Broken by Jenny Lawson

5 stars Nonfiction

Jenny is real.  Jenny’s books remind me that I need to enjoy life, no matter what comes my way.    Everyone faces issues in their life and I like Jenny’s approach to the obstacles that she faces in her own life.  When I read Broken, there were many times that Jenny had me laughing out-loud or snickering, as I couldn’t believe how candid she was.  Yet, there were times where she got serious in her conversations and she got me thinking, seriously thinking.  Yes, life should be like this…… I follow Jenny on social media and I’ve read one of her previous books and her use of humor in dealing with her illness is shown again in this book.  As I read Broken, I felt empowered.  We all can and should apply Jenny’s approach to our own lives.

Jenny talks openly about her mental health issues and I appreciated her upfront approach and her honest opinions and emotions.  Discussing depression and anxiety, she lets her readers know that we all have our own issues and that we all take our own unique path in life.  I liked how Jenny described this in her book.  For it’s all in how you look at it.  You’re here at this specific spot, this right spot at the right second, for a purpose.  It’s all about your perspective: literally and figuratively. 

        “It’s not the same path that everyone else takes, and that can be hard and lonely, but I was reminded that there are amazing things that I would never see with normal eyes and other paths.”

I liked that Jenny was not afraid to be open.  Jenny was sincere and truthful with her readers.   She’ll say what many individuals are thinking but they’re too afraid to say it out loud.  She’s real and she’ll definitely make you feel accepted and normal. I really enjoyed this book. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Jenny at a book reading a few years back and I was thrilled.  I can tell you; she was as personable and friendly, as she is in her books.  A calming atmosphere filled the room as she spoke, it was as if, a good friend had stopped by to chat. I read Broken poolside at a resort, this year on vacation.  I had many people look at me as I laughed away the morning,  so I’d just hold up the book and smile at them.  Sitting next to my husband, I’d have to stop reading many times so I could read him parts of the book.  Her stories were things I could relate it and some were so funny, I just had to share.   I know I will be revisiting this book in the future.   I want to thank Goodreads, Jenny Lawson, and Henry Holt for my copy of this book as I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.  This review is my own personal opinion of the book

Endlessly Ever After: Pick Your Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! by Laurel Synder

5 stars Children’s Fairy Tale Retelling

Holy Mogoly!  This book is just amazing!  I started this book over and over again and every time, I got a different outcome.  It truly was one terrific book.   If you love children’s books, love fairy tales, love twisted stories, or just love choose your own path stories, this book is for you.

Let me start by saying that this is an oversized children’s book which provides the reader with some pretty fantastic illustrations.  The faces and the drama that occurs in this book falls right into your lap as you open this book.  When the author says “ENDLESS VARIATIONS” they definitely mean it.  As I read this, Little Red Riding Hood ran into characters from other Fairy Tales including Hansel & Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Jack, Snow White, the wolf, a witch, a goose, some piggies, and a grandma. 

Little Red is headed to her grandma’s with a cake, Rosie as she is known in this story needs to pick out a coat to wear.  Does she wear her favorite red cape or a cozy faux fur coat?  This first choice will have you turning to page 6 or page 20.  What will it be?  

If you chose the red cape, you (Rosie) find a wolf waiting on the path.  Oh, no!  He looks ornery and he starts asking you lots of questions.  You (Rosey) wish you’d never seen him or talked to him.  But now what do you do?  Go back home and start over tomorrow or continue on your journey?

If you chose the cozy faux fur coat, you’re (Rosie)skipping along but you soon notice a different house on the path.  Do you knock and meet these new neighbors or do you continue on to grandmas?

You never knew what awaited you when you turned the page on this book.  Was it is a good choice or a bad choice?  I thought that each time I created a new story, it wasn’t a short, senseless story but it was fun.  I enjoyed making all the choices that I got to make and the illustrations were amazing and they really helped make each story great.  I can’t say enough about this book except you have to read it – you really do!!  10 stars+++

Blue Bison Needs a Haircut by Scott Rothman

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

Ha!  Blue Bison’s hair is long!  He decides that he needs to get a haircut but soon realizes that his usual barber shop is closed.  When he realizes that every shop is closed, Blue Bison decides that he will get a haircut tomorrow.  What?!?  The shops are still closed the next day!  Oh, Blue Bison is mad and he begins to show his anger.  Blue Bison’s mother tries to ease the situation and explain the difference between a need and a want as his little sister, Bubble Gum Bison offers to cut his hair.    Not trusting her little red scissors, Blue Bison heads off to try to solve the issue on his own which leads to him becoming even more upset.  It’s Bubble Gum Bison sister who finally rescues Blue Bison from his horrible mood and saves the day. 

This is a cute book with colorful pages with fun, talking animals. I love the thicker cardstock pages and the facial expressions on the animals are fantastic. Blue Bison over reactions seem typical of small children and I laughed as I read this.  I can’t wait to read this to my grandchildren. 5 stars

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

4.5 stars Children’s Picture books

Crocodile loves watermelon!  He eats it anytime of day and he gets so excited when he eats it.  This excitement comes to a standstill when one day, he accidently swallows a watermelon seed.  Oh no!   Crocodile can only image what’s going to happen now that he’s gone and done that.  His skin is going to stretch, vines will begin growing inside his body and then, his skin will start turning a different color!!   He needs help!!

Children will laugh as they hear this story and learn how crocodile solves his watermelon seed problem.  I liked the how the text (including the fonts) worked with the illustrations to make this a lively, entertaining book to read and enjoy.  With simple, fun illustrations this is one story that will be read over and over again 4.5 stars   The Watermelon Seed

Walrus in the Bathtub by Deborah Underwood

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

The facial expressions in this book are hilarious.  When the family moves into their new house, the family didn’t know it, but they get a walrus with the deal.  A walrus in their bathtub!  They liked the house because it had a big backyard, a cool seagull nest, and a giant bathtub but they didn’t know about the walrus. There are plenty of things that are wrong with having a walrus in your bathtub and in this book, they’ll list them out for you.  They try to get him out of the bathtub but nothing works so it looks like they might have to move again.  It’s not something the family nor the walrus wants but what can they do?  What a cute ending to this funny, entertaining book. A walrus in your bathtub?  I loved the illustrations in this book and I thought they brought this book to life.  The boy in the book is your narrator and he doesn’t enjoy having the walrus in his bathroom yet looking at the illustrations, his sister doesn’t seem to mind.  She is all smiles and seems to be enjoying all the crazy activities that are occurring.  Using lists, the boy explains his reasonings which is a great way to express his feelings and organize his thoughts and the illustrations back up these ideas.  With bright, colorful, and busy illustrations this book is sure to bring smiles on the faces on young ones. 5 stars 

The Seventh Voyage by Jon J. Muth

3 stars Graphic Novel

 This is no children’s graphic novel.  I got to page 31 and I had to take a breather.  Seriously, I can see some middle schoolers understanding the concept of time travel and vortexes but little ones, no.  The illustrations were nicely done and if you could follow what was actually occurring, it was entertaining but it was disappointing that this was labeled for children.  

It was a bit like the Who’s on First comedy act by Abbott and Costello.   The Who, What, I Don’t Know, Why.  You remember that skit as Costello is trying to figure out the individuals playing out on the baseball field and Abbott is trying to give them to him but their names are so peculiar that Costello can’t understand.   Well, this is what is happening to Ijon. Space explorer Ijon Tichy is suddenly dealing with a major issue when his spaceship’s rudder is damaged and it needs repair.  Thinking that he can do it on his own, he soon realizes that it’ll take two individuals but he’s the only one in his spaceship.

With the damaged rudder, Ijon’s spaceship is caught in a space loop where he finds himself confronting someone new in his spaceship.  Oh, it’s his Monday self! What!?!  Just when I thought I understood this, someone else makes an appearance.  It’s his Wednesday self.  But what happened to his Monday self? 

“Well, the Monday me on Monday night became Tuesday morning, the Tuesday me, and so on.”

Folks, my head was spinning.  I tried to follow along.  Poor Ijon was as confused as I was.  He was asking his other selves who they were and how it all worked and I, I wanted them to go fix the rudder (for now, there were at least 2 individuals in the spaceship).  Perhaps then they could get rid of Tuesday, Wednesday, or whoever was with Ijon and let him finish his trip alone.

This book is definitely not for young kids unless it’s a young Sheldon Cooper.  I do think that the text boxes were easy to follow and I liked how they were done. This book does have a lot of words to read too.

The Man Who Lost His Head by Claire Bishop

5 stars Chilren’s

These are definitely Robert McCloskey illustrations which are terrific to look at.  If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s known for Homer Price, Make Way for Ducklings, or Blueberries for Sal. I like the detail that he brings to his drawings and the faces on the characters, for they look life-like.  You can’t just glance at his illustrations, you have to stop and take in every detail that he has included because it’s marvelous, from the hair on the man’s arm, to the tin cup lying on the ground, to the untied shoelaces on the young boy.  Such detail and that’s just the illustrations in this book!  I thought the story was funny and I wasn’t expecting that ending.    “BouliboulibouliboulibouliBANG!”

“Once upon a time there was a man who lost his head,” this is how this story begins.  The illustration on this page shows a man waking up in his bedroom, his hands fumbling around, reaching up for his head.  His pillow is indented which tells me that he did have a head sometime while he was sleeping so, what happened to his head?  The man searches and searches but can’t find it.  He even sits down to try to remember but “it is very hard once you have lost your head!” His hands and feet remember something which starts him off on his adventure.  He’ll go search there but he knows that he must get dressed and take care of another important task, finding a replacement.    

Out to the garden, he picks up a pumpkin. Carving out some facial features, he pops it on his head. On his way, he meets some village people who recognized him. They discuss what happened yesterday.  The man misunderstands them and he returns home to find something else to wear as a head.  Digging up a parsnip, the man tries again to head out and again he meets up with another bunch of village people.  This head looks so funny (it’s so skinny and tall). They also talk about what occurred yesterday.  Again, the man doesn’t understand so he quickly leaves and returns home.  This time the man decides to carve a wooden head.  Let’s try this again.  He finally makes it to the fair, exactly where his hands and feet remembered.  IT’s a busy place and as he looks, he also takes advantage of what the fair offers.  Resting, he’s approached by a “kind-hearted and very bright boy.”  The boy actually thinks he can help the man, really?   

I’m glad that I grabbed this book when I saw it at a sale.  I saw Robert’s name on the cover and I knew it had to be good.  5 stars.

Cat Problems by Jory John

5 stars Children’s

If you ever had a cat or had a close relationship with a cat, you have to read this.  The story is not complicated, in fact, it’s very simple.  It’s the cat and its attitude that will get you laughing.  The world revolves around this little black cat but isn’t that what all cats think: the world revolves around them.

The vacuum cleaner is a monster but luckily, it only comes around once a week.  The little yellow cat in the house seems to be sitting in all of little black kitty’s spots just when he wants to sit in them.  Little black kitty thinks he would eat the cute little squirrel outside, fortunately for the squirrel, there’s a screen on the window! This little black cat had me laughing out loud as I read his reflections.  Oh, the life of little black cat.

What a funny picture book. I’ve had cats pretty much my entire life so this book was a perfect fit for me.  The cat’s attitude and the illustrations went perfectly together.  I really enjoyed this book.  5 stars

Batpig: When Pigs Fly by Rob Harrell

5 stars Children’s graphic novel

This is a hoot!  I will definitely be reading more of this series.  You need to have a sense of humor to really appreciate this fantastic book. I found myself smiling and laughing through most of this book as Gary, Brooklyn, and Carl discover a new super hero. I do think some younger readers might not fully understand or “get” all the laughs/puns that are written in this book but they’ll still enjoy the story.  I think a reader’s age, maturity and life’s experiences helps them fully appreciate this book.

Gary was once a normal, boring pig.  Not normal as in a barnyard style pig but normal as in a 6th grade pig who loves video games, comic books, and playing cards. His best friends were Carl, a fish and Brooklyn, a bat. He’d play Go Fish with Brooklyn and Carl, (I hope you got that laugh – Go Fish with Carl, the fish). I can’t help but smile/chuckle just thinking of this book as there’s so many great lines and these friends are so very entertaining.  With lines like, “I’m gonna go hop in the toilet for a bit. Get wet.” (Carl) “AAAAA! I wanna go home! And I also wanna pony!!” “Batpig sped off like…..like a pig in a leotard.” “I know Gary. I’m sorry I haven’t created a Batpig ringtone for you yet.”  It was a typical night of playing cards that changed Gary’s life forever. 

It’s a hilarious read but these friends also wrestled with a variety of different issues that young children also cope with and I liked how they addressed and tackled it.  From talking things out, to trying a different solution, to encouragement, the friends never strayed far from one another.  This is an easy graphic novel to follow with bright colorful text boxes and just a handful of characters to follow.  I loved the variety of text fonts that were used to bring this book to life.  Children will love this graphic novel but anyone who is looking for a good laugh should read it, for its bound to put a smile on your face, just like it did mine.  5 stars

Eat Pete! by Michael Rex

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

Ha! What a funny book.  The energy coming off this book was enormous.  While Pete was excited to have someone to play with, Monster was excited to be close to Pete, as he aiming to eat him!  Jumping from one activity to the next, Pete is keeping Monster busy playing but between activities, Monster is thinking that Pete looks awfully tasty. That part of the book was funny!! How long can Monster keep this craving away?  It’s bound to happen sometime; the question is when?

It’s a great book about friendships and having fun together.  The illustrations are fun and you’ll want to check out the facial expressions.  A cute, entertaining book that children will enjoy.  5 stars