Book Reviews Archive

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A Cactus Odyssey by James D. Mauseth, Roberto Kiesling, and Carlos Ostolaza

51PrUXQ7X2L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_A Cactus Odyssey:

Journeys in the Wilds of Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina

by

James D. Mauseth, Roberto Kiesling, and Carlos Ostolaza

 

Reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

Hopes springs eternal, et cetera. I’m still looking for a good combination travel and gardening book. If you’re looking for a good travel book, this isn’t it, but if you’re looking for an interesting book about cactus biology, with some travel thrown in, you could go further and do worse. The book has some faults, but they are not fatal.

I’ll start out by telling you that there is one thing in this book that I found really irritating. The book is, in effect, written by a committee, and they have chosen to write in the plural—we did this; we saw that—instead of in the first person singular. I don’t know why, but somehow it seems to slow down the narrative.

The second problem is that the first chapter, the one that’s supposed to hook readers and make them glad to have started the book, is yet another discussion of taxonomy and of the difference between lumpers (who like to lump species together into a few big genera) and splitters (who like to like to create lots of genera.). Clearly, it is useful for anyone interested in plants to understand the principles of taxonomy, but I think this kind of a chapter would be better placed at the end of the book for those who want to read it.

The text in general gets a little bogged down in Latin names, but there’s no way out of that, because most of these plants probably don’t have common names that would be familiar in English.

Although the book has a few negatives, it also has some important positives. First, the authors do communicate their delight with cacti.

In the worst of circumstances, they seem to maintain positive attitudes. They describe trying to help a truck ahead of them hung up in mud:

Jumping up and down on a back bumper amidst a bunch of corn on the

cob and with mud flying everywhere–this is proof that we are enjoying

the sophisticated life that was guaranteed us by all those years of college

education. At least the truck is not carrying pigs and chickens. (page 101)

They are generous in spirit. All through the book they propose “many research possibilities you might find irresistible” if you are a cactus biologist.

The book has seven chapters: the introductory chapter and two on each of the three countries they traveled through. It describes six field trips the three authors took together between 1985 and 2000. A rather minimal map of each country is included.

This is a book for the specialist reader who is particularly interested in the biology and evolutionary history of cacti. Of particular interest and surprise to me was the number of different environments where they found cacti growing and even thriving.

As with many garden books, the 191 color photos are the highlight of the book. They are tied closely into the text and have useful captions. The book is hardbound, 306 pages, and includes a rather minimal bibliography and index.

 

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Bromeliads For the Contemporary Garden by Andrew Steens

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Bromeliads

For the Contemporary Garden

by

Andrew Steens

Reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

Years ago, I bought two little plants in four-inch pots at a rummage sale. The seller said, “Leave them in the pots. They like to be crowded.” It didn’t occur to me to ask any more questions. Twenty years later, I decided that I needed to move the plants that had now grown to fill a 4- x 6-foot area. To my great surprise, I was able to move the entire mass of plants (and the two 4-inch plastic pots) to a new location like moving a piece of carpet. The plants had not rooted into anything. Thus began my love affair with Bilbergia nutans and bromeliads in general.

Although my collection multiplied many times since then, my knowledge of bromeliads did not. (Luckily, they are very hard to kill.) Now, however, I have found an almost perfect book for the novice or interested expert. Bromeliads for the Contemporary Garden, by Andrew Steens, answers all my questions.

Bromeliads are a varied group including, among others, Tillandsias and Annas (pineapples). Some of the more striking kinds are for sale at most local grocery stores as well as garden centers.

They grow in full sun, full shade or anything in between, depending on the type. Some are terrestrial and some are epiphytes. Many have astonishing coloration. Some have flowers so small they are easily overlooked. Others are glorious spikes that can last for months.

This book covers all types and is beautifully organized. Steens starts with a discussion of the definition and history of bromeliads. He then shows how they can be used in landscaping. The largest section of the book follows–an alphabetical listing of the 28 genera of Bromeliads, including 315 species described individually. Finally, he covers cultivation and propagation.

He saves the bad news for the end with a six-page section on pests and diseases (only six pages because these are pretty tough plants.) In this section, he answers an important question, in light of the current concern with West Nile virus. Tank-type bromeliads have few or no roots that function to absorb water. They absorb water in “tanks” formed by the leaves. Some people refuse to grow these bromeliads because they think that mosquitoes will breed in them. Steens explains why he thinks this is not a problem.    

Steens gardens and writes in New Zealand. All measurements are metric, but he thoughtfully includes conversion charts for inches, feet, and Fahrenheit. Several other nice touches are a chart listing bromeliads by cold hardiness, one that defines light requirements by leaf type, and a listing of Bromeliad Society websites.

The only negative criticism I have is that the index covers plant names only, which limits its usefulness. This is a small problem with an otherwise excellent book.

Bromeliads for the Contemporary Garden is hardbound, 198 pages with 290 color photos and four tables.

 

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The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

41e4bL9dezL._SX292_BO1,204,203,200_The Botany of Desire:

A Plant’s-eye View of the World

by

Michael Pollan

 

Reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

We probably all have that list of books that we ought to have read, and planned to read, and just never quite got around to. The Botany of Desire is one of those books for me. It was published in 2001. It was a national best seller and a New York Times Notable Book, so I knew I should read it sometime. Well, that time is now. I may be one of the last three people in the Horticultural Society to read it, but for you other two, here’s my review.

It’s hard to know what to say about a book that has had so many rave reviews. The edition I read had three pages of excerpts from reviews, and I have to agree with all of them. This is a wonderful book. Pollan has a marvelous mind and an ability to synthesize information from many different fields to give us a new way of looking at something we thought we knew all about.

You may say that this book is erudite, as several of the reviewers do. It includes an index and a list of sources for further reading and even a few footnotes. But, I think, as easily as it would be possible to imagine Pollan standing in front of a classroom giving these chapters as lectures, it would also be possible to imagine sitting with him in the evening in your garden, sipping a glass of wine, and carrying on a conversation on this same topic. In so many places, I felt like saying, “Oh, yes, you’re right. I’ve seen that. I just never understood its significance.”

Besides his interesting ideas, Pollen’s writing style carried me along, making me want more. I especially enjoyed his telling of the story of Johnny Appleseed. I grew up with the cartoonish version of Johnny as a loveable crazy. Well, I certainly had a few things to learn, and Pollen taught me. It’s a fascinating story.

Pollan’s main idea in this book is that we think of ourselves as domesticating plants. We see ourselves as the actors and the plants as acted upon. He thinks that, in fact, domesticated plants act on us as much as we act on them. The plants have the ability to conform to our desires in order to use us to further their ends: the dispersal of their seeds and the increase in their numbers.

For example, he writes of the tulip:

. . . human desire entered into the natural history of the flower, and the flower

did what it has always done: made itself still more beautiful in the eyes of this

animal. . . . We in turn did our part, multiplying the flowers beyond reason,

moving their seeds around the planet . . . For the flower it was the same old story,

another grand co-evolutionary bargain [like that with the bees] with a willing,

slightly credulous animal.

The other examples he uses, besides the tulip, include the apple, marijuana, and the potato. He sees these plants as satisfying our desires for beauty, sweetness, intoxication, and control, respectively. In satisfying our desires, those plants have found a way to satisfy their own needs.

I highly recommend this book. I know that it’s one of the books I will keep to read again and again.

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Botany for Gardeners By Brian Capon

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Botany for Gardeners:

An Introduction and Guide

By

Brian Capon

 

reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

If you have ever wondered why the plants in your garden do what they do, Botany for Gardeners is a book I can recommend highly. It isn’t the kind of book you would curl up with to read for entertainment. It isn’t the kind of book you are going to love or hate. It’s a tool for gardeners. It’s the kind of book you will find more useful or less useful.

Capon is a retired college professor. The book reads just like what it is—a textbook—but a very good one. Capon jumps right into teaching mode with the first word of the introduction. Every sentence is packed with information. For example, he writes,

“Geographic isolation, favoring speciation, is also believed to take place when

cataclysmic geologic events split plant groups into small populations; and when, by

chance, a few seeds or spores cross mountains or large bodies of water, borne by

migrating animals, high altitude winds or ocean currents.” (page 77)

His style is straightforward, but dense.

Capon organizes the book in five sections, each having a prologue and two chapters.

Chapters include Cells and Seeds; Roots and Shoots; Inside Stems; Inside Roots and Leaves; Adaptations for Protection; Adaptation to Fulfill Basic Needs; Control of Growth and Development; The Uptake and Use of Water, Minerals and Light; From Flowers to Fruit; and Strategies of Inheritance. The chapter titles make it sound like fairly dry reading.  It is, and somewhat technical. However, I think anyone who remembers a little bit of high school biology and chemistry will feel comfortable with even the more technical parts.

The 220-page book includes 121 color photos and 53 black and white illustrations. Many of the illustrations come in pairs: first, a photo example of what is being written about and, next to the photo, a line drawing of the photo with all the relevant parts or functions labeled. These are well done, evidently by the multi-talented author, since no other credits are given.

One of the most useful parts of the book is a 16-page glossary-index. Key words are defined with all text locations listed. I haven’t seen this combination in a book before. It is extremely useful in a technical book of this nature.

 

 

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The Book of Pressed Flowers by Penny Black

51Y00kVvTvL._SX371_BO1,204,203,200_The Book of Pressed Flowers:

A Complete Guide to Pressing, Drying and Arranging

by Penny Black

 

Reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

 

For some reason, although I’ve never been interested in any other crafts, I’ve always wanted to quilt. Several years ago, I took a class, and it turned out to be as much fun as I thought it would. Since that time, I’ve become aware of other crafts. I’ve written five previous reviews on books about garden crafts: drawing and painting, making leaf prints, and making stacked stone statues. Pressing flowers looks like another endeavor that would be a whole lot of fun.

If you want to try it, I don’t think you could find a better book to guide you than The Book of Pressed Flowers by Penny Black. It’s out of print but available at reasonable prices on the Internet. (It was originally published at $19.95. For some reason, it’s now sold on the Internet anywhere from one cent to twenty-five dollars. No, I don’t understand the system either.)

I think the reason I find this book so appealing is that many of the collages Black has made with her pressed flowers look much like quilts to me, both traditional quilts and art quilts.

Black lives or lived in England where she learned to garden at an early age. She started making and selling flower sachets and then widened her ambitions. She ultimately published a series of five books: this one in 1988, The Book of Potpourri in 1989, The Scented House in 1991, Passion for Flowers in 1992, and The Book of Cards and Collages in 1993. After that, she evidently moved on to other projects.

I pressed flowers when I was a child. We used to flatten them between sections of newspaper and weigh them down with the dictionary, the biggest, heaviest book we had. But that was only one flower at a time, and I don’t remember that we ever did anything with them.

Black takes us the next step and shows us some of the possibilities. She doesn’t limit us to flowers. We can also use leaves, ferns, seaweed, mosses, lichens, fungi, seedheads, bark, and even fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.

She leads us through the techniques, gives us a quick sketch of the artistic decisions we will have to make regarding color, texture, and composition, and provides us with examples of what we can create.

As a bonus, she gives us short paragraphs on making potpourri, dying fabric with plant dyes, and renovating picture frames for all those collages you’re going to make.

The book has one or more photographs, by Geoff Dann, on almost every page. They’re so colorful and interesting; I’d recommend this book to you on that basis alone. The Book of Pressed Flowers is hardbound, 120 pages long, and includes a useful index.

 

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Begonias: Cultivation, Identification, and Natural History by Mark C. Tebbitt

51A0FGm3eaL._SX394_BO1,204,203,200_Begonias: Cultivation, Identification, and Natural History

by Mark C. Tebbitt

and

51tNmh8OUqL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_The Jade Garden: New & notable plants from Asia

by Peter Wharton, Brent Hine, and Douglas Justice

 

 

 

Reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

Regular readers of this column may notice that we review a lot of books from Timber Press.  It’s no secret that they send us free copies for review. Lately, I’ve received two books from them. They’re similar in design, content, and purpose, so I’ll put them together in one review.

What these books have in common is that they are useful books for people with special interests, but they will probably be of less interest to the general reader.

The first book is Begonias: Cultivation, Identification, and Natural History by Mark C. Tebbitt. I read, with interest, that Dr. Tebbitt holds a PhD in begonia taxonomy. Talk about specialization. He may be the only person in the world who could have written this book.

His writing style is easy to read and interesting, but unless you have a strong interest in begonias, it may not be your cup of tea (and yes, they do make begonia tea). The author has the particular goal of filling a gap he sees in begonia literature.  He has a short introductory section on the history and cultivation needs of begonias, but his main interest is in identification. One hundred ninety pages of the book are in a chapter titled “Descriptions of 100 cultivated begonias.” Each description also has a section on the history of that particular species and its garden or hothouse requirements.

Begonias has five useful appendices including: “Begonias recommended for beginners” and “Begonias recommended for terrariums.” It also has a first-rate, six-page illustrated glossary of the technical terms used in the text. It is 360 pages, with 212 color photos and 106 line drawings.

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        The Jade Garden: New & notable plants from Asia by Peter Wharton, Brent Hine, and Douglas Justice is a similar book. Information from the publisher states that it includes descriptions of 150 little-known ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials. This book is 228 pages with 218 color photos.

It has a different focus from the begonia book in the preliminary text. These three authors write individual essays about the geography of the areas where the plants were found (primarily China) and about the history of plant collecting in Asia. They include a series of short biographies of the most noted collectors of Asian plants.

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Along with free books, I get a lot of free advertisements from Timber Press—surprise, surprise. They’ve sent me several ads lately for books that sound interesting, including: Fragrant Orchids: A Guide to Selecting, Growing, and Enjoying by Steve A. Frowine; Growing Hardy Orchids, by John Tullock, and Poisonous Plants, Second Edition: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians by Dietrich Frohne and Hans Jürgen Pfänder. This last book promises “special attention to North America.” I haven’t seen these three books, but you might want to check them out.

Caroline McCullagh’s Book Reviews come from recent issues of Let’s Talk Plants from the San Diego Horticultural Society at sdhort.org and Page Turners from the American Mensa Bulletin available at americanmensa.org.  Reviews appear every 4 days on carolinemccullagh.com

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Review of Bizarre Botanicals by Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross

61vAA-B8KXL._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_Bizarre Botanicals:

How to Grow String-of Hearts, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Panda Ginger, and Other Weird and Wonderful Plants

Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross

 

Reviewed by Caroline McCullagh

 

 

I just happened to drop by a bookstore, and I just happened to be walking down the aisle by the garden books, when a book called my name. Really. Truly. That’s the way it happened. I wouldn’t have bought this book otherwise. Would I lie to you?

This book is just plain fun. Part of the fun is that some of the plants the authors mention, we already have in our gardens—mother ferns, staghorns, Dutchman’s pipe, passion flowers, and others—so we get to feel a little superior that someone would think what we have in our gardens is worth writing about.

But then there are the other plants, plants I would never have imagined. Have you ever heard of the blue oil fern (Microsorum thailandicum)? Neither had I. Its strappy (not ferny) leaves are a rich iridescent cobalt blue. Looking at the photo, all I can say is “Wow!”

What about clubmoss (Lycopodium)? Do you remember seeing photos of old-time photographers who held up a tray of flash powder to illuminate the scene they were photographing? That flash powder was made up of the explosive spores of Lycopodium.

How about the black bat plant (Tacca chantrieri)? It puts out clusters of shiny black fruit that looks very much like sleeping bats.

Many of the plants are bizarre in their looks; some are in their behavior. For example, spear sansevieria (Sansevieria cylindrica). Its erect cylindrical leaves look more like stems, but the stems actually grow underground as rhizomes.

Have I tempted you yet? There’s a lot more where that came from. This book will not disappoint you.

The authors have a breezy, accessible style that adds to the pleasure of the book, and we can even forgive their occasional puns. And this is a practical book. Besides the 114 knock-your-socks-off color photos, they give you growing characteristics and tips on light required, hardiness, moisture required, and growing medium. They also rate each plant on a scale of one-to-three on how difficult it is to grow. They’re gardening in North Carolina, however, so some plants that are difficult for them grow easily for us.

Bizarre Botanicals is published by Timber Press. I haven’t looked at their catalog in a while, but I will, to see what other treasures I can find for you. The book is hardbound and 283 pages. It covers 78 plants, and includes a hardiness zone chart, bibliography, and index. I went on line to see what others are saying about it. One reader gave it a low rating. He bought it to learn how to grow tillandsias, and this book had nary a one. He warned you against buying it, proof positive that there are as many weird people in the world as there are plants. I recommend it to you. You’ll enjoy it.

 

Caroline McCullagh’s Book Reviews come from recent issues of Let’s Talk Plants from the San Diego Horticultural Society at sdhort.org and Page Turners from the American Mensa Bulletin available at americanmensa.org.  Reviews appear every 4 days on carolinemccullagh.com

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Recent Reviews of The Ivory Caribou

on July 19, 2016
Carolyn McCullagh has written an informative book dealing with Inuit culture and wartime espionage. She has done this in a way that makes reading sheer pleasure. I highly recommend this novel. Evelyn Smith
on July 11, 2016
This is a fascinating story of a woman coming out of a personal shell of widowhood. In doing so, she solves a mystery and bridges two cultures. She travels to the Arctic to ferret out the genealogy of her late husband only to find a new life. The mystery of her late father-in-law’s strange WWI experiences is supplanted by the uncertainty of her relationship with a half Inuit man who lives in two worlds. That uncertainty creates tensions during an Arctic educational adventure. Leave it to a polar bear to break the ice! Caroline McCullagh’s deft storytelling teaches us much about a culture of which most of us are unaware. You will love this book.
on July 11, 2016
I enjoyed this book because of the interesting characters and the plots. It was educational about Inuit culture as well as World War II. Hard to figure how these two are tied together but they were. And LOVE of course! I can’t wait to read the next one. I want to see how these characters develop.
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Page Turners – October, 2015

 

I’ve had some questions from authors about my process. A new book submission form will be available on line soon. At any given time, I have 40 to 50 books (44 this month) waiting for review, so some will get reviews, some will get mentions. I hope to at least mention every book I receive at some point. As long as I have that much of a backlog, though, I will only consider books written or edited by Mensans (that is, the name of the Mensan appears on the front cover).

I don’t read on screen, I don’t print books, and I don’t order them on line. You’ll have to send me an actual copy, not just a reference. Several authors have sent me printed copies of their original manuscripts. That’s okay, if the book has been published and you just don’t happen to have a copy available.

I write my reviews six weeks in advance of publication, so at the very best, it will be two months before you might see something in the column. Hope for the best and I will too.

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41UiXI2e-GL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_About one third of the books I receive are fiction. A novel that stood out this month is Left Field by Elizabeth Sims. It’s the fifth in a series of books about Lillian Byrd, an amateur detective. Probably the first thing you’ll need to know about Lillian is that she’s a lesbian, as are many of the characters in the book. These women are long past dealing with the problems of coming out of the closet though, so there’s little time spent on that issue. It’s just a murder mystery.

That being said, there are some love scenes that border on being a little more graphic than I care for, but “everyone to his own taste, said the old lady as she kissed the cow.” They’re not what the book was about, though.

Lillian freelances, taking on projects that appeal to her. While she’s on the roof of an employer’s house, she spots a body in the next yard. The victim, Abby, turns out to be a friend of a friend and a player on an amateur softball team. Lillian is soon up to her eyebrows in softball and clues. As with many good mysteries, you may think you know what’s going on, but you’ll be surprised over and over. I like a lot of the characters in this book besides Lillian, especially Lou. She’s a city animal control officer and so much more. And speaking of the city, it’s Detroit, and it’s as much a character in this book as the assorted people.

I enjoyed this enough to look for the other four in the series. Sims has written a second series of books, The Rita Farmer Mysteries, and a book on writing that I’ll review in coming months. Her website is www.elizabethsims.com.

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512szEClPfL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_           We all have our guilty pleasures, and mine this month is “Saltiest Sailor” & Other Sketches: More Memories and Musings from a Life of Adventure by Corwin A. Bell. His first book was Sea Story. This is Bell’s second book of short essays, 37 in all, many of them autobiographical and most previously published in the San Diego Mensan. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you I have lunch with him once a week at a Mensa gathering.

Al is definitely not one to hide his light under a bushel. He has strong opinions about practically everything. He’ll tell you that human evolution may actually be human devolution, and that we really ought to invade Canada for our own good and theirs. You’ll also hear how proselytizers fared in trying to save his atheist soul. You won’t necessarily agree with much of what he writes—he is, by his own account, somewhat of a curmudgeon—but it is entertaining. As Al says, if you don’t agree with what he says, you can always write your own book, but you can’t do that until you read this one.

* * *

 

41vJgQ7HZuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Only Read the Fine Print: And Other Things I Hope My Children Learn Sooner Than I Did by Thomas Briggs is a useful book. It’s the kind of book that as I read, I found myself saying over and over, “Oh, yes, that’s true.” It’s comprehensible, I think, by someone as young as an intelligent middle-schooler, and as he or she gains life experience, it will become even more meaningful.

Only 87 pages, it’s packed with ideas that support Briggs’s three basic premises: The point of life is to be happy; live in the present; and have no regrets. After Briggs establishes those three basic ideas, he follows up with chapters re. thoughts on excellence, money, practical advice, perspectives on reality, and words of wisdom. He closes the book with a list of suggested further reading.

My overall take on this book is that it’s a valuable guide for dealing with reality. These really are lessons we all wish we had learned earlier. I liked the book enough that I think I’ll buy copies for my grandchildren.

* * *

 

411EmPTXHSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_            So here’s my bias. Even though I use computers many hours a day, I’m old enough that I still think that teaching should be done by live human beings. Even that can be deadly dull. I had one memorable professor who did nothing but read from his text book, which we all had to buy, for 50 minutes three times a week.

This book, Lecture is not Dead: Ten Tips for Delivering Dynamic Lectures in the College Classroom by Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti is written for those teachers who want to upgrade their skills a little. Another short book, actually a booklet of 24 pages, it lists the ten commandments of dynamic lecturing. Without banning all multimedia from the classroom, Lorenzetti reminds teachers of the basic steps in leading students to a new understanding of the material of the course. It might be summarized as: tell ‘em what you’re going to tell them, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you told them, but there are a lot more subtleties than that. A useful book.

* * *

 

 

517AJOdRVzL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ is another useful book if you’re in that situation. So often we hear stories of children who have been thrust into the middle of a war between the parents. The old truism is that the parents are divorcing each other, not the children, but it’s often forgotten and children get the fallout.

Patrick Kennedy is the former chapter President of the Children’s Rights Council for Orange County and Long Beach. The CRC is an organization working to optimize co-parenting. He speaks with authority on the many problems that can arise and on possible solutions that benefit the child and ultimately the parents. His writing is clear, concise, and practical.

* * *

 

 

 

 

61WESXy9ZYL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_            Since I’m writing about useful books, I have one more for you: Read Better! For Adults and Teens written by Linda Schrock Taylor and edited by Connie Geiger Norwood. Taylor writes that this book is intended for adults and teens “struggling to learn English at levels of greater skill.” The first third of the book covers the technical aspects of reading, including phonemes, phonics, phonograms, and six types of syllables. The remaining two thirds includes short practice stories and questions testing comprehension of what was just read.

The back of the book tells us that Taylor and Norwood together have more than 80 years of teaching experience at all levels from preschool through college. They want to make reading English “easier and more rewarding.” This is a good book to consider if that’s your goal.

* * *

 

 

And here are some books I won’t get a chance to review. Thanks to the authors of the following novels. The Slave Laborer by Albert W. Hanne, the story of a World War II American pilot shot down over Germany who survives by masquerading as a Polish slave laborer. Whisper Hollow by Chris Cander follows the romantic lives and misadventures of two immigrant women in early 20th century West Virginia coal country. The Journals of Thomas P. Cross by John D. Schutt is about what happens to a man when he assumes another man’s identity. Waiting for the Red Cow by Gerard Brooker is the third of a trilogy about Tyszka and Sarah, who meet at Auschwitz and live to participate in the establishment of Israel.

Nonfiction books I won’t get a chance to review are Counterintuitive Analysis by Stephen J. Schrader; Toward Utopia: Feminist Dystopian Writing and Religious Fundamentalism by Naomi R Mercer; The Vedanta Sutras: the Mafia Version by Andrew A. Kenny, a follow up to his previous book Chicago’s Gods; and two books by Sarah Condor Fisher, My America and Diet and Nutrition with a Special Focus on Swimming and Bodybuilding.

To follow up, you can read more about these books on line.

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Wuzzle Pizzard – Review of The Ivory Caribou

on July 1, 2016
The Ivory Caribou is a chilling tail because it takes its heroine, Anne, from the balmy climes of San Diego and throws her rather unceremoniously into the frigid arctic wilderness. Fortunately for Anne, and for us as readers, the adventure and romance of this story warms her in heart and body and us in spirit. This story is also a fascinating account of loss, transformation, redemption, and recovery. The plot is driven by two quests into the past, one to find the history of a mysterious lost relative, and the other to recover the unrecorded history of the First Nations people who live in the isolated Canadian community where these two story arcs intersect. In the telling of this story, the author demonstrates her extensive knowledge of the Inuit culture, the science and the practice of anthropology and archaeology used to study that culture, and the esoterica surrounding the rather unique circumstances Anne discovers from the life of her lost relative. I highly recommend this book to readers who love to learn about lives from different times and cultures while they are also entertained by a good story well told.