Book Review: Let's Hatch Chicks!: A Day-by-Day Chick Hatching Guide for Kids by Lisa Steele

Let's Hatch Chicks!: A Day-by-Day Chick Hatching Guide for Kids by Lisa Steele is a children's non fiction book about how a chicken lays, cares for, and hatches an egg.What’s going on inside that egg? At the heart of this book is the answer to that question; it's a guide for the action-packed weeks while a chick grows. However, there’s so much more to learn! Whether you're interested in where eggs come from, what feathers are for, or what chicks eat, this book has the answers. Learn how to hold and feed your new chick as well!

Let's Hatch Chicks!: A Day-by-Day Chick Hatching Guide for Kids is a very informative book about everything chicken and egg related. I like that the book had very cute, but accurate illustrations, and that I learned more than a few things about chickens as I read it. I like that while the book is very kids friendly, it at no point feels like it is talking down to younger readers. It gives the information in a straightforward manner, with no condescending or childish tone in it. I think this would be a great book to share as a family, or in a classroom, for anyone raising chickens or pondering adding them to their lives. I liked the fun facts included on many pages, and the amount of detail that is given to the growth of the chick, before and after it is hatched. I found the information to be well balanced between chicks hatched and raised by its mother, and those hatched and raised by people using incubators and brooders. The glossary and information about the author (and her chickens) at the end of the book was a nice touch as well. 

Book Review: Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir, Steenz

Archival Quality is a graphic novel written by Ivy Noelle Weir with artwork by Steenz. It would be best for young adult and older readers. After losing her job at the library, Celeste "Cel" Walden starts working at the haunting Logan Museum as an archivist. But the job may not be the second chance she was hoping for, and she finds herself confronting her mental health, her relationships, and before long, her grasp on reality as she begins to dream of a young woman she's never met, but feels strangely drawn to. Especially after she asks Cel for help. As Cel attempts to learn more about the woman, she begins losing time, misplacing things, passing out—the job is becoming dangerous, but she can't let go of this mysterious woman. Who is she? Why is she so fixated on Cel? And does Cel have the power to save her when she's still trying to save herself?

Archival Quality is a graphic novel about dealing with mental illness, and solving a mystery of past and present horrors. Cel needs to learn to trust herself, to accept help when needed, and to trust that those around her care about her and are more than willing to help if she lets them. I liked seeing the trust and friendship develop- and the secrets be slowly revealed.  I liked the combination of mystery, mystical, and trying to find your way. I could empathize with most of the characters, including the secondary players. I liked the story, and think it will keep readers thinking about the story well after they finish it. I know I am still thinking about Cel's journey, and they way she finds herself. I was not thrilled with the art style, it felt a little clunky for some of the characters, but others looked fantastic. The back grounds and details are very well done, and add to the story well- it is just the style a few of the characters that did not work for me. I liked that the story of the books creation was included in the afterwords, and that further reading and museums to explore are offered up as well. The sketch pages were interesting to see as well, to see how the characters were envisioned and changed as the book came together. 

Archival Quality is an interesting and engaging graphic novel that I think will speak to young and new adults, as well of those that have been considered adults for longer than we might want to admit. The mystery and spooky aspects are on point, and the handling of friendship and mental illness was very well done and might speak to others struggling.

Early Book Review: How to Spot a Sasquatch by J. Torres, Aurélie Grand

How to Spot a Sasquatch, written by J. Torres and illustrated by AurĂ©lie Grand, is a children's graphic novel currently scheduled for release on May 15 2018. On a camping trip with the Junior Rangers, Jay feels like the odd one out. He’s determined to get a photo of Bigfoot—but none of his friends believe Bigfoot exists. But if there’s no such thing as Bigfoot, why is there a giant footprint? And who is stealing all the snacks? Meanwhile, Sass the Sasquatch and her curious forest friends are playing practical jokes on the campers. On the last day of camp, disaster strikes when Jay falls into a rushing river. Sass comes out of the woodwork—despite her parents’ warnings to stay away from humans!—just in time to save his life. Soon after, Jay and Sass become fast friends, proving that nothing is impossible when it comes to friendship.

How to Spot a Sasquatch is told in short chapters and it for a younger audience, I think, that Bigfoot Boy and other things I have read by Torres. The story is cute, playful, and deals with the struggles many of us have in finding our place and fitting in. I liked the message of doing your own thing, and doing the right thing, rather than worrying about what others think of you that comes out by the end of the story. I found some of the characters to be a little flat- however the art style and constant action will keep readers flowing with the story. I thought the art style was fun and playful, with humor and context clue for the larger story peppered through each page. I thought Sass was the best part of the story, and her print leaving in the start of the story is really what endeared her to me, and that fun part of her personality stayed with me through the book.

How to Spot a Sasquatch is a graphic novel from an author whose work I have enjoyed in the past. While this story is still good, it just did not hold up to my expectations. It is still enjoyable, and I think it will appeal to many, but it just did not wow me. 

Book Review: Summertime Crochet: 30 Tops, Bags, Wraps, Hats, & More for Sunny Days & Balmy Nights by Helgrid van Impelen and Verena Woehlk Appel

Summertime Crochet: 30 Tops, Bags, Wraps, Hats, & More for Sunny Days & Balmy Nights by Helgrid van Impelen and Verena Woehlk Appel is a collection of instructions and patterns that take advantage of today's cotton and linen yarns. These yarns are perfect for lighter apparel like tanks, motif tops, and cute hats.  Breezy articles that can all be crocheted and are just right for warm-weather style.

Summertime Crochet is a well organized collection of patterns with bright, bold photographs that capture the feel, drape, and possible styles for the featured pieces. The instructions are understandable, with notes about skill level and options to adjust sizing. I really like that the notes about yardage often includes matching or related items from the book. I really likes some of the ideas and patterns, like the espadrilles. However, I found some of the patterns to look much like theses easily found on free pattern websites. I also found a few that had me thinking, just because you can does not mean you should- or maybe I am just old- because crochet bikini pieces make me shudder (and they always have).  I do like that the basic instructions for the stitches and terms is included at the end, for some of the beginner crafters than want or need the additional support.

Summertime Crochet is a small collection of patterns for working in cotton and linen yarn. I was not greatly impressed by it, but think that it would be helpful for those that prefer to work in these yarns, and do not want to go looking for the patterns every time they want to make a lightweight hat, shawl, or handbag. 

Early Book Review: Hedgehog by Ashlyn Anstee

Hedgehog by Ashlyn Anstee is a picturebook currently scheduled for release on May 8 2018. Hedgehog is hogging the hedge and won't let the other animals live there. Winter is coming, and the animals need homes. The worms move in with the groundhogs, the possums share a burrow with the foxes, the birds and the squirrels stay in the oak tree together, but the hedgehog lives in the hedge all by himself. When other animals come looking for a place to stay, he's NOT interested; it's HIS hedge and everyone else can STAY OUT. He gets busy making signs, putting locks on his door and even building a fence. All he cares about is keeping the other animals out but he's making a huge mistake. Will the other animals find a home in time?
Hedgehog is a story about sharing, cooperation, and more. It has its humorous moments, but is mainly a political allegory.  The illustrations were cute, but felt a little unpolished to me, although the did show the moods and ideas of the story well. The book is good, and the story does a good job of imparting the intended lesson. However it just did not wow me, it fell a little flat for me.

Book Review: Eight Simple Rules For Dating a Dragon (The Embraced) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Eight Simple Rules For Dating a Dragon is the third book in The Embraced series by Kerrelyn Sparks. While newcomers to the series will be able to enjoy the romance portion of the story, I think those that are reading the series in order will get more from the read, because of the ongoing intrigue and danger that carries through the series.

Gwennore has a talent, able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. When she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain to save the country from its cursed illness and return the kidnapped girl. Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart?

Eight Simple Rules For Dating a Dragon is a story that captured me from the very start. Gwennore is sweet and strong, and constantly looked down on by most people because of her heritage. Like her sisters she was raised with no knowledge of her family, so has no idea who her parents are, or when an elven girl would be sent to the convent to be raised. When she hitches a ride on a dragon to stay with her kidnapped she had no idea what would happen next. She is dropping into a kingdom where the rulers are losing their minds, plots are underway, everyone is afraid, and poison could be anywhere. Silas is intrigued by Gwen, and needs to get to the bottom of the plots swirling around them. Secrets abound, as does attraction, but can they overcome it all to find a way? I liked that bother characters were strong, and that they stayed true to themselves through the book. I really loved Gwen's character, she is the perfect combination of soft and caring with a backbone of steel when needed. I also liked that at no point did Silas underestimate her, her had full respect for the women in his life, and acknowledges their skills and strengths.  As I have come to expect from from Sparks, the secondary characters are as well crafted and interesting as the main players. I am eager to see some more of them interact and hopefully see them find their own happy endings in future books.

Eight Simple Rules For Dating a Dragon is a nice addition to the series, and I am very much looking forward to what comes next. 

Book Review: I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I Love You, Michael Collins is a middle grade novel by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong, all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin. Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else's dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what's going on with her family, her best friend Buster, and her cat. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can't help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore?

I Love You, Michael Collins is composed of Mamie's letters to astronaut Micheal Collins. I think many of us who have journaled (on paper or digitally) knows how cathartic it can be to share the events and feelings that are effecting us, even if we think no one is reading or listening. Mamie is sharing the chain of events that take up her summer via letters to a figure that might not ever read, never mind answer, her letters. However, I think her writing down of the events are what help her process and survive a rough summer. The family troubles she goes through give readers a realistic, historical glimpses of the expectations and view of the era, combined with family dynamics that are similar to what some readers might be dealing with themselves. I am not always a fan of books in letter, or journal, format. However, I think the need for connection expressed by Mamie in these letters and the lovely conclusion, make it work beautifully. I felt for Mamie through out the book, and just might have shed some tears for her, because who has not felt like the one left behind?

I Love You, Michael Collins is a well written and touching historical read for the middle grade crowd, and one that I thing will still resonate with readers no matter when they read it. This book will stand the test of time, and just might be a classic in school and public libraries in the near future.

Book Review: Cast in Deception (The Chronciles of Elantra) by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Deception is the 13th book in The Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara. You do need to read this series in order to get the most out of it, and maybe a reread of the previous books would help if it has been a while. Each book really does add to the world and character building, so new readers will want to start at the very beginning to enjoy the read. 

Private Kaylin Neya thought her home couldn’t possibly get more crowded. But when one of her housemates, Annarion, decides to undertake the Barrani Test of Name, his friends refuse to let him face his task alone—and Kaylin’s sentient home, Helen, is the only structure capable of shielding the rest of Elantra from the magnitude of their power. Annarion and Mandoran almost caused the destruction of the High Halls once already. Add nine of their closest friends, and the danger is astronomically higher—especially since these guests are at the heart of a political firestorm. Imprisoned almost a millennium ago, their recent freedom threatens the rulership of several prominent Barrani families, and the machinations of those Lords make it almost impossible to tell friend from foe. As political tensions ramp up, the shadows beneath the High Halls are seeking a freedom that has never been possible before. Kaylin must find a way to keep those shadows from escaping, or that freedom will destroy her city, the empire and everything she holds dear.

Cast in Deception is a journey with Kaylin and companions in dangerous territory. Politics, intrigue , and shadows are the main dangers at the heart of what they all face. Friendship, chosen and real family, and perceptions of self and others all come into play. I like that Kaylin has to continue thinking about her choices, past and present, and how they have changed her and effected the world around her. I did not like that the book felt a bit like the bridge between the previous book and the next, lacking substantial action and movement of its own. Half of the things promised for the book are only mentioned as problems, but end up being things that we will not see the consequences of fully until the next book. I enjoyed the read, particularly getting a better understanding of the cohort and all of its members, but did not feel like there was as much substance as I am used to from the author, or this series.

Cast in Deception is part of a fantastic series, but I felt a little let down with this one. It felt like this book was more of a placeholder or single journey rather than moving the greater story arch much. I am still invested, and will still keep reading, but it did not live up to my grand expectations.

Early Book Review: The Space Adventurer's Guide by Peter McMahon, Josh Holinaty

The Space Adventurer's Guide, written by Peter McMahon and illustrated by , Josh Holinaty, is a non fiction book that is currently scheduled for release on May 1 2018. It's not just astronauts who get to travel into space anymore. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs have now made space flight a reality for adventure-seekers of all kinds. While prices and availability make the likely hood of a trip in the near future slim to none, this book is a travel guide for kids to plan their own out-of-this-world journeys. Eight potential space vacations are described, one per chapter, complete with information about pre-trip preparations (like training to withstand extreme g-forces), accommodations and dining (hot dogs in zero gravity, anyone?), awesome activities (how about a real moon walk?) and so much more. The trips range from orbiting Earth (available now), to voyaging through Saturn's rings, which may be possible within the next few decades. Featuring the coolest things to see and do in the universe, these space vacations are not to be missed!
The Space Adventurer's Guide is a full on travel and technical guide to what one should do to prepare for a trip to space, and what they might be able to do or experience while there. I like that the information was current, and includes first person accounts from people in the field. I found the photographs and artwork to be eye catching, and think they will help hold the attention of most readers. The text was in good sized portions, with fun text boxes and quick facts to break things up a little. Some of the activities and ideas featured I found to be fascinating, and I think elementary and middle school readers that are obsessed with going into space as I was at their age will love this book. I could see it being a favorite for interested readers at home and as a valuable resource in school, classroom and public libraries. The glossary and index included in the endpages only make this book more accessible and useful for readers, and I found them helpful. I can think of some kids that will simply adore this book, although I worry that they might expect a trip in their near future, which I suspect will be well out of my budget indefinitely. 

Early Book Review: Simon and the Big, Bad, Angry Beasts: A Book About Anger by Ian De Haes

Simon and the Big, Bad, Angry Beasts: A Book About Anger by Ian De Haes is a children's book currently scheduled for release on April 26 2018. When Simon gets mad, he gets REALLY mad. So mad that big, bad, angry beasts appear. At first Simon loves having the beasts around to help scare off anyone who upsets him, but over time he realizes that no one wants to be around him or the beasts. This makes Simon sad, so he decides to try to still his mind and practice being calm. And the beasts disappear!

Simon and the Big, Bad, Angry Beasts is a book that offers children, teachers, parents, and other caregivers tools and language to talk about and deal with anger. On the surface the book is colorful and relatable, a story about a child that has used his anger to get his way, and enjoyed the release kicking and screaming could give. However, he discovers that the beast and behavior his anger brings out has made others avoid him. Simon needs to learn to cope with and express him anger in better ways. I like the imagery of the beasts to represent Simon's anger and the resulting behavior, and I loved the information and tools at the end of the book for the adults helping a child to cope with emotions. I loved the artwork, and think it will capture the attention and imagination of young readers. I think for a majority of children this book will be a helpful lesson. However, there are those with additional challenges to facing anger appropriately, and I was a little disappointed that there was no mention that some children (and adults) need more than awareness and mindfulness to deal with anger because of chemical imbalances or other issues. Unfortunately, while great tools for everyone to help, it is not the ultimate solution for everyone and that is not mentioned in the endpapers, at least not that I noticed in the advanced copy I read.