Archive for the ‘Humorous’ Category

Review of Broken (in the best possible way), by Jenny Lawson

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Broken

(in the best possible way)

by Jenny Lawson

Henry Holt and Company, 2021. 285 pages.
Review written May 15, 2021, from a library book

I love Jenny Lawson’s books. She blogs as The Bloggess, and is indeed the queen of humor. Her books are sure to make me laugh out loud in many spots, and this one is no exception.

I’ve found that her books are a mix of laugh-out-loud humor and poignancy – especially when they talk about her struggles with mental and physical illnesses. The chapter about her dealings with her insurance company, trying to get life-saving care paid for, was infuriating and horrible – and I’m glad she’s going public with that story.

But also in the mix are sections of, shall we say, coarse humor, with many, many mentions of gender-specific body parts. For me, personally, there were far more mentions of penises than I ever want to think about. A chapter toward the end with Shark Tank ideas went way overboard for me. When she suggested skipping the chapter if you’re under seventeen, I should have realized I wouldn’t find it particularly funny. Oh well! It made me feel like the balance of funny, poignant, and coarse elements was a little off in this book and heavy on coarse. But I am still glad I read it, and I still laughed out loud over and over again while reading it.

However, at the very end, there’s a section about the cover illustration, and it sums up what Jenny Lawson does so wonderfully well – helping us see that we are broken, but we are still beautiful. Here’s how that section and the book finishes up:

And yet, there is something wonderful in embracing the peculiar and extraordinary monsters that make us unique. There is joy in accepting the curious and erratic beasts that force us to see the world in new ways. And there is an uncanny sort of fellowship that comes when you recognize the beasties that other people carry with them and the battles we are all fighting even when they seem invisible to the rest of the world.

We all have these monsters, I suspect, although they come from different places and have different names and causes. But what we do with them makes a difference. And, whenever I can, I take mine out in the sun and try to appreciate that the flowers it rips up from the garden can sometimes be just as lovely when stuck in the teeth of its terrible mouth.

Embrace your beasties. Love your awkwardness. Enjoy yourself. Celebrate the bizarreness that is you because, I assure you, you are more wondrous than you can possibly imagine . . . monsters and all.

thebloggess.com
henryholt.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Stranger Planet, by Nathan W. Pyle

Friday, April 30th, 2021

Stranger Planet

by Nathan W. Pyle

Morrow Gift (HarperCollins), 2020. 144 pages.
Review written September 21, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

Here’s a second volume of cartoons from Nathan Pyle’s webcomic about alien beings who do the things that earthlings do – but talk about them in a straightforward manner that’s hilarious.

I follow Nathan Pyle on Facebook, so I already had many favorite cartoons from this book. For example, there are a few rewritten songs that fit perfectly in the tune of the original. I’m thinking about trying “The Small Eight-Legged Creature” during Storytime at the library.

The author’s insights are devastating. The purpose of board games is: “For the group: Entertainment. But individually: Domination.” And there’s even a Library cartoon!

This structure is full of texts.
For us to purchase.
No, we simply take.
This is incredible, by which I mean difficult to believe.
Observe this: I briefly possessed this though I did not read it.
There is no shame.
There are no expectations.
They expect you to return them.
It is the core concept.

One thing I love about these beings is that gender is not obvious or indicated by their words. So the transgender friends I have wouldn’t have to worry about what their kids should call them. In fact, I’m thinking of asking my own offspring to call me “Lifegiver.”

This book delightfully points out the amusing aspects of everyday existence by showing us how they’d look if aliens did them.

nathanwpyle.art
harpercollins.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf, by Grant Snider

Monday, March 1st, 2021

I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf

by Grant Snider

Abrams ComicArts, 2020. 128 pages.
Review written December 9, 2020, from a library book

This book includes comics for booklovers and writers and poets.

You will enjoy this book if you can relate to the author’s confession at the front:

I’m in love with books.
I read in social situations.
I will use anything as a bookmark.
I confuse fiction with reality.
I am wanted for unpaid library fines.
I steal books from my children.
I like my realism with a little bit of magic.
I like to sniff old books.
I am searching for a miracle cure for writer’s block.
I care about punctuation – a lot.
I will read the classics (someday).
I am writing The Great American Novel.
I carry a notebook with me at all times.
I write because I must.
I hope you don’t mind me asking . . .
can I borrow a few books?

The author uses the items from his confession as section titles, giving the cartoons some themes.

Most of the comics take the form of lists with pictures. For example “Advocacy for Animals Ignored by Children’s Books” includes a box with “Can we get a couple cassowaries?” with a picture of a couple cassowaries. “Perfect Reading Spots” has little pictures that go with each spot such as “Unusual Tree” and “Frustrating Hammock.” I like the “Can You Spot the Difference?” comic with an “Aspiring Writer” on one side and a “Writer” on the other.

Book lovers will find plenty to enjoy in this book.

incidentalcomics.com
abramscomicarts.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Strange Planet, by Nathan W. Pyle

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Strange Planet

by Nathan W. Pyle

William Morrow Gift Books, 2019. 144 pages.
Starred Review
Review written December 26, 2019, from my own copy, signed by the author and purchased via premierecollectibles.com

I’m a big fan of Nathan Pyle’s comics posted on Facebook with smooth-bodied aliens living the lives of humans but describing what they are doing in very basic terms that highlight the absurdity or simplicity.

I’ve decided that the alien way of speaking reminds me of nice logical German word construction when the aliens called an umbrella a “sky shield,” because the actual German word for umbrella is Regenschirm, which broken down translates as “rain shield.”

Many of the words make you look at the things in a different way, such as the aliens calling a vacuum cleaner a “rollsuck” which has “the filth window.” Or honey, which is called “plant liquid partially digested by insects and then stolen.” Or balloons, which are “elastic breath traps.” Coffee is “jitter liquid,” and a vase is a “death cylinder” for holding “dying plants.”

Names for things are fun, but the interaction between people and between people and animals can be wonderfully touching. I think my favorite is the one that begins with one of the aliens crying. Their friend says, “Why does your face malfunction? Request mutual limb enclosure.”
“Permission granted.”
As they hug, the crying friend says, “You are absorbing my face fluids.”
“Let me absorb.
Let me absorb.”

I also love the one where one alien is on the phone, saying:

“Hello we do not want to make sustenance.
We will literally pay a being to come here with sustenance.
Please pile edible items onto a vast dough circle.
OK Gratitude. We will stay here and do nothing.”

There are certainly days I would pay a being to come to my home with sustenance.

I find myself Sharing Nathan Pyle’s comics often, so when he was promoting a special on autographed copies of his new book, I thought it would be a great way to support an author and pick up some Christmas gifts. I’m happy to say that the unsigned one I’d previously preordered for myself (had to hit the dollar limit) was a maximum-traded item at the staff Christmas party this year!

If you haven’t seen Nathan Pyle’s work, try this out. If you have: There’s a book out!

hc.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Going Into Town, by Roz Chast

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Going into Town

A Love Letter to New York

by Roz Chast

Bloomsbury, 2017. 169 pages.

This book is an introduction to New York, which New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast created for her children, who did not grow up in New York City, like she did.

Here are some selected things she says about the book. You’ll have to imagine the entertaining cartoons that go with these words.

This is not a “definitive guide book” to Manhattan. In fact, it’s not really a guide book. There’s nothing in here about the Statue of Liberty, for example. Why? Because I’ve never been. I’d like to go. Someday. Just not today. Please don’t make me go today.

This is also definitely not one of those “insider’s guides” where I tell you about the hippest clubs, the swankiest restaurants, the edgiest neighborhoods, the coolest gyms, or the store where the best people buy the most exclusive shoes.

It’s not a history book. Do not imagine, even for a second, that I’m going to tell you a bunch of cool facts, like how Betsy Ross invented concrete, or that a thousand feet under Grand Central, somebody discovered an old Pilgrim restaurant, and look, here’s the menu: . . .

I feel about Manhattan the way I feel about a book, a TV series, a movie, a play, an artist, a song, a food, a whatever that I love. I want to tell you about it so that maybe you will love it too. I’m not worried about it being “ruined” by too many people “discovering” it. Manhattan’s been ruined since 1626, when Peter Minuit bought it from Native Americans for $24.00.

Now my kids are grown-ups. The city has changed since I was 23. Things have happened. Some good, some bad, some very bad. But I still love it more than anyplace else, and hope you will too.

She does communicate this affection in the pages that follow. And despite saying it’s not a guide book, the next time I go to New York City, I’m going to check out this book and carefully review her chapter on the basic layout of Manhattan – it makes it all very clear and logical and would be tremendously helpful.

And along the way, I’d get many ideas of things to do and places to visit. And on top of all that, the book has plenty of things that make you laugh. It’s fun to read even if you never have gone to New York City, but will certainly make you want to remedy that situation.

bloomsbury.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Calypso, by David Sedaris

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Calypso

by David Sedaris
read by the author

Hachette Audio, 2018. 6.5 hours on 6 CDs.

Hearing David Sedaris read his books always makes me laugh. I will admit that his humor is often crude or rude – but, yes, it is very funny.

In this book he mostly talks about his family. This includes the death by suicide of one of his sisters, so you wouldn’t think there’s a lot of room for humor – but if you think that you probably haven’t ever listened to David Sedaris.

He also talks about buying a beach house on the Carolina coast to share with his family. And his father, who is politically conservative, getting older. And David himself getting older and dealing with physical challenges – and getting addicted to his Fit Bit.

A lot of what’s funny about this audiobook is also very strange – like feeding his own tumor to a snapping turtle. But what can I say? It’s also incredibly funny the way David Sedaris tells it. I guess it helps to know you’re doing something strange.

I always say that nothing is better for keeping me awake on a long drive than a good laugh. You can find that here. (Though let me give fair warning: I wouldn’t want to explain these jokes to kids. In fact, it might be embarrassing if anyone else were in earshot. Funny, though!)

davidsedarisbooks.com
hachetteaudio.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire, by Greg Stones

Friday, May 4th, 2018

99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire

by Greg Stones

Chronicle Books, 2017.

Okay, this book honestly made me laugh out loud. I’d never noticed how many different ways stormtroopers die in the Star Wars movies.

And that’s what this book is about. It begins innocently enough:

Ninety-nine stormtroopers join the Empire.

We see a relatively calm picture of Darth Vader reviewing his troops.

But one by one and group by group, bad things happen to the new recruits.

One stormtrooper becomes bantha fodder….

One stormtrooper fails to shoot first….

One stormtrooper asks for a promotion….

Two stormtroopers underestimate a princess….

One stormtrooper doesn’t let the Wookiee win….

Thirty-six stormtroopers are stationed on Alderaan….

You get the idea. The illustrations are hilarious, too – with the joke often in the illustrations. (Sometimes we see an illustration showing a notable crash from the movie – with a stormtrooper in the way.)

Instead of page numbers, we’ve got a running count of how many stormtroopers are left.

The last lucky stormtrooper lives happily ever after… on the Death Star.

I’m afraid this may be the book that gets me to count stormtrooper deaths the next time I watch a Star Wars movie.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Pets on the Loose! The Great Pet Escape, by Victoria Jamieson

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Pets on the Loose!

The Great Pet Escape

by Victoria Jamieson

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2016. 64 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a graphic novel just right for kids who are ready for chapter books. It’s by the brilliant Newbery-Honor-winning Victoria Jamieson.

This book is about the classroom pets of Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School. GW, a mouse, explains his fate at the beginning:

Three months,
two weeks,
and one day.

That’s how long I’ve been stuck in this terrible prison, otherwise known as . . .
a second-grade classroom.

I was captured along with my friends Barry and Biter. I haven’t seen them in months. We’re being held in separate cells.

GW has devised a clever plan to escape, including an elaborate contraption to get the door open. When he escapes one night, he goes to rescue Barry, a rabbit, and Biter, a guinea pig, as well.

Barry’s the first grade classroom pet, but he seems to have gone soft in prison. Still, when GW breaks him out, he goes along.

Barry tries to warn GW about Biter:

She’s . . . she’s doing hard time in the worst cell block in this place. Her jailers torture her nearly all the time with stupid songs and crazy behavior . . . .

You don’t mean . . .

Yes, I’m afraid I do . . . .
Biter is in KINDERGARTEN.

Sure enough, Biter has even changed her name to “Sunflower.” She says, “Here in kindergarten, we talk a lot about feelings, and, well . . . I’ve come to realize I have some anger issues.”

Well, that’s the beginning. GW and Barry do convince Sunflower to come along, on the strength of their friendship. But then they meet the fourth grade class pet, Harriet, and her mouse minions. Harriet is planning to sabotage the school lunch.

What follows is a grand and dramatic food fight.

Classroom pets on the loose! Jokes about school! Mayhem in the school cafeteria in the night! All in graphic novel format! There’s not one kid you’ll have to coax to read this book.

And best of all, it shows all the signs of being the first book of a new series, Pets on the Loose!

victoriajamieson.com
mackids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Dear Fahrenheit 451, by Annie Spence

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Dear Fahrenheit 451

Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks

A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life

by Annie Spence

Flatiron Books, 2017. 244 pages.
Starred Review

Dear Dear Fahrenheit 451,

You know I have to start my review emulating you, but of course you realize that I won’t do as good a job with it as you did. So basically, you’re giving me a sense of inferiority right from the start. I should probably hate you for that, but instead I feel all fangirly, impressed with your wit and cleverness and knowledge of books.

You asked me (“Dear Reader”) in your last letter a few questions, so the least I can do is continue the correspondence.

Did you make me want to reread a book I broke up with long ago? Well, is it fair to answer that you made me want to watch a movie again? One of my favorite parts in here was your letter to the library in Beauty and the Beast. I love when your author admits: “But the main reason she’s my favorite is you, Library. You’re so golden and glorious, towering over everyone with your endless rows of books. To be Belle for a day!” Oh yes!

But alas! I must admit that your author revealed, in many times and in many ways, that her taste is quite different from mine. Most notable was her letter to The Hobbit, where she explained “We just want different things.” Kind of mind-blowing to reject The Hobbit! But in a backhanded way, yes, that made me want to reread that wonderful book. (Oh! And The Time Traveler’s Wife! Yes, I want to reread that now.)

Did I keep notes of all the reading you suggested and now have a gabazillion books on your list? Well, I did put a couple of books on hold. And checked out Nikki Giovanni’s Love Poems (Wow!). But, see above, I discovered your literary taste is somewhat divergent from mine. Nothing personal. We just want different things. On top of that, I’m about to commence a year of reading children’s books for the Newbery Medal, so I’m trying to pare down my other-books-I-want-to-read list. I honestly don’t have time to let you distract me.

Do I want to know where I can get a copy of The One-Hour Orgasm? No, I do not. But your writing about the things you find on the public library shelves, and the books that need to move on, made me laugh out loud with recognition.

Ah, this perhaps explains why, despite my negative answers to your queries, I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. You reveal your author’s passion for books and let me enjoy her witty book references, clever book flirtations, and observations from a Library Insider.

And I have to say, I soooo agree with you about The Giving Tree! Your author gave it to a boy she loved in high school. I gave it to a boy I loved in college – and married him. As you say, “Do you want to guess how that went, Giving Tree? Want to guess who was the tired old stump at the end of that book?” Would you believe that I actually burned the copy I gave him? You are spot on correct about that one, Dear Fahrenheit 451.

I will make a confession: You were on hold for another reader – and I didn’t turn you back in right away! (I know, shocking behavior in a librarian!) Although I check out far more books than I can ever read, turning in books that someone else wants is something I faithfully do. But I was more than halfway through reading you, and you were just plain fun! So I selfishly kept your company for myself.

And I would very much like to quote you from so many different places. The clever letters of love and of good-by. And the handy-dandy reading lists at the end. So very much fun to read, whether I take the recommendations or not, honestly.

But, as I said, I didn’t turn you in immediately when I should have, and I’m feeling guilty about that. I need to finish this review and send you on to the next reader. But first I will say that anyone who loves books or reading or libraries will find something to love about you.

With Much Affection,

Sondy

flatironbooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do! by Daisy Hirst

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do!

by Daisy Hirst

Candlewick Press, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #12 Picture Books

This book about being a big sister of an annoying little brother charmed me with its specific details.

The drawings are simple, such as a child would do. Natalie and her little brother Alphonse are some sort of monster. Natalie is red and Alphonse is blue.

The story is also simple.

They both liked naming the pigeons, [Banana! Lorraine!]

bouncing things off the bunk beds,
and stories in the chair.

And they both loved making things.

Except that Alphonse did sometimes draw on the things that Natalie made,
or eat them, and Natalie hated that.

I like that the author doesn’t need to tell us that Alphonse is being aggravating.

One day when lunch was peas
and TV was awful
and Mom did not understand, [What a lovely dog! It is a HORSE.]
Natalie found Alphonse under the bunk beds . . .

eating her favorite book.

“ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO!” said Natalie.

What follows is Alphonse trying to reconcile with Natalie, and Natalie needing some time first. She draws a picture of awful things happening to Alphonse. I especially like the touch of the “swarm of peas.” Then she shuts herself in the bathroom and takes a bath.

But while she’s in the bath, she thinks she hears things happening to Alphonse like what she drew.

When she comes out and learns that Alphonse just created disasters while trying to get the tape to fix Natalie’s book, she’s just glad that Alphonse is okay.

It’s a simple story, but it warms my heart. Sometimes little siblings are incredibly annoying – but sometimes they’re creative partners.

candlewick.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?