All Book Reviews by Genre: Humor

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

You know, it’s difficult to review a book that already highlights its flaws in the text itself. Part of me wonders if the reviews from the second book in the series were bad enough to warrant this kind of meta self-awareness. In the end, while Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia does take the time to address these weaknesses in its story and characters, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re in there in the first place. These winking soliloquies seem to gloss over the fact that the book knows what’s wrong with it, but instead decides to gloss over it with self-reference instead of fixing the root of the problems themselves.

By this point in the series, I have come to terms with its middle-grade silliness and occasional bathroom humor. I loved the rule-breaking first book in the series, only to become annoyed by this constant fourth-wall breaking that happened in book two. By book three—this book—I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m not the target audience for this book, despite how well-written it is and how intricately its fantasy world has been created.

Perhaps due to my acceptance of this series for what it is, I felt the plot and character development were better in this part of the series—even if it did seem to trend toward “after school special” territory more often than not. Not only did we get to see more of Alcatraz’s parents (although, not nearly enough in my opinion), there was a lot more world-building that helped to flesh out this strange land introduced in previous volumes. Plus, the character who was a former librarian was (and is) probably my favorite character in the series right now.

More of the same self-aware silliness from Brandon Sanderson, I give Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Graduate
Webb, Charles
2 stars = Meh
Review:

If I could condense this book down to a single phrase, it would be “What?” It’s not that I didn’t understand this book, it’s more that this single word/question was used for every third line of dialogue. Not only was this incredibly annoying to read—as every character seemed to have hearing problems that required the other speaker to repeat themselves—but it just seemed to pad out an already weak plot. I have no idea how this book became so famous that it led to a much superior film adaptation, but now I know that nobody should bother reading this book because of its inspiration for the movie.

Let’s talk about character motivations next. Nothing ever made any sense. Sure, there’s a bit of existential ennui involved with finishing something you excel in (school, in this case), but the actions of the main character only make sense up until a point. Once we hit the third act, there’s just a series of random actions that aren’t grounded in reality. This is also not to mention that the characters around him, especially the primary love interest, also make illogical decisions that aren’t founded in any sort of reality. At least this book is short enough that you’re not going to waste much time reading it.

Maybe I’m just missing the point of this book. Perhaps it’s an examination of the consequences and realizations that come from living a life that seems to have no meaning. I mean, I get the counter-play between the newly-disillusioned Benjamin and the almost permanently-disillusioned Mrs. Robinson; butwhenthe entire thing is filled with awkward and nervous dialogue that constantly repeats itself, I can’t help but think that there isn’t anything significant there. Even the ending was so abrupt and unfulfilling that I had to thank the movie version for its subtleness in revealing the characters’ realization of what they’ve done.

A truly sub-par story that was made into an above average movie, I give The Graduate 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
This Is the Van That Dad Cleaned
Ernst, Lisa Campbell
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Dad has cleaned the van. It’s all sparkly and shiny. This cumulative,
rhyming story chronicles what happens next. It’s a fun narrative that many
children and their parents can relate to.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Earlier this year, I read Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians and absolutely loved it. Consequently, I had high hopes for the next book in this series, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones. While there was still the same amount of self-awareness and humor in this book, it felt a little…off. Perhaps I should have read these two books closer together, but I had some trouble coming up to speed in the beginning and wasn’t entirely sure why the “goal” of this book was to find Alcatraz’s father. In any case, Sanderson’s world-building is still in top form here.

Of course, the “cute” way that this series was self-aware when I read the first book was a bit more annoying this time around. It almost felt like every chapter had to have a soliloquy, even if it didn’t link itself to where the plot was at the time—which often broke the flow of the action. Similarly, while the randomness introduced in Versus the Evil Librarians did seem to have some purpose, it seemed to have less of a purpose in this book. It felt like it was randomness for randomness sake, even if some of it did eventually come into play.

Despite the things that made the first book endearing becoming a little more grating in this book, I did enjoy the magic system, and more in-depth explanations of the lore were explored in this sequel. Things like why the main character is named Alcatraz and a better explanation of the “powers” of his family members helped round out the questions that weren’t necessarily obvious in the first book but still needed to be answered at some point anyway. The action was fantastic (if not against all laws of physics), and I wouldn’t mind seeing how the relationship between Alcatraz and Bastille develops in later books.

An amusing and well-rounded “silly fantasy,” I give Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Sideways
Pickett, Rex
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

When I got into this book, the only things I knew about it were that it was about wine and it was made into a movie of the same name by Alexander Payne. Unfortunately, unlike a good wine, this book doesn’t seem to have aged well. Maybe people were able to put up with buddy comedy sex romps back in the early2000’s, but the social climate has changed considerably since then. I doubt a book like this would be written today, at least without some outcry from people who find the women in it to be inherently objectified.

Most of my issue with this book comes down to the characters. I’ll give the author credit for creating individuals that made me react to them so vehemently. The problem is that I hated these characters. I hated Jack for being so sex-crazed that he felt obligated to satiate his urges mere days before his wedding. Ihated Miles for being the stereotypical alcoholic failing author. If you wanted a template for poor life decisions, I think these two characters would fit the bill. There wasn’t much (if any) redemption in either of their story arcs, and both of them just seemed to enable their worse selves.

In the end, this book is supposed to be a comedy. At least, it’s a comedy in the sense that it ended with a wedding (as most comedic plays and musicals usually do). Sure, it’s filled with witty banter and some good stretches of natural dialogue, but there was hardly any vulnerability of the characters to give them any grounding. One moment near the end briefly pulled away to let Miles reminisce, but I would have liked some more consequences that would have forced both men to change for the better. And maybe that’s the point: real life doesn’t work that way, and I hate that there are real men out there who have these very same faults.

Terrible people in somewhat amusing situations, I give Sideways 2.5 stars out
of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Misadventures of Max Crumbly Middle School Mayhem
Russell, Rachel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

It's about a teenage boy who deals with bullies and he ends up in the ventilation systems of his school on the weekend and he found burglars trying to steal the schools new computers.

Reviewer's Name: Delaney
I Am a Cat
Bernstein, Galia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Panther, and Tiger say that Simon isn’t a cat. After all, cats have certain characteristics. Can he convince them that he’s really a cat? Read along to find out.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Squirrel in the House
Vande Velde, Vivian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Twitch, the school-yard squirrel and Cuddles, the dog next door, don’t get along. Twitch narrates the book and explains why squirrels have such a better life – they have no rules. During the holiday celebrations, Twitch heads inside Cuddles’ house and mayhem ensues. The day turns serious when a young human gets into trouble. Can Twitch & Cuddles work together to save the boy? Read & find out.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Stay! A Top Dog Story
Latimer, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ben loves his dog, Buster, but has to leave him with Grampa when he goes on vacation. He remembers and writes down all sorts of instructions for Grampa. As he remembers more things, he writes postcards from vacation. Eventually, he remembers what he forgot, but it is too late. Grampa & Buster are already on the way to the post office. Read what happens as Buster learns how to behave – at least most of the time.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Swim the Fly
Calame, Don
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

15-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop have been friends since kindergarten and have set summer goals for themselves since they can remember, though this year that goal almost seems impossible.

Trying to reach it gets them into situations and adventures you couldn't imagine happening to just some Lower Rockville Razorbacks of the Rockville Swimming Association.
I find this book a really great choice for a summer read, very relatable for most teens and also funny beyond all beliefs. It can get a little inappropriate for those under 15, though if you are comfortable with that kind of humor, it is hilarious. It is also a very great book for a swimmer to read, though you do not have to be a swimmer to understand everything or enjoy the book.

Reviewer's Name: Franscesca J
Awards:
Kill the Farm Boy
Dawson, Delilah S. and Kevin Hearne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It took me a while to review this book because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to rate it. This novel is a pun filled fantasy adventure that pokes fun at the traditional fantasy quest. It involves magic, elves, a dark lord name Toby, sleeping maidens, a sand witch named Grinda, a talking goat named Gustave, fairies, a bunny bard named Argabella, a female warrior named Fia, a rogue name Poltro, and a harrowing danger filled quest to cure the dead-ness of a farm boy name Worstley, killed at the beginning of this book, that was destined to fulfill a great destiny …. or so we thought.

While at times this book was funny, I particularly enjoyed the details of how the world was described, for example when the enchanted castle and the maids were being described at the beginning of the book, particularly the last line. “There was also an abundance of portent swaddled about the place. Oodles of it. A surfeit, even. Something would go down there soon. But for now, the lady slept. And drooled a little, probably.” Or the dark lord’s constant obsession with cheese and crackers throughout the book.
Other times, I think the humor went over the top, which was not a particularly big selling point for me and leaves a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. For example, when our heroes arrive at the hut of the healer and Agrabella first wakes up after being healed. “In this case with her eyes shut, Argabella had to assume she was being licked across the face by a troll with gingivitis who’d recently partaken of fresh garlic and sardines and possibly eaten another, even sicker troll for breakfast. Her eyes burst open… She soon realized that this was because she was staring into someone’s extremely furry armpit” Or maybe it was the fact that books with tropes and puns are just not the type of books I am particularly drawn too or like. However, I do appreciate and like each of the character’s own inner dialogue as they wrestle with their feelings and other issues throughout their journey together. For example, when the warrior realizes she love’s the bunny bard, “She realized that even more than roses, even more than a proper set of armor, she wanted to be kind and generous and the whole range of happy adjectives to this truly unique woman for a long, long time.”

Overall I think this books was well written, and at times funny, it takes a traditional subject, fantasy quests, and turns it into something new entirely. While this book wasn’t for me particularly, I would recommend it for anyone who loves, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride.
the movie Space Balls, or anything with wacky humor. This book comes out today so put a copy on your holds list! Thank you to Negalley and the publisher Del Rey for a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Genres:
Skink No Surrender
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Richard's cousin, Malley, has always been rebellious. However, this time Richard is really worried about her. Malley ran off with some guy that she met online and the cops can't find her. Richard knows that he can find her so he embarkes on an adventure along with Skink, a moderately sane one-eyed wandering vigilante. Skink No Surrender is awesome. Complete with daunting storms, poisonous snakes, giant gators, flying bullets, and a supposedly extinct woodpecker. Skink No Surrender is full of twists and turns that makes it impossible to put down. I read this book in under two days and I highly recommend it for any middle schooler or high schooler that is looking for a great adventure story.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Kill the Farm Boy
Hearne, Kevin and Dawson, Delilah
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Normally, I’d start off my review with a synopsis, but plot wasn’t exactly the point of this book, so I’m going to skip it. What you need to know is this: Kill the Farm boy is a satirical fantasy novel that skewers the “chosen one” white male narrative. Tonally, it’s as if Deadpool were your dungeon master and he had recently swallowed a thesaurus. If that appeals to you, you will love this book. If not, pass on it.

I had fairly mixed feelings – humor is subjective, and while I sometimes found it funny, I also found it grating at times. For example, there was a chapter about trolls that had me in stitches. But there was also an entire chapter about the group entering the Morningwood that had me rolling my eyes. A certain type of audience will absolutely love this one. I was not that audience, but I still, for the most part, appreciated it for what it was as I generally found the writing quality to be very high. There’s little character development, and the plot is just a vehicle for jokes, but again, those things aren’t the point.

This is definitely one of those books that will be very hit-or-miss for people, and while it was mostly a miss for me, it’s one that I think I’ll be recommending to a lot of patrons, particularly teens. If you like Mel Brooks or Monty Python, you’ll probably like this too (it would make a pretty funny movie).

Thanks to Del Rey and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Kill the Farm Boy will be released on 24 July, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Dive In!  A Topsy-Turvy-Say-It-Out-Loud Underwater Adventure
Recess Monkey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of fun and laughter we had with this book. I expected it to be lame, but it was a fun read-aloud. It's an interactive book where you end up sounding like you're an undersea explorer, holding you breath as you dive in, and participating in silly shenanigans. We had a great time with it.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth
Robinson, Michelle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Michelle Robinson has created a step by step guide to help you wash a woolly mammoth. There are some tricky parts to beware of such as the fact that woolly mammoths have terribly tickly tummies. The illustrations are wonderful and help you imagine the perils of washing a mammoth. Great fun for young readers!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Digby Takes Charge
Church, Caroline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Digby is the new sheepdog and he's having trouble getting the sheep to do what he asks. He tries different ways until his farmyard friends teach him the value of one little word - please. It's a great reminder of the power of please (and thank you).

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Chomp
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mickey Cray is a professional animal wrangler in the Florida Everglades. He has rented out his animals to countless television shows and movies. However, he knows that he is in trouble when Derek Badger, a "survivalist" on a reality TV show, wants to rent some of his animals and to hire Mickey Cray to be his bodyguard for wild Florida animals in the Everglades. This book is packed with wild animal encounters, including gators, snakes, and bats. In addition, Chomp includes escaping from a crazed gunman and tons of humor. I highly recommend this book for all middle school and early high school readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Flush
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Coral Queen, a very profitable casino boat, is dumping all of its sewage into the ocean. The only problem is that Dusty Muleman, the owner of the Coral Queen, is getting away with the illegal dumping since there is no evidence. Noah's Dad is concerned with the environment and always likes to do the right thing. However, he sometimes gets carried away. Therefore, Noah's Dad decides to sink the Coral Queen, but gets caught in the process and sent to jail. Now it is up to Noah to clear his dad's name and bust Dusty Muleman.
This book is hilarious and has a great moral. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this book to all middle and early high school aged readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Never before have I read a book that has been so self-aware . . . and I loved every minute of it. There’s breaking the fourth wall, and then there’s Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. A fun and hilarious read for teens and adults, this book’s premise is as ridiculous as it is original. Of course, while it tends to border on the random (for maximum comedic effect), this book also manages to tie all these random pieces together in the most satisfying way. The comedy in this book is effortless, and the plot is certainly the most interesting thing I’ve read recently.

I think the ability of this book to successfully break norms and fully immerse the reader in the world is due to Sanderson’s talent as a fantasy writer. The details that seem odd, like receiving a bag of sand for your thirteenth birthday, manage to be relevant to the climax of the story. Even the unique “superpowers” present in this narrative are fully fleshed out, and the minutia of how they work makes sense and adds to the depth of the characters. In fact, these superpowers practically define the personalities of the people who wield them.

While this is only the second Sanderson book I’ve finished reading (I’m still working on The Way of Kings ), I am quickly becoming a fan of his work. Or, at least I genuinely enjoy the shorter books that he writes, like this one. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the books in this series, because the characters and the world are so real to me that I want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Who knew that unassuming librarians could make the best villains? Maybe that’s the whole point, though?

A hilarious, random, and well thought-out adventure, I give Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Genres:
The Carpet People
Pratchett, Terry
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Having now read one of Terry Pratchett's books, I thought it might be interesting to go back and read his very first work. Many authors don't manage to become famous with their very first book, and I think Terry Pratchett is no exception here. The Carpet People is an amusing book with his standard British charm, but I think it never goes far enough in its exploration of the idea. After all, I was expecting this book to be more along the lines of The Borrowers instead of just a straight-up fantasy with a few references to the fact that these creatures lived in the carpet.

Part of the problem I seemed to have with this book was the incessant need for fantasy books to create new names for objects and creatures that already (mostly) exist. If you took away the carpet setting, I think this book could be practically indistinguishable from any other fantasy book. This is what disappointed me the most. I believe there are plenty of potential moments to highlight the size disparity between creatures that live in the carpet, and the rest of the world we're familiar with (a la Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)).

Granted, I will give this book some grace considering that Terry Pratchett originally wrote it when he was a teenager. For this reason alone, I do have to say that it should be an inspiration for young writers, just to show that it can be done. Pratchett clearly improved his writing skills over time to become a bestselling author, but it's important to recognize and realize that he didn't start out that way. Ironically enough, though, I almost preferred the serialized version of this story that he originally wrote over the more "standard" version that aligns with his later styles.

An amusing book and impressive first novel for a teenage Terry Pratchett, I give The Carpet People 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Genres:

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