Early Book Review: Bigfoot Visits the Big Cities of the World: A Seek and Find Activity Book by D.L. Miller

Bigfoot Visits the Big Cities of the World: A Seek and Find Activity Book by D.L. Miller is currently scheduled for release on February 13 2018. BigFoot spends most of his time in the deep dark woods, rarely spotted by humankind. But the bright lights of the big city beckon to everyone, even our mysterious furry friend! Sharpen your search and find skills by locating him at his favorite metropolis. It won't be easy. BigFoot is visiting ten major cosmopolitan destinations, includin the Big Apple and London to Paris, Athens, Tokyo, Toronto, and more. This  book presents each urban oasis as an immense two-page visual puzzle, full of teeming people and creatures. Your task is not only to find BigFoot and his legendary footprint, but also more than 500 other unusual and sometimes unexpected personalities and objects. Fun facts and pictures accompany each scene to help you learn more about the world's most popular cities.
Bigfoot Visits the Big Cities of the World: A Seek and Find Activity Book is exactly what you expect to get from the title. My son has always enjoy the legendary Where's Waldo and I Spy books, and we have taking our chances with a variety of similar books we have found over the years that matched his current obsessions (super heroes, Pokemon, and so on).  I like the little bit of Bigfoot lore that was included, including the origin of the name and they way the creature is seen and what they are called in a variety of cultures, to make the hunt more interesting to young readers. There is also a good amount of information and history about each of the cities that bigfoot is hiding in throughout this book. I like the inclusions of real photographs from the locations, as well as the seek and find illustrations. I think many young readers will skip over the informational bits and just to the bigfoot hunts, but I feel like some will take the time to read, and any chance for them to continue learning I will fully support. Some of the seek and finds were challenging, but in a good way. I enjoyed the book and think that most that would pick up this style of book will agree.

Early Book Review: Survive the Night (Rocky Mountain K-9) by Katie Ruggle

Survive the Night is the third book in the Rocky Mountain K-9 series by Katie Ruggle. It is currently scheduled for release on February 6 2018. I highly recommend reading the series in order, not just because of the larger story arc and character building that has been done thus far, but because it is an entertaining read.

He's always been a haven:  For the lost. The sick. The injured.  But when a hunted woman takes shelter in his arms, this gentle giant swears he'll do more than heal her battered spirit—he'll defend her with his life. K9 Officer Otto Gunnersen always had a soft spot for anyone in need. As Monroe's very own Dr. Doolittle, he dedicates himself to rehabilitating the injured souls that cross his path—but for all his big heart, he's never been in love.  Until he meets Sarah Clifton's haunted eyes. Until he realizes he'll do anything to save her. All Sarah wants is to escape a life caught between ambitious crime families, but there's no outrunning her past. Her power-mad brother would hunt her to the ends of the earth, but he'd never expect Sarah to fight back. With Otto and the whole of Monroe, Colorado by her side, Sarah's finally ready to face whatever comes her way.  It's time to take a stand.

Survive the Night is all I was hoping for, and a little more. I love Otto's character. He is the big, silent type- but only because he is a big ole softy and trying to hide it. Sarah (Alice) has been controlled and abused all her life, and is more than a little scared of just about everything. Otto's social goofs and Sarah's joy in the little things really sold me on both the characters. They are just both so earnest and sweet that I could not help but love them both. I think they are my favorite couple from the series. I loved the duo of skittish hearts, and think they are the perfect pairing. The danger and survival aspects of the story are intense, and beyond my expectations.

Survive the Night is a wonderful addition to the series. My only issue is that it left me looking for more and I am a little too eager to see how it all plays out, and who the next pairing might be since all of our K-9 officers and ladies are paired up. 

Book Review: Duke of Nothing (1979 Club) by Jess Michaels

Duke of Nothing is the fifth book in the 1979 Club series by Jess Michaels. I have read some, but not all, of the books in this series. Each can stand on its own, but reading the series in order does give extra insights into the secondary characters and the group as a whole.

Baldwin Undercross, Duke of Sheffield, has a secret he’s keeping from almost everyone he knows and loves. He is destitute, thanks to gambling by his late father and his own bad decisions. There is only one option now, marry for money and do it soon. An opportunity presents itself when a rich American woman arrives in Society hunting for a title in trade for a huge dowry. Helena Monroe is the companion to her entitled cousin and she is miserable. But once she encounters Baldwin on a terrace, her time in England starts to look up. She quickly realizes he believes she is her cousin and everything starts to fall apart. Baldwin is now torn between a future that will save his family legacy and one with a woman he is growing increasingly attached to. Will he choose safety or passion, obligation or love?

Duke of Nothing is just what I have come to expect for Michaels. Baldwin and Helena are each facing big problems (or have) and are doing what they need to survive. They are willing to face less than pleasant options in order to help others, and sacrifice for the greater good. In fact, the only bad thing I could say about them is that maybe they are a little to perfect. Helena has been through hell but is still sweet and sunny. Baldwin is willing to toss away his own happiness to save those he loves. And the chemistry between them is hard core, although their efforts to deny themselves are sweet. I also loved their honesty with themselves, and each other, as they get to know each other. I was also glad to see some of the characters I know from the books I have read in this series make appearances and play a role in the story. I did find the bad to be a little over the top bad, and the good to be a little too good, but I was thoroughly entertained and found myself reading past my bed time.

Duke of Nothing is another entertaining read from Michaels. I liked the characters and the way they faced the problems at hand. This is a must read for fans of the author, and a good read for historical romance lovers that enjoy rooting for the underdog.

Book Review: Christmas in Kilts ( A Highland Fairy Tale) by Bronwen Evans, Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick

Christmas in Kilts ( A Highland Fairy Tale) by Bronwen Evans, Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick is a fast and fun collection of historical, Scottish romances with holiday flare from five best selling authors. The stories include A HIGHLANDER'S HOPE by Terri Brisbin in which a village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander visitor for the holidays who brings with him an offer and hope! Then there is LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent when readers discover what happens when a highlander finds himself stranded with an English lady around Christmas. Maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question. In A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans our main character is ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster while he is trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family's wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland. In SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick a chance encounter between a ship's captain and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays. And in A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot, who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

Christmas in Kilts is a collection of fast and fun reads. I like that I had a chance to explore writing by some authors that I had not read before, and a couple that I have. At no point did any of the stories or characters feel underdeveloped, or like I was missing something vital. Unfortunately that is a common flaw in this sort of collection, and I was glad to see it avoided here. While I did enjoy some of the stories more than others, Sweet Home Highland Christmas and A Scot For Christmas being my stand out favorites, there were none that would convince me not to try reading other things by the included authors. This is a great romance collection for those that enjoy the Scottish, historical romances, and want to try new authors without the commitment of a new series to follow.

Christmas in Kilts is a fun read for fans of historical fiction with a Scottish leaning. Fans of these authors will definitely want to pick it up, and those that have heard of the authors but have yet to dive into their work can use this as a fun, and enjoyable, way to test the waters. As always with collection, I enjoyed some stories more than others, but this time around there were none that I would have wanted to miss. 

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.