Early Book Review: The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree; Arthur der Weduwen

The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree; Arthur der Weduwen is currently scheduled for release on November 7 2021. Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes, or filled with bean bags and children’s drawings—the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident. Historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen introduce readers to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world’s great collections, trace the rise and fall of literary tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts. In doing so, they reveal that while collections themselves are fragile, often falling into ruin within a few decades, the idea of the library has been remarkably resilient as each generation makes—and remakes—the institution anew.

The Library: A Fragile History is a well written and thoroughly researched book. It gives an overview of the history of libraries, highlighting some notable libraries and collectors along the way. I think the information is very well organized, and I appreciated the inclusion of some women that have had an impact, which is often left out or written about in a condescending way. I appreciate the amount of research and work that went into the book, and found the subject matter fascinating. However, I think those most interested would do better to tackle this book one section at a time rather than trying to read it straight through. The information is great, it is meticulously researched and cited, but the text reads a bot dry and dense. The passion the authors, and most readers that pick up this book, feel is not conveyed through the text making it a less engaging read. I am still very glad I read it and learned so much, and I think those interested in the title and subject matter will be as well. It is just a slightly more dense non fiction read than I normally enjoy. As one would hope, and expect, from a book about libraries the lists of citations and the bibliography was complete and though. This made me happier as a reader because I could further explore the sources used in researching this book. 

The Library: A Fragile History is a book that will appeal to anyone that has ever fallen in love with reading, books, libraries, or the trappings of any related topics. 

Book Review: Amazing Temples of the World by Michael Kerrigan

Amazing Temples of the World by Michael Kerrigan offers readers an intimate portrait of some spectacular and unusual places of worship dating from the fourth millennium BCE to the present. Ornate or spartan, immense or intimate, from the Middle East to California, this book features such impressive places of worship as the Mahabodi Temple, India, built in the location where Buddha is thought to have achieved enlightenment; the fifth century BCE Temple of Confucius in Qufu, China, the largest Confucian temple in the world; Abu Simbel, in southern Egypt, the great carved monument to the Pharaoh Ramses II; the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, the spiritual home of the world’s 25 million Sikhs; and the Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, London, the biggest Hindu temple outside India. With more than 180 photographs, this book includes more than 150 places of worship, from Ancient Greece and Rome, through traditional synagogues to modern Buddhist, Taoist and Sikh temples organized by region.
Amazing Temples of the World is a collection of stunning temples from around the world. I liked that the images included ancient and modern places of worship, including those in a wide variety of repair. The contrast between the ancient ruins, the well maintained and highly decorated, and the simplicity of some of the temples was wonderful to see. I loved getting the opportunity to see places that I am not likely to get to see in person, for a variety of reasons. It was also interesting to see that even across several continents, spanning a variety of religions and centuries, there is a similarity of reverence and majesty in all locations regardless of the obvious differences.

Early Book Review: Geckos Don't Blink by Kelly Tills

Geckos Don't Blink by Kelly Tills is currently scheduled for release on November 2 2021. In this light-hearted book, learn how geckos sneeze and sleep without ever closing their eyes. See all the groovy colors geckos can see at night with their powerful eyes. Enjoy hearing your child shout out the answers to silly questions like "Can a gecko wink when it tells a good joke?" This call and response format is a time-tested method for keeping kids engaged and interacting, instead of just chewing on the pages.
Geckos Don't Blink is a cute and entertaining nonfiction picturebook. While I knew most of the information provided, I do think it will be new to the target audience. I found the phrasing of chosen information, and the delightful illustrations, work together well to capture and hold the attention of the youngest readers. I also like the framing of the book, and series as a whole, that everyone and everything has something weird and wonderful about them. 

Early Book Review: Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau

Donut Fall in Love 
by Jackie Lau is a contemporary romance currently scheduled for release on October 26 2021. Actor Ryan Kwok is back in Toronto after the promotional tour for his latest film, a rom-com that is getting less-than-stellar reviews. After years of constant work and the sudden death of his mother, Ryan is taking some much-needed time off. But as he tries to be supportive to his family, he struggles with his loss and doesn't know how to talk to his dad—who now trolls him on Twitter instead of meeting him for dim sum. Innovative baker Lindsay McLeod meets Ryan when he knocks over two dozen specialty donuts at her bakery. Their relationship is off to a messy start, but there’s no denying their immediate attraction. When Ryan signs up for a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, he asks Lindsay to teach him how to bake and she agrees. As Lindsay and Ryan spend time together, bonding over grief and bubble tea, it starts to feel like they’re cooking up something sweeter than cupcakes in the kitchen.

Donut Fall in Love hooked from the very beginning. I really enjoyed Ryan and Lindsey as characters, they were each complex and dealing with their own issues before they even meet. Family, identity, friendships, grief, racism, and more are all part of the story. These issues come together to show a realistic experience; good and bad all wrapped up together like in the real world. The complications of grief and family in this book really hit me hard, and I appreciated the open way it was discussed and dealt with. I think the story did a great job of balancing the hope and dream chasing with the realities of coping with public perception, family, and grief. I also liked the emphasis that is placed on communication,  because as much as most of us dread the hard conversations they need to be had, and even if the results are unexpected they can still have a needed impact. I was engaged through the entire read, and rooting not only for our main couple, but their friends and family as well. I will be looking to read more from this author. 

Donut Fall in Love is a fun romance that also tackles some serious topic. It is a well balanced and enjoyable read.

Book Review: Unperfect by Susie Tate

Unperfect by Susie Tate is a contemporary romance. I believe it is number four in the Beg Borrow, or Steal series, as there are some cameos from characters I recognize, but it is not labeled as such. Content warning, there is significant domestic violence content.

When Mia shows up for the interview at a well-known architecture firm, she only has 27p, a squashed loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter to her name. She needs this job. Even if she is scared to death of the owner of the company. Max has made a name for himself as that grumpy northern architect off Dream Homes (the most popular house design programme in the UK).  It turned out that the whole gorgeous-but-rough-around-the-edges-Yorkshire-man vibe was just what the country was looking for – the episode had gone viral and Max was the new, extremely reluctant, pin-up of the building industry. But to Mia, huge, grumpy men weren’t sexy, they were simply terrifying. She knows from experience that even men of average size can be dangerous. If she wasn’t so desperate, she’d run. She’s used to running. Running away is Mia’s special talent, together with invisibility – survival techniques she’s perfected over the years. So, she’ll put up with Max and his moods, ignore him calling her a teen emo freak (he’s not to know that her black hair used to be honey blonde or her heavy eyeliner isn’t by choice) and just bloody well jog on. It’s easy to hide when nobody really sees you. But what happens when Max finally opens his eyes?

Unperfect is a romance that hit me hard on several levels. It is not an easy read, but it was so worth it. Mia is trying to survive, trying to hide in plain sight, until she is safe and can move forward. Max is a grumpy guy with a heart of gold and a penchant for protecting and helping those around him. The dance these two do around each other- with trust, safety, and health issues is highly engaging. It was certainly not easy to read- the abuse and related recovery is hard to read but very realistically handled- which made it hit especially hard. Seeing the character arch for both Max and Mia, and how they interacted with others, was very well crafted and multi dimensional. The heart and honesty in this book is off the charts. I liked that even though so much of the book is based around heavy themes and healing, there are enough lighter moments and some joy to keep everything well balanced. I think there are definitely some people that might not be in the right place to read this, especially if they are  dealing with issues of violence and fear, but I think it might offer the hope and understanding that other people might need to help them heal.

Unperfect is not necessarily an easy or fun read. However, it is touching and engaging. I think it will strike a chord with many readers. 

Early Book Review: Awakened (Diablo Lake) by Lauren Dane

 Awakened is the third book in the Diablo Lake series by Lauren Dane. It is currently scheduled for release on October 26 2021. I have not read the previous books in this series. While I think this book can be enjoyed on its own, returning readers will get more out of it than newcomers. 

It’s autumn in Diablo Lake and the town is buzzing with preparations for Halloween, Samhain, Collins Hill Days, and the wedding of the newly elected mayor and her wolf shifter fiancĂ©. Ruby Thorne can’t think of a better time of year to come back for good and open the health clinic she’s been planning for the last six years. Her connection to the town and its veins of magic have snapped back into place, flooding her with a power eager to jump to her call. She has a sense of rightness. This witch is exactly where she’s supposed to be. So it’s not much of a surprise that he comes back into her path just like he was meant to. Damon Dooley has spent the last few years learning how to run the pack at his older brother’s right hand. There’s been upheaval. Outrage. Violence. Old rules have created a silence so crushing it’s collapsed the fabric of not just the wolf shifters, but the town as a whole. And yet, Ruby has returned. Man and wolf agree she needs to be in their life regularly, and before long, things move from serious to something magically deeper. Bound to one another heart and soul, both committed to what’s best for Diablo Lake, Ruby backs Damon as he pushes for much-needed change. But when something falls into Ruby’s lap and she learns the whole, terrible truth, secrets need to be spilled. How—and by whom—becomes the only question.

Awakened is a book with several subplots that fans of the series will be eager to see move forward. Even as a newcomer to the series I was interested in the community drama and how things were going to play out. I thought that there was a great deal of character and world building that was very well done. The families and how everyone was connected and had unique personalities was very well done. That being said, I felt like the relationship between Ruby and Damon was a little too easy. They had the previous knowledge of each other, but spent some time getting to know how they had each changed. They were very open and communicated well about what they needed or wanted from each other, and their commitments to their families and communities and the interruptions that might take place. The majority of tension came from outside, the politics and past that the werewolf pack was dealing with. There just was no will they/wont they or how are they going to come back from this moments to keep me invested in the couple. It just did not grab me and make me care about Ruby and Damon, who were just a little two perfect on their own and together. 

Awakened is a must read for fans oft he series and author, but it just did not capture my attention like past books from the author. 

Early Book Review: Bat's Moonlight Feast by Gordon McMillan, Carly Allen-Fletcher

Bat's Moonlight Feast is a nonfiction picturebook written by Gordon McMillan and illustrated by Carly Allen-Fletcher. It is currently scheduled for release on November 1 2021. The tube-lipped nectar bat is the pollinator of a pale, bell-shaped flower found in the Ecuadorian cloud forests. First discovered in 2005, the bat is the only known pollinator of a pale, bell shaped flower called Centropogon nigricans . Due to the length of the bloom, no other animal can reach the nectar which rests at the flower’s base. This is the story of one such bat and her nocturnal search for this rare flower whose nectar sustains her.

Bat's Moonlight Feast is an absolutely beautiful book. I thought the artwork was extremely well done and did a great job of showing the details of the subject matter. The backgrounds were just as beautiful as the work done on the bats and flowers. I looked through the images several times simply to enjoy them. I also thought the text was well done, and easy to understand without being dumbed down. I liked the additional text that gave more information on the newly discovered bat and what we have learned about it. I think young readers will love this book, and animal and nature enthusiasts of all ages will as well. 

Early Book Review: Cows Have No Top Teeth by Kelly Tills

Cows Have No Top Teeth by Kelly Tills is currently scheduled for release on November 2 2021. In this light-hearted book, learn just how much cows like to chew, even without top teeth. They graze all day, then rest, and chew some more. Enjoy hearing your child shout out the answers to silly questions like "Does a cow drink through a straw?" This call and response format is a time-tested method for keeping kids engaged and interacting, instead of just chewing on the pages.
Cows Have No Top Teeth is a fun and informative nonfiction picture book. The illustrations are cute, and catch the eye to hold the attention of the youngest readers. I thought the facts chosen and the phrasing were accessible and interesting.  To be perfectly honest, I had no idea that cows have no top teeth, although I did know most of the other information. I liked that the whole concept of this series, that every one and everything has something different about them, and that difference is wonderful. 

Early Book Review: Eli And The Mystery Of The Hallowshine Dragon by Eve Cabanel, Ekaterina Ilchenko

Eli And The Mystery Of The Hallowshine Dragon, written by Eve Cabanel and illustrated by Ekaterina Ilchenko, is currently scheduled for release on October 23 2021. A moon elf’s journey to undo a dragon’s curse illuminates the power of friendship. Two courageous friends adventure through lands of unicorns, fairies, and magical rainbows to confront a terrifying beast with a surprising wish. In a beautiful enchanted forest lives a moon elf named Eli and her friend Luna. When Luna’s baby bunny is turned into hard rock candy by magical sugar crystals, the friends begin a journey to do the impossible to reverse the curse: confront the terrifying and legendary Hallowshine dragon for a drop of its healing saliva. In their race against time to find the dragon, Eli and Luna meet magical creatures and travel through various dreamy lands including the Abyss of Time, a marvelous unicorn’s kingdom, a whimsical fairy’s home, and a waterfall with enchanted golden shoes. A magical lesson is learned about how love, friendship, and acceptance can heal all if you have courage and believe in yourself.

Eli And The Mystery Of The Hallowshine Dragon is a fantasy picturebook. First, I need to say that my favorite thing about this book is the artwork. The illustrations are beautifully done, and worth a look all on their own. I looked through the book more than once simply to admire the artwork. I will be keeping an eye out for more from the artist. I was less impressed with the story. The plot and characters were cute, but I felt like the text and story line was a little inconsistent or scattered. There were a couple times that I had 'wait, what' moments or felt like something had been repeated. I think there was great potential here, and the framework for something amazing is here, but it just did not come together for me. Perhaps one more editorial pass would have pulled everything together and made it work more for me.  

Book Review: A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation, Volume 4, by Misaki, Momochi, Sando

A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation, Volume 4, by Misaki, Momochi, Sando is the latest volume being adapted from Misaki's  is original A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation light novel series by Momochi and Sando , who helped bring the series to life as a manga with their character designs and artwork.

Lizel and Gil finally flush out their mysterious attacker and settle the score with him, but it seems the assailant isn't quite the threat they initially believed him to be.Is it possible this former foe could actually be a new ally? Maybe so... but first he'll have to convince them to give him the chance he knows he deserves! Until he's able to find a way home, Lizel figures this is a perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life adventuring as part of a guild. After all, he's sure he'll go home eventually so he might as well enjoy the otherworldly vacation for now.

The forth volume of A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation is a solid continuation of the story. Relationships continue to grow and characters get to grow quite a bit in the process. Fans of the previous volumes will want to read this and continue the tale, but this is very much a series that needs to be read in order. In fact, a reread of previous installments might serve readers well depending on how long it has been since they read the previous part. As someone that has read some of the light novel series, it took me a bit to figure out where I was in the story, which was made more challenging by some formatting issues in my digital galley- which I fully expect are fixed in the final version.