizzes that help the reader remember the steps. I don’t know if problems are easier to solve when you draw them out, as Roam asserts, but the man makes a convincing argument and the book is $1,075 cheaper than the seminars he leads! Reviewed by Jonathon Howard The Portrait By Glenn Rand; Time Meyer Rocky Nook, $39.95, 187 Pages As an amateur photographer, getting ‘good’ shots of my children and family means a great deal to me, and the pictures on the pages of The Portrait did not disappoint. Rand & Meyer use a grimacing plaster bust to teach the various concepts of light dynamics. After snapping pictures of the bust with various lights placed in different spots, the writers point out the differences between each as well as explaining the angles and labeling the placements with the proper terminology. I would have liked to see a few of the proffered pictures explained a bit more, as in “I used this method to get this shot, placing the light here, here and here.” The included photographs, however, are stunning, highlighting well how the light interacts with the subject’s hair, skin, and clothing. Besides the methodical lessons on lighting, this book contains historical facts of the portrait’s past; one section reconstructs Rembrandt’s seemingly primitive

22 March 10

Drivers Who Switch*... methods of back-lighting the subjects of his painting, methods which are still used today. The photographers including several “candid” shots in the montage, the type of picture I most enjoy. One word of warning, some of the images included may not be suitable for children. Reviewed by Meredith Greene From Camera to Computer: How to Make Fine Photographs Through Examples, Tips, and Techniques By George Barr Rocky Nook, $39.95, 286 pages In his rather charming introduction, “fine art” photographer George Barr related to the reader that ideally he be able to go along with each budding photographer and peer over their shoulder as they embark on each capture, to supply helpful advice. In this book, Barr instead conveys intricate details and steps on how to capture and enhance ‘artistic’ photographs, instead of merely “shooting” commercial images or fixing “redeye”. Besides the basics of image capture, one learns specific tactics for taking a good shot, importing it into the PC--keeping the most image data possible--and then how to enhance the natural beauty of one’s photographs. The instruction on how to ‘mask’ off a portion of a picture which does not need enhancement I found most illuminating; Barr used a picture of a rocky waterfall to illustrate his point, masking off the crystal-clear water and brightened the light to enhance the colors in the surround rocks, which before had been quite dark. The result was not a ‘skewed’ or unrealistic picture, but one which matched more closely the way the human eye would view the scene. This is a must-have book for digital photographers. Reviewed by Meredith Greene Make: Electronics By Charles Platt O’Reilly Media, Inc., $29.99, 334 Pages A bald-faced look at building electronics, this book strikes one with a jolt of interest from page one. After tasting (as in with the tongue) the 9 volt--or less--batteries, to determine if they are yet functioning, kids and adults alike move on to simple electronic starter experiments, which are geared show how electricity works, and also how to handle various components. “I assume that you’re beginning with no prior knowledge of electronics.”

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In the sections following the batterylicking illustration, one learns how to set up a meter, where to get the best deal on electronics-making tools and parts, a lesson in basic soldering skills, all alongside handy warning boxes which offer useful safety tips right when they are most needed. The clear language impressed me the most, for even my seven-year-old son was able to read and grasp the points and lessons therein… in-

deed, after reading the book the boy spent most of the day advocating the use of alligator clips as “helping hands” for various household tasks. From building your first circuit to basic robotic projects, this is a book for beginners, families, future geeks and hobbyists alike. Reviewed by Meredith Greene

Daily book reviews...Viewpoints

Cooking, Food & Wine Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 25th Anniversary Edition By Kevin Zraly Sterling, $27.95, 224 pages Kevin Zraly has been teaching his Windows on the World wine course for 34 years, and has graduated almost 20,000 students. He took a great deal of the information from his course, and wrote a book that is a self-guided version. Now, twenty-five years later, comes the latest edition, updated, yet again, with new wines, wineries, and regional information from around the world. It is a wonderfully conversational book, with plenty of asides one can almost imagine being told by Zraly as he digresses from course material. There are tasting note and instructions on blind tasting and a quiz at the end of each chapter. The sidebar notes are almost extensive enough to form their own sub-chapter of information, though, often, it is just factoids or short lists. A highly enjoyable guide to the world of wine, both for beginner and intermediate wine lovers. The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook By Editors at America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Illustrated, $39.95, 650 pages The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbookis designed for people who not only appreciate recipes that have been tried and tested, but also like to know how and why they work. The book is a comprehensive collection of all of the recipes prepared on its namesake TV show for the past nine years. Each recipe is prefaced with an explanation about why it works, and describes not only what often goes wrong with similar recipes, but also details the processes used

in perfecting these recipes. Tips for eggplant parmesan, that include baking the eggplant in batches on sheet trays, result in a dish that is faster and healthier, while an incomparably flaky pie crust is achieved by using vodka (which evaporates when baking) instead of water, as the liquid in the dough. The table of contents is organized by different show themes and features chapters on everything from salads, soups, roasts and pastas, French to Tex-Mex, brunch, side dishes, desserts, and so much more. In addition to the vast recipe collection, the book also features an extensive shopping guide complete with photos, descriptions and brand recommendations for everything from food to cookware to small appliances. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion By Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst Barron’s Educational Series, $29.99, 794 pages The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion is a complete education in food and a must for any cook’s toolkit. It’s an encyclopedia of food, a cooking guidebook, and a kitchen instructional wrapped into one neat, pretty book. “Vinegar loses much of its sharpness when heated. If that’s desirable, add it at the beginning of the cooking time. Otherwise, stir vinegar into your dish after it’s removed from the heat.” The layout provides an alphabetical description of everything from abalone to zwieback. Each definition includes instructions to help you gauge the ripeness of a fruit or the texture of a stir-fry. Sprinkled throughout are tips on everything from storing spices to techniques that ease the best flavor from kidneys. You’ll find directions on “frosting basics,” “eggplant basics,” and

a host of instructional facts to help you become a better cook. For instance, “Don’t add sugar or flavorings (to whipping cream)… until the cream forms soft peaks. You’ll get more volume that way” (page 141). This ultra-helpful book includes detailed glossaries on a number of foods, such as apple and squash varieties. Expanded glossaries also cover cheese, sauces, spice, and even kitchen tools. In this brilliant section, you’ll never be left guessing when a recipe calls for use of a “cake comb” or “snail plate.” Aptly called a “Companion,” this book will see you through many years of improved cooking. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott Raw Energy By Stephanie Tourles Storey Publishing, $16.95, 271 pages Heavy on idealism, light on research, yet loaded with fresh fruits and nuts, Raw Energy is what the author calls an “uncook” book. The raw food movement has seen mounting popularity, particularly in trendy diet fads that swear by its health benefits. Raw Energy is no exception. “Never fear--no great culinary prowess is necessary to make my delicious raw snacks. Your basic kitchen skills, sometimes applied in unusual ways, will see you through these recipes.” Author and licensed holistic esthetician Stephanie Tourles claims, “Unlike animals in the wild, which live their entire lives on raw foods, man attempts to build healthy cells out of primarily deficient, dead foods that are lacking in enzymes…”(18). Unfortunately, Tourles doesn’t offer much evidence to back her claims, and her suggested reading list doesn’t provide any references more recent than 2007. So, don’t read the book for its scientific strengths. Yet, the recipes found in Raw Energy are certainly appealing. You’ll find lots

of date, nut, and fruit ingredients. Unlike other raw cookbooks which attempt crackers, breads, and even entrees, Raw Energy provides only snacks. Expect plenty of smoothies, cold soups, salsas, and juices. Some of Tourles’s better ideas include Fabulous Coco-Walnut Fudgy Brownies made with dates and raw cocoa powder; Autumn Glow Persimmon Pudding Parfait using pureed persimmons; and BananaChocolate Chip Frozen Fruit Cream using frozen bananas. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott

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Children’s Books

Ferocious Wild Beasts By Chris Wormell Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 32 pages Ferocious to adults, but friendly to children, especially to one who is lost in the forest, this fairy tale collection of animals will delight young and old readers. Warned by his concerned mom about the wild beasts he might encounter in the forest, the little boy somehow finds himself lost in the woods. Innocently friendly, the youngster warns the first being he encounters, the sympathetic, inquisitive bear about the dangerous animals living there. Gradually the group grows as they meet up with an elephant, then a lion, and a crocodile, and a wolf, and a python, all infected with a fear of the unseen ferocious wild beast. They proceed together as a protective group in search of the reputed dangerous creature. Then suddenly, in the dark night, an ominous sound pervades the forest. The incongruous menagerie members flee in terror, except for the brave little boy, who discovers the imagined beast to be naught but his worried mom roaring his name in search of him. Mom is both the monster and the minder. A charming little story, enhanced by the colorfully dynamic illustrations. Easily turnable pages, large print will serve to enrich preschoolers’ and young readers’ verbal skills and appeal to their imaginations. Reviewed by Rita Hoots

24 March 10

Magic Tree House Research Guide #21: Leprechauns and Irish Folklore By Mary Pope Osborne; Natalie Pope Boyce; Illustrated by Sal Murdocca Random House Books for Young Readers, $4.99, 128 pages Through their research and visit to Ireland, Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce had compiled a complete (or almost complete) Irish Folklore, especially about Irish Fairies Leprechauns, research guide for young readers. In it, Osborne & Boyce introduced the Emerald Isle, a very green country of Ireland with its shining rainbows over the green hills and valleys, there live fairies… The Old Irish believed that humans and fairy realms coexisted and at times, they crossed over when certain conditions were met. According to Osborne, there are two major types of Irish fairies, the solitary and the trooping. Fairies love beautiful things, but not all fairies are good-looking. To name a few, Leprechauns are short, old and mischievous men. Ballybogs are oddlooking, with little round body covered with mud. Some fairies have wings, and their sizes can be as small as butterflies to as big as the 3-feet tall Leprechauns. Osborne inserted old Irish folklore, history and culture. She introduced Lady Gregory who plays one of the main roles in its corresponding Magic Tree House book Leprechaun in the

Late Winter. This research guide is an easy and handy reference for young readers with interesting graphics and photographs. Reviewed by Sophie Masri Wow It’s A Cow! By Trudy Harris, Jay R Harris, Paige Keiser, Illustrator Cartwheel Books, $8.99, 14 pages Are you looking for a cow?Wow It’s a Cow is a semi-rigid board book by Trudy and Jay Harris, is their first work written together and is finely illustrated by Paige Keiser. Wow It’s a Cow travels across a farm, informing the reader how to tell when a cow has been found. Small children will delight in opening doors on the pages to reveal the actual identity of an animal that might be mistaken for a cow. The cadence sings along, making good use of phonetic sounds to reinforce new vocabulary. Paige Keiser’s watercolor-based art creates a warm and inviting farm portrayal. Parents and kids will have fun with each new animal identified and then imitating the animal’s sound as represented on the page. Wow It’s a Cow is an amusing first book. Parents and kids alike will find the this lift the flap book entertaining. Reviewed by Vicki Hudson

Con fused

about which e-reader to buy?

Navigating the eReader Labyrinth Just selecting an e-Reading device from among the horde of available gizmos appears to be a hotly contested debate by itself. The Kindle users wage verbal war against the Apple fans, while the Sony buyers throw a few left jabs at the Nook users. Around their knees, a myriad of other devices swim like a school of technological fish in a swirling, chaotic soup of information. To make things a bit easier for our readers, we’ve compiled a chart for a little side-by-side comparison of the most popular eReaders, as well as a brief look at each device’s pros and cons, according to various consumer reports and blogs. Go to

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Ounce Dice Trice By Alastair Reid NYR Children’s Collection, $15.95, 57 pages This charming word book for children is a re-release of the book and drawings copyrighted originally in 1953. The book was a hit with kids (and adults as well) when it was originally published and is no less interesting today. I don’t know why the publisher decided to reissue the book but I’m glad they did. The script introduces young readers to a number of snazzy vocabulary words that they can use to dazzle their friends. Some of the words are nonsense words and some are actually in the dictionary, but they all are attentiongrabbing. The layout of the book is designed to grab the interest of young readers with words are placed all over the page, interspersed with Ben Shawn’s line drawings. This book is unique in that it is the only children’s book that Ben Shawn illustrated. Any adult who has an interest in words will also get a kick out of this manuscript. There are many words that even an English major will not recognize. This is a read-aloud book that all ages will appreciate.

San Francisco Book Review - March 2010  

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