Book Review: She's My Knight, Volume 1, by Saisou

She's My Knight, Volume 1, by Saisou is a manga style graphic novel. Haruma Ichinose, 17, has been popular since he was born. So popular, in fact, that he figured no one could even come close, until he met Yuki Mogami. She's tall, cool, collected, and totally makes him crazy. He may just be in love, but can he deal with falling for someone even more dashing than himself?
She's My Knight is a cute middle school to young adult manga, while other age groups can enjoy it as well. On the surface this is simply the story of two popular kids getting to know each other, and coming to like each other, while dealing with the idea that they have unconventional prince/princess roles with each other. Sometimes that role reversal comes off as completely misogynistic and off putting, but I felt like it was done here with a nod to all the other anime and manga that have made use of this idea. I thought the various nods to different tropes often used in romantic  manga was well done and fun. I would have liked to have seen more of Mogami's thoughts- as we seem to get more from even the secondary characters than from her.  I liked the story and art, and would certainly pick up the next volume if I found it- but I would not go hunting for it. 

Book Review: Old Norse For Modern Times by Ian Stuart Sharpe

Old Norse For Modern Times by Ian Stuart Sharpe is entertaining and informative. Never be lost for words again...with this book of lost words. Have you ever wanted to wield the silver tongue of Loki, or to hammer home your point like a Thundergod? Old Norse is the language of legends and the stuff of sagas, the inspiration for Tolkien and Marvel, for award-winning manga and epic videogames. It is the language of cleverly crafted kennings, blood-curdling curses, and pithy retorts to Ragnarök. Old Norse for Modern Times gives you the perfect phrase for every contemporary situation—from memorable movie quotes ("We’re going to need a bigger boat." Þurfa munu vér skip stærra) to battle-cries to yell on Discord ("Do I look to be in a gaming mood?" Sýnisk þér ek vera í skapi til leika?), from mead hall musings ("This drink, I like it! ANOTHER!" Líkar mér drykkr þessi! ANNAN!) to tried-and-tested pickup lines ("Nice tattoo!" Fagrt er húðflúrið"). With over 500 phrases inside (plus the chance to add your own!) it is the perfect guide for Vikings fans, whether they are re-enactors, role-players, or simply in love with Ragnar.
Old Norse For Modern Times is well researched, with explanations and footnotes for translation, spelling, and punctuation choices. I really enjoyed the idea behind the book ad the execution. The topics covered, the organization of them, and the phrases were all well done. I loved the nods to popular culture and the sense of humor that is woven through out the book. I chuckled more than once, and grinned more than I would care to admit as I read through this book. I now need to get a hold of the audio book copy of this- which the introduction promised me existed-  because I am horrible with languages but there are several of these phrases I want the ability to use. And frankly, if I am going to confuse people by speaking Old Norse, I am going to do it right- or as close to it as I can get. 

Book Review: The Warlord (Rise of the Warlords) by Gena Showalter

The Warlord is the first book in the Rise of the Warlords series by Gena Showalter, which is set in the same world as the Lords of the Underworld series (with some character carry over). Newcomers will be able to enjoy the read, but longtime fans of Showalter will enjoy seeming some past favorites pop up.

For centuries, Taliyah Skyhawk has prepared to become Harpy General, leader of the deadliest female army in existence. One of the requirements? Remain a virgin. But, for a chance to save her people, she must wed the fearless leader of the Astra Planeta, Alaroc Phaethon. The time has come for Roc to sacrifice another virgin bride to his god. There has never been a woman alluring enough to tempt him from his path. No warrioress powerful enough to overcome his incredible strength. No enchantress desirable enough to make him burn beyond reason. Until now. With the clock ticking, war between husband and wife ignites. Except Taliyah never expected the merciless king to challenge the future she once envisioned. She certainly never anticipated the thrill of their battles turning into games. The problem is, only one spouse can survive.

The Warlord is a solid paranormal romance. I liked returning to the world created by Showalter- it has been awhile since I read the her work. I enjoyed the characters and the mixture of witty banter, heat, and trying to find a solution for the problems at hand. I think it was all woven together very well. There are secrets about heritage, powers, and how things could play out. There is a great set up for the books to follow, and part of that is how well done the secondary characters were fleshed out- and the larger story arch was introduced. I am very interested to see how the Astra move forward- and how the crazy extended family might play a role in the future. I also like that we get the voices of both Roc and Taliyah, so we know the plans and emotions behind the choices made.  The only problem I found will hopefully be fixed in formatting of the final version, because in the ARC I had there was no break of differentiation between the two points of view. One sentence would be Taliyah, the next Roc, and sometimes it took me a moment to catch up with the change.

The Warlord is a must read for fans of the author. Newcomers might not enjoy it as much, but the mixture of snark, heat, and danger is nearly perfect. 

Book Review: For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters and More by Graham Tarrant, Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters and More by Graham Tarrant, Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies is a book with a variety of bookish information. Which famous author died of caffeine poisoning? Why was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland banned in China? Who was the first British writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature? What was Truman Capote superstitious about? Here is a light-hearted book about books and the people who write them for all lovers of literature. A treasure trove of compelling facts, riveting anecdotes, and extraordinary characters, For the Love of Books is a book about books—and the inside stories about the people who write them. Learn how books evolved, what lies behind some of the greatest tales ever told, and who's really who in the world of fiction. From banned books to famous feuding authors, from literary felons to rejected masterpieces, from tips for aspiring writers to stand-out book lists for readers to catch up on, For the Love of Books is a celebration of the written word.

For the Love of Books is a very interesting book. I think some of it is better suited to the written word than audiobook- for instance some of the author and book lists are probably easier to follow and track when read on the page rather than listening to. However, I found most of the information to be interesting, and some of the stories were new to me while others were familiar. There was a great deal of information covered, but even more left untouched. I know there is no way to get all the information about the past and current state of literature in one book. It did seem to focus more on older material and authors than more recent works- with a slight leaning toward European authors and works- but some of that is not unexpected. I would love to see the subject expanded on in other books- perhaps with a focus on women authors or those from different countries or ethnicities. I know that the majority of information recorded from history is about old white men- and I was glad to see some stretching out of that category in this book- but I think I would have been even happier with a touch more of that. 

For the Love of Books is an interesting and informative read that book lovers will enjoy. 

Book Review: Invented by Animals: Meet the Creatures who Inspired our Everyday Technology by Christiane Dorion, Gosia Herba

Invented by Animals: Meet the Creatures who Inspired our Everyday Technology, written by Christiane Dorion and illustrated by Gosia Herba, is a children's nonfiction book. Often human scientists try and solve a problem or invent a new tool and they realize that animals have already invented it for them. In this book you will meet the animal inventors who have shared their super inventing powers to make amazing things for humans.  Meet the shark who invented a pair of swimming shorts so fast, they were banned from the Olympic games. And meet the snail who has invented a house that stays cool inside even in the desert.   

Invented by Animals is a book that offers readers insight about how animals and nature have inspired inventions and innovation. Many of the facts and stories were something I had read or heard part of before, while some of the information was new to me. I thought the pages were well designed- with small sections of text and plenty of bright illustrations to capture the attention and imagination of readers. The information was well worded, so that it was never condescending nor too complex so the book can appeal to a wide range of readers. This was an interesting and engaging read that would be equally welcome in school, classroom, and personal libraries. 

Early Book Review: Abandoned London: Discover the Hidden Secrets of the City in Photographs by Katie Wignall

Abandoned London:  Discover the Hidden Secrets of the City in Photographs by Katie Wignall is curretly scheduled for release on May 14 2021. It seems bizarre that in a place as crowded, noisy and expensive as London there are still wasted unused spaces. The relentless drive for regeneration across Britain’s capital deceives us into thinking that every spare building and patch of ground is under development. But this vast metropolis of more than 10 million people hides many secrets and unexpected treasures from the city’s unique 2000-year history. In Abandoned London, read about the Abbey Mills Pumping Station, a facility created in 1858 to deal with ‘the Great Stink’, and now London’s Italian-Gothic cathedral of sewage; or the subterranean Finsbury Park underground reservoir, a space capable of holding five million gallons of water and today used as an occasional movie location; or the remnants of Highgate’s overground steam railway station, now a protected bat habitat; or the Clapham deep-level shelters, constructed in World War II and designed to provide protection for locals against aerial bombing raids; or the Haggerston public baths, part of an early 20th century building programme devised to improve London’s hygiene. These photographs of abandoned places capture a moment in time. Some of the buildings have since been demolished or refurbished, but many are still there, neglected and uncared for. These places have great value and a rich significance, offering us a glimpse of past worlds.

Abandoned London is a captivating look at the abandoned spaces in London. It was fascinating to see and learn about some of these locations, as every city and town has these types of location but few stop and think about the beauty and visual interest they hold. I have always had a love for the broken, abandoned, or simply slightly off kilter buildings or features of nature- so this collection really hit the sweet spot for me. There is a solemn beauty that can be found in the forgotten or neglected, and this book captures that idea while teaching readers a little bit about each of these places, and what the future might have in store for them.  Those with an interest in the location, architecture, history, or the forgotten will all find something here that capture's their eye and their interest. 

Book Review: The New Girl (Elle(s)) Script by Kid Toussain and Art by Aveline Stokart

The New Girl is the first book in the Elle(s) graphic novel series written by Kid Toussain and art by Aveline Stokart. Elle is just another teenage girl… most of the time. Bubbly and good-natured, she wastes no time making friends on her first day at her new school. But Elle has a secret: she hasn’t come alone. She’s brought with her a colorful mix of personalities, which come out when she least expects it… Who is Elle, really? And will her new friends stand by her when they find out the truth?
The New Girl is a beautifully drawn graphic novel. At first Elle seems like the average girl, dealing with a new school, new friends, and the relationship with her parents. Most every reader can relate to aspects of this book. However, Elle has much more going on than the average teen- and I think it is portrayed in a thoughtful and engaging manner. I think the honest discussions she has with friends, and the way the art help differentiate the different aspects of Elle are part of what really make the whole thing work. My only, and huge, complaint is the cliff like ending. There are questions I want answered, and things I want to see play out. I am not on the hunt for whatever comes next.

The New Girl is a great graphic novel that gives readers a great perspective on how it feels to be in Elle's shoes. I just need the second volume- now!

Book Review: Urban Faery Magick: Connecting to the Fae in the Modern World by Tara Sanchez

Urban Faery Magick: Connecting to the Fae in the Modern World by Tara Sanchez is an intriguing read for believers and non believers alike. Meet dozens of faeries that have adapted to the modern world and can be found in the most unexpected places. Urban Faery Magick introduces you to these mystical beings, providing tips and techniques for interacting with them as you travel your own spiritual path. Author Tara Sanchez explores dozens of case studies and shares her own personal stories of fae encounters, uniquely associating each faery with one of the elements from Eastern or Western traditions. You will learn about the Zaragoza goblin, Jon the Rust Spirit, Jenny Green-teeth, the Santiago Park Pixie, and many more. This book also includes dozens of hands-on exercises, including traditional Celtic practices, chants, invocations, breath work, dowsing, scrying, and interpreting signs as you discover the important lessons the fae can teach us.

Urban Faery Magick shows readers how to look at the world with the hope of seeing fae, and what to do if it happens. I think this book will appeal to three types of readers. Those who absolutely believe in the fae, that that really want to, and those that are just simply fascinated with the lore and experiences of others even if they do not really believe.  I thought everything was well presented and was presented in a way that was accessible to all readers. The idea of connecting with and working with the fae might be a bit much for some, but the idea of being more aware of the world around you and listening to your instincts about the larger world- and being safe in your choices- is good for all of us to remember. I liked that caution, awareness of our own health as well as others, and how people have impacted everything were highlighted in the book. I thought the case studies and personal experiences of the author were well done, and the inclusion of lore from around the world was nice. While the table of contents was very helpful when I wanted to go back and find a segment I wanted to reread, and the suggested reading list at the end of the book was a nice addition. I would have loved a detailed index and a short glossary or listing of mentioned fae with basic information at the end of the book, rather than just as part of the chapters. 

Urban Faery Magick is the perfect book for those that want to connect to the fae, and other spirits of the world in a meaningful way. For those curious about the practice and lore of doing so it is an engaging read. 

Early Book Review: No Recipe? No Problem! How to Pull Together Tasty Meals without a Recipe by Phyllis Good

No Recipe? No Problem! How to Pull Together Tasty Meals without a Recipe 
by Phyllis Good is currently scheduled for release on May 11 2021. 
Cook anything without a recipe—just let the ingredients lead the way! This book offers tips, tricks, and inspiration for winging it in the kitchen. Each chapter offers practical kitchen and cooking advice, from an overview of essential tools and pantry items to keep on hand to how to combine flavors and find good substitute ingredients, whether it’s sheet pan chicken, vegetables, pasta, grain bowls, or pizza for tonight’s dinner. Freestyle Cooking charts provide a scaffolding for building a finished dish from what cooks have available; Kitchen Cheat Sheets lend guidance on preparing meats, vegetables, and grains with correct cooking times and temperatures; and stories from Good’s Cooking Circle offer personal experiences and techniques for successfully improvising for delicious results, such as how to combine flavors that work well together or how to use acid to draw out the sweetness in unripened fruit. Like being in the kitchen with a trusted friend or family member who delivers valuable information in a friendly, encouraging way, this book will inspire readers to pull ingredients together, dream up a dish, stir in a little imagination, and make something delicious take shape.

No Recipe? No Problem! is not a recipe book. It is a collection of information, stories, and ideas that will make those looking to be more creative or inventive in the kitchen. This book encourages thoughtful and sustainable cooking, respecting ingredients and reducing waste as much as possible. I liked the stories from Good's cooking circle, reading stories of successes, and failures, in the kitchen from others makes the prospect of trying things yourself much less intimidating. I have always been one to alter recipes that i am comfortable with- like meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, or muffins. However, less familiar recipes often make me more nervous about substitutes or additions. This book helped me consider cooking methods and ingredients, and how I can better create my own unique creations and take a more mindful approach in the kitchen, and in my grocery shopping. There is instruction- particularly how to best cook certain foods, and some suggestions for things that go together well. I also liked the tools and tips given that help with meal prep and freezing certain components or entire meals.  I just wish this book had come out before the pandemic and related lock downs, because now that I am back to working on site rather than at home the nightly cooking is back in the hands of my wonderful husband- which means I do not get to dabble and try new things in the kitchen nearly as often.

No Recipe? No Problem! is a good read, and a wonderful resource to becoming more comfortable, creative, and mindful in the kitchen.

Early Book Review: The Eyeball Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, Shennen Bersani

The Eyeball Alphabet Book is a children's nonfiction book written by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by Shennen Bersani. It is currently scheduled for release on May 11 2021.  The eyes have it! Laugh as you learn by staring right into the eyes of familiar animals (A is for alligator eye) and not-so-familiar ones (Z is for zebu eye!). Readers of all ages will be entertained with every page turn. Language learning bonus: each page defines an idiom that includes the word "eye"!

The Eyeball Alphabet Book is a beautifully illustrated book about eyes. The artwork is extremely well done, to the point I had to look closer to make sure they were not photographs on occasion.  I thought the pages were well formatted and that the text flowed nicely. The facts shared were very interesting, and I think other adults and children alike will find them engaging as well. However, no matter how good the information was,and how well it was written, I think the artwork was the real star of the show here. I took a few moments after reading the book the first time and just went back to spend more time studying and simply enjoying the skill and talent in the illustrations. I enjoyed the book and think most everyone that picks it up will agree.