Book Review: A Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover) by Kelly Bowen

A Duke in the Night is the first book in The Devils of Dover series by Kelly Bowen. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He’s known—and reviled—for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It’s a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep. Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she’s reunited with August, all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family’s business, her heart can’t help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.

A Duke in the Night is a historical novel that takes a little more of a look at characters hat have or are currently struggling financially. August and his family have been completely destitute- and through his hard work and smart choices he has brought them back to being more than just surviving, he has what amounts to a business empire. Clara and her family are currently struggling. When they come together again, not exactly by chance, they rekindle an attraction that they have both been trying to ignore. Money, lies, and the expectations for women in general (and August's younger sister in particular) keep raising tempers and conflicts between the two. Add in a suitor that has less that noble intentions and lots of realizations on August's part and it is a book that offers romance and some intrigue along with equality. I live that while August seems so ruthless and composed, he really is a soft touch that worries about those that cannot care for themselves or have fallen on hard times. It is his desire to help and protect that actually fuels his drive. I loved his character's duality and heart. Clara is smart and determined, and very much apologetically herself. There was a good bit of humor and fun in the story and I caught myself giggling at a few of the shenanigans and misunderstandings between characters. I liked her and her siblings, and the way they view the world. I am hoping that the siblings of both Hope and August are the stars of the next books in the series, because I liked them as much as the main players. I have not seen a historical romance with this amount of a push for equality and awareness before, at least not that I remember. While it was done well, I do think that it occasionally came close to the line that would have felt more preachy than entertaining.

A Duke in the Night is a solid historical romance with a social messages interwoven in the story. There is humor and a good character building. I was an entertaining read, but I will admit to while loving the concept and characters I had a hard time getting fully engaged in the read. 

Book Review: Ada Lovelace (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Zafouko Yamamoto

Ada Lovelace, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Zafouko Yamamoto, is part of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Meet Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron. From her early love of logic, to her plans for the world's first computer program, learn about Ada's life in this mini biography for readers as young as four years. This inspiring story of her life features a facts and photos section at the back.
Ada Lovelace is a biography for young readers, that is well done and charmingly illustrated. I found the combination of facts and cute to be inspiring and informative for readers of all ages that want a quick lesson on the woman behind the technology that changed our world. I like that the book encourages children to combine the things they love with the things they need and learn about. That just might be the encouragement the next game changer needs to follow their dreams and create something that will change the way we think and work all over again. I liked the time line and additional information that is included at the end of the book intended for older readers and those that might be sharing this book with younger readers. I think I am going to need to explore this series a little more, both for myself and the school library. 

Book Review: Drawing Cute with Katie Cook: 200+ Lessons for Drawing Super Adorable Stuff by Katie Cook

Drawing Cute with Katie Cook: 200+ Lessons for Drawing Super Adorable Stuff by Katie Cook
teaches readers how to draw everything adorable in her first tutorial book. These are quick, easy-to-follow step-by-step lessons with some silliness on the side. All you need is a pencil and paper, or a napkin or a wall depending on how confident you are in your drawing ability. Readers will be shown how to turn curvy blobs, shapes, and squiggles into more than 200 different things. Some subject included are fuzzy animals, cute food, and inanimate objects like yarns balls, luggage and a toaster. Add details like nubbins, floof, and smiley faces to anything and everything to transform it into something really, really cute.

Drawing Cute with Katie Cook: 200+ Lessons for Drawing Super Adorable Stuff is a fun read, even if you are not terribly interested in becoming better at drawing adorable critters and such. Cook includes plenty of cuteness and humor along side the drawing tutorials. I love that she simplifies each of the drawings into things like basic shapes, but often in terms of produce, i.e. eggplant, potatoes, and seeds.  I think this is the perfect instruction book for those that want to draw and doodle adorable things, but do not have a ton of faith in their own artistic skills. The instructions are well written, in a relaxed and fun way, that should set even the most trepidatious sketcher's heart at ease and allow them to have some fun with the process.   As a bonus, fans of puns, fun facts, and Doctor Who will find little references and jokes to make the read even more fun.

Early Book Review: Gordon: Bark to the Future! by Ashley Spires

Gordon: Bark to the Future! by Ashley Spires is a spin off of the Binky graphic novel series for children. It is currently scheduled for release on May 1 2018. It's all up to Gordon now. His partner has been captured. His superior officer has been neutralized. And his distress calls to P.U.R.S.T. (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) have gone unanswered. That means he must fight the aliens alone! But Gordon's not a fighter, his deadliest weapon is his mind. So what's a genius dog to do? Time travel, of course! He'll use his new time machine to travel back in time, then he can stop the invasion before it happens. But there's a malfunction: instead of sending him back five days, the time machine sends him back five years! And now he's out of fuel! With only his wits to depend on, can Gordon get back to the future in time to save his friends and his humans?
Gordon: Bark to the Future! is a cute junior graphic novel featuring characters that fans of Binky and the P.U.R.S.T. Adventure series will be looking forwards to, but newcomers to the author will be able to enjoy almost as much. I like that Gordon is a quick paced graphic novel with minimal text, which is a great way to catch the attention of reluctant and emergent readers that are still gaining confidence in their abilities. Gordon's mishaps are fun and will make readers of all ages smile. Gordon's need to do the right thing, and the perseverance he shows in trying until he gets it right, is a great model for young readers as well. I enjoyed the amount of little details and jokes in the illustration that will bring readers back to re read, and I think in most cases they will notice new things the second, and maybe even third and forth time around. The story has action, humor, and some suspense- a little something for everyone. So readers that love animals, science, humor, or action will find something that they like with this series starter. 

Early Book Review: The Only Thing (The Donnigans) by Marie Harte

The Only Thing is the third book in The Donnigans series by Marie Harte and is currently scheduled for release on May 1 2018. You do not need to have read the previous books to enjoy this read, but those that have enjoy the earlier books in this series, and the prior related series, will enjoy seeing characters they already know make appearances.

Hope Donnigan is finally getting her life together. She's working a job she likes, has some amazing friends, and is steering clear of Mr. Wrong. Now if only she could get her mother to understand that. Maybe a hot tattoo artist from the other side town is just the ticket to teach her mom a lesson. J.T. Webster fell for Hope months ago at his sister's wedding. So when she propositions him to be her fake boyfriend to get her mother off her back, he's all in. The only problem is J.T. had no idea their pretend relationship would be better than anything real he's ever had.

The Only Thing is the story of two adults afraid of love and getting hurt, but that have shared an attraction since the first time they met. They have been avoiding dealing with that attraction because of the level of connection between the families. If something went bad, it would be an epic disaster. However, in a frustrated moment Hope sets a plan in place that will bring them together, and start them in a relationship that never really feels as fake as they are pretending it to be. I enjoyed the slow evolution of both Hope and J.T.'s mindsets. I loved both characters, and how honest they were with themselves, even when they had trouble sharing those thoughts and feelings with each other. And as expected, the secondary characters and returning people from previous books added depth and humor to the story on several levels. The addition to the stalker, and the danger fit well for most of the story. I was not thrilled with the reveal of who was behind it, and it felt a little wrong and out of the blue for me. However, that was the only thing in the book I did not like, so it was still a wonderful read.

The Only Thing is yet another great contemporary romance novel. I did not love it quite as much as the others from Harte, but I still loved it and will be looking forward to continuing to read more and more from this author.

Book Review: Let's Hatch Chicks!: A Day-by-Day Chick Hatching Guide for Kids by Lisa Steele

Let's Hatch Chicks!: A Day-by-Day Chick Hatching Guide for Kids by Lisa Steele is a children's non fiction book about how a chicken lays, cares for, and hatches an egg.What’s going on inside that egg? At the heart of this book is the answer to that question; it's a guide for the action-packed weeks while a chick grows. However, there’s so much more to learn! Whether you're interested in where eggs come from, what feathers are for, or what chicks eat, this book has the answers. Learn how to hold and feed your new chick as well!

Let's Hatch Chicks!: A Day-by-Day Chick Hatching Guide for Kids is a very informative book about everything chicken and egg related. I like that the book had very cute, but accurate illustrations, and that I learned more than a few things about chickens as I read it. I like that while the book is very kids friendly, it at no point feels like it is talking down to younger readers. It gives the information in a straightforward manner, with no condescending or childish tone in it. I think this would be a great book to share as a family, or in a classroom, for anyone raising chickens or pondering adding them to their lives. I liked the fun facts included on many pages, and the amount of detail that is given to the growth of the chick, before and after it is hatched. I found the information to be well balanced between chicks hatched and raised by its mother, and those hatched and raised by people using incubators and brooders. The glossary and information about the author (and her chickens) at the end of the book was a nice touch as well. 

Book Review: Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir, Steenz

Archival Quality is a graphic novel written by Ivy Noelle Weir with artwork by Steenz. It would be best for young adult and older readers. After losing her job at the library, Celeste "Cel" Walden starts working at the haunting Logan Museum as an archivist. But the job may not be the second chance she was hoping for, and she finds herself confronting her mental health, her relationships, and before long, her grasp on reality as she begins to dream of a young woman she's never met, but feels strangely drawn to. Especially after she asks Cel for help. As Cel attempts to learn more about the woman, she begins losing time, misplacing things, passing out—the job is becoming dangerous, but she can't let go of this mysterious woman. Who is she? Why is she so fixated on Cel? And does Cel have the power to save her when she's still trying to save herself?

Archival Quality is a graphic novel about dealing with mental illness, and solving a mystery of past and present horrors. Cel needs to learn to trust herself, to accept help when needed, and to trust that those around her care about her and are more than willing to help if she lets them. I liked seeing the trust and friendship develop- and the secrets be slowly revealed.  I liked the combination of mystery, mystical, and trying to find your way. I could empathize with most of the characters, including the secondary players. I liked the story, and think it will keep readers thinking about the story well after they finish it. I know I am still thinking about Cel's journey, and they way she finds herself. I was not thrilled with the art style, it felt a little clunky for some of the characters, but others looked fantastic. The back grounds and details are very well done, and add to the story well- it is just the style a few of the characters that did not work for me. I liked that the story of the books creation was included in the afterwords, and that further reading and museums to explore are offered up as well. The sketch pages were interesting to see as well, to see how the characters were envisioned and changed as the book came together. 

Archival Quality is an interesting and engaging graphic novel that I think will speak to young and new adults, as well of those that have been considered adults for longer than we might want to admit. The mystery and spooky aspects are on point, and the handling of friendship and mental illness was very well done and might speak to others struggling.

Early Book Review: How to Spot a Sasquatch by J. Torres, Aurélie Grand

How to Spot a Sasquatch, written by J. Torres and illustrated by AurĂ©lie Grand, is a children's graphic novel currently scheduled for release on May 15 2018. On a camping trip with the Junior Rangers, Jay feels like the odd one out. He’s determined to get a photo of Bigfoot—but none of his friends believe Bigfoot exists. But if there’s no such thing as Bigfoot, why is there a giant footprint? And who is stealing all the snacks? Meanwhile, Sass the Sasquatch and her curious forest friends are playing practical jokes on the campers. On the last day of camp, disaster strikes when Jay falls into a rushing river. Sass comes out of the woodwork—despite her parents’ warnings to stay away from humans!—just in time to save his life. Soon after, Jay and Sass become fast friends, proving that nothing is impossible when it comes to friendship.

How to Spot a Sasquatch is told in short chapters and it for a younger audience, I think, that Bigfoot Boy and other things I have read by Torres. The story is cute, playful, and deals with the struggles many of us have in finding our place and fitting in. I liked the message of doing your own thing, and doing the right thing, rather than worrying about what others think of you that comes out by the end of the story. I found some of the characters to be a little flat- however the art style and constant action will keep readers flowing with the story. I thought the art style was fun and playful, with humor and context clue for the larger story peppered through each page. I thought Sass was the best part of the story, and her print leaving in the start of the story is really what endeared her to me, and that fun part of her personality stayed with me through the book.

How to Spot a Sasquatch is a graphic novel from an author whose work I have enjoyed in the past. While this story is still good, it just did not hold up to my expectations. It is still enjoyable, and I think it will appeal to many, but it just did not wow me. 

Book Review: Summertime Crochet: 30 Tops, Bags, Wraps, Hats, & More for Sunny Days & Balmy Nights by Helgrid van Impelen and Verena Woehlk Appel

Summertime Crochet: 30 Tops, Bags, Wraps, Hats, & More for Sunny Days & Balmy Nights by Helgrid van Impelen and Verena Woehlk Appel is a collection of instructions and patterns that take advantage of today's cotton and linen yarns. These yarns are perfect for lighter apparel like tanks, motif tops, and cute hats.  Breezy articles that can all be crocheted and are just right for warm-weather style.

Summertime Crochet is a well organized collection of patterns with bright, bold photographs that capture the feel, drape, and possible styles for the featured pieces. The instructions are understandable, with notes about skill level and options to adjust sizing. I really like that the notes about yardage often includes matching or related items from the book. I really likes some of the ideas and patterns, like the espadrilles. However, I found some of the patterns to look much like theses easily found on free pattern websites. I also found a few that had me thinking, just because you can does not mean you should- or maybe I am just old- because crochet bikini pieces make me shudder (and they always have).  I do like that the basic instructions for the stitches and terms is included at the end, for some of the beginner crafters than want or need the additional support.

Summertime Crochet is a small collection of patterns for working in cotton and linen yarn. I was not greatly impressed by it, but think that it would be helpful for those that prefer to work in these yarns, and do not want to go looking for the patterns every time they want to make a lightweight hat, shawl, or handbag. 

Early Book Review: Hedgehog by Ashlyn Anstee

Hedgehog by Ashlyn Anstee is a picturebook currently scheduled for release on May 8 2018. Hedgehog is hogging the hedge and won't let the other animals live there. Winter is coming, and the animals need homes. The worms move in with the groundhogs, the possums share a burrow with the foxes, the birds and the squirrels stay in the oak tree together, but the hedgehog lives in the hedge all by himself. When other animals come looking for a place to stay, he's NOT interested; it's HIS hedge and everyone else can STAY OUT. He gets busy making signs, putting locks on his door and even building a fence. All he cares about is keeping the other animals out but he's making a huge mistake. Will the other animals find a home in time?
Hedgehog is a story about sharing, cooperation, and more. It has its humorous moments, but is mainly a political allegory.  The illustrations were cute, but felt a little unpolished to me, although the did show the moods and ideas of the story well. The book is good, and the story does a good job of imparting the intended lesson. However it just did not wow me, it fell a little flat for me.