Book Review: The Heiress and the Hothead (Sinful Suitors) by Sabrina Jeffries

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries is a novella in the Sinful Suiters series.  I did the read the first book in the series, The Art of Sinning, which takes place right before this installment. However, it is not necessary to read the series in order. 

This story focuses on Amanda, who owns a cotton mill in America, and Stephen, who is working hard on factory reform. Stephen assumes that Amanda's factory has to similar to the ones he has witnessed. Amanda is a different kind of factory owner. She actually cares about her employees and works hard to ensure their safety. Amanda agrees to an interview with Stephen but only if he introduces her to some of his sources. 

The Heiress and the Hothead is a fast and fun read. I liked Amanda and Stephan, ands thought their characters were well written. They are not fear, boring characters and I found their interplay entertaining. Assumptions and conflict might start them off on the wrong foot- but they actually communicate with each other- although not always well. My biggest complaint was the sex scene. Sometimes they fit, and sometimes they do not. Here I think we could have skipped it. It struck me like the classic moment in paranormal or suspense romance when everything is going to hell and death is close and suddenly our characters decide it would be a good time to get busy. It just struck me as silly and a little unnecessary. 

Book Review: 10-Minute Recipes by Liana Werner-Gray

10-Minute Recipes by Liana Werner-Gray is a cookbook for those that want to eat healthier, but need recipes that are quick and easy- and go beyond salads and grilled chicken.  In 10-Minute Recipes, you will find more than 100 recipes to get more of the essential vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients your body needs—each of which can be prepared in 10 minutes or less. Whether you're a meat eater or a raw vegan, this inclusive book offers options for juices, smoothies, salads, entrees, desserts, and more that will delight any palate. There is also advice on proper nutrition; tips for shifting out of toxic habits; and guides for specific goals such as weight loss, reducing inflammation, and increasing energy.
10-Minute Recipes is a well organized and easily understood cookbook. I have to admit that it was not the recipes or text that caught my eye though. As soon as I started reading I notice the beautiful, full-color pictures. The images are very well done and spaced through the book perfectly to enhance the text and catch the eye. The book describes the “Earth Diet” and there is a lot of information about nutrition and changing eating habits, and what you might expect in your body and mindset when you make these changes. Honestly, I was looking for recipe ideas and inspiration rather than this- so I was a little annoyed at how much of this there was, but some readers might find interesting and useful. I did like that she included information on the tools and equipment that the recipes would require before hand and the most likely ingredients that you might not already have on hand.. Nothing worse than planning on a recipe, buying all the ingredients, only to discover you are missing something important when you reread the recipe prior to getting started. However, it was not until page 40 in the book, chapter 5, before even getting to the recipes and them the first 4 chapters are all juices, drinks, and smoothies. In chapter 10 we finally get to things that require teeth.He recipes were alright, and certainly healthy. However, not much I could really use. When I saw 10-Minute recipes as the title I was expecting more things that I could toss together after helping my kids with their homework, and that we all would enjoy eating. IO did get some ideas for my own mornings, but not much that my family would eat for other meals. 

10-Minute Recipes is a good resource to those trying o change their lifestyle and eating habits to go very green and healthy, particularly if they want the philosophy and coaching to go along with it. It is not meant for the casual reader looking for inspiration and ideas to sneak in a little something healthier into their families dinner- quick before they notice. So, it was not meant for me- however I think those looking for this kind of help information, and support will get a lot out for this book.

Book Review: Safe From Harm (Protect & Serve) by Kate SeRine

Safe From Harm is the second book in the Protect & Serve series by Kate SeRine. The first book in the series was Stop at Nothing, which I did not read. However, I caught up to the stories surrounding the families pretty quickly, and some of the characters felt familiar anyway- though I still have not figured out why yet.

Deputy Gabe Dawson has had his eye on prosecuting attorney Elle McCoy for years. But the smart, sassy redhead is immune to his legendary charm and good looks, until Gabe is shot on the courthouse steps protecting Elle from a vengeful domestic terrorist. Elle McCoy has been protecting her heart from the cocky playboy cop. But it’s hard not to notice a guy when he takes a bullet for you and seems determined to turn his life around. With the extremists still at large and Elle a target, Gabe and his law enforcement brothers kick into high gear to take down the threat. And as they work together, Elle realizes she’s losing her heart to a man who will risk it all to keep her safe from harm.

Safe From Harm is a good romantic suspense, with plenty of danger and mystery. Elle is a prosecuting attorney dealing with those guilty of terrible crimes, and with that comes the risk of violence. Gabe is a police deputy dealing with collecting evidence and the criminal element. They each have painful losses in their past, and deal with the unpleasantness elements of society. They also have long standing infatuations with each other, and neither knows the other really feels the same. I like that Elle is a strong and capable woman, willing to admit her faults to herself, but not always willing top admit them to others. Gabe seems like the womanizing golden boy, but he is a strong and thoughtful guy that has a strong inclination to protect those around him. I liked their banter, and eventually the way they opened up and really talked. I also liked the inclusion of the pair's extending family and that grief and PTSD was talked about in realistic ways, the adrenaline following danger and the struggle to come to terms with what can and cannot be done was a strong element of the story. What I did not like was the uncontrollable need to get naked as soon as they admitted their feelings for each other at every single opportunity. Sex happens, especially in romance novels, but I feel like more could have been done between the couple to solidify their relationship with emotion than with sex.

Safe From Harm is a good romantic suspense with complex characters and story line. I enjoyed the read, and think many others will as well. 

Book Review: Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Complete Cosmos: With Notes by the Guardians of the Galaxy by Marc Sumerak

Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Complete Cosmos: With Notes by the Guardians of the Galaxy by Marc Sumerak is the ultimate guidebook to Earth, the Nine Realms, and other dimensions from Marvel Comics, as told by Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Ever since Super Heroes like Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy started stomping around planet Earth, we’ve had to open our horizons a little and embrace the wider reaches of space. If you’re thinking of journeying to one of the many new realms for a little down time, then don’t leave home without Hidden Universe’s guide to the cosmos. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the divine splendor of Asgard or soak up the multicultural atmosphere of intergalactic waypoint Knowhere, this is the book for you. It even provides some tips on surviving excursions to Planet Moord and Chitauri Prime, if you like your vacations to be on the extreme side. 

Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Complete Cosmos is a good place to start if you are know to the Marvel universe, or just want to fill in some knowledge gaps. It is not comprehensive- as there are just so many things to cover, but it an entertaining start because of the interjections of the Guardians. This book offers readers information on the hot spots, history, and culture of more than forty locations in the Marvel Universe, including Planet X, Halfworld, Weirdworld, and the Planet of the Symbiotes. There is also some discussion of some of the Earth's most exotic and mysterious locations, such as Wakanda, Latveria, the Savage Land, and New Attila. The humor and snark of the commentary really made the book a fun read, and I learned a few things.

Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Complete Cosmos is a good guide to those who enjoy some of the graphic novels or movies that feature the Marvel world of superheroes and creatures. It helps fill in the blanks that you might not know if you have missed an important issue or movie- and want to fully understand the possible implications of wise cracks, drawn weapons, and diplomatic mistakes. 

Early Book Review: Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles) by Amanda Bouchet

Breath of Fire is the second book in the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. It is currently scheduled for release on January 3 2017. I highly recommend reading this series in order, because of the world and character development. The first book was Promise of Fire, which I loved.

"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power. Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom, or not at all.

Breath of Fire is a grand adventure that continues to develop or characters, the world, and the political intrigue. Cat continues to grow as a person and Griffin grows as well as they find how they fit together in the bigger picture. More secrets are shared, danger faced, and crises faced. There are plenty of battles and strategies, as well as personal conflicts and magic. I think the only thing I did not like here was the ramping up of the description of the physical relationship between Cat and Griffin. I think it did overwhelm some of the other aspects of the book. It was dealt with better in the first book, and in this style of book I tend to be more interested in the emotions and adventures of they characters than a detailed description of their intimate moments. Since I read tons of romance this might seem odd, but t is what it is. That being said, I still love this series and cannot wait to get my greedy hands on the next book.

Breath of Fire is another great adventure. I still love the story and the characters,and look forward to the next book in the series, Heart of Fire, which is expected to be released in the Fall of 2017. 

Early Book Review: When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson, Julie Flett

When We Were Alone is a picturebook written by David Alexander Robertson and illustrated by Julie Flett. It is currently scheduled for release on December 31 2016. When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things about her grandmother that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long braided hair and wear beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where everything was taken away. 

When We Were Alone is a wonderful look at how much the younger generation can learn about their heritage and the lives of their family by asking questions. I think it is important for us all to understand what our elders and ancestors went through, and how other cultures have faced. this picturebook offers a little of each. Whether your family tree includes Cree (or any other Native American Heritage) or not, it is important to know what they faced, and how any group has been treated in the past or present. Not only does this book offer a lesson on heritage and history, it can also help with empathy and understanding. Perhaps a better understanding of our shared history can help us understand how others feel and prevent similar treatment of groups still or now considered 'other'. I would highly recommend adding this to any library collection. It can start many important conversations that are currently very relevant to the current state of the world and necessary.

Book Review: The Starriest Summer (The Cycle of the Six Moons, #1) by Adelle Yeung

The Starriest Summer is the first book in the The Cycle of the Six Moons series by Adelle Yeung.  Fifteen-year-old Michelle saves the world on a daily basis, with her trusty video game controller, of course! Naturally, she jumps at the chance to play an experimental virtual reality game. The beautiful fantasy world of Starrs? Check. The power to mold matter? Check. No reset button? Wait, she didn’t sign up for this! Turns out Starrs is really real, and to make matters worse, Michelle’s interference awakens the Cycle of the Six Moons, a series of devastating trials that will devour the universe.  Fighting the apocalypse was way easier when danger stayed on the other side of the screen, but Michelle finds a secret weapon in her new-found powers. She uses them to rescue the crown prince of a powerful magic kingdom from their sworn enemies, a technologically-advanced cult that strives to eradicate magical blood.  Michelle starts to fall for Prince Jayse, the only one who believes Michelle to be a savior rather than a curse.
The Starriest Summer is a quick moving adventure that had me eager to discover where the story and Michelle are going next. When Michelle heads into the video game she thinks it is just a new virtual reality game. However, if she listened to her brother's warning she might have known it was much more than it seemed. I enjoyed the world building, and the fact that our main character is discovering the lore and environment right along with the reader. While sometimes she proves to be a little slower on the uptake that I hope I would be, her flaws make her more realistic than a character that gets everything right the first go round. Her exploration of the world, discovery and introduction of characters, and the build up of a story that promises deception and danger underlying everything only begins here. I was glad that Yeung did not try to cram everything in one book, because there seems to be so much more to tell. I like that the story was complete enough to leave me with a full story, but wanting to know so much more. It was a nearly perfect balance.  I found the world and characters to be rich and complex, and even after reading the complete book I still have questions about the Cycle, politics, and royal family that I hope will be addressed in the books to follow. I really want more of the history behind the stories that I feel have missing pieces, but I will just have to wait.

The Starriest Summer is a great start to a new series, and appealed to me on several levels. I think gamers and fantasy fans alike will enjoy this book, and the series to follow. I know I did.

Book Review: Curse on the Land (Soulwood) by Faith Hunter

Curse on the Land is the second book in the Sourwood series by Faith Hunter. The fist book was Blood of the Earth, and I would highly recommend reading the series in order. Thankfully this is no hardship since the first book was very good. 

Before Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she had no one to rely on, finding strength only in in her arcane connection to the dark woods around her. But now she has friends in the newly-formed PsyLED team to keep her grounded, even if being part of the agency responsible for policing paranormals presents dangers of its own. After training at the PsyLED academy, Nell returns home to her woods to find the land feeling sick and restless. And that sickness is spreading. With the help of her team, under the leadership of agent Rick LaFleur, Nell tries to determine the cause. But nothing can prepare them for the evil that awaits: an entity that feeds on death itself. And it wants more.

Curse on the Land goes deeper into Nell's character, and the powers she holds. Nell is still dealing with the effects of growing up in a religious cult- but is self aware which makes her a much more practical character than some might be in her situation. The team has changed, and relationships and friendships become more complicated- although while there is flirting and thoughts there is no way this could be classified as a romance. The case, and the mystery surrounding the dangerous presence and deaths, are the focus of the book. The mystery is very well done, and the exploration of science and magic was interesting. I liked that the story never fell into the expected patterns, and even the solution was nothing I have read before. Nell's personal growth and understanding was just as important as the deadly mystery, and I found that combination kept me reading well past my bedtime. 

Curse on the Land is another great book by Hunter. If you like urban fantasy with complex, unique characters that does not get buried under romantic story-lines then Hunter is an author you should explore. 

Book Review: In Safe Hands (Search & Rescue) by Katie Ruggle

In Safe Hands is the fourth book in the Search & Rescue series by Katie Ruggle. The romance part of this story can stand well on its own, however to fully understand the larger story arc that rateches up the danger level this series does need to be read in order. The reading order is Hold Your Breath, Fan the Flames, and Gone Too Deep then In Safe Hands. I enjoyed all of them, so it is not a bad thing to binge read the series, right? There is also a prequel, On His Watch, a novella which I have not yet read.
Daisy Little has lived in agoraphobic terror for over eight years. Trapped within a prison of her own making, she watches time pass through her bedroom window. Daisy knows she'll never be a part of the world, until the day she becomes the sole witness of a terrible crime that may finally tear the Search and Rescue brotherhood apart for good. Chris, police deputy and friend, believes in her- but Daisy is starting to lose faith in herself. Picking up where Gone Too Deep ends, here we finally get all our answers.

In Safe Hands is a fast paced book that dropped so many answers to the questions fans of this series have had since the beginning. Daisy and Chris, and their ‘friendship’ are some serious icing on the cake. Daisy is agoraphobic after witnessing her mother’s death. Chris has been there supporting and teaching Daisy self defense all along. When Daisy sees something weird out her window she starts the ball rolling towards an action packed conclusion. All the couples we have met so far have their roles to play, and so do the shadowing figures we have had our suspicions about as we have made our way through this series. I think my favorite thing about Ruggle’s writing of Daisy (and most of the characters of this series) is the realistic and honest portrayal of her characters. No character is all good or bad, or main players have their faults, and the ones causing all the problems might be killers or arsonists, but they are not wholly evil. Mental illness, phobias, and traumas are things the characters have to deal with, but not what defines them. This is a rare and wonderful thing to find, and would make the books good reads even if the story, adventure, romance, and suspense were not all awesome as well. 

In Safe Hands is another quality book from Ruggle. I was glad to see how everything came to gather, but I will be sad to let go of these characters. Thankfully, a little bird tells me that a new series will start this summer, with Run to Ground

Book Review: Abigail the Whale by Davide Cali, Sonja Bougaeva

Abigail the Whale is a picturebook written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Sonja Bougaeva. Abigail dreads swimming lessons because every time she dives into the pool, she makes a big splash, and all the girls in her class shout: “Abigail’s a whale!” Abigail can see that she is larger than the other girls. She feels huge, heavy, and out of place. Abigail’s swimming teacher points out that we can change how we see ourselves. He shows her a way to feel bolder, more confident, and more accepting of herself. Abigail tries it out in challenging situations that week; walking home in the dark, eating her vegetables, trying to fall asleep. Next time she’s in swimming class, instead of feeling heavy, Abigail thinks sardine, eel, barracuda, shark! She starts to figure out how to draw on mindfulness, creative thinking, resilience, and positive self-esteem to embrace exactly who she is.
Abigail the Whale is a book that many of us can identify with. Abigail is a big girl, and hates the splash she makes when she jumps in the pool, and the way the kids tease her because of it. When her coach tells her that "We are what we think" she puts that idea to work everywhere she goes. I love that the illustrations show her imagination and changing perspectives about herself and the world around her. While positive and creative thinking cannot solve everything, it is a good, healthy way to start. i also like that she does not think herself thin when it comes time to dive again. instead she works with herself and thinks about being light and agile, like a rocket or shark. She does not get down on herself about her weight, nor does her coach, instead they work on tools to achieve what she wants to without worrying about other people, which is easier said than done. I liked that even when using her tools, and trying her best, Abigail was still nervous and worried, just like anyone would be in her place. 

 Abigail the Whale is a wonderful example of thinking and doing big things, without giving in to bullying and fear. Not only does it give a good example of creative thinking, it can also serve as a conversation or thought starter about self-confidence, bullying, empathy, and problem solving. A wonderful book to address this issues at home or in a classroom setting.