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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
On the surface, Emma Valentine looks like your ordinary single girl living in Manhattan and working as a barista in a coffee shop. In reality, though, she’s Cupid’s daughter—yes, the real Cupid, master of True Love. In Lonely Reader Looking for Love Story (Cupid’s Daughter #1) by Jason Krumbine, Emma has to get Ross Richards and Sally Fields to realize that they are fated to be together.
Emma’s challenge, though, is that the two are the ultimate nerds, with no social skills to speak of, and she is without a plan for bringing them together—at least, not without breaking the rules her dad’s drummed into her.
You’ll laugh so hard when you read this, you’ll sputter. You might even choke. Yes, it’s just that good. I give it four stars.
Donna Stone’s husband was killed on the day her third child was born. In order to avenge his death, she leads a double life – housewife by day, and at other times, a deadly assassin.
The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook by Josie Brown follows Josie as she closes in on the shadowy organization she believes is responsible for her husband’s death. Along the way, she has to deal with a new partner, the misogynistic Jack, who seeks to replace her late husband, Carl. Mixed in with the somewhat graphic sex scenes and totally graphic acts of violence, are some madcap moments of classic slapstick humor, and a few handy household hints. In other words, a book that never fails to surprise you, even when it fails to live up to what you expect it to be. This book is not for everyone. There are those who will be put off by the sex scenes, or by what appears to be a ham-handed way of laying down clues. Even with all that, though, the ending—which is rather long and involved—will surprise anyone who hangs on until the end of the book
In short, it’s camp, it’s graphic, and in many cases predictable—but, I enjoyed it. I’m giving it four stars!
It’s rare to find a thriller that is also funny—often the humor makes the thriller part seem campy, or the thriller part causes the humor to fall flat. The Unhappy Medium by T. J. Brown is, fortunately, that rare combination of a thriller that will chill your blood, while you’re laughing so hard at the funny parts you’re likely to wet your pants. In fact, some of the thriller parts might just have the same impact.
Dr. Newton Barlow is a scientist who also happens to be cool enough to be a TV personality. A rational, believe only what can be proven type, he incurs the envy and wrath of the buttoned-down science establishment. When he lets himself get hooked up with greedy business types, he is finally rejected, and then ejected from real science. Down on his luck, he turns to his mentor Dr. Alex Sixsmith, but unfortunately, that worthy dies before he can make contact. Now, ordinarily, that would be the end of the story, but it isn’t—it’s just getting started. You see, Sixsmith contacts Newton, or at least his ghost does. Hyper-rational Newton has trouble accepting this, but when he finally does, he finds himself hip deep in a battle to rid evil from the world, and keep it penned up in Purgatory until it can be expunged.
This book has some parts that are definitely not for the squeamish. Graphically described acts of violence will cause you to look over your shoulder every time a floor board creaks. But, hang in, because the laughs will also come, and you’ll be glad you toughed it out.
I was disappointed when it ended. Not that the ending wasn’t competently handled; I just wanted to read more of Newton’s adventures, so I’m hoping the author is paying attention and will start on the next one—soon!
Five stars for a great comic thriller!
If you’re one of those people who think most of your time in school was wasted, as useless—and sometimes wrong—information was crammed into your brain, you’ll love reading Now They Tell Me: 50 Life Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School by Ed Harris.
This is a humorous look at a very serious subject; how our education system fails us all. The author looks at the myths, and mythtakes, foisted upon students in the formal school system with a wry style that will have you chuckling as you nod in agreement with his observations. In the end, you’ll be forced to agree with the author when he says, “Ultimately, we all get our wisdom the hard-earned way, and I hope you are now a little bit closer to achieving yours.”
Kudos to Harris for his ability to broach such a sensitive subject in such an engaging and entertaining manner. A great five star read!