M a y VOLUME 1, ISSUE 9
F R E E
NEW AND OF INTEREST
And God Said
An excellent tool in clarifying the Bible Page 4
Searching For Tina Turner This is what an awesome female protagonist looks like!” Page 6
Orange is the New Black Orange you glad you read this book? Page 8
Children’s Book Week
Daddy & kids to the rescue! By Mitra Modarressi Putnam Juvenile, $16.99, 32 pages
Taking Care of Mama brought tears to my eyes. What a refreshing read! As a mother who was once bedridden and had no way of taking care of herself, her children, her husband or the house, I definitely understood what the Raccoon dad and kids were up against. It is impressive how Mitra Modaressi subtly presents and honors the remarkable innate gift and talent of moms who are able to balance household chores and everyones needs on a daily basis; especially because this is a story that has the main char-
acter, Mama Raccoon, sick in bed the whole day. And although the book is a tribute to moms of all kinds, the real heroes in this story are Daddy and the kids. Additional props to Modaressi for the charming and endearing illustrations of scenes capturing the father and his children all pitching in on the household work while Mama dozes off to get some rest. What’s more admirable is the humility they all show when Mama Raccoon expresses her delight with their efforts at the end of the story. Reviewed by Kaye Cloutman
Coming around again Page 18
The End of the Free Market
Same-old defense from the sameold cheerleaders of Free Markets Page 20
100 Reviews INSIDE!
Crafts & Hobbies Mason Dixon Knitting By Kay Gardiner; Ann Shayne Potter Craft, $22.99, 160 pages Two knitting soul-sisters met on the internet and formed the Web site that eventually spawned this book, now available for the first time in paperback. Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne share a love for all-things knitting, especially knitting the unusual and unexpected. Mason-Dixon Knitting is a treasure trove for novice and advanced knitters alike. This book contains a wealth of patterns, including some for things one might never have considered knitting before. In the classic style of their Web site, the authors also include anecdotes, memories, interviews, fun little lists, and pictures galore! The patterns cover all ranges of experience. This book is more than just a pattern book: it is a source of inspiration. Readers will identify with these stories and find
themselves laughing out loud more than once when pondering places they will try to knit (or possibly already have), or things other than yarn that just might be knittable. Recommended for anyone who has even the smallest obsession with knitting. Reviewed by Holly Scudero Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece By Gail Callahan Storey Publishing, $18.95, 169 pages The arts of knitting and weaving have made a comeback in recent years, and with it a renewed interest in yarns and natural colors. Gail Callahan begins her charming prelude by admitting that she was dragged kicking and screaming into dyeing yarns out of necessity. Her first attempts at dyeing proved successful and bolstered future research and experiments. Soon, she had all the beautifully colored yarn a textile artist could want. Callahan discovered that the more one is embroiled in the creative
process the more likely the project is to be completed. Besides the creative aspect, the authoress lists five logical reasons to learn to dye, which include transforming ugly-colored yarn into eye-catching yarn, as well simple economy; instead of buying a skein for each color in a complicated project, one can take neutral-colored yarn and dye as needed. Gloriously hued photographs abound in this large tome; projects are included using the dyed yarns with accompanying pictures of the completed pieces. The dyeing process is well documented and covers a variety of methods, from immersion to using the microwave; the prose is quite clear throughout, and manages to educate as well as inspire. Reviewed by Meredith Greene The Handmade Marketplace By Kari Chapin Storey Publishing, $16.95, 224 pages Marketing is simply how you sell what you make, whether it’s Ford automobiles, or one-of-a-kind felt hats. You make things; if you want to sell them, you need to market them. Author Kari Chapin seems to believe
it’s that simple, and her text on marketing for crafters The Handmade Marketplace certainly presents it simply. Yet, accomplishing these marketing concepts is a different matter. Chapin’s handbook is a darned good starting place, especially for the entrepreneur with no prior business experience, who is handicapped by never having heard the terms “mobility”, “business plan”, or “pro forma.” This work will not explain those terms, but does a pretty good job of delineating the expertice a new business owner should consult and cultivate. Frankly, some of the advice smacks of new-age gobbledygook (‘build a nurturing place’, ‘welcome inspiration’), but much of it is practical, basic advice that will be appropriate not to just the handcrafter, but to almost any entrepreneur who needs or wants to explore the advantages of world-wide marketing via the internet. Reviewed by Claudette Smith
Self-Help Get a Life, Not a Job By Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D. FT Press, $19.99, 185 pages Paula Caligiuri’s Get a Life, Not a Job is a manual for navigating these tough economic times. With many of us losing our jobs or watching our employers downsize, we need a hopeful book like this. Caligiuri proposes that we take charge of our employment in an empowering way that places our careers in our hands. This process begins with selfawareness and an understanding of our skills, talents, interests, and passions. We need to know the ways we work best, whether independently or in teams, in set schedules or flexible hours, and on longterm projects or short-term tasks. We need to nurture our bodies in order to enjoy our work. Readers will find Caligiuri’s concept of career acts to be useful in creating fulfilling employment. She asks that we diversify our income-generating activities and engage in multiple jobs that create balance and safety nets we can fall back on if we lose a job. She warns that not everyone needs the same thing, so workers who thrive in a single career should continue to pursue their happiness and success. However, if you are search-
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ing for work that fits your unique abilities and passions, this book is for you. Reviewed by Viola Allo Silence Is Power By Prince Adebayo Ogunmeno iUniverse, $12.95, 99 pages If you’re a fan of police drama on television, you’ve most likely heard one of the actors in the role of a law enforcement officer say: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can or may be used against you. “The key to properly handling your encounter with LEOs (law enforcement officers) of all kinds involves respect, compliance with lawful directives, and most important, silence.” This is generally known as the Miranda warning -- the basis of this is the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, where individuals are granted certain rights that guarantees protection and cannot be violated without due process. On TV, when these words are uttered, it always seems like a sharp dramatic moment. But in real life, and in the actual heat of the moment, things aren’t always so clear-cut when it doesn’t happen, or even when it does happen.
It is this essence of the Miranda warning, or in most cases, asserting for yourself the right to silence when confronted with law enforcement officers, in order to necessarily protect your constitutional rights, that is at the heart of Prince Adebayo Ogunmeno’s clear and concise book, Silence Is Power: A Lawyer’s Step-by-Step Guide to Handling Police Interrogations and Protecting Your Freedom. Ogunmeno details the many possible scenarios where you might find the information in this book useful. By doing so, you will learn: what to do when you are pulled over by the police; what the implications are of police interrogation; how to protect fundamental rights and deal with a search warrant; and, what the intricacies of the court process are. Ogunmeno is well-qualified to write this book. He is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who has defended many individuals accused of breaking city, state, or federal laws. He wrote this book as a kind of service; to let people know what they need to know to have the confidence in properly and correctly dealing with law enforcement
officers, particularly in a number pressurecooker encounters. To assert ones basic constitutional rights throughout the entire law enforcement process, the ultimate aim of the book is to protect the wrongfully accused and redeem the innocent. If you’re a law abiding citizen, if you’re not in trouble, and you have no intentions of running afoul with the law, it is logical to think that you have no need for this book. But still, this is one book that you can’t, and should not, ignore. While it may not be one of the books you’d most likely rush to order online or pick from a bookstore, consider it as a must-read, an insurance policy of sorts. Because whether you like it or not, you have to realize that this is one of the few really important books with the kind of information that you don’t have the luxury of not knowing--for your own sake and for the sake of people you know. In law, ignorance is not an excuse. Sponsored Review
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Book Review 1776 Productions 1215 K Street, 17th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Ph. (916) 503-1776 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR IN CHIEF Ross Rojek email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kaye Cloutman firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGN/LAYOUT Heidi Komlofske email@example.com COPY EDITORS Joe Atkins Megan Just Roy Sablosky Lori Miller Viola Allo Glenn Rucker EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jen LeBrun Jordan Dacayanan Ariel Berg Mary Komlofske Rowena Manisay DISTRIBUTION Reliable Distribution Mari Ozawa ADVERTISING SALES firstname.lastname@example.org 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. May print run - 10,000 copies.
IN THIS ISSUE Crafts & Hobbies............................................2 Self-Help.........................................................2 Religion..........................................................4 Health, Fitness & Dieting...............................4 Popular Fiction...............................................5 Romance.........................................................5 Modern Literature..........................................6 Books About Books.........................................7 History...........................................................7 Biographies & Memoirs..................................8 Art, Archecture & Photography......................8 Children’s/Tweens Books...............................9 Calendar of Events........................................15 Science Fiction & Fantasy............................. 17 Humor-Fiction.............................................. 17 Business & Investing....................................18 Cooking, Food & Wine..................................19 Current Events.............................................20
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Science & Nature..........................................23 Spirituality...................................................23 Moms............................................................24
FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to May and our new issue. We had to take a break last month due to some unexpected medical problems, but are now back on track. Nothing major so far, but enough to keep us from getting the issue done and to the printer in time. So, we took the month off, got things done, and are back at it again. This month includes Children’s Book Week. We worked with several local schools to get reviews from the horse’s mouth, so-to-speak. You can find the children’s/tweens/YA reviews, along with our normal reviewers’ views on the latest kids and tweens books in our center pull-out section. We had a good time putting it together, and the kids and classes had fun reading the books and doing the reviews. Thanks to the publishers that helped us by donating the books we provided to the schools. We also have a Sexy Mother’s Day section sponsored by the Bay Area’s Good Vibrations. The first 30 people to subscribe to the paper this month will get a special kit with some goodies, and a year’s worth of great reviews. Sacramento and San Francisco residents both have equal chances to get a prize. Thanks for picking up this latest issue of the paper. We hope you’ll find something new to read, enjoy, and pass on to someone else within our pages. And if you run out of things to read, take a gander at our websites, where we post more than 200 more reviews each month that don’t make it into the paper. Happy reading, Ross Rojek —Editor-in-Chief email@example.com 1776 Productions
Coming Up... Next month, we’ll have another Cooking, Food & Wine insert, along with some reviews of local wineries and businesses in the Sonoma area. Heidi and I had a wonderfully relaxing (and much-needed) weekend doing research in Sonoma in preparation for the issue, and we’re looking forward to sharing some of our findings with you.
Religion God’s Brain By Lionel Tiger; Michael McGuire Prometheus Books, $25, 256 pages God’s Brain is co-written by bestselling author Lionel Tiger and Michael McGuire, M.D. It is a comparative work on the majority of religions and the human brain’s physical necessity for a higher power. The religions analyzed range from Judeo Christians to Islamists, atheists to suicide bombers, all to show, regardless of the belief system each person subscribes to, we all have a brain and that’s where the heart of any person’s beliefs are held. While this book is thoroughly researched and is dissected in an outsider’s perceptive view, it lacks the rigorous flow of a standard research paper or self-help book. The authors jump from topic to topic, point to point leaving the feeling that they may have issues with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They rightly observe a myriad of religious-based topics and bring up fascinating discoveries of the human brain; it could be more succinctly communicated if given to a more organized delivery. No one will doubt that religion is a very personal topic and for anyone to take it on in a generally clinical fashion is no small endeavor. Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson
And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning Meaning and Mystery: What it Means to Believe in God By David M. Holley Wiley-Blackwell, $29.95, 230 pages I am so disappointed that this book is not more accessible to everyday readers like me. It reads like a text book: dense, repetitive, and way, way too detailed for general readership. The premise is fascinating. Holley posits that if you take religion out of the conversation about God, and simply ask people about the stories that hold meaning for their lives, the answers you hear will illustrate the role of God for this person. It is by placing ourselves within a particular story or drama that we each come to know our parts, our role, our very lines. And this is how we determine the meaning of our larger scheme of reality. The first introductory remarks comprise over a thousand words, with far more examples and references than necessary or desirable. If you are assigned this book in philosophy class it will be worth the effort to make your way through; for the general reader, Holley needs to simplify his ideas, edit his work, and make the pages bright with white space. Reviewed by Marcia Jo
By Joel M. Hoffman Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99, 243 pages
The Bible is still the most popular book ever created. It has sold more copies than any New York Times bestseller could ever dream of selling. This is not surprising though, since it’s been on the market for over a thousand year. It is a book so many of us own but very few understand. But this is not entirely our fault. When, at the behest of King James I, the book was translated into “modern” English, many errors were made. The scholars who tirelessly worked on this daunting task did the best they could with what they reckoned to be the truth. For example, Eve may not have actually eaten an apple; it could have been any kind of fruit. In Latin, the word malum means both apple and evil, so they just called it an apple to make things simple. “While these obsolete words give the modern reader the mistaken impression that the Bible, too, is obsolete, they also red-flag their own shortcomings.” Some of the original words in the text are no longer relevant; some have retained their meaning; some, perhaps, mean nothing at all. Because of this, we can only guess what the original authors were trying to say. It reminds me of the game Telephone, where the last person to get the message may hear something completely different from what the first person said. And God Said is an excellent tool in clarifying the Bible. It helps it make sense. And really, what good is the Bible if you can?t understand it? It?s nice to be able to recite some Bible verses, but much more impressive if you actually know what they mean! Dr. Joel M. Hoffman does an excellent job of helping the reader understand what the original texts were all about. His clear and concise tone makes this a very interesting read. This is an excellent companion for every Bible owner -- 92% of Americans have at least one. It would even make a fantastic textbook in a college-level class. Reviewed by Jennifer LeBrun
Health, Fitness & Dieting The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem By Michael F. Holick Hudson Street Press, $25.95, 268 pages Did you know that vitamin D is actually a hormone that we need to survive? Renowned author Andrew Weil, M.D. wrote the foreword to this strongly-supported, lifetime research project by author Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D. The Vitamin D Solution is, in my opinion, the definitive work on better health. Sun-worshipers everywhere will love the methodology and rationale for the improved wellbeing that comes with the addition of vitamin D hormones to our everyday lives. Dr. Holick claims to have cured both humans and animals on death’s door with vitamin D. His research is irrefutable. His arguments are
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plausible. In the first part of his book, Dr. Holick covers our need for vitamin D and its evolution, and asks all the questions we might have as inquisitive readers. The second half tackles how to practically obtain it in our lives. He clearly explains how the sun is the number one source of vitamin D and disputes the claim that over-exposure causes skin cancer. He also addresses many other diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, all kinds of cancers, and heart disease. This simple vitamin, when administered correctly, can give anyone better vigor and better health. A must-read for us all! Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit By Therese Borchard and Ronald Pies Center Street, $13.99, 224 pages Though Therese J. Borchard has no qualifications as a mental health professional per se, her tools and techniques to handle her own neurosis provide a decidedly readable, relatable, portable, emotional Cliffs Notes in The Pocket Therapist:
An Emotional Survival Kit. Because of my high aptitude for neurosis, I?ve become quite creative and resourceful in how I manage this muddled mind. That?s really what this book is: my sanity file ? all the tricks, techniques, and sound bites I use between my therapy sessions. The popular Beyond Blue blogger offers an array of remedies which blankets maladies like anxiety, fear, and a host of other life-coping complications. Borchard brings her own life experience to the table, and started by annotating her 15 journals full of notes from more than 12 years of therapy, two binders full of geta-hold-of-yourself tips learned in the psych ward, and a fat folder of inspirational transcripts compiled from 21 years of attending practically every type of support group held on this planet.
She’s gone on to harvest grains of wisdom from those close to her - her mother, husband, sisters - to those not so much: her UPS guy, favorite authors and readers of her blog. For those who struggle between therapy sessions, or just need a little mood pick-meup, readers will find what they are looking for in one of Borchard’s 144 tips, techniques and tools. Chapters such as ”Your Neurosis,” “Start Uni-Tasking,” and “Be Cool to the Pizza Dude” are sure to help jumpstart those who need to get it together. Reviewed by Elizabeth Kalfsbeek
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Popular Fiction Seeing the Light By June Chen iUniverse, $12.95, 156 pages Seeing the Light is the story of Rhea Kosmo, the only girl in a family with three boys. Growing up on the Central Coast of California, Rhea is a tomboy, earning the ironic nickname “Princess” for her complete disregard for personal appearance. Rhea is selfabsorbed and demanding, traits she doesn’t grow out of, but that only increase with time. She does not tolerate weakness in others; she refuses to use drugs or alcohol and becomes hostile in conflicts with her family over their charitable giving. It isn’t until Rhea has a personal crisis that she begins to grow out these traits and develop some compassion. In this short, well-crafted novel, Chen creates a set of believable characters facing difficult situations and rising above them. While this is a coming-of-age novel, Rhea’s growth and learning are common life transitions. The move from narcissistic to tolerant
young adult, often through a personal crisis or two, is something most of us experience. Seeing the Light illustrates this in a wellwritten and entertaining way. Sponsored Review The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart: A Novel By Mathias Malzieu Knopf, $22.95, 192 pages If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman, pay attention! Mathias Malzieu has written an amazing novella that will take you to a place that Gaiman’s stories often do without a hint or trace of it being a rip off. The Boy With The Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a masterful story about love, life and attachment that you won’t soon forget. “Firstly: don’t touch the hands of your cuckoo-clock heart. Secondly: master your anger. Thirdly: never, ever fall in
love. For if you do, the hour hand will poke through your skin, your bones will shatter and your heart will break once more.” At the turn of the 19th century on the coldest day ever, a boy is born with a frozen heart. He is lucky to have been born at an orphanage where unwed mothers and prostitutes often come to have and leave their babies, because the matron is skilled at using various items and appliances to heal the sick and wounded. To the boy’s heart, she attaches a wooden cuckoo-clock which keeps it beating in rhythm, but ostracizes him forever. The worst part is that with such a fragile heart, the boy can never, ever fall in love, for the matron tells him, his poor heart could never handle it. Love though, has a funny way exerting its own will and it just might change the boy’s life forever or end it. Magical, poignant and pure, this is not a book you want to miss. Reviewed by Albert Riehle
Romance On The Steamy Side By Louisa Edwards St. Martin’s Press, $7.99, 336 pages Second in the Recipe for Love series, Louisa Edwards follows up her debut novel with a humorous, entertaining tale of two characters who couldn’t be less suited for each other. Lilith Tunkle is your typical Southern Belle, if typical means escaping a small town in Virginia for the city lights of New York. Barely in town for a day, she meets top celebrity chef Devon Sparks (think Gordon Ramsey). Devon is star of One Night Stand, a critically acclaimed cooking show, with a tagline of “Anything you can do, I can do better.” Lilith and Devon share their own one night stand, each pleasantly surprised to find they’ll be working together. However, Devon’s television personality takes a beating, when he’s called to fill in at the restaurant of an old friend. Edwards takes a story that should be predictable and trite and instead serves up a mouthwatering dish of incredible characters and realistic situations. Readers will
enjoy watching Sparks reclaim his skills as a celebrated chef and decent human being. In what could be a dull love story, On the Steamy Side is surprisingly rich and decadent, exploring family dynamics and the importance of humility. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Truly, Madly By Heather Webber St. Martin’s, $7.99, 305 pages Each Valentine in Lucy’s family has the gift. The gift to match people to the love of their life. Every single one, going back from generation to generation, except Lucy. As a teen, Lucy received a shock, not metaphorically speaking-a real shock, an electrical shock which skewed her gift. Now instead of matching people, Lucy has the ability to find things. Yet, when her parents have to leave home suddenly, Lucy must take charge of Valentine’s, Inc, her family’s successful matchmaking service. Unable to match people the Valentine way, Lucy instead must
rely on her own gifts to help hapless couples find harmony. But not even Lucy can help client Michael Lafferty when the love of his life disappeared many years before. Enter Sean Donahue, ex-firefighter turned private eye. With Sean’s help, Lucy is determined to find Michael’s perfect partner at any cost. With snappy and sassy dialogue, a quick moving plot, and some light intrigue, Heather Webber has penned a romantic winner. If you’re looking for cute, lighthearted, and entertaining, then Madly, Truly will fit the bill. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley Nothing But Trouble By Rachel Gibson AVON, $7.99, 384 pages Rachel Gibson typically writes a zippy, fun-filled romance with eccentric characters and snappy dialogue. Nothing but Trouble is no different. This contemporary romance will have you wishing it will never end. Seattle Chinooks team captain Mark Bressler enjoyed everything his high-flying hockey career afforded him: a big house, loose women, a party lifestyle. When a car accident costs him his career and almost his ability to walk, Mark turns his back on everything: his team, his friends, his life.
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Scoff at the Mundane By Bill Kalman Xlibris, $19.99, 242 pages Anton Bradley is a photographer, not a camera man. He works for a fashion magazine, photographing some of the most beautiful women in the world. Yet he is still obsessed with Ashby, his high-school crush, and that still colors all the relationships he has. He also has a lovehate relationship with therapy, knowing he needs it, yet always trying to discover how far he can push his therapists. While wandering through Dr. Polk’s oddly styled therapy, Anton begins to find a new perspective on his life, relationships, and the longing he still has for Ashby. Scoff at the Mundane is one of those surprise novels from a debut author. It is well put together, with interesting characters, a good storyline, and excellent dialog. And while the ending may be a made-for-themovies ending, it still fits together with the rest of the book. A book deserving of a wider audience, and with some work and luck, Kalman should be able to find it. Sponsored Review
That’s when Chelsea Ross arrives on the scene. Chelsea is no ones idea of a health worker. As a Hollywood Scream Queen, Chelsea’s typical day involves running from crazed monsters, splashed with bloodcolored gore, usually while half-naked. She’s not accustomed to putting up with cranky and resentful ex-athletes resolute to wallow in self-pity. But the Chinooks are equally resolute their star player get star treatment. If Chelsea can stick it out for a set amount of time as his personal assistant, she’ll earn a bonus - one that will help finance her big Hollywood comeback. Mark is determined to send Chelsea packing. Will these two strong-willed characters figure out how to get along? Although predictable - goofy antics, silly situations, and red hot sex - the combination is fast-paced, fun read. A great lunch-break book. You’ll be smiling all the way back to your desk. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley
Modern Literature Toad’s Museum of Freaks and Wonders By Goldie Goldbloom New Issues Poetry & Prose, $26.00, 323 pages I groped for words to describe Toad’s Museum of Freaks and Wonders. Astounding. Original. Funny. Breathtaking. Engrossing. This is the best I could come up with: Goldie Goldbloom’s novel is simply the freshest most absorbing debut I’ve read in years. Gin Toad’s life in the Australian outback is a mere existence. Years earlier, Mr. Toad’s proposal of marriage offered her only possible escape from the mental hospital in Perth where she had been confined by her family. Dwelling on her husband’s subsistence farm, shunned by the locals both for her albinism and her bourgeois sophistication, she has long realized her mistake, having merely traded one prison for another. Abandoning her passion for the piano and any hope for a fulfilling life, she steels herself raising her and Toad’s two surviving children, even as she mourns for, and is haunted by, the one that died. The novel opens in 1943. Gin’s bleak emotional quarantine is breached when the Australian government sends two Italian POWs to serve the Toads as farm labor. Antonio, banished from the family he loves, sets his sights on Gin, even as she, never having known what it is to be truly desired, finds herself overwhelmed by passion for this dark, brooding, fellow exile. Likewise, the other POW John evokes in her husband thoughts long repressed. If this sounds like the setup for a vanilla romance novel, rest assured that this isn’t that book. Goldbloom’s clarity of language, her dark humor, as well as her gift for plot and character, take this book someplace else entirely. That this is her debut novel, makes it all the more extraordinary. Gin’s acid-soaked narrative voice possesses a revealing intimacy, taking us along as she is pulled like a rag doll between despair and hope. Her malapropistic husband Toad, stout, diminutive, and a proud collector of women’s corsets, stands out as the sort of finely crafted character that will dwell in readers’ minds for a long, long time. And this is plainly Goldbloom’s gift: Characters so beautifully written and a setting so vivid, that one never feels the shadow of a hovering authorial presence; no, I found myself wholly absorbed in her story, a place and people superbly rendered and perfectly captivating. As with the best fiction, the writer of this work turns invisible, adding to the magic of the reading experience.
In short, Toad’s Museum of Freaks and Wonders is the sort of book you will find yourself buying for friends, telling everyone you meet that they have to read, wanting desperately to talk about. Yes, it is that extraordinary. Reviewed by Jordan Magill The Storm By Margriet de Moor Knopf, $25.95, 259 pages Award-winning author Margriet de Moor presents an imaginative and dramatic story based on the 1953 winter hurricane that overwhelmed the Netherlands. Twentyone-year-old Armanda asks her older sister Lidy to go out of town to visit her godchild in her stead while she attends a friend’s party with Lidy’s husband. Only two years apart in age, the two sisters look alike and Armanda posits that no one will notice their switch. Lidy agrees reluctantly, not knowing she is heading into the eye of the approaching storm, and leaves her daughter in Armanda’s care. Trained as a classical singer, de Moor has a perfect pitch for rhythm of language and structure as she interweaves the sisters’ stories. In particular, the sections with Lidy teem with energy and rivet the reader even though one knows the outcome from the first page. De Moor transitions seamlessly from Lidy in the storm to Armanda and the family coping with their loss and moving on with life. While Lidy remains twenty-three, her sister ages and struggles with her feelings that she took over Lidy’s life. These ordinary moments provide balance in the novel, providing solace for the reader from the storm. A vivid and compelling read. Reviewed by Deb Jurmu Agaat: A Novel By Marlene Van Niekerk Tin House Books, $19.95, 581 pages A paralyzed Afrikaner woman, Milla, stricken with ALS that leaves her not only mute, but entirely dependent on her black caretaker, Agaat, reminisces about her life, her abusive marriage, and the son she loves. In the hands of a lesser writer, Marlene van Niekerk’s second novel Agaat would surely have descended into saccharine melodrama. Instead, with poetic
Finding an Awesome Female Protagonist Lena Harrison Spencer did everything “right:” she married a charming and upwardly mobile man, she put her dreams on hold to support his career, and she gave birth to two beautiful children. Despite having achieved the outward appearance of the perfect upper middle class family, however, Lena’s personal life is far from ideal. Her husband, Randall, is both distant and controlling, her teenage daughter, Camille, doesn’t respect the sacrifices Lena made to be a stay-at-home mother, and her son, Kendrick, has developed a drug addiction while away at college. Lena knows that something needs to change about her life, but when Randall gives her an ultimatum—be happy with the status quo or expect a divorce—she begins to wonder whether she can continue to put other people’s wants and needs before her own. When she decides to make her own happiness a priority, the divorce, though painful, provides her with the tools she needs to believe in her own agency to act without Randall’s power plays informing her every move. With Tina Turner’s strength providing inspiration along the way, Lena finds that she’s stronger and braver than she could have ever imagined. It’s difficult to write this next part without resorting to flailing at the keyboard in a mad fit of unprofessional glee, but I’ll do my best. Here goes nothing. I loved Spencer’s Searching for Tina Turner. Loved it. I wanted to run to my friend’s nearby apartment to bang on her door, brandish this book at her, and yell, “This is what an awesome female protagonist looks like!” And it’s exactly like what an awesome female protagonist looks like, because Lena Harrison is really and truly an amazing woman. I love that when Lena is told she is indomitable, it’s a fitting description. I love her passion for photography. I love how she grows more self-assured and able to stand up for herself as the novel progresses, and I love that this self-assurance culminates in her measured and well-reasoned puncturing of Randall’s obnoxious belief that he’ll be so easily forgiven. I love that Lena, Cheryl, Harmon, and Bruce discuss race, patrimony, and stereotypes from both an American and a French perspective. I love being able to read about how Lena and Cheryl, as single black women in a foreign country, experience a different side of traveling abroad than I ever have (by which I mean I love having my eyes opened and being asked to reexamine my privilege from a different angle), and I love their different ways of handling the ignorant and sometimes downright creepy behavior. I love that Lena’s eventual response to “What’s Love Got To Do With It” is “’ME...THAT’S WHAT LOVE HAS TO DO WITH...EVERYTHING!!’” In American mainstream literature, there has been a dearth of books published in the last several years about both middle aged female protagonists and protagonists who are people of color. Perhaps it’s a symptom of authors not writing these characters because they feel there’s no market for them. Maybe it’s the result of manuscripts with protagonists who are graying women in their fifties, or men, women and trans people of color who don’t fit the W.A.S.P. mold for interests, backgrounds, and behaviors being rejected for publication for aforementioned lack of marketability. Regardless, finding good mainstream literature by American authors with these sorts of protagonists can be difficult, and when the two are combined -- a middle aged female person of color -the search becomes that much harder. Enter Lena Harrison, fifty-four year old woman of color and passionate, lively, indomitable protagonist of her story. Have I mentioned how much I love her? Searching for Tina Turner is creative, inspiring, sexy, beautiful, and an absolute and unequivocal delight to read. It’s a book that I will definitely read again. This fantastic novel is only the first of what I hope will be many more to come from Jacqueline Luckett. Her formidable talent (and the teaser for her next book) has left me desperate for another. Until then, I’ll be rereading Searching for Tina Turner and wishing I were back in Paris. ---------------------------Kate Maruska is a blogger and a book reviewer at the literary blog Cellulose with a Side of Ink. While her tastes are eclectic, she’s most passionate about finding and sharing books that foster diversity and equality, as well as occasionally shedding light on books that reinforce negative stereotypes. Every month she’ll bring to Sacramento and San Francisco Book Review a new fiction or nonfiction book about women, LGBTQI characters or people, or people of color.
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Books About Books One Hundred Great French Books: From the Middle Ages to the Present By Lance Donaldson-Evans Bluebridge, $15.95, 224 pages If tackling the greatest literature written in our own language daunts us, at least we have a fair idea of the terrain; how can we even approach the literature of a different country when it is a vast expanse of unknowns? “French literature, too, has long been an inspiration to North American readers and authors, for the very good reason that it is one of the great literature on the planet and would surely be offered World Heritage status if such a category existed in the literary sphere.” One Hundred Great French Books, the intrepid reader’s Lonely Planet, maps a tidy path through centuries of France’s, and other French-speaking countries’, finest works--beginning with The Song of Roland
in 1095 and finishing with modern master Michel Houellebecq’s 2005 The Possibility of an Island. Donaldson-Evans, a professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, is openly passionate about this topic, and even more vitally, adept at imparting it to others with few pretensions. To avoid the feel of a college reading list, he mingles the expected Zola and Flaubert with mysteries, science fiction, memoirs, and the beloved comic series Astérix. Take heed: the two-page descriptions given for each book introduce the work, the author, and the impact in a fashion concise but dry. Those already familiar with the works included will find little to enhance
understanding or deepen appreciation. But for those of us still quaking off these literary shores, here is a treasure map with a multitude of riches for the taking. Reviewed by Ariel Berg
from the elite transfer of the Norman invasion to the mass flight that followed the Rwandan genocide. This is not a volume for the casual reader. Dense prose and data demand close attention. A better than passing familiarity with late Roman history is also extremely useful. Still, Heather does all he can to assist, from an assortment of excellent maps to a surprisingly wry sense of humor. For the serious student of history, Empire and Barbarians will prove an illuminating essential read. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
less known, and the focus of Goodman’s book. The “devil” in Goodman’s title is Julio César Arana, the Peruvian rubber baron who screened his evil doings behind a British firm. But Goodman’s narrative focuses more on Casement, who came to believe that the Irish had a special duty to liberate those colonized and oppressed by British imperialism – a belief that subsequently led to his downfall. Goodman’s decision to minimize Casement’s homosexuality, and its role in his trial for treason and sodomy, is problematic, giving a limited perspective to this complex man. Despite its narrow focus, this is a significant work of history, suspenseful and accessible to the general reader. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis
Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers By Rachelle Rogers Knight Sourcebooks, $15.95, 311 pages Read, Remember, Recommend is a dream come true for the list-making, ultra-organized book lover. The first half of the spiral-bound book contains lists of award-winning books, ranging from the literary-well known (Pulitzer Prize), to the commercial (Oprah Winfrey), to the academic (American Library Association), to the more obscure (Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). While having this amazing compilation of award winning books at your fingertips is an inspiration, the printed format of the
History Empires and Barbarians By Peter Heather Oxford University Press, $34.95, 734 pages Combining a fluency in archaeology, sociology, linguistics, history, and economics with a command of data that can only be described as breathtaking, Peter Heather has produced a work of astonishing depth and erudition with Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe. He tackles an audacious question: What dynamics led to the formation and distribution of peoples that gave rise to post-Roman Europe? Heather brings together an extraordinary array of data: distributions of Roman coins and grave goods, linguistic evolution, shifts in social stratification and customs, all combined with a close reading of ancient texts in order to demolish the image of waves of ethnically homogeneous hordes invading Europe. Much to his credit, he does not seek to replace this explanation with another all encompassing hypothesis, but presents the evolution of Europe in terms of the interplay of several discreet dynamic forces. Some groups did indeed migrate with identities intact, while others formed over time. In order to better explain these distant events, he offers a range of more familiar historical analogies,
The Devil and Mr. Casement By Jordan Goodman Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, $30.00, 322 pages In The Devil and Mr. Casement, Jordan Goodman takes up the tragic story of Roger Casement, the Irishman knighted in 1911 for his exposure of human rights abuses in the rubber trade, only to be executed in 1916 by the British government for his part in the Irish Uprising. While Casement’s investigation into the abuses of Belgian-owned Congolese rubber plantations is well known, his role documenting the abuse, torture, and murder of indigenous Peruvian Indians by a British-owned rubber company is
Leonardo’s Legacy: How Da Vinci Reimagined the World By Stefan Klein Da Capo Press, $24.95, 277 pages Leonardo Da Vinci may have been the most prolific and inspiring mind in human history. With manic unpredictability, he meandered through innumerable fields of science, art, and engineering, a jack-of-every-conceivable-trade, and seemingly master of all. Leonardo’s Legacy tracks the many creations of Da Vinci, and parallels them with key events in Leon-
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guide is sadly redundant and out of date. For example, Junot Diaz’s Oscar Wao appears on a majority of the various book award lists for the year 2008. And with each and every book on each and every list containing check boxes for own, recommend, to read, and want, the methodical list keeper will find themselves filling out the same fields many times over. Additionally, the majority of the sections in the back half of the book don’t amount to more than transcriptions of check marked books in the front. An ad page in the back of the book claims there will soon be electronic versions of this book, which would be a preferable format for this content. But until then, websites like goodreads.com accomplish the same thing for free and with lots of additional features. Reviewed by Megan Just
ardo’s life, weaving a tapestry of inventive motivation for the ultimate Renaissance Man, all while posing thought-provoking questions. Why was Leonardo so fascinated with flight, yet he apparently never finished an actual prototype? Were Leonardo’s weapons intentionally designed to be unfeasible? And perhaps the most unnerving question: Could a mind like Da Vinci’s even survive a trip through the educational system of today? The book has some exceptional moments. Arguably the most stunning example it presents is a simple drawing of Da Vinci’s, imagining the process of blood flowing through the heart (since it was physically impossible to actually observe it). When modern technology tracked bloodflow through the heart five hundred years later, the images precisely matched those of Da Vinci’s imagination. Absolutely incredible. Leonardo’s Legacy will hardly revolutionize how you think about Da Vinci, but it will provide an enjoyable look at the mind of an icon. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
Biographies & Memoirs Former SF Local! Orange Is the New Black By Kerman, Piper Spiegel & Grau, $25.00, 298 pages Upon graduating an all-girls college, Piper Kerman yearned for adventure, exploration and experimentation. She found herself as a part of the seedy world of drug trafficking for a brief stint. Yet once she became disenchanted with it, she returned to her normal life. Then more than a decade later, her past crimes had caught up with her and Kerman faced thirteen months in a federal prison. Once again, Kerman was amidst an all female population, though this time, with very different rules. The Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury had endless rules, both from the guards and the inmates. One wrong move could mean the loss of visitation rights, a fight, or an unwanted sexual advance from another inmate. Kerman lays it all out in her refreshingly honest tale of her time in prison – the moments of sorrow and regret, the dehumanizing aspects, the luxuries of such simple things as toothpaste and shampoo, and the relationships she forged. This is ultimately a moving story of perseverance, resourcefulness and redemption,
where relationships, both outside and inside the prison walls, are what enabled Kerman to make it through the day and back to the real world. Reviewed by Jackie Correa Claiming Ground By Laura Bell Knopf, $24.95, 256 pages 2010 is shaping up as a good year for city folk to learn about sheepherding, considering the recent documentary film Sweetgrass and Laura Bell’s quietly powerful memoir about creating a life in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. Arriving from Kentucky in 1977, Bell finds herself drawn to the rough and solitary life of a sheepherder, spending months at a time moving camp with her flock. Strange poetry emerges from the stringencies of her life: an encounter with wild horses, napping with her dogs under saddle blankets. And strange characters emerge too: the taciturn men, the cowboy lovers, and the friendly librarian delivering shelves of books to Bell’s camp. But the harsh lifestyle of a Western rancher has its price, and Bell does not shy away from portraying the ravages of alcoholism on the people she comes to love. The portrayal of Bell’s
husband is particularly finely drawn, as we watch him withdraw from their emotional life into his alcohol life. Bell’s writing elegantly balances pain and love, solitude and family ties, finding solace both in human relationships and in relation-
ship to animals and the Western landscape. Big and open-hearted like the Wyoming sky, this memoir is pleasure to read. Reviewed by Catherine Hollis
Art, Architecture & Photography China By Guang Guo; Ming Tan Abbeville Press, $185.00, 244 pages China is a spectacular collection of photographs from Chinese photographer Ming Tan, providing an overview of the diversity of China. From today’s modern skylines to the historic Great Wall, the multiple of images provide a virtual tour of many of China’s most popular and also less known locations. Of the 44 locations chosen, 28 are World Heritage Sites and popular tourist sites. Some of the usual suspects like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the terracotta army of the First Qin Emperor are presented in intimate detail, from close ups of singular architectural detail, to aerial views. Ming also did his photography over multiple seasons, providing some interesting contrasts of environments. The majority of the pictures are of either historic sites or modern sites that still appear historic, which contrast highly against the final images of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other modern cityscapes. The book itself is large, eighteen inches
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wide and twelve tall, but many of the pictures are panoramic, spanning both pages, reaching almost three feet across. There are also several gatefolds, which, when unfolded, reach almost six feet across. The book also comes in a slipcase with a gorgeous twilight image of the Great Wall in the foreground, receding into the distance. Well packaged and presented, Chinais a photographic masterpiece of Chinese history and culture. Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage By Cathryn Griffith Norton, $49.95, 240 pages Havana, the capital of Cuba—that nation few Americans can visit due restrictions set by the US government, is a city with a rich history, architecturally and culturally. Documenting this extensive history in Havana Revisited, Cathryn Griffith delves deep into the past of this once important port of the
Gulf of Mexico, and she peers at it through the lens of architectural achievement, design, and study. Havana Revisited is quite thorough in its documentation of the city’s history, from its beginnings as a fortified and rather spartan port, set along the return-trip to Europe during 16th century American colonization, to its contemporary progression into an important modern cultural and historical center that retains a small-town atmosphere. At the forefront of this documentation is an examination of the architecture that makes the city famous. Havana Revisited, includes a variety of full-color historical depictions and modern photographs, often placed next to one another, of some of the city’s most beautiful and recognizable buildings, squares, parks, and monuments. A true delight! Reviewed by Jordan Dacayanan
AGAAT, cont’d from page 6 lives have been inseparably bound. Agaat’s attention, at times loving and others sadistic, speaks volumes, and it is in these scenes where Agaat most sings, enveloped in an achingly beautiful claustrophobia so finely rendered, I found myself catching my breath. In each chapter, Milla flashes back to her abusive marriage to her cover boy husband Jak. This second person narrative reveals much of the inner workings and history her and Agaat’s relationship on the family farm and their competition for the affections of her only son. At first interesting, over time these sections grew tiresome, the style overly authorial and the political allegory of Apartheid South Africa and power dynamics was heavy handed. Despite these shortcomings, the relationship at the core of this story is so profoundly powerful that it easily overcomes such hindrances, offering a pair of characters in a dynamic relationship of master and servant that readers will not soon forget. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
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Chil d re n ’s Book W e ek Celebrating Reading and Writing Who better to provide the best children’s/tweens book reviews than kids themselves?! Last year, we promoted Children’s Book Week. It was such a hit...and the kids had so much fun...that we brought it back again this year. San Francisco and Sacramento Book Reviews teamed up with publishers and local elementary school 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to celebrate Children’s Book Week May 10-16,2010. Students learned how to read a book with a critical eye and how to write a review to tell a bit about the story without giving away too much about the book -- and, especially, not the ending! They also got to learn a bit about newspaper publishing. Promoting reading amongst children has always been a priority of the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Reviews. This is an annual feature we here at SFBR/ SBR enjoy very much, and we hope you have as much fun reading the reviews as we did. We thank the following publishers for supplying the books to the teachers and school libraries, and the teachers and students who participated. Participating Schools
Villalovoz Elementary School Tracy, CA
Barbour Publishing Appalachian House Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Knopf Books for Young Readers Delacorte Books for Young Readers Kids Can Press Schwartz and Wade Books Scholastic Aladdin Harcourt Childrens
Art Freiler School Tracy, CA Wanda Hirsch Elementary School Tracy, CA
Tween Books McKenzie’s Montana Mystery By Shari Barr Barbour Books, $5.97, 158 pages Aaaaahhhh! McKenzie was holding on for her life. Her horse, Sahara, was out of control. McKenzie held on until her hands slipped off the reins and, ooof, McKenzie fell to the floor. She felt two hands on her shoulders. It was Emma and Derek, the Sunshine Stables counselors. “What happened out there?” said Emma. “I don’t know, I lost control of Sahara,” McKenzie said. “Let’s get you to bed,” said Emma. The next morning, McKenzie went with her best friend, Bailey, to one of the scariest places on the ranch, Old Towne. While they were looking at one of the old bars in Old Towne, McKenzie’s phone rang. It was Emma, telling the girls to hurry back to the ranch, because the prize horse, Diamond Girl, had been stolen. Want to know who took Diamond Girl? You can read the book and find out. In my opinion, if you love mysteries and horses, this is the book for you. It’s funny, and I think you will love it. Even if you’re a boy, you’ll like this book because it’s a little bit sneaky. This book is great for children in fourth grade and up. Reviewed by Perri Thaw, 4th Grader, Villalovoz Elementary School Magna: Scenarios 3 By Nicole O’Dell Barbour Publishing, $7.99, 192 pages Magna is a wonderful book and has great characters. The characters are Molly, Jess, and Sara. Also, there is Donna the boss and the parents. One day the three girls were trying to get applications on a job called “Magna.” The sad thing is only Molly got the job. The first thing was, Molly had to go in training. Donna said they have to pick out
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an outfit. Molly picked one out, but then she saw a mannequin stand. She decided to put the clothes on the mannequin. When time was up Donna had to see their designs. She was impressed. Then, the next day they went to go eat in the mall. Molly saw this guy she knew and said hello. Sara starred at him until he was done getting his food. Finally, it was the Christmas dance all three girls were asked out to the prom. They all went to get dresses and when they were going to borrow dresses they had to make a scheme so their parents wouldn’t know. Then they went to the dance. But, oh no! They made a mistake. They weren’t supposed to borrow the dresses so they got in big trouble. Their parents would be disappointed. So when their parents heard, they got mad, but they told the truth and they understood. Reviewed by Maria Mendicino, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary Making Waves: Scenarios 4 By Nicole O’Dell Barbour Publishing, $7.99, 192 pages The story Making Waves by Nicole Dell describes a girl who is a really good swimmer and joins the swim team. Kate gets a spot on her swim team but soon becomes obsessed with practice and making it through the champions and wanting to win. When she goes to swim practice, her teammates give her an energy drink and a tablet and say it is legal, which it is. Later, they offer Kate a drug when she is at the champions, and she gets really tired. She had made a promise with her mom that she wouldn’t take an energy drink or a tablet so she is in a very tough decision both ways.
E X PA N DE D The book Making Waves is a great book. Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend because it teaches you a lesson that doing what is right to risk a scholarship or doing what is wrong. In the story Making Waves they show what would happen if she did the wrong thing or the right. If she did the right thing she still won, but in the wrong and taking the drug she broke a record but got caught and later everything was back to normal. If you were in this situation, what would you do? I would take the right decision and maybe not win, but still be happy that I didn’t do the wrong thing. Reviewed by Bushra Kahn, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary Lawn Boy Returns By Gary Paulsen Wendy Lamb Books, $12.99, 101 pages Lawn Boy Returns continues Ken Paulsen’s fantasy of 12-year-old Lawn Boy’s miraculous business growth, from $480,000 in its first six weeks, to $1 million in the next six weeks. Early on, a shady Zed shows up. Originally told Zed was a cousin of Joey’s, Lawn Boy doesn’t like the looks of him. The loafer parks his ratty van on Lawn Boy’s front yard and “hangs out.” Taking note of Lawn Boy’s sudden wealth, the IRS thinks something’s fishy and shows up at his doorstep. Right behind them, a civil rights advocate tries to take over. And the neighborhood tough guys want a piece of Lawn Boy’s action. All Lawn Boy wants to do is ride his mower and mow lawns. With everyone trying to become a part of Lawn Boy’s business, one thing leads to another and Lawn Boy is soon fighting for his sanity and to keep things together. While much of it isn’t believable and lacks Paulsen’s usual depth, the story finishes with a believable ending. Knowing it’s a fantasy, it’s a fun read and a terrific exercise in “dreaming big.” Reviewed by Susan Roberts The Lost Lake Dig By P.W. Cross Appalachian House, $7.99, 288 pages The book The Lost Lake Dig, is about a boy named Joey. Joey’s dad knew a man when he was a kid. So now Joey is friends with him. The man shows up then disappears, weird, huh? When Joey goes to tell his dad he didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he remembered the name,
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“Fredrick.” In this book, there are things called “digs.” There are two: the Shifting Sands dig and the Sulpher Hollow dig. There are two things called the gusher and the peek-a-boo. I wish I could tell more but I can’t tell the ending. Maybe, I would recommend it to someone who likes books that have not so much action. I would recommend it to someone like that because the book doesn’t have lots of action, not like “Star Wars” and other things. Reviewed by Alexander Callanta, 5th grader, George Kelly Elementary Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters By Rachel Vail Feiwel and Friends, $16.99, 256 pages Justin Krzeszewski worries to the nth degree. From saying “Just in case …” too often, he earns the nickname “Justin Case.” No doubt, third-grade readers will identify with his concerns. But, for this reader, Justin’s voice didn’t ring true, and many outcomes felt contrived. “Push-ups are ridiculous. It is just relaxing, interrupted, over and over again.” The book, in the form of diary entries, seems inspired by the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid cartoon-book series chronicling the life of middleschool student Greg Heffley. Unlike Greg, Justin is a third grader with a vocabulary far superior to many middle-schoolers, and his collection of 87 stuffed toys keeps him awake at night with their quarrels. The writing is humorous, but it’s adult wit, rather than that of a 9-year-old, no matter how smart. It’s hard to believe a third grader would write in his diary things like, “And people wonder what’s wrong with education in America.” Or, “It’s NEW YEAR, people. Let’s not swell on the past.” It’s also hard to believe such a brainy third-grade boy would lose sleep each night moderating disputes between his stuffed toys; or that such a worrywart would conquer all and become the popular boy in class. Still, readers will like the happy outcomes. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan The Magic School Bus and the Climate Change By Joanna Cole; Bruce Degen Scholastic Press, $16.99, 48 pages When my seven year-old saw me reading this book, her comment was, “Mom, that’s a good one. They talked about global warming.” Wow! The message is really out there,
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reaching young and old. In this book, we peek into how Ms. Frizzle presents her message and educates her students about this popular topic, how it affects our lives today and more importantly how we can give hope to our future generations that they will live on a normal and healthier Earth. Bringing her worn copy of Our Wonderful World with her, Ms. Frizzle starts her students’ global warming lesson by taking the class on a special outing in the Magic School Bus: a flight over the Arctic Circle. She opens Our Wonderful World to the page showing the area where polar bears were able to walk and play on the ice field. On the exact same spot in real life, the ice field has turned into watery ocean with some floating icebergs. According to Ms. Frizzle, the area of the melt is about the size of California and Texas combined. She then steers the bus-plane from one place to another to observe the inevitable consequences of global warming, which is due to the increasing quantities of heattrapping gases in the atmosphere that blankets our Earth. Ms. Frizzle also has special devices called microscope-goggles that reveal the gas molecules in the air. The class’s brief and magical adventure through space and the invisible realm educates them and leads them to take important steps, trying to make a difference. There are many ways to save our precious Earth. At the end of the book, Ms. Frizzle’s class shows us a list of big and small tasks that each of us can participate in, in our daily lives, to save our planet. Reviewed by Sophie Masri Scenarios 1: Truth or Dare By Nicole O’Dell Barbour Books, $7.97, 192 pages This story, Scenarios 1: Truth or Dare is about a girl named Lindsey Martin and her friends in the eighth grade, Macy, Kelly, and Sam. The girls start having sleepovers every Friday. During these sleepovers, they start playing Truth or Dare. The first sleepover is at Macy’s house. The third is at Kelly’s house where Lindsey promises to choose a dare. Lindsey Martin is the kind of girl you can trust. Also, she is Christian and follows rules. Kelly is a girl who usually gets what she wants. Also, she is selfish and mean. Macy is a nice girl and Lindsey’s favorite friend. Sam is a supportive friend and helps others.
SE C T ION I really liked this book because it is interesting and it is interactive fiction for girls. It teaches girls a lesson, actually three lessons. One is about friendship. I would recommend this book to all girls in 4th grade or older. Reviewed by Allisa Enriquez, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary Sydney’s D.C. Discovery (Camp Club Girls) By Jean Fischer Barbour Books, $5.97, 160 pages Sydney’s D.C. Discovery by Jean Fischer is the second book in the Camp Club Girls series. This exciting journey takes place in present-day Washington D.C. Readers will join Sydney Lincoln and Elizabeth Anderson in their thrilling adventure. Sydney, a D.C. local, is a 12-year-old girl who has a spiritual friend named Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s uncle is a disabled veteran. When Elizabeth and Uncle Dan join Sydney in Washington D.C., they find themselves in a sticky situation. While visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, Sydney and Elizabeth discover puzzling objects. After following two shady men around, they learn about a plan to kill U.S. President Meade! With the help of Uncle Dan, Sydney and Elizabeth stop the terrorists and save the President. I found this mystery very enjoyable. The descriptive words placed a clear picture of the events in my mind. I learned several interesting facts about the Unites States and its history. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series! Take my advice and read Sydney’s D.C. Discovery! Reviewed by Maya Santos, 6th grade, Art Freiler School How to Train Your Dragon Book 2: How to Be a Pirate By Cressida Cowell Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $5.99, 240 pages How To Be A Pirate was one of my favorite books in the series How To Train Your Dragon. The story is about a boy named Hiccup who tries to save his Viking village from very ugly outcasts. The story begins with Hiccup finding a box that could help the Viking tribe find the lost treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly. Then they go on an adventure that leads to many mishaps and an ultimate battle with the outcasts. I really liked this book! It was a very
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E X PA N DE D fun book to read. There were adventures, sword fighting and lots and lots of dragons. At times the story was comical, heroic, and never boring. I thought the author was so creative. I enjoyed reading How To Be A Pirate and I know if you read this book you will like it too. Reviewed by Inigo Jaque, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary How to Train Your Dragon Book 1 By Cressida Cowell Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $5.99, 240 pages The story is about a boy that is named Hiccup. He is training to be one of the best heroes. Hiccup is a part of the Hooligan Tribe. The setting takes place outside. Snotlout is another character in this story; he thinks that heâ€™s all good and everything. Fishlegs is basically a scaredy-cat. When they were going to get their dragon, he was red and scared. Another character is Clueless. Then thereâ€™s Speedfist, Wartihog, Tuffnut Junior, and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain. I liked this book. It was really interesting and adventurous. Like when they had to climb the mountain and get one of the 3,000 sleeping dragons. Also, when Hiccup was helping Fishlegs then all of a sudden a big dragon started chasing them. Hiccup and Fishlegs accidently woke up the dragon. Fishlegs got away and Hiccup went back. The reason Hiccup went back was because he gave his dragon to Fishlegs. What happened was a dragon captured Hiccup and then brought Hiccup to the water. Hiccup got a dragon when he was in there. I would recommend someone to read this book because itâ€™s a good book and adventurous. Reviewed by Inderdeep Chahal, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary How to Train Your Dragon Book 3: How to Speak Dragonese By Cressida Cowell Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $5.99, 272 pages Once upon a time, there was a Viking named Hiccup. He was doing a lesson with his friend Fishlegs. The lesson was to board a fake enemy ship, but they accidently boarded a Roman ship and got in trouble. Hiccupâ€™s dragon, Toothless, helped them escape and told Hiccupâ€™s father what happened. Before they escaped the Romans told Hiccup and Fishlegs their mischievous plan of stealing all the dragons in the inner isles. The next day Fishlegs
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and Hiccup were kidnapped by Romans and were put in a room with a girl. The girlâ€™s name is Camicazi and they had to think of a plan to escape, but they were told that they were going to star in a dragon show. The day of the show came and Hiccup thought of a plan with the help of his friends. They escaped by flying in a hot air balloon with a gronkie and Hiccup told the gronkie to fly in dragonese politely. The three friends got home and saved all the dragons from being stolen. I like this book because the dragonâ€™s language is funny and also because thereâ€™s an adventure in the book. Youâ€™ll like this book before the movie. Itâ€™s a great book to read and those are the reasons why I like this book How to Train Your Dragon Book 3: How to Speak Dragonese. Reviewed by Elise Gasmen, 4th grade, Villalovoz Elementary School McKenzieâ€™s Montana Mystery By Shari Barr Barbour Publishing, $5.97, 158 pages McKenzie has a horse named Sahra. One day Sahra goes wild. She wonâ€™t let McKenzie ride her. Finally, her friend Derek comes and helps her. The reason she is riding her horse is because she is training for a contest. Her other friend Emma has a horse named Diamond Girl and she will enter the contest, too. One day Diamond Girl is gone. No one knows where she is. I loved the book because it has mysteries and how to solve clues. I thought it was interesting. Yes, I would recommend it for other people to read. Reviewed by Madison Salazar, 4th grade, George Kelly Elementary To Come and Go Like Magic By Katie Pickard Fawcett Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 272 pages To Come and Go Like Magic is about Chili Sue Mahoney, a 12-year-old girl who is in seventh grade. She longs to see the other side of the world and get away from all the meadows, hills, and people in Mercy Hill, but Momma says itâ€™s Chiliâ€™s â€œtrue home,â€? the place where she belongs. Despite all of that, Chili wants to leave and just come back whenever she pleases. Chili is excited when Miss Matlock substitute teaches the seventh grade class. Everyone knows that Miss Matlock has traveled the world and came back home. Chili
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Bestselling author Rose Lewis is back with a sweet tale about an adopted girl trying to learn more about her heritage.
Â˛! JUMPING OFF POINT FOR DISCUSSION ABOUT CHILDREN FROM FARAWAY PLACESÂł Âą0UBLISHERS 7EEKLY
Â˛! DELIGHTFUL READER CONNECTS CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM #HINAÂł Âą!DOPTIVE &AMILIES
wants to know everything about the world. She is absolutely inspired and wants to be just like Miss Matlock. So when summer vacation starts, Chili and her pal Willie go to Miss Matlockâ€™s house to learn about the world. There were many rumors about Miss Matlock, but most of all Chili learns there is more to Mercy Hill and everything in it than she had thought. She understands that it truly is her real home. I really enjoyed this book. It was captivating and easily understandable. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure. Reviewed by Himashi Goonesekera 6th grade, Art Freiler School Thatâ€™s Life, Samara Brooks By Daniel Ehrenhaft Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.99, 224 pages In the Daniel Ehrenhaft novel Thatâ€™s Life, Samara Brooks, the main character, Samara Brooks, starts a gambling session in her schoolâ€™s cafeteria. The principal soon finds out, and is aghast that some of the more significant kids, including class president Lily Frederick, and Nathan Weiss have been playing blackjack with Samara Brooks. The principal threatens to call Samaraâ€™s parents
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to tell them about the gambling sessions in the cafeteria, but Samara comes up with a way to redeem herself. Samara has devised a way to prove she is a good kid by giving her DNA for an experiment. Lo and behold! The Fabulous Electron Microscope! It hasnâ€™t been used in years and the principal thinks itâ€™s about time to see it in action. When the scientists look at Samaraâ€™s DNA, they agree that it is very similar to the Phaistos Disk and the Voynich Manuscript--an old riddle no one can figure out--and thoughts start to fill Samaraâ€™s head. Is she an alien? Or maybe it was just a really weird accident? Read on to find out! I recommend this book to mystery-loving tweens because itâ€™s full of mind-twisting plots. This book had me turning and turning pages to reach the end! It was one very interesting book, and I look forward to reading more Daniel Ehrenhaft novels in the future. Reviewed by Amber Guno Cloutman, 6th grade, Art Freiler School
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E x p a n d e d Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven By Graham Salisbury Wendy Lamb Publishing, $12.99, 160 pages The happy tropical paradise of Hawaii is what Calvin Coconut calls home. Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven is another one of Calvin’s escapades — this time, he is in search of man’s best friend. When Mr. Purdy, teacher of his elementary school, gives Calvin an essay assignment to tell the class what he “wants so badly he can taste it,” Calvin writes about a dog. Maybe this time he will get his A, and a dog, too. With the help of Ledward, his mom’s boyfriend, and a new unexpected helper, bully Frankie Diamond (who might just be an adversary), Calvin has a shot at making his dream a reality. Only two things stand in his way: his mom, whose belief that dogs are smelly and dirty discourages her from allowing Calvin from getting one, and his foul-tempered babysitter, Stella, who is allergic to cats, and possibly dogs. Will Calvin be able to pull it off, or are his dog-dreaming days over? Children will be able to learn about Hawaii and its culture, and also explore the happy-go-lucky world of Calvin Coconut. This easy reader contains elements like nasty babysitters, younger siblings, and a supreme fear of bossy girls such as Shayla. The breezy, unique setting and familiar pieces make for a book that’s one of a kind. Reviewed by Sophie Masri The Midnight Curse By L.M. Falcone Kids Can Press, $8.95, 208 pages The story of The Midnight Curse is scary, thrilling and awesome! Charlie and Lacey’s Uncle Jonathan has just died and the family has been asked to be present for the reading of the will in England. While there, Charlie and Lacey are met by two ghosts and a creepy caretaker. Soon enough, they find that their Uncle Jonathan was cursed while he was alive. While uncovering the story of the curse, they discover that it is passed down to the next male in the family who is Charlie. In a desperate attempt to save Charlie, they hire Mrs. Rothbottom, a fortune teller, to remove the curse. This book is one of my favorites because I love mysteries. Once I start reading a mystery, I have to read until the end. The Midnight Curse gave me chills at parts and at times made me laugh. Mrs. Rothbottom is
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a crack-up! With the way she is described by the author, you just can’t help but laugh. I would recommend this book to kids who love mysteries and enjoy a good laugh! Reviewed by Sarah Kellogg, 6th grade, Art Freiler School Noodle Pie By Ruth Starke Miller Book Publishers, $15.99, 179 pages Author Ruth Starke vividly portrays a young man’s journey with his father to Hanoi, Vietnam to meet all of his relatives for the first time in Noodle Pie. Andy’s father and mother left Vietnam for a better life in Australian where Andy and his sister Mai were born. Not knowing the life his parents had led in Vietnam, he soon discovers core values vary immensely from what he grew up with and he is truly shaken by what he experiences in Vietnamese culture: hardship and desperation make people different. He feels sorry for his cousin Minh, who is treated dreadfully by her own family. She shamelessly sells the gifts he brought for her on the streets. Andy befriends her and together they bring the much-needed tourist business to the family restaurant for greater profit. Ruth Starke authored this well-researched, culturally diverse, shocking tale of poverty and exploitation of children selling in the streets. Eye-opening and heartbreaking, she offers hope in the end of this endearing tale with a proactive website of continued aid and yummy recipes as a bonus at the end of the book. Surprisingly simple vernacular and interpretations of basic words from the Vietnamese language make this an easy and captivating read for anyone. Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson
While the plot may be somewhat predictable, the leprechaun angle creates a fresh story in a market that’s flooded with tales of vampires and werewolves. Lily creates a varied character, one that starts out timid and lonely and slowly finds the confidence to face the tasks she must overcome. The leprechaun’s personalities almost steal the show, providing the reader with plenty of comic relief. Overall, the book is an entertaining and enjoyable read, perfect for tween readers who want to read something a little more fun. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller The Night Fairy By Laura Amy Schlitz, Illustrated by Angela Barrett Candlewick Press, $16.99, 128 pages The dark and delicate trance that The Night Fairy puts you under is a wonderful example of the seamless transition between
medieval fairy tales and modern ones. Flory, a rather temperamental and stubborn fairy, is handicapped at an early age by a horrible accident, and because of it, becomes a day fairy instead of a night fairy. She learns how to have her way by taking advantage of her ability to sting with spells. Her assertiveness and bartering skills, attract the attentions of a greedy squirrel, whom she dubs Skuggle. During her many exchanges with Skuggle, her desire to fly slowly unfurls. She decides that she wants to use one of the hummingbirds that fly around the garden she lives in. In trying to capture the hummingbird, she learns wit, morality, faith, and most of all, compassion.
Green By Laura Peyton Roberts Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 272 pages Lilybet (but you can call her Lily) Green is in for a surprise on her 13th birthday. The mysterious package left on her front porch contains not a last minute birthday gift, but a family secret. The package explodes, revealing a group of leprechauns who insist Lily is the next person in line to be the Keeper of the Clan o’ Green. Whisked off to their home, Lily now must past three tests to prove that she has what it takes to be the Keeper. Because if she fails, she may never see her home again.
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E x p a n d e d The Night Fairy is about Flory and her transformation from a self-centered being into one who can be admired. The elements that make up this book are gorgeous: from the intuitive pictures that capture Flory’s personality—her wild hair and floaty demeanor to the perfect words that exquisitely tie it up into a sweet little book: The Night Fairy. Reviewed by Sophie Masri Beryl: A Pig’s Tale By Jane Simmons Little, Brown Young Readers, $14.99, 216 pages Beryl is destined for the slaughterhouse when a truck accident allows her to escape into the nearby forest. Meeting up with Amber, Beryl is surprised to find her new friend is one of the wild pigs she has always been warned against. Because of things they have in common, including being orphans, Amber tells Beryl they can be sisters. “Beryl could feel the wolves snarling and snapping right behind her. She dared not look around as she pushed her legs on and on, thudding out a gallop in the slippery mud.” But all is not friendly in wild-pig camp. The colony has ruled against allowing “pork pigs” into their circle. A meeting of the council forces Amber, Uncle Bert and Aunt Sissy to go into exile unless they throw Beryl out. Loyal friends accompany them in their search for a new home. One of these is the hilarious Moonshine, who reads omens in the way stones fall and calls Beryl “The Chosen One”. This book is full of surprising twists and turns that keep a reader wondering. The author has created a delightful cast of characters, and each has new lessons for Beryl and her adoptive family. The book is full of important insights without being preachy. Plucky, independent Beryl is an endearing heroine. Beryl: A Pig’s Tale is a tale for all. Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan The Thirteenth Princess By Diane Zahler HarperCollins, $15.99, 243 pages All her life Zita has marveled at the kingdom’s famous 12 princesses from afar. At the age of seven, Zita discovers she is actually their sister, a thirteenth princess that her grief-stricken father banished, following the childbirth death of her mother, to live the life of a kitchen servant. Zita embraces the new (and secret) relationship she shares with her sisters, but it isn’t long before she starts to suspect a spell in play, marked
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by the fact that every morning her sister’s shoes are full of holes. Of course, it’s up to Zita (and a friend or two) to save the day. With fairytale retellings, it’s sometimes difficult to find a balance between staying true to the original while giving new life to the story. This book accomplishes both quite nicely. Zita is a spunky protagonist and her first-person narration adds a hint of personality to a fairy tale setting. Zita’s perspective is honest and engaging, partly because being raised as a servant instead of a princess she’s more able to view the world around her with clear eyes. The amount of detail creates a striking and clear picture of Zita’s world, but without feeling overdone and lengthy. The effect is a book of great balance; perfect for younger readers and enjoyable for teens too. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller Sweet Little Lies: An L.A. Candy Novel By Lauren Conrad HarperCollins, $17.99, 309 pages MTV’s The Hills reality TV star Lauren Conrad is back with the second novel in her L.A. Candy series for teens. Sweet Little Lies centers on childhood best friends Jane and Scarlett who moved to Los Angeles and won auditions for spots on the reality show, L.A. Candy. The book opens with good girl Jane in exile to Mexico following a scandal caused by Jane cheating on her celebrity boyfriend. Meanwhile, smart and sassy Scarlett, stuck with more than her fair share of filming time, tries to stave off a forbidden crush on one of the cameramen. But when the suspicious circumstances surrounding the paparazzi photos of Jane cheating begin to drive Jane and Scarlett apart, the PopTV producers must get creative to create the a storyline that keeps the show’s ratings high. Reading reality TV fiction by Lauren Conrad is like reading law fiction by John Gresham: the books may be fictional, but you know you’re getting an accurate picture of the characters’ worlds. L.A. Candy’s unique setting makes for a thoroughly interesting read, fun for teens and their mothers alike. Although the world of real reality TV is full of sexuality and substances, Sweet Little Lies contains surprisingly few references to alcohol, and the details of the romantic relationships remain comparatively innocent. Reviewed by Megan Just
Vibes By Amy Kathleen Ryan Harcourt Childrens, $8.99, 264 pages In the Amy Kathleen Ryan novel Vibes, the main character, Kristi, has an extraordinary gift of being able to read people’s minds. Kristi has a very difficult time having to hear negative things being thought about her coming from other people. What’s also difficult for her is the whole idea of seeing her father again; he left her and her mother when she was a little girl. Most of the time, Kristi doesn’t care about what other people think but she can’t help but ache inside when people she cares about think ill of her. What also hurts her most is hearing the thoughts of her crush, Gusty Peterson, who always thinks sick whenever he sees her. She discovered that the best way to block their rude and hurtful thoughts is by putting on headphones and listening to the opera. When I started to read this book, I kept reading and reading, wanting to know more. I felt the pain Kristi had going through such a tough time.
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I definitely recommend this book, especially to teenagers. It makes people think twice about gossiping, and realize how it can damage people. Amy Kathleen Ryan crafts the story so the reader quickly becomes Kristi, and it’s like all the mean thoughts are about you. Reviewed by Amber Guno Cloutman 6th grade, Art Freiler School
Children’s Books Monster Fliers: From the Time of Dinosaurs By Elizabeth MacLeod Kids Can Press, $16.95, 32 pages Monster Fliers: From the Time of Dinosaurs is a book about prehistoric birds. The birds lived before, with, and after dinosaurs. Some were like penguins, but bigger. Some also looked like the birds today. Some birds have two extra wings. If you like cool stuff then there’s one bird that has 400 teeth. If you like big stuff, then there’s a bird that wouldn’t fit in your room. Some dinosaurs are smaller than a teacher’s desk. If you like sharks and fish, then this would
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E x p a n d e d cause most prehistoric birds actually ate fish. My opinion of this book is that it is really good because I learned new stuff about dinosaurs. If you want to learn more about dinosaurs, then this book is for you. It has so much stuff about dinosaurs that you can almost write a book about it. Reviewed by Christian Smith, 4th grade, Villalovoz Elementary School Paris in the Spring with Picasso By Joan Yolleck; Marjorie Priceman Schwartz and Wade Books, $17.99, 40 pages In the City of Paris lived Gertrude and her brother Leo. They also had a house keeper named Helene. Every Saturday they had a soiree, evening party. During the day their friends would do many things. Apollinaire walked around and saw an acrobat and that gave him the idea to write a poem. Marie, his girl friend, comes over with some sketches. They then go visit Max and Pablo. Since Max is writing, they decide to go visit Picasso. He is busy painting pictures. Now all the friends get ready to go to the party. At the party, they admire all of Picasso’s pictures. When the party was over, they all went home. I liked the book because I learned about famous people who lived in Paris, France. Likewise the pictures by Marjorie Priceman ground the events visually. Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck, enlighten us with two great literary characters: Picasso and Max Jacob. Reviewed by Sarah Williams, 4th grade, Villalovoz Elementary School A Day with Mommy By Melanie Florian, Illustrator Grosset & Dunlap, $5.99, 32 pages A Day with Mommy is a short, nurturefilled, rhyming account of all of the fantastic things that happen when a mom spends her whole day with her dear little daughter. This story starts with hugs and kisses in the morning and a sweet breakfast treat, and just gets better all day. They enjoy glamming up their hairdos and posing in front of the dressing rooms to show off their new fashionable finds to each other. From stopping at the teahouse for their favorite afternoon sip to catching their favorite play in the theatre, A Day with Mommy is always filled with fun, excitement and affection. The illustrations of Melanie Florian are drawn in a fanciful girly style that provides its readers with a delightful read. 75 stickers
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are also provided so our little ladies and their Mommies can join in on the fun and help contribute to this wonderful day as well! Reviewed by Kaye Cloutman The Night Before Mother’s Day By Natasha Wing; Amy Wummer, Illustrator Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99, 32 pages The Night Before Mother’s Day is a great read-along that kids and parents will love. This story is not only adorable, but also teaches children that showing love and affection by pampering your mother is a fun and delightful thing to do. The great thing about this story is it not only shows how fun Mother’s Day can be for everyone, but also gives some great ideas about what to do to show your love on this special day! Making “fancy cards, special coupons” and baking cakes and frosting are adorable gifts for a mom, and kids will have a great time doing them! I highly recommend this book for all children. After reading this book, kids will look at Mother’s Day as fun-filled and exciting! The illustrations are colorful and cute, filled with all of the vibrant shades of springtime. I wish I had gotten to read this as a kid! Filled with colors, craft ideas, and cakes, and home spas, this book captures the perfect Mother’s Day! Reviewed by Diana Goodwin The Mommy Store By Caroline Bryan BookSurge, $13.95, 32 pages Temper tantrums are typical among toddlers. Actually, they can stretch from the “terrible twos” right up to puberty and at rare times, beyond that. In The Mommy Store, author Caroline Bryan shows what mothers are up against when children start to demand things they don’t necessarily need. I applaud how the main character is portrayed in such a diplomatic manner because kids can say the most hurtful things at times. When the little boy exclaims, “I don’t like you! I’m going to get a new Mommy!” his mom tactfully agrees and takes him to the Mommy Store to pick out a new mom. What I totally loved about this book is the subtle reminder to grownup readers about how children will always try to stretch things if they can. Discipline is important in raising children, and this story emphasizes its necessity. If children were left to eat whatever they want, play with their toys all the
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time and do any hare-brained thing they chose, then they would eventually get bored and tired of it. The illustration is mediocre but does an adequate job portraying the emotions of the characters - to which readers will truly relate. Although $13.95 seems a bit much for this short paperback, if it conveys the message to my child then it will definitely be worth it! Reviewed by Kaye Cloutman Pink Me Up By Charise Mericle Harper Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 40 pages Pink - pink - pink is one of the most favorite colors for girls. It is no surprise in this book when pink-obsessed Violet Bunny receives an invitation to the 3rd Annual Pink Girls Pink-nic, she gets way too excited at yet another chance to wear all pink. One of her first problems was that she needed to be accompanied by an adult to get to the pink-nic. First, she laid mama’s pink outfit, from top to bottom, on her bed while mama was still sleeping. There are pink long-sleeves blouse, pink jacket, pink skirt, pink belt, pink stockings, and pink shoes. Mama was not ready to go. Well, it looked like mama got... pink dots on her face. “Why is Mama wearing pink spots?
Did she put them on special for the party?” With these pink spots on her face, Mama couldn’t go to the pink party... Violet Bunny went through the who-can-accompany-tothe-party list. Despite the fact that Daddy has almost no collection of pink outfit, he offered to go with Violet. They searched his closet to find anything pink to wear. With some courage, and lots of creativeness, Violet Bunny and her Daddy create a whole new outfit for him wear. It is a cute daddy and daughter book. Reviewed by Sophie Masri I Dream of an Elephant By Ami Rubinger Abbeville Kids, $13.95, 28 pages Each vibrant colored Elephant that camouflages himself with his surroundings changes his color on every page we turn. The readers and young listeners are to complete the last rhyming word of each poem, which is the name of the color they see. Ami Rubinger illustrated each page with the color they see on the elephant. She played with its hues and shades to create the shape of an elephant. For its surroundings, she chose the right color contrasts to bring forth the flora and fauna that intermingled harmoniously. Ami depicted these large beasts as they love to play, skip, jump,
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Local Calendar May 8
Children’s Author Appearance - D.B. Johnson, “Palazzo Inverso” 11am-12pm Books Inc. – The Marina, 2251 Chestnut St, San Francisco
10 Author Appearance - Ann
Author Appearance - Cory Doctorow, “For The Win” 7:00-8:00pm Borderlands Books - 866 Valencia St., San Francisco
18 Literary Luncheon – Isabel
Allende, “The Island Beneath the Sea” 12:30-1:30pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Hood, “The Red Thread” 7:00-8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance - Laurie R. King, “God of the Hive” 7:00-8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street, Berkeley
Author Appearance - Peter Schrag and Tyche Hendricks, “Not Fit for Society” and “The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport” 7:00-8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street, Berkeley
19 Author Appearance - Jason
13 Author Appearance - William
Alexander, “52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and A Perfect Crust” 6:00-7:00pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
15 Market to Table cooking
demonstrations 9:00am-12:00pm Ferry Building - 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
Author Appearance - Keetje Kuipers, “Beautiful in the Mouth” 2:00-3:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance - Susan Krieger, “Traveling Blind: Adventures in Vision with a Guide Dog by My Side” 4:00-5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera Author Appearance - Kim Severson, “Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life” 7:00-8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
17 Author Appearance - Chely
Wright, “Like Me” 7:00 - 8:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Turbow and Dan Fost, “The Baseball Codes” and “Giants Past and Present” 7:00-8:00pm Books Inc. - Town & Country Village, 885 El Camino Real, Palo Alto Author Appearance - Belle Yang, “ Forget Sorrow” 6:00-7:00pm Borders, 2030 Douglas Blvd. Suite 9, Roseville R.S. Pinky Nielsen Signing, author of A Wanderer’s Start - 1pm – 2pm Book Passage – Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
20 Children’s Author Appearance - Karen Cushman, “Alchemy and Meggy Swann” 10:00-11:00am Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance - Charles Fracchia, “When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush” 6:00-8:00pm San Francisco Main Library, Lower Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Room - 100 Larkin Street (at Grove), San Francisco
22 Children’s Author Appearance - Sheralee Iglehart, “Cough in Your Shirt Bert” 11:00am-12:00pm Books Inc. - Town & Country Village, 885 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Author Appearance - Jennie Shortridge, “ When She Flew “ 4:005:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
23 Author Appearance – Dr. Grace Schireson, “Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters” 4:00-5:00pm Book Passage - 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Author Appearance - Sam Barry and Kathi Goldmark, “Write that Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now” 6:00-7:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street, Berkeley
25 Author Appearance - Jeremy
Loving, “Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens” 7:00-8:00pm Books Inc. - 1760 4th Street, Berkeley Author Appearance - Robert Reid, “Arctic Circle” 7:00-8:00pm Books Inc. - 1375 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame
26 Author Appearance - Ian
Graham, “Unbillable Hours” 6:007:00pm Books Inc. - Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco
Ev e nt d e t a i l s a nd M A N Y more at w w w. s a n f r a nc i s cob o ok re v ie w.com
Author Appearance - Kate Moses, “Cakewalk” 7:00-8:00pm Books Inc. - Town & Country Village, 885 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
27 Graphic Novel and Comic Book Extravaganza at Pegasus Downtown Pegasus Books Downtown - 2349 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
28 Author Appearance - Dan Fost, “Giants Past and Present” 7:308:30pm Books Inc. - 1344 Park Street, Alameda Snack Attack Book Club- Popcorn Group (Grades 4-5) 3:45 - 4:45pm Hayward Main Library - 835 C St. @ Mission Blvd., Hayward
29 Author Appearance - Tiffany
Baker, “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” 2:00-3:00pm Hayward Main Library - 835 C St. @ Mission Blvd., Hayward
EVENT DETAILS AND MANY MORE AT www.sanfranciscobookreview.com/ local/calendar
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E x p a n d e d sing, and be with friends, or just simply do nothing. In this book, there are eleven different colored elephants that the young readers & listeners can learn. Their friends are large and small, both birds and beasts. They enjoy day or night; sunny, snowy, cloudy or rainy; quiet or rowdy; they enjoy their lives to the fullest with their different colors. Besides learning colors, some repetitive rhyming words and patterns in the poems help our early readers learn to read or guess the words. For a finale, a herd of elephants, each of different colors appears in a team to say The End to beautiful sight. Reviewed by Sophie Masri Big Red Lollipop By Rukhsana Khan; illustrated by Sophie Blackall Penguin Group, $16.99, 40 pages Big Red Lollipop unfolds cultural difference, sibling rivalry, and a touch of sweet sisterly love. It is eye-opening to know that in some cultures, birthdays may not be celebrated. When Rubina, the little girl, came running home from school excitedly announced that she was invited to a birthday party, Ami’s (the way Rubina calls her mom,) first response was, “What’s a birthday party?” This book lets the readers peek into Rubina’s life, whose culture and tradition are quite different from what Americans might be used to. Rubina learned that going to a birthday party, one must be invited, and siblings aren’t supposed to join unless otherwise noted. However, Ami insisted that Sana, Rubina’s sister, must go, too. A couple of years passed. One day, Sana got a birthday invitation, too. Oh, no, deja vu! However, gracious Rubina understood Sana’s situation. Instead of getting even with her sister, Rubina defended Sana’s position against Maryam (their youngest sister) and was able to convince Ami not to let Maryam go along to the birthday party. It is rewarding to see how wise this young lady Rubina’s decision and action were. Rukhsana Khan instilled rich supply of wisdom and set a good example to our young readers, while Sophie Blackall beautifully touched every detail to enrich the illustration. Reviewed by Sophie Masri My Father Knows the Names of Things By Jane Yolen, Stephane Jorisch Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, $15.99, 32 pages My Father Knows the Names of Things... indeed! Jane Yolen and Stephane Jorisch have created a beautiful poem and painted adorable scenes of a young boy admiring his father. He says that his father knows the names of things: from birds to beasts, to bugs, to plants, shades of blues, and all shapes of clouds. He even knows all the
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names of human bones. He discerns the friendly versus the fierce bugs and dinosaurs. The list of what father knows would grow incredibly long if the pages of this book did not constrain. “My father knows the names of things ... He knows the names of dogs ... And seven words that all mean blue He knows which mosses are the fuzziest, He knows which insects are the buzziest, And when we’re sailing on the sea He tells the names of fish to me.” In this book, the boy looks up to his father and Jane Yolen depicts a sweet relationship between the boy and the father. The father is eager to share his knowledge and experiences as they travel places, and see faces throughout the land. They sail the sea on a little boat and name the fishes. They fly in the air with private plane and touch the clouds. Young readers and listeners will enjoy the rhyming words in the verses and animating pictures to explore along with them. What a treat to have such father, and what a treat to share this book with your young ones. Reviewed by Sophie Masri How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? By Jane Yolen; Mark Teague The Blue Sky Press, $6.99, 12 pages Jane Yolen and Mark Teague team up again to bring their fans a portable companion board-book version of How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? This is a delightful story sure to fill a young reader’s imagination with thoughts of zany prehistoric pals and their beloved canine counterparts. Each board page is colorfully illustrated with quirky antics and whatifs, from the point of view of a concerned and quizzical narrator. The dinosaurs are friendly and boisterous, leaving a trail of messy energy on each page. Children will delight in the silly behavior of these extinct companions and you will too. There is an element of surprise and teaching, as well. Each dinosaur is referred to by its formal name on the same page, leading to some enjoyable enunciation practice sessions. It reflects the importance of taking care of animals and showing the way to love them through responsibility. This is one book in a series, so it is a rather brief reading, which may be perfect for a nap-time narrative. And, indeed, this is one good dinosaur tale. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez
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Over at the Castle By Boni Ashburn Abrams Books For YR, $15.95, 32 pages Over at the Castle opens with a mother and her little dragon patiently waiting outside a castle. But for what? The story wanders through the castle’s rooms, offering a glimpse at how the people lived in castle days. We find weavers, knights and jugglers, spinning, standing and performing, each scene written in rhyme. “Over at the castle, in the kitchen built of bricks, Cook the old master chef and her sous chefs six.” Over at the Castle is a counting story, each scene using one more person than the last. “Over at the castle, in the kitchen built of bricks, Cook the old master chef and her sous chefs six.” Throughout the story we revisit the little dragon and mother several times. Each visit leaves readers wondering what will happen next. The suspense set up in the story’s beginning is satisfied when the mother and little dragon light the sky with their fiery flames for the castle dwellers to enjoy. The story is set to the classic folk melody, “Over in the Meadow,” so children will be able to sing along. Reviewed by Susan Roberts
fossil record, how DNA creates change, the role of mutations and time, how a new species evolves, and the concept of survival of the fittest (natural selection). Loxton addresses some common questions about evolution: how do we know it really happened, where are the transitional fossils, are human footprints found with dinosaur footprints, how could evolution produce something as complex as an eye, is the web of life too complex to have come through evolution, and what about religion? Throughout the book, Loxton maintains a respectful tone indicative of an intent to enlighten rather than inflame. He also provides specific scientific evidence to support each step of his work. For parents or teachers of young adults, Loxton’s book provides a wonderful resource for addressing a complex and politically charged subject. Reviewed by Annie Peters
Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be By Daniel Loxton Kids Can Press, $18.95, 56 pages Evolutionary theory has generated heated debates since its formulation in the 1800’s. According to Daniel Loxton, Darwin worked on his ideas in secret because he knew the controversy they would create. That controversy continues today. For that reason, Loxton’s Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be is a treat to read. Loxton begins by thoroughly explaining the concept of evolution, including the role of the
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Science Fiction & Fantasy Moxyland By Lauren Beukes Angry Robot, $7.99, 320 pages Based in Capetown, Africa, ten years into the future, Moxyland is a frightening example of what could be—a futuristic world where company logos cycle on clothing and under the skin of selected youths, one where corporations direct every aspect of the citizen’s lives and the public is so ruled by technology that a mere threat of disconnection is enough of a deterrent to residents who might want to break the rules. Perhaps most amazing was the author’s delicate but brilliant intertwining of the four very different characters: Toby, a trust-fund kid with entitlement issues and an insatiable urge to upload his blog 24/7; Kendra, an acclaimed photographer who uses old fashioned film to capture the details of the world around her; Lerato, a self-serving programming wiz; and Tendeka, an idealistic anti-corporation advocate who gets himself in a load of trouble. Each represents a different level of society, providing the reader with a voyeuristic peek into this strange new world. At the start, the storyline is at times confusing and difficult to understand. Eventually, the story takes off on a wild ride, requiring the reader to cling on and stay put for the journey. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley
Triumff By Dan Abnett Angry Robot, $7.99, 384 pages In the world of alternate history story telling Turtledove is the most obvious choice. Make room on the shelf for Dan Abnett with this sword fighting, swash buckling adventure. Set in London in 2009, is an alternate world where Spain and England joined forces in the 1600s and colonized most of the known world--except for Australia which became a modern metropolis on its own. In this alternate world magic is rife and used by those who desire or are already in power. The adventurer Triumff who has just returned from Australia stumbles onto a secret that threatens the Queen and the Empire, he is recruited to help his country and stop the assassination of the Queen. This is one of the best alternate history books out there. It might not be as in depth as Turtledove’s work, but it still explains the important changes that have happened. It is a humorous read, with Triumff is forced to be a hero he doesn’t always want to be. All in all a humorous and action packed novel. Reviewed by Kevin Winter
First Contact: Or, It’s Later Than You Think By Evan Mandery Harper Paperbacks, $13.99, 263 pages In this frenetic farce, which plainly owes much to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglass Adams, First Contact offers a unique premise. Aliens from Rigel-Rigel arrive on earth for brunch with the President. They are enlightened, laid back lovers of Woody Allen and bundt cake, who wish to share their knowledge. One problem: they are greeted by a President who is a shallow, sciencedoubting, underwearobsessed idiot, who assumes that the aliens must be Jewish.
intended… I’ll say now the same thing I said then: Don’t understand it, ain’t gonna eat it. The association of brunch with the Jews is yet another counter historical, anti-Semitic defamation, like Jews’ responsibility for the death of Jesus, with the notable difference that everyone likes brunch…”
Up Jim River By Michael Flynn Tor, $25.95, 332 pages Up Jim River, by Michael Flynn, is a small-scale space opera in which a basic someone’s-gone-missing story-line is gussied up with unnecessary stylistic flourishes. As a result, this sequel to The January Dancer is somewhat diverting, but less than satisfying. The universe of Up Jim River is dominated by two competing powers, the “League” and the darker “Confederation”. Bridget-ban, an agent or “hound” for the League has disappeared. Her 19-year-old daughter, Mearana, sets out to find her with help from Donovan (“the scarred man”), while leaders of the Confederation try to stop her. Flynn has a knack for creating fully realized alien worlds, and he conjures up some very imaginative scenes throughout the book. However, the language he uses to tell his story is baroque and sometimes archaic to the point of being a distraction. It may be that Flynn made this linguistic choice to convey just how alien these other worlds are. Whatever the reason, the plot and characters get lost in the stylistic clutter, andUp Jim River suffers as a result. Reviewed by Doug Robins
Live Free Or Die By John Ringo Baen Books, $26.00, 416 pages This adventure initiates a new series by John Ringo. It is heavy on real science, full of esoteric humor, and of course, because this is Ringo, some societal preaching. The humor is grand and the problems are the product of a uniquely diseased mind. All the blondes in the world going into heat seven days a month? Suddenly having access to the universe and meeting alien races is good, isn’t it? What is that pustule on your arm, and why are those well-armed alien critters offering to kill anyone who won’t hand over the maple syrup? Tyler Alexander Vernon is a hard working former IT exec reduced to woodcutting, grocery stocking, and comics conventions to stay afloat. When alien contact has impacted Earth in several senses, he meets a spacefarer at a convention and discovers something to sell to the critter’s race. The rest of the story is both galactic capitalism and an exploration of the meaning and costs of freedom. Yes, I am trying to intrigue you, and not give anything much away. John Ringo’s rollicking, wise-assed imagination deserves that when you read this book you get as flummoxed as I did. For fun and insight both, you should read this book Reviewed by David Sutton
never stop rolling. For fans of Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore, First Contact will leave you in stitches. Reviewed by Jordan Magill
wiser. Beaumont has not lost his touch. This satirical novel, composed entirely of e-mails, text messages, e-bay alerts, blog posts, IMs and just a few voice mails intermingled for a touch of extra spice will keep you chuckling and snorting to yourself from page one to the end. From the first offering of minicigarettes designed for child-like hands to Big Brother, very little is considered out-of-bounds. Exaggerated caricatures (or at least I hope so) of common folks found in corporate life, from the stuffy white bread CEO with an anger management problem, to the manager who is never in the office as she’s attending an endless stream of self-improvement seminars, make it tough to pick a single favorite character. Set some time aside, once you pick up e Squared you won’t want to put it down. Reviewed by Lanine Bradley
Humor - Fiction
“Well, I never heard that word [brunch] when I was a kid. We had breakfast, and then we had lunch like the good lord
Ralph Bailey, the President’s attaché whose portfolio had previously consisted of fetching his boss’s preferred lunch sandwich (“extra meat”) and catering to the previously mentioned underwear issues, now must serve as a liaison with the aliens. At the same time, Bailey has found sudden happiness with his new girlfriend, Jessica Love. Mandery leaps about the galaxy, finding ways to celebrate topics, like Sting, the Simpsons, and Dr Pepper, even as he mocks censorship, political spin, government waste, insurance fraud, the fourth wall, law professors, and the galactic scourge known as the PTA. At times, the trip can be a bit dizzying, almost breathless, but the laughs
e Squared: A Novel By Matt Beaumont Plume, $15.00, 512 pages A long awaited sequel to the cultishly popular, e Squared is a zany, off-beat, and cruelly spot-on razzing of the train-wreck of modern working life. Anyone who’s ever worked in corporate America can’t help but to laugh at the tongue-in-cheek antics of the cast from Meerkat360, a hip avant-garde British ad agency. “Great [e-mail] by the way. Distinctly heard Satan mutter, “My work here is done,” as it pinged in my inbox. Thanks. Could get used to the Dark Side.” Long-time fans will be delighted at the return of familiar characters, all a little older, with newer technology but definitely not
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May 10 17
Business/Investing Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms By Andrea Redmond; Patricia Crisafulli Jossey-Bass, $27.95, What is it about failure that makes you want to just get over it quickly and forget it? Andrea Redmond and Patricia Crisafulli, in their raw and honest new book, Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms, tackle this subject in order to find the answer, and more important, how you can profit from it. “In time comes a new perspective on what may have felt devastating or looked hopeless. No matter how bleak and how terrible things look, or whatever the perceptions are, there is life after what you experience or what you have gone through. It is not necessarily apparent at that period of time.” You want to be a success. You seek it out, you announce it, and you celebrate it. But when you fail, you don’t want anyone to know about it; or, more accurately, when it goes public and as circumstances unravel, it is human nature to wish it would magically go away, be buried and forgotten. But you know it’s still there, no matter how diligently you sweep it under the rug, and it makes you wince in emotional pain, when all you want to do is to forget. However, ignoring and forgetting failure may not be the wisest thing to do, according to Redmond and Crisafulli. They assert that the very thing you should be doing is to expose failure, bring it to light, openly look at it, and embrace it. In Comebacks they show that failure, which can happen to anyone, is the springboard for a bigger and more meaningful success. Based on revealing interviews and meticulous research, Redmond and Crisafulli give you a behind-the-headlines glimpse into how seasoned leaders weathered the storm—how they drew on resources, both internal and external, to navigate their way forward and to learn leadership and life lessons that allowed them to get past the failure and bounce back. The book includes case studies on Jamie Dimon, Patricia Dunn, Harry Kraemer, Jacques Nasser, David Neeleman, David Pottruck, Christopher Galvin, Herbert “Pug” Winokur, Durk Jagger, and Dale Dawson. These are gritty, detailed looks at what really went on: how each of them failed, and how each climbed back up to start all over again, and win bigger, in the face of the new
18 May 10
challenges they’d set for themselves. There is little similarity among the traits and history of all these personalities. But there is one common thread: all their turnarounds have been fueled by their intense belief in themselves. Self-belief became the bedrock of their new ventures and new successes. As those who have had the guts to face their failures squarely have learned, two things can happen. First, lessons can come in the form of 20-20 hindsight, seeing and acknowledging what you could or should have done differently. These lessons can involve strategies for coping, such as resilience, self-knowledge, and relying on family, friends, and other close supporters. Redmond and Crisafulli write: “Having endured a setback, they learned or affirmed that their identities are not the same as their job titles; that a balanced life must be composed of more than just a job.” Second, and more interesting, is what leads to the “second act.” The choices a person makes are unique, and are seen as fitting their circumstances, personality, preferences, and stage in life. In essence, regardless of how they bounced back, success for each was defined in his or her own terms. Evaluation of one’s own goals and priorities, and a clear sense of what matters the most, are essential to taking the next step. These lead to fresh insights into what lies ahead, a better perspective, and appreciation of the possibilities that are to come. Since there is no right or wrong way to endure a setback, the best way forward is a course that one must chart for oneself. Redmond and Crisafulli write, “There is much to learn from the experiences of those who managed to maintain a sense of self in the midst of great turmoil: how they picked themselves up, redefined their priorities, took accountability and responsibility where appropriate, and created and explored new possibilities and directions.” If you have failed, or think you are a failure, you are in good company with the ten personalities featured in Comebacks. Each gut-wrenching failure has been followed by dramatic and stellar success, and each offers valuable lessons on how you too can get back on track towards enduring achievement. Comebacks is the kind of book where you might want not only a yellow marker to highlight passage after passage, but also a pen and pad to note down every provocative and inspiring idea. If there is just one takeaway, Redmond and Crisaffulli’s Comebacksimparts the essential but sadly underrated lesson that success is nothing more than overcoming failure. Reviewed by Dominique James
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1-888-704-0573 Jesus Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work By Laurie Beth Jones Howard Books, $19.99, 266 pages Have you recently been laid off, or decided that you were in the wrong profession and now want a fresh start? Or perhaps you are just beginning your quest for that dream job and want more out of your journey than a search engine can gather? No matter the step in your quest, Jesus Career Counselor will be your dedicated and tireless traveling companion. So much more than a career guide, this text is an inspirational and reality-based lighthouse. It will shine light in areas you thought were too dark to enter. Laurie Beth Jones is a gifted author and life coach who has given hope to the lost and confused. “Some of the best growth comes through crisis. We are never more near to God than when we are on our knees.” For those of us who thought we were pointed in the right direction and then life proved otherwise, she has cleared the cluttered path and is leading us out of confusion. Jones has brought the truth to her readers in a refreshingly honest, humorous and insightful way. This is a guide that is thorough, succinct, and timeless. Add this to the pile on your desk next to your resume and favorite job searches. This is a gift from above, Jones has obeyed every word. Reviewed by Sky Sanchez
Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online By Chris Brogan Wiley, $22.95, 200 pages Chris Brogan is a social media genius, but unfortunately, the book is not. In fact, it seems to be nothing more than a collection of scratching-the-surface blog posts (not even the best ones, as far as I can tell) with no rhyme or reason as to why they’re included in the book. Along these same lines, there’s little, if any, logic to the organization of the book. Had Brogan presented a better framework or context into which to organize the posts, it probably would have been much easier to get some value out of them. Another problem in reading this book is that Brogan often refers to other Web sites, and while it’s easy to click over to those while reading online, it’s a disruption to do so when trying to read a book. Those who want to give it a try, though, will find parts and pieces of Brogan’s social media values and beliefs on things like building relationships, branding, and strong communication. Overall, this is a book that sure takes a lot of pages here to say very little. Stick with the blog, or if your curiosity kills you, consider finding the free version of this piece at the author’s Web site. Reviewed by Allena Tapia
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Cooking, Food & Wine Supper for a Song By Tamasin Day-Lewis Rizzoli, $29.95, 192 pages Chef Tamasin Day-Lewis is known for cookbooks that contain basic, sensible recipes embellished with creative touches. Her latest book,Supper For A Song, takes that theme even further by including comforting recipes that are mindful of both health and budget. On the health side,Supper For A Song features delicious recipes such as whole wheat scones, panzanella salad, and roasted beet soup, which are bursting with flavor and light on fat. For those keeping watch on their budget, Lewis offers a number of suggestions for stretching one meal into two or three, as is seen with a roasted and stuffed chicken that also utilizes the leftovers for soup, risotto, and extra stuffing for a sausage pie. While Lewis’ recipes do have universal appeal, it should be noted that she is an English chef, and this book is written with that country’s palate in mind. Some readers may be surprised to see such ingredients as pork liver, lamb kidneys, and pheasant, but don’t be put off since the majority of the recipes contain ingredients that are common to most Americans, and keep in mind that finding suitable substitutions is quite simple. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport Chocolates and Confections By Peter P. Greweling Wiley, $34.95, 304 pages If your inner Willy Wonka has been longing to come out but you think that candymaking is too difficult to do at home, get yourself a copy of Chocolates and Confections, by Peter P. Greweling, and think again. From the At Home series of The Culinary Institute of America, this is the perfect book for aspiring confectioners, as well as those who already have some experience. The book’s lay out, detailed explanations, and wonderful accompanying photographs are clear evidence that this book was written by somebody who has spent many years teaching this subject and who put a great deal of thought of how to best do that in book form. Whether you fancy truffles or brittle, toffee or lollipops, they are all covered in this book, as well as countless other delights.
Whether you are making candies for your family, to serve to guests, or for holiday occasions, a range of home confectionery is within the reach of anyone with a kitchen, a few basic tools and ingredients. The recipes are surprisingly concise and contain multiple variations, as well as an invaluable lists of hints and suggestions. The many side bars help to ensure that your candy-making experience will be positive and successful. Chocolates and Confections also contains a succinct but informative glossary and a resource guide that will help you locate candy-making supplies and ingredients throughout the United States. Reviewed by Andrea Rappaport The Locavore Way By Amy Cotler Storey Publishing, $12.95, 248 pages If you recognize the word “locavore” and wish you could be part of the growing club, this book is for you. Or, if you have no idea what a “locavore” is, but are tired of reading about recalled spinach and peanut butter, and want to learn more about eating food that’s clean for you and for the planet, then dive in! “Each bite of food contains the world. Inside that crisp fall apple is the story of where, how, and by whom ti was grown, harvested, and brought to us. And so we shape our world by what we eat.” The Locavore Way is a book for beginners. It’s an A to Z guide to eating locally. Chock full of statistics and how-to lists, author Amy Cotler uses her years of experience as a chef and cooking instructor to make locavore living an adventure rather than a chore. In the book, Cotler covers all the basics: farmers’ markets, buying clubs, cooking with local ingredients, growing your own food, taking action, and so much more. Her recipes are called “Open Recipes,” because “they don’t require precision and they allow you the flexibility to substitute seasonal local foods. Cotler also provides an entire section devoted to using local produce: what it tastes like and how to cook with it. All that’s missing is how to identify when something is ripe. This great guidebook is the perfect introduction to enjoying local foods. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott
Ad Hoc at Home By Thomas Keller Artisan, $50.00, 368 pages Famed chef Thomas Keller uses the inspiration of the staff meals served at his more casual restaurant Ad Hoc, to put together family-style recipes in Ad Hoc at Home. Staff meals are usually made from the previous night’s leftovers and in the case of a restaurant like Ad Hoc, plenty of extra touches that move it from leftovers to casual haute cuisine. There are plenty of “basic” recipes, from fried chicken to an iceberg lettuce salad, seem simple in concept, but become more complex with Keller’s upgrades. There are plenty of small lessons throughout the book - just in the chicken section is how to truss one and how to do an eight or ten piece cut of a whole chicken – or odd tips such as cleaning a grill grate with a large yellow onion. The many recipes cover all the standards one might expect, yet each adds both a layer of complexity and quality to them. Many of them are not causal of the moment meals (the fried chicken requires a twelve hour brine), but for a planned meal, can raise the level of “casual” family meals to exceptional.
The photography nearly reaches the level of food porn; many dishes skillfully prepared and artfully arranged for full page pictures. The recipes sometimes require specialty ingredients, requiring access to a specialty grocery store or using the online index of sources included in the reference section. Ad Hoc at Home does have well detailed instructions and plenty of tips on cooking that will help the beginning and intermediate home chefs raise the level of their kitchen skills.
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Current Events Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment By David Firby St. Martin’s Press, $, 492 pages Sometimes it seems that the only people who truly support CAFOs, or animal factory farms, are those who stand to profit from them. This is made brilliantly clear in Animal Factory, David Kirby’s exposé into the business. To most people, especially those who are forced to live in their vicinity, CAFOs are a major source of environmental pollution. Animal Factory follows the stories of three people trying to fight against big dairy and pork operations. These stories are deeply disturbing and might actually make readers sick. Animal waste from manure “lagoons” pollute water supplies when they overflow or are breached; excessive levels of nitrates make people gravely ill, while the animal feces invite infestations of algae, parasites, and protozoa that kill millions of fish and can leave open wounds on people who come in contact with the water. Despite the author’s claim of neutrality on the subject, readers will undoubtedly walk away from this book firmly in the anti-CAFO corner. The writing is brilliant, the people profiled are inspirational in their activism, and the topic is one that so many people remain blissfully ignorant of. Everyone would benefit from reading this book and becoming aware of where their food comes from. Reviewed by Holly Scudero
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The Death and Life of the Great American School System By Diane Ravitch The Basic Book Group, $26.95, 283 pages The author of this work is a research professor of education at New York University and a distinguished historian of American education. She has authored or edited more than 20 books, and her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. Of note is her outstanding piece in the March 2, 2010, issue of The Wall Street Journal titled, “Why I changed my mind about school reform.” The author rejects some of her long-held beliefs about school reform and offers a blueprint for getting our schools back on track. Using examples from major cities such as New York, Denver, and Chicago, she maintains that public education is in dire peril because of misguided reforms. Ravitch argues against privatization and cautions about the misuse of test scores in evaluation of teachers, students, and schools. In every case, she explains why these initiatives have failed to improve public education, and in many cases have been quite harmful. This is one of the finest studies in the century dealing with American public education today and a must-read for all Americans concerned with our schools and the education of our children. Reviewed by Claude Ury The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? By Ian Bremmer Portfolio, $26.95, 240 pages Ian Bremmer, the author of The End of the Free Market, is the founder and President of the Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm. He’s made a lot of money consulting for Wall Street on how to deal with the political challenges cor-
porations face outside of the United States. According to the subtitle of this book, Who wins the war between States and Corporations?, he’s going to show how and why either the free market or state capitalism will control the global economy. That’s a tall order, and one Mr. Bremmer ultimately fails to fill. Instead, the reader is given an extensive, if not detailed, overview of state capitalism: what it is; its historic development; and how it is being practiced around the globe. I assume from the title that Mr. Bremmer intended this work to be thought-provoking and controversial, but in writing the book he failed to remove his own bias from the account and nearly every page is infused with his disdain for state-guided economies and his absolute faith in free markets. Mr. Bremmer’s faith in the free market (a faith I mostly share), his inability to see in any form of state capitalism any benefits either to economies or to people, is the great failing of his book. This pre-conceived notion, unassailable it seems, is what turns a potentially engaging book on a matter that seriously affects the global economy into another mash-up of “liberalized” economic drivel and tired prescriptions for maintaining the status-quo. The current situation, and the complexity of modern globalized markets in both economics and politics, are such that Mr. Bremmer’s attempt to break it into two opposing camps seems comical at its best and contemptible at its worst. Readers looking for an explanation of the situation and serious, considered ideas on how to restore economic growth both in the United States and abroad deserve more than the same tired old arguments found in The End of the Free Market. Mr. Bremmer is keen to remind the reader how wonderful free markets are and how they’re the only
ones that have ever been shown to consistently deliver growth and raise people out of poverty but this unfounded claim then has to stand up against the hard evidence he inadvertently mounts against it: the unparalleled and phenomenal growth of China! The author repeatedly warns that the government’s motivation for China’s growth are not in the best interests of its people but only of the government itself. This may or may not be true, but the growth is a fact. This is an economic model that is delivering wealth and power to the Chinese government and lifting millions of poverty-stricken Chinese into middle-class affluence. And China is just one of the countries that use state capitalism to drive their economic engines; Russia, the Arabic states, Brazil, and India are all doing this to various extents. Finally, after an entire book explaining the threat that state capitalism poses to the free market, the author comes to what American business and government can do to “win” against it. The answer is: more of the same?! I don’t know how Mr. Bremmer can think that continuing down the same path the United States has been on for the last 10 or 20 years is going to result in a different outcome than it already has. Worse, the course he believes we should continue down is the one that has cost our nation so much of its wealth, its international reputation, and the blood of its youth. The End of the Free Market is less an analysis of the current geo-political-economic situation than it is a tract for the maintenance of the status quo. In times of economic turmoil, social unrest can break through the surface at any time. Bremmer’s work appears to be meant as a palliative to those who have benefited most from the current economic regime, and who have the most to lose if it changes. Reviewed by Jonathon Howard
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Young Adult Vintage Veronica By Erica S. Perl Knopf Books For Young Readers, $16.99, 288 pages Vintage Veronica is refreshingly the story of a 15-year-old fat girl with no friends. Veronica loves vintage clothes, particularly ’50s-era poodle skirts and button-down sweaters. She works in a Dollar-a-Pound clothing consignment store, although her mom thinks she works at an animal shelter. Veronica’s mother pressures her to lose weight so people will like her more, puts Veronica on Weight Watchers, and constantly reminds her of the benefits of being thin. Veronica begrudgingly becomes friends with Zoe and Ginger, who work at the same clothing store, and then a gangly boy named, Lenny. She discovers the thrill of relationships and kissing, only to find that with some people it comes with a price. Erica S. Perl obviously knows and loves vintage clothing. However, this reviewer found the storyline confusing in the beginning because of too much internal dialogue. The technique is an attempt to bring the reader up to date, but in reality goes on incoherent tangents unrelated to the story. In addition, the story goes astray, lacking any moral value, realism amid the characters, or a basic relatable plot. There is strong language and content to be concerned about for younger readers. Overall, Vintage Veronica should remain in the storage closet. Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson The Dead-Tossed Waves (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 2) By Carrie Ryan Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 404 pages The Dead-Tossed Waves is just as hauntingly unique as its partner, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. This volume casts its eerie spotlight on Gabry, daughter of the first book’s main character. Gabry lives in Vista, a coastal town, next to the sea whose waves carry waterlogged Mudo, or undead, to the shore. Her mother works in the lighthouse and supervises the killing of the Mudo. Like any young adult, Gabry is painfully aware that her mother is different from the others who live in Vista. The way she refuses to be like everyone else, clinging instead to the remnants of her past, unset-
tles Gabry. One night, she and her friends decide to go outside the Barrier and escape to the ruins of the roller-coasters – melancholy memories of a pre-Return era. But in Gabry’s world, impunity is nonexistent. The carefree atmosphere is soon shattered as a Breaker manages to get hold of one of Gabry’s friends. Chaos erupts, and the morning leaves only self-doubt and sickening reality. As Gabry faces what must be done, she realizes that the world as she knew it was built on a web of lies – and everyone knows how easily webs can break. The Dead-Tossed Waves is a resplendent book. It pushes the limits of thought, questions the limits of mind, and gives you reason to doubt the extent of your knowledge of society today. Each page is just as wonderfully thrilling as the next. It is truly superb. Reviewed by Alex Masri The Agency 1: A Spy in the House By Y.S. Lee Candlewick, $16.99, 335 pages Orphaned and penniless at a young age, Mary Quinn finds herself condemned to the gallows for the crime of housebreaking. To her surprise, she’s rescued from her fate and given an opportunity for a new life by attending Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. But the school isn’t quite what it seems. It’s also a cover of The Agency, a secret ring of elite female detectives who are known for extracting information from some of the most difficult cases. Although surprised at first, Mary readily jumps into the role of a secret agent, posing as a lady’s companion in order to find evidence of smuggled Hindu treasures. Often it’s hard to achieve the right balance of historical fact and interesting plot, but Lee has found it. The book is populated with interesting and complex characters, including Mary herself. The combination of Mary’s wits and accomplishments paired with the darkness of her past makes her into a vibrant, dynamic character that’s a delight to read about. The mystery of the missing treasures has plenty of suspense and moves at a nice, brisk pace that will keep readers interested. Highly recommended to fans of Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockheart trilogy and historical fiction enthusiasts alike. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller
The Celestial Globe: The Kronos Chronicles: Book II By Marie Rutkoski Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 290 pages The highly anticipated sequel to The Cabinet of Wonders has finally arrived. The Celestial Globe has the same fast-paced, steampunk feel that made The Cabinet of Wonders so wonderful. The adventure begins in Bohemia, where Petra Kronos and her father are looking for an opportunity to leave the country because they angered the prince after taking her father’s eyes back and destroying his clock. The prince sends out demonic creatures who are part human, part dragon. Petra’s father sacrifices himself to keep Petra safe, but in vain. The monsters capture her. But she is rescued by an unusual, but familiar face: John Dee. John keeps her captive in order to wield her power. Meanwhile, in search of Petra, her friend Tomik stumbles upon a Grift, or a portal between space and time, and ends up on a Gypsie coast. He, too, is taken captive, during his search for the amazing power of the two Mercator Globes. This book is a wonderful mix of fantasy, action, science fiction, and even a bit of romance. It is a real pleasure to find a book so smooth in its transitions. Though it is incredibly imaginative, the storyline is easy to follow. A great novel for fans of The Golden Compass. Reviewed by Alex Masri Girl in the Know By Anne Katz Kids Can Press, $18.95, 112 pages I have read the book Girl in the Know: Your Inside-and-Out Guide to Growing Up. It is packed with information that you will want to know about what to expect in puberty. It also tells you how to make it through as smoothly as possible. When I first read this, I felt uncomfortable and shocked about what I saw and read. Now I feel OK and understand what to do when I hit my puberty stage because the book has prepared me for what will happen eventually when I grow up. I only recommend this book for girls from age 10 or older because some of the pictures are not for children and especially not for BOYS! This is
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a book that will definitely prepare you for your pubescent stage. Reviewed by Andrea Tan , 6th grade, Art Freiler School The Wish Stealers By Tracy Trivas Aladdin, $16.99, 281 pages Griffin loves to wish. She wishes on stars, loose eyelashes, and anything else she can think of. When an old lady offers her a shiny penny on the day before starting a new school, Griffin accepts the gift hoping it will bring her luck in her new life. Soon Griffin realizes that she was tricked into accepting 12 stolen wishes, each represented by a shiny penny. What’s worse is that Griffin is now a Wish Stealer, someone whose own wishes will never come true except for the negative ones. If Griffin wants to break the curse, she needs to return all 12 wishes before the curse sticks to her for good. The best thing about The Wish Stealers is the originality of its plot. Griffin’s dilemma is unique; readers will enjoy reading about her attempts to return the wishes while trying to navigate the trials of middle school. There is also a short inspirational quote at the end of every chapter—a nice touch. The plot sometimes comes together a little too neatly, but you will find the book a fun, light read, especially if you don’t take it too seriously. Reviewed by Alyssa Feller Rikers High By Paul Volponi Viking Juvenile, $16.99, 246 pages Although it has no central story line, this YA novel is nevertheless fascinating for its believable portrayal of boys inside a juvenile detention facility. The author taught at RikSee RIKERS, page 23
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Mystery, Crime & Thrillers Mexia: The Memoirs of J.C. Mulkey: A Novel By Federick Malphurs iUniverse, $25.95, 488 pages As a young boy, JC Mulkey discovered a murder in his hometown of Mexia, Texas. As he grows and develops, he and his sidekick, Scout, find others, and JC starts on a quest to find the killer to bring them to justice. JC is a compelling character, as is the plethora of citizens of Mexia. From the county sheriff to JC’s alcoholic brother, Roland, each character is well developed, engaging, and entertaining to meet. While the murders weave in and through the story, they aren’t the driving force; it is the personalities and situations that JC interacts with that keep it flowing. //Mexia// is written in a way that allows the reader to see JC go through the events in his life at the time, and also watch him as he grows and develops. His relationships with the women in his life are complicated, yet what relationships aren’t? When he eventually does solve the murders, the resolution isn’t as clean and tidy. Yet again, how often does anyone get a prettily wrapped ending? A well-crafted novel of life, loves, and
growth, along with a colorful background of a “sleepy” Texas town, and the residents who live there. Sponsored Review Tooth and Claw: A Mystery By Nigel McCrery Pantheon, $25.95, 310 pages There should be a contest to uncover the goriest, most grisly murder mystery that can be devised. Certainly Nigel McCrery’s current book featuring Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Mark Lapslie and Sergeant Emma Bradbury would be one of the contenders. Full of medical anomalies, the DCI is afflicted with a form of synesthesia wherein all sounds are transposed to sundry tastes which leaves him in a constant state of retching wretchedness and activates his caustic humor. Unknown to the detectives, the hapless murderer is a paranoid psychotic who delights in torturing animals and is genetically endowed with porphyria, an enzyme disorder that affects the skin and nervous system. Another character in the dysfunctional family is an invalid handicapped with a colostomy. Even more incredible, the
criminal profiler engaged by the police is unknowingly related to the perpetrator and is part of the aforementioned family. Amidst this bizarre background, the detective are pressured to solve first the sadistic murder and mutilation of a television celebrity, and secondly, the apparently mindless random bombing of a railway passenger. If you don’t feel squeamish about flayed limbs, bashed heads, exploded bodies, and other devious delights, then this is the mystery for you. “He’d not planned it--the murder had been a spur-of-the-moment action, violence created by the energy and aggression of the riot going on around him.” Written with ghoulish whimsy, readers can follow the tortuous clues in this action packed, fast reading forensic thriller. I can’t think of a better alternative for night terrors. Reviewed by Rita Hoots A Dangerous Business By McNary Lynch iUniverse, $14.95, 196 pages In this short and well-crafted mystery, husband and wife investor team Worth and Niccola Caivano are doing due diligence on a potential investment in a war-torn country in West Africa involving building low-income housing and exporting diamonds. Parker, the organizer of the deal, is becoming financially strapped from keep-
The New Backpacker’s Guidebook By Craig McMahon InfoNinja Publishing, $13.95, 90 pages To clarify, this book is for globe trekking “backpackers,” not for mountain-hiking “backpackers.” And it’s for beginners. If you’ve been out of the country a time or two, you might pick up a few new ideas, but overall, this guide is for first-timers. Inside, you’ll find tips to get started from someone who is clearly well-traveled: make copies of your passport, pack quickdrying fabrics, get your proper shots, etc. Yet, that’s where its utility ends and its pontification begins. In a section titled, “Getting Adjusted,” you’ll get an earful of opinionated advice. “Remember, there are ignorant fools everywhere and their clouded assumptions should not interfere with your plans,” writes author Craig McMahon. In fact, the narrative sounds more parental than guidebooklike. For instance, in an appendix titled, “Foolishness,” McMahon provides stories of
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Last month, stereotypical tourists he has encountered on his own travels as a warning not to behave this way. However interesting the stories are, they don’t read like practical advice, but instead, like a blogger complaining. Though you might find some helpful tips as a beginning traveler, you’re probably better off surfing the Internet. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott Secret Portland, Oregon 2010 By Ann Carroll Burgess and Tom Burgess ECW Press, $14.95, 257 pages For a rare view into a treasured city, Secret Portland offers a quirky perspective. The chapters are crafted poetically, sometimes at the loss of intuitiveness. You’ll find “Aerial” (a type of tram system), “Brothers” (a chain of local, family-owned breweries), “Romance” (a list of fine restaurants), and “Thursdays” (a local art walk). Yet, the creative headings have their benefits. They helpfully pull out ethnic cuisine by region, so you can quickly find “Turkey,” “Thai,” “Irish,” or even “Nonsmoking.” Thankfully, the back of the book offers a traditional subject index covering the basics, like “Accommodations,” “Cafes/
Cheap Eats,” and the like. This index is easier to follow than the chapter headings. “Life already has its ups and downs, so you may not be looking for any more of those, but there are a few places in the Portland area that can give you quite a lift. Inside Powell’s City of Books... you’ll find the world’s only three-door elevator.” When read cover-to-cover, Secret Portland provides a rounded picture of a vibrant city, despite the book’s strange layout. Overall, you’ll get a sense of where to eat, where to hike, where to sleep, and the typical guidebook advice. The reader can picture themselves stealing a “Secret Kiss” behind the Ira C. Keller Memorial Fountain, or smelling a fresh bloom in the City of Roses. Secret Portland is a good supplement to other, more thorough guidebooks. Reviewed by Amber K. Stott
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ing his trophy wife, Kandy, in the lifestyle she’s accustomed to and is desperate to keep the deal from falling apart. But when one of the lead investors is found dead, suspicion falls on Worth. So Worth and Niccola need to investigate the murder and clear his name. Their travels take them to Tel Aviv, Antwerp, and into West Africa, where they find that the stakes may be higher than they realize. A Dangerous Business is an exceptionally well-crafted story, with memorable characters, good dialog, and a compelling storyline. The interplay between Worth and Niccola, or Nick, as Worth calls her, bring to mind an earlier married couple involved in mysteries; Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles. Lawyer Niccola provides the sense of reality to her husband’s enthusiasms or, as she calls it, “being the wet blanket,” while Worth pursues each new opportunity with a child-like zeal. Between the two of them, they form a pleasurable fictional couple. The story is fast paced, the secondary characters have depth and provide Worth and Niccola fodder for their own interplay. Recommended for fans of classic crime stories in the Hammett and Agatha Christie vein. Sponsored Review
Science & Nature Curious Folks Ask By Sharry Seethaler FT Press, $19.99, 204 pages Curious Folks Ask is about a collection of 162 Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Mysteries. Sherry Seethaler whets our appetite for delicious morsels of useful information. I must admit that the surprising answers to our many concerns seem to open up a wave of information gathering. Perhaps this book is the beginning of a new style of literature that answers questions that address our concerns in life. Seethaler focuses in on particular concerns, such as whether one can catch the common cold by exposure to the cold. I was fascinated with why we yawn and sneeze, just to mention a few. She does a knockout job addressing medical concerns. She provides intriguing information on subjects from mononucleosis to AIDS. She even allows the concerns of old wive’ tales to challenge modern scientific thought. It is a book worth reading and will serve as a reference for really deep discussions. I am sure that Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy champion, would love to read them. With a
format of easy-to-follow examples and clear and scientific explanations, I highly recommend this book for both background information, as well as an entertaining weekend read. Reviewed by D. Wayne Dworsky What Darwin Got Wrong By Jerry Fodor and Massimo PiattelliPalmarini Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, $26.00, 264 pages Evolution is a controversial subject in numerous ways, but very few of those controversies concentrate on the actual mechanics of trait development, especially those of phenotypic variation. In short, the interaction between a creature’s genetic makeup (or genotype) and its environment lead to visible characteristics, and these characteristics are its phenotype. Darwin believed that natural selection was the sole source for phenotypic development, and that has been the accepted methodology for a great many evolutionary scientists to this day. But the authors believe that the adaptationists only
have part of the puzzle, and What Darwin Got Wrong endeavors to explain just how many factors demand consideration. I don’t want to dissuade any potential readers, because this is a thoroughly impressive effort and a worthy addition to the literature of evolutionary science. But it is not for the casual science enthusiast. It’s a dense read that demands a great deal of participation from the reader. Don’t just know genotype and phenotype. Know intensional vs. intentional arguments. Know coextensive traits and ecological niches. Basically, be prepared to do a little homework in order to get the most out of this book. It’s a tough reading experience, but an intriguing one. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas The Little Book of String Theory By Steven S. Gubser Princeton, $19.95, 174 pages String theory is one of those truly daunting fields of scientific theory and research. The concepts are abstract and mindboggling, the terminology is sometimes impenetrable, and the books that explain it rarely cater to those who don’t already study physics on a post-graduate level. Thankfully, Steven S. Gubser is here to save the day with The Little Book of String Theory, an impressive effort to boil the enor-
Spirituality & Inspiration Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living By Allan Lokos Tarcher, $13.95, 230 pages On a chaotic hectic path of work, paying bills, chores around the household, spending time with our families and friends, we seldom find time for peacefulness. Author Allan Lokos has written a helpful guidebook to help transform everyday living into a conscious journey of practiced peace. “Our happiness and unhappiness depend on our actions by not on our wishes for one another.” There have been many books published that try to teach one how to “live in the moment.” And as much as we read about it, as much as we are encouraged to do it, it feels like old news most of the time. Lokos approaches the reader like a friend, sharing stories and personal
experiences, with great warmth and compassion. The book feels much like a comfortable conversation. Broken into easy to read chapters, this text shows us how to nurture virtues within ourselves, such as morality, wisdom, patience and many more. Each chapter offers steps to practice these actions with meditative exercises. Pocket Peace – Effective Practices for Enlightened Living can change your life. After all, in the long run, life isn’t so much what happens to us, it’s how we react and respond to things that happen to us. It is what we make of it. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin A Book of Bliss By Sourcebooks Inc Sourcebooks, Inc., $10.99, 204 How does one review a collection of quotes, proverbs and otherwise upbeat, smile-provoking ideas? It’s impossible to be critical when the sole purpose of this delightful little book is to give one some-
thing to smile about. Indeed, A Book of Bliss: Thoughts to Make You Smile will do just that, and lift your spirits. It’ll motivate and encourage you to find a bright spot in any day, under most any circumstance. “There is a sparkly center of happiness in all of us; find it, treasure it and let it shine.” Too much bad news on television, in the newspapers, on the radio, in magazines. It might be best to avoid the news as much as possible. This charming little book is a surefire source of enlightenment, with quotes from notables like Mother Teresa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, even athletes like Olga Korbet and Arthur Ashe. Bound in a cheerful, brightly colored volume, this little book is perfect to tuck into a carry-on, a purse, a bag. After all, wouldn’t it be convenient to always have a smile waiting at your fingertips, just a page turn away? Inspiring and light-hearted, it makes a wonderful gift to a friend or a loved one. You might want to keep a copy for yourself. Reviewed by Laura Friedkin
mously complicated and incomprehensible down to the merely intimidating. Gubser is patient without being condescending. He simplifies without pandering. Until the last few chapters, the reading experience is a little challenging, but a thoroughly enjoyable mental workout. It can’t help wander, eventually, into deeper complexity, with its D-branes and supersymmetry and other fantastical constructs; but Gubser’s efforts to keep it comprehensible are admirable. He takes what could have been a dry and frustrating work and transforms it into a worthy introduction to a wider scientific world. Hopefully it will inspire its readers to pursue their interest and questions further still. With Gubser as our guide science starts to seem less like the exclusive domain of the brainy, and more like a window into the universe that is open for everyone. Reviewed by Glenn Dallas
RIKERS, con’t from page 21 er’s for six years, and says that everything in the book actually happened at one time or another during his tenure. He puts a human face on each boy, ranging from murderous to misunderstood. The main character, Walter, who has learned how to survive inside, interacts with an assortment of other inmates: Brick, who tries to run the facility like a gang lord; Shaky, Brick’s errand boy; Ritz, the only white kid there who earns the others’ respect by holding his own; and Sanchez, who is scared to death of being sent to the adult facility. Walter also encounters school personnel, who include a few teachers who care, a principal who doesn’t, and a few other people who should clearly be fired. The COs (correction officers) seem to be mostly a bunch of brutes. “For a second you might not remember where you are. Then it all comes rushing back to your brain. You’re at Riker’s Island.” The stories are told as a series of incidents in the day-to-day life of the inmates over a three-week period. Teens who have “been there” will relate to the story; others will be fascinated about what goes on behind the scenes. Reviewed by Leslie Wolfson
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MO MS A R E S E X Y T O O ! By Kaye Cloutman
B ooks have always played an important
role in mom’s lives. What would we do without all those bedtime stories and the pop-up entertainment provided by the children’s book aisle? And what about the quick, nutritious recipes and impressive food spread ideas that make us the home chefs that we are, ready to tackle the next party or formal dinner where the boss is the guest du jour? And surely you must not forget all the gardening, craft and homemaking books that empower us to be our own version of Martha Stewart (sans the camera and controversies). Whether you are a multitasking diva, a stay-at-home sweetheart, a sporty outdoorsy fan or a fashionable and elaborate server, San Francisco Book Review raises a glass in toast to you, Mom! And what better way to celebrate this day than to bedazzle yourself?! Take it from our sexperts: We all need a sexifying moment once in a while so we can be the perfect person for all those orbiting us.
Kr i s t e n C h a s e :
Baby wrangler and diaper changer by day, irreverent sex columnist and author at night! Author of The Mominatrix Guide to Sex, Adams Media, 256 pages, $14.95. Most empowering mom advice: Whoever said sexiness comes from within definitely wasn’t a mom, because it’s pretty hard to find your hot self when you’re wearing spit-up patterned shirts and your wardrobe is completely comprised of gym clothes (and you aren’t a member of a gym). So this Mother’s Day, why not celebrate what made many of you mothers in the first place? That doesn’t necessarily mean ditching the family brunch and loading up on lingerie and not- so- kid-friendly toys. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi/wax menage a trois, or enjoy a glorious day shopping completely alone for the outfit that doesn’t scream “mom!” Just that little break from being someone’s Kleenex and bum-wiper can be the best whipping your libido could ever ask for. What is the best foreplay for you? A dark, quiet restaurant with amazing food and my husband all gussied up staring at me from behind his wine glass is all it takes for me. What are your guilty pleasures? I have no guilt over pleasures of any kind - seeing as I am the Mominatrix, but left to my own devices, I snuggle up in bed and pop in one of my favorite sexy movies, like Top Gun. It’s amazing what a bunch of hot pilots in uniform can do.
24 May 10
What is your secret sexy weapon? I’ve got that one knock-em-over lingerie piece that hasn’t failed me yet. Every mom needs something that transforms her the instant she puts it on.
Let her show you where to find your lost libido! Author of Confessions of a Naughty Mommy, Seal Press, 200 pages, $14.95 Most empowering mom advice: I think the first thing is to rediscover that we are passionate people. I’m not talking about wearing sexy lingerie and ditching the mom jeans – I’m talking about being alive in the world and your body, outside of your kids and domestic life. Remember times you were shamelessly sexual, letting yourself fantasize, listening to music, using your brain, sleeping naked in clean sheets (by yourself, even!). Nature (hormones, mother-love) and nurture (“Mom” identity, stress and isolation) work in cahoots to make many moms think they don’t need or miss sex. But it’s still a vital part of us. It’s still there, and it’s still important. It just needs a little nurturing, too. The second thing I’d say is to work on your relationship as well. It’s not just mom’s job to figure out what’s going on (or not going on) for her, it’s your job as a couple to discover what else might be getting in the way (i.e., building resentments, uneven workload, or taking each other for granted). Because, guess what? If I don’t actually like my husband, I don’t actually want to have sex with him. What is the best foreplay for you? Soccer! I play co-ed recreational soccer two nights a week. I come back hot, sweaty, beat up (in a good way) and appreciating my body. Exercise gets blood flowing through ALL areas of your body and boosts testosterone. Not to mention the two-hour break from kids, the house, and life. If I come home and the kids are asleep and the kitchen is clean, it’s pretty much a shoo-in. And now that we have a feisty toddler again, sex is also great foreplay for me! When I’m burned out and exhausted, but the baby is sleeping and our older daughter is at a play date, giving us a rare opportunity for a mid-day romp, I’ll tell my husband, “Let’s do this thing.” It might not start out all that romantic, but within a few minutes the sounds and smells and sensations take me over and take me away. Luckily my husband is a good sport. What are your guilty pleasures?I have no standards when it comes to TV or magazines. I will watch and read anything and
love it. Lately, I’ve developed a late night house-porn problem: I surf the net and check out all the houses in better neighborhoods with more room than ours. Then, I wake up the next day and feel guilty. Our house is just fine! What is your secret sexy weapon? Hot water (long bath or shower) and wine are both great at helping me relax my body and mind, which is essential for good sex! But I’d say my secret weapon is really my hard fought ability to say, “No, thanks. I’m not really in the mood,” without feeling guilty or lame. It used to be this huge deal, but now it’s just one minor part of a working relationship I have with my husband, and with my own sexuality. Saying NO to guilt and “pity sex” has made more room to say YES to more fun, loving, engaged, thrilling sex. Yes, with my husband.
small for myself every month. I have found that when I do things that make me feel good, it externally shows how good I feel. What is your secret sexy weapon? Confidence! Many women see themselves differently with clothes on and off. Empower yourself with confidence every day. I once heard someone say, “our internal thoughts are our biggest obstacles.” As a woman, you are beautiful inside and out. You should own it and appreciate yourself.
To p Pi c k s !
Frugal and HOT! Author of The Super, Sexy Mom On A Budget, So Bubbly Publishing, 96 pages, $10.99 What is the best foreplay for you? When a man takes the extra time to plan an evening out and show that he cares. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top, but should show that he took the time to make a special night for me. If you combine that with great conversation and a couple glasses of wine, that’s foreplay. What are your guilty pleasures? Chocolate, indulging myself in manicures and pedicures and buying something
T hou s a nd s of b o ok re v ie w s at w w w. s a n f r a nc i s cob o ok re v ie w.com
Published on May 5, 2010