Early Book Review: Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones by Sara C. Levine, T.S. Spookytooth

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones, written by Sara C. Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth, is currently scheduled for release on January 1 2018. What kind of dinosaur would you be if you had a bony ridge that rose up from the back of your skull and three horns poking up from the front? A triceratops! This lively picture book will keep readers guessing as they find out what how their bones are similar to and different from those of various dinosaur species.

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones is a wonderful combination of imagination and education. This book not only teaches young readers about the bone structures of people and dinosaurs, it also encourages them to imagine how they might look as a dinosaur and how the similarities and differences make all creatures look. I also like that the human children included in the book are diverse, but not in a way that make the book appear to be trying to be that way.  I like the way questions were posed to the reader, inviting them to consider and imagine before more information is given to them. I like that there is further information, a glossary, and other helpful information included for the most engaged readers at the end of the book. This is a fun and visually attractive book that will capture the attention and interest of readers, and might encourage multiple reads and further research or imaginative play. 

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones is an entertaining and interesting read. I think this book will be a big hit among dinosaur, nature, and imagination fans for all ages. 

Early Book Review: Heart on Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles) by Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire is the third book (and conclusion) to the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. I highly recommend reading the entire series in order, not just because it is fabulous, but also because the background and intricacies of the world Bouchet built requires it to understand this book and fully enjoy the ride.
Who is Catalia Fisa? With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny. Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step--reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria. What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger, we hope.

Heart on Fire is a book I was eager to read, but still dreading. I love this world and story, and I was sad to see it end- although I hope the world will continue on in related books. As usual Catalia is trying to figure out her powers, and trying to unite people with as few lives lost as possible. However, there are huge trails ahead and little in way of directions. Griffin is still the stalwart and loving partner, and I loved seeing their relationship grow and change to keep pace with the danger and challenges ahead. I Think both characters grew through out the book, but Cat's inner conflicts and discoveries about herself are the force behind the book. I liked that while so much of the book was her struggling to deal with the gods, fate, and her mother- it never felt like a pity party. Too often a character that needs to face issues of this magnitude ends up feeling too whiny or self involved for me. This did not happen here, instead it was all part of the necessary journey. I was impressed with the amount of twists and turns the story took, and with the amount of mythology that was used. I was surprised several times, and fully invested in the well-being of the characters.

Heart on Fire is a wonderful conclusion to a trilogy. I was very happy with the action and resolution. I only hope that Bouchet keeps writing about this world she has created, because I want to know more about what happens next in the lives of several secondary characters. 

Book Review: Get Coding! Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and Build a Website, App, and Game by Young Rewired State

Get Coding! Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and Build a Website, App, and Game by Young Rewired State is a guide for all ages in the tools of today's coding. Want to make a website from scratch? Create an app? Build a game? All the tools are laid out in a user-friendly format that leads kids on an imaginary quest to keep a valuable diamond safe from dangerous jewel thieves. Young Rewired State, an international collective of tech-savvy kids, offers readers an easy-to-follow book of instruction in bite-size chunks. It focuses on the real-life coding skills taught in an engaging, comprehensive guide.
Get Coding! Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and Build a Website, App, and Game is a good tool for those that want to get started with some serious coding, while still having some fun. The book is user friendly and well organized, with challenges that will keep young coders engaged and focused. I really like the idea of giving the coders a mission to complete, and the goofy artwork that is included. I do think that this is for those dedicated to learning, and those youngsters that have already tried some of the basic coding games and tools in the past. Some of the challenges might be too much for those that are easily frustrated or just casually interested in coding. I know that I did not attempt the app making or some of the more complicated coding, mainly because I did not have the time and enthusiasm to put in the effort. However, those children and even adults that want to get a handle on coding and are ready to get to it will get solid instruction and a good foundation. 

Book Review: Elemental Ride by Mell Eight

Elemental Ride by Mell Eight is a urban fantasy and romance novella. Rawley isn't the type to crush hard and fast on anyone, but he's somehow helpless when it comes to the new mailman. Even his bikes and his job as enforcer for a local motorcycle gang, the center of his world, don't compare to his interest in Reign. Unfortunately, Reign doesn't seem to be as interested—but secrets and magic have a way of turning everything upside down.
Elemental Ride is a short tease into a fantasy world I want to know more about. It seems to be part of a larger ongoing series by the publisher- but no links to this series are clear on Goodreads, so I will have to do some hunting. As a novella, there is much to squeeze into a short bit of text, but I think it handled very well. I feel like I got to know Rawley fairly well, and understood him as a character- as well as his fascination with his new mailman. I liked the way the world and supernatural aspects are revealed- although I feel like I need a novel set in this world to make me really happy. The story is complex despite the shortness, and has a few layers and surprises. I really enjoyed the unique take on magic and the elements as sprites, and the character of Reign, Leif, and so on satisfied me. 

Elemental Ride is a fast and entertaining read. My only disappointment is in the fact that it was a novella, and I want more. I will be taking a look at Less Than Three Press to see if I can find the rest of this series and enjoy it as a whole.

Book Review: Woolly and Me by Quentin Greban

Woolly and Me is a picturebook by Quentin Greban which is currently scheduled for release on January 2 2018. And when her mammoth gets a little frightened; on a roller coaster ride or in her dark bedroom at night, our brave narrator comforts her pet and bucks up his courage. On the last page of this warm and reassuring picture book, we see at last that Woolly is a stuffed animal leaving readers to wonder, who has been comforting whom?

Woolly and Me is a fun picturebook that shows a young girl and her Woolly on a series of adventures, both everyday challenges and special events. I like the imagination and acceptance that is a common thread through the entire book. I will admit that I was not sure if Woolly would end up as an imaginary friend or stuffed animal by the end of the book, and honestly either would have been good with me. I just loved the way the idea of comfort and bravery was covered. The illustrations were a perfect pairing to the story, and I found them to be sweet and comforting in their own way. 

Book Review: Can't Hardly Breathe (Original Heartbreakers) by Gena Showalter

Can't Hardly Breathe is the fourth book in the Original Heartbreakers series by Gena Showalter. Despite the number of books I have read by this author, I have some how missed this series until now. Thankfully, newcomers to the series can fully enjoy the read but I suspect that fans of the series will be better informed about the characters in the story.
Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis's past is full of memories she'd rather forget. But there's one she can't seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead. Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he's as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her. But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.

Can't Hardly Breathe is a tough journey for two well developed characters. I felt that Daniel's character was extremely well developed with his love of his father and struggles with PTSD.  I found myself relating to Dorothea's high school experiences, and felt badly for her through most of the read. I loved her resiliency when it comes to bouncing back and standing up for herself in the long run, but was a little annoyed at her inability to stand up to her own family, particularly her mother. Although, her fierceness in protecting and forgiving others was endearing and made me love her character. I found the journey she had to take with the wounded Daniel and his friend Parker to be highly engaging. The added complications with Dorothea's ex, career goals, and family issues made for a very full storyline, that kept me wondering when the next shoe would drop. The small town characters added just enough additional interest to make me curious about what happened in the previous books, and what will happen next to a few of the characters. 

Can't Hardly Breathe is an enjoyable and engaging read. The characters and small town are all well crafted and left me eager for more. 

Book Review: A Bear's Life by Ian McAllister, and Nicholas Read

A Bear's Life by Ian McAllister, and Nicholas Read is a children's nonfiction book and the second book in the My Great Bear Rainforest series. Black bears, grizzly bears, and spirit bears all make their home in the Great Bear Rainforest. A Bear's Life uses Ian McAllister's stunning photographs to follow these beautiful animals through a year in the British Columbia wilderness—catching fish, eating berries, climbing trees and taking long naps.
A Bear's Life is full of full color photographs of bears, and other animals, that are simply stunning. The information included is not very detailed, short and accessible. It could help young readers better understand how bears live, and interact with the world around them. I did not find that the book was very organized, topics seemed to jump around a bit and some of the phrasing was a bit stilted. However, the images were absolutely beautiful and make the book well worth a glance, even if I was a little disappointed in the text. 

Early Book Review: Collision Course (Body Shop Bad Boys) by Marie Harte

Collision Course is the forth book in the Body Shop Bad Boys series by Marie Harte. While it is more satisfying to read this book as part of the larger series (and other interconnected series), it can be fully enjoyed on its own. It is currently scheduled for release on January 1 2018.

Ace mechanic Lou Cortez has always had a way with the ladies, so he can't understand why lovely florist Josephine -Joey- Reeves won't give him the time of day. Joey knows all about mistakes. After getting pregnant at fifteen, she's spent the past nine years building a life for her and her son. This sexy mechanic is one misstep she's not going to make. But the more time she spends with Lou, the hotter things get. Soon Joey's left with a choice: keep things casual, or reveal all to Lou and hope he accepts her-and her son-for who they are.

Collision Course is another roller coaster ride with complex characters. Joey has been through a lot, and is still struggling to find her own way and some faith in herself. Lou is not looking for a relationship, but is intrigued by Joey, and might just be willing to change his mind. I liked Lou's mindset, and his unique take on women, being surrounded by them most of his life. The pair are great together, and I found both their reservations and conflicts to be realistic and well written. While admittedly there are moments I want to kick characters for their decisions, assumptions, and word choices- I think the action and characters were very well written and I found their journey to be very satisfying. I think the interconnection between the characters, and the small town feel, adds a special dynamic to the book. I liked the hints to future connections for later books, particularly in the related series. I know I am now even more eager to see how things play out in the upcoming books.

Collision Course is exactly what I was hoping for from Harte. The characters and growth as individuals and a couple is dynamic and an entertaining ride. Fans of Harte will definitely want to pick it up, and newcomers are likely to enjoy it greatly as well. 

Book Review: Nick the Knight, Dragon Slayer by Aron Dijkstra

Nick the Knight, Dragon Slayer by Aron Dijkstra is a picturebook which features two of the most popular characters in children's books, a knight and a dragon. In the story Nick the Knight can't wait to fight Breakhorn the Dragon, but Breakhorn just doesn't feel like it. He keeps making up excuses to put off the fight but brave little Nick won't give up. 
Nick the Knight, Dragon Slayer is a delightful picturebook about determination, and stopping to listen. Nick wants to fight the dragon, but every time he approaches Breakhorn he is turned away because of something different. Finally, Nick and Breakhorn actually talk for a minute and an unlikely friendship forms. I like that Nick shows persistence and determination. I really loved that the dragon looked and sounded fierce, but was really lonely and a little sad. I think Nick's solution to the problem was perfect, and found the fact that he did get to beat the dragon at something in the end as fun. 

Book Review: Sweet Tea and Spirits (Southern Ghost Hunter) by Angie Fox

Sweet Tea and Spirits is the fifth book of the Southern Ghost Hunter series by Angie Fox. I have read most, but not all of the books in this series, and think that the mystery portion of the book can stand up fine as a stand alone, the complicated relationships make reading the books as a series more satisfying than reading any of the installments as a stand alone.

Southern girl Verity Long is about as high society as her pet skunk. Which is why she’s surprised as anyone when the new head of the Sugarland social set invites her to join the "it" girls. But this is no social call. Verity’s new client needs her to go in undercover and investigate strange happenings at the group’s historic headquarters. But while spirits are whispering hints of murder, the socialites are more focused on Verity’s 1978, avocado-green Cadillac. And when Verity stumbles upon a fresh body, she's going to need the long-dead citizens of Sugarland to help her solve the crime. Good thing she has the handsome deputy sheriff Ellis Wydell on hand, as well as her ghostly sidekick Frankie. The bad thing is, the ghosts are now whispering about the end of a certain ghost hunter.

Sweet Tea and Spirits is a mystery with a few surprises along the way. I liked that Frankie and the ghost of the story got significant action. The investigation reveals much more than anyone could have imagined, and continues to complicate the relationship between Verity and Ellis' mother. I liked the mystery, and the history that is uncovered. I was honestly surprised by a couple of the revelations- while other things were more than expected. My only real disappointment here is that while Frankie become a more developed character, I feel like Verity and Ellis have not become any more developed individually or as a couple. I know it is a hard thing to balance, since I do not like when romance overwhelms the mystery in series like these, but some movement would be satisfying.

Sweet Tea and Spirits is at the same quality level as the rest of the series, and I enjoyed the read. I thought the mystery and small town business is all well handled, I just would like more character and relationship development along with the ghosts and mystery.