March 2017 Prime Picks
Novels and Mysteries
This Is How It Always Is
This Is How It Always Is opens with a new baby boy in a family that already holds four sons. However: Claude is different. He wants to wear dresses, he wants to bring a purse to kindergarten, and he wants to be a girl. His parents try to support him, but they are continually challenged both within themselves and by society.
As the journey continues and Claude/Poppy contemplates a permanent change, his family embarks on a journey that will bring them to Thailand, introduce them to an odd medical community and another culture, and will force them to think about how far they will go to keep their child safe, happy, and fulfilled.
This Is How It Always Is documents a powerful journey from the perspective of parents who face the fact that their child is different. It's about family ties and secrets, support systems, and journeys made by parents in the process of raising kids; but most of all, it's about the evolution of love. Novel readers who appreciate stories of family struggles and evolution will relish the vivid attention to psychology and detail in This Is How It Always Is.
Five new releases from Highbridge Audio provide leisure listeners with a combination of sturdy cases, unabridged productions, and exceptional readers who bring these productions to life.
Thomas Perry's The Old Man (9781681683874, $39.99) is narrated by Peter Berkrot, who brings to life the vivid story of a retiree with more than a few odd secrets and habits, from savings stockpiled in banks around the country to a history of being on the lam.
Dan Chase is thirty years past his work in army intelligence, but its consequences continue to haunt him, and the choices he once made still affects his life. He'd thought himself safe, at last, in remote Vermont with his dogs and quiet life; but it turns out that nothing is safe. When his past catches up with him, he faces not only new obstacles but choices that may not prove any better, long-term, than his old ones.
A vivid story of intrigue evolves which comes alive under Peter Berkrot's voice.
Sylvain Reynard's The Roman (9781681684536, $34.99) is read by Robertson Dean, who lends a smooth and involving voice to this story of Raven and her sister Cara, victims of a group of vampires who are sending them to Rome as a peace offering. Raven is determined to save her sister, while William faces off the Roman (a vampire king of Italy) with greater plans in mind.
It's unusual to have a romance and a horror story replete with history interwoven into the mix, but these stories of vampires, Italians, love on the cusp of change, and deadly enemies makes for an involving listen.
Prior familiarity with the setting and characters of The Raven will lend a quicker appreciation to this saga, but newcomers will find it both accessible and compelling.
Amy Poeppel's Small Admissions (9781681683751, $39.99) receives a strong reading by Carly Robins, who brings to life the story of Kate, who was on the fast track to success in grad school before a spoiled romance ended many of her dreams, leaving her depressed and idle.
Nothing her friends or her sister say can affect her until she takes a job in the admissions department of a prestigious school and finds herself slowly becoming engaged in life again.
The efforts and secrets of friends and family and the surprising attention of someone closer to her creates a subtle blend of romance and life-changing experiences that comes alive in audio.
Richard Fortey's The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature (9781681683935, $34.99) comes from a paleontologist at a London Museum and a college professor who purchased four acres of woods in England and who reflects on what he discovered on his property.
Narrator Michael Page enlivens Fortey's observations in a treatise arranged by one chapter for each month and which provides a series of nature insights on par with Walden Pond and other nature-oriented, reflective pieces.
Under Fortey's hand, nature serves as a journey through time, with his own property's wildness the focal point for observations about past and present - words that come to special life in this audio piece.
Ari Herstand's How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician (9781681683348, $39.99) is from an L.A.-based singer/songwriter whose long-time involvement in the music world and his popular music business advice blog have both made his name a staple in a wide range of musical circles and genres.
Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, and Ari Herstand here co-narrate this survey of the music industry's business processes, creating an audio instructional which serves up a basic set of insights on everything from how to tour and get paid for Pandora plays to licensing music and gaining a unique following.
The focus on today's much-changed music environments and how independent musicians can make the most of them shines in an invaluable audio listen no modern musician should be without.
Sakkijajuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut
Goose Lane Editions
Sakkijajuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut belongs in arts holdings and any collection strong in Inuit history and culture, and explores the nature-oriented works produced by Labrador Inuit artists who have long been excluded from Canadian art circles.
This book accompanies an exhibition by the same name and gathers the works of generations of artists past and present, pairing artistic creations in various mediums, from drawings to paintings and sculptures, and juxtaposing modern works alongside traditional hand-crafted works, including the historical and artistic insights that give background information on process, culture and history.
This volume accompanies the first national touring exhibition of Inuit art from Nunatsiavut, but requires no familiarity with or access to the exhibition itself to prove a solid, stand-alone volume accessible by any with an interest in Native works from public and private collections and emerging artists as well as traditional craftspeople.
The oversized color art displays are striking and contribute to a highly recommended, unique standout that is a 'must have' reference for any collection serious about representing the extent of Northern Native artists and their history.
Frank on the
University of Oklahoma Press
Frank on the Prairie is a small book illustrated by Charles M. Russell, the famous early 1900s American artist; but it's not the usual retrospective volume gathering his work. It's a copy of a boy's adventure story which he chose to add illustrations to, and it's a facsimile edition of that rare copy which introducdes a relatively obscure Russell effort to new audiences.
The author of Frank on the Prairie was one of Russell's favorite writers, and the watercolors Russell produced especially for this book were inspired by the story and are reproduced here in detail. Some are color works and some are black and white drawings.
The result could have been featured in our children's section, but is included here because no Russell fan will want to miss this unique and long-unavailable departure from traditional compilations of his art.
Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook
Justin Wilson's Cajun heritage lead to his fame as a storyteller and comedian as he explored Cajun culture for years via TV shows that introduced newcomers to this culture to Southern Louisiana life; but perhaps his biggest legacy in this area lies in his cooking show, which garnered an even wider audience than his comedy albums.
He starred in three such TV shows and even though he passed away well over a decade ago, his influence continues to be present, reflected in an American culture now fairly well versed in Cajun affairs and cuisine.
This final retrospective includes his insights about the dishes he created, the culture of his people, and Louisiana and Cajun history. Because it pairs recipes with a liberal dash of humor, it reflects the extent of his life much more than other Wilson cookbook collections already on the market.
Vintage photos of the Cajun cook and lively quotes from his reminiscences in his own dialect accompany recipes packed with simplicity and flavor: the signature hallmarks of his culinary achievements.
From Peach Brandy Chicken and Squirrel Stew to Baked Red Snapper and Crawfish Casserole, flavors represent the influence and spice of Cajun culture; and while some depend on access to game either wild or Louisiana-specific (rabbit, goose, garfish or duck, or example), most of the dishes can be easily made by any general cook.
Given its well-rounded attention to Wilson's life, humor, culinary lore and Cajun history, if there were only one book chosen for a collection determined to celebrate Justin Wilson, it should be Justin Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook, hands down.
Argyle Fox wants to play outside on a spring day, but the wind is ruining his fun time, and is tearing apart every game he can come up with. Suddenly the good weather doesn't seem quite so inviting; but Mama Fox tells him he just isn't being creative enough about what he can accomplish on a bad-weather day.
This wise mother predicted disasters from the wind - but can she direct her creative son to find something windproof to enjoy outdoors?
colorful drawings throughout enhance a winning story of creative play
attract picture book readers ages 4-7.
Two fine picture book stories stand out from the crowd as recommended picks for young readers who look for creative stories.
Alastair Heim's No Tooting At Tea (9780544774742, $16.99) is illustrated by Sara Not and is the fun, gentle story of a formal tea party gone awry by too much tooting at the table.
Manners are important - but so is confessing to the truth, as various potential tooters are identified before their involvement in the tooting episodes are discarded.
The determined hostess keeps finding her etiquette explanations interrupted by the rude tooter. How can she identify the culprit? Though logic ... and that's what will delight young readers in this winding, different story.
Victoria Turnbull's Pandora (9780544947337, $16.99) tells of Pandora, who lives alone in a handsome home that nobody ever sees.
She has no visitors and no enjoyment in her world until a bird with a broken wing lands in her home and needs her help. As Pandora helps the little bird, she reaps the benefits of friendship until it heals enough to fly away, leaving her lonely once more.
Gorgeous, exceptional full-page illustrations make this gentle story a lovely experience for read-aloud or personal pursuit, while parents will find its message about giving and friendship to be appealing and warm.
Beautiful Is Not Ruined
Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined features Ingrid, who once traveled across Europe with her opera star mother but now finds herself at a summer wilderness survival camp for at-risk teens, fighting to survive mental and physical handicaps.
Once she led a glamorous life; but when her mother's opera career ended, the world shrunk to a dull, normal life. How can Ingrid adjust - and will she ever experience the limelight and glamour in life again?
A moving story of a girl's vast changes and challenges comes alive in chapters that consider how lifestyle changes and transitions take place and, most of all, how one adjusts from a life of high drama and adventure to a quieter world that holds its own special meanings and appeal.
These three new books from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are recommended picks for a wide audience, each providing picture book readers with inviting stories and diverse adventures.
Anna Walker's Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure (9780544928190, $6.99) tells of a chicken carried by the wind from her suburban home to the big city, where she must adjust to a very different environment.
Peggy is used to a set routine and a quiet world, but the city challenges her in many ways, turning her routines upside down and injecting hustle and bustle into her life.
Can she find her way back home - and what will she bring with her, from all her new experiences, if she ever returns?
A gentle story of new discoveries is cemented by the character of a feisty chicken who quickly adapts to almost anything.
Eve Bunting and Jan Brett's The Mother's Day Mice (9780544880337, $8.99) features three mice siblings who all want to surprise Mother with gifts on Mother's Day.
As they enter a dangerous world in search of the perfect surprise, they hold tails to keep together, confront the thought of snakes, and owls and cats, and eventually find the perfect gift which demands that they work together to bring it home safely.
Good reading skills will lend to this warm, inviting story which is highly recommended for young picture book readers past the introductory stages of reading, or for parental read-aloud.
Round by Joyce Sidman (9780544387614, $17.99) is a nature-oriented discussion of the different appearances of round shapes and hidden round things in the world.
Dung beetles, the curve of oranges, eggs, and even water are surveyed as the young protagonist explores her world and notices that 'round' definitions expand past the obvious and move into more surreal surroundings.
Taeeun Yoo's drawings are fun illustrations of this process.
You in the Cosmos
Eleven-year-old Alex wants to send his iPod into space to show aliens what life on Earth is really like; but this is only one aspect of his world and challenges, explored in See You in the Cosmos.
Alex isn't just on a quest to give information; he's interested in finding answers about his purpose in life, the possibility of life on another planet, and more. His drive to discover sends him away from home to get some answers during a road trip with his dog in a warm, different story of alienation, self-discovery, and surprising possibilities, highly recommended for teen readers looking for a different kind of self-realization story.
Was the Age of the Dinosaurs?
Grosset & Dunalp/Penguin
What Was the Age of the Dinosaurs? presents a fun chapter book read that packs black and white drawings into a survey of the age of dinosaurs and facts surrounding them, and holds some surprises not seen in more colorful dinosaur picture books.
Advanced elementary to middle grade readers will find visual and verbal answers to such questions as how big a dinosaur was compared to modern buildings, why particular groups of dinosaurs enjoyed long reigns, and what wiped them out.
While younger readers used to colorful picture re-creations might miss this facet, older readers past the need for color will find the lively discussion perfect for learning (or re-learning) dinosaur facts.
in the Streets
St. Martin's Press
Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia is a timely release that should be considered by anyone concerned about Russia's place in the modern world, and creates an unusual blend of memoir, travelogue, and social consideration of Russia over the last twenty years.
Lisa Dickey's survey stems from her travels cross Russia three times over the past twenty years, in 1995, 2005 and 2015, interviewing the same people in eleven different cities to provide a timeline of how daily life has changed for each of them.
This approach generates an involving study in evolving attitudes, politics, and social situations, answering some questions about Russians while raising new ones about their changing lives and times.
Any American who would better understand the evolution of Russia will find Bears in the Streets not just timely, but revealing the human element of Russian life outside of the political focus and popular misconceptions about the nation and its peoples.
a Literacy Leader, 2nd Edition
The first edition of Jennifer Allen's Becoming a Literacy Leader detailed how she moved to a new school and accepted a new position as a 'literacy specialist', but this updated second edition actually adds new information and continues her journey as it follows her growth in the position and the lessons she learned from this process.
Educators looking for materials that blend professional autobiography with specific details on how a literacy leader operates and special challenges involved in the job will find this a fine road map to success which uses three basic ideas about how her job operates to impart insights into building a school community and helping teachers develop professionally.
Chapters will appeal to literacy leaders and coaches, who can use them as a framework for learning how to support curriculum, how to intervene to help frustrated young learners, and how to understand the different needs of new and veteran teachers to tailor the right kind of support to each group.
Education collections will find this a powerful, 'must have' acquisition.
Book of Hygge
Louisa Thomsen Brits
The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection is a curious book that crosses genres in its unusual focus on a Danish word that translates to feeling safe, warm, comforted, and connected in the world, and will appeal to audiences ranging from new age readers and psychology and self-help enthusiasts to those who want a light philosophical reflection on the nature of interpersonal connections.
Chapters pair black and white images with quotes and discussions supporting the idea of 'hygge', discussing the concept's sensory and psychological aspects and the methods whereby these can be encouraged in home and life.
The result is a thought-provoking book that may appear diminutive in size and structure, but which packs in much food for thought, recommended for both general-interest audiences in general and self-help readers.
Goose Lane Editions
Canadian Pacific: The Golden Age of Travel is a 'must' for any transportation buff as well as those with a special appreciation for the Canadian Pacific world of yesteryear, and appears in an oversized edition which juxtaposes travel ads, brochures, and paintings with black and white vintage images of travel around the world.
From full-page colorful ads advocating "luxurious fast mail steamers to Canada" to vintage photos of Lake Louise which accompany discussions of hotel and facility expansions along the train's route, sepia images of a period in which the Canadian Pacific offered services to a blossoming crowd of city immigrants, and intriguing discussions of its worldwide reach, this survey documents how the company influenced the development of not just Canada as a whole, but many other areas of the world.
It promoted travel experiences by constructing castle-like hotels and attractions, it constructed the transcontinential railway, and it promoted a shipping line that linked Canada to the rest of the world.
Anyone who may have thought the Canada Pacific just involved trains will be delighted to have this visual history, which is packed with evidence that the company held a far wider impact than many readers would realize.
It's very highly recommended for its depth of detail and history as well as its attention to colorful and vintage images throughout.
Through the Turn
Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance comes from the CEO of Dentsu Aegis Public Relations Network and outlines some of her many successful approaches to public relations in particular and business and life in general.
Through her efforts, her company Mitchell grew from scratch into one of the top ten fastest-growing firms in the nation, charting some 500% in five years. It was sold in 2012 to the network she is a part of today.
This book pairs personal experiences with business and life lessons and charts an attitude about modern leadership and women's journeys that no aspiring female should be without.
Unlike many other books about leadership, business, or women's achievements, Elise Mitchell employs an intensely personal tone as she reveals her own life journey and uses a metaphorical road trip across life to pinpoint places where success and achievement and lessons intersect.
From goals and values surrounding diversity, the distribution of wealth, and sharing ideas with the business community to establishing value and worth in life itself, Leading Through the Turn offers a series of powerful messages well grounded in personal experiences and the author's proven success record, and is a source of inspiration for any woman who would reach for the stars.
and Roll in the Rocket City
Sergei I. Zhuk
Johns Hopkins University Press
Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, And Ideology in Soviet Dniepropetrovsk, 1960-1985 follows the impact of rock music and Western influence on the youth of a Ukrainian city controlled by the KGB, considering how the youth of that city became immersed in this music despite all efforts to control them.
Author Sergei I. Zhuk is a student and a resident of Dniepropetrovsk and began researching what he already well knew in the 1990s, conducting interviews and blending oral histories with KGB and archival documents to pursue both Soviet repression and the rise of Ukrainian nationalism in the decades that followed.
Relatively few books come with the dual authority of a resident and researcher who lived the times and topic of his focus. This is why Rock and Roll in the Rocket City offers striking insights not to be found elsewhere, with its focus on student perceptions and relationships between West and Soviet cultures in a vivid footnoted survey that considers all facets of social and political transformation.
The result is a highly recommended pick for college-level collections strong in music history in general and Soviet/Western relations and culture in particular.
Three new reference resources are recommended for both college-level audiences and professional reference collections, offering strong introductions to different technologies and engineering challenges.
Paolo Volpato's An Introduction to Packet Microwave Systems and Technologies (9781630813314, $149.00) serves as a basic primer covering the topic of packet microwave systems for engineers new to such systems, and explores different radio and microwave applications, the design of transmission services, and network structures alike.
Chapters discuss models and architecture used in various designs, consider historical perspectives on radio links, use charts, figures, and equations to analyze microwave networks, and contrast the operational and economic advantages of various systems.
The result is a solid guide recommended for any student of packet microwave technology.
David Strong and Victoria Burrows' A Whole-System Approach to High-Performance Green Buildings (9781608079599, $139.00) is a pick for architecture and builder collections; especially those with a solid interest in green building specifications and design approaches. This book surveys sustainable building practices on a global scale, using case studies and examples that contrast both successful and unsuccessful designs.
This approach allows for a wider consideration of systems and their pros and cons, taking design quality to a different level as it discusses intelligent buildings, the benefits of building-integrated vegetation, energy-efficient designs and technologies that reduce demand and replace energy-hogging HVAC systems with more efficient, sustainable ones, and more.
Specifications, sizing, ecological systems, and construction site logistics and special challenges are all part of a comprehensive overview that contractors, builders, and architects with a special interest in 'green' construction will appreciate.
Qiang Duan and Mehmet Toy's Virtualized Software-Defined Networks and Services (9781630811303, $139.00) is a very specific reference recommended for software engineers and collections catering to them, and reviews the Software-Defined Network technologies that include various controllers and protocols.
The extent of these technologies are covered in a book designed for professional pursuit, and is supported by numerous diagrams, charts, and technical information throughout.
From challenges to current SDN design for service provisioning to issues surrounding virtual network survivability in the event of faults and regional failures and how different abstraction layers create multiple independent virtual possibilities, this is a technical and detailed discussion that will provide much reference information, backed by data and statistics and recommended for any software engineer.
Annie Matan & Peter Newman
People Cities: The Life and Legacy of Jan Gehl focuses on the architectural and design legacy of Danish architect Jan Gehl, whose works not only changed traditional concepts of city planning and building design, but altered how urban spaces were developed.
A fitting tribute to Gehl would include plenty of color illustrations, and so this book is packed with images from different periods of his life and works, complimenting structures and text explaining their design and impact with historical documents and timelines of events.
Gehl's influence spans the world - and so does this urban design tribute, reaching from Australia and New York to Danish urban areas with a historical review that documents changing cities and Gehl's role in making them happen.
The result is an outstanding overlay of urban design principles and challenges with a specific focus on Jan Gehl's life and achievements that no urban planning or architecture collection should be without.