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Our new humour section is filled with books with elements of humour. Books that will make you laugh, chortle and chuckle as you read.
A sharp and smart debut novel, containing real heart (both ache and joy). 25 year old Queenie is on a break from her boyfriend, can’t concentrate at work, and is having a hard time balancing her life. Feeling trapped as she moves in with her grandparents, she soon finds her life closing down. Within a few pages I was settled in my chair and didn’t budge as I read this in one wonderfully heady sitting. Popping backwards and forwards in time Candice Carty-Williams opens a doorway into Queenie’s soul. She created a connection for me to reach out and touch and I felt as though I had become a part of Queenie’s life. I was there with her as things went wrong, wanted to reassure, vent, be there to support her. There are parts that tiptoed across my awareness, spiking stray thoughts. Elsewhere is raw and unflinching making my senses burn, before a moment later I was tipped into a sunshiny smile and chortle. Big bad life in all its pain and glory stamps across the page and Candice Carty-Williams writes about relationships, race, and mental health with one heck of an accomplished pen. I just have so much love for Queenie the novel, and Queenie the character, she has to be one of our LoveReading Star Books. Highly recommended. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he's facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations. Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral for all the wrong reasons; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and - the most serious problem of all - their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He's a smart kid, but socially awkward and not fitting in. Fortunately, Don's had a lifetime's experience of not fitting in. And he's going to share the solutions with Hudson. He'll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world's best cocktail bar. Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life's obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking. If you liked The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, then you'll love The Rosie Project series.
A smirky, fabulously quirky, poignant novel and an absolute joy to read. It is 1980, Lizzie is 18, she starts a new job working for a dentist, moves into her own flat, and thinks she may have got herself a boyfriend (but isn’t entirely sure). Lizzie is a total delight, her courage, spirit and pithy observations mix into a heady cocktail alongside her apprehension and doubt. The other characters are beautifully realised in their own right, every utterance perfectly placed, it is difficult to pick just one out as when I called them forward in my mind, they clambered over each in a riot of energy. Nina Stibbe excels in the small, in fact the incy wincy details that are so beautifully observed you didn’t know they were missing until you read them, and could see and feel the entire picture. The understanding of human frailty and poignancy of human absurdity is so wonderfully explored. There is something compelling about the writing that lodged in my mind, and took up residence in my heart. I snorted (yes actually snorted) out loud with laughter and while heartache and break is never far away, thoroughly loved every word of Reasons To Be Cheerful which earns it one of my picks of the month… it’s just gorgeous!
After a brief introduction by Carole Matthews into the book’s background, narrator Emma Powell introduces us to the main character Molly Baker – an ex-teacher who now runs a farm for children with specific needs. Or in Molly’s own words, the farm is open to ‘bewildered, damaged and troubled animals and humans’. The book is written (and therefore narrated) in the first person. I felt as though I was listening to a good friend chatting about her life – her run-down farm, her difficult childhood and her lovable animals. It all seemed very personal, especially as Molly is funny and witty, down to earth and full of heart. She describes everything around her so well that I could visualise it, including ‘clouds drifting across the blue sky’. Hope Farm is filled with animals, from naughty goats and angry sheep to the diva alpacas – and for me, the animals are the main stars of the show. The supporting human cast felt very real too, especially moody teenage tearaway Luke who is grieving for his mother and craving his celebrity father’s attention. Happiness for Beginners would make an enjoyable holiday read, with its satisfying happy ending. The chapters are short – most range from around three minutes to 10 minutes, so they are easy to fit into a busy (or lazy) spring or summer’s day. As expected, there is plenty of romance alongside heart-warming moments and amusing animal antics. There’s also a farm at risk of demolition to provide land for a high-speed train line. If you’re having a bad day and need a book to give you a hug, this is definitely one for you!
What a lovely, charming, friendly read this is, an enticing ‘will they, won’t they’ romance is equally matched by the story of animals in need and children requiring an alternative learning environment. Molly Baker runs her beloved farm as a school, when a new student arrives, Molly’s life is turned thoroughly upside down and in to a roundabout spin. I adored the explanation at the beginning of the novel by Carole Matthews that Hope Farm is based on the real Animal Antiks Farm. The first sentence had me chortling and I settled further down into the comfort of my sofa to enjoy the read. Molly tells her own story, I could really hear her voice and her personality shines through. Can I say that the animals very nearly steal the show for me, having had a downright grumpy (read that as flesh tearing vampire) rescue cat myself, their individual quirks made me smile. ‘Happiness for Beginners’ is entertaining, heart-warming and ever so readable, I raced through in one sitting and enjoyed every second.
First Rhyme Mum is an entertaining journey through pregnancy and early motherhood - it made me laugh and reminisce. There are 40 poems in the book - all are fun, relatable and (mainly) humorous, covering wide-ranging topics that you wouldn’t usually expect to find in poetic form, such as needing a wee, a mother’s ‘baby brain’, the job description of motherhood, night shifts and ‘to-do lists’. The poems contain acute observations of everyday life and are varied and very well written, combining simple words to create powerful imagery. I could sense the emotion behind each poem - the excitement yet worry of the 40 weeks of pregnancy and the exhaustion and elation once baby arrives, all bound together by a mother’s love. I was particularly impressed by how the author fits so much descriptive language into each poem while still ensuring that each one manages to give a sense of rhythm and rhyme (even if this doesn’t always match exactly). It reminded me of some of Pam Ayres’s poems, with its sense of humour and laugh-out-loud moments. The book is easy to dip in and out of - each poem is short enough to slot into a few minutes during a busy day. It’s a lovely gift for new parents to remind them that they’re not alone and that others are going through the same emotional ups and downs. It also has wider-ranging appeal, as it reminded me of my own pregnancy experiences and made me chuckle as I recalled stories of early parenthood (my children are now in their mid to late teens). My only regret is that the book ended too soon, but fortunately there are more books on their way.
A group of Derry friends are on the giddy verge of the rest of their lives. While much of their energy is expended on the opposite sex, smoking, drinking and hanging out at the Cave, their collective coming-of-age plays out against a backdrop of The Troubles - the hunger strike in Belfast prison, rioters on the streets of their petrol-scented city – and a soundtrack that includes post-punk visionaries like Joy Division, Gang of Four and Siouxsie and the Banshees. There aren’t many opportunities for any of the group, especially the girls among them, and so as the strike continues, and the violence escalates, and one of their friends is killed, Christy and Paddy take an irrevocable course of action. This multi-narrative novel is - by turns - humorous, hard-hitting, poignant and plentiful in period detail (music, clothes, poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity for the working class). A distinct and powerful debut.
Oh I did enjoy More Than A Feeling, it gathered me up in smirks, love, and friendship. Annie finds herself exploring her past when her current life throws an unexpected spanner in the works. The prologue introduces the Annie from five years previously, a photographic assistant in the fashion world, she is bold, upbeat, and really knows how to party, then something awful happens, and we start chapter one back in the present day. Cate Woods opens up feelings and heartache allowing intimate access, I joined the group, supporting, giggling, caring about Annie and her friends. I have to admit I did on more than one occasion wince as certain decisions were made, and as I read, almost wanted to cover my eyes while simultaneously desperate to gallop through the pages so I could find out what happened. Delivering an amusing burst of energy More Than A Feeling is a feel-good read with a gorgeous squeeze of optimism and romance.
You don’t have to be a Mummy to read this, or in fact to absolutely adore it. I am not a member of the Mummy club, yet I laughed hard, I smirked, I felt the pain, and the love too. This is set over a year in the life of frustrated mum Ellen, who has an eleven and a nine year old (oh and a husband and dog who convincingly add to the chaos). I would imagine there will be parents breathing a huge sigh of relief as they think, ‘I’m glad it’s not just me’. Just in case you aren’t keen, yes there is a fair bit of swearing, including some fantastically imaginative pairing of words that I definitely want to remember. Gill Sims keeps the tone light and bright, yet the pressure of balancing work and children can definitely be felt. I feel as though Ellen could be my friend, I could hear her voice as clearly as anything as I read. I actually could have been on the phone to Ellen, with her offloading her woes (while I tried unsuccessfully to stop snorting with laughter). I simply raced through ‘Why Mummy Swears’, it is a knockout read, great fun, full of empathy, and highly entertaining.
While this anthology’s theme may sound niche, its appeal and scope is universal. Indeed, it’s underpinned by fundamental age-old questions: “What does compel someone to leave their country of origin, which is the story before their departure? And then what happens to them on their journey to the new place, which is the story of getting from one place to another? And what causes them to finally land somewhere and decide to stay, if not for the rest of their lives, then for an extended period?” The answers to such questions are voiced here by twenty women whose stories are vary vastly, with contributors hailing from places as diverse as Lebanon, Scotland, France, Germany, the USA, Mozambique, Spain, Brazil and more countries besides. Together their stories constitute a fascinating chorus of experiences borne from the author’s enrollment in an organisation created to help newcomers “feel at home in this beautiful country,” her desire to chronicle female oral history, and a belief in the human need for agency. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
A quirky, smirky, entertaining slice of fabulous. Covert ops detective Jan Nyman finds himself investigating a death in a holiday village in Finland and a rather striking lady just happens to be the suspect. I will admit to being rather excited about this novel, Antti Tuomainen’s last offering was the wonderful The Man Who Died which was shortlisted for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. The first paragraph of Palm Beach, Finland is beautifully written, it quite literally slapped my attention and I settled in with something approaching ghoulish glee! A wonderful wave of dark humour rolls through this novel gathering raised eyebrows and snorts. The cast increases, the action builds, and oh how my tummy and mind tied themselves in knots as the story spun in ever decreasing eccentric circles. I just want to applaud David Hackston as I completely forgot I was reading a translation. I thoroughly, completely and totally recommend Palm Beach, Finland, do grab yourself a copy and pop a do not disturb sign on your door!
**The brand new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book is out now!** The 13th hilarious book in Jeff Kinney's bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. When snow shuts down Greg Heffley's middle school, his neighbourhood transforms into a wintry battlefield. Rival groups fight over territory, build massive snow forts, and stage epic snowball fights. And in the crosshairs are Greg and his trusty best friend, Rowley Jefferson. It's a fight for survival as Greg and Rowley navigate alliances, betrayals, and warring gangs in a neighbourhood meltdown. When the snow clears, will Greg and Rowley emerge as heroes? Or will they even survive to see another day? With millions of books sold around the world in 65 editions and 56 languages, Wimpy Kid has turned millions of kids into readers.
Read, Learn & Laugh!