Showing posts with label collection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collection. Show all posts

Early Book Review: Horses by Paula Hammond

Horses by Paula Hammond is currently scheduled for release on August 14 2020. From the Azteca to the Appaloosa, Choctaw to the Palomina, Brumbys in Australia to the Mongolian, from rare breeds such as the Polish Konik to the semi-feral Pyrenean Pottok, Horses celebrates a wide variety of breeds from all around the world. Ranging from dressage to police horses, from racing horses to rodeo and polo, the book looks at the anatomy and life-cycle of foals and yearlings, colts and fillies, stallions, mares and geldings around the globe. It includes draft horses and warmbloods, light horses and thoroughbreds, gaited horses, ponies and breeds that have become feral. Each photograph is accompanied by a caption with fascinating information about the characteristics of each breed. Illustrated with 200 outstanding color photographs, Horses is an exquisitely produced work packed with lively information about this beloved animal.

Horses is a lovely collection of photographs. Horses are majestic on any given day, even when they are being stubborn or silly. This book does a great job of capturing the wonder of horses, using a wide variety of breeds and landscapes. It was nice to browse through the pages, simply enjoying the images. It was also nice to go through the book in a slower, more thoughtful manner, to read the information offered on horses. I think the text was well written and interesting, but as expected it was the photographs that really captured my attention and kept it as I looked through the book. I think horse lovers, and animal lovers in general, will enjoy the book and find a place for it in their collection.

Book Review: Abandoned Industrial Places: Factories, Laboratories, Mills and Mines that the World Left Behind by David Ross

Abandoned Industrial Places: Factories, Laboratories, Mills and Mines that the World Left Behind by David Ross explores the discarded detritus of our modern mechanized age. Discover the grand Ore Dock in Marquette, USA, squatting isolated in the waters of Lake Superior; or the abandoned Caspian Sea oil rigs and drilling gear in Azerbaijan; or the enormous, gaping pit of the Mirny diamond mine in Sakha Republic, Russia; or the wall of latticed steel towers of the Duga radar in Chernobyl, Ukraine; or the Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, New York – formerly the world’s largest sugar refinery when built in 1882; or the still contaminated Fisher Body Plant 21 in Detroit, USA, a place where General Motors created some of their great marques for almost a hundred years. Filled with more than 200 memorable photographs from every part of the planet, Abandoned Industrial Places provides a strange and often spooky insight into the life and workings of industries long since ceased.
Abandoned Industrial Places is a beautiful book. I grew up splitting my time between a small greenhouse and a small manufacturing company (my family was very busy). Because of that industrial locations and machinery are special to me, and I have always seen a special kind of beauty in it while others just saw grease and metal. I thought the pictures were nicely varied, in industry and location. The colors of the buildings, machinery, and in some cases nature reclaiming space were attention grabbing. Some were bold, others muted, but they were well balanced. I really enjoyed studying the photographs and thinking about the impact the rise and fall of each of these locations had on their communities and the individuals that worked there- and how many small moments have been forgotten over the years.

Abandoned Industrial Places is a fascinating look at locations that have been abandoned over the years. Some images are beautiful, others are haunting, but they are all thought provoking. 

Early Book Review: Animals Reviewed: Starred Ratings of Our Feathered, Finned, and Furry Friends by Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Animals Reviewed: Starred Ratings of Our Feathered, Finned, and Furry Friends by Association of Zoos and Aquariums is currently scheduled for release on October 29 2019. Launched by the Oregon Zoo and quickly picked up by zoos, aquariums, scientists, and the funny people of Twitter, #rateaspecies is a global, viral hit, and a chance for people to honestly—and hilariously—review the animal kingdom. This book has crowd-sourced 150 of the best entries, the majority of which are new to the book, from their 233-member zoos and aquariums. Packed with adorable photos of every animal and laced with wit and humor, Animals Reviewed is the perfect gift or self-purchase for animal lovers of all ages.
Animals Reviewed is a fun book that collects the rated reviews of various zoo animals. I liked that the jokes often included information about the animal, such as remarks about its limited availability or the place where it is made disappearing. These reminders about pending extinction and habitat destruction are funny, but reminding people so that they can join the efforts to stop such tragedy is important. I also learned about some animals I never heard of or saw in a zoo or even documentary before. I like that there was such a balance of giggles and information throughout the book, and that there was such a wide variety of creatures. I think animal lovers of all ages will enjoy this- and I think those that work with animals would particularly enjoy this as a gift.

Early Book Review: Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side by Lee Bey

Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side by Lee Bey is currently scheduled for release on October 15 2019. Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum. Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighborhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.
Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side is a lovely book of photography with well written and interesting information about the buildings pictured.The tone was very conversational, making it an enjoyable read.  It was very interesting to learn about the history surrounding some of the locations, as well as the current uses, and hope for the future. I have never been to Chicago, and have no current plans, so I was glad to see a piece of the city, particularly since it does not always receive this kind of attention. I think those from the area, and those that are interested in architecture, photography, and Chicago's history will all get a great deal from exploring this book. 

Early Book Review: Texts from Mittens: The Friends and Family Edition by Angie Bailey

Texts from Mittens: The Friends and Family Edition by Angie Bailey is currently scheduled for release on September 3 2019. This book follow along with Mittens as he enjoys hilarious, snark-filled text volleys with his cast of quirky friends and family: Earl (the “filthy hound”), Stumpy (the best friend), Drunky Patty (the usually tipsy next-door neighbor), Grandma (giver of treats), and Fiona (Mitty’s girlfriend). It is based on Angie Bailey’s virally popular blog.

Texts from Mittens is a cute collection of texts that imagine what a cat might text to his friends and family. I have never seen Bailey's blog, so this whole thing was new to me, although I have seen various twitter and facebook accounts that post from the imagned mindset of the pet. I found the texts to be entertaining and, as a cat servent myself, sometimes relatable. I never really laughed out loud or did more than smile as to the antics of Mittens and crew. However, I did find it amusing and a entertaining distraction in the midst of a heat wave.

Texts from Mittens is a good book to flip through and entertain yourself with for awhile.  

Early Book Review: Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark Illustrated by Ulla Thynell

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark is a collection of 17 traditional tales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark. Translated and transcribed by folklorists in the nineteenth century, these stories are by turns enchanting, hilarious, cozy, and chilling. Readers will encounter terrifying trolls, plucky heroes and heroines, and one princely polar bear. Each tale is paired with a luminous illustration by Finnish artist Ulla Thynell. And this special gift edition features an embossed, textured case and a ribbon marker. It is currently scheduled for release on August 13 2019.
Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark is divided into three groups of tales:  transformations, wit, and journeys. While I had seen some of the sixteen stories before, and others had fairy tale tropes that were familiar, some were new to me. Like with most collections of short tales like this there is not much depth to individual characters or relationships, things are just the way they are to get to the point of the story. That is the way these classic tales were told and shared over the years, and adding that sort of depth would take each individual tale into novel proportions (which would not be a bad thing, but is not the intent of this kind of collection). Some of the stories are darker than others, but I really enjoyed learning more of the folk and fairy tales from this part of the world. I liked the illustrations by Thynell and found them to be lovely, adding beauty and a nostalgic charm to the individual stories and the book as a whole. I think the artwork is worth looking at a few times; before, during, and after the read.

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark is a nice collection of tales, and I enjoyed reading some that I had never seen or heard before.

Early Book Review: The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz

The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz is currently scheduled for release on August 6 2019. Trapped in an airplane seated next to a chatterbox? Are you hosting a dinner party with people who just won't leave? Katie Vaz has the key to your escape. The Escape Manual for Introverts guides readers through different scenarios with themed chapters ("Friends," "Relatives," "Strangers," etc.). Each chapter covers a range of situations, from an invitation to karaoke night to group lunchtime. And she offers a number of escapes for each scenario: bringing odoriferous foods to lunch for a while, having a pet (real or imagined) that "requires" frequent check-ins, and even investing in a jet pack. This book features Vaz's full-page illustrated spreads, hand-lettering, and spot illustrations. From the silly to the sincere, Vaz's clever, hilarious escape plans and bizarre excuses speak to the introvert in all of us. 

The Escape Manual for Introverts is a funny look at how to avoid social interaction when you really feel the need to be alone and recharge. As an introvert that works with the public, I often seek alone time for my off duty hours. Thankfully those closest to me are well aware, and understand my enjoyment of a cup of tea and a good book rather than getting dressed up and going out on the town. This book offers a variety of situations an introvert might feel the desire to escape from and offers some suggests that will help mitigate the small talk and awkward moments. I like that the situations and responses are organized by who you might be interacting with. Some of the suggestions are standard behavior for some of us already, such as bonding with the pets or "helping" in the kitchen to stay busy and out of the fray. Others are great, and slightly more involved- such as finding a cause to volunteer with to help avoid attending situations all together. I both love and dislike this solution. I love it- because getting out and doing good is fabulous, however it could just get you in more situations you might need to avoid- so choose wisely. I do not want to give away any more of the suggestions- because I might need them. The art style is fun, and matches the voice of the book well. 

The Escape Manual for Introverts was a read that I really enjoyed and identified with on several levels. I think introverts, and those that love them, will all enjoy this book.

Early Book Review: Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls by Anita Ganeri, Khoa Le

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls, written by Anita Ganeri and illustrated by Khoa Le, is currently scheduled for release on July 15 2019. This inspiring collection of myths, legends and stories from around the world showcases narratives that celebrate strong, independent women. These heroines aren't reduced to being wives or witches! They run free and possess the qualities we would hope for in our daughters and friends: self-confidence, strength, wits, courage, fearlessness, and independence. They live freely, happily ever after, without restraint or narrowly defined roles. The stories include; Atalanta the Huntress (Greece), Nana Miriam (Niger), Fitcher's Bird (Germany), The Girl and the Puma (Argentina), Li Chi Slays the Serpent (China), Brave Woman Counts Coup (US/White River Sioux), Pretty Penny (US/Ozark Mountains), Mizilca (Romania), The Pirate Princess (Poland/Jewish), The Samurai Maiden (Japan), Bradamante (France), and Molly Whuppie (England).

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls is a group of fairy tales about strong willed girls and women taking matters into their own hands, standing up for themselves, and getting what they want and need via strength and intelligence. I love fairy tales and legends, particularly if they are from different cultures or with twists I have not seen before. So far as that goes, this book was just right. The stories covered a good variety of regions and the main characters were smart, cunning, and brave. However, two minutes into reading the book my heart dropped a bit. The adage "show don't tell' came to mind. The stories, characters, and action were all good- but they lacked the dimension and depth that I was hoping for. I know it is hard to get character development into such short stories, but I felt some could have been done- because I have seen it. I loved the idea, and wanted to adore this book. It does offer what the title suggests, but did not capture my heart, mind, or imagination as I read.

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls is a fairy tale collection with good intent and some interesting tales. However, I felt like it could have been so much better with a bit more depth.

Book Review: The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales: Stories about Kindness, Responsibility, Honesty, and Teamwork by Sue Nicholson, Flavia Sorrentino

The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales:  Stories about Kindness, Responsibility, Honesty, and Teamwork,  written by Sue Nicholson and illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino, is part of The Fairytale Friends series. It brings fairy tales into the modern day and features scenarios that young children can relate to and learn from. Each story in this new picture book series focuses on a different fairy tale character, a different strength or core virtue, and a challenge to overcome, often with the help of their friends. Readers will enjoy spotting characters from other books and recognizing key elements of the original fairy tale while enjoying the new twist. Notes and questions at the back of the book will summarize what the character has learnt and prompt further discussion while activities will provide more fairytale fun. 
Cinderella wants more than anything to have lessons at the new dance school opening in the village, but she doesn’t have any ballet shoes! Can Cinderella’s fairytale friends help make her dream come true? This story teaches children about the value of kindness. Beauty has a lovely pony called Flick, but having a pony is hard work and Beauty can be a bit lazy sometimes. Then, one night, Flick runs away. Will he ever come back? This story teaches children about the value of responsibility. Jack loves climbing, but he isn't allowed to climb the beanstalks in his garden. One night, Jack can resist no longer and starts to climb the tall, green beanstalks. Will Jack's Mum find out? And will he tell her the truth? This story teaches children about the value of honesty. Snow White is one of the village football team's best players. But she wants to score all the goals herself and never passes the ball to her friends. Will she ever learn to play as part of a team? This story teaches children about the value of teamwork.

The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales is a collection of fairy tales with a twist, which is one of my favorite things to read. Each of the stories is connected and takes a classic tale and makes it more relatable to young readers. Most everyone has faced the dilemma at the core of each story and I like they way they are woven into these tales. I was a little worried about the lessons being too heavy handed- because one of my biggest turn offs in any book is being preached to or talked down to (which happens across genres and target audience) but this book managed to keep that to a minimum. I enjoyed the art style, I loved the colors and the expressions that were clear on the character faces. There are some activities for the eager parents or caregivers to make sure young readers understand each story and its lesson. I think this would be good for bedtime reading or trying to get some of these lesson through in a fun way in a preschool or home environment. 

Book Review: In the Mood Fur Love by Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden, Kate Baxter

In the Mood Fur Love is a collection of three romances by Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden, and Kate Baxter. Bearing His Touch by Eve Langlais follows Becka who manages to escape her kidnapper and finds herself asking help of the man with the nice brown eyes. Stavros can’t say no, not when he knows Becka is his mate, but he does have one dilemma when it comes to claiming her. He'll have to find a way for her to bear his touch. Fake Mated to the Wolf by Milly Taiden is a story about a desperate woman trying to save her family, as a wolf is desperately looking to convince her to give him a chance. Looking for a mate to bring to a party? Wedding? Holiday gathering? Mates Fur Hire is right for you? But what happens when your fake mate ends up being your real one, from New York Times bestselling author Milly Taiden! The Witch, The Werewolf and The Waitress by Kate Baxter follows and witch and a wolf. For centuries, Lowman, Idaho has been Ellie Curtis's prison. A vengeful witch cursed her with immortality and locked her within the confines of Lowman's borders, sealing Ellie off from most of civilization for eternity. She's learned to make the most of it. But when she meets a cocky werewolf who's part of the elite supernatural law enforcement group, all bets are off. Colin instantly knew that Ellie was his mate, but when he discovers her secret, he's determined to help set her free. But in doing so, he might just lose the one thing he knows he can't live without. 
Often one story sticks out as better or less of my taste than the others in collections like this, but this felt pretty even. In Bearing His Touch I really enjoyed the characters and how the world and character building was paced through the story so that I never felt inundated or missing something important. I like that it had a good blend of danger, humor, and sweetness. I really liked Becka and her blend of vulnerability and strength, and how smart and determined Stavros is. A good story all around, and I will be looking for more from the author.

Fake Mated to the Wolf was also an entertaining read. I thought the depth of Shawna's love for her family and the trouble she found herself in could have used a little more building, but I understood the space constraints and how hard it is to get everything in a short story. I liked the determination of all the players, and how everything was resolved. There were some unanswered questions for me, some oddities that happened in the story that could have been part of the larger plot but just rather became brushed away, but I still enjoyed the read. Unfortunately the dating app or website thing has been done before. I have read some great series that use this, and have for quite awhile, so while a small part of the story here, and well done, this just did not feel fresh to me.

The Witch, The Werewolf and The Waitress is another fun and flirty story. I liked the balance of Colin and Ellie trying to solve their separate issues, while trying to figure out the mate situation. I liked Ellie's personality and her combination of sweet and strong. I thought Colin was a little weaker of a character, but still very well fleshed out. The combination of werewolf and witch's curse was cool, and I like how everyone seemed to handle the revelation of additional paranormal issues. I think I might have read something from this author before, or something similar. There were moments that seemed familiar in writing style and world building, but not in a bad way. Rather like I might have read something in a related series and I was reminded of those characters.

In the Mood Fur Love is a thoroughly enjoyable read with a touch of sweet, a touch of heat, and a whole lot of fur. I think this is a great collection to meet three authors I do not remember having read before, but hope to read again. 

Book Review: Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis

Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis is a collection of comics that handle some tough
topics like seasonal affective disorder and struggles with self-esteem, while also touching on the silly and absurd—like his brief, but intense obsession with crystals. 

Super Chill is both funny and poignant. Those of us that are more introverted can relate to to his need to recharge at home, and his desire to avoid large groups of people. I could see a bit of myself in a good number of his comics, aside from the ones about drinking or being high- unless you count how I feel after a dose of cold or allergy medication. I enjoy his art style and think that anyone that has dealt with depression, anxiety, or just not wanting to go out in the world to deal with people will enjoy the read. All of the included comics are ones I had not seen, so I found it to be doubly entertaining and it inspired me to go out and follow Adam on more than just Facebook.

Super Chill is exactly what I was hoping for when I requested the title on Netgalley. I like Adam's art style and sense of humor- and can relate to most of his experiences. I have seen some of his work before, and was not disappointed in this collection.

Book Review: Sharky Malarkey: A Sketchbook Collection by Megan Nicole Dong

Sharky Malarkey: A Sketchbook Collection by Megan Nicole Dong follows the adventures of Bruce, a washed-up shark actor, and a colorful assortment of dysfunctional people, animals, and inanimate objects. Bruce is vain but insecure; hotheaded but cowardly; craves attention but fears intimacy—his over-the-top antics are all too human. Based on Megan Nicole Dong’s popular webcomic, Sketchshark, her debut print collection mines the absurd in everyday life. 

Sharky Malarkey: A Sketchbook Collection is not what I was expecting, but I have never seen the webcomic from the artist so I was coming in fresh. The description says the book is about Bruce, a Hollywood shark, with some moments about the artist. However, the book is the opposite- mostly about the artist and everyday life with just a sprinkle of Bruce.  There were plenty of relatable moments, but I was distracted by the art style which felt a little sloppy and undetailed. I think those that already are fans, and know they enjoy the artists work will want to take a look at the collection. Unfortunately it just did nothing for me.

Book Review: Under Dogs by Andrius Burba

Under Dogs by Andrius Burba is a book of dog photography showing our furry friends from an unexpected perspective--from underneath. In the vein of bestsellers like Underwater Dogs and Shake; Under Dogs is an unique look at man's best friend. The images of dogs taken from below are by turns surprising and hilarious—providing readers with a little-seen view of the pets we love.
Under Dogs is a book of dog photographs like none you have ever seen before. I like that there were a variety of breeds, and often the dogs are just being cute, goofy, or weird- not always perfectly posed and behaved. The images are crisp and clean, and the constancy of the background and set up made the similarities and differences of the different dogs stand out. It was interesting to see some breeds that I had never even heard of before, and some more popular dogs. My daughter (animal obsessed third grader) and I flipped through the book together a few times, enjoying the images. If you love animals, dogs in particular, and want a unique view of them this is a delightful book to take some time and enjoy. 

Early Book Review: Herding Cats: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen

Herding Cats: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection is the third volume of collected comics from Sarah Andersen. Her distinctive style and humor do a painfully on point job of illustrating the very specific growing pains that occur on the way to becoming a mature, put-together grownup. The illustrations also show how to behave as an adult, even though keeping up that behavior is just as hard as getting there to begin with. At the end there is also encouragement and support for readers trying to keep their head above water when dealing with creativity, art, anxiety, and life in general.
Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah's Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing. While we might not all have the same levels on anxiety or the same creative outlets as this author and artist-  we have all had the moments when we felt so very different, anxious, or other as the drawn version of Sarah. I could relate to so many of her strips. Even in the strips I could not relate personally I could see the reality of the day to day struggles that so many face. I loved the relateable feel, and the perseverance and humor that underlies her actions. Some of the strips were ones I have seen before, since I follow Sarah's Scribbles, however I felt like there were a significant number of fresh, new strips. I also found the other text from Anderson at the end of the book to be uplifting and supportive to artists and others dealing with anxiety or having trouble adulting to be a great way to connect with and support her readers. All most of us want is to know we are not alone, and seeing someone that you might look up to commiserating with the same troubles could be just the encouragement readers need.

Book Review: Christmas in Kilts ( A Highland Fairy Tale) by Bronwen Evans, Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick

Christmas in Kilts ( A Highland Fairy Tale) by Bronwen Evans, Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick is a fast and fun collection of historical, Scottish romances with holiday flare from five best selling authors. The stories include A HIGHLANDER'S HOPE by Terri Brisbin in which a village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander visitor for the holidays who brings with him an offer and hope! Then there is LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent when readers discover what happens when a highlander finds himself stranded with an English lady around Christmas. Maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question. In A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans our main character is ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster while he is trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family's wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland. In SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick a chance encounter between a ship's captain and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays. And in A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot, who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

Christmas in Kilts is a collection of fast and fun reads. I like that I had a chance to explore writing by some authors that I had not read before, and a couple that I have. At no point did any of the stories or characters feel underdeveloped, or like I was missing something vital. Unfortunately that is a common flaw in this sort of collection, and I was glad to see it avoided here. While I did enjoy some of the stories more than others, Sweet Home Highland Christmas and A Scot For Christmas being my stand out favorites, there were none that would convince me not to try reading other things by the included authors. This is a great romance collection for those that enjoy the Scottish, historical romances, and want to try new authors without the commitment of a new series to follow.

Christmas in Kilts is a fun read for fans of historical fiction with a Scottish leaning. Fans of these authors will definitely want to pick it up, and those that have heard of the authors but have yet to dive into their work can use this as a fun, and enjoyable, way to test the waters. As always with collection, I enjoyed some stories more than others, but this time around there were none that I would have wanted to miss. 

Book Review: Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

Can I Touch Your Hair is a poetry collection written by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don't know each other, and they're not sure they want to. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

Can I Touch Your Hair is an honest and touching collection of poems that address so much more than race. The collaboration approach was perfect, giving the scenario and the result an authentic feel- because it was real. I think the open discussion involved in the poetry and matching illustrations does a wonderful job of highlighting some of the challenges adults and children face when they are willing to try to form understanding across lines they might not even want to acknowledge. I love that the characters each had missteps along the way, but they just kept trying to find their way and discovered that it is through communication and a willingness to listen and apologize when necessary is all that is needed to understand each other.

While the main topic here is bridging the racial divide and open up communications, I think it could be used as a great starting point for so many divides in our society. We are all the same at heart, we all need the same things, and by exploring our differences and similarities I think we all could forge friendships like the fictional classmates if we are willing to put forth the same effort with open hearts and minds. This is a poignant and important read for children and adults alike.

Book Review: Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf by Samwise Didier

Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf by Samwise Didier is a collection of six short stories featuring an elf hating dwarf. These bawdy and boisterous stories featuring all original artwork by legendary Blizzard Entertainment art director Samwise Didier, this tome follows Captain Grimbeard as he organizes underground fight clubs, boxes elven bounty hunters, ducks amorous giants, and most important—searches for a place to empty his beer-filled bladder. 
Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf is an entertaining read, but I will admit that I found the cover and artwork that can be found throughout the book better than the narrative. The adventures of Grimbeard were insane, in a fun and entertaining way, but his chatty style occasionally irritated me more than I expected it to. I liked the idea, come on who would not want to read about a dwarf pirate with a deep seated hatred of silly elves? The plot lines and illustrations lived up to my hopes completely, it was only the narrative style that distracted me and kept me from getting lost in the adventures.

Book Review: Fantastic Creatures from the Fellowship of Fantasy

Fantastic Creatures is a collection of short stories from the Fellowship of Fantasy, which includes the authors H.L. Burke, Cave Yates, Arthur Daigle, Craig A. Price Jr., Intisar Khanani, Lea Doue, Nicole Zoltack, Vincent Trigili, Julie C. Gilbert, Katy Huth Jones, L. Palmer, Kandi J. Wyatt, Morgan Smith, Lelia Rose Foreman, Jessica L. Elliott, Bokerah Brumley, Caren Rich, A.R. Silverberry, D.G. Driver, and Frank B. Luke.
Here be dragons, and selkies, and griffins, and maybe even a mermaid or two. Twenty fantasy authors band together to bring you a collection of thrilling tales and magical monsters. Do you like to slay dragons? Or befriend them? Do you prefer to meet cephalopods as gigantic kraken or adorable tree octopuses? Each story focuses around a fantastic creature from folklore or mythology, and they range from light and playful tales for the whole family to darker stories that may make you wish to leave the lights on. These stories carry the Fellowship of Fantasy seal of approval. While our monsters may be horrifying, you won't stumble into graphic sex and constant swearing, also not that any story with adult level violence is marked, so there is not stumbling upon that type of surprise. 

Fantastic Creatures is an anthology with a good variety of stories. As with all anthologies, some really grabbed me, others left me a little less impressed, and many were in the middle. There was humor, romance, stories that left me sad, stories that left me upset, and some that left me shaking my head. I really enjoyed sme of the twists that were given to some of the familiar creatures, while some were so odd and unexpected that I was left admiring the creativity of the author. I found the collection as a whole to be well written, and consistently edited. While not every story grabbed me, I thought the book was well done and an entertaining read. I think the lack of explicit content, and the warnings about violence before it happens, makes it a good choice for sharing as a family.

Fantastic Creatures is a varied and entertain collection of tales. I like that the creatures were all different and expectations were often defied. Each of the stories has a satisfying conclusion. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy short stories, and those that are interested in exploring fantasy authors, but want to start small. What a great way to check out the work of 20 writers without committing large amounts of money or time in something that might not be your cup of tea.

Book Review: Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours by Wiebke Martens, Jennifer Jang

Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours by Wiebke Martens and Jennifer Jang is a photographic guide featuring five fully illustrated walking tours of the charming New Jersey town with seventeenth-century roots and the renowned university at its core. It explores the heart of Princeton University as well as its more modern sections; downtown Princeton, including some of its oldest neighborhoods; and the campuses of Princeton Theological Seminary and the Institute for Advanced Study. Each walk highlights the town's rich history, varied architecture, and a multitude of local attractions, ranging from museums and theaters to parks and playgrounds. For those who want to roam a bit farther, a host of ideas for short outings and longer excursions in the greater Princeton area are included.
Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours is a visual interesting and informative book about the history and features of Princeton and the surrounding area. The walking tour guides and information about how and why specific buildings came to be, and how things have changed over the years was interesting and well organized. I enjoyed the look at the school, its buildings. The full-page images paired with informative captions make this guidebook something that will appeal to locals, guests and the families of potential students or alumni.  I think the ideas for further excursions in the surrounding areas were particularly useful. The only downside is that much of the architecture and landscaping looks similar to other large universities- so as someone that has worked at or visited prestigious schools on a regular basis I found the images to be less interesting and unique than others that actually have a connection to Princeton. Too many colleges and universities have similar architecture, which means that the target audience for the book is very limited- but for those with a personal connection to Princeton and the area will certainly love it.

Early Book Review: Yellowstone Country: Idaho, Wyoming & Montana by David Skernick

Yellowstone Country: Idaho, Wyoming & Montana is a collection of artwork by David Skernick. It is currently scheduled for release on June 28 2017.  Are you up for a road trip? Ride along the back roads of the vast Yellowstone region and enjoy stunning panoramic photographs that reveal the beauty of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana and include Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in all their glory. Embark on an expedition without GPS, visiting majestic wildlife and drinking in fantastic landscapes along the way. Glimpse the emerald green Shoshone Falls in Idaho, turning aspens and grazing moose in the Grand Tetons, black bears roaming the Devil’s Tower region in Wyoming, glorious geysers, steamy hot springs, and imposing bison with their young in Yellowstone, the raging Bull River and otherworldly Glacier National Park in Montana, as well as lonely railways and isolated barns along “gray” roads, that is, the ones less traveled. The appendix includes a complete list of camera equipment, exposure, and panorama statistics—enough to satisfy even the techiest of photographers.

Yellowstone Country: Idaho, Wyoming & Montana is a beautiful collection of images that has me itching for a road trip. However, since that is not in the cards for my near future, I am turning that inspiration toward to local parks and beauty that can be found closer to home. Looking through this collection really made me more appreciative of the everyday beauty of the world, and wanting to both share it and protect it from the pollution and destruction that seem so inevitable these days. While I might be far from Yellowstone- and I might never get to see it in person- I found that the angles and light in this photographs made me feel like I was there, and I was able to glory in the sheer scope, amazing colors, and the pure power of nature. No matter where you live, and if you are a wanderer or homebody, this photographic journey will enthrall and amaze you with the wonderful sights to be found in Yellowstone Country.