Posts Tagged ‘humour’

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

This is the first book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, a series about Nathaniel,a young magician’s apprentice, and the djinni (Bartimaeus) he summons, initially for a spot of personal vengeance and then, in the way of these things, to try to sort things out when he ends up way out of his depth.

This book will definitely appeal to Harry Potter fans but has a very different tone; darker and with more humour. The point of view switches between Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, and the djinni’s chapters definitely stand out. He’s self-serving, sarcastic and the footnotes cracked me up. His chapters reminded me a lot of the Discworld books. Nathaniel’s chapters aren’t narrated by him but do move the story along and are often where the action is. There’s magic, demons, really bad guys and a huge adventure.

Recommended, especially if you need a giggle.

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The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss

This is a book I’ve had my eye on, on and off, for a while now. The title and cover grabbed me initially, and it sounded like the kind of twisted humour I quite like, but for some reason I’d never got round to it. Recently it became part of the Library Backlog (which has become large enough to warrant being a proper noun I feel).

It took me a while to get into this book, possibly because I’m having concentration issues at the moment. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would but it certainly wasn’t a bad start to a series, and by the end I was convinced to look for the others.

This is the start of a series about Lucifer Box, a British spy at the end of the last century. He’s certainly and interesting character – vain, arrogant, a bit of a cad but fairly heroic despite himself. In this adventure (and it’s definitely an adventure) he finds himself investigating the murders of a number of professors of vulcanology.

You do need a particular type of sense of humour to appreciate the book I think, but luckily mine is a bit warped. It doesn’t just rely on the humour though – you do end up quite liking Lucifer, and the actual mystery is well written and, if not quite believable, coherent enough to draw you in and work well in the context of this particular character. It’s a fun read, and I’m looking forward to Lucifer’s further adventures.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I’ve never read this, but saw it on TV with a friend when I was in my teens. I don’t remember much about it other than “I saw something nasty in the woodshed” but I do remember enjoying it immensely, so picked it up at the library.

Flora Poste’s parents die when she is 19, leaving her only a modest income. After staying with a friend for a while she decides on a plan; she will write to all of her relatives and ask to live with them for a while. She chooses to stay with the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm, and sets about generally busybodying and fixing things.

I suspect I’ll be buying my own copy, and probably the DVD as well. The book is similar in some ways to Northanger Abbey but I enjoyed this much more. The characters were more engaging; still larger than life, and the book was still a parody, but I never actually wanted to slap any of them. Flora should be quite annoying but somehow she never is, and she definitely had more about her than Susan in Northanger Abbey. It was a very comforting (and fairly short) read, and very funny. Where else would you find cows called Pointless, Aimless, Graceless and Feckless? Definitely recommended.

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Philips

This book is about the Greek gods who are still around, and living in London, but are growing increasingly weak, and what happens when two perfectly ordinary mortals manage to change things for them.

I immediately liked the premise of this book and wasn’t disappointed when I read it. It’s a fairly light, fluffy read, and Neil Gaiman covers a similar topic in a much meatier way in American Gods. Having said that I don’t think this novel was meant to be similar and I enjoyed it for what it was, plus I’m much more familiar with the mythology surrounding these gods than I was with those Gaiman wrote about so I got more of a kick out some of the jokes and references.

The gods are painted well I think – they’re very spoiled and childish in some ways, as most of us probably would be if we’d had to share the same house with the same people for thousands of years. The love story is very chick-lit, but I’m quite partial to that. The book is fun and enjoyable, great weekend reading when your week has been as busy as mine was!

The Naked Jape by Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves

Another non-fiction book so I’m not doing too badly with that goal.

This book is an exploration of humour and, specifically, jokes. It’s a good overview of a subject that I don’t think anyone’s ever really got to grips with and covers history, psychology and contemporary politics, among other things. Each chapter follows a particular theme, and at the end there are a few pages of jokes illustrating that theme. A nice touch is that there’s also a joke at the bottom of each page.

This is kind of a short review, which is no reflection on the quality of the book. As my degree was in psychology it did cover some familiar ground but nevertheless kept me interested (and amused), and I learned some new stuff too which is always good! Recommended.

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

I think I picked this up because it was recommended on one of those “if you like this you might also like…” things on either Amazon or Library thing.

It’s set in the fictional town of Pine Cove, California. Travis travels there with Catch, the man-eating demon he accidentally found himself saddled with and is desperately trying to get rid of. All kinds of silliness ensues.

I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but I think maybe I wasn’t really in the right mood for it. It was a good read, funny and entertaining but with a storyline as well so it doesn’t just hang on the jokes. I don’t know why I never really felt absorbed in the book because there’s nothing about it that I shouldn’t have liked more, but having said all that I did enjoy it.

I will be looking up some of his other books before I work out whether to stick with the author but I think I probably will.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

I read this because it was the first of my book club reads, and also because it’s been sitting waiting for me to read it for a long time for no particular reason.

Set in a fictional version of Reading the book is a murder mystery. Detective Jack Spratt and his partner Mary Mary of the Nursery Crimes Division are trying to solve it, under pressure to produce a publishable mystery story at the same time. This is the first of a series in which two have so far been published, and the only one of them I’ve read to date (though I’ve owned the other one for a while as well and it will be picked up this year).

I enjoyed this too – it was a light, fun read and it’s funny throughout. The ending is convoluted but not too difficult to follow and you’re very much on Jack Spratt’s side throughout. There are numerous nursery rhyme references and a number of affectionate digs at the detective novel/TV show. On the whole I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Thursday Next series, which are among my favourite books ever, but it’s still very good.