Tag Archives: comedy

ARC Review – The Humiliations of Pipi McGee by Beth Vrabel

Title: The Humiliations of Pipi McGee

Author: Beth Vrabel

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: From her kindergarten self-portrait as a bacon with boobs, to fourth grade when she peed her pants in the library thanks to a stuck zipper to seventh grade where…well, she doesn’t talk about seventh grade. Ever.

After hearing the guidance counselor lecturing them on how high school will be a clean slate for everyone, Pipi–fearing that her eight humiliations will follow her into the halls of Northbrook High School–decides to use her last year in middle school to right the wrongs of her early education and save other innocents from the same picked-on, laughed-at fate. Pipi McGee is seeking redemption, but she’ll take revenge, too.

Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I think everyone may be able to relate to having middle school blunders. While I don’t think a lot of drew ourselves as bacon with boobs in kindergarten only to have it haunt you on your first day of grade eight, I The Humiliations of Pipi McGee is a book that will make you laugh, smile, and empathize.

Pipi McGee is a girl who has had some struggles throughout her middle school career. Some of them infamous, others more subtle, and Pipi just can’t catch a break. Moving into eighth grade, Pipi is hoping for a fresh start, especially because she will not talk about seventh grade no matter how hard you try. Armed with Myrtle the Turtle and her best friend, Tasha, Pipi is hoping for a prank free year.

This book is genuine on so many levels. It’s humour is delightful, the characters are recognizable and ones you can sympathize with throughout. Pipi’s hardships are difficult, yet this story is very gentle in how it handles issues of humiliation and discouragement. Pipi spends a lot of the novel having to learn with her past mistakes, while also grow as an individual. She does awful things in the story, often ending up flat on her butt as punishment, and yet she is always learning, and that makes a great character. This book also features such a diverse cast of friends and family, and I like that Pipi has a close support network with her family. Her dad made me chuckle a few times!

This is a great read for middle graders who are struggling to figure out who they want to be in a time where they are moving to high school. Pipi is funny, quirky, and totally adorable as a heroine. This book is definitely recommend for readers who love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but who also recognize that Greg is a terrible friend, where Pipi is not. Fast-paced and cheekily written, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee is a memorable romp in surviving the last year of middle school.

ARC Review – When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Ever since I saw the cover for When Dimple Met Rishi, I knew I wanted to read this book. When I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read this book. I had this book super hyped in my head, which is why I think I put off reading it for as long as I did. However, this book didn’t disappoint me! I laughed, I cried, I had many, many feelings throughout the course of it, and I feel like Sandhya Menon is going to be an author watch now.

I loved Dimple from page one. She’s one of those characters with a lot of conviction and determination. She sees herself as a very independent young woman with goals that don’t include marriage right off the bat. Her family wants her to be happy, so they arrange for her to meet with Rishi, a young Indian boy who is on his way to MIT, but has a secret passion for comic book writing.

Both protagonists have strong visions of where they want to be in their lives, but they both also struggle with their family values. It’s part of why I loved the story so much is that both Dimple and Rishi’s troubles felt very raw and real, and Menon gives the reader so much context to what it’s like to be a young Indian-American trying to both love and value yourself, but also respect the wishes of the family. What I also loved is there’s a lot of comedy between the two characters, but their romance blossoms into something that feels very organic. You get a sense that parts of this story were heavily influenced by Bollywood culture, and while that is super noticeable, it doesn’t detract from the kind of romance that Menon is trying to convey between Dimple and Rishi. There’s a lot of skill in finding a balance for this kind of story, and Menon nails it.

I also loved a lot of the supporting characters, and I didn’t feel like they were one note in the slightest. I adored Rishi’s brother, and I loved that he was a typical little brother who also could see how blind his older sibling is. I loved Celia and I thought she was a good counterpart to Dimple’s character in that she keeps her grounded. I LOVED both Dimple and Rishi’s families, particularly Dimple’s family, who made me laugh, smile and you get this huge sense of love from her family.

When Dimple Met Rishi is one of those books that just gives you so many feelings as your reading it, and that is why I loved it so much. It’s the kind of contemporary book that balances so many different aspects of life, but also still manages to craft a romance that is both organic and sweet. If you love romance, this is a book you need to put on your radar ASAP.

ARC Review – The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

22926200Title: The Lifeboat Clique

Author: Kathy Parks

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Some people might say that Denver had a death wish. Why else would she have dared to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies, namely including her ex-BFF Abigail? Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who was she to question this miracle of fate? Well, that wasn’t the only surprise fate had in store.During the party a tsunami hit the coast of California, wiping out everything in its path. Denver and a handful of others escaped death by holding onto the roof of the house and were swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways was none other than Abigail, who could barely stand the sight of her.

Now that she’s floating in the ocean, stuck on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first-dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister?

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this for review!

River’s Review:

This book was so fun… which feels wrong saying about a book that is about a lot of freaking death. But Denver had a great voice and the whole story just worked. It’s very 90’s and very mean girls.

Denver goes to a party that she shouldn’t have, but wanted to because some dude asked her. She sneaks out of her house and heads to the illegal Malibu mansion party. A HUGE earthquake strikes and a tsunami follows, pulling the kids out to sea. Not a lot of them survive and it’s all quite horrid. But in a dark comedy sort of way. Denver ends up on a boat with the “cool kids” and uses a lot of science to try to save them. They fight, they pull together, and they have some moments.

There’s not really too much that I can say about this book other than you should read it!


ARC Review – The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

18982137Title: The Trouble With Destiny

Author:  Lauren Morrill

Rating:  ★★★

Synopsis: With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

Huge thank you to Delacorte and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I adored Lauren Morrill’s Being Sloane Jacobs. It was chock full of humour, showed fantastic relationships, and in all was a fun experience. I was so excited to get my hands on the Trouble With Destiny, and while it’s definitely not Being Sloane Jacobs, it was still a fun book to read.

I think what is important to note about the Trouble With Destiny is that you need to go into it understanding that it’s essentially a comedy. It’s Pitch Perfect meets Titanic, sprinkling some Breaker High into the mix. A lot of the antics that the band students face often come across as comedic or downright ridiculous, and I think understanding that going in makes for a much better reading experience. This isn’t a fluffy contemporary read, it’s kinda crazy, a bit silly, but you roll with it.

That being said, Liza drove me kinda crazy and I found her way too melodramatic at times. However, I adored her rivalry with Demi, because Demi is the kind of hilarious mean girl you want to read about — the one that gets their comeuppance in the form of the ultimate humiliation. Which really brings me to my issue with this novel — the characters don’t really feel like characters, but feel somewhat two-dimensional. You don’t get any sort of deep development from them.

Furthermore the romance was a love triangle, and a predictable one at that. But if I’m being frank, I don’t feel like the boys were well characterized beyond just their actions. I didn’t feel like Lenny or Russ were real people, nor did I feel like I entirely understood Liza’s complete interest in them.

But this book is pretty funny at times. The it’s so crazy-how-could-this-be-real kind of crazy, and sometimes I think you need that element in a story. Sometimes it’s great to read a book that tastes like candy and you can turn your brain off, which was how The Trouble With Destiny played out for me. It lacked a lot of the elements that I loved from Being Sloane Jacobs, such as strong, well defined characters, and a cute romance, but this book was just silly and I enjoyed it for that.

I think I may have gone into The Trouble With Destiny with some slightly higher expectations than I should have. In the end, I did enjoy the book despite it’s problems, and it still makes me want to continue to read Lauren Morrill’s stories because for what it’s worth, they are always at least fun in the end.

ARC Review – Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales by Terry Pratchett, Mark Beech

22522818Title: Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales

Author: Terry Pratchett & Mark Beech

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: This never-before-published collection of fourteen funny and inventive tales by acclaimed author Sir Terry Pratchett features a memorable cast of inept wizards, sensible heroes, and unusually adventuresome tortoises.   Including more than one hundred black-and-white illustrations, the appealingly designed book celebrates Pratchett’s inimitable wordplay and irreverent approach to the conventions of storytelling.

These accessible and mischievous tales are an ideal introduction for young readers to this beloved author. Established fans of Pratchett’s work will savor the playful presentation of the themes and ideas that inform his best-selling novels.

Huge thank you to Clarion Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Clarion Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Oh my goodness, I was not expecting to read this as quickly as I did. This is what happens when you’re doing laundry and you start a page turner. Every book in this story is a lot of fun, and each is more crazy than the next. I haven’t read a lot of short fiction by Terry Prachett, but I’ve read every Discworld novel published to date, and I’ve read a lot of his middle grade offerings — the man is a comedic genius, and these stories, which come from his earlier periods of writing prove that point further.

I just couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous a lot of the stories were in this collection. Dragons just wanting to be friends, the worst bus ride ever, to a really, really boring knight, Terry Pratchett’s characters are completely loveable as they are nuts. Some of the stories had me in complete giggle-fits, that’show much fun they were. PLUS! Their are stories of The Carpet People! I didn’t like that book at all, but I weirdly loved the short fictions about them in this collection, and it makes me wonder if I need to give that novel another chance since it was Pratchett’s first published novel.

If you are a Terry Pratchett fan or you wanted something fun for a middle grade reader who appreciates comedy gold, this book is fantastic. The humor is spot-on and crazy, and this book will simply make you grin from ear-to-ear, from start to finish.

ARC Review – On the Fence, by Kasie West

18298225Title:  On the Fence

Author: Kasie West

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

Huge thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for this ARC.

Sam’s Review: 

Kasie West has magic powers. How, might you ask? She has the power to write these wonderfully real, if super fluffy books that just make feel so comfortable and okay with world. Her humor is charming, her characters are quirky and lovable, and most of all — she’s a great funk breaker.

Now, I may in a way have made On the Fence sound a bit misleading, but hear me out. Charlie is as imperfect as they come, forced to live without a female role model in a house of testosterone. She’s a tomboy who gets forced into accepting that she may have a girly-side. When the novel was about Charlie’s self-understanding, the book was a ton of fun to read and her humor, though not as dry as Caymen in The Distance Between Us, is still sharp and spot on. Did I mention Caymen and Xander make a cameo? ’cause yeah, I may have squealed at that part.

If there’s one element Kasie West does well, it’s character interaction. She writes these wonderfully playful characters and their interactions are always engaging and entertaining. My favourite character in this story was definitely Gage — he’s a bit hopeless, a touch pervy, but you’d never deny he wouldn’t do anything for his little sister. Charlie’s family interactions are written so strongly, and while I won’t spoil the novel, the reveal about her mother’s death is so sad and touching that she’s easy to sympathize with.

That’s not to say Charlie can’t be annoying though. Part of this issue comes from her exterior — she feels like she’s often fighting the two sides of herself and is “on the fence” about who she truly is. A lot of this story does revolve around discussions through a fence, but the over-arching theme suggests that sometimes we’re afraid to take the larger jumps we need to in life, thus being on the fence about what we want to do versus what we need to do. It’s a solid message, and one that runs heavy in the text.

And then there’s Braden. While I loved this book, I still might be a bit more fond of the romance between Caymen and Xander over Charlie Braden. Braden has some understandable circumstances, but he can be a downright asshole when he wants to be, and West shows this more often than not. Yet, when you read more about his home life, he’s someone you come to understand, even if you don’t entirely agree with his behaviour (truthfully, I wanted to give him a smack or two, but thankfully he wises up).

On the Fence is the book that broke me out of my reading funk and just hit all the right notes with such ease. It’s a fun, often humorous, a touch dark, and just overall a great comfort read. I feel like as long as Kasie West keeps writing contemporary, I’ll constantly be there front and centre to see what relationships she conjures up next.


Book Review – In Stitches by Trent Seely

18133905Title:  In Stitches
Author: Trent Seely
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: When two broke social misfits aspire to raise the dead, their monster aspires to become a man. Tom Jefferson, a presidential sounding trauma surgeon, and Scott Bram, a cartoon obsessed neurobiologist, have big dreams. The two dorky mad scientists hop from grave to grave in small town Maine, with the ultimate goal of managing what no man before them has been able to accomplish: to create life. After numerous nights of body snatching and stitching, the pair are finally just a few steps away from bringing someone back from the edge. All that is left for their makeshift man are a few spare parts. What will happen when he rises? How will they handle it? Will they be able to make rent? See what kind of changes can occur over just a handful of days in this dorky dark comedy.

Sam’s Review:

Disclaimer: The author of this book is a dear friend of mine, but that in no way influences my opinion of the book.

In Stitches is a geek’s dream. I mean that very lovingly, but it’s a book that shares its love of what it means to be dorky, and does it without shame. We need more books that remind us that it’s okay to be insanely geeky, even if the rest of the world wants to judge us for it.

The characters in this book, particularly Tom and Scott were insanely memorable. While both social awkward, each has a very distinctive voice that makes it easy to tell who runs the damn show. Personally, I was a Scott fan, but that might be because the character reminds me of my fiancee, who also happens to be named Scott, and who is also a curmudgeon about geekness and people. He also loves Tetris. The similarities were a bit endless!

I also loved Tom too. He’s so darling, awkward, and he sucks with women, yet he’s the one you’d likely take home to mom… except for the part where he’s stitching people’s body parts for his own personal creation. Enter in Adam, the “monster” who is… well, he’s adorkable, lovable and downright silly at times. Perhaps that is Tom and Scott’s influence?

While In Stitches is a novel about playing god, it’s done in such a humorous way. I found myself laughing out loud throughout a lot of the book, and there’s tons of references and homages to video games, horror films, science fiction fandoms, Stephen King, and general geekiness. All of these aspects are wonderfully placed and add such a playfulness to the overall narrative, making the book hard to put down. It helps that all the characters are wonderfully realized, so their banter feels very natural and fun. Seely shines at characterization, because he knows how to get genuine laughs and not the forcible kind.

The only thing that bothered me, and this is a case of the physical edition I have, is that there were quite a number of typos in the text and no page numbers, making it harder for me to want to tab parts of the book and share favourite quotes. Still, I’m so much more forgiving towards these aspects because Trent is a dear friend and it is his first novel.

In Stitches is delightfully playful and would make a great edition on anyone’s e-device or book shelf. It’s cheeky, geeky, and does a great job of recognizing it’s target audience. I look forward to seeing what other silliness Trent Seely will come up with next!