Tag Archives: Humorous Books

Keeping an Open Mind: A Review of The Watch

The Watch by P.A. Western-Pittard book cover. Image on cover shows a watch face that’s glowing yellow and green. It’s superimposed over a photo of some furniture draped in white sheets. Title: The Watch – An Upfallers Story

Author: P.A. Western-Pittard

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: August 27, 2021

Genres: Fantasy, Humour, Contemporary

Length: 55 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

A Hilarious longish-short story adventure for fans of Terry Pratchett and lovers of quirky fantasy scifi.

In the Temple City of Tarn, no one and nothing is who they seem…

When Julian, a down-on-his-luck acolyte, comes across an ancient watch, he thinks this is exactly what he needs to solve his money problems. But Julian always was an optimistic dreamer. What begins as a seemingly simple stroke of luck soon turns into an adventure where he must find the impossible, or literally die trying.

But considering Julian isn’t much a fan of either dying or trying, this is going to turn out to be harder than he thought.

A longish-short story involving Soap-Bubble-Temples, a quest for ancient warbots and the meanest gunrunner in town, The Watch is a riotous introduction to the world of the Upfallers series.

Review:

The fewer assumptions you make about this novella, the better.

I appreciated the way the narrator repeatedly broke or reimagined many of the most popular tropes of the fantasy genre. Yes, the plot included a quest, but even there the author was discerning about what happened to his character and how they reacted to it. There were multiple times when I was fairly certain I knew what might happen next due to how long I’ve been reading this genre. In most cases, I was completely wrong in a pleasant way. This was my first time reading Mr. Western-Pittard‘s work, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to yet. What I can say is that I was impressed with how he approached the concept of contemporary fantasy, and I’m curious to see if his other works might do the same thing.

Even though the blurb interested me quite a bit, I struggled to remain engaged with the slow pacing of this novella. It spent so much time setting up Julian’s backstory and strengthening the world building that I wished for more action and conflict. This was a pattern that repeated itself after Julian’s adventures with the talking watch began. It read more like the first chapter of a book instead of a self-contained story. I don’t want to make any assumptions about why it was written this way, but the style did interfere with my desire to learn more.

What saved the storyline for me was the wry personality of the watch. If I had to assign a personality to such an item, I would have gone with something much more serious and academic because for some reason my brain assumes that something that was created to keep track of time would probably be staid in general. This is only loosely related to what the author actually came up with, of course, but it was delightful to see how creatively Mr. Western-Pittard approached character development. Playing around with the audience’s assumptions and expectations always grabs my attention, and this is even more true when it’s done as joyfully as it was done here.

This seems to be the introduction to a series, and I believe it is where readers are supposed to begin meeting the characters. I can’t say if the later instalments can be read out of order as I haven’t picked them up yet.

The Watch – An Upfallers Story is a good pick if you’re in the mood for something humorous.

A Review of Dare vs. The Doll

Dare vs the Doll: A not-actually-scary horror short story Kindle Edition by Si Clarke author. Image on cover is a photo of a scruffy little dog looking up with alarm at someone standing next it in rain boots. Title: Dare vs. The Doll – A not-actually-scary horror short story

Author: Si Clarke

Publisher: White Hart Fiction

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

Genres:  Horror, Parody, Humour, Romance, Contemporary

Length: 31 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Who expects a haunted doll to be such a nuisance?

When Dare’s dog discovers an abandoned doll on their doorstep, Dare assumes it’s nothing more than a lost toy… until it begins to talk.

After the doll offers up a string of bad suggestions and unhelpful advice, Dare is left wondering if the isolation of lockdown has finally proved too much.

Struggling to get rid of the bed-tempered toy, Dare has no idea that this not-quite-scary fiend will accidentally change everything.

With a dash of humour, this queer cosy-horror short story is a fun, quirky tale – perfect for readers who like the idea of being scared more than the reality of it.

Review:

Content Warning: One haunted doll. This was also technically set during a Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 or early 2021, but none of the characters were sick or anything during it.

Some problems are much easier to solve than you might think!

Dare was an amazing main character. I will leave it up to readers who have autism to comment on those aspects of this character, but I really enjoyed their matter-of-fact approach to any number of problems, from the sudden appearance of a rainstorm to the probably evil doll that they couldn’t seem to get rid of no matter what they tried. Honestly, Dare was exactly the sort of person I’d hope to have around in an emergency. If only all characters in Horror stories were this sensible and practical!

I would have liked to see the author spend more time on the parody elements of the plot, especially when it came to making fun of how many characters behave at the beginning of horror stories. Those were the best scenes in this short story in my opinion, and I would have loved to have more of them. The author did an excellent job of acknowledging the expectations of that genre while also showing a much more realistic reaction to learning that one’s dog has accidentally brought home a haunted doll. I simply needed more of these elements in order to give this a higher rating due to how important those themes were to the storyline.

The romantic plot twist was as unexpected as it was delightful. I rarely find stories that mix romance and horror together, especially if they’re about Queer characters. This is even more true when I narrow that list down to authors who have done so successfully for me as a reader. They are such wildly different genres that it’s pretty difficult to find the right balance between the lightheartedness of most romance and the heavier themes of most horror, so it was a great deal of fun to see how it happened here.

Dare vs. The Doll made me chuckle.

A Review of The Reluctant Familiar’s Guide to Christmas Tree Defence 

Book cover for The Reluctant Familiar’s Guide to Christmas Tree Defence by Bethany Hoeflich. Image on cover is a photoshopped picture of a cat wearing a Santa hat and sitting next to a Christmas treeTitle: The Reluctant Familiar’s Guide to Christmas Tree Defence

Author: Bethany Hoeflich

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 20, 2020

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 19 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

After a traumatizing pumpkin spice candle accident, Mr. Fluffykins is looking forward to a quiet night curled up under his Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, life has other plans . . .

Review:

What could be better than a cat spending time with his beloved Christmas tree?

The world building was excellent. At one point I paused and tried to figure out if this was part of a series because of how intricately everything was explained to the reader during the fast-paced and exciting plot. While I didn’t find evidence of other books set in this world, I was delighted by how much effort the author put into layering everything together. She couldn’t have done a better job of placing her characters in a setting that was filled with tantalizing details about how it worked that were all filtered through the discerning mind of a cat who loved his humans but was only occasionally interested in the minutia of their magical abilities.

I adored this book’s sense of humour. It was slightly irreverent at times in exactly the way anyone might expect to find from a feline narrator who had strong opinions about how the world should work. I couldn’t stop chuckling as I read it, especially once Mr. Fluffykins was left at home to his own devices and realized his evening wasn’t going to be the restful one he’d been hoping for. His reaction to that scene was as perfectly cat-like as it was just plain hilarious.

Mr. Fluffykins was a relatable and amusing protagonist who I began rooting for immediately. The worse his predicament became, the more I hoped  he’d figure out a way to resolve his conflict peacefully and get back to the catnap he’d been looking forward to all day. Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that made perfect sense in his mind as they were unfolding but that I knew his humans were going to be completely confused about once they returned home. The author did a wonderful job of showing how the same event can be interpreted so differently depending on which point of view one takes. This is even more true during the holidays when many folks are busier than usual!

The Reluctant Familiar’s Guide to Christmas Tree Defence was utterly delightful from the first scene to the final one.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Jolly Jammers (biscuits) lying on a white surface. This week’s prompt was a little ambiguous.

Should I be mentioning lighthearted stories in general even if they touch on sad topics at times?

What about collections of true humorous stories?

Will some people share joke books?

How will everyone else interpret it?

Will Canada ever sell Jolly Jammers and, if so, would they be dairy-free and would I like them? I didn’t even know such a thing existed until I went searching for stock photos of happy faces. These cookies definitely do have happy little faces for sure.

I wish we could all have a quick meeting to see what everyone’s responses would be like. Since that isn’t possible, I went with a mixture of books that I found uplifting and amusing.

1. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

2. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett

3. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

5. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

7.Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)  by Mindy Kaling

8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

9. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

10. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

I will be blogging a review of The Canterville Ghost in January for Vintage Science Fiction Month, so stay tuned!

What Bears Do in the Woods: A Review of The Ursus Verses

The Ursus Versus by Nathan Waddell book cover. Image on cover is of a cartoon bear standing behind a tree stump, peeking out, and waving. Title: The Ursus Versus

Author: Nathan Waddell

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 29, 2020

Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Length: 66 pages

Source: I purchased it.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Do you like bears and black holes and squid monsters and dragons and cowboy dragon slayers and riding your bike all around town looking for something to do? Because that’s what I like and this is my chapbook which captures that spirit of fun and terror and the comfort of a good fun book.
This is the first in a series of chapbooks containing poetry and flash fiction and short stories with themes ranging from those mentioned above to deeper explorations of humanity. But honestly the themes mentioned already are all about that too.

Review:

Now is the perfect time for lighthearted science fiction.

Ordinarily, I’ll pick out a few short stories, poems, or essays from collections like these and share my thoughts about them. There were so many funny themes covered here that I thought it was best to allow other readers to discover them for yourselves without spoilers, especially since the later entries often referenced earlier ones.  All you need to know is that this is heavily based on science, science fiction, fantasy, and mythology. Start at the beginning, relax, and enjoy.

This is the sort of young adult science fiction that easily crosses over into adult audiences. The humour in it is tongue-in-cheek and does rely on a certain amount of understanding of the types of scientific concepts generally taught in high school, but it explains most of them well enough to appeal to preteens who haven’t taken Biology yet or older adults who might have last thought about the Paleozoic era half a century ago. In other words, don’t spend too much time thinking about whether you’re “Young Adult” enough for this collection. If you’re interested, there will almost certainly be something here that appeals to you.

Some of my favourite sections were the ones that relied on puns and jokes. Yes, there were the usual quips about what bears do in the woods, but that was the only the beginning of the many reasons to laugh while reading this collection. Honestly, what could be better than finding the humour in speculative fiction no matter which branch of it the narrator happens to be visiting at the moment? I sure can’t think of many things.

Be sure to read the author’s explanations of why he wrote select pieces of this collection. The explanations are all located at the very end, and it was really interesting to read their backstories.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series. Everything published here was first written about twenty years ago, and Mr. Waddell’s writing style has evolved quite a bit since then. If you want to follow along as he shares that journey, The Ursus Versus the perfect place to start.

Unlikely Gleaning: A Review of Harvest

I’d like to thank Berthold Gambrel for reviewing this book and bringing it to my attention. Title: Harvest – A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch Author: Jason H. Abbott Publisher: Blue Boar Press Publication Date: October 7, 2019 Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical, Holidays Length: 19 pages Source: I received a free copy from the… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl There are two things I really like to read on rainy days: poetry about stormy weather and humorous books. Why does my brain work this way? I have no idea, but it has strong opinions on this topic that I’m going to honour. This week I’m going to be… Read More