mini-review · stuff I read

The Unicorn Whisperer by Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn #10)

43821537Summary from Goodreads:
Welcome back to the hilarious and heartwarming world of Phoebe and Her Unicorn, where readers of all ages can always find a friend to lend a magical helping hand — or hoof.

For 9-year-old Phoebe Howell and her sparkling companion, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, every day is an adventure. In this latest installation of Dana Simpson’s award-winning Phoebe and Her Unicorn series, Phoebe navigates the challenges of school life with a little help from her unicorn friend, who is always ready with the perfect spell for the occasion. But as the magic spells mount up, both Phoebe and Marigold find themselves wondering if sometimes they might be taking things just a little too far…

87ecd9ed-80f5-4038-8ef0-e35d1c5cc151Another adorbs collection of web comics from Dana Simpson. I love the relationship between Phoebe and Marigold and the way the fourth panel in a strip has an excellent stinger. This collection also has some really great strips with Phoebe and her hipster dad, so cute. There did seem to be an odd jump at one point where all of a sudden Phoebe and Marigold needed to return Dakota’s boots without any previous mention in this volume of Dakota’s boots as a plot point. So I do wonder if we’re missing a strip or two.

Dear FTC: I bought my copy of this book. Gotta have the whole set!

stuff I read

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty

43785830Summary from Goodreads:
Best-selling author and mortician Caitlin Doughty answers real questions from kids about death, dead bodies, and decomposition.

Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut’s body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?

In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five distinctive questions posed by her youngest fans. In her inimitable voice, Doughty details lore and science of what happens to, and inside, our bodies after we die. Why do corpses groan? What causes bodies to turn colors during decomposition? And why do hair and nails appear longer after death? Readers will learn the best soil for mummifying your body, whether you can preserve your best friend’s skull as a keepsake, and what happens when you die on a plane. Beautifully illustrated by Dianné Ruz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? shows us that death is science and art, and only by asking questions can we begin to embrace it.

I saw this title in Norton’s Fall catalog and hit the “request” button for a galley so hard I’m surprised I didn’t sprain a finger. I may have said something about it being a necessary read because I had just acquired kittens who would possibly eat my eyeballs if I died suddenly. (Yes, I’m weird.)

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is a delight. Caitlin Doherty is so funny and the book is packed with facts. Eyeball-eating-cats are dealt with in the very first chapter (tl;dr: yes, your cat might eat your eyeballs if it were hungry enough and had finished eating the yummier, fattier bits of you first, you’re welcome for that visual) and Doherty goes on to delve into what happens to our deceased pets if we bury them in the backyard, what happens when you’re cremated, if you die outside the US, and are Viking funerals a real thing among many other topics. The reading level feels very middle grade and up, so the tinier morbid humans may need a little help when reading, but a lot of the information here was new to me so even adults will get a lot out of it. Plus the black-and-white illustrations are excellent.

Definitely going to be one of my holiday handsell books. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is out September 10!

Dear FTC: I read a digital galley from the publisher via Edelweiss.

stuff I read

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

34966859Summary from Goodreads:
To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.

This is the first Rick Riordan Presents book I’ve read and I would have loved to read a book like this when I was a kid. I was solidly a Trekkie (TNG 5eva) and this space opera would have scratched all the right itches. Dragon Pearl has so many great things smashed into it: Korean fox -magic, terraforming, space opera, politics, secrets, a dragon (!), a gender-neutral foodie cadet, an emo ghost, and a plucky main character who disguises herself as a deceased crew member (because shape-shifting fox-magic!) to infiltrate her brother’s starship. It’s also a great introduction to Yoon Ha Lee’s world-building style – his Machineries of Empire trilogy builds its galaxy in similar ways. I loved how he didn’t “softball” the SF elements just because the audience is middle grade. Lots of fast-paced plot and a compelling main character. I couldn’t put it down. I hope there are more books planned for this series.

For serious: I got into the hot bath expecting to read a few chapters (starting on p76) while having my tea but got to the last page of the book to find that both the bath and my tea had grown cold! 🙀

Dear FTC: I had to buy my copy of this book because I am not cool enough to get an advance galley.

mini-review · Reading Graphically · stuff I read

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

35998933Summary from Goodreads:
A gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir from the author of Anya’s Ghost.

All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson, Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.

Be Prepared is a very sweet autobiographical graphic novel about an immigrant girl who wants nothing more than to go to sleep-away summer camp like her more privileged friends. And when she finds a way go, which is Russian camp partially subsidized by the Orthodox Church, it turns out that sleep-away camp – in the woods, with no running water – is perhaps not all that it’s purported to be. Loved the art style and minimal color palette.

Read for the Graphic Novel Book Group at my store.

Dear FTC: I purchased my copy of this book.