humor

Review of ‘Oddjobs’

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Mythical beings, demons and demi-gods really, have taken over earth, and at some unannounced future date will pull the plug on humanity. The British, being British, are determined that the end of the earth will at least be orderly. A special government organization has the task of seeing to the paperwork and other bureaucratic actions to achieve that. Morag Murray is assigned to the consulate in Birmingham as a new field operative, but she has a problem; in her previous job, she offended earth’s new masters, and is now marked for immediate death. While dealing with murderous starfish, a strange old woman with cats, and new colleagues who are anything but normal, she has to try and avoid her own inevitable death.

Oddjobs by Heide Goody and Iain Grant is a rib-tickling, heart-pounding book that I have a hard time categorizing. Is it fantasy or is it science fiction? After reading it, I’m still unable to decide. What I can say, though, is that it’s funny; funny and scary at the same time. The characters in this (unimaginable?) dystopian future are believable, even the aliens, because they behave in a consistent manner, they talk like people we’ve all encountered at one point or other in our lives, and the action flows, if not exactly in a linear manner, in a way that makes sense under the circumstances that the authors so skillfully describe.

If you want a tickle and a tingle all wrapped in one package, read this book. I give it five stars.

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Review of ‘Jammed’

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Charlie Cooper is not your everyday, average detective. In fact, she’s not a detective at all. She’s a 29-year-old, underpaid precinct secretary working for the Boston PD, with a ton of bills, a ratty car, and a nonexistent love life. Then, her boss asks her to go back to her hometown of Springston and snoop about to see if she can find out how her small town is tied up with a major Boston drug case.
Back home, she has to deal with her nutty family, a couple of wacky sidekicks, and a drop-dead-gorgeous undercover Springston cop who gets on her nerves—oh, and with someone who is trying to kill her.
Jammed by Deany Ray is a deliriously funny mystery with a wacky main character that you will fall in love with. Like war, which is hours of boredom interrupted occasionally by seconds of chaos and panic, this book is pages and pages of wackiness and humor, broken up with a few pages here and there of spine-tingling action.
If you like a laugh along with your mystery, give this one a try. I give it four stars.

My Writing Office

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A real writer can work anywhere

Don’t Wait for the Muse

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Writers who wait around for the muse often get nothing written.

Review of ‘The Alphabet Books’

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I received a free copy of Marc Richard’s The Alphabet Books, which included the letters A through C. I wasn’t sure what to expect, except that it would be a very nontraditional take on some well-known tales. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at the experience.

‘A is for Adam’ is a hilarious (and irreverent) take on the creation story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Fall when they disobeyed instructions not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the aftermath. If you’re the pious type, you’ll probably not want to read this story. It will surely offend you. If, on the other hand, you appreciate good satire and fantastic writing, read on.

‘B is for Bear’ is the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears reimagined as an encounter between a mob family and a conniving blackmailer.

The final story in this trilogy, ‘C is for Cookie’, has Hansel and Gretel as long-haul truckers delivering a load of strange cookies to a witchy baker who lives in a house made of all kinds of sweets.

Unless your funny bone has been surgically removed, you’ll be unable to resist laughing as you read this trilogy of funky fairy tales brought to you by an author who had to have been nibbling at some of the witch’s cookies as he wrote.

Funny, fabulously funny, from the first page to the last.

I give this one five stars plus!

Review of ‘Banana Hammock’

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Until I got Banana Hammock: A ‘Write Your Own Damn Story’ Adventure by J.A. Konrath and Jack Kilborn, I’d never read an interactive e-book. To their credit, the authors warn readers to read the description before reading the book, because you just might ‘hate it.’

Well, I read the description, where they mention up front that there a lot of gored oxen and disrespected sacred cows in this book, and it goes where the reader decides to go rather than in a straight line. Wow, was that an understatement!

The story starts with hapless PI Harry McGlade being hired by an Amish woman who suspects her husband of cheating on her. From that point (which, by the way, is the beginning of the ox-goring) this book definitely does not go in a straight line, but in lopsided circles, depending upon the link you chose at the end of the chapter. Like a mountain trail, it has switchbacks, loops, and detours all over the place. Even if you take notes, if you’re not careful, you’ll get lost, which I did around chapter 4—or was it 3—I really don’t remember, and my notes make absolutely no sense.

I finally gave up after ten or twelve forays to the pages denoted by the links, and decided to just read it straight through. Did it come to a satisfactory conclusion? Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. It sort of depends upon why you read. Since this was billed from the start as NOT a straight forward mystery, I just assumed the authors wanted you to enjoy your haphazard journey into their warped minds and twisted senses of humor.

Well, I did that, so I guess, in the end, it was a worthwhile journey. Sort of like a roller coaster ride; you go up, you do down, you loop a few times, and you end up back where you started, a bit breathless, and wondering why you got on the darn thing in the first place, all the time, itching to get back in line for another ride.

If you’re the prissy type who feels that certain types of humor are off limits, then you definitely should NOT read this book. If you like to be amazed, entertained, and tickled, then by all means, do what I did, and read it TODAY!

Heck, I give the authors five stars just for the entertainment.

Review of ‘What If?’

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What would happen if the earth and everything on it stopped spinning, but the atmosphere kept moving? Sound like a stupid question? It is, but it’s just the kind of question Web comic, Randall Munroe, answers on a regular basis. In What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions Munroe uses science, math, and computers to answer some of the most absurd questions you could ever imagine, such as, ‘if your cells stopped dividing, how long would you live?’

Munroe mixes science and humor, illustrated with his signature stick figure cartoons, to answer some of the least profound questions of our age. You might not want to know the answers to some of the questions—a lot of them end in catastrophic results—but, I promise, you’ll get a few good chuckles out of reading this book.

I received a free copy of What If? 

I laughed so hard I almost wet myself reading some of the answers. I give Munroe five stares for this book.

Review of ‘Unwanted Dead or Alive’

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Buck Hawkins and Dobie Garrett are cowboys who work for a kind boss on the Singletree Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. When a crooked banker steals the ranch and frames them for rustling and horse stealing, they go on the run. Unable to find work, and wanted by the law, they decide they might as well become outlaws. Unfortunately, they know nothing about being desperadoes, and things just keep going from bad to worse. Then, they meet Marylou Kowalski during a bumbled attempt at robbing a stage, and at gunpoint, she forces them to kidnap her and then makes herself part of their ‘outlaw’ gang. Under her tutelage, they decide to go for one big score, rob the bank run by the crooked banker and hightail it to Mexico.

The idea of the western as comedy is not the usual way one looks at the genre. Except for Blazing Saddles, which was a funny, but only so-so movie, and The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, I don’t recall it really being done well.  Until, that is, I read Unwanted Dead or Alive by Gene Shelton. This book’s has some serious (pun intended) movie potential. As Buck and Dobie flub one attempt of thieving after another, I found myself laughing so hard I almost wet my pants, or as Dobie would say, ‘peeing my jeans.’ It was just that funny. And, by that, I don’t mean in a contrived way. This was written in an authentic style, but it was seriously funny, and is probably a more credible depiction of the Old West than the vast majority of stuff that’s been written about the golden age of the cowboy.

This is a book that will appeal to both western and humor fans. I received it as a gift.

I give it five stars!

Review of ‘Innocent in Las Vegas’

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Tiffany Black is a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas, but she wants to leave that job and become a PI. She’s on the verge of having enough supervised hours to get her license when an old ‘friend’ asks  her to investigate the murder of her husband, a well-known casino owner, and in the process prove that the ‘friend’ didn’t do it.

Innocent in Las Vegas by A.R. Winters is a delightful entrant into the category of hilariously funny PI fiction. Evocative of Janet Ivanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Tiffany Black is a character to keep an eye out for. Between her weakness for cupcakes and her inability to stay out of trouble, she’ll have you laughing until you choke. The author has a fine eye for detail and crisp dialogue.

I give this really funny book five stars.

Review of ‘Hexad: The Chamber’

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After totally mucking up their world, and uncounted alternate worlds, Dale and Amanda wake up in bed with each other back on the day the whole thing got started. Only, Dale’s convinced that the Amanda lying next to him is not his Amanda, a fact that she corroborates. So, they’re off again to try to put all the universe’s right. For that, though, they must go back to the future, find the originator of the time travel device, and stop him. Unfortunately, a police detective named Cray has gotten his hands on one of the hexads (that’s what they call the thing for reasons that are never explained), and it’s given him power he has no intention of relinquishing.

In Hexad: The Chamber by Al K. Line, Dale has to contend with Cray, with The Caretaker, who doesn’t seem to really be taking care of anything, and an almost infinite number of Amandas who were created through his fumblings the first time he tried fixing things.

The author has maintained to keep the manic pace and totally improbable events going at full pace in this second book, dangling it in front of the reader like a carrot in front of a horse, leading inevitably to a desire to read number three, which if he doesn’t publish soon, I’m going forward to the past, or back to the future and strangling him.

Okay, he get’s another four stars for this one – ha!

Review of ‘Hexad: The Factory’

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After a weird nighttime, alcohol benumbed conversation with his girlfriend, Amanda, Dale Ando woke up and began digging in his yard for evidence of time travel. He thought it was all a joke, but was curious, so he was amazed when he found a note from himself that made it seem that time travel was a reality. And, what a reality it was. Dale and Amanda soon found themselves chasing themselves across different timelines and alternate universes, all the while being pursued by strange men, some of whom seem bent on doing them harm.

If you’re a ‘Doctor Who’ fan, you’ll love Hexad: The Factory by Al K. Line, a time-travel thriller that is short on science, long on fiction, and chocked full of fun, fumbles, and has more twists than a big fill of twizzlers. If you’re a scientist—or a science nerd—who understands the theory of time travel, you’ll probably not like this book. Then again, you just might. It’s a bit like Doug Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You know such things are impossible, but the characters are so endearing and the escapades they get up to so funny, you chuck disbelief in the dustbin and soldier on.

Warning: don’t read this book unless you’re prepared to keep going for the next book(s) in the series. A lot of the problems Dale and Amanda encounter are solved, only to create even bigger problems lying just out of reach beyond the final page.

I’ll take a flyer and give him four stars for this one.

Review of ‘Road to Nowhere’

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Senior citizen Molly Meagher, a former lawyer who decided to get off the treadmill, would like nothing better than to be left alone in her cabin with her cat, but trouble has a nasty habit of dogging her steps.

When she finds a dog in the woods near her cabin that has obviously been abused, and probably used in dog fighting, she decides to take care of it. Unfortunately, along with Dog comes trouble with a capital ‘T’. Molly soon finds herself up to her ample hips in a criminal dogfighting ring using the secluded woods near her abode to escape the notice of the law. When they think Molly has spotted them, they begin to try to remove her from the scene—permanently.

Road to Nowhere by Lee Schultz is a really funny mystery that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that just because you pass sixty, life’s not over. Molly is a character (in many senses of the word) that you can’t help but like. You’ll find yourself rooting for her and hissing at the unnamed bad guys as she dodges bullets, ramming cars, and snarling dogs in a romp not to be forgotten soon.

It has a few typos and formatting issues, or I’d give it top marks. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Zen Man’

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Rich Levine is a disgraced ex-lawyer, currently a private investigator, and is aching to get his license back so he can practice law again. He and his current girlfriend, Laura, are operating a bed and breakfast in the mountains of Colorado, and hosting events for criminal defense lawyers in an effort to attract clients to his PI business. Things go off the rails when Levine’s flamboyant ex-wife is murdered at one of the events, and he’s the prime suspect.

Except for Laura, and a partially reformed hippie snowboarder who helps out around the B&B, Levine has no one he can trust—including his former law partner, Sam Wexler, who was having an affair with his ex-wife at the time of her untimely demise.

The Zen Man by Colleen Collins is a rollicking adventure as Levine races against the clock to prove his innocence. This is detective fiction with humor that is a mix of ‘Colombo’ and ‘The Three Stooges.’ You won’t be able to resist Levine’s ragged charm, and you’ll be sucked into his quest like a hair ball in a bathtub drain. Collins keeps you guessing until the end, and breathless at the climax.

Due to a few grammatical gaffes, I’m only giving it four stars.

Review of ‘Bunny Sneaks’

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I don’t normally think of horror and humor in the same sentence, but after reading Bunny Sneaks by William Meikle, I’ve changed my mind. This is a story that will tickle your funny bone at the same time it chills your blood. When Kate’s boyfriend buys her a stuffed bunny rabbit just after watching a movie about a killer rabbit, little does she know she’ll soon be running for her life—from a horrifying little bunny that just wants to take a large bite out of her neck.

This story is classic Meikle. You don’t want to miss it. It’s an easy five stars!

Review of ‘Dear NSA: A Collection of Politically Incorrect Short Stories’

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If you find politics depressing, you need an escape. There’s no better way to get relief of the troubles and toils of today’s world than immersing yourself in a fine bit of satire about those very times. Dear NSA: A Collection of Politically Incorrect Short Stories by Harmon Cooper is just what the doctor ordered.

A series of sharp-tongued missives that make light of the serious stuff spewing from the mouths of politicians and pundits these days, this book will have your sides splitting. Cooper takes potshots at everything, and hits the bullseye with every shot. Wacky stories that touch on reality, this is political satire at its best.

Keep ’em coming, Harmon. I’m giving you five stars for this one.

Review of ‘Arcene: The Blue Castle

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Arcene is a 22-year old girl in a 15-year old body. She likes nothing better than roaming the wilds with her sword and her dog, Leel. During one of her forays, she discovers a blue castle. The logical part of her mind tells her to avoid it, but Arcene is never one to shy away from adventure.

Arcene: The Blue Castle by Al K. Line is a hilarious romp through a world 300 years in the future, after humanity has been decimated by The Lethargy. Line delights the reader with his deft use of language, sometimes funny, with the occasional snippet of bloodletting as Arcene uses her sword to put bad men in their place—dead. Her interactions with Leel are actually the best parts of the book, but the things she learns about herself as she ventures into the strange blue castle run a close second.

Given the language and semi-graphic discussion of human physical relationships, I’m not sure this book is appropriate for grades 7 – 12 as the author claims, but then again, maybe I’m just old fashioned. I enjoyed it though.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Quigley’s Christmas Adventure’

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Alarm bells ring in heaven. The angels know there’s a crisis on earth. The evil Ro plans to destroy Christmas by getting rid of the toy store in her town and replacing it with a freeway ramp. An angel must come to the rescue, and it’s the turn of Thurmond, heaven’s canine trainer, a guardian angel who has been less than successful on his previous missions. Thurmond choses as his companion on this mission, Quigley, a famous canine angel with an attitude problem.

Quigley’s Christmas Adventure by William Byron Hillman is the story of how Thurmond and Quigley save Christmas—but, it’s more. It’s funny, in a rib tickling way; it’s aimed at young adults, but will also appeal to the young at heart; and, it’s a story of self-confidence and faith. That’s a lot of baggage for one book, and one aimed at such a young audience, but Quigley carries it well. Christmas is just around the corner, so consider this book as a stuffing stuffer for someone on your Christmas list.

Four stars.

Review of ‘Keith Ramsbottom: The Return of the Pork Pie’

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Keith Ramsbottom and his hapless friends are back again, and they’re funnier than ever in Keith Ramsbottom: The Return of the Pork Pie by Scott Pixello.

Things are heating up in Roman-occupied Britain, especially in the village of Effluvium. Roman governor Paulinus disappears for days, causing great worry, and the rebel Boudicca burns Londinum, which causes even greater worry. But then, Paulinus resurfaces and decides to hold a poetry competition, and things get really, really zany.

This is not a book to read if you’ve just ingested a large quantity of liquids because it’ll tickle you and make you trickle. You’ll laugh until you spew your liquid all over the place. Pixello has a gift for using puns, plays on words, and just plain spot-on comic observations of human nature that will keep you entranced from start to finish.

Five stars and counting!

Review of ‘Keith Ramsbottom: The Emperor Strikes Back’

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In AD 60, Britain is occupied by the Romans. In the little village of Effluvium, Keith Ramsbottom, erstwhile leader of SORE, Scourge of the Roman Empire, along with his hapless friend, Horace, and the slave girl, Pulchitrude, is determined to eject the hated Romans.

In Keith Ramsbottom: The Emperor Strikes Back, by Scott Pixello, Keith and Horace must learn to be gladiators to save Pulchitrude from a forced marriage to Simon Cowellius, an envoy sent from Rome to check up on Paulinius, the governor of Effluvium. To make matters worse for everyone, the rebel princess Boudicca is still giving the Roman legions fits, and Paulinius’ wife has decided to pay a visit to Britain.

If all this sounds like a mouthful, trust me, it is. In this second book, or episode as the author calls it, in the Keith Ramsbottom series, he once again weaves modern cultural references (did you notice Simon Cowellius?) and language together with ancient history to create a story that is rib tickling funny. There were a few annoying typos throughout the book, but not so many that they detracted one iota from the funniness. I will, though, be forced to lower my rating until Keith expunges those dreaded typoliums from the arena.

Sorry, only four stars for this one.

Review of ‘Keith Ramsbottom: Rebel Leader’

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In AD 59, Keith Ramsbottom is a youngster living in the small British village of Effluvium that happens to be occupied by the Romans. Britain needs a savior, but, other than the warrior princess, Boudicca, all they have is Keith, a lad who hates the Latin homework he’s forced to endure, and who, with his friends Horace and the slave girl, Pulchitrude, is determined to lead a rebellion. Keith is also enamored of Boudicca, and wants to impress her. His problem is, he has no real idea how to achieve either of his aims, and his dimwitted friend, Horace, is only helpful if there’s food to be consumed. Pulchitrude is the brains of his rebellion, but, as a slave girl, no one really pays her any heed.

Keith Ramsbottom: Rebel Leader by Scott Pixello is a hilarious story that is as historically inaccurate as it is hilarious. The author skillfully blends offbeat modern cultural references with semi-accurate ancient history in a way that will have you laughing until you wet your pants—something Keith can relate to.

A solid five star offering!