The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1

I’m not a huge Rick Riordan fan, though I don’t dislike him. I loved the first Percy Jackson book but didn’t feel like I needed to read the whole series. This series I think gets even better reviews and I felt like I really ought to read it. I liked it! I thought it was very funny and read like a movie in my head. The slightly disappointing aspect for me is that my favorite parts were in Valhalla and I didn’t think enough time was spent in this fascinating comically large place that is like a resort. I did mean to immediately read book #2, but I didn’t. Maybe this year…

Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger

This book is beloved in our household. We listened to the audiobook more than once and everyone loved it. Notably I am not a great audiobook listener and the first time through when we got to the end said “Wait— <something very obvious and key to the book that everyone else knew all along>?!” and everyone was annoyed with me. In my defense I think I was reading another book at the same time. But it was very funny and we loved the audio version and the yodeling and the whole basis of the story-pronouncing “Fake Mustache” as “Fah-ko Mustach-o”. It made its way into our family vocabulary! (along with “man about town” and the marvelous name Jodie O’Rodeo.)
So, time to sit down and read it myself before the big author visit. Delightful. This story is kind of a bonkers hoot and premise. Essentially child genius is going to take over the world by disguising himself with just a fake mustache. Which WORKS.
Even though our author visit was all about Origami Yoda I made sure to tell Mr. Angelberger what a gift to my family this story was. He seemed tickled.

Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Read 9/20/21

I read this for a very fun reason–I had a virtual author visit with Mr. Angleberger! Although the Origami Yoda series is his most well known, I know him better from different titles. Time to quick read this! And it was so good! I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised, he is a very funny guy and this is a very popular series. I think I didn’t really know what the story was though–that a boy at school who is kind of a mess has a crumpled up finger puppet that is an origami yoda and he keeps dispensing advice through it. He insists that it is the Origami Yoda and not him. This first book has a great setup-one boy telling various stories of times the advice was given. So each chapter is a situation that is problematic, the advice is dispensed, and then you see how it works. What was best of all was how it all tied together at the end.
A quick fun read, and our author visit was a big success. The kids loved him and he was great with them and we all made our own Origami Yodas.

Kingdoms & Empires series by by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, The Whispering Wars, The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst

Oh boy is there a story here. So, first, thank you to the publisher for an advance reading copy of The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst. I received it and didn’t really know anything about it so opened it up and started reading. I could not put it down! I just loved the author’s style of writing and how funny it was and clever and just all around good. So I read the whole book and wrote this on Goodreads:

“I love love loved this. I haven’t been this entertained by a book in a while and there was just something about the story, the setting (boarding school) and the storyteller’s voice that I loved. She did refer to some big events that happened in the past and I thought “could that have been another book??” and now I see that this is actually the THIRD book in this series. So oh my goodness, looks like I have two fantastic books ahead of me to read.”

THEN I looked up the author because I kep thinking her name was familiar to me and guess what? Way back a hundred years ago when she wrote her first YA novel, Feeling Sorry for Celia, I read that and loved it. I think I read another book and then sort of lost track of her. Well it turns out she’s been busy writing away in Australia (and is also the sister of Liane Moriarty, another popular author I like). So then I excitedly got the next book from the library, which in this case was #2, The Whispering Wars. So I read the whole trilogy one right after the other, but I read them backwards.

The first book I read (the third book) was all about a girl at a boarding school and right away it’s set up that in this kingdoms (or rather, kingdoms) magic exists and is practiced by certain individuals. There are also many bad magic characters. At the boarding school it seems like a wonderful new teacher might be not all that she seems (she’s really mean to the girl but in a way no one else seems to notice) and there is a lot of excitement that one of the students might be a Whisperer, which is someone who can make spells to hold in bad magic (which might be done by a bad character like a Sterling Silver Fox.) So there’s mystery and adventure and it’s very funny and delightful.

Then, I read book #2 which was taking place BEFORE book three, by about 10 years. So every time they mentioned “the Whispering Wars” and I thought “That seems like it could be a story itself”-it was. Book #2 is The Whispering Wars. So some of the character names are familiar because they had been mentioned, and you do see how it all ties together, but it’s a different set of main characters. What I thought was really interesting about this story was that it retained the same jolly humor and quirkiness but it turned out these wars really were bad. Like, lots of innocent people died. There were internment camps. It was a bad time. (but a great story.)
Then, I finally got to the book that started it all– The Extremeley Inconvient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. Bronte had been mentioned in book #3 so I was very interested by this point to read her story (which fits in after Whispering Wars, but well before book #3) This was a swashbuckling delight. Bronte has been raised by her aunt and a butler while her parents have been out adventuring around the world. One day they get word that her parents have been killed by pirates. The directions in their will are preposterously specific and elaborate. Bronte must go on a trip by herself to visit all of her father’s nine sisters. She must deliver a gift to each of them at specific times and do certain activities in each location. The trip turns out to be a wonderful way to learn about her absent parents as the aunts all tell her wonderful stories, but it seems there may be another motive.
As with the other two books this was an absolute delight. I’m just going to use the same words over and over for each of them-jolly, delightful, fun. I just felt so charmed and entertained. And I wished that my kids were younger and we were reading them aloud all together. So much so that I do wonder if I need to own them all just to have on hand in our personal library.

*p.s. Paul is reading them in order. He has finished the first book and written about it here (remember, he writes in great detail about what happens in the book so don’t read it if you don’t want spoilers) and is currently reading Whispering Wars.

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

Jost is not my favorite SNL player and not one I’ve even thought about too much. But then Paul brought home his book after we read one of the chapters in the New Yorker and found it to be funny. This was a super fast read and laugh out loud funny. I was so surprised by nearly everything-he’s a Harvard grad, he’s been at SNL a long time, he’s a writer really first and foremost and then became a Weekend Update host.

With the exception of him pooping his pants so often (what?!) I would say this is also a pretty clean book. Hilarious but not vulgar.

Mac Undercover and Impossible Crime (Mac B., Kid Spy #1 and #2) by Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is one of my favorite go-to funny authors and these are the first two in his new series, which is all about when he himself was a kid in the 1980s and how he was a Kid Spy.  His tone of stating that directly to the audience is hilarious. There are abundant illustrations in cartoon style.  The hilarious initial premise is that Queen Elizabeth calls on him to be a spy. There are corgis galore, the Queen is a hoot of a character, Mac has a nemesis, Derek, and his mom has a boyfriend, which very much reminded me of Rick, the jerk, in the Brixton Brothers books.

The first book sets up Mac getting called in as a spy, with a focus on his stolen Game Boy. The second one has Mac solving an Impossible Crime, the kind where something happens in a locked room.

All in all, great fun, highly recommended.

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Carey Gilbreth

I LOVED this book when I was a kid. And it’s one of those books where certain things in it stuck with me. Whenever I see someone with elbows on the table I want to “Thump” them, whenever I hear boring prattle I want to say “not of general interest”, whenever Paul drives around a corner too fast I whisper in my head “not so fast, not so fast.” (It turns out that last one I never could remember where it especially came from, and it was in this book, which delightful to see. ) Sadly, neither of the kids or Paul has ever read it.
We recently took a trip to Virginia and this was the perfect opportunity to get everyone else in the family to have the same frame of reference as me. To my delight, they all enjoyed this very much (audiobook, of course.) and I was THRILLED to hear it all over again as it’s been quite a while. It really is a fascinating look at not just a large family, but the really the motion study business and Frank and Lillian’s careers.  And of course all kinds of interesting details about the time period.

Anyway, we all liked it a lot and hopefully we’ll listen to Bells on Their Toes next.

Hits and Misses by Simon Rich

I have an EE (“eagle eye”) for finding misshelved adult books in the children’s section. And thank goodness, because that’s how I found there was this new Simon Rich book!

It was hilarious! As with any collection some stories I liked more than otherse. As with all his collections I just find it absolutely hilarious when he, say, gives a modern style of talking to God, Saint Peter, Jesus’s contemporaries, etc. The foosball story was super funny and I thought the very first story was also great (in part because I was so tickled and surprised by the suprise factor of it.)

Calypso by David Sedaris

I have one expectation with a David Sedaris book and it is this–to laugh out loud while reading it, possibly in public and unable to stop.
Expectation met!
Even though my husband was all “oh I already read most of the stories in The New Yorker” I never read the New Yorker and they were all new to me. So there. Pretty much every store made me laugh out loud at something-I just love the things he says, the way he writes. But in this collection I also found a certain sweetness or poignancy. Although you can tell that events in stories span a few years by references to his niece’s age, most of the stories are about his whole family being together at the beach house he and Hugh bought in South Carolina. (I suppose reading them all together, rather than spaced out in the magazine makes it all seem like everything happens in one year.) There’s always been stuff about his family, but his youngest sister’s suicide is what really brings out the stories about how much he and his siblings really get each other and love each other, how much they loved their mother, and how they are with his now pretty elderly father. They’re a weird and funny family and I love reading about them.

I probably laughed the most reading about the Japanese stores he and his sisters can’t resist shopping at.

Revenge of the Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Every time I stop doing this blog there’s some day where I find myself dipping back in,reading something I wrote, and being led to something new, in a way that doesn’t quite happen with Goodreads. It’s happened again, which is all the impetus I need to stick with my renewed plan to keep it up. I happened upon my review of Evil Librarian, which mentioned a forthcoming sequel, and how thrilled was I to a)be reminded of that and b)have it available in just a couple days?
As with the first book this was a delight to read over the weekend. It felt like watching several Buffy episodes all together. This time the setting is theater camp, and we are introduced to a new demon, Peter. Peter is a terrific character-a demon obsessed with the human world’s theater. Fast paced and fun, I definitely recommend this and am looking forward to another book.