Tag Archives: humor

Love Among the Walnuts: A Modern Day Farce

Love Among the WalnutsTitle: Love Among the Walnuts

Author: Jean Ferris

Gut Reaction: An amusing read that creates humor and charm through its absurdity.

Two words encapsulate the essence of this novel: unrealistic characters. Love Among the Walnuts begins with Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman, a young businessman who seems to effortlessly make billions, falling instantly in love with aspiring actress Mousey Malone after seeing her brief performance in a play. Horatio proceeds to propose to his newfound sweetheart on the very same night that he meets her and they are blissfully married a month later. The newlywed couple builds a manor in the countryside from which they then isolate themselves from the rest of society with the exception of their servant Bentley and his wife Flossie. The plot of the novel centers on Sandy, the son of Horatio and Mousey, and the problems he must face when his parents are sent into a drug-induced coma due to the schemes of his evil uncles.

Love Among the Walnuts is, above all else, an absurdity. Though it initially gives the semblance of realism, the reader soon discovers that a multitude of its elements are nothing short of ridiculousness. The features and behavior of the characters as well as its overarching plot are all preposterous. The examples of this are endless and include Horatio managing to run his multi-billion dollar corporate empire from the comfort of his rural estate, Horatio and Mousey deciding it would be sensible to raise their son in complete seclusion from the rest of the world, and Sandy appearing more preoccupied with his infatuation over a nurse, Sandy, than the condition of his coma-stricken parents. Yet I think it is through this that the book finds its niche. It is a lighthearted comedy and doesn’t masquerade as anything nothing more than this. It is not meant to awe the reader with its complexity, but rather to entertain the reader through its unassuming components. It is certainly a fun and worthwhile read but don’t expect anything more than the superficial. Its characters, though undoubtedly possessing of some interest to the reader, are rather one-dimensional. They consist of a gang of endearing misfits, two irreconcilably malicious and stupid villains, and a series of unmemorable minor characters. The weaknesses of the novel are the predictability and the lack of any meaningful character development, as well as the fact that the issues the novel addresses are all made to feel shallow and a little too facile by the way they are resolved. But its numerous strengths lie in the appeal of its simplicity and its accessibility to all readers.

I would recommend this book at least for its novelty if nothing else to a general audience. It has a certain attraction just by the way it stands out from the rest of the Young Adult books through its subject, tempo, and characters. The book truly jumps out at you by blending fiction and realism in an original and unique manner and is thus, in this blogger’s opinion, worth taking a second look at.

Read this if you like…

-Ziqi, Greenwood, Teen Blogger

GWD

What If – What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?

What IfTitle: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Author: Randall Munroe

What If? is a book of bizarre hypothetical questions and scientific answers.   But you could learn that just by looking at the cover, so here is my story about it.  I would not have known about this book if I had not gotten if for my birthday from my mom (my mom says I ask a lot of hypothetical questions).  And when I got it found it to be surprisingly intriguing. I have always loved hypothetical questions and have sometimes used them as a way of staying up longer to talk with my dad.

What If? can finally answer some of my more whimsical questions, like what would happen if every person on earth aimed a laser pointer at the moon at the same time – would it change color?  On the flip side, if my dad ever got his hands on it — it would put an end to our late-night discussions.  But enough with the backstory; let me tell you about the book.

Personally, I adore this book.  I love almost every bit of it.  I enjoy seeing questions other people would ask.  My favorite section is the Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox.  In these sections, hypothetical questions are not answered, questions posed are hilariously weird (and worrying).  For example, page 14 has the question, “How many housese are burned down in the United States every year?  What would be the easiest way to increase that number by a significant amount (say, at least 15%)?”   Another gem  (I really like the weird and worrying questions – I cannot emphasize that enough) is:  “What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?”

This book may be good for fans of Mythbusters because it applies science to the absurd.  It is also for anyone who enjoys illustrations of stick people acting out responses to questions.  Finally, I recommend this book for any fan of science.  The scientific explanations are written in an accessible and humorous way if you are a math genius.  In other words, it is hilarious.

Books of interest:

-Caleb, Greenwood, Teen Advisory Board member

GWD

Peter and the Starcatchers – The next best thing to Harry Potter

peter-and-the-starcatchers-book-cover_350x525Title:  Peter and the Starcatchers

Author:  Dave Barry

Summary: Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magic star dust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

Gut reaction: Amazing! The next best thing to Harry Potter.

Why: It does a great job of telling how everything came to be in Disney’s Peter Pan. It is very suspenseful and managed to keep my attention to the very end. It has everything one could ever want in a book, romance, suspense, fantasy, action, and humor. The style of writing used a lot of descriptions, but not too many to bore me.

Who would like this book: Peter Pan fans, children, and people who enjoyed the Harry Potter series.

–Catalina, University, Teen Blogger

UNI

 

Rae’s Fave – Twistable Turnable Man – Silverstein

Twistable Turnable Man

by Shel Silverstein

He’s the Twistable Turnable Squeezable Pullable
Stretchable Foldable Man.
He can crawl in your pocket or fit your locket
Or screw himself into a twenty-volt socket,
Or stretch himself up to the steeple or taller,
Or squeeze himself into a thimble or smaller,
Yes he can, course he can,
He’s the Twistable Turnable Squeezable Pullable
Stretchable Shrinkable Man.
And he lives a passable life
With his Squeezable Lovable Kissable Hugable
Pullable Tugable Wife.
And they have two twistable kids
Who bend up the way that they did.
And they turn and they stretch
Just as much as they cantwistable-turnable-man
For this Bendable Foldable
Do-what-you’re-toldable
Easily moldable
Buy-what you’re-soldable
Washable Mendable
Highly Dependable
Buyable Saleable
Always available
Bounceable Shakeable
Almost unbreakable
Twistable Turnable Man.

Simone Elkeles for the “Realistic” Win!

Perfect ChemistryTitle: Perfect Chemistry (book #1 in the Perfect Chemistry Series)

Author: Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry is such an amazing book.  It blew me away.  The characters Alex Fuentes and Brittany Ellis both have issues to deal with in their lives and it makes the plot of the story real.  It was an outstanding book and if I had to read it again I would.  The book is targeted for young adults and I recommend every teenager to read it because it’s that good.  This book is about Alex who is known as the bad boy at Fairfield High School.  He is from the south and is very poor.  He had to join a gang to make sure his family is kept safe.  Brittany is the girl who has it all: the money, the house, the family and is the captain cheerleader at her school.  But what most people don’t know is that she hides behind a mask and makes sure nobody knows of her secrets, until one day Alex comes along and unravels them all.  They’re both not perfect but as long as they got each other everything will be all right.

 

Rules of Attraction Rules of Attraction(book #2)

Very addictive, I could not put this book down. The book is funny, romantic, addictive and unforgettable. I loved the pranks, the serious moments and the amazing connection between Carlos and Kiara. The book captured my heart and I recommend you read it. It’s fun and edgy and I promise it will be worth your time. Rules of Attraction is about Alex’s middle brother Carlos who had to come back to the United States to finish his education. Carlos can’t live with his brother in the dorms so Alex made sure that he stays with his professor until he graduates from high school. But things take a turn for the worst when Carlos meets the professor’s daughter Kiara and they start to prank each other. Carlos thinks Kiara is a goody two shoes who doesn’t know anything about his life and should just stay away from him. Kiara wants to help him with his life but she can’t help from falling in love with him at the same time. Carlos also starts to like Kiara but holds back thinking that being with her will cause trouble for her and her family. In the end he finally figures out that she means the world to him and that he can’t stay away from her no matter how hard he tries.

 

Chain ReactionChain Reaction (book #3)

I am obsessed with this book. This book is a great way to end the Fuentes trilogy. It was suspenseful and had me jumping at times. I loved the fact that it can go from being serious to being funny. I cried and I laughed and most of all I enjoyed the book. I recommend you read it, I promise you will love it. This book is about Alex and Carlos younger brother Luis Fuentes.  Luis is an adrenaline junkie, he likes to mountain climb and would one day hope to be an astronaut. He is always looking for a thrill. Nikki has experienced awful things in her past that included boys and she never wants to go through that ever again. She makes sure to never trust boys ever again and let them into her heart. But Luis falls madly in love with her and tries everything to get her to open her heart to him but she rejects him over and over again. She finally notices that he isn’t such a bad guy and gives him a chance. These two go through a lot of things in their lives but they always come back to each other in the end and that’s what counts to them.

Columbia Teen Advisory Group (TAG) Member

COL

Some Book Series You May Love (From The COL TAG!)

A Matter of Magic:
By Patricia Wrede

MagicA Matter of Magic is about a young orphan girl living on her own, making do with stealing and odd jobs for others. One day Kim meets a man who asks her to search for something on a traveling magician’s cart. While she does believes this is a fake magician, Kim joins the caravan and her journey begins. The book is two stories in one, meaning books 1 & 2 are together to make an awesome story. I recommend A Matter of Magic to people who want romance that isn’t the whole story, but is there. It’s funny and a good mystery.

Demon Trappers series:
By Jana G. Oliver

demon

 

The Demon Trappers series is about Riley Blackthorne, daughter of famous demon trapper Paul Blackthorne. All Riley wants is to follow in her dad’s footsteps, even if he doesn’t want her to. This series is truly wonderful. It’s full of action scenes as well as comedy and romantic ones. Throughout the books you get to follow Riley in her struggles as a teenager going through school and trying to prove that a woman can be a demon trapper too. It’s a  MUST read!

 

Wake

 

Wake, Fade, Gone:
By Lisa McMann

A trilogy about Janie, a 17-year-old girl who gets sucked into other people’s dreams whenever they’re sleeping and she’s nearby. This story is another must-read. A well-written book that will grab the attention of any reader.

Columbia Teen Advisory Group (TAG)

COL

The Importance of Being Earnest – deep, everlasting Wilde love

Oscar Wilde quoteFirst off, I will admit I am completely biased on the topic of this play, due to my deep, everlasting love for Oscar Wilde.

I’m not quite sure what gets me about him, if it’s the elegant writing, or the witty exchanges, or the hilarity that often ensues in his beloved writing, but I’m completely enamored.  To me, Oscar Wilde has always been, is currently, and will forever be my bæ.

But beyond my thoughts on Wilde, here are some concrete reasons why you need to read Earnest: Continue reading

February Book Horoscopes!

starbookFebruary is weird because it is the second month of the year, the first month of a new semester, and the second-to-last month of winter; the month that despite it’s only having 28 days somehow seems to drag on and on in cold ambiguity.

Luckily, we’ve selected a bunch of fantastic books to engage your consciousness so that before you know it, spring will be just over the horizon!  Remember to help yourselves to any of the books on this list, which as always come from a variety of genres and reading levels.

AriesYoung Warriors

Young Warriors by Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman

This book is an anthology compiled by two great authors. It is a collection of fantastical tales of young people showing strength. If you feel yourself in need of some inspiration to get you through the last part of winter, this book will give you the relief your adventurous heart is yearning for.

Rosie ProjectTaurus

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

This is hilarious and heartfelt romantic comedy is sure to please you as we approach Valentine’s Day. Don, the main character, likes his life to be orderly and doesn’t like taking risks. He suffers from an unfortunate lack of social skills, but he finds love in Rosie, a wildly different woman who pushes him out of his comfort zone, as he helps her search for her missing father.

GeminiCurious Incident

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

This book is an inspiring story about Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum who has a very particular view of the world around him. Then one day his neighbor’s dog Wellington is killed, and Christopher takes on the role of a detective to figure out what happened.

Fahrenheit 451Cancer

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The start of the new semester is a great time for you to go back and read a classic – or if this is your first time reading it, enjoy this treat! Fahrenheit 451 is the dystopian tale of everyone’s worst nightmare – a world without books. Guy Montag is a fireman, and his job is to burn them. Poetic, striking and important, his story will both entertain you and make you reflect about the value of art.

LeoFlowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Charlie is a mentally disabled man who is being subjected to experimentation in a series of studies to increase his intelligence. The same treatments are being given to Algernon, a lab mouse. When Charlie’s intelligence begins to accelerate beyond what anyone had imagined was possible, everyone is thrilled – until Algernon begins to deteriorate unexpectedly. What will happen to Charlie?

WatchmenVirgo

Watchmen by Alan Moore

This brilliant graphic novel tells the story of what happens to superheroes when they begin to suffer from failures that seem to be uncomfortably akin to those of humble mortals. This book talks about humanity and questions what it truly means to be a superhero, all the while never ceasing to entertain. Continue reading

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Comical yet dark

Where'd You Go, BernadetteTitle:  Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Author: Maria Semple

Summary:  Bernadette Fox, Los Angeles native now Seattle resident, is the wife of Microsoft big-timer Elgin Branch, the mother of gifted Bee Branch, the alien to fellow Seattle moms, and a former award-winning architect. A novel stitched together by Bernadette’s very own daughter, it’s comprised of letters and emails that follow the whirlwind that notorious Fox finds herself swept up into, that even leads her to the ends of the planet.

I would rate this book 9/10 stars.  This witty, uniquely crafted satire can resonate with not only Seattle natives (who will probably catch on to more of the humor of the story), but with any other reader who may come from a less-than-ordinary family. Comical yet dark, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a laugh, a cliff-hanger, a “wait, what just happened?” moment kind of story, that’ll keep you hooked until the very end.

I started reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette because it takes place in Seattle; my hometown, my motherland. You don’t find many books set in the rainy city, especially not ones that go into such depth and detail about the nitty gritty of this town as Where’d You Go, Bernadette does. Continue reading

A Rant about Dance Books

PointeIn the interest of full disclosure, I meant to write about Pointe, the first novel of Brandy Colbert.

However, I quickly realized that everything I was writing became a dance book rant, so I gave up and decided to (officially) write about the challenges of finding a good dance book for someone over the age of 10.

See, generally they fall into one of the several categories below:

1) The Children’s Book.  There is nothing wrong with this form, per se, but there are two ways this book can go: the instruction manual (which is always oversimplified and often inaccurate); and the dance story in which everything is hunky-dory. The characters are always full of promise, dance all the time, and never get injured (I’m looking at you, Ballet Shoes). I understand that no one wants to scare children, or kill their dreams, but this just isn’t reality.

2) The Book Where the Author Has No Clue What They Are Writing About.  We’ve all heard the saying “write what you know.”  Unfortunately, many authors completely forget about this when it comes to writing dance novels. I recently read Withering Tights by Louise Rennison, which I started because the main character was an Irish dancer.  However, I soon realized that Rennison had not done her research: she called one of the moves “twisty ankle things.”  Not only would no self-respecting Irish dancer describe a move like that, but it is not descriptive.  There are so many moves Rennison could mean:

As you can tell, all these moves are very different and all could be described as “twisty ankle things.”

3) The Author Has Actually Done Research And Still Doesn’t Get It.  Even if the author has learned about dance, and really has done their best, it doesn’t mean they can describe dance.  I do understand this: I’ve been dancing for years, and I often cannot describe the sensation of dancing—partly because it may change on a day-to-day basis, but mostly because I can’t really explain to non-dancers how it feels.  Even so, why would one try to write about something they can’t describe?

However, there are a few beacons of hope for people looking for good dance books.  The first is On Pointe, by Lorie Ann Grover.  This is the story of a young dancer forced into early retirement when she grows too tall to dance, and is written in verse.  The second is I Was A Dancer by Jacques D’Amboise, a lovely (if not always perfectly written) memoir.  Finally, try Bunheads by Sophie Flack.  Each of these explains what if feels like to dance, and I’ve re-read these several times.  Happy dancing!

–Emma, Greenwood Teen Adviser

GWD