Tag Archives: Humor

Insanity – Cameron Jace

I’ll be honest, I knew nothing of Cameron Jace…never heard of him, never seen any of his work when one day I received an email from an ebook service that I subscribe to that described one of his books that was on sale (OK free) and the description intrigued me…since the price was right I went and “purchased” it.  I didn’t get around to reading it for quite some time but finally did just before the holidays.

According to Mr. Jace’s web site, he isn’t a professional writer but likes writing stories that he always wanted to read but couldn’t find already done. There’s really not much more I can tell you about the author…which bothers me as I tend to like to know at least something about the author I’m reading so I can get an idea of how their background and experiences have molded their writing.

Insanity is the first book of a series of books that he refers to collectively as Insanity; however, I think a more accurate title would be the Wonderland Wars….but, we’ll see.

Years ago, I purchased and absolutely adored a computer game called American McGee’s Alice.  It tells a very dark tale of Alice (as in Alice in Wonderland) who accidentally set fire to her home as a child which resulted in everything and everyone she loved to be destroyed or killed.  She gets institutionalized in an insane asylum and is eventually called back to a much more dark and twisted Wonderland.

The reason I mention this game is because Mr. Jace’s stories have a striking resemblance to the concept (but not execution).  In Insanity, Alice Wonder is in an institution for having killed her classmates on a school bus.  There she meets Professor Pillar, a serial killer (a-la Hannibal Lector) who believes that she is “THE” Alice and that he is The Caterpiller from Wonderland.  Together they are trying to stop a Wonderland monster that is in the real world who is brutally killing people, leaving a sewn up grin on their faces.

The story is at turns bizarre, humorous, educational and dark…very much like the real Alice In Wonderland books.

Honestly, I could not put the book down (a rarity for me).  Once finished, I actually wrote a review on Amazon.com…which I seldom do and have never done so for a freebie.  I have since purchased the collection for the first 3 ebooks and will likely buy books 4 and 5 (I think that’s as far as it goes so far).   Honestly, I was afraid to start book 2 since often books that may have been intended to be one-off frequently doesn’t translate well into a series, completely changes the characters or changes the sense of wonder…..so far, I’m happy to report that book 2 “Figment” is every bit as much fun as book 1 although perhaps a bit darker.

 

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The Big Over Easy – Jasper FForde

I’ve already written about Jasper Fforde, so I won’t explain what I know of him again.

I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of his Thursday Next novels and as a new series based on some comments made in the Thursday Next novels…but, don’t be mistaken, this isn’t the same series, although perhaps in the same world.  Never the less, I quite enjoyed the story.

This story is based on the Nursery Crime Division staring detective and family man Jack Spratt who is investigating what may or may not be a crime, a certain ovoid minor celebrity has been found in pieces…literally.  Did he fall to his death off a wall, or was he murdered?  Yes, the down and out Humpty Dumpty has been found dead and the investigation, much like all of Fforde’s novels, takes some seriously twisted and humorous  turns.  Written in much the same manner as Dashel Hammett and others in the genre, this hilarious noir crime novel is one entertaining gem of a story.  Despite the bizarre premise, the pace is fast and consistent with believable characters that you genuinely care for….a talent that, perhaps not uniquely his, is a particular talent of Ffordes.

If you enjoy this, read:

  • The Fourth Bear
  • Or any of Fforde’s other novels

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror – Christopher Moore

I know I’ve written about Christopher Moore before, so I won’t describe him much here other than to say that this story proves that he is one man with a fertile, wickedly funny and weird imagination.

I chose this book to write about merely because it’s getting so close to the Christmas season and frankly, I’ve been dying to do so.  This story has it all, Santa Claus (well someone dressed up as one), murder, betraying, Christmas angels, and zombies, what more could you ask for?

The angel Raziel, last seen in Moore’s “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal“, comes down to Pine Cove (a small coastal California town which is frequently a location in Moore’s novels) to grant one child a Christmas wish.  Raziel is not the sharpest tool in the celestial shed…and when he grants the wish of a small boy (who saw the local land developer dressed up as Santa killed and buried in a shallow grave on a Christmas tree farm a short distance from the town’s cemetery) to not let Santa be dead, he mistakenly resurrects not only “Santa” but all of the dead in the cemetery all of which reek mayhem and death and terror on the towns folk collecting for a Christmas gathering.  Will anyone survive?  Will anyone want to?

This is one of Moore’s funniest (and shortest) books to date and the first of Moore’s books to begin production into a film (although others have been discussed, options sold, etc..).  The films web site is claiming that principal photography is supposed to begin in 2013, they’re kind of running behind if they haven’t at least started.

If you like this, read:

  • Practical Demonkeeping
  • Bloodsucking Fiends
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun
  • The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
  • Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

One For The Money – Janet Evonovich

An American writer whose career is primarily in the genre of romantic contemporary mysteries began her career writing short romance novels under the pen name of Steffie Hall, but, earned fame for her mysteries staring an ex-lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.  The novels are in turns hilarious with a cast of bizarre characters, stranger family and the ever present love triangle between Stephanie, childhood romantic interest Joseph Morelli and mysterious “Batman-like” Cuban-American Ricardo “Ranger” Carlos Manoso who is also a bounty hunter and owner of RangeMan security company.  Stephanie lives alone, well, except for her pet hamster, and works for her creepy cousin, Vincent “Vinnie” Plum who owns the Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. 

One For The Money is the first in the numbered series staring Stephanie Plum and while not the funnies since this is the introduction of her sometime partner “in crime” Lula who is currently a street walker when we first meet her.   That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of laughs though, between Grandma Mazur, Stephanie’s parents, and a slew of other characters.  Don’t get me wrong though, this is not a madcap comedy…under the humor in pretty much the entire series is actual danger, the nastiness of humanity and more close calls, twists and turns than should ever be expected in a book, and series, that is primarily a romance. 

At the time of this writing, there are 20 novels in the numbered series but there are several “specials” which are usually seasonal and written very much like holiday specials for television series and don’t really fit into the normal time lines of the series and include “supernatural” characters, i.e. Christmas Elves, “Sandy Claws”, etc… and usually involves a character named Diesel who literally materializes in front of Stephanie.

If you enjoy this, you will enjoy:

  • Two for the Dough
  • Three to Get Deadly
  • Four to Score
  • High Five
  • Hot Six
  • Seven Up
  • Hard Eight
  • Visions of Sugar Plums
  • To the Nines
  • Ten Big Ones
  • Eleven on Top
  • Twelve Sharp
  • Plum Lovin’
  • Lean Mean Thirteen
  • Plum Lucky
  • Fearless Fourteen
  • Plum Spooky
  • Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
  • Sizzling Sixteen
  • Explosive Eighteen
  • Notorious Nineteen
  • Takedown Twenty (Due out November 19, 2013)

Dating Dead Men – Harley Jane Kozak

Harley Jane Kozak is an American actress and occasional writer, starring in Necessary Roughness, Parenthood, Arachnophobia and several soap operas.  So far, she has written five novels, this being the first (and personally I think the best).

The story centers around Wollie Shelley, a Los Angeles greeting-card artist, who’ love life isn’t quite going to plan.  She’s currently participating in a radio  talk show host’s upcoming book on relationships where she is to date 40 men in 60 days, but, it’s not going well.  On here way to visit her paranoid schizophrenic brother who is institutionalized at a hospital in Rio Pescado, she discovers a dead body.  She believes that her brother may be involved so, to protect her brother, she tries to solve the crime herself and in the process meets small-time crooks and mobsters…the question is are they actually worse than the men she’s been dating?

I’ll admit, the story is somewhat predictable and some of the characters are less than interesting.  The dating scenes are in turns painful and hilarious.  The relationship with her brother though is a shining point and appears to be genuine and well written.

For a first novel though, it’s not horrible.  The problem was that I kept feeling like I was reading a novelization of an “Ellen” episode, the friends, the “I Love Lucy”-like antics; with murder thrown in.  It could have been worse, there’s at least enough interest to keep it readable, I just wouldn’t go out and make an effort to read it again, although oddly enough the Audible.com audio book version is slightly better and well read.

What astonishes me is the fact the book won an Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards.   Like I said, it wasn’t horrible…but, award worthy, perhaps it was a slow year.

Other books by Harley Jane Kozak:

  • Dating is Murder
  • Dead Ex
  • A Date You Can’t Refuse
  • Keeper of the Moon

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

An English writer, humorist and writer of many BBC radio and television pieces, Douglas Adams was head and shoulders above the rest not only in his body of work, but, his shear height (i.e. 6′ 5″).

This book, written after the comedic radio sci-fi piece he wrote for BBC Radio in 1978.  The book is actually rather small at about 180 pages or so and reads very quickly; however, it is jam packed with humor, action, Earth destruction, stolen space ships, space chases, etc…

Arthur Dent is an “every man” who wakes up to find that his house is scheduled for demolition to make way for a freeway bypass.  His friend, Ford Prefect, convinces him to the local pub for several pints of beer where he explains that he’s not from Earth after all but an alien who is desperately trying to get off Earth because it’s scheduled to be demolished….today.  “It must be a Thursday,  I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”.

Arthur and Ford escaping from one frying pan and into another, and into another.  Along the way they meet “Trillian”,  a beautiful fellow Earthling that Arthur once completely failed to hit it off with at a party years earlier and Zaphod Beeblebrox, self-kidnapped, President of the Galaxy who picked Trillian up on a visit to Earth years earlier and who stole the one-of-a-kind space ship the “Heart of Gold”.  They travel the galaxy, time, and still have time for dinner at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe (well, that’s a different story).

Completely irreverent, caring little for any of the sacred cows of the  sci-fi genre that will have you rolling with laughter and amazed that the book is so short.

Highly recommended, this is by far the funniest of the series and has the heaviest sprinkling of footnotes of the books as well (but not to distraction).

If you enjoy this, read:

  • Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • Life, the Universe and Everything
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  • Mostly Harmless
  • And Another Thing… (written by Eoin Colfer)

The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

Beginning his career in the British film industry on such films as Quills, GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, The Saint and Entrapment as the first assistant camera who’s primary responsibility as a member of the film crew is to maintain image sharpness on the filmed subject.  His first novel, the one being reviewed here, is the first to be published.

The Eyre Affair follows the exploits of Thursday Next a member of the SpecOps (Special Operations) 27 (i.e. Literary Crime) division of the police department.  Thursday assists in the capture of her former professor and known terrorist, Acheron Hades.  Acheron evades capture by use of his superhuman abilities allowing him to withstand gunfire and in the process kills Thursday’s entire team.  Thursday would have been dead as well if it weren’t for a copy of Jane Eyre which stopped a bullet.  A stranger helps her while waiting for the paramedics leaving behind a monogrammed handkerchief embroidered with the initials E. F. R. and a 19th century jacket.

Thus begins a fast, action-packed, hilarious adventure spanning the alternate reality in which Thursday lives to the literary world of Jayne Eyre. The story is rife with puns, literary references both commonly known and obscure (or sometimes just forgotten).  The story is a genre-bending mix of Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Procedural, Mystery, Romance, and just about any other type of story imaginable and completely engrossing.

Note: The series is described as actually two series, the first story essentially wrapped up with Something Rotten and the second on-going series beginning with First Among Sequels.

If you enjoy this, try the rest of the ongoing series:

  • Lost in a Good Book
  • The Well of Lost Plots
  • Something Rotten
  • First Among Sequels
  • One of Our Thursday’s is Missing
  • The Woman Who Died a Lot