Our humour section is filled with books that contain elements of humour, from hints of smiles and smirks through to full on giggles and guffaws. Do bear in mind though, that while some of these books are pure sunshine and glee, along the way you will meet books that contain all the other emotions too. We’ve included novels from romance, crime, and even horror genres, as well as the more obvious humour tales. A writer who can make you smile and cry in the same book even the same paragraph, is to be treasured indeed. We do realise that humour can be very personal, and what makes one person roar with laughter, will only evoke a raised eyebrow in someone else. So, these are novels that we believe contain some form of humour and even if it lurks in the most unlikely of places, it will be waiting for you.
When we go through something impossible, someone, or something, will help us, if we let them . . . It is October 1966 and William Lavery is having the night of his life at his first black-tie do. But, as the evening unfolds, news hits of a landslide at a coal mine. It has buried a school: Aberfan. William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job as an embalmer, and it will be one he never forgets. His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to forget. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because - as William discovers - giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.
Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn't met Death in person - a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen. Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death's scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced - or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated - their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans' fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . .
From fresh new voice Aliya Ali-Afzfal, Would I Lie to You? is a page-turning, warm and funny debut about what happens when you have your dream life - and are about to lose it. At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. She's learned to crack their subtle codes, speak their language of handbags and haircuts and discreet silver watches. You'd never guess, at the glamorous kids' parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that Faiza's childhood was spent following her parents round the Tooting Cash'n'Carry. When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Raising the perfect family comes at a cost - and the money Tom put aside has gone. When Tom's redundancy package ends, Faiza will have to tell him she's spent it all. Unless she doesn't... It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has six weeks to find GBP75,000 before her lie spirals out of control. If anyone can do it, Faiza can: she's had to fight for what she has, and she'll fight to keep it. But as the clock ticks down, and Faiza desperately tries to put things right, she has to ask herself: how much more should she sacrifice to protect her family?
Meet the Gogartys; cantankerous gran Millie (whose eccentricities include a penchant for petty-theft and reckless driving); bitter downtrodden stepson Kevin (erstwhile journalist whose stay-at-home parenting is pushing him to the brink); and habitually moody, disaffected teenage daughter Aideen. When Gran's arrested yet again for shoplifting, Aideen's rebelliousness has reached new heights and Kevin's still not found work, he realises he needs to take action. With the appointment of a home carer for his mother, his daughter sent away to boarding school to focus on her studies and more time for him to reboot his job-hunt, surely everything will work out just fine. But as the story unfolds - and in the way of all the best families - nothing goes according to plan and as the calm starts to descend into chaos we're taken on a hilarious multiple-perspective roller-coaster ride that is as relatable as it is far-fetched. Good Eggs is a heady cocktail of that warmth and wit of Marian Keyes, Caitlin Moran and TV's Derry Girls.
The One Hundred years of Lenni and Margot is so special, it’s gentle yet pointed and warmly amusing as it highlights life within sight and touching distance of death. To celebrate their joint 100 years, 17 year-old Lenni and 83 year-old Margot paint their life stories while in hospital. Singing of friendship, love, and family, we discover how they can all be found in the most unexpected of places. This is Marianne Cronin’s debut novel, and I’ve added her to my list of authors to look out for. While Lenni and Margot are the stars, the other characters add essential energy. She brings these characters to vibrant life with a few perfectly chosen words. The smallest of details matter, in fact are vital. This book is so visual, slipping backwards and forwards in time, snapshots of the years appeared like magic to paint their own picture in my mind. The pages dance with joy and hope, while being realistic about death. I laughed and I cried, yes this novel is emotional, yet it also delivers the most heart-warming hug too. A well-deserved LoveReading Star Book, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot comes with a 'must-read' label of recommendation from me.
The most wonderfully wild, smart, and hugely entertaining novel awaits your reading pleasure. It’s 1946 and Lillian Pentecost and Willowjean Parker find themselves at the circus when one of Will’s friends from her performing days is murdered. I kept a beady eye out for this, the second in the Pentecost and Parker series, as Stephen Spotswood’s debut Fortune Favours the Dead was an absolute delight. I have to say that the cast list alone had me at hello. The circus comes to roaring vividly vivacious life, with the ups and downs of life on the road making the investigation particularly tricky. Little digs and pokes of humour nestle themselves in alongside the social issues of the day. The concerns faced by the residents of the sideshow in particular ensure that while this heads towards cosy crime, it comes with a sharply provocative edge. The writing is so visual, the descriptions come to colourfully dramatic life and as I read, I could see. The cunning ending ensured a resounding round of applause from me, Stephen Spotswood has done it again! A Liz Pick of the Month, and another LoveReading Star Book, Murder Under Her Skin is a charming, darkly amusing, and fabulously stimulating read.
With sharp stinging humour and a bleakly dark plot this is a book to propel thoughts into a confrontational abyss. When Maeve considers changing her relationship with alcohol along with her need to murder men, and can't find the help she requires, she begins a support group for psychopaths. Every time you think Will Carver has pushed reading boundaries as far as he can go, along comes the next book. I’ve read a lot of thrillers and crime books over the years and I don’t think anything has made me flinch as much as this one. Here he took me to the edge of reasonable and with a great big shove sent me sprawling out into the unknown. It’s so deliberate, so combative, and yet it also feels desperately sad too. There were parts of this read that I absolutely flew through, others packed such a punch that I had to take a break before carrying on. The plot not only feels antagonistic, the characters also reach though your thoughts to what lies behind and beneath. Psychopaths Anonymous is so in-your-face it’s almost claustrophobic, it’s also a compulsive and unforgettable reading experience.
Fireworks of both the fractious and romantic kind flare and spark through Ruby Basu’s The Twelve Wishes of Christmas, a sure-fire treat for fans of Heidi Swain and Sarah Morgan. Feeling a telling mix of “excitement and slight sense of unease… ever since she found out she’d be spending Christmas in the quintessential small US town of Pineford”, 30-year-old Sharmila has been given a somewhat unusual gift by her late friend Thomas. First up, a free trip to spend the festive season in the picturesque place he grew up in. Secondly, as she only discovers later, the chance to inherit Thomas’ Holly House estate, should she manage to complete the list of festive tasks he’s set her. Enter Zach, Thomas’ nephew, who knows about the inheritance long before Sharmila does, and is doggedly determined to stop it from happening: “Trust me on this, Lucas. She’s an opportunist. She doesn’t know about the inheritance yet, but maybe she was disappointed all Thomas left her was this all expenses-paid trip. I bet she was expecting something more for her efforts”. Then, little by little, as Pineford glows with snow and sparkling lights, so Sharmila and Zach feel the glow of something neither of them were expecting.
From betrayal and a broken heart, to heart-warming blossoming romance (with jingling bells on), Katie Ginger’s The Perfect Christmas Gift might just be the perfect self-gift for fans of light-hearted rom-coms. To take the lyrics of the Neighbours theme tune to the next level, this feel-good festive story reveals that neighbours can become a whole lot more than just “good friends”. Primary school teacher Bella is a huge fan of the festive season - “the excitement of the end-of-term play, posting Christmas cards into the little post box made out of cardboard in the corner of the classroom, making decorations during wet play.” Beyond the school gates, Bella adores the festive ambience of her rural Kent village, and can’t believe her good fortune to have a home in such an idyllic spot, with a devoted boyfriend at her side: “How did she get so lucky?” she muses. As the saying goes, pride (even a small dose) often comes before a fall, and Bella is in for a pretty big fall when said devoted boyfriend announces he’s leaving her for another woman. As a result, broken-hearted Bella throws herself into village life, coming up with the idea of a community Christmas giving tree, with cute single dad Nick on hand to help. While the path of Bella and Nick’s budding romance doesn’t exactly run smooth, fans of feel-good fiction are in for a readable (and sometimes rocky) ride that’s big on romance and festive fizz.
If you’re looking for some festive sparkle, teasing romance, and a gorgeous setting then hello, you can stop right here. A fortune teller tells three friends they will meet the love of their life by Christmas, each scoffs and moves on while the prediction lingers in their minds. While I adore a beautifully written romance at any time of the year, there is something really special about cosying up with one at Christmas. Phillipa Ashley takes the beauty of Cornwall, the energy of a rock and roll dance group, and the atmosphere of a boat yard cafe then creates a scrumptious love story. The characters feel entirely real and pop with vitality, friendship also plays an important role. The plot again has that authentic edge, where you remain a firm part of the tale as it sings along. A Special Cornish Christmas is a truly lovely treat and I’ve chosen it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month for December.
A fabulously perfect festive read that delivers oodles of heartwarming charm. This could easily be read as a standalone novel, but I do recommend starting with Happiness for Beginners as Christmas for Beginners continues the lovely story of Molly and Hope Farm. When I read the first few sentences: “One of the alpacas has eaten the Baby Jesus. I’m not sure which one. Frankly they all look the picture of innocence, but I know them better.” I knew I was in for a treat of a read. Carole Matthews takes the ‘up’ in uplifting and elevates it to a whole new level. She doesn’t shy away from the aches and pains of real life and it is this that makes her books so relatable. The characters of the farm animals ensure they sit front and centre, often eclipsing their human counterparts. Even here, in the middle of a freezing cold farm yard you can also discover humour, hugs, and merrymaking. Carole Matthews really is the most beautifully consistent writer and we just had to pop this into our LoveReading Star Books category. Christmas for Beginners is an absolute gift of a book and comes as highly recommended by me.
From reading the synopsis, you wouldn’t think ‘Post-Midnight Blues’ by Rae Toonery would be filled with humour, one aspect of the book that really stood out to me was it’s witty back and forth, albeit in his mind, between Heathcliffe and his owner Con. Clearly affected by a workplace incident, Con has retreated into herself, not straying far from her caravan until darkness falls, with her dog Heathcliffe and friend Sandeep her only companions. This story is full of heart, and I found that the characters were really well constructed, unique and likeable. Con is relatable and it was very easy to form a connection to her and want her to work through her troubles. Sandeep is a caring and empathetic friend Heathcliffe is always there to break up any serious moment with his wry thoughts and requirements. There seems to be so much covered in a relatively small number of pages, I was able to whiz through it in one sitting. ‘Post-midnight Blues’ is a heart-warming tale of redemption with a bittersweet ending. It’s a book that will make you smirk while also bringing a tear to your eye and the characters will stay with you for a while after you’ve finished reading.
Parody to the point of farce at times, ‘Divine's Choice’ by Alastair Carthew sees Queen Liliana’s struggle to keep her Saxe-Coburg and Gotha royal lineage, and the Commonwealth in tact while her daughter and heir Princess Divine, falls for a farmer with his own elite heritage; connections and aspirations to join the All Blacks Rugby team. The plotline picks apart the different challenges that face a modern British monarchy, as well as presenting a parody of the emphasis and importance we can place on sporting rivalries, and the pedestals sporting figures and teams are put on. The characters throughout the book are all lively and interesting, each with their own quirks such as Queen Liliana’s penchant for “roll-your-own” cigarettes, or Filip’s striking Viking helmet or disturbing but comical refusal to wear anything under his kilt (or underwear in general). ‘Divine’s Choice’ is an entertaining saga of ridiculous events that leaves the reader wondering throughout whether Divine will choose to marry for love or for country, and what the actions of the scheming secondary characters will mean for Proud, formerly New Zealand. I liked how the book combines actual history with fiction, the incorporation of political and sporting figures amongst Divine and Joshua’s story as well as the integration of New Zealand and Maori culture into the narrative. I also found the book’s insight into Republicanism and the Commonwealth as a whole quite poignant in its own way as, at the time of writing, we’ve just seen Barbados become a Republic. I think that this would be an enjoyable read for those who enjoy satire, parodies and tumultuous family dramas.
Featuring notable characters from the Kinloch fishing community of Denzil Meyrick's much-loved DCI Daley thrillers, A Toast to the Old Stones is an essential standalone story for fans of the series. With the seasonal setting and attractive hardback format making it a great gift to curl up with on Boxing Day, it’s also likely to entice new readers to discover the novels. Denzil Meyrick sure knows how to conjure details of character and place that keep readers invested in knowing what happens next, and those skills are very much on display in this atmospheric tale, alongside the author’s trademark humour. With the 12th January New Year celebrations approaching, the fishermen of Kinloch are readying themselves for their annual pilgrimage to the Auld Stones, with youngster Hamish over the moon to be invited to partake in the tradition, given that this honour is usually bestowed on the oldest fishermen. Then, as the new owners of Firdale Hotel create a stink by increasing their whiskey prices, with a plan to circumvent them all but ruined by a tip-off, the appearance of a “man from another realm, from another time” further adds to the intrigue.
It has been 15 years since award-winning Finnish copywriter Tuomainen launched his career as an author and in that time he has delighted readers and critics with 6 books that have seen him hailed by The Times as “the funniest writer in Europe,” and “the King of Helsinki Noir” by the Finnish press. It’s hard to really capture and express just how brilliant this man’s writing is, but imagine, if you will, Ian Rankin’s gift for crime thrillers channelled through the skew-wiff comic genius of Christopher Brookmyre, or to put it another way, think of Carl Hiaasen in thermals, Mukluks and a big, down parka for, yes, he is that good. To even think that there might be a tale to be told of a staid insurance actuary inheriting a problematic adventure park takes courage. To then be able to grip readers' imaginations for three hundred pages, to make them laugh so hard they soak the pages of the book by squirting tea from their nose and then make them weep so fiercely that the tears trickle down their thighs, takes huge talent. But there is also nigh-on writing genius here as, woven into what is essentially a crime thriller, albeit a raucous, rip-roaring comic one, is a genuine sense of pathos, a real understanding and expression of human frailties, the random doubts and failures, that make The Rabbit Factor such a wonderfully engaging and enduringly humane read. Be in no doubt, this is quality, top drawer, writing and storytelling of the sort that makes you feel good to be alive and oh-so-grateful to be literate.
Offering a huge burst of escapism this romantic comedy from the winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2019 skates along with attitude. When Clem’s identity is stolen she is determined to foil the thief, along the way with her life thrown up in the air, Clem discovers friendship and romance in unexpected places. The synopsis describes Clem’s adventure as a: “madcap quest”, which perfectly expresses how I felt about this reading journey. 30 year old Clem is an irrepressible, unstoppable, somewhat rebellious woman and at times I sat open-mouthed as she charged into danger. Natalie Cox (a pseudonym) co-owns a bookshop in London and has two Great Danes, which sounds like a perfect combination to me! A large dog called Charlie Bucket rather steals the show in It Takes Two, and several friendships bloom into being while romance flirts along. Friendship (which comes in many guises) was for me a really successful part of this entertaining novel. Incredibly easy to fall into and read, It Takes Two is a bouncy, occasionally bonkers, fun-filled romantic comedy with gumption.
'Tis the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and magic under the mistletoe... Flora loves Christmas more than anything else in the world, so she's gutted when her Scrooge-alike boss fires her from Deck the Halls Christmas emporium. But now she finally has a chance to follow her dreams - and what better place to start than the home of Christmas? Before she can say 'sleigh bells', Flora's on her way to Lapland in a campervan-cum-Christmas-shop. She can't wait to spend her days drinking hot chocolate and taking reindeer-drawn carriage rides, but something Flora didn't expect was meeting Connor, a Norse god of a man who makes her heart flutter and snowflakes swirl in her stomach. There's just one problem: Connor hates Christmas. Can Flora convince Connor of the joys of Christmas - and will she find a festive romance along the way? The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Debbie Johnson, Holly Martin and Jenny Colgan.
Available in Hardback Paperback and Kindle. A pacy espionage thriller, with a science fiction twist and a whole squad of strong female characters. ‘Killing Queens’ by Raechel Sands introduces us to Nearby, an MI6 intelligence officer who tells the reader about her connections and experiences with other agents she calls, the Black Queen, the White Queen and the Red queen. In a world of MI6, spies and modification to make “purple blood” super-assassins, this is the first of the Killing Queens saga. The Irish dialect used by Nearby to tell this story seems authentic although it sometimes seems to seep into the perspectives of the other characters, which I found a little jarring. I loved the author’s use of imagery throughout, “stopped with the sound of snow coming to rest” was a particular favourite. The author certainly manages to pack a lot into the book, even creating and referencing a playlist that can be listened to in accompaniment. This is a detailed story that combines noir, espionage, adventure and satire; those that enjoy the irreverence of Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’ will find similar characters here. The plot switches between past and present in order to include all three of the queens in the story, providing the reader with backstory while also continuing the action. The author has done well to structure the book so that you can follow the characters and the timelines without getting lost. One slight niggle I do have about the structure is the use of footnotes. I personally prefer any information that’s vital to the plot to be woven through it, not tagged on as a footnote, and would have preferred to not be pulled out of the action to read additional and potentially unnecessary explanations. ‘Killing Queens’ is an interesting story with a cast of strong female characters. This is an entertaining book for someone looking for a slightly unconventional action and espionage thriller with a sci-fi/fantasy twist and filled with dark humour.
It's the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He's made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn't bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?
Three stories, one life. ‘Certified’ by Roger Wilson-Crane details one man’s life by three important milestones: birth, marriage and death. I liked the writing style in this book, it reads almost like an autobiography but even though it is inspired by true events, it is a piece of fiction. The author does well to get a sense of each of the characters across succinctly without taking a detour away from the events of the plot. Taking us through some of the bizarre occurrences of family life, the author deftly offers humour one minute and handles sensitive issues the next. The entertaining stories within ‘Certified’ are told in a way that’s relatable and anyone who grew up in a small village will be able to remember or reflect on their own limited options pub crawl or Big Mac. Each story within this book has its own focus, yet sets up and provides some detail for the others. Although each story is separated and has its own chapter structure, I would still regard this book as one fluid narrative. ‘Certified’ is an entertaining family history that covers love, loss and life with humour and a deft hand. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
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