Book Reviews: Butcher’s Dozen of Kid Stuff

Yes, I just invented “butcher’s dozen” to mean eleven. Somebody had to. . .

Stinky Cecil in Mudslide Mayhem!
A new resident to the pond, a chameleon, is fresh from a pet store and doesn’t know anything, which Cecil finds annoying. More importantly, Cecil’s house gets flooded even though it’s no longer raining. You might be able to guess the reason before you see it.
Gophers being so industrious, it’s no surprise that particular animal has a boat. And a headlamp. And a fanny pack.
Cecil pretends to be smart, but he’d be a goner ten times over without his earthworm friend.
Hmmm, maybe Bigfoot is a giant beaver (not as random as it sounds).
A long sticky tongue IS easier than a fork, especially when you have no fingers.
So anyway, this is a story about cooperation and empathy, or lack of it. Cute and educational, with extra learning at the end.
4/5

Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga’s Tale of the Desert
Bubby’s a turtle newly brought to a home in the desert, which despite the landscape has a pond. He makes easy friends with other animals, though I thought this story would be over before it started because the hose looked a lot like a snake!
In the space of a few pages three years take place, which is tough to understand. Other than that, it’s simple enough for little kids.
Last few pages are educational: facts on desert tortoises, including adoption rules, so on.
3.5/5

Caillou: Happy Holidays!
The adorable little scamp with seemingly hundreds of books/stories under his belt—without ever growing older—now takes on Christmas, with a special calendar that shows traditions from around the world.
Cheese pancakes in Austria? Never heard of them, but now I’m hungry.
His little sister takes regifting to a whole new level!
As always, these simple stories will be enjoyable for kids.
3.5/5

Caillou Plays Hockey
As always, I love it when a title tells you everything you need to know.
Though he looks tiny in comparison, Caillou is not afraid to play against bigger kids, who in a reversal of the trope are not mean to him. Of course it helps if he learns how to play first, so he practices with his dad and best friend, imagining scoring the game winner in some big competition, something all athletic competitive kids do, although he seems a bit young for it.
And that’s where it ends. No real finish to it.
3/5

Where is Bear Going?
A small bear goes on a quest and is joined by friends along the way, each stop adding another body part to what they’re going to see. Perhaps the point is for the child reading this to guess, but I couldn’t. Still, it’s cute enough for kids to enjoy.
3/5

Johnny
Johnny’s the nicest being ever, but because he’s a big hairy spider everyone’s afraid of him (wow, the author KNOWS me!).
No real ending to the story, unless you count eating a whole cake by yourself. There’s a lesson here for readers, but the other characters in the story don’t get the chance to learn it.
3/5

Caillou Loves his Mommy
Despite all his toys, the little boy insists on his mom putting down her newspaper to play with him. But it’s during hide-n-seek that their relationship really shines.
The kid is as cute as always, but there’s less of a story here than usual. It’s really just a series of things he wants his mom to do with him. No lesson, either.
3/5

Caillou Loves his Daddy
In this edition, Caillou wants to be just like Daddy, making it different than Mommy’s story.
The first page has the cute little kid asking a question that sounds a lot like the birds and bees, but luckily Dad was smarter than that. After a glimpse through the photo album he wants to dress like Dad, work like Dad, and so on. Then Grampa shows up and makes things more interesting.
This was a lot more interesting than the Mommy volume, but still not as good as those with actual stories.
3.5/5

Caillou at the Sugar Shack
After the last couple of pedestrian entries in the series, this volume actually has a story, where the cute little kid goes to see how maple is harvested from trees. Once warm inside, they get to make yummy stuff out of their crop. This kid, and to a lesser extent his little sister, bring the cute to such levels that it’s almost sweeter than the syrup.
This, along with the hockey book, do the most to prove this series is set in Canada.
4/5

Discover Baby Animals
Pictures of baby animals highlight one fact about what they like to do. Some are more obvious than others. There are three different types of monkeys included. Guinea pigs are an interesting insertion.
The photos are so cute you hardly pay attention to the text, pandas and hedgehogs in particular. Rats not so much. Should get some really small kids interested.
4/5

Professor McNasty’s Collection of Slimes
Rhyming couplets tell the story of young siblings who want to buy some slime. They even take odd jobs from the lady next door to raise the money, the text proving how serious they are by including, “There’s no time for fun.” Unfortunately, like most things bought on the internet, some assembly is required. Even more importantly: read the friggin’ instructions!
Some people will appreciate the rhymes, others won’t. For me it made the story cuter, which is necessary when you’re battling slime, even in a comic context. The illustrations made it even more fun. I did find it annoying that Mom was most worried about her dress.
4/5

;o)

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Book Reviews: Erotic Bartenders, Painters and Santa

Double Trouble
“This time, he won’t take no for an answer.”
This is not the way to start any book.
A bartender is tricked by her sister into putting herself into a charity auction. The sister knows damn well there’s a rich guy who wants her, so she’s basically pimping her out for donations.
The story had barely started and I already hated this mother-fucker. He’s a sadistic dom, but luckily—and conveniently—she turns out to be a closet sub. Then his brother appears. . .
The descriptions of the renovated mansion are tedious. I skipped them; not here for architecture. Other than that, this is excellently written, with plenty of genuinely funny moments, particularly in her introspection. My favorite parts were the amazing lead female character and the intriguing sex scenes. The only downside for me was the lead male character at the beginning, but even he got better. Even the sister got better, though I would have never forgiven her.
3.5/5

The Submissive Muse
One year after her dom husband died, a woman plans her suicide, only to be stopped when she discovers what might be a dead body in the barn. Then it gets complicated.
I’m conflicted about this one. As usual when it’s a good book, I liked the female protagonist, and didn’t care for either of the guys; since they were so opposite from each other, maybe someone in between would have worked for me. The story itself is well written, if a little long; felt more drawn out than necessary, with quite a bit of fluff. Took a long time to get to any erotica or bdsm; it reads more like the journal of three damaged people. The timing of her finding him in the barn just as she’s about to off herself is a little too big of a coinkidink. But even with that I enjoyed some of the psychological aspects, more so her submissiveness than his illness.
3/5

Sexting St. Nick
Cam girl falls for new customer, and of course vice versa, so much so that they take it offline. Then things really get weird.
Despite the shortness of the story there was more than enough to make the leads, as well as the elves and her best friend, likeable. Not so sure about the Frosty one, though.
Even though there’s plenty of real and virtual sex, this really is a cute romance. Her past was told small but heavy, and certainly made understanding her easier.
If only the motorcycle had been shaped like a reindeer with a red headlamp. . .
4/5

Painting Class
An art teacher in her forties finally has an exhibition of her work, where one of the female gawkers is a past student who had the hots for her. The teacher feels similarly and takes her student home for a bout of body painting and anything that might come out of it.
It’s a short tale, but considering it only consisted of two scenes—three, if you count the preview of the sequel—the length was perfect. From the hesitant flirting in the art gallery to the gentle sparring to finding out if the other is interested and what the boundaries are, this was just a fun read. The art-making is given just as much importance as the lovemaking, reminding me of an old four-hour French movie with a slightly similar design.
4/5

;o)

A Bit of Everything

Presto!
The bigger half of the famous magic duo tells you how, among other things, he lost over 100 pounds in what is genuinely a small amount of time. Even after reading this it’s still hard to believe it happened, but at least he’s not claiming it was magic.
There’s a lot of repetition; he tried to make it funny, but I found myself skipping quite a bit. Same with his really long list of stuff he’s eaten. And in case you ever wondered if you would see recipes in a book written by Penn Jillette, here they are.
This was a tougher read than expected; there’s plenty that’s lighthearted, but even more that’s not. It’s no surprise to note that the humor is the main attraction here, despite the topic. But what really surprised me was that I didn’t read it in my head in his distinctive voice.
3/5

Aches and Gains
If you want to know why the author wrote this book, here’s his reason: “As a physician, nothing is more frustrating than watching your patients suffer and feeling like you can’t do anything about it.”
Amid long stories about celebrities like Patrick Swayze, JFK, and Elvis, used to illustrate particular chapters, there’s brief explanations about various illness and injuries, followed by several treatments, with emphasis on unconventional methods. Of course some chapters are going to be more important to each reader than others, so it’s easy to skip a few that you might have no interest in. For instance, when I was reading one of the chapters toward the end I was wondering if stem cells would be included, and a few pages later it was (and it turned out to be much more involved than a simple injection, and painful!). At the same time I passed over subchapters that featured diseases I’d never heard of and wasn’t likely to get. Because everything but the kitchen sink is included, it gets boring quickly. Listing every medicine doesn’t help. At this point it becomes more of a reference book in case it does become relevant to you.
There’s suggested further reading after each chapter, as well as episodes from the author’s podcast. I tried a few, but like this book it was long and rambling. I do have to say it got better as it went along. Though there’s still plenty that went over my head with the not-well-enough-explained medical terms, I did feel like I ended up grasping more than other such “for the masses” medical books. Maybe it was the word use, maybe it was the tone. Perhaps the experience he has from the podcast makes him seem more approachable here too. Still could have been better, though.
3/5

Cloudia & Rex
A strange graphic novel that doesn’t do a good job of explaining things. It goes from a quick intro about a human family moving to a new city straight into gods—particularly Death—and annihilation, with some Aztec warrior-looking creature as the bad guy, both powerful and psychologically slimy. But without any attempt at explaining, it lost me right away.
Thankfully it had plenty of funny moments. For instance, it’s not just looking at phones that causes car crashes; it’s trying to swipe them from your teenage daughter in the back seat too.
Best line: “We are trapped inside of a teenage girl.” Words no god ever wants to say.
Other winners: “I am quivering in irony.” And “Where the heck is my superhuman mom strength? I’m supposed to get braver and stronger when my child is missing!”
That is the least scary Death ever. Plushies of him would sell out.
The ending is so Wrath of Khan, but everything else is so confusing. Lots of color, plenty of humor, but I wish I hadn’t bothered trying to understand the story.
3/5

Rough Riders Volume 2: Riders on the Storm
When a secret cabal tries to take over the world in the late 1800s/early 1900s by fronting the anarchist movement, it takes someone like Theodore Roosevelt to gather an elite unit of famous/semi-famous commandos to stop them. And apparently it’s for the second time, though I haven’t read the first volume.
When a story starts right off with the assassination of McKinley, it’s normal to wonder if Teddy might be behind it. I didn’t know Jack Johnson; considering he was a boxer, that’s not surprising. All the other characters are familiar. . . well, not Monk. Some of the tech is steampunk, but the eye scanner goes way beyond that. (Ah, got it. Again, didn’t read the first volume.) Annie Oakley is drawn much more attractively than in real life, but then that was the usual in the early days of cinema.
I’m not going to give you the context to this, because it’s just as delicious. When Edison screams, “I’m a national treasure!” the only reply can be, “We should drop you (off the train) just for saying that.” Yep, this just plays into everything I hate about Edison. This is also why Tesla is more often featured in fiction. . . and why I loved the moment when he mistook the priest for an admirer. That goes double for the surprise villain at the end.
“You couldn’t handle this even if I came with directions.” Okay, I officially love this Annie Oakley, especially when she ogles the guys as they strip and still beats them swimming.
Totally unbelievable for so many reasons, but enjoyable.
3.5/5

Unicorn of Many Hats (Phoebe and Her Unicorn Series Book 7)
My fave unicorn—and that’s saying a lot—and her human sidekick are back quickly after a new original graphic novel not long ago. This volume doesn’t contain a whole story like that one, but does appear to be all-new material—none of them seem familiar to me from the daily strip, anyway—in, I’m guessing from the size of the panels, Sunday format.
I can’t believe someone as geeky as her dad complains about all electronic devices being the same shape. Will you ever see an apostrophe—rhyme!—riding a unicorn car again? But the best thing of all: we finally get to see Marigold’s house!
At this point there’s nothing much left to say. This is easily my favorite comic strip, and one of the best ones out there. Even though it isn’t a complete new story like the last one, it’s still the same ton of fun as the others.
4.5/5

Casey and Aon – A Cybersafety Chapter Book For Kids
Young geek gets a new robot that he has to train. The robot doesn’t know much yet, wondering what’s in the ketchup tube, for instance. But at least he cleans up his messes, even if he doesn’t know what a reflection is.
Once on the tablet the curious robot wants to check everything internet-y, with the kid stopping him and explaining why he shouldn’t, which is the gist of this book. The kid speaks well above his age, and some of his words will probably need explaining to the young readers, but the book does impart a good dose of caution that even a few adults could find of value.
Huge chunk at the end dedicated to glossary, discussion points, and so on.
3.5/5

Firefighters and What They Do
I do love it when a title tells you everything you need to know.
This book is mainly made up of drawings that show the equipment and how it’s used. Most kids probably don’t realize firefighters do more than just put out fires.
Ends with a little maze game.
Really simple, as in preschool, in fact it says it’s for toddlers, so believe them.
3.5/5

Take a Look. More Fun Together!
A bear is asked if he’s alone, and he looks to be, but turns out he isn’t, according to the words and then the next page. Same with a rabbit, and so on.
At first glance the artwork looks strange, with plenty of spaces that make the whole look uncentered. Turns out there’s a good reason for that, but I won’t spoil it. Some of the changes are pretty clever.
A fun timewaster for kids.
3.5/5

The Mutts Spring Diaries
Another volume about a dog and cat—with a lisp—who are best friends and do everything together. This one was more educational than the one I’d read before, especially when it comes to pet adoption, but I still find it hard to tell them apart.
To my groaning amusement, I really liked the snapping turtle pun
“Meow.” “What kind of accent was that?”
“Veni vidi oink.” Simple joke, but effective.
It sucks when you can’t get a song out of your head, doubly so if you’re a bird.
A lot of the Sphinx’s lines are old Benny Hill jokes.
These are very simple lines and drawings, which remind me of Peanuts in a way. There’s a cute innocence to these characters, like when the turtle is mistaken for a talking rock. The guard dog is not the biting type, but he can Riverdance.
My absolute favorite is the bird on a piano.
4/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Erotic Stepbrothers, Babe Geeks, and Aleins

The Billionaires: The Stepbrothers
Insurance investigator finally gets to interview an art robbery suspect, but she finds him so hot she can’t think straight. And he knows it, using the control she’s given him to get her into bed while convincing her he’s innocent. So she goes to interview his stepbrother and, guess what, same thing happens.
As would be expected, after she sleeps with them separately there are times when both have her together. If it was just about the sex it would be relatively easy to write, but when she’s in love with both and wants a threesome relationship it’s a lot harder. Happy to say this writer pulled it off pretty well, as well as making a good mystery. The parallels of the car accidents and subsequent survivors’ guilt was well done.
Enjoyed this thoroughly. I’m predisposed to liking the lead because I love redheads, but the guys were better than most in this genre and the plot was enjoyable. Just one question: what happened to the puppy during that first night. . .?
4/5

Play Crush
A young geeky—but of course hot—female techie is tasked with doing the field work to test football helmets in hopes that head injuries will be curtailed. The players love her, one—actually more than one, but only one matters in this story—in particular.
I love this girl, at least most of the time, when she’s not being a pushover. I like the set-up. The guys are okay, probably because I semi-remember some of them from a previous book. But there’s something off about this; not enjoying it like I should, given all that’s going for it. At some points it went as far as tedious. It’s easy enough to say that lack of communication is a problem, but then that happens in just about all books in this genre, so I can’t use that one here.
As I said in the other book in this series that I’ve read, it’s hard to keep track of all the players. For example, Bam feels like a giant lineman; I’m surprised each time it’s mentioned he’s the halfback. Perhaps a character sheet should be included.
The ending, and all the Star Trek jokes, made me feel better about it, but I still didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have thought.
3/5

The Roswell Affair
As you can see from the title, the Roswell crash is the setting for yet another story, this time with a hot nurse/scientist called in to interrogate a not-so-alien alien in the famous 1947 crash. Within minutes she’s in lust for him and they’re communicating through sex, which is why the military failed to establish a dialogue.
This works because the main characters are likeable, with an immediate chemistry that might actually be chemical, not just the way the word is used today. Some slight touches of the era were nice, though even for something that takes place 70 years ago it’s hard to imagine the government agents being such asses; ditto for the soldiers. Don’t think they needed to be painted with such black strokes in order for this story to work, though maybe because it was so short there wasn’t time to do anything else with them.
It turns out to be a complete Mary Sue, but since I liked it I’ll let it pass. But for such a short story it didn’t help that 10% of this is ads for other books at the end.
3.5/5

Adam: Doms of the Silver Screen Book 2
A “scream queen” actress gets a role in a “serious” production, only to find her estranged husband is directing. She doesn’t want to quit, but she doesn’t want anything to do with him either. He harasses her until she gives in. (This story takes off from the first book in the series, but reading it is not required to understand this one.)
Even though he’s the Dom of the title, the story is really more about her. There are funny moments in the first half, most of them on the set—I’ve actually seen a bed break during filming, but that actress’s reaction was far different—but there’s just one overwhelming problem, which I can boil down to: I love Nicki, I loathe Adam.
That’s really all that needs to be said. Most of these types of stories feature an alpha male who won’t take no for an answer, but this is a new low. I doubt I will ever hate a character more than I hated Adam. This might have been an okay book if he wasn’t such an unlikeable asshole.
The first book in the series, even if it was far shorter, was so much better.
2/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Crime, Clothing, and Care

Hunger Moon
“It is loose in the country. Everywhere, now. In the very highest corridors of power. There will be a showdown.”
The series was leading to this from the start, but it couldn’t be any more timely. Cara tries to stay away from all men because there’s a price on her head, but in the meantime other women have taken up her just but gruesome cause. It all leads up to a confrontation with possibly the worst bad guy of them all.
“He’d even at one point suspected his own Agent Singh.” Been waiting the whole series for my girl Singh to make her mark, but I sure didn’t expect it to be like this, though I’ll bet Epps will like it, once he gets used to it.
Like Anne Franks’ diary, this is a painful read. Scarier than her earlier horror works, so difficult to read because it’s so plausible. But it’s brilliantly written, Ms. Sokoloff’s best work to date.
4.5/5

The Informed Patient
This definitely lives up to its title, although by the end of it a more truthful name would be “The Overinformed Patient.”
As one example, the section on IVs and catheters was way too long. There’s no way an explanation of every little nuance was necessary. Same with the description of every kind of chest tube; far too detailed for readers who don’t have a degree in medicine. So many procedures are mentioned this becomes more of a reference book. Some sections are repeated, more than once; at one point it’s acknowledged. This book feels like the first draft came out too short and needed padding.
I applaud the author for the idea, but it’s still not explained down enough for regular people. In fact, the last tenth of the book is glossary, because no one expects the readers to know all the medical jargon tossed around. This is not the kind of book you read, remember, and pass on. There’s so much here that, while a little dumbed down, is hardly comprehensible.
I’m going to treat this as a reference book, ready to be looked up as needed.
3/5

The Crime Book
I didn’t know DK did anything but travel books, though this follows the format set by those.
The most intriguing fact hits right at the beginning: the first known homicide occurred 430,000 years ago.
This book turned out to have a pretty standard design, in the form of a reference book: one- or two-page chapters on famous criminals or crimes, with panels featuring similar acts. Each chapter is led with a meaningful title and an even more meaningful drawing, a caricature of the crime in question; my fave was the horse and the can of paint.
Some of the categories really aren’t, more like broad labels: celebrity murder, desert murder, and so on. Don’t expect anything in-depth here, merely something to pique your interest so you can explore the fascinating crime further on your own. Other than to let the reader know about a particular case, there’s nothing here that can’t be found in other books or the internet.
3/5

Killer Fashion
Subtitled: “Poisonous Petticoats, Strangulating Scarves, and Other Deadly Garments Throughout History.” But despite all that, it’s easy to think of this as a comedy, albeit a dark one.
Simple rhyming couplets accompany an illustration in each story. . . and just to keep the rhyme motif, they’re mostly gory. Best rhyme: “boast” and “ghost.”
If you hate your mother-in-law, give her artificial silk.
The long history of asbestos was intriguing.
Mercury poisoning was known as the “mad hatter’s disease.”
Beauty—supposed beauty, anyway—sure had a heavy price; from belladonna eyeballs to lightning bras to strangling corsets to high heels to lead makeup. . .
Despite how it eventually turned out, I love that a new hairstyle came out of falling off a horse.
Poor Jean Harlow. . .
The scariest part, even if it was a sign of the times, was the newspaper editorial that stated, “What of woman’s mission to be lovely?”
Ends with ten pages of sources.
If you’re into fashion and macabre—if you like your humor black and morbid—this is for you.
3.5/5

Full Service Blonde
“Once I decided to go to Las Vegas, no one could have talked me out of it.”
It’s amazing how different this book is from the other by Megan Edwards I’ve read, Strings. That book was so fantastic I have no doubt it left a high mark for this one to strive for, and it came up far short.
In the end it felt like a whole lot of nothing. Copper goes everywhere but doesn’t do much. Some threads pick up halfway through, but this writing doesn’t remind me at all of the other book. It felt more like a slice-of-life than a mystery.
Strings seemed to take forever to read, but in a good way. This one took forever in the more usual sense.
The two main storylines made everything more complicated than it needed to be. I liked Copper, but I didn’t like Sierra, or many of the other characters, even the ones I was supposed to like. All the relationship stuff—hers, her parents’, etc.—just felt like too much, or the mystery she eventually solved too little.
2.5/5

101 Protocols for Online Dating
Stuff to do–and not do–when looking for love in all the electronic places.
A lot of the stuff offered is common sense, but we all know that common sense isn’t. . . common.
I wonder why the author decided to call these protocols, like it was some top-secret dossier in a spy movie. Sounds silly this way.
I guess if someone went to the trouble of buying this book, they might be inspired to take its advice, but as I said earlier, a lot of these are common sense. Some I flat out disagree with. Others are too self-serving, becoming the person the author warned us to avoid. But more than anything, there was nothing earthshattering here.
2.5/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Kids Like Animals

If 13 is a baker’s dozen, what’s 11?

Creature Files Reptiles: Come Face-To-Face With Twenty Dangerous Reptiles
This book is filled with photos of fearsome looking creatures full of fangs and claws, with small diagrams that show what part of the planet to find them, how big they get, and a fang file. There’s also a danger gauge, and even though the Gila monster’s spit is venomous, that only ranks a two. The undisputed winner is the black mamba.
I’m old enough to be surprised when I come across an animal I’ve never heard of, in this case the tuatara. Native to New Zealand, called a living dinosaur, luckily is a 0 on the danger gauge. The gharial I’ve seen, even if I’ve never heard the name. That long skinny snout is a dead giveaway.
Most astounding fact: the green anaconda can grow up to thirty feet! And a book like this can’t end without everyone’s favorite, the Komodo dragon.
But I would have given the leatherback turtle at least a one rather than a zero; those babies can bite!
4/5

Ultimate Expeditions Rain Forest Explorer
In 1924, a jungle explorer went into the Amazon, keeping a journal of the animals he encountered for a display at the museum that paid for his expedition.
Each page contains diary entries, a big photo of the animal in question, a few small ones, drawings, and fun facts, such as the jaguar having the strongest teeth of any cat.
The tapir always scores high on the weirdness scale, especially the fact they can hold their breath underwater for a good ten minutes. His encounter with a river dolphin is hilarious. And if you’ve ever wondered about Amazonian bats, they’re just as disgusting as any others.
Have to say, though, the photos, especially the dark ones, are too sharp to have been made with 1920s photographic technology. And some of the drawings have captions in small italics that are difficult to read.
3.5/5

The Girl Who Said Sorry
This is a book about teaching young girls to express themselves with confidence and without apology. The young protagonist here has to deal with people telling her she’s too girly, too boyish; too thin, don’t eat that cookie, all kinds of contradictions. Worst of all, she apologizes every time regardless of how ridiculous the dichotomy.
“You say sorry a lot!” So I said sorry.
The artwork is simple pencil sketches on a white background, until she has her epiphany. At that point it turns psychedelic, her words now coming in rhymes.
The funniest part was the bio, where, because she’s Canadian, the author admits she apologizes all the time.
3.5/5

Northstars Volume 1: Welcome to Snowville!
The appropriately named Polaris—at the North Pole—is the home of Santa Claus’s town, Snowville. His daughter, a cute redhead, is just as appropriately named Holly. She’s happy to have a princess visiting, though she’s not what she expected. After some getting-to-know-you they take off to the underworld with a little green guy and get mixed up a plot to take over Snowville.
Yetisburg Address? Wonder how many kids will catch that one. Grammar gets them past a dragon somehow. I like how there’s a little emoji face next to the dialog when the speaker isn’t pictured.
“Huh. That could’ve gone better.”
The moral is right to the point and very true.
The artwork doesn’t try to be realistic, but that’s okay. It has more of an old-school comic book feel, which isn’t much of a surprise since it seems to be targeted for younger kids.
3.5/5

The Anger Volcano
The first half basically runs through a bunch of metaphors for the topic, showing all the ways anger can manifest. Then come the solutions—like counting to ten, slow breaths, think of something else—followed by the results, hopefully. There’s a couple of repeats in there, or I guess reinforcement. Best part of it is that each page is done in triple rhyme, which proves very effective. Also helpful are the not-so-simple line drawings, which don’t try to overdo things and take attention away from the words.
4/5

Annabel and Cat
A story of friendship between a little girl and her cat. They put on plays, do arts and crafts; I can see a cat holding up a mustache to its face, but using scissors is too much. They also like to jump into piles of leaves, usually a dog activity, amongst many other adventures.
The prose is easy for little kids, as is the artwork. Can’t help but wonder, though, why this was done with a cat when a human best friend would have worked just as well, if not better.
3.5/5

Kit and Kaboodle
If there are two animals that really enjoy peanuts, it’s elephants and monkeys. So what happens when an elephant has a bag of yummies and won’t share?
If you go through the pages fast when the monkey’s juggling the dishes, it looks like a little movie. No matter what he does, and some of the attempts are pretty impressive, the elephant is not enthralled.
In the end the elephant did have a point, and the monkey’s revenge was kinda harsh. But yeah, they could have both done better.
3.5/5

Mi Gato, Mi Perro/ My Cat, My Dog
Told in both English and Spanish with a drawing in between, this tells the similarities between cats and dogs as seen by humans, though the cat might have different opinions. In the end they figure out how to coexist.
With its simple language and artwork, this is right in the wheelhouse of preschoolers.
3.5/5

My Favorite Animal: Dolphins
What are the odds that I open this book just as Flipper is on TV? (Seriously, that just happened!)
As it should be, the title tells you what you need to know. Told with plenty of lovely photos, and despite this being for children, I did learn some interesting facts about an animal I have studied thoroughly for years.
There are small tests given throughout with the answers in the back, along with a glossary.
4/5

The (Not) Sleepy Shark
Like the title says, Amelia the Shark is not sleepy, wandering around talking to her friends and doling out common-sense advice.
When the school of fish said they were hungry and the shark said, “I know the feeling,” I thought the next page might not be appropriate for kids, but luckily it didn’t go there.
Kind of a strange setting for a story, and I don’t know how educational it is, but in the end it was okay.
3/5

Superheroes Club
Lily wakes up happy to go to school, then promptly gets buried under a pile of clothes. She’s still happy, though, because she comes out of the pile fully dressed exactly as she wants to be. From there it moves to “What I did last summer” at school, and ends up with a bunch of her classmates helping her help others.
There’s a clever moment where the script is positioned to include the name on the dog’s collar.
I really liked the teacher, even if he was wearing a bowtie. He ends up getting wet.
The artwork is as bright and colorful as the message, like an 80s superhero cartoon, which just might be its inspiration. And I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite musicians, Lindsey Stirling, when I see this little girl. . .
4/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Space Love

His Human Vessel
In the continuation of a series I’ve grown to love, an alien doctor buys a slave for breeding purposes, as his race was almost wiped out, but he’s a man—or alien—of science and claims not to want her. She knows better.
Not quite as good as the previous four in the series, but still better than most stuff in this genre. As always I enjoy the human female characters; it was easy to feel for her and her dilemma, even feel sorry for her. Despite him being the supposed authority on human females for his kind, advisor to the ruler and all that, he’s just as clueless, if not more, than the previous guys. Sometimes that was fun, sometimes annoying, but in the end it worked out well that way.
4/5

Her Mate and Master
From the same series as above, but with a twist. Unlike the previous stories, rather than buying a human slave, this young heroic alien goes undercover to rescue one of the last females of his race, who also happens to be the daughter of his sensei. Of course things don’t go as planned and they have to make a run for it, with him desperate to have her but not about to dishonor her—or rather her father—despite her obvious willingness.
Even though she wasn’t human, she wasn’t that much different than the others. The story was pretty much the same; not that that’s a bad thing, but something a little less formulaic would have been nice.
I liked the female character, but not as much as the previous human ones. The story didn’t seem as fun either, though still good.
3.5/5

Alpha’s Temptation: A Billionaire Werewolf Romance
A former hacker wants to go legit with a corporate job, and ends up trapped in an elevator with the big boss, though she doesn’t know that at the time. Turns out he knows exactly who she is, though at that point he’s not aware she’s the only person ever to beat him in cyberspace.
He’s a usual rich asshole, as well as a werewolf, the loner type. But of course he wants her, and despite all her previous feelings about men she gives in rather easily. This is one of those rare stories where I didn’t feel all that great about the heroine; I should have liked her, especially her wicked/nice personality, but she didn’t work for me. I hardly ever like the guys, and there’s no exception here.
3/5

Second to None
Seven years ago he lusted for his friend’s wife, so much that he cut himself out of their lives from the guilt. So complete is his withdrawal that he didn’t know his friend died. Now they reconnect, and of course he’s a hunky millionaire. She wants money for her children’s services center to expand to dog therapy.
This novella is classified as an erotic love story—though the sex scenes lacked any real heat—but it was the other elements I enjoyed more. For instance, I would have preferred more of her great kid. What really annoys me, though, is that this romance wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t rich.
It’s strange, because usually when I like the main characters, the story doesn’t matter as much. And I didn’t mind the story, but I still feel disappointed, partly because it was money and the death of her husband that allowed this to be a happily ever after.
3/5

Gunnar
In what is thankfully a short story, Vikings raid a village after a festival, when everyone is drunk and easy pickings. The leader goes off to rest in the previous lord’s room and finds a gorgeous blonde tied up waiting for him, expecting the previous ruler. Though a virgin, she’s smart enough to play along so as not to be punished. Blindfolded or not, she figures one is as good as another, and of course ends up enjoying it.
Feels historically accurate, but I’m not interested enough in this period to look it up myself. I do like that it was more than just straight-up sex, despite the short length. No big deal, just fun.
3.5/5

Tempted & Taken
A Russian lass, having taken a friend’s identity, is on the run in Texas, where she wants to be mentored by a rich handsome computer genius. . . and have sex with him too. He has a large improv family of brothers, mostly from his time in foster care; I have not read the previous books in this series, so that’s all I know.
These types of books are rarely about plot; all that’s needed is that it not come off as stupid. This story actually did a pretty good job of getting the leads together in a realistic way. As always, I think it’s a good book if I like the female character, though in this case I think it’s well-written anyway, with plenty of little moments to keep me entertained. There was one scene about ¾ of the way through that seemed to drone on and on, but other than the fact I don’t think a Russian mob would simply let things go without being honor-bound to revenge, that’s the only negative I have for this.
I was disappointed, however, in not getting a shot-by-shot account of the skeeball game. . .
4/5

;o)