Book Review: Future Threat (Future Shock) by Elizabeth Briggs

Future Threat is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy by Elizabeth Briggs. To fully appreciate and understand the characters, you really do need to read this trilogy in order.

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information—but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation, but Aether’s not done with her, Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events. But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything, including their relationship, to save their friends.

Future Threat is a book full of adventure, twists and turns, and people struggling to come to terms with the world. I understood Elena's stress and struggles, and think that they were completely consistent with her character and what she has gone through. The growth of Elena and Adam's characters, and their relationship is very well done, and a cornerstone to the story, and was as compelling as any of the action. The new characters, and the varying futures, were well designed and slowly revealed their depth as the story continued. I found the twists and turns of the trips to the future to be very dramatic, and had me holding my breath on a few occasions. I loved seeing some of the possibilities and worried over the changes as the story continued. I will admit that I rather suspected the guilty party of all the bad things that happen to the team pretty early on, but the journey the story takes us on as Elena puts the pieces together was very suspenseful and gave all of the characters room to grow and show their true selves to the readers, and each other.

Future Threat is a solid follow up to Future Shock, and I enjoyed the read. I like that while each book seems to build perfectly on the previous, the ending of each book feels complete- with only hints that more might follow. I already have the third book waiting on my Kindle for me- since it took me way to long to pick this one up, and I am confident that the third book will continue with the same or maybe even higher quality. My biggest regret with this book is how long it took me to get reading.

Early Book Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is a young to new adult graphic novel currently scheduled for release on February 13 2018.

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age: Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? 

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a graphic novel that is classically romantic; a story about identity, friendship, and character. I loved the character building and arc for the major players. I adored Frances, Sebastian, and the immediate circle of friends. I think the story of finding yourself, who you are, and what you want, is universal- even if you have nothing else in common with Frances and Sebastian. The evolution of their friendship, and how honest it was just took my breath away. It was a heart warming journey with the requisite bumps along the way. The importance of truth and art throughout the story was key to the heart of the story, and made it work so well. I will admit that the only artwork I was not thrilled with were some of the renderings of Lady Crystallia, but that could have just been the way the graphics loaded on my Kindle. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a beautifully drawn graphic novel that tells a story of friendship, self discover, and the importance of being honest about who you really are. I love the exploration of friendship and identity, and think most people will enjoy the read. Those with linear views on gender and sexual identity are the only readers that I think might react badly to the book. 

Early Book Review: The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner

The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner is currently scheduled for release on February 6 2018. It is an introduction to the humble honeybee: nature's hardest worker, and much more than just a provider of honey! Bees are incredibly industrious, brilliant at building, super social, and--most importantly--responsible for a third of every mouthful of food you eat! Find out how bees talk to one another, what it takes to become a queen bee, what the life of a worker bee is like, and more. The contents include bee anatomy, types of bee, hives, colonies, pollination, making honey, and more. Discover just how much they matter, why they are declining, and what you can do to help!
The Bee Book is a wonderful and accessible look at bees. The illustrations were very well done, and while accurate some still had a sense of whimsy that will made the read even more interesting for younger readers. I like the way that the information was given in small doses, and well presented, in a way that is both understandable and so that it is seen as important and valuable. I knew bees were amazing, and thought I knew how many different kids of bees there were, and other important things about them. While I did know a good deal, from reading other books about bees, I still learned a few new things and got a fresh perspective on others. I found this to be an informative and engaging read, which always makes me happy in the realm of children's non fiction. 

The Bee Book is a wonderful resource and I would consider it to be an asset to a home, public, school, or classroom library. I think it is well done, as I expect any nonfiction books from DK to be. 

Book Review: The Highlander is All That (Untamed Highlanders) by Sabrina York

The Highlander is All That is the fourth book in the Untamed Highlanders series by Sabrina York. I have read the third book in the series, but not the others. While reading the previous book(s) does give some insight into a few characters, it is not necessary to understand or enjoy this book.

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart, but perhaps a Scotsman can. Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure. Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

The Highlander is All That is a historical romance that exceeded my expectations in some ways. I loved Elizabeth's character- she is not interested in the lords that come courting, and the one that has his sights set on her most ardently literally makes her ill. That small detail made me smile, and a little sympathetic because the smell of several perfumes and other things have the same affect on me. I like that Hamish and Ranald are determined to do the right thing by the sisters, despite their feelings, and that the ladies are equally as stubborn. I enjoyed the banter between our main couple, and other important characters. I liked that there was some humor, some danger, and lots of great characters and development. I love that the story let all four St. Claire sisters; Anne, Elizabeth, Victoria, and Mary find love in unconventional but happy ways and outcomes. There is a little something for everyone here, and I would hate to ruin any of the surprises or adventure by giving too much away.

The Highlander is All That is a book that has many things going on, but never so much that the story gets lost. Every character and story thread gets its fair share and resolution. Make sure you pick this up when you have plenty of uninterrupted time to enjoy it, because you are not going to want to put it down.

Book Review: In My World by Jillian Ma

In My World by Jillian Ma is a simple, heartfelt story that follows the life of a child with autism through his imaginative journey as he seeks to be accepted, loved and celebrated for his strengths and abilities. Despite the qualities that make children on the autism spectrum exceptional, they all have hopes, dreams and feelings of belonging that all children desire. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a powerful reminder that with a little help from each of us, children with autism can fulfill their dreams.
In My World is a sweet and simple story that describes a day in the life of a child with autism. I think it shows the things that we all have in common well; the joys and desires surrounding love and acceptance among them. The illustrations and words do a wonderful job of showing the joy and imagination that fill the child's world, and explaining some of the struggles they have in dealing with other people and their expectations. I think this would be a great conversation starter in classrooms, families, or public settings like library story times to help children understand and care for each other and themselves.

Early Book Review: Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 101 Easy Activities and Recipes by Melanie Potock

Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 101 Easy Activities and Recipes by Melanie Potock is currently scheduled for release on February 6 2018. It features a year’s worth of family-friendly recipes along with strategies for helping kids learn to become more adventurous eaters over time. Parents will learn how to introduce a new vegetable every week, plus creative and engaging ways to expose their kids to new foods. The book features 20 vegetables, organized by season, each with activities and recipes highlighting the program’s three phases to vegetable love: expose, explore, expand. The kids are involved in every part of the activity process from washing the vegetable to eating delicious food they helped make. 
Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 101 Easy Activities and Recipes is a valiant attempt to help parents with children that boycott vegetables to give them a try, and to have some fun along the way. I like that the book is organized by season, which makes getting started and planning that much easier. I like that some of the activities give the chance for kids to feel, taste, and smell the veggies before eating them even becomes part of the conversation. I also liked the idea of getting the kids involved in the preparation and cooking of the veggies. I find that being included in the work and discussion makes most kids more willing to give something a try. I can see how it can, and would, work with many children. I also see how parents that are willing to go to these strides are already on the path to kids willing to try and do new things. However, I feel like there are too many kids that this will not work with, such as those with sensory issues. Of course, that being said my daughter would adore these activities, and some of the recipes, while my husband and son would run in terror since my husband is not a veggie fan and my son is very sensitive to flavors and likes things as bland and boring as possible.  

In short, for those that are willing to go all out in getting their families to eat better, particularly in the vegetable department this would be a great addition to a home library. For those just looking for some tools to get a few more veggies, and break down some barriers, I would suggest borrowing the book from the library and trying the suggestions that might work in your home.

Book Review: Grimms Manga Tales (English) by Kei Ishiyamab

Grimms Manga Tales (English) by Kei Ishiyama is a classic manga version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales with the authors special, creative twist. The book features the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Two Brothers, The Twelve Hunters, Snow White, The Frog King, Puss in Boots, and The Singing, Springing Lark. This fantasy manga retells these timeless tales with a twist of originality.

Grimms Manga Tales is an interesting look at fairy tales that are well known, and some much less common. I like the manga twist, but recommend reading in paper rather than digital copy- mainly because the book is in the traditional Japanese format- meaning that it is read back to front and right to left.The stories are definitely given twists that surprised me, some of which worked for me and some that just did not. The artwork was well done, and the stories were interesting. However, I had trouble getting fully engaged in the stories- including the ones that I knew less well than the others. Maybe it was because each of the retellings was so short, or maybe I missed something along the way, but I just did not love it like I do most things fairy tale related.

Grimms Manga Tales is a quick read, and offers some new twists to fairy tales. Those looking for quick reads, and those that love fairy tales and the manga style of story telling might enjoy the read, but it is not something I think everyone will love. I think this would be best for young adult and older audiences, because of some of the content.

Early Book Review: Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook by Lorraine Massey, Michele Bender

Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook by Lorraine Massey with Michele Bender is currently scheduled for rel;ease on February 6 2018. Written by the author of the bestselling Curly GirlSilver Hair covers step-by-step the many options for going silver with style. It includes before-and-after photos of real models; advice on how to stay gorgeous during the silver journey—with tips on the best ways to have a smooth color transition; keeping your silver gorgeous with the right hair care and DIY recipes; and finally how to complement your chic new look with flattering fashion, makeup, and accessories. Going silver is not just about style, or saving time and money at the salon or on your own.  It satisfies that deeper desire for authenticity and the freedom to be oneself.
Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook is an encouraging and useful guide to those that are pondering the end of dying their grays, and the start of embracing the hair nature is giving them. There was a large number or stories from different women that have gone through the transition, all telling the methods they used and how their looks, lives, and perception of themselves changed. As someone with naturally dark hair, and plenty of what I like to call "wisdom highlights". I did not find much in the book that was relevant to me, because I have not dyed my hair in a number of years and the stories are mostly about giving up the dye, and the process of growing out the color rather than just letting nature have its way from the very beginning. However, I did enjoy reading about how other women felt about their hair and the reactions they received when they embraced the silver. The most instructive thing for me was the tips for hair care and treatments. I think this would be a great read for those considering making this transition. 

Early Book Review: A Stegosaurus Would NOT Make a Good Pirate by Thomas Kingsley Troupe

A Stegosaurus Would NOT Make a Good Pirate by Thomas Kingsley Troupe is a picturebook that is currently scheduled for release on February 1 2018. Everyone has dreams, even dinosaurs! But not every dream can become reality. For example, the brachiosaurus would love to be a spy! But at 40 feet tall, he certainly would not blend in. And the T-rex aspires to be a knight. But how would she manage to pick up a sword with those tiny arms?  

A Stegosaurus Would NOT Make a Good Pirate is a picturebook that is good fun, with charming illustrations. I liked the dinosaur's attempts at being a good pirate, and how the tone gave the impression that he could laugh at himself while still being more than a little overconfident. I think the deliver of dinosaur facts along side the light hearted story make for a fun read that might get many re read requests. I also enjoyed the glossary and mini quiz at the end. The fact that the answers are hidden in the illustrations, and the quiz offers clues as to where young readers can find the answers, might spark a larger search for hidden information and encourage them to study pictures in other books to see if they can find information and clues. 

Book Review: Romancing the Undead (V-Date) by Juliet Lyons

Romancing the Undead is the second book in the V-Date series by Juliet Lyons. While I have read the previous book, and it did give me a bit of insight on a few characters, I do not think it is needed to fully enjoy this read.

Mila Hart’s first experience with the vampire dating site is a complete disaster–her date is wanted for murder! But things turn around when she’s rescued by dashing vampire cop Vincent Ferrer. Dangerous and devastatingly attractive, he’s just the undead hottie Mila was hoping for. However Vincent is haunted by his past and does not want to risk falling in love again–even if Mila charms him more than anyone he’s ever met. But when the killer from Mila’s date seeks her out, Vincent is the only one who can protect her. Protecting his heart is a different story.

Romancing the Undead is a solid paranormal romance with a solid plot and danger and connections that were on point. I liked Mila's character, she was strong and aware of her flaws. She was not the mess she considered herself to be, but she certainly did find herself in less that ideal conditions on several occasions. Vincent was a good character as well, although I did find his attachment to guilt and his past to be a little much on occasion. I found the suspense plot line with the vampire murderer to be well done, although I admit that I suspected the twist, or something of its nature from the start. I do think that my favorite part was the characters, especially the supporting characters and hoe varied but real they all felt. From Vincent's co-workers, to the vampires, and beyond to Mila's friends and family, I found the little details about these characters and their lives made everything much more real as I read than the story would have been without them.

Romancing the Undead is an engaging read that had me entertained through out, and holding my breath more than once.  I do believe I will be continuing this series, and looking to see what happens to all the characters I have met on the edges of the story.