Book Review: Overgeared, Vol. 1 Art by Team Argo, Adapted by Monohumbug, Story by Saenal

Overgeared, Vol. 1 Art by Team Argo, adapted by Monohumbug with story by Saenal is a manga style graphic novel. Youngwoo Shin is a deadbeat in real life, working odd jobs to fuel his video game addiction. But inside the VR game Satisfy, he becomes Grid the Warrior, who is also painfully ordinary. Everything changes when he discovers the tome of a legendary blacksmith. Who needs skills when you have god-tier items, right?

Overgeared is a fun read for gamers. I liked the set up and the story and could understand Shin's frustration and struggles as he tries to level up his player in the game, and make enough money through the game not to have to do manual labor to pay the bills. I think I would have liked a bit more back story for Shin, not just that it took him years to get to the point readers meet him in the beginning of the story. I also felt a bit like things were just getting past the set up and into the story when the volume ended. The story pretty much ended mid-fight. I get wanting to hook readers so they want the next volume, but at least get us to a reasonable stopping point rather than a complete cliff hanger. That always drives me crazy. I did like the story, and would love to see how Shin gets to the point we see him in the opening teaser. I think I will keep reading this if I find the next volume, but I will not be hunting it down. 

Book Review: A Misanthrope Teaches a Class for Demi-Humans, Vol. 1 Story by Kurusu Natsume, Illustration by Sai Izumi

A Misanthrope Teaches a Class for Demi-Humans, Vol. 1 Story by Kurusu Natsume, Illustration by Sai Izumi. Judging by the title and cover I thought this was a graphic novel, fair warning that while there are scattered illustrations, it is not.
I'm Rei Hitoma, a self-professed misanthrope thanks to some past trauma. Just when I thought my new teaching job in the mountains would provide a chill, rejuvenating environment, it turns out that this school is actually for demi-humans who want to become full-fledged human beings! There’s a mermaid, a werewolf, a rabbit, and a bird...all of whom are now my charges. It’s my duty to teach them about humankind—and maybe in the process, I’ll learn a few things myself. This isn't an alternate world or a case of reincarnation. It’s just the story of a teacher at a somewhat peculiar school, and his students who are striving to become human.

A Misanthrope Teaches a Class for Demi-Humans is an interesting read, and deeper than I was looking for or expecting from the title. I was expecting a bit of a fun fish out of water story. There certainly was some of that, but there was also a great deal of insight into how people think and think they are perceived by others. Not only does Hitoma learn about the demi humans that are his students, he grows and matures along the way as well. I think readers get a good understanding of all the major characters and still get surprised a few times along the way. I honestly picked this book up expecting a light, fun read to take a break between some denser reads- and while I did not get what I was looking for I still really enjoyed the ride. 

Book Review: Frosty Proximity (Winter Wanderlust) by Liz Alden

Frosty Proximity is a novella, and the second book in the Winter Wanderlust series by Liz Alden. I did not read the first book in the series, and while I think returning readers will have a head start on knowing the characters, this novella stands up just fine on its own. 
The snowstorm of the century is approaching, and my only hope of getting home for Christmas is my grumpy, rich, and definitely off limits client. A closed airport, fifty miles of Swiss countryside, and the threat of record-breaking wind and snow stand between me and flying back to my family in New York. The family that labels my job as a personal stylist as “frivolous” and “shallow.” My client, Peter, is working just as hard as I am to get me on that plane. It seems he really doesn’t want me crashing his family’s Chanukah based on the tension in the air and the grunts he aims my way. Grunts I should not find sexy. But we may not have a choice. And when his family opens their warm, cozy home to me, I may realize that, beneath his frost, Peter makes me melt.

Frosty Proximity is exactly what I was looking for. Peter and Kara are both likable characters that find their way from a working relationship and friends of friends to so much more. This was a fast and fun read, and I loved the get to know you stage and the move on forward. I like that they are both mature enough to talk about disagreements, misunderstandings, and real things while also still having fun and light moments between them. The family moments and caring aspects of this story we just as important and engaging for me as the hotter moments, and I think this novella balanced a lot of important aspects to both Kara's and Peter's lives nicely. I enjoyed this read and think many other readers will as well.

Book Review: Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan

Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan is a romance with a bit of a paranormal mystery on the side. Riley Rhodes finally has the chance to turn her family’s knack for the supernatural into a legitimate business when she’s hired to break the curse on an infamous Scottish castle. Used to working alone in her alienating occupation, she's pleasantly surprised to meet a handsome stranger upon arrival—until he tries to get her fired. Fresh off a professional scandal, Clark Edgeware can’t allow a self-proclaimed “curse breaker” to threaten his last chance for redemption. After he fails to get Riley kicked off his survey site, he vows to avoid her. Unfortunately for him, she vows to get even. Riley expects the curse to do her dirty work by driving Clark away, but instead, they keep finding themselves in close proximity. Too close. Turns out, the only thing they do better than fight is fool around. If they’re not careful, by the end of all this, more than the castle will end up in ruins.

Do Your Worst grabbed my attention from the beginning. I love an enemies to lover romance, and this gave me more than I expected. I liked the paranormal angle and that both Riley and Clark had their own emotional baggage to work out. I though the mystery surrounding the curse, and what happened in the past was well done- although I completely expected one more little twist in there. I thought the give and take between Riley and Clark was on point, and I loved both their banter and they way that had adult conversations about the important things. I loved that once they trusted each other and decided on a course of action they were both all in, regardless of outside forces and the family issues they each needed to unpack. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more from the author.

Do Your Worst is an engaging and entertaining read with potential to turn into a great series. 

Audiobook Review: Pirates, Parley, Plunder! (Dungeon Runner) by Dustin Tigner, Narrated by Jackie Meloche

Pirates, Parley, Plunder! is the second book in the Dungeon Runner series by Dustin Tigner, the audiobook is narrated by Jackie Meloche. This book picks up right where the first left off, and I highly recommend reading them in order.

Entin’s guild flourishes, eager to face the untamed dungeons of Eternal Fantasy Online. These dangerous places are worlds within worlds, each presenting unique themes that truly stretch the definition of what a dungeon should be. All seems well until Entin meets a young woman by the name of Aymie Avys. She brings a wealth of knowledge and secrets that challenge everything he thought he knew. There is something dark in this world, a festering corruption that might hold the answers to questions no one is asking. But pursuing these answers could threaten everything Entin and his Runners have built and force him to choose between who he was in the past life and who he is now.

Pirates, Parley, Plunder! is a much more cohesive and engaging read than the first book in the series for me, mostly because it was written to be. I enjoyed getting to know the characters more and seeing them grow as individuals and as a team. I am glad that the author continued to give us the story through several points of view. This gave me a much better understanding of the bigger picture and each character's emotions well before the rest figured things out. I like that while there is romance, and in some sections very important, I like that the book did not become all romance. The pairing off did not derail the other aspects of the story, instead just made the mundane interactions more intense and important.  I think readers that enjoy fantasy and Game lit will enjoy this very much. I am grateful that the author unearthed the stories that became the first book in this series and continued it. 

Pirates, Parley, Plunder! is a fabulous follow up to the first runners book. I cannot wait to see what Entin, Aymie, and the rest get up to next.

Book Review: The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais is a picturebook retelling of the Charles Perrault classic tale Little Red Riding Hood. The text was translated into English by Jeremy Melloul. Once upon a time there was a little red wolf who lived in a treehouse in a thick and mysterious forest. The young wolf sets out on a journey to bring his grandmother a rabbit when he is charmed by a nice little girl who offers to help him. But nice is not the same as good.

The Little Red Wolf is a different take on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, one that speak to misunderstandings and how fear and guilt can change everything. I liked the art style, and thought that the storytelling of art and text were well balanced and engaging. I also liked that we got this story from the wolf's perspective and were able to see how the young girl came to believe what she did. I think everything tied together well, and I enjoyed this take on a classic story. 

Book Review: Enchanted to Meet You (Witches of West Harbor) by Meg Cabot

Enchanted to Meet You
 is the first book in the Witches of West Harbor series by Meg Cabot. In her teenage years, lovelorn Jessica Gold cast a spell that went disastrously wrong, and brought her all the wrong kind of attention—as well as a lifetime ban from the World Council of Witches. So no one is more surprised than Jess when, fifteen years later, tall, handsome WCW member Derrick Winters shows up in her quaint little village of West Harbor and claims that Jess is the Chosen One. Not chosen by West Harbor’s snobby elite to style them for the town’s tricentennial ball—though Jess owns the chicest clothing boutique in town. And not chosen finally to be on the WCW, either—not that Jess would have said yes, anyway, since she’s done with any organization that tries to dictate what makes a “true” witch. No, Jess has been chosen to help save West Harbor itself. But just when Jess is beginning to think that she and Derrick might have a certain magic of their own—and not of the supernatural variety—Jess learns he may not be who she thought he was. And suddenly Jess finds herself having to make another kind of choice: trust Derrick and work with him to combat the sinister force battling to bring down West Harbor, or use her gift as she always has: to keep herself, and her heart, safe. Can she work her magic in time?

Enchanted to Meet You is an entertaining and engaging romance. I like that the action and mystery of the story is balanced with the romance. Even as readers are getting to know Jessica and her circle of friends, as well as Derrick and his thoughts on things, the romantic feelings never overcome common sense and the ties of friendship, which I really appreciate. Being a Connecticut native myself, I could see echoes of some of our shoreline towns, and recognized some of the inherent snobbery that does happen, in very similar ways to what as shown in the book. But, the close knit and found family aspects of the town and the story are just as realistic. I thought the magical aspects of the story were well built, and the way the characters reacted to their part in the magic, was all very well written. I enjoyed the read and look forward to the continuation of this series.

Enchanted to Meet You is an engaging romance with significant character development. 

Book Review: The Vegetable Garden Planner: A Crop-by-Crop Guide for Planning and Tracking Your Garden Bounty Each Year, from Seed Starting to Harvest by Lynn Byczynski

The Vegetable Garden Planner: A Crop-by-Crop Guide for Planning and Tracking Your Garden Bounty Each Year, from Seed Starting to Harvest by Lynn Byczynski is a handy guide that offers gardeners an easy way to track the growth and harvest of their vegetables from year to year. The book is organized alphabetically by vegetable, with several pages of note space for each crop so that readers can easily compare one year’s plant growth, variety performance and flavor, harvest amounts, weather trends, and pest pressure to those from previous years. Author and expert grower Lynn Byczynski offers sage advice throughout, for when and how to start seeds, when to harvest, and a wealth of insightful tips gleaned from her more than 40 years of farming and gardening. With high-quality paper and lay-flat binding, this is the perfect gift for any vegetable gardener.

The Vegetable Garden Planner is a helpful read, and I really like that the book is organized by crop rather than by season, this makes finding exactly the information you might need, whether it is a bit of information you remembered reading last year, what you did different, or dates of certain events like planting or frost that might have effected your gardening results.  There is plenty of space for the reading gardeners notes for this very purpose. The information on the mentioned crops is good but not extensive, and I felt like there could have been less drawings of the plants and more information, or a wider variety of vegetables included. However, that could just be that I have already read up on the mentioned crops that I do grow, and the others included in the book would not be appreciated in my house or do not grow well in my area so I rarely try. I think this is a great resource for those that are just getting started with their vegetable gardening experience, and will help them plan and track what works and what does not. I think more experienced (read stubborn) gardeners are less likely to make use of and learn from this handy book. 

Early Book Review: Famous Finds and Finders: Searching for the Past by Tom Velcovsky; Stepanka Sekaninova; Adam Wolf

Famous Finds and Finders: Searching for the Past, written by Tom Velcovsky and Stepanka Sekaninova, illustrated by Adam Wolf, is currently scheduled for release on November 28 2023. In this book young readers are taken on an journey back through time as they learn about the field of archeology and its role in uncovering the secrets of our past. Emphasizing the importance of preserving and recording moments in history, it encourages children to consider their own place in the ongoing story of humanity. Readers can also learn about the tools and techniques (from crude to state-of-the-art) that archeologists and paleontologists use, as well as about the challenges they face in uncovering fragments of the past buried in the ground or under the ocean. This book highlights some of the most significant archeological discoveries of all time, introducing young readers to some of the key figures in the field. It provides a fun and engaging way for children to learn about historical discoveries and the people who made them, and will inspire them to continue exploring the world with a sense of wonder and curiosity.

Famous Finds and Finders is an informative read, with a great deal of well organized information. I wish I had found this book when I was a young reader, as I would have loved getting a real look at the discoveries made, tools used, and maps detailing pertinent information. I do think that this is best suited for readers that already have some interest in the subject matter, as it is a great deal of information on each page. Those that are not already curious might be discouraged by that and not be fully engaged. As someone that has always been interested in archeology, I found the flow of text, images, maps, and other things to be engaging and kept me turning pages. 

Early Book Review: Growing an Edible Landscape: How to Transform Your Outdoor Space into a Food Garden by Gary Pilarchik; Chiara D'Amore

 Growing an Edible Landscape: How to Transform Your Outdoor Space into a Food Garden by Gary Pilarchik; Chiara D'Amore is currently scheduled for release on November 28 2023.  Out with the lawn and in with the food! That’s the battle cry of millions of modern gardeners who are not only looking to reduce the amount of time and energy they have to spend tending a lawn, but they’re also looking to improve the lives of their family, friends, and neighbors by supplying them with fresh, homegrown foodConverting unused areas of the landscape into food gardens helps mitigate the effects of climate change, reduces food miles, improves food security, and allows us to be a better steward of our little slice of the planet. But how do you get started? Which plants do you choose? Is there a series of best practices to follow to successfully convert your yard into an edible oasis so that it’s not just high-yielding, but it’s also attractive? Growing an Edible Landscape is here to help answer all of these questions and many more.

Growing an Edible Landscape was exactly what I expected, and offered encouragement and good information. I loved that the fact that most of us cannot go out and do all of this right away- whether the restraints are time, money, both, or completely different obstacles. The point is made that this can be a gradual project, something that can be continuous and ongoing for as long as you would like. That really takes the mental pressure off when starting to plan your own yard's future. Especially since I am a very bad gardener- I have grand plans and get everything started, and then I have to admit that by mid summer my devotion to my gardens has waned. I like that there are a wide variety of plans and information to help just about every interested gardener take some steps into the edible landscape direction, with the understanding that it really can be a lot of work and to be realistic in your expectations and planning. There is a great deal of information in this book, and I think it is one that my just make it on my bookshelf for referring back to each year as I evaluate what I did the previous year and plan the next round of changes and plantings.