Book Review: Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World  by Laurie Lawlor profiles six amazing women who defied prejudice to succeed in the sciences using genius, ambition, and perseverance. Each of these pioneers refused to take no for an answer, pursuing their passions through fieldwork, observations, laboratories and research vessels in the face of sexism. Lawlor tells the stories of Eugenie Clark, an ichthyologist who swam with sharks; Marie Tharp, a cartographer who mapped the ocean floor; Katherine Coleman Johnson, a mathematician who calculated trajectories for NASA flights; Florence Hawley Ellis, an anthropologist of Pueblo cultures who pioneered tree-ring dating; Gertrude Elion, a pharmacologist who developed treatments for leukemia and AIDS; and Margaret Burbidge, an astrophysicist who formulated a theory of quasars.

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World  is all about women that have stood out in scientific fields that are still male dominated, and stood out in very important ways. The chosen women are nicely varied, and their stories are important. The hows and whys of each of these women fighting for their place in their fields of choice, and the factors that hindered or helped their progress. I would have liked more of the background history for some of this, but still found the shared information to be interesting and important. I think each of the biographies was long enough to give a good grasp of the woman described, but none were so long or ponderous that it would lose the attention of the children that this book is marketed toward. I did find some of the vocabulary to be a little advanced for some of the younger readers that might be interested in the subject matter, with few context clues to help them figure it out, but I almost expect this in any text dealing with scientists or science history. However, to counter this- if readers take a moment there is a wonderful glossary in the back of the book the help them. I just know must of the students I work with are not likely to check for that glossary on their own. 

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World is a nice selection of brief biographies of a few of the talented female scientists that have made important contributions over the years. While not a perfect text, it is a good start and can inspire young scientists and start conversations about what has, and has not, changed over the years. 

Book Review: Simone: The Best Monster Ever by Remy Simard

Simone: The Best Monster Ever by Remy Simard is not quite a graphic novel, but rather a collection of short comic strips for young readers. In this comics we see Simone, a sweet, rosy-cheeked little girl. Maurice is a green, googly-eyed monster. When Simone enters Maurice’s world, she strikes terror in monsters’ hearts! Here, the rules are turned upside down—flowers, puppies, and good behavior are the stuff of nightmares, and all things scary and icky are adored.
Simone: The Best Monster Ever is a very colorful and cute comic collection. I was a little disappointed that it was short strips rather than a larger story, but for  readers or those that like to read in short bursts this might be just what they are looking for. I liked the concept of things being reversed, with cute things being scary and so on. However, as a whole I found the humor to be hit or miss- and the short nature oft he individual comics to be a little off-putting. It has some elements that will very much appeal to the youngest independent readers, but some that will only appeal to an older audience. I feel like the balance that would make it appeal to both groups was missed, which made it an imperfect fit for either. I know there is still an audience, and many readers will enjoy the humor and the bright artwork, and it is still worth a read. However, I was just expecting more.

Book Review: Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi  by John Scalzi collects 25 years of at his briefest and best, and features four never-before-printed stories.  These four stories, along with fourteen other pieces, have one thing in common: they are short, sharp, and to the point—science fiction in miniature, with none of the stories longer than 2,300 words.

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi is exactly what you expect from the title. This collection of short works from John Scalzi will entertain readers that are long time fans, and give readers that have yet to explore his novels a good idea of the combination of science fiction and humor that they are missing out on. I was crawling through a reading slump and having trouble getting through much of anything, even material from my favorite authors. This book's short, highly entertaining works, help break me out of that slump.  Yogurt taking over the world, Pluto speaking out about its change of status, superheroes with booking agents, alternate histories tells you all the various ways Hitler has died, a lawyer sues an interplanetary union for dangerous working conditions,  and four artificial intelligence's explain, in increasingly worrying detail, how they plan not to destroy humanity- whats not to love?

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi is a great read for fans, and those that are not quite ready to commit to a Scalzi novel yet. I am still thinking about several of the stores, and think I will be for a good time to come. 

Book Review: I Will Love you Forever by Tatsuya Miyanishi

I Will Love you Forever is a picturebook by Tatsuya Miyanishi, which is currently scheduled for release on June 1 2017. A female Maiasaura finds a lost egg in the forest and decides to look after it with her own egg. Surprisingly, a baby Tyrannosaurus hatches from the egg. The greathearted mother accepts and raises him as her own son, Heart. One day, Heart goes to pick berries and comes across another Tyrannosaurus. The foster son of the Maiasaura discovers his real identity. The fourth title in this acclaimed Tyrannosaurus series, I Will Love You Forever delivers a heartwarming story about adoption with vivid, brightly colored illustrations and endearingly drawn characters.

I Will Love you Forever is a book that left me with mixed feelings. I was not fond of the art style, it seems a bit harsh- but the story came across as a little off to me as well. Perhaps something was lost in the translation from the original Japanese? It starts off fine, a dinosaur mom adopting an egg she finds and raising the Tyrannosaurus that hatches from it as her own, teaching him to be kind. Fine so far, but the disparaging of his species and the grieving mother that lost said egg, and the confusion and trauma all around by the end of the book shook me more than a little. I cannot imagine that anyone taking part in adoption (in any capacity) would find this book anything but painful.

I some how missed the fact that I Will Love you Forever is part of a series. I am not a fan of the art or writing style- although some of that could be because of translation problems or cultural differences. While some might enjoy the read, I just was not one of them.

Early Book Review: Wolf Hunt (SWAT) by Paige Tyler

Wolf Hunt is the sixth book in the SWAT series by Paige Tyler and is currently scheduled for release on June 6 2017. Remy Boudreaux is back in his hometown, New Orleans. He's there with three of his fellow Dallas SWAT officers for a week of training with the NOLA PD. On the eve of a tropical storm, Remy and his buddies prowl the French Quarter. One tantalizing scent captures Remy's senses, forcing him to follow until he is face to face with Triana Bellamy, his beautiful high school crush. After reconnecting, Remy and Triana are close, very close. Remy struggles to keep things casual. Ever since his partner, and lover, was killed on the job, he's kept women at a distance. But when a mysterious wolf pendant ropes them both into danger, Remy's protective instincts kick in. He may have to reveal his true self and hope Triana accepts him.

Wolf Hunt opens with the scene that explains how Remy's partner, and lover, was killed in a raid. So readers know right away that he is going to be reluctant to get attached from the very beginning. My only issue with it is that the raid seemed so familiar to me that I had to check and double check to make sure I had not read this book before. I know raids gone wrong are all going to be similar on some level, I started off my read unsure, but was glad that the rest of the story made up for my initial unease. I liked hat Remy reconnects with someone he knew from his past, but that readers still got to know Triana and her mother a little. I think the mother was my favorite character- and I spent a good portion of the book worried that she was going to get killed, because I liked her and her forthright style and stubbornness so much. She was three steps ahead of Remy, Triana, and the  root of the danger haunting them all the whole book. I say some of the twists and connections coming right away, but was happy to see some of the interesting ways they came about. I enjoyed the read, but could have done with less stubborn brooding and more actual conversation between Triana and Remy- but that is something that I find to be a common issue in romance of all sub-genres.

Wolf Hunt is not far off what I was expecting, but was glad to see a few unexpected twists along the way. Fans of the series will want to pick this one up, and since the stage is set off the SWAT home turf I think newcomers to the series will be able to fully enjoy the read as well. 

Book Review: Crazy, Wonderful Science by Mary Lee

Crazy, Wonderful Science by Mary Lee is a part of a children's series intent on empowering young girl's science and imagination skills. Mia is a small girl with a big imagination. She has a science fair coming up and simply can't decide what project to do. Should she make a rainbow, a wacky gadget, a volcano or the universe? So many options, which will will choose?
Crazy, Wonderful Science is a sweet and charmingly illustrated book. Mia's imagination is running wild with all of the possibilities available to her- and this is perfectly captured in the illustrations. I think boys and girls alike can see the excitement she has about science, and I feel like that enthusiasm will be contagious. I expect some young readers will be inspired to attempt the experiments on their own,  which thanks to the instructions at the end of the book they can do. I also liked the little quiz at the end of the book so that young scientists can test their knowledge. I just might need to explore the rest of this series with my own little scientists. 

Book Review: The Dead Seekers by Barb & J.C. Hendee

The Dead Seekers is the first book in a new series by the same name by Barb & J.C. Hendee. It is set in the same word as their Noble Dead saga, which I have not read. However, I think that readers with no prior knowledge of the world will be able to fully appreciate the story, as I did. Although I will admit that I am now intrigued to see what was written before. 

In the dark reaches of the eastern continent, Tris Vishal travels from village to village, using his power to put unsettled spirits to rest. He works alone, having learned that letting people close only leads to more death. Still, he finds himself accepting the help of the Móndyalítko woman who saves his life—a woman whose gifts are as much a burden as his own. Mari Kaleja thirsted for vengeance since the night her family was taken from her. She has searched far and wide for the one she thinks responsible, known only as “The Dead’s Man.” But before she can kill him, she has to be sure. Mari hopes traveling with Tris will confirm her suspicions. But as they embark on a hunt where the living are just as dangerous as the dead, she learns the risks of keeping your enemy close. Because it’s no longer clear who is predator and who is prey.

The Dead Seekers is a book that is unique and captured my attention very quickly. I enjoyed learning about the world this takes place in, and how Tris and Mari fit into it. I liked the level of internal conflict for both Mari and Tris, as it made their pasts and current situation much more engaging. I could understand Mari's desire for vengeance, and her vulnerability. I think the duality of her nature- with the strength and vulnerability she tried so hard to hide- made her character so interesting that I could not help but become engrossed in her story. I also wanted to know more of how Tris came to be who and where he was- while most of it was explained, I think there must be so much more to his story that I do not know yet. It just makes me want to read more from the author to see if those moments are in another book. The danger and relationship development were very well paced, with enough surprises and intrigue to keep me reading happily. 

The Dead Seekers is an intriguing read that left me satisfied, but still wanting more. To me, this is a sign of a well crafted book. 

Early Book Review: Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating is a children's non fiction book currently scheduled for release on June 1 2017. This illustrated biography of Eugenie Clark shows her to be a scientist as impressive as the sharks she studied. At nine years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, including trying to break into the scientific field as a woman, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie’s wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname “Shark Lady,” as she become a fixture in the world of ocean conservation and shark research.
Shark Lady is an information and interesting read. Eugenie Clark faced a number of hurdles in pursuing her interest in sharks, including the accepted gender roles and sexism that still persists to a certain extent in the sciences. I appreciated the research that was clearly put into the book and the facts that were included about this wonderful role model's efforts and determination to make her dreams come true. I did not realize that she had made such interesting discoverings, and was glad to learn more about a woman making such strides in her chosen field. While I have no interest in swimming with sharks, I could still appreciate her interest and feel like young readers will be inspired to explore their own interests and dream by reading about her efforts and success. In fact, my daughter wants to be a wild life veterinarian for everything BUT sharks, so maybe this read will show her some of what might be involved, and that sharks are not so bad.

Book Review: The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls) by Kristen Painter

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride is the first book in the Nocturne Falls series by Kristen Painter. After seeing her maybe-mobster boss murder a guy, Delaney James assumes a new identity and pretends to be a mail order bride. What she doesn't know is her groom to be is a 400-year-old vampire. Hugh Ellingham lives in Nocturne Falls- a town where everyday is Halloween to bring in tourists- and where vampires, werewolves, witches, and other members of the supernatural community live and work. He may be a vampire, but he still  can be blackmailed  into this arranged meeting by her grandmother. His past means love is no longer an option. Except he never counted on Delaney and falling in love for real. Too bad both of them are keeping some mighty big secrets.

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride is a fun and enjoyable read. I liked the set up of the story- secrets and complications weighing over both Delaney and Hugh from the very beginning. I also liked that the majority of the secrets come to light nice and early- forcing our couple to actually talk to each other and figure out where everyone stands before things go too far. I found Hugh's hang ups to be fairly realistic, as much as a vampire's can be, and the inclusion of the mob related dangers added just enough suspense and action to mix things up nicely. I think Delaney's personality was my favorite part of the book-  she pulled no punches and faced ex-girlfriends, pushy grandmothers, and the introduction to the existence of the supernatural with aplomb- at least after a bit of an adjustment period. I enjoyed her antics and ability to stand up for herself regardless of who or what she faced. 

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride is a fast and fun read. I liked the premise and the characters, and spent an enjoyable weekend lost in Nocturne Falls. While I might not go hunting for the rest of the series, I will definitely pick them up if I run across them. 

Early Book Review: The Fog by Kyo Maclear, Kenard Pak

The Fog is a picture book written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Kenard Pak. It is currently scheduled for release on May 16 2017. Warble is a small yellow warbler who lives on the beautiful island of Icyland, where he pursues his hobby of human watching. But on a warm day, a deep fog rolls in and obscures his view. The rest of the birds don't seem to notice the fog or the other changes Warble observes on the island. The more the fog is ignored, the more it spreads. When a Red-hooded Spectacled Female appears, Warble discovers that he's not the only one who notices the fog. Will they be able to find others who can see it too? And is the fog here to stay?

The Fog is a cute picturebook with absolutely beautiful illustrations. I adored the colors and the water color styling. It added a great deal to the story. Warble is a bird dedicated to people watching, and so is among the first to notice the fog, and one of the few to care about it happening. His connection to the red-hooded, bird watching  girl starts their attempts to contact people beyond their corner of the world to see how far the fog has spread. I like that they find a variety of creative ways to connect with others and discuss the problem. I did not like that all  that was covered was the awareness and communication about the problem- even if it is the first and a very necessary step. I would have liked to see some action taken, some decision reached about how to solve the issue- rather than it just lessening because of raised awareness. I am not sure that the target audience will fully get the point, and that more needs to be done, without a continued discussion.

The Fog is a lovely picturebook with an important message about being aware of environmental issues, and connecting with others. I think it missed the mark by skipping some level of action- but it is a good place to start the discussion with young readers.