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.

Book Review: Amazing World Sea Creatures: Encounter 20 Amazing Light-Up Animals by Lee Martin

Amazing World Sea Creatures: Encounter 20 Amazing Light-Up Animals by Lee Martin is a children's non fiction book that explores the amazing creatures that live in the deep ocean. From the lanternfish, to the Atolla jellyfish, to the glowing bioluminescent octopus, the ocean is filled with animals that gleam and glow. This book leads readers on a journey to see how these living lights use bioluminescence, fluorescence, and symbiotic bacteria to light up! Along with the information on  twenty strange and amazing marine animals, the book also includes glow-in-the-dark stickers!

Amazing World Sea Creatures: Encounter 20 Amazing Light-Up Animals is an interesting and informative book that will capture the interest of many readers. The creatures that live in the depths of the oceans are strange to us, but nature has provided them with skills and tools to help them survive. This book explains those tools, how they work, and the lives of these unique animals in a way that is accessible and high interest.  I think the photograph are simply stunning, and the graphics showing details like location range, size comparison, and more help make the facts offer easier to understand and put into context. I can see this book sparking further research and curiosity about sea life, and nature in general. The book does not give comprehensive information on each creature, how could it, but it offers enough information to satisfy middle grade readers, and all of those interested in the subject. Since I had a digital copy I did not have the stickers, so those were not included in my review, although I am sure the are an incentive to purchase for the target audience. 

Early Book Review: Flame in the Dark (Soulwood) by Faith Hunter

Flame in the Dark is the third book in the Soulwood series by Faith Hunter. I do recommend reading this series in order, I do not think new readers to the series will get as much out of it as those that have been following the series.  It is set in the same world as the Jane Yellowrock series, and has some character crossover. It is not necessary to have full and current knowledge of the Yellowrock series, but it will certainly enhance the read. It is currently scheduled for release on December 5 2017.
Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED—the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet. A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead—and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more—or less—than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.

Flame in the Dark is what I was hoping for, and so much more. The case that Nell's team is on revealed more about the team, and the supernatural in the world they live in. I liked the slow reveal, but I will admit to have some suspicion about the nature of the culprit prior to the reveal. However, the extent of the horror involved in those crimes still sent me off center and shook me a bit. It was perfectly planned and executed. Nell's journey is so full of emotion and social growth and challenge that I find myself very invested in her story, and the well being of those involved in her life. I was glad to see some huge things happen, some things resolved, and the promise of so much more to come. I will admit to being worried for a bit that Nell's story might be over, and that another character might have to step up and be the focus of the next book or more of this series. Notice me trying to avoid saying anything about the action and plot of this book, because I do not want to ruin the surprises that are in store for readers. If you have been following the series, you need to keep going. If you have not started yet- start from the beginning and buckle up, this series is quite the roller coaster. 

Flame in the Dark is another fantastic book by Faith Hunter. My only issue is that I am always wanting to get the next bit of story NOW, rather than waiting for it to be written and published. I highly recommend this series, and her Jane Yellowrock series, which I have been listening to on audiobook. If you like audiobooks, her reader is wonderful so have no fear and jump on in, but do it in order.