WeirDo #14: Vote Weirdo! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jules Faber

Miss Franklin has an exciting announcement: her class is going to elect a class captain. Weir is one of the three students who are nominated.

In between working hard on his campaign posters and deciding which three things he would do to improve the school if he wins, Weir accidentally has a very bad hair day.

Even if I’d never heard of this series, the lenticular covers would suck me in. Jules Faber’s illustrations are always fun. I particularly enjoyed the pictures featuring a hungry garbage truck and an evil lawnmower.

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Although this wasn’t my favourite WeirDo book (probably because the news keeps telling me about elections), it still had all of the elements I’ve come to expect from this series. Weir’s family are adorable, Dad jokes are plentiful and there’s always a positive message.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

It’s time to vote! Weir Do’s in the running for class captain … but will an EPIC HAIR DISASTER destroy his chances of winning?!

It won’t be easy … but it will be funny!

My Little Occult Book Club – Steven Rhodes

Remember those Scholastic catalogues you used to drool over as a kid? This book is sort of like those, if they went over to the dark side. Retro style book covers are given a makeover by artist Steven Rhodes.

Although you can easily imagine the contents of the stories these covers depict, blurbs accompany a few of them. You’ll also find some activities scattered through the book, including a join the dot abomination and find a word (words I found include necromancy, grave and hex).

Make sure you pay attention to the names of the authors. You’ll find such gems as Lou Siffer, who wrote Pumpkin’s Revenge.

After centuries of being plucked, carved, and left to rot, the Pumpkin Demon has awoken, and this Halloween it will have its revenge!

A spine-tingling tale of vegetable justice!

This was a fun but very quick read. My favourite covers were Worship Coffee

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Image source: Threadless

and Timmy has a Visitor.

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Image source: Author’s Website

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read this book.

N.B. The quote is taken from the ARC, which may be subject to change.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Need an informative early reader on the subject of necromancy? How about a colourfully-illustrated guide to summoning demons? Whether you are a budding exorcist, or seeking reliable instruction for your first human sacrifice, My Little Occult Book Club is the go-to book for you! 

For anyone who loves their childhood nostalgia taken with a dark twist, My Little Occult Book Club is a laugh-out-loud collection of artist Steven Rhodes’ most popular parody book covers. Framed as a sendup of vintage subscription book catalogs (such as Scholastic book fair or Book-of-the-Month), this book features faux titles such as Necromancy for Beginners, Sell Your Soul! (Economics for Children), Let’s Call the Exorcist, and Let’s Summon Demons, all illustrated in the style of retro ‘70s and ‘80s children’s books. With short book descriptions every few pages, funny puzzles and activities, fake mail order offers for free gifts (“Cursed Videocassette!”), and even a free, fold-out poster included in the book, My Little Occult Book Club is the perfect gift for little devils of all ages.

Agent Zaiba Investigates #2: The Poison Plot – Annabelle Sami

Illustrations – Daniela Sosa

Spoilers Ahead!

It’s the thirtieth Beckley School Summer Fete and Zaiba, our adorable British Pakistani main character, is in charge of the treasure trail. Of course Zaiba, being a detective in training, has transformed it into a detective trail.

There were twists and turns, riddles and mysteries to crack – plus a list of likely suspects.

Her father, Hassan, and younger brother, Ali, are keen to win the baking competition. Zaiba’s stepmother, Jessica, is going to be busy face painting, putting her artistic flair to good use.

Zaiba is proud of the work she and Poppy, her best friend, have put into making the detective trail perfect, although she’s eager for the opportunity to solve another crime.

“A crime will arrive when you least expect it”

Amidst the festivities there is indeed a crime taking place. Someone has been poisoned! Fortunately, the UK branch of the Snow Leopard Detective Agency are ready to find the clues, narrow down the suspects and solve this crime.

With plenty of people acting suspicious there are no shortage of suspects. Readers will enjoy sorting out the red herrings from the clues and trying to solve the case before Zaiba and the rest of the Snow Leopards do.

As you explore the school grounds with Zaiba both before and after the crime, you’ll come across plenty of clues, or are they? For starters, there’s environmentally friendly glitter, gardening that would make Morticia Addams proud, adults behaving badly and treasonous book vandalism.

And the person with a penchant for poison is … Nice try! You didn’t really think I’d spoil the reveal for you, did you?

I loved Daniela Sosa’s illustrations in the first book and continued to enjoy them here. The bunting above the chapter headings was an appropriate choice. I particularly liked the inclusion of some of Ali’s photos towards the end of the book, as he’d been taking plenty of photos throughout the day for the school newspaper.

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I enjoyed hearing more about Eden Lockett’s books. Eden, a detective-turned-author, is Zaiba’s favourite author. I always get sucked in by the idea of fictional books within a book and usually wish they were real. The one I’m most interested in reading from this book is The Clown’s Clue. Revenge under the Big Top sounds like so much fun!

⚠️ The spoiler is in the next paragraph! ⚠️

My only niggle was feeling like the person who committed the crime essentially got away with it. Although it’s nice that all’s well that ends well, I hesitate when children’s books don’t really hold people accountable for bad behaviour, especially for actions that are criminal. Yes, the person who committed the crime won’t be thrilled about the consequences they do face but if someone gets caught poisoning someone, getting a warning from the Police doesn’t even feel equivalent to a slap on the wrist to me.

Fun extras at the end of the story include some fictional book within a book love (an extract from an Eden Lockett book), tips for creating your own detective trail and advice from Zaiba’s ammi.

If plan A doesn’t work, there’s a whole alphabet worth of letters left to try!

I was thrilled to see Mariam, Zaiba’s least favourite cousin, at the fete. I’m still keen to get to know her better. I’m also greedy for more page time with Ali. During future investigations I hope I get to learn more about Zaiba’s ammi and hang out with Aunt Fouzia.

I’d recommend reading this series in order as there are a couple of spoilery bits about Zaiba’s first investigation scattered throughout this one.

The next mystery for the UK branch of the Snow Leopard Detective Agency to solve features a haunted house and I am definitely showing up for that investigation!

“Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a detective?”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Stripes Publishing, an imprint of Little Tiger Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Determined to be the world’s greatest detective, Zaiba is always on the lookout for a crime to solve!

Zaiba can’t wait for the school summer fair where she’s going to run a detective trail to help train other potential agents! But when the head teacher is poisoned during the highly competitive cake competition, Zaiba’s own skills are put to the test. With a whole host of suspects and a busy crime scene, Zaiba needs to stay focused if she’s going to get to the bottom of the cake catastrophe …

Stink #12: Stink and the Hairy, Scary Spider – Megan McDonald

Illustrations – Peter H. Reynolds

When his dollar bill origami frog leap frogs away from him, Stink encounters something really scary in his yard. Spiderzilla!

“A ginormous, hairy, scary, radioactive mutant spider!”

This is definitely not an ordinary spider. After all, it has pink toes!

Determined to get his frog back without having to encounter the arachnid again, Stink enlists the help of his sister, Judy Moody, and his friends, Sophie of the Elves and Webster. Webster, being the wonderful friend he is, decides he’s going to help Stink overcome his arachnophobia.

But spiders made him shiver. Spiders made his skin crawl. Spiders felt like a thousand tiny prickly feet marching up and down his arms and legs.

But even with spiders on the brain and his fear threatening to overwhelm him, Stink works hard to face his phobia. He learns he’s not the only one who’s scared of spiders

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and that there are steps he can take to conquer his fear.

Besides catching up on Stink’s latest adventure, there’s plenty of extra content in this book. Some of the things you’ll find include fun facts about spiders, learning how to make an origami jumping frog and seeing how to make a hand shadow spider. There are also some spider jokes, which are Dad joke quality. My favourite joke was:

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Q. What do you get when you cross a spider with an ear of corn?

A. Cobwebs.

See? Groan-worthy. Granted, the accompanying picture was what made me laugh.

As usual, Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations add to the humour. My favourite picture features a rather unconventional arachnid rescue.

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After having some problems with the content of the previous Stink book, this story was a welcome return to form. I’m looking forward to finding out what Stink gets up to next.

Freaky-deaky!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Stink’s spider phobia spurs his sister, Judy, and friend Webster to try some desensitisation techniques – until a real-life encounter takes them by surprise – in a hilarious episode offering a bonus origami activity.

Creepy! Crawly! Criminy! Everyone knows that Stink is bonkers about most scientific things. But there’s one exception: dangle a spider in front of him and he goes berserk! Stink is so freaked out by spiders that he can’t read about them. He can’t look at them. He can’t think about them. And he for-sure can’t touch them! Stink has arachnophobia (a fear of spiders), and he has it bad. But when a hairy backyard emergency arises, Stink is forced to face his fear – and eight beady eyes – head-on. Will he manage to tame the heebie-jeebies, or will he remain stuck in his web of terror? Arachno-fans will love the comics sprinkled throughout with facts about spiders as well as a hands-on origami challenge.

Ghostbusters: The Inside Story – Matt McAllister

If you want to wander around Spook Central for a while, this book is a fun introduction, showcasing why its magic hasn’t dulled in over thirty-five years. It boasts new interviews with some of the cast and crew, which sit alongside a number of quotes from the books that came before it.

You get to find out a little bit about everything you remember from Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. From the household names to the actors who are still recognised for the character they played during a single scene. The people who worked behind the scenes to bring the script to life: the artists,

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lighting department, special effects, sound. The ghosts. Ecto-1.

There are a few scattered mentions of the 2016 movie (no, it didn’t ruin my childhood. I really enjoyed it!), but the focus always remains on the first two movies. I would love to see some of the deleted scenes that were mentioned.

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Along the way you’ll learn some fun facts:

👻 The ghost on the logo is called Mooglie.
👻 Stay Puft was 112.5 feet tall.
👻 100,000 gallons of slime were produced for the second movie.
👻 The sound of Ecto-1’s siren was a modified leopard cry.

You’ll also find out which actor’s initial thought when they saw the movie for the first time was, “Eh, it’s alright.” and find the blooper in a Stay Puft scene. I was introduced to the frog ghost that didn’t make it into the second movie.

If you’ve known me longer than a few weeks, you’ll know that Ghostbusters is my favourite movie of all time. It has been one of the constants in my life. The library ghost terrified me during my first viewing at six years old and I continued to ‘watch’ that scene through my fingers during subsequent viewings until my brave grew in.

My first and favourite childhood video game was the Commodore 64 Ghostbusters game, where it was hit and miss whether I could time that final dash past Mr Stay Puft.

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Screenshot of the Commodore 64 game. Not pictured in this book.

Decades later, I still revisit the Ghostbusters every month, more often if I’m having a bad week. Whenever there was a storm when I was growing up I’d check out the sky and determine whether they were Ghostbuster clouds or not, and it’s quite possible I still do.

Then there’s the merchandise that’s managed to part me with my money: the t-shirt, the pyjamas, the Lego, the diecast model Ecto-1 with bonus Slimer, the books. So many books. Over the years I’ve owned the soundtrack on both cassette and CD, and the original movie on Beta, VHS, DVD and Blu-ray. I can still tell you which elements in each scene you are now able to see on widescreen that were missing on the VHS viewings of my childhood.

I may have been known to talk in Ghostbusters quotes at times the uninitiated deem inappropriate. There really is a quote for every occasion.

On hobbies. “I collect spores, moulds and fungus.”

When you’re starting your own business. “The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.”

Need directions? “Hey, where do these stairs go?” “They go up.”

How to make an important decision. “Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes!”

How to: customer service edition. “Whaddya want?”

On winning. “We came. We saw. We kicked its ass!”

If you’ve been a Ghostbusters fan for any length of time you probably already know a lot of the fun facts you’ll read in this book. New fans will find plenty to love, as will readers who enjoy knowing a little bit about everything.

Some of the information is repetitive, especially the captions for the images, which basically restate what you’ve just read. The fire hydrant spurting sand instead of water when it’s kicked by Stay Puft was mentioned three separate times that I noticed. Several other tidbits were mentioned at least twice.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that everything was sunshine and roses on the set as so many interviews mention how wonderful everyone was to work with. There were a couple of interviews where someone would say that they had originally wanted things done differently or what they had spent so much time working on was suddenly changed at the last minute, but even these interviewees backtracked, saying that it all worked out even better than it would have if the plans hadn’t changed. It felt a bit disingenuous at times, although fangirl me maintains the hope that love, joy and peace flavoured the air during production.

There were plenty of stills from the movies and behind the scenes photos of the cast and crew, some of which I’d seen previously. The layout was quite consistent throughout the book and there were some really interesting pictures, especially those that showed the concept art

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and the way the ghosts were made. I found the process involved in making the painting come to life in the second movie particularly interesting.

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I doubt any Ghostbusters book will ever surpass Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History for me but I still enjoyed this read. It definitely made me want to see Dan Akroyd’s original Ghost Smashers script made into a movie and ‘research’ was a great excuse to rewatch the first two movies – again!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Hero Collector Books for the opportunity read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The essential guide to Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II! Exploring everything from the pioneering special effects to the set design and the unforgettable soundtrack. This authorised book tells the exhaustive behind-the-scenes story of how Dan Aykroyd’s original concept evolved into a movie phenomenon.

The guide is packed with hundreds of fascinating production photos, concept art and rare behind-the-scenes images, while new interviews with the cast and crew, including Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman, Annie Potts, Richard Edlund and many more, reveal how they overcame numerous challenges to create one of the best-loved movie franchises of the 1980’s.

A Cosmology of Monsters – Shaun Hamill

Spoilers Ahead!

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This book is a difficult one for me to review. It’s been on my radar for nearly a year and I loved the writing style and how well I felt I knew many of the characters, but it also had some problematic moments for me.

I loved hearing all about the history of this family, tragedy and all. I liked getting a feel for the dynamics between its members and the ways they individually coped with the pain that they’d experienced. The more I learned about their complexities as individuals and as a whole, the more I wanted to delve deeper. The unlikeable parts of certain characters made them even more real to me.

“How often do I get a chance to live out a true-life nightmare?”

I couldn’t get enough information about the Tomb and The Wandering Dark. I could easily visualise each room and I was eager to experience them for myself. I was even plotting new rooms that I could add to those the family had created and wondered how I could get involved behind the scenes to bring the scares to life.

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I even loved it when the monster was introduced. I love monster stories so I was looking forward to getting to know this one but certain aspects of the monster’s behaviour didn’t work for me at all. Now, this is where my review becomes a spoilery rant, so you may want to skip the next four paragraphs. Sorry, my rants get kinda wordy.

Okay, if you’re still with me, I’ll assume you have either read the book already or spoilers don’t bother you. So, the monster. As Noah started spending more time with the monster I wondered about its why, how and what. When some vital information about the monster was revealed my curiosity quickly turned to ‘I no longer want to read this book’ and I would have DNF’ed at this point if I hadn’t committed to reviewing it.

The monster had been grooming Noah since he was six years old. This meant that when they eventually began having sex (apparently fairly regularly), my brain immediately went to ‘ewww!’ and I felt decidedly icky reading about it. If these scenes had involved a female child and male monster/adult, there would likely be an uproar and I don’t see why it should be any less abhorrent because the genders have been switched here. Thankfully, this is eventually called out for what it was by a minor character. Briefly.

Then there was Sydney, who thought she was having a relationship with a man, but there was a huge power imbalance as he was her teacher. Depending on where you live, legally this may or may not be called statutory rape, but even if it isn’t the power balance alone is enough to make alarm bells echo in my head. This whole thing is effectively silenced. Noah keeps the secret. Sydney gets put out that her ‘relationship’ is over. It’s never called out for what is really is. Even near the end of the book it’s described as a man who fell in love with a teenager.

I acknowledge that my experience of sexual assault could be colouring my perceptions of both Noah and Sydney’s experiences to a certain degree, but I still can’t imagine ever being okay with either situation. I do need to say that the minor character naming Noah’s experience redeemed that part of the narrative for me to an extent, although it will never be anything but icky to me. Sydney didn’t have anyone dismantling the truth she’d lived with and that wound up tainting some of my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

“It’s seen us. It has our scent.”

While I don’t generally have a problem with endings where the bows aren’t all tied, I did want to know more about the City and the history of the monsters. I was fine with not knowing exactly what was next for some of the human characters, although I could see the way the story resolved for Noah a mile off.

Loss, grief and the experiences that haunt us are central to this book. In exploring those through Noah’s story, the horror in part becomes about the parts of yourself that you hide and those that feed on your pain. I didn’t have to work at all to get into this book and the characters became real almost immediately. It wasn’t the horror I was expecting but I was sucked in and am interested in reading more books by this author.

“Noah, there is no such thing as a happy ending. There are only good stopping places.”

Content warnings include mention of abortion, cancer, death of loved ones, grooming and sexual assault, homophobia, mental health, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide and death by suicide.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Noah Turner’s family are haunted by monsters that are all too real, strange creatures that visit them all: His bookish mother Margaret; Lovecraft-obsessed father Harry; eldest sister Sydney, born for the spotlight; the brilliant but awkward Eunice, a gifted writer and storyteller – the Turners each face their demons alone.

When his terminally-ill father becomes obsessed with the construction of an elaborate haunted house – the Wandering Dark – the family grant his last wish, creating themselves a legacy, and a new family business in their grief. But families don’t talk about the important things, and they try to shield baby Noah from horrors, both staged and real.

As the family falls apart, fighting demons of poverty, loss and sickness, the real monsters grow ever closer. Unbeknownst to them, Noah is being visited by a wolfish beast with glowing orange eyes. Noah is not the first of the Turners to meet the monster, but he is the first to let it into his room …

Unwritten #2: Rewritten – Tara Gilboy

“Writing has brought me so much trouble.”

In the six months since they returned to the real world, Gracie and some other characters from Bondoff, their storybook world, have been living with Gertrude Winters, the story’s author. They’re all in hiding from the story’s villain, Cassandra. Cassandra still has the Vademecum, a magical book that can generate portals between the real world and the world of the author’s imagination.

Gracie is struggling to distance herself from the character Gertrude created for her. This isn’t easy when everyone remembers what happened while they were in Bondoff.

She wished she didn’t have to keep being reminded of the past.

Gracie meets siblings Mina and Bryant when she travels to Blackwood Hall. Their world is nothing like Gracie’s storybook dimension; they are characters in a “feminist gothic horror novel”.

“Don’t read that one. It’s too scary for children.”

Rewritten tackles fractured mother-daughter relationships, the difficulty of forgiveness and the struggle to rewrite our stories. A number of themes from the first book continue to play out here. Running through both books is the difficulty of breaking out of roles that others place upon you. A couple of characters battle both the urge to run away from the past and the desire to confront it.

The lines between good and evil remain somewhat fuzzy. The villains aren’t always immediately obvious and their actions aren’t always intended to have dastardly consequences. One character who has been written as a villain is desperately trying to prove to themselves and those around them that that’s not who they are. Even those who appear to be heroes can have selfish motivations and make questionable choices.

Gracie, who I loved without reservation in Unwritten, started to annoy me when her recaps and ruminations became repetitive. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she made in this book but I have to give Gracie credit for her imaginative decorating choices. Her bedroom ceiling features quotes from books in glow in the dark paint! Why didn’t I think of that?!

While you could read Unwritten and Rewritten as standalones, I’d recommend reading them in order. Given how this story ends I’m definitely expecting this series to become a trilogy. I haven’t had enough page time with Cassandra yet and am crossing my fingers that she’ll wind up with a happy ending. Yes, I know she’s supposed to be the villain so technically she shouldn’t get one, but I’m still holding out hope. I’m also looking forward to Walter being given the opportunity to shine.

It was Jomike Tejido’s cover illustration that originally drew me to Unwritten and, even though I was unaware a sequel was in the works, as soon as I saw the cover of this book I had no doubt that this was it. Just like last time, I decided I needed to read this book before I knew what it was about.

“You can’t stop reading the stories. It’s your destiny.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jolly Fish Press, an imprint of North Star Editions, for the opportunity to read this book.

Review originally posted on 6 April 2020.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

After learning the truth about her own fairy tale, twelve-year-old Gracie wants nothing more than to move past the terrible things author Gertrude Winters wrote about her and begin a new chapter in the real world. If only things were going as planned. On the run from the evil Queen Cassandra, the characters from Gracie’s story have all been forced to start over, but some of them cannot forget Gracie’s checkered past. 

Even worse, Gracie discovers that as long as Cassandra has her magical book, the Vademecum, Gracie’s story is still being written and none of the characters are safe, including her mum and dad. In a desperate attempt to set things right, Gracie finds herself transported into another one of Gertrude’s stories – but this one is a horror story. Can Gracie face her destiny and the wild beast roaming the night, to rewrite her own story?

Tales from Deckawoo Drive #1: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up – Kate DiCamillo

Illustrations – Chris Van Dusen

Former thief Leroy Ninker dreams of being a cowboy, which is why he often says, “Yippie-i-oh”. He has a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a lasso.

“That is the life for me. A cowboy is who I was meant to be.”

What Leroy doesn’t have is a horse, and every cowboy needs a horse. Leroy decides it’s time he found himself a strong, fast horse.

Instead, he finds Maybelline. Maybelline runs on compliments and loves spaghetti. She doesn’t like being alone.

Leroy and Maybelline’s story was a really quick read for me and I found it quite sweet. I didn’t have to work at all to get into this book but it felt unfinished to me. Did Leroy ever find a way to get Maybelline inside his home? I also wondered if Maybelline overcame her fear of being alone once she learned to trust that Leroy would always return to her.

This is the first book in a spinoff of the Mercy Watson series. Maybelline and Leroy accidentally wind up visiting Deckawoo Drive, home of the Watsons.

I really enjoyed Chris Van Dusen’s illustrations. Both humans and animals are very expressive and the details line up well with the narrative.

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I’ll be looking out for this spaghetti eating horse and her cowboy as the series progresses.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Yippie-i-oh! Saddle up for the first in a spin-off series starring favourite characters from Kate DiCamillo’s New York Times best-selling Mercy Watson books.

Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse – until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it’s love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues.

Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good? Join Leroy, Maybelline, and a cast of familiar characters – Stella, Frank, Mrs. Watson, and everyone’s favorite porcine wonder, Mercy – for some hilarious and heartfelt horsing around on Deckawoo Drive. 

Pony on the Twelfth Floor – Polly Faber

Illustrations – Sarah Jennings

Kizzy has wanted a horse for eleven years but she lives in the city and there are no horses there. Until the day she finds a pony in the supermarket happily gobbling up all of the donuts, that is. This is the opportunity Kizzy has been dreaming of.

She names the pony Donut and sets out to take care of her new equine friend. The only problem is that Kizzy lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building and there’s no way her mother would let her keep him if she knew. Enlisting the help of her best friend, Pawel, Kizzy learns just how difficult it can be to hide a very hungry pony in a city.

Young readers who, like Kizzy, adore horses and dream of the day when they can adopt one of their own will delight in Donut’s adventures.

Parents of said readers will not necessarily be impressed with the lies that Kizzy tells (with very few consequences) to try to keep her new friend just a little bit longer. They may also be creeped out a little when Izzy goes to a secluded place alone with an acquaintance to see something that needs to remain a secret; this is entirely innocent but my alarm bells rang just the same.

Thankfully this is not a sad animal story. Donut spends plenty of time eating and pooping, and finds his very own happy ending.

Sarah Jennings’ illustrations are as cute as the story, with an emphasis on Donut’s rotund stomach and sometimes messy adventures.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kizzy has always wanted a pony of her own. So when she finds a pony snacking on donuts in the grocery store, she instantly knows that she must have him – and what to name him. But there’s just one small problem: it’s not easy to hide a pony in an apartment complex!

Enlisting the help of her best friend, Pawel, Kizzy manages to keep Donut fed, ride him around the park, and even hide him in her school’s garden. But Kizzy is finding it harder and harder to keep Donut a secret. Will she be able to give him up if it means finding him a better home? A heartwarming story about following your dreams – no matter how far-fetched they seem.

Happily Ever After & Everything In Between – Debbie Tung

After watching my life play out in the pages of Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love, I was eagerly anticipating seeing what other thing that makes me me she was going to explore. This third graphic novel is where our lives diverge, which turned this read from ‘how is she getting into my head?’ to ‘aww, Debbie and Jason are such a cute couple’.

Whether you’re deciding what to cook for dinner

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or ensuring the essentials find their way into the household budget,

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it’s important that your partner understands your love language.

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While there are some sweet, kinda mushy moments,

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single, introverted bookworms will also find plenty of relatable moments in this collection.

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While I couldn’t guess what Debbie would tackle next after finishing her second graphic novel, the reveal at the end of this one seems to me to be a pretty big clue about what to expect from the next one.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From the bestselling author of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love comes a funny and adorable collection of comics about married life. From choosing a movie and sharing (or not sharing) dessert to snoring (naturally) and knowing when someone needs a cup of tea and a cozy blanket, Happily Ever After is the perfect gift for anyone in a relationship.

The comics in Happily Ever After & Everything In Between may be inspired by Debbie Tung’s marriage to her extrovert husband, but any couple can relate to increasingly relaxed anniversaries, slowly seeing more of each other’s weird sides, or the punishment for taking care of your sick loved one (catching whatever they had). Happily Ever After humorously captures what everyday love looks like – both the sweet moments and the mundane – making it a fitting gift for weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.