Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half has been on my staggering TBR pile for quite some time, and I finally finished it on Christmas Eve. Now that the craziness of the holidays has (mostly) passed, I can take a little time to tell you what I think of this funny, strange, and thoroughly relatable book.

*Disclaimer: Normally, my posts deal with books for middle grade or YA readers. This is not one of those. This book is intended for an adult audience.*

In this book, Allie Brosh takes her fantastic blog and transfers it to a book that, if I’d been reading it in a group of people, would have elicited some rather strange looks aimed my way. Many parts of it were laugh-out-loud funny. (The cartoons–some of which have earned Internet meme fame–only added to that.) I particularly enjoyed her near-constant battles with her dogs. Hilarious stuff.

Other parts of the book, however, made me think, “Wow. Someone out there gets me.” Brosh isn’t shy about addressing her depression or the terrible thoughts that sometimes invade her head. Anyone who deals with any form of depression or anxiety is sure to find something to relate to in Brosh’s work, and those who’ve ever wondered about the toll mental illness takes may just have their eyes opened a bit.

Of course, Hyperbole and a Half isn’t all about one woman’s battle with depression. It’s about her childhood, her family, her daily struggles with somewhat difficult pets, and simply navigating through life with some humor (and profanity). Who doesn’t need a little of that?!

If you’re a fan of the Bloggess (who wrote Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy), I suggest you give Hyperbole and a Half (both the blog and the book) a try. This book is a quick read that I think lots of adult readers will enjoy…if they haven’t already. (Apparently, I’m a little late to the party on this one. Oh well. Better late than never.)

The Terrible Two Get Worse

This time last year, I had the opportunity to read a hilariously funny book from the team of Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell. That book was The Terrible Two. As soon as the book was released, it earned a place on my library shelves, and, to be honest, I haven’t seen it since. (My students know a good book when they see one.)

Now, almost a year later, I’ve been lucky enough to read the sequel to The Terrible Two, aptly named The Terrible Two Get Worse. (Thank you, NetGalley!) This second installment will be released a month from tomorrow, and, just like its predecessor, it will be added to my school library as soon as I can manage it.

I must confess that I liked the first book in this series more than the second, but the sequel still managed to keep me chuckling and eager to turn the page. It’s a quick read that will definitely appeal to any budding pranksters or anyone who enjoys a good laugh.

Miles and Niles make up the Terrible Two, the most excellent pranking team Yawnee Valley has ever seen. Their legendary pranks are sure to be recorded in the history books of the International Order of Disorder, especially since their primary target is Principal Barry Barkin (and his insufferable bully of a son, Josh).

Unfortunately for Miles and Niles–and Principal Barkin–the pranking has come to the attention of the school board. They wonder if Principal Barkin has what it takes to run the school if he can’t figure out who’s pulling so many pranks and bring them to justice. It doesn’t help that the former principal, who happens to be Barry Barkin’s father, agrees with the school board and decides to take matters into his own hands.

Now, Miles and Niles have to contend with a new leader in their school, Principal Bertrand Barkin, and this guy is not messing around. He vows to put an end to pranks…once and for all.

At first, the Terrible Two figure they can get something over on this new guy, but the elder Barkin proves to be one tough customer. He simply doesn’t react to any of their pranks, and what good is a prank without a reaction?! Pretty soon, pranks are a thing of the past at the Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy, and Miles and Niles simply don’t know what to do with themselves. Something’s gotta give, right?

The Terrible Two eventually figure out what they must do to end Bertrand Barkin’s reign of terror…but they’ll need some help. That help, though, may have to come from an unexpected source. Could Miles and Niles possibly–*gasp*–join forces with their former principal, one Barry Barkin, to prank someone who is virtually unprankable? Find out when you read The Terrible Two Get Worse!

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As with The Terrible Two, this second book is a perfect book for any reader with a bit of a mischievous side. The text and illustrations mesh perfectly, and the book also emphasizes such important concepts as creativity, teamwork, perseverance, and friendship.

I would say that The Terrible Two Get Worse is highly recommended for any collection that serves readers from 4th grade on up. Some of the humor resonates more with older readers than with kids, but there’s definitely something here for everyone. I, for one, am hoping that we’ll see even more Terrible Two stories in the future.

For more information about this awesome series and its creators, check out the websites of Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell. And make sure to pick up your copy of The Terrible Two Get Worse on January 12th!

 

Furiously Happy

After following Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, on her blog and Twitter and reading her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, I knew that I would absolutely read her second book, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, as soon as possible. (Also, who doesn’t want to read a book with a lovely, ecstatic, taxidermied raccoon on the cover? Who, I ask you?!) Well, “as soon as possible” turned out to be this week. (The book came out last week, so I guess I’m doing okay.)

Furiously Happy is a candid–and hilarious–look at Lawson’s own struggles with depression, anxiety, and a few other issues. As it turns out, I really needed that this week. Like this beautifully broken author, I also deal with depression and anxiety, and the depression hit me pretty hard this week. (And no, I cannot pinpoint why. That’s not really how depression works. At least, not for me.) This book was just what I needed to make me laugh until I cried and to let me know that I was not alone. I have a whole tribe of weirdos out there who are just like me. (Well, maybe not just like me. I don’t know of any other 36-year-old spinster librarians with depression and social anxiety who have a fondness for Star Wars, Doctor Who, and playing the tuba.)

If you have a somewhat twisted, irreverent sense of humor–or if you’re broken in your own particular way–I strongly suggest you read Furiously Happy. It’s crazy, uproariously funny, eye-opening, comforting, and just plain awesome. I love it.

For those who are still not convinced to read this amazing book, check out the video below. It brings me to tears–and gives me hope–each time I look at it.

*Note: Furiously Happy is NOT a YA book. I would not put it in a high school library or YA collection. This book, in my opinion, is meant for adult readers.*

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

*Note to regular readers of this blog: This is not a YA/middle grade book. It’s a memoir (intended for adult-ish readers) packed with irreverent humor that the easily offended will not be happy with. (Those people need to lighten up.)*

Every once in a while, I have to put aside books that I just can’t get into and read something different. It’s usually because I need a break from the seriousness of many YA books…or I need a good laugh. The book I finished last night, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (also known as the Bloggess), definitely qualifies as different…and it was so over-the-top hilarious that I’m still laughing.

When even the dedication page makes you laugh-snort, you know you’ve got a winner.

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It just got better–and weirder–from there.

Now, I’ve only been reading Jenny’s blog, The Bloggess, for a short time, but I still thought I knew what to expect in this book. Yeah…not so much. From her childhood in rural West Texas, through her struggles with anxiety both as a teen and an adult, and her life with her daughter and husband, Jenny addresses just about everything with irreverent humor and her own brand of crazy. I loved it, and I laughed so much that I gave myself a headache and had to take some Advil and a nap.

I’m not going to go into everything I liked about this book. I don’t have that kind of time. But, if you think you might be interested in reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened–and learning more about taxidermy, impregnating a cow, sadistic turkeys, couch etiquette, the wild world of working in human resources, or what it’s like in the head of someone with an anxiety disorder–you might want to check out Jenny’s blog first. If the Bloggess seems to float your boat (and you’re not easily offended), you should definitely read this memoir. I don’t usually even read memoirs, but I’m now recommending this one to every crazy person I know. (And there are a lot of us. I work in public education. I’m pretty sure being medicated is now a job requirement.)

After reading this insane (in a good way) book, I feel like Jenny Lawson and I could be great friends…who never meet and only communicate via email/social media because our anxiety issues make actual physical meetings awkward and unpleasant. Welcome to the blogging community. We’re great in print.

If you’d like to learn more about Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and the Bloggess, check out Jenny’s blog (obviously), Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. You’ll likely never be the same. You’re welcome.

The Terrible Two

Once again, I owe my thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of a truly outstanding book, a book that is now on the must-purchase list for my school library. That book is The Terrible Two and is brought to readers by the superb team of Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell. If this book turns into a series, I predict that it will leave Diary of a Wimpy Kid in its dust. Yeah, it’s that good, and it appeals to readers of all ages. If I’d been reading this anywhere other than the comfort of my own home, I would have been publicly humiliated by all of the snort-laughing going on. (Granted, I am rather immature at times, but who isn’t? This book is perfect for the precocious child in all of us.)

Miles Murphy has just moved to boring Yawnee Valley–where cows outnumber people–and he’s not happy about it. He’s left his school, friends, home, and reputation as a top-notch prankster behind, and he has to start over in a town where he doesn’t know anyone. To make everything worse, it seems this town already has a prankster, and, loathe as he is to admit it, this prankster may be even better than Miles. How can Miles possibly make himself known as the best prankster with this other guy running around?

When the two boys final reveal themselves to each other, the Prankster King of Yawnee Valley wants to combine forces with Miles. He thinks they’d make a great team, but Miles wants none of it. He’s sure he can beat this guy, and he seeks to prove it. Miles’ solution to his dilemma is a prank war. (Yeah…this will end well.)

Miles tries his best to pull the ultimate prank and get a leg up on the other guy, but he’s always foiled at the last minute. Can it be that Miles is not the prankster he always thought he was? Nah…that can’t be it.

Finally, Miles has enough of his ill-advised prank war, and he decides to join forces with his former nemesis to form the Terrible Two, surely destined to be the greatest pranking duo of all time. This twosome devises the most epic prank ever seen in Yawnee Valley, a prank that people will talk about for years. A prank that may have the power to take their enemies down a notch or two. A prank that, if all goes according to plan, will cement their status in the International Order of Disorder.

Can Miles and his new partner-in-crime pull off this most awesome of pranks? Find out when you read The Terrible Two, written by Jory John and Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell!

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The Terrible Two will be released on January 13th, and I will have it in my library as soon as humanly possible. Kids–particularly those who are on the mischievous side–will surely identify with the utterly charming characters and their thought processes. (My students will especially identify with much of this book. My school is right down the road from a dairy. Read the book, and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.) The writing and illustrations are equally hilarious, and I look forward to many laugh-out-loud moments as students devour this book in the library.

The Terrible Two is an essential purchase for any library that serves elementary or middle grade readers, in my humble opinion.

I sincerely hope we see more of The Terrible Two in future books. This book is simply too awesome to stand alone.

For more information about this outstanding, hilarious book–and its equally outstanding, hilarious creators–check out the websites of Jory John, Mac Barnett, and Kevin Cornell. Enjoy!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

As you may know, a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was released yesterday. After I voted, I rushed to my closest bookstore and purchased ten copies for my school library. (I’m fully aware that this is probably not enough.) Before I took the books to school, though, I sat down to read this ninth installment, The Long Haul.

In The Long Haul, Greg Heffley is about to take part in that most dreaded of family activities–the road trip. Greg’s Mom thinks this will be the greatest summer activity in the world, and she’s billing it as a vacation and learning experience all rolled into one. Well, it’s definitely a learning experience, but I doubt dear old Mom had these lessons in mind…

From rundown hotels to lost wallets and cell phones to destructive pigs to unfortunate car mishaps, the Heffley family goes through loads of mayhem and madness on this most epic of road trips. Everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong on this horrible vacation.

Crammed in the back of the family van, Greg tells readers all about his vacation misadventures, and readers young and old will find it all too easy to sympathize with Greg’s plight. (Who hasn’t endured a heinous family road trip?!)

Will Greg and his family make it out of this with their sanity intact? Can anything go right for them during this trip? What more could they possibly endure?

Join Greg Heffley on yet another wild ride when you read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul!

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I don’t have to do a whole lot to sell this book to my students. Setting it out on the shelf is usually enough. I do plan to tell them, though, that The Long Haul is probably my favorite of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It’s just so relatable, no matter what the reader’s age may be. I can remember long car rides with my family–my sister and I fighting over the smallest things, my parents getting more irritated by the minute, all of us fussing about my dad’s choice in music, having no escape from all the togetherness. Oftentimes, we needed another vacation from our vacation. I think lots of readers–like myself–will be able to see themselves in everything that goes wrong with the Heffleys’ road trip.

I’m sure we’ll see more of Greg Heffley and his infamous diary in the future. The Long Haul didn’t wrap up in a nice, neat little bow, so be on the lookout for another book this time next year.

For all things Diary of a Wimpy Kid, be sure to visit wimpykid.com. For a quick look at The Long Haul, you may also want to take a peek at the video below. You can find loads more videos on the Wimpy Kid YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Fortunately, the Milk

I love Neil Gaiman, and reading Fortunately, the Milk has only increased my adoration. This book, which features illustrations by Skottie Young, is a journey through the ridiculous. Fortunately, the Milk is targeted to a children’s audience, but I’d wager that many older readers will be enchanted by it.  I certainly was.

Who knew that being out of milk would lead to such craziness? Well, that’s exactly what happened one morning in a perfectly normal household. The father went out to get the milk, but he had quite the story for his disbelieving children when he returned.

After getting the milk that his kids needed for cereal–and he wanted for his tea–it seems that Dear Old Dad got a bit sidetracked by a few things. Things like spaceships, green globby aliens, pirates, piranhas, a professorial stegosaurus with a time-traveling Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier (hot air balloon), an ancient volcano god, ponies, wumpires, the space-time continuum, the galactic police, and dancing dwarves.

Is the father’s story true? Could he have possibly gone on a time-traveling adventure with the strange Professor Steg? And how did he ever get the much-needed milk home to his children? Read Fortunately, the Milk to find out!

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Anyone who enjoys convoluted stories–maybe fans of Roald Dahl or Doctor Who–will love Fortunately, the Milk. It is full of crazy, fantastical fun, and those who’ve ever been subjected to insane tales told by dads, uncles, granddads, or other relatives will definitely appreciate the story.

I do recommend reading the entire book in one sitting. (It’s a very short, fast read that will likely take most readers less than an hour to finish.) The action moves so quickly that this will not be a problem. In fact, if you put the book down, you’ll probably find yourself having to reread entire passages to put things in context.

Fortunately, the Milk, in my opinion, would be a great read-aloud for students in upper elementary or middle grades.  (Some of the vocabulary may be a little too difficult for younger readers.) Even high school students may appreciate this book as a read-aloud. It’s that funny and awesome.

If you’re looking for a super-quick read that is totally strange, whimsical, and ridiculous, you should definitely give Fortunately, the Milk by the amazing Neil Gaiman a try. You’ll be enraptured by both the text and the wonderful illustrations (which were kind of a cross between the works of Shel Silverstein and Tim Burton.) You won’t be disappointed!

If you’d like to learn just a little more about this book, check out the book trailer below. It features the King of All Things, Neil Gaiman himself!