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Book Information
Books are a big part of this website. This site centers around California and Photography and we've done a great deal of research on books relating to these topics. We have our own book reviews as well as Amazon book reviews.

Our General Book Reviews

Our Book Review Information The book reviews on this site are unique because they look at things from a California photography perspective.
Trails of the Angeles by John W. Robinson is an outstanding book with a great deal of information on hiking options in Southern California. Having done many of the hikes in the book, I wrote a review on the book.
San Bernardino Mountain Trails is a hiking book which reveals some of the nicer hikes in the San Bernardino Mountains. My review discusses Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Palm Spring and other locations in the book.
The California Coast has some of the most beautiful pictures I've seen. My review of the book tells which pages have some of the nicest photos. It also talks about some of the scenic locations where the photographs were taken.
Still Wild, Always Wild My review of Still Wild, Always Wild discusses the finer points of this desert book.
Shaq Talks Back was written not long after Shaq won his first champtionship with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Murad Method is a good book for people in sunny areas like Southern California. Dr. Murad discusses protecting the skin from sun damage and other potential problems.
David, Goliath and the Giant Beach Cleaning Machine is a touching story about a small California town (Avila Beach) that takes on an oil giant.
Home Improvement 1-2-3 is a great book for homeowners in Southern California. Because real estate is soo expensive in the Los Angeles area, it is useful to know how to make improvements without shelling out big bucks.

Our Gambling Book Reviews

The World's Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance Humble has good advice on playing basic strategy as well as insight as to when the player is favored based on the percentage of tens and face cards that have come out of the deck.
Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong uses a great deal of math to explain how to play the game of blackjack most efficiently.
Winner's Guide to Texas Hold'em Poker by Ken Warren explains the strategy behind Hold'em for low limit players.
Tournament Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky educates the reader on the differences between standard poker and tournament poker. The concept of 'you're broke, you're done' is laid out as well as reasons for passing on risky expected value moves.
Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth is an outstanding book for advanced players. It assumes the reader has a great deal of experience playing Texas Hold'em.
The Theory of Poker This book covers everything from pot odds to expected values to semi bluffing. The value of deception is emphasized when the fundamental theorem of poker is explained.
California Photo Books
This List was compiled after scouring the internet for the best California photo books available.

Los Angeles Map Books Los Angeles is spread out over a vast geographical area. Maps are essential for getting around in this enormous city.

Hollywood Book Reviews The book High Exposure is featured on this page. It tells a part of Hollywood's history from 1920 to 1970.
Bay Area Book Reviews The book Bay Area Wild is featured on this page. The wetlands in the Bay Area are evaluated in detail.
Yosemite Book Reviews Yosemite National Park is reviewed on this page. The book is said to be small and compact enough to take on hikes. Frommers Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks is also featured. It has valuable information on the best campgrounds and views in the Yosemite Valley.
Digital Photography Book Reviews The books Digital Photography Bible and Real World Digital Photography discuss the way digital photography is changing the way we use cameras. Most of the photographs on our website were taken with digital cameras.
Outdoor Photography Book Reviews Galen Rowell's Vision and Techniques of Natural Light Photography discuss the art of outdoor photography techniques.
Southern California Recreation Book Reviews The review of Moon Handbooks: Southern California (1st Ed.) discusses camping, surfing, hiking and biking among other things.

Los Angeles Area Books


cover The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book
ISBN: 0937813060
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book is the joyously affirmative answer to the question "Is there an alternative to the prepackaged bus tour of Tinseltown?" William Gordon's guide delivers all the juicy scandal you've come for, but at your pace, at your discretion, and without crackly speakers blasting in your ear. You want to see former homes of Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, or Elvis Presley, current homes of Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, or Hugh Hefner, and the site of the Charles Manson cult murders? Gordon helps you conduct your own exploration, and supplies invaluable tidbits of information, such as how Jayne Mansfield came to receive $50,000 worth of free merchandise to decorate her Pink Palace. Gordon covers 32 neighborhoods, providing a practical tour guide as well as a fun gift for the star-struck and Hollywood-bound.

ISBN: 0312269366
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Plan on hitting the town on your next trip to Los Angeles? Be sure to take along Rommelmann's Los Angeles Bar and Nightlife Guide, with its more than 150 listings of lounges, pubs, music venues, hotel bars, and seedy dives in and around the City of Angels. Nancy Rommelmann, the nightlife columnist for L.A. Weekly, has been scouring the scene for years, so she knows her stuff. Entries (written in a witty, irreverent tone) are listed in alphabetical order, and while photos would enhance the copy, Rommelmann's detailed descriptions of the décor, the crowd, and the vibe more than gets the job done. Looking for a trendy bar? Try Lola's ("a perennially popular hangout of the fit and fabulous and those who aspire to be"). A place with sea views? Head to the bar at Shutters on the Beach ("the sartorially gifted Westside crowd is mixed with expense-account tourists"). Crave something laid-back? Sip a pint at Molly Malones ("a well-worn local spot with Celtic folksingers"). The bars are also listed according to various categories (gay, karaoke, pickup scenes, places to spot models). If you need help finding the hot spots, you'll find this guide useful. --Jill Fergus

ISBN: 0520202740
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
People complain that Los Angeles is chaos, a massive tangle of freeways and boulevards, gangs, and movie stars. Leonard and Dale Pitt bring organization to the confusion with an encyclopedia that runs from Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem to Zuma County Beach, covering the people, places, events, and icons that make up the city and county of Los Angeles. The famous neighborhoods of Hollywood and Watts are there, as are the lesser-known Winnetka and El Sereno. There are entries on when and where the smog began, how the movie industry was established, which trees are native, and just who the Black Dahlia was. With appendices covering chronology, the 1990 census, and government organizations, Los Angeles A to Z is an exceptionally well-done resource, and a welcome addition to the shelves of any Los Angelaphile, scholar, or visitor who seeks a self-guided tour.


ISBN: 3895082856
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Los Angeles: A Guide to Recent Architecture is one in a series of lovely little guides to many of the world's major cities created by British publisher Ellipsis. The information contained here ranges from brief perspectives on the city's architectural history to tips on which maps are best for visitors and how to navigate the local public transit system. The book considers architecture not as something that happens on isolated building sites, but rather as social, cultural, and political phenomena. At four inches square, this highly portable book is an ideal travel companion.

Some of the other books in the series cover Chicago, Las Vegas, London, New York City, and Tokyo. Each guidebook has its own flavor, as different writers--usually architects--cover each city. --Loren E. Baldwin


ISBN: 1858283442
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
From glamour and glitz to the La Brea tar pits, The Rough Guide Los Angeles takes readers on an informed and well-balanced tour of L.A.'s many personalities. Maps and lists of travel basics help clarify the tangle of freeways and present the diverse cityscape, neighborhood by neighborhood, for easy exploration. Brief cultural and historical essays place contemporary sights in context, introduce famous residents, and take on L.A.'s recent past of riots, gangs, mass-transit problems, and racial tensions. Sections on the rise of Hollywood, on books and films in L.A., and glossaries prove valuable inclusions. Thorough, honest accounts coupled with critical savvy give this guide a smart, streetwise flair. --Byron Ricks


California Books


ISBN: 0810932385
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
When rain finally comes to "the land of little rain," the results are spectacular. Desert washes run thick with water only to become, a few months later, a raging current of wildflowers. But even drought doesn't drain the desert of its stark beauty. In Desert, Jack Dykinga has assembled a stunning collection of photographs that shows the Mojave Desert in all its moods. The images are truly remarkable, particularly those with the warm colors and long shadows of dusk and dawn, when more than half of the 80 photographs were taken. Mountains, rocks, and water are typical winning subjects, but wildflowers are particularly well served by Dykinga, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer with two other books on desert landscapes. That wildflowers should be so prominent is no surprise, since many photographs document the sensational desert bloom that followed the El Niño winter of 1997-1998.

Janice Emily Bowers, a botanist and writer, brings the desert to life with her first-person narrative of kit fox sightings, wandering boulders, and basic desert ecology. She also describes the increasing threats to the more than 100 rare plants and animals in the Mojave. Dykinga's selectivity--not one photograph shows any trace of human activities--is balanced by Bowers's portrait of a desert at risk. They succeed in their mission to make new friends for the desert and renew old ones. This elegant book is really a reminder that the Mojave and Death Valley are worth protecting, saving, and visiting. --Pete Holloran


ISBN: 0881503959
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
The California coast is but one portion of the enormous state of California, but it's no paltry area. Stretching 1,100 miles from Mexico on up to the Oregon border, the California coast is replete with rocky crests and sandy beaches, secluded coves and surfer hangouts, whale-watch points, tide-pools, volleyball arenas, and trendy bars with fancy cocktails and dramatic views. Neuwirth and Osborn know every nook and cranny of the coast, but they also know the wonderful details of history, personalities, wildlife, and local myth. They share a passion for their subject that comes through in their personable yet informative guide. Sure, they tell you where the super-tube swells break, what the entrance fees are, whether dogs are allowed, and where to stay, eat, and recreate while you're there, but they also tell you how and when the rivers formed, where the dolphins herd fish through shallow waters, what trails are best for wildflowers, and which beaches have the friendliest ambiance. And best of all, they provide specific, accurate, reliable directions, so once you've set your sights on Point Reyes Kehoe Beach, you can actually find the trailhead and arrive at your destination before the sun sets on Drakes Bay. In short, whether you're looking for one particular experience or want to sample all there is to be seen, heard, felt, tasted, and smelled, it's worth thumbing through The California Coast before you put your convertible top down and hit Highway 1. --Stephanie Gold


ISBN: 157354065X
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Tom Stienstra exemplifies the meaning of "comprehensive" with his complete guide to more than 400 lakes, rivers, and marinas in California. From Crescent City in the northwest to Yuma in the southeast, Stienstra is there with the skinny on directions, fees, what the boat ramp situation is, who to contact, and whether its charms include swimming, fishing, canoeing, pristine solitude, houseboat heaven, or rambunctious crowd-watching fun. Chapters on California boating law and required equipment are excellent, and the author's chapter of favorites is a timesaving addition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


ISBN: 0898862558
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Tom Stienstra exemplifies the meaning of "comprehensive" with his complete guide to more than 400 lakes, rivers, and marinas in California. From Crescent City in the northwest to Yuma in the southeast, Stienstra is there with the skinny on directions, fees, what the boat ramp situation is, who to contact, and whether its charms include swimming, fishing, canoeing, pristine solitude, houseboat heaven, or rambunctious crowd-watching fun. Chapters on California boating law and required equipment are excellent, and the author's chapter of favorites is a timesaving addition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


ISBN: 1560445785
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Whether you're a practicing balneologist (one who seeks the healing properties of natural hot springs) or just an occasional dipper, this book steers you toward the natural baths from Surprise Valley in Northern California to the Mexico/California border. By the looks of the overview map, there may be more hot springs than casinos in Nevada, with warm waters to suit both your style and desire for adventure. Steamboat Hot Springs, 11 miles south of Reno, provides visiting gamblers with a resort-style respite, in contrast to the primitive Gold Strike Hot Spring, found in a narrow valley near the Colorado River. This spring requires a 4-mile round-trip hike and some boulder scrambling "with substantial drop-offs"; the hot waterfalls and canyon views are reportedly worth the effort. Names such as "Crab Cooker," "Dirty Socks," and "Terminal Geyser," combined with tempting black-and-white photos, make you want to grab a towel and head west.


ISBN: 0792273656
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
If National Geographic is one of your favorites reads, you can now take it along on your next vacation as your own tour guide and navigator. This series of driving guides is "intended both as travel planners and companions; each volume guides you on pre-planned tours over a wide variety of terrain to the best places to see and things to do." The authors are professional regional travel writers who mark their favorite sites with star ratings. The California, Nevada, and Hawaii guide features each area's best travel routes (including directions, mileage listings, and visitor information) and attractions such as towns and cities, historical and cultural sites, and natural areas. National Geographic's famous color photographs enliven every page.


ISBN: 0810926695
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
The vast Sonoran Desert, which stretches from southern Arizona and southeastern California far into Mexico, offers mysteries aplenty to uninitiated travelers and longtime desert rats alike. Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Jack Dykinga has been wandering its lonelier stretches for years, and the images he conjures up in The Sonoran Desert make for a rare and bounteous feast. He has a special fondness for cactus and boojum studded horizons, withered landscapes at high noon, and the arid shores of the Sea of Cortez, and no one has captured the essence of the place quite so well. The text by Charles Bowden, himself a noted desert traveler, is an added attraction to a first-rate collection of photographs.


Photography Books


ISBN: 0735610126
Book review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Dan Gookin explains the latest consumer trend in PCs in Digital Scanning and Photography: specifically, how to choose, buy, configure, and use scanners and digital cameras. The book addresses both Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS, and general information (what resolution is) intermingles with specific instructions (how to resize an image in Adobe PhotoDeluxe). The illustrator of this book deserves great praise. The technical drawings, which showcase such details as where you plug cables into a scanner, are razor sharp and almost photo-realistic. Maybe they're ink-enhanced photographs--it's hard to tell; but, in any case, they're far better than the grainy photos that usually populate books that have a hardware angle.

Gookin, a pioneer of the trend in lighthearted writing (as in DOS for Dummies), communicates lots of facts and well-reasoned opinions without being dull; often, he's downright funny. But sometimes the flip shtick goes a bit too far, as when he remarks that all scanners should come with some kind of software that makes them go: "If you haven't found the scanner software," Gookin writes, "search the scanner box again." Okay; but less obvious advice would be to go to the scanner manufacturer's Web site to see if they have the software available for download there. --David Wall


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