Book Review: Accidental Groom (Accidental Love) by Dana Mason

Accidental Groom is the first book in the Accidental Love series by Dana Mason. each book can be read as a stand alone or as a part of a series with carry over characters. 
Mac is the radio host that wakes most of Sacramento up every morning. The sultry voice that blares out of your speakers when you’re sipping your first coffee of the day, or driving to work, stuck in traffic. Everyone knows him, knows his reputation: ladies’ man, bad boy, eternally single commitment-phobe. Except, after one hell of a drunken accident, he has woken up married to a gorgeous green-eyed girl, Kelley, who he only met yesterday in a coffee shop. A killer hangover later, it turns out that this playboy is off the market.
Accidental Groom is so much more than I expected from the cover and blurb. Mac is not just an alpha male with some issues, he is one that is already taking steps to improve himself and has people there that call him out when he is not on the right track. Kelley has been through hell and has trouble asking for help. They hit it off right away, but both are admittedly a bit gun shy and have trouble sharing their pasts and their troubles. I liked seeing the pair find their way together, and work things out despite their fears. Emotional fear is the biggest obstacle they face, and seeing it slowly chipped away was satisfying. I love that things were not suddenly perfect once they admitted to themselves that they loved the other, they still needed to talk and work things out. This makes a read feel so very real, when perfect happiness is fought for rather than just assumed. 
Accidental Groom is much more than a light hearted romp with a hasty marriage. There are serious issues addressed and a happy ever after that is well earned. I am going to have to keep my eyes open for the next book. 

Book Review: Brilliant Ideas From Wonderful Women: 15 Incredible Inventions from Inspiring Women! by Aitziber Lopez

Brilliant Ideas From Wonderful Women: 15 Incredible Inventions from Inspiring Women! by Aitziber Lopez is a children's non fiction book that shares the stories behind 15 of the twentieth century's key inventions by trailblazing women, who each made a unique contribution to the history of science and technology. Car heaters, Monopoly, Disposable diapers, the dishwasher, Kevlar, Maritime flares, Anti-reflective glass, Wifi, Syringes, Submarine periscopes, Diagnostic tests, Lifeboats, Windshield wipers and Ebooks were all pioneered by women! Each invention is presented with biographical information about the brilliant woman who came up with it, including what inspired them. Learn how Martha Coston disguised herself as a man to contact pyrotechnicians and convince them to manufacture her idea for maritime flares, how a New York tram ride on a wet winter’s day led Mary Anderson to invent the windshield wiper, and why Letitia Mumford Geer’s one-hand operated syringe was a medical breakthrough, among other fascinating facts. Full-page illustrations show the inspiration for and use of these incredible inventions in humorous detail.

Brilliant Ideas is a wonderful primer about some of the women inventors that have changed the world with their ideas. I think that the combination of information about the actual science and engineering of each invention is lightly covered, but the struggles these women faced to be taken seriously or just get their work done is very well detailed. I have heard the basics of some of these stories before, but not all of them. I was glad to have more details on the lives of some of these women, and to learn about the others. For instance, I knew Hedy Lamarr's work was the basis for Wifi and bluetooth, but I did not know about the treatment she endured in her marriage. This was and informative and engaging read with a nice balance of illustrations to keep the attention of distracted readers. 

I think this book would be a great read in homes and classrooms. It can be used to inspire inventors, and to show perseverance to readers. It can also help show how far rights and perceptions of women have come, how long it has taken, and how much further we really need to go for everyone to be treated equally and respected.

Book Review: Not the Duke's Darling (Greycourt) by Elizabeth Holt

Not the Duke's Darling is the first book in the Greycourt series by Elizabeth Holt. Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she's attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge. Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he'd much rather forget. But she's also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can't resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he'll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya's trust...by whatever means necessary.

Not the Duke's Darling starts off well, with action and some mystery about the pasts oft he main characters, but I felt like it never got better than the first chapter. Freya and Christopher have hurt and scandal in their shared past, and more that has befallen both of them since the day that shattered three families. There are multiple story lines, histories, and dangers in play and while I liked the characters I felt like some oft he important details that are important to the history and motivation and not fully fleshed out. I need more information on the Wise Women and witch related story arc, I want more understanding about what actually happened the night of the "Greycourt scandal". Readers get bits and pieces of the stories, and how they relate to some of the characters, but I wanted a better understanding of the big picture. There were also a slew of new loose  ends, particularly three characters of ill intent that just rather disappeared- with no one questioning their whereabouts. The romance and connection between Freya and Christopher was good, and I liked the respect and strength they shared. However, as a whole I was not really as engaged or intent on the story as the opening scene had my expecting to be. 

Not the Duke's Darling is a good, but not wonderful read. I have come to expect more from Holt, and while I am curious about what might happen next for a couple characters I am not going to be hunting down the rest of the series.

Early Book Review: Put on Your Owl Eyes: Open Your Senses & Discover Nature's Secrets; Mapping, Tracking & Journaling Activities by Devin Franklin

Put on Your Owl Eyes: Open Your Senses & Discover Nature's Secrets; Mapping, Tracking & Journaling Activities by Devin Franklin is currently scheduled for release on May 14 2019. This book is intended to help readers see the natural world around them with brand new eyes. It will teach them to follow its signs, hear its language, and understand its secrets. The book is written by expert environmental educator Devin Franklin, for kids aged 8 to 13 to read and build their own relationship with nature. From the Six Arts of Tracking (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How) and making a habitat map to walking in smooth silence like a fox and learning the basics of bird language, exploration exercises lead young readers on a fascinating journey of discovery as they watch, listen, map, interpret, and write about the sounds, sights, scents, and patterns they encounter.  There are journaling prompts, map-making activities, and observational tracking pages throughout.

Put On Your Owl Eyes is a book that offers personal accounts from the author, inspiration for readers to slow down and notice the wonders of nature, and activities and challenges that can help keep them engaged and interested. I really liked the balance between the personal stories, activities, and information. I think some readers with be skimming over some of the terminology that is explained, as if they are already interested in nature and the environment they will already know the vocabulary, however I am glad that the explanations are there because newcomers to the terms might feel left out or discouraged with out those explanations. It will encourage engaged readers to do further research and explorations- which is the point of the book. The photographs and  text are well balanced, keeping the interest and focus of the reader moving. The journal entry spaces and writing prompts might be small for some readers, depending on their writing ability and style, but that is hard to judge since I was reading a digital copy rather than a paper edition which might be larger than I picture. As a whole I think this would be a fantastic read for middle graders that love the outdoors and want to learn more about nature, or have a reason to spend time outside exploring. I like that the activities can be revisited continuously and some are designed to become part of a routine. I also like that at the end of the book there is a message of accomplishment and encouragement to continue for readers, and a list of organizations in a few states that could be good resources for readers.

Put On Your Owl Eyes is an interactive guidebook for middle grade readers. It is not a book to sit and read through; it is a book to explore, fill with experiences, and return to as desired.

Book Review: Duke of Desire (1797 Club) by Jess Michaels

Duke of Desire is the ninth book in the 1797 Club series by Jess Michaels. I have read most, but not all of the books in this series, and not in order. Each can be read as a stand alone, but character and relationship building is more complex and layered for those that have followed along.

Robert Smithton, Duke of Roseford is known for his lusty appetites and his cold, cold heart. Still thanks to his title and his fortune, everyone wants him and he’s bored of it all. He wants something, but he cannot place what exactly that is. Until he meets Katherine, the Countess of Gainsworth. Married to an old man who died when they were making love, Katherine is just returning to Society. Although scandal follows her, so does interest, as the men of Society wonder about her prowess if it could kill a man. When Robert begins to pursue her, she is horrified. After all, she blames him for the circumstances that sent her into her loveless marriage in the first place. When Katherine ignores him, Robert only pushes harder and ultimately she begins to wonder if revenge is a dish best served through desire. What she finds when she touches him at last is pleasure unlike any she’s ever known, and a connection she does not wish to feel. Now she must decide if she wants revenge or happiness and Robert must determine if love is worth fighting for. 
Duke of Desire is a historical romance with plenty of emotion and well written characters. Robert is in denial about so much,  trying to stay unattached emotionally and still dealing with his childhood tragedy. Katherine has been through so much, and just wants to live a quite life without being beholden to the whims or demands of others. I enjoyed seeing the two find their own way, and their way to each other. The friends and secondary characters that help them along in many ways are the familiar faces from the series, and even newcomers to the series will enjoy the honesty and bonds of this group.  Everyone should have a group of friends like this. I found myself holding my breath at times, and alternately hurting for the pair, or wanting to kick them, as they struggled with their own demons enough to find their way toward a happy ending. I love that there is no magic moment where all issues just disappear, but rather the characters need to deal with them and talk to each other in order to find a resolution. They actually talk about their issues, about what stands between them, and deal with it rather than the book just ending with a declaration of love and forgetting the emotional issues from both of their pasts. I think a romance that does this just feels more real, the characters more alive, than those that just pretend all that disappears once love is acknowledged.  

Duke of Desire is exactly what fans of Michaels have come to expect, an engaging and entertain read with plenty of heart and heat. 

Book Review: The Woolly Monkey Mysteries: The Quest to Save a Rain Forest Species by Sandra Markle

The Woolly Monkey Mysteries: The Quest to Save a Rain Forest Species by Sandra Markle is a nonfiction book for children and adults. In the cloud forests of the Amazon Basin, scientists are installing extraordinary numbers of camera traps in the hopes of learning more about an elusive species—woolly monkeys. No one knows for sure how many woolly monkeys are left in the wild. But they play a key role in their ecosystem, and without them the rain forest is in trouble. Readers can join scientists on their quest to solve the mysteries surrounding the lives of woolly monkeys before it's too late.

The Woolly Monkey Mysteries is a well researched and written look at the research and conservation efforts that are currently in the works surrounding the Woolly Monkey. I never really new about this particular type on monkey, so was very interested to learn about it. I love that Markle not only shares the discoveries that have been made about this particular primate,  but also its place in the ecosystem of Peru and the work that goes into gathering information and making sense of the data. It is so hard to just get a single camera up in the trees to study the monkeys and other wildlife, and the determination and work that these scientists display is inspiring. It might just inspire some of the readers to persevere in something they are struggling with, or see how much efforts others are putting into things they might have never considered hard work. I like that the book offers digital content for interested readers, like QR codes that allow readers to hear the sounds of the jungle and woolly monkey, and see them in their natural habitat. I also found the activity, glossary, and further reading suggestions at the end of the book to be wonderful. These small things can help inspire young readers to take action and research further.

The Woolly Monkey Mysteries is yet another wonderful nonfiction book my Markle. Her combination of scientific research and information combined with action and hope for the future leaves this reader invested and inspired with the future of the woolly monkey and the world as a whole. I love this author's work, and look forward to see what animal she will write about next.

Book Review: Passion and Ink (Sweetest Taboo) by Naima Simone

Passion and Ink is the second book in the Sweetest Taboo series by Naima Simone. I have not read the first book, and think that each can be enjoyed on its own those that are returning will enjoy seeing favorite characters return and will understand much more of the family and character dynamics. 

Blackballed from her job Cypress has moved back to my hometown with her tail between my legs and family issues crushing her back. Slinging drinks in a dive bar. The past year has been hell, so when a man who’s temptation wrapped in golden skin and sin offers a one night of no-holds barred, dirty sex, she's all in. But now those few unforgettable hours have her facing blackmail  to pay for my mom's medical bills, but only if she never again touches the man who has quickly become an obsession.Because the man? The obsession? He’s her stepbrother. 
Passion and Ink is a book that has imperfectly perfect characters. Cypress has built walls around herself, and the people around her have proven over and over again that she is on her own. She tries not to let people in, and fears losing herself in love too much to let herself become invested. Jude has demons of his own to face, emotionally delicate people in his life that have him second guessing himself. He has a serious savior complex, but at least he is aware of it. Despite all of that, I found him to be almost too perfect. His patience and willingness to do pretty much anything for those he cares about was amazing. I do not think he said one wrong word, or made any mistakes other than simply being too nice through the entire book. Meanwhile, he seemed to understand more about Cypress than she did. Cypress is a strong, wounded character with fears that have been earned through a hard life, but sometimes got a little too wrapped up in her own issues to see other peoples. I enjoyed the story as a whole, and enjoyed the read. It was hot, with some serious and realistic issues tossed in. 
Passion and Ink is a story of complicated love, and people facing their own personal demons and doubts to find and embrace love. 

Book Review: DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs: 20 Easy-to-Build Creations for Your Best Friend by Armelle Rau; Pierre Legrix

DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs: 20 Easy-to-Build Creations for Your Best Friend by Armelle Rau and Pierre Legrix offers readers  20 simple projects that they can make in just a weekend, without any advanced skills or special tools. From a cat tree and a hide-away litter box to bowl stands, leash racks, and a Scandinavian bed platform, these stylish structures will take care of your pet’s needs while preserving your interior d├ęcor. Built and pet-tested by the authors in their own home, each imaginative creation features step-by-step instructions, materials lists, and inspirational color photographs. Projects include litter boxes, dog house, bowl stands, bed platforms, travel basket, cat tree, leash rack, bedside table cabin, and more.

DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs has a nice variety of projects, some of which I found to be completely not my style but some which I would gladly spend the time to build and put in my home or give to family for their pets. I found the instructions and photographs to be very well done, and easy to understand. I like that while some tools are necessary to get the work done, they are all tools that the average home (at least the home of anyone reading a book about building) are likely to own or have access to rather than crazy specialty tools.  The book is well balanced with projects for cats and dogs, with a variety of styles and function. As an animal lover I know I will be storing away some of these ideas for a later date, and will sadly never actually get around to making any of these, I think they are accessible and understandable instructions that anyone with the interest and motivation to make these projects will be successful. 

DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs is a well written and organized resource for handy pet lovers. I think this might be a book I would borrow from a library rather than buying, only to check out when ready to get to work, unless you plan on making a full collection of the projects for your home, and for your family and friends.  

Book Review: Fashions Fade, Haunted Is Eternal (Haunted Vintage) by Rose Pressey

Fashions Fade, Haunted Is Eternal is the seventh book in the Haunted Vintage Mystery series by Rose Pressey. I have read some, but not all, of the books in this series. While those reading the series in order will definitely get more from the character and relationship development than newcomers, I think each book can also be enjoyed without the prior knowledge. 

Cookie Chanel, owner of the chic clothing store It’s Vintage Y’All in Sugar Creek, Georgia, has been hired to dress models for a fashion shoot. The spread will be featured in Fashion and Style magazine's October issue—so the models are posing in a cemetery. As someone who can see and talk to ghosts, Cookie's not spooked by the location. But she is surprised when a new ghost appears, decked out in 1920s couture. And she's shocked when she hears a gunshot. Then a model runs toward her, saying the grumpy photographer has been edited out of the picture – for good. With help from her ghostly pals, Cookie must zoom in on the truth before she’s the next to strike a final pose.

Fashions Fade, Haunted Is Eternal is a well written story with a nice balance of character development, small town charm, and mystery. I like that there are some creepy moments, but that the ghosts themselves are not spooky. The biggest scares come from the mystery, not the supernatural element of the story. I like Cookie and her ghostly companions, and like that while there is a romance factor here it does not overwhelm the rest of the story.I thought the mystery was well done although I still wonder what happened with a couple of the bits of information that turned out to be nothing. I also have a couple ghost related questions, but revealing those thoughts might offer spoilers and I would hate to do that.

I am not sure what was not working for me though, because while I enjoyed the read I never really became fully engaged. I wanted to know where everything was going and what would happen next, but I had no trouble putting the book aside to deal with other matters, or waste time on Facebook. Maybe it was just my mindset when I started reading and nothing to do with the book, because I cannot put my finger on the reason for the disconnect.

Fashions Fade, Haunted Is Eternal is a solid cozy mystery with a ghostly flavor. I think fans of the author and series will enjoy it and want to keep on reading. 

Book Review: Hair!: Animal Fur, Wool, and More by Marilyn Singer, Julie Colombet

Hair!: Animal Fur, Wool, and More is a children's nonfiction book written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Julie Colombet. Why are humans and other mammals covered in hair, and why are there so many different types of it? Vivid photographs paired with a duo of quirky, illustrated hair guides serve to illuminate the fascinating facts about mammal hair: why it exists, what it's good for, and more. Readers will learn about different types of animal coats, such as fur and down, and explore the many different forms guard hairs take, such as the quills on a porcupine.

Hair!: Animal Fur, Wool, and More is a well balanced non fiction book for young readers. I like that information is given alongside beautiful photographs and illustrations that offer a combination of humor and fun facts. A great deal oft he information I already knew, some I had forgotten, and some was new or updated from what I had learned previously. The vocabulary was highlighted and dealt with well through out the book, and some of the terms I had forgotten in this context. The trivia at the end of the book goes into more detail about some of the information briefly mentioned elsewhere in the book, and will encourage some readers to study animals or people and their characteristics further. I really like that there was a glossary, further reading, and bibliography included in the end papers for those that are interested enough to do further research and reading. That always makes me happy.

Hair!: Animal Fur, Wool, and More is a well done book and I think it will be a high interest read for children interested in animals and any type of biology. The balance of images and interesting information might make this a favorite, and at least a regular reread for some.