Book Review: In Search Of Dinosaurs: Find the Fossils: Identify the Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon

In Search Of Dinosaurs: Find the Fossils: Identify the Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon encourages readers to look out for dinosaur bones, footprints, and fossil feathers in this dinosaur dig site. Defore opening the gatefolds and uncovering the creatures to whom they once belonged, in 3 incredible, expansive panoramic scenes. Travel through Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous eras, hunting for fossils and then learning about each amazing prehistoric creature, before testing your knowledge with a fun dinosaur quiz. Grab your paleontologist’s tool kit and get stuck in with facts, stats, and colorful illustrations to amaze any young dinosaur enthusiast.

In Search Of Dinosaurs is a good non fiction introduction to fossil huntings and the eras when dinosaurs lived. I thought the break downs and information were very well done. The information was all valuable, but I think many dino obsessed young readers will already have some of this information down, but this is a good starting point for readers that are just discovering paleontology and dinosaurs. The illustrations were well done, giving the needed detail, but did not wow or amaze me with detail of vividness. I did like the short quiz at the end.

In Search Of Dinosaurs is basic non fiction resource for those looking to learn about dinosaurs and paleontology. It offers exactly what is expected by the title and description, but did not amaze me. 

Early Book Review: The Matchmaker's Match (Man's Best Friend) by Nicole Flockton

The Matchmaker's Match is the third book in the Man's Best Friend series by Nicole Flockton. While there are recurring characters in the series, each book can be fully enjoyed as a stand alone as well. This book is currently scheduled for release on June 18 2019.

The last person Meredith Turner expects to see at her best friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner is the guy she had a one night stand with. What’s worse, Lincoln Forrest is the best man and as maid of honor, her partner. To add insult to injury, she has to leave the rehearsal dinner early, and Lincoln is the one to help her with a deeply personal problem. The aftermath of that night brings big changes for them both. Lincoln Forrest has helped his best friend meet the woman of his dreams, but recently he’s made a series of bad decisions, the biggest being leaving his career with the Army. Now the former K-9 handler is looking for a new career and trying to get his life back on track. Helping Meredith in her time of need connects her to him more than he expected. On a mission to right the wrong he created, Linc will do whatever is needed. But when the attraction that first drew them together flares to life again, will the obstacles between them be too much to overcome? Or has the matchmaker met his match?

The Matchmaker's Match is a sweet romance where the biggest conflicts are Meredith and Linc dealing with their own history, doubts, and mistakes. I liked Meredith's character, and even when I did not agree with her decisions I could understand her thought process and how she got there. With Linc, I just liked his character. He is a good guy that is going through a huge transition in life and trying o find his way. I enjoyed seeing them find each other, support each other, and ultimately find their HEA. I will admit that there were moments where it all felt too simple, too easy for our couple. However, I still really enjoyed the read and often found myself smiling as I read, so it was a winner. Most of all, I found myself interested in some of the secondary characters, so going back to read the one book I missed, and reading the next book (which I hope features Linc's sister) are on my to do list.

The Matchmaker's Match is a heart warming contemporary romance. I was nice to see two characters at a crossroads in their lives find their way together.

Book Review: Made For You (Love & Family) by Anyta Sunday

Made For You is the second book in the Love & Family by Anyta Sunday. Each of the books in all of Sunday's series can stand well on its own, but fans and returning readers will be glad to see old friends make themselves know in each new book.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parents’ death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all? Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start. But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is. Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig? Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide. But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines.
Made For You is an emotional story about people finding themselves, family, and home. Ben is doing everything he can to raise his younger brother, but he is struggling and has some growing up of his own to do. Jack has a dream, remodeling a specific home for himself and building his own family. Sometimes what you really need is right under your nose, and terribly inconvenient or ill timed. Watching Ben and Jack build a friendship and everyone trying so hard to do what is right for Milo and each other, while ignoring their own needs, was amazing. Sometimes I wanted to jump into the book and give them all hugs, because they were all trying so hard and struggling. Other times I needed to take a break and cover my face in sympathetic embarrassment for mistakes, assumptions, and floundering explanations. There is just so much honest sweetness and growth in this book that I really still wish i could meet the characters befriend them. Of course, that holds true for all of Sunday's characters so I am not surprised.

Made For You is yet another lovely story by Sunday with a great deal of heart and character growth. I love that their stories are as much about the characters coming into their own as it is about them coming together.  

Book Review: Past Due for Murder (Blue Ridge Library Mystery) by Victoria Gilbert

Past Due for Murder is the third book in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series by Victoria Gilbert. I do suggest reading the series in order for personal character connections, but for the mystery portion new readers should have no problems catching up.

Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first—but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire. The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished—or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy. When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events—and a dead body lying nearby—an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research.

Past Due for Murder let me down a little. The characters and mystery were good. There were some fun twists and turns, and some painful emotional moments along the way as well. I still like the small town feel of Taylorsford and how the group of family and friends that Amy has around her. I had two problems with the book. First, I had a good idea of who the bad guy way, and some of the related why's very early in the book. I might have missed a couple little twists, but I was almost right on point way too early for my peace of mind. I was also a little annoyed with Amy's insecurities and the way some of the romance part of the book happened. The final chapters of the book fixed it, but by that point I was not really all that interested in the Amy and Richard drama. Frankly, I am much more interested in Sunny, Kurt, Lydia, and the rest of the secondary characters and how they move forward than I am in Amy and her future. 

Past Due for Murder is a good story, but not one that left me eager for more. I might just be done with this series for now.

Early Book Review: Blow: A Love Story by Tracy Ewens

Blow: A Love Story by Tracy Ewens Is currently scheduled for release on June 18 2019. While this book is part of a collection of love stories with connected characters, each can stand up well on its own. 

Millie Hart has made a career writing happy endings. While her real life is often less than enchanting, at least she has her stories, featuring strong, vibrant women ready for any challenge and men who stand in support of their dreams. Millie makes millions of readers swoon, but despite her agent’s deep objections, her new project is fueled by her intense drive to prove something. All she needs is four months in Bodega Bay. No meet-cutes, no kissing, just blissful silence. Drake Branch is happy to be alive. He’s healed, opened BP Glass Works with his best friend, and appreciates the value of his hometown. It’s been six years since the accident, and Drake has tackled every hurdle—mental and physical—to stand on his own. So, when he lets a struggling metalworks shop move in next door to his studio and the noise triggers old issues, Drake needs to crank the music—as loud as it will go. Millie rents the cottage mere steps from Drake’s studio to write a literary novel she hopes will finally gain her father’s approval and soon learns that away from her laptop, there are men who refuse to be edited out. Despite her neighbor’s insistence that she is an entitled tourist, Millie has been blown off most of her life and she’s not going anywhere this time. It is going to be one long summer unless Millie and Drake can learn that some books are more than their covers, one breath can change the shape of everything, and true family often shows up in unlikely places.
Blow: A Love Story is a love story that delighted me on several levels. I loved that Millie is a romance author and many of my favorite romance books and authors are mentioned outright or referenced in one way or another. That was such a fun element of the story, along with dealing with some of the assumptions and slights that are often aimed at the books, authors, and readers or the romance umbrella. On another level the story deals with characters facing down their demons, both physical and emotional, to allow themselves to love and trust beyond their comfort zone. I loved the slow movement from annoyance, to friends, to more. I loved the small town and family feels that are such an important undercurrent to the story as a whole. Most importantly, all of the characters felt real. They were all complex with their own flaws and great moments working towards a HEA not just for themselves, but for the people that are in their lives. This book brought all the feels, sometimes I was frustrated but other times I had a goofy grin on my face as I read, and other times I was ready to cry for what our couple had each been through to get where they could come together. The read was an engaging rollercoaster and I cannot wait for more from Ewens.

Blow: A Love Story is the third book I have read from this author, and it will certainly not be the last. I still need to go back and read the ones I missed, which I hope to do soon. 

Book Review: Pennybaker School is Revolting (Pennybaker School) by Jennifer Brown, Marta Kissi

Pennybaker School is Revolting is the second book in the Pennybaker School series written by Jennifer Brown and illustrated by Marta Kissi. While newcomers might get the gist quickly, I recommend reading this series in order to fully enjoy the uniqueness of Pennybaker school and those that work or attend there.

Sixth-grader Thomas Fallgrout is finally settling in at Pennybaker School, home of student unicyclers, thespians, acrobats, and other classmates with unique and unusual gifts. After a bit of an unusual start to the school year, things are finally starting to seem normal. As normal as they ever could be at this decidedly unusual school, anyway. Until his Facts After the Fact (aka History) teacher Mr. Faboo goes missing, right in the middle of his favorite lesson of the year, leaving the class not a clue as to why or how. And his Four Square (aka Phys Ed) teacher introduces a new unit that is decidedly distressing. And Thomas’s neighbor, the formerly friendless Chip (he of the wacky sock collection), swoops in and bonds with all of Thomas’s friends, leaving Thomas in the dust. This year is getting out of control, and it’s up to Thomas to take matters into his own hands. It’s time… for a revolution.

Pennybaker School is Revolting is a fun story about friendship and figuring out the important things. Thomas is still struggling with the strangeness of his school, and his best friend. But, the a teacher that has gone missing and a series of events that leaving him with what is important to him. Thomas is trying so hard to find his place in school, with his friends, and who he wants to be and how he wants to be seen. This is all on par with what kids (and some adults) really struggle with on any given day. However, sometimes it did seem a bit much for me, but I am well past the target age and well into the stage where I no longer really care what people think about me- well most of the time. I enjoyed the black and white illustrations, and thought they add a nice touch and some additional humor and information to the story. I did like the craziness that happens in the story, and enjoyed the read. I just did not love it like I did the first book in the series.

Pennybaker School is Revolting is a good story about friendship and coming into your own. I think there are many readers that will enjoy it, and maybe see something of themselves or their worries inside.

Book Review: The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties: The Magic, Myth, and Music of the Decade That Changed the World by Tobias Churton

The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties: The Magic, Myth, and Music of the Decade That Changed the World by Tobias Churton takes the reader on a long strange trip from crew-cuts and Bermuda shorts to Hair and Woodstock, from liquor to psychedelics, from uncool to cool, and from matter to Soul, Churton shows how the spiritual values of the Sixties are now reemerging.

No decade in modern history has generated more controversy and divisiveness than the tumultuous 1960s. For some, the ‘60s were an era of free love, drugs, and social revolution. For others, the Sixties were an ungodly rejection of all that was good and holy. Embarking on a profound search for the spiritual meaning behind the massive social upheavals of the 1960s, Tobias Churton turns a kaleidoscopic lens on religious and esoteric history, industry, science, philosophy, art, and social revolution to identify the meaning behind all these diverse movements. Engaging with views of mainstream historians, some of whom write off this pivotal decade as heralding an overall decline in moral values and respect for tradition, Churton examines the intricate network of spiritual forces at play in the era. He reveals spiritual principles that united the free love movement, the civil rights and anti-war movements, the hippies’ rejection of materialist culture, and the eventual rise of feminism, gay rights, and environmentalism. He traces influences from medieval troubadours, Gnosticism, Hindu philosophy, Renaissance hermetic magic, and the occult doctrines of Aleister Crowley. He also examines the psychedelic revolution, the genesis of popular interest in UFOs, and the psychological consequences of the Bomb and the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King. In addition, Churton investigates the huge shifts in consciousness reflected in the movies, music, art, and literature of the era--from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, from I Love Lucy to Star Trek, from John Wayne to Midnight Cowboy--much of which still resonates with the youth of today. 

The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties is a well organized and well researched look at a decade that means different things to different people. This was an engaging read about the conflicts and influences of the decade, and how little some of us really understand about what was happening at the time. I liked the personal narratives and framing that are included in the book, and found the images to be interesting and that they helped me connect more with the text. I do admit that I found some of the writing a little dry (not unusual for nonfiction) and I was not interested in everything that I read. However, I think the book offers a good exploration and thoughtful look at exactly what the title suggests.  

The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties is exactly what the title suggests. If the title catches your attention and you are interested in the spiritual aspects of the past than you might want to give this book a read.

Book Review: Sovereign (Nemesis) by April Daniels

Sovereign is the second book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. I highly recommend reading this series in order, as character and story development in  the first book, Dreadnought, is vital to fully enjoying this book. Since I enjoyed the first book so much, I do not think it will be a chore for any that need to go read, or reread, that first.
Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she's doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it's only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there's no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there's more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Sovereign is a complex and thought provoking book with character development that is impactful and  sometimes as painful as the physical battles the characters undergo. Danny is still struggling with the changes of becoming Dreadnought and the devastating battles fought in the first book. She needs to deal with the physical and emotional scars while trying to fight crime , keep her promises, get free from her parents, and deal with the social complications of her life. Despite the powers and her intelligence, Danny is still young and reeling from abuse and betrayals,  mistakes and assumptions are made making matters worse. I really enjoyed seeing Danny, Doc Impossible, Calamity, and the rest of the group come into their own and fight for what they think is right while trying to stick to their codes. I was floored by the honesty and raw truth of the characters- and how real the confusion, doubt, and complexity of their thoughts and emotions were. It is hard to get the balance of growth, feels, and action right- and this book hit it perfectly. 

Sovereign is a book that I put off reading for far too long. I loved the first book so much that I was worried it would not meet my high hopes, thankfully that worry was unfounded. However, my worry of wanting more right now from the author was well founded. I am hooked and want more. I highly recommend Dreadnought and Sovereign to readers from middle school age right on up to adults. The only people I think would not enjoy it are those with something against the LGBT community, and they might need to read it the most.

Book Review: Santiago: True Tales of a Little Bug in a Big World by Jennifer Vitanzo

Santiago: True Tales of a Little Bug in a Big World by Jennifer Vitanzo is currently scheduled for release today, June 5 2019. This is the true story of a wild praying mantis named Santiago and his many unusual adventures across South Africa with his adoptive family—two adult humans, three stuffed animals, a rotating cast of mantis‑sitters, and (for a short time, at least) a pigeon. All told from the mantis’s perspective, of course. His life of a newly hatched praying mantis takes an unexpected turn when he hitches a ride on a flower and ends up in a human’s kitchen. Now faced with surviving in an unknown land, he must learn to navigate the challenges of vacuums, dust bunnies, stovetops, and, most confusing of all, human beings. How will he survive in such an alien world?

Santiago: True Tales of a Little Bug in a Big World is the story of one little bug living in a human world, and discovering things about life in a house with humans, as well as how his own body grows. I loved how facts about mantises and other creatures are shared right along with information about Santiago's adopted family and  his particular adventures. The illustrations, informational text boxes, and photographs were a great addition to the book, and I really enjoyed them. There was plenty of humor right along with the information, and I found the unique perspective to be very entertaining to read and I think it will make many readers stop to think about some of the absurdity of human life, and how special some of the smallest lives can be. The tone of the book and the topics kept me engaged and reading long after I should have gotten up to do other things, but it was so worth it. I am adding this to my daughter's summer birthday gift and I think she will love it just as much as I did, if not more. 

Santiago: True Tales of a Little Bug in a Big World is a clever and delightful read. I highly recommend it for children and adults alike.

Book Review: American Carnival by David Skernick

American Carnival by David Skernick captures the magic of the rides and games and the carnies and clowns who make the carnival their home. Meet Kat the sword swallower, Ember the fire eater, and the Human Fuse, Brian Miser, who sails through the air on fire! As day fades to dusk and the lights come up, smell the cotton candy, feel the vertigo of the Silver Yo Yo, and hear the laughter and screams. The panoramic images allow you to see the fair as if you were standing there yourself. 
American Carnival is a look at the surface of carnivals. The games, the rides, and the people. Some of the images were stunning, and I loved the work with lighting and the way he let the subjects of the images choose their own poses and stance. I do wish we could have seen more, perhaps some of the less bright and bold of the carnival, but I am more interested in the down and dirty of the work that actually goes into making this look that exciting than the facade. The photography was well done, but and some of the little stories about taking them were amusing, but I felt like there is so much more that could be done with the subject matter.