Newest Humour Reviews

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Doctor Who: Now We Are Six Hundred: A Collection of Time Lord Verse (Dr Who) by James Goss and Russell T Davies

4.5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

Consider the Doctor. Just how many birthday and Christmas gifts must he have to hand out each year, were he to keep in touch with even half of his companions? He would certainly need a few novelty gifts for some of them, say, for example, whimsical books of verse that pithily encapsulate the life of a Time Lord and that of some of his friends and enemies. As luck would have it, he has the space in his TARDIS to stock up in advance, so my advice to him – sorry, her – would be to pop along to his local Earth-based book emporium and get himself ready. And if you're working on a shorter timescale, with a shorter lifespan, and thinking perhaps just one gift season ahead, well my advice is pretty much the same. Full review...

Conversations with Kammie by Annie Ingram

4star.jpg Pets

It was something of a relief when I encountered Annie Ingram and her cocker spaniel Kammie. You see, Annie knows something which has been self-evident to me for a long time: dogs are perfectly capable of communicating with humans and not just on a level of food!, walk! or play!. You do require extensive training to become fluent, but most dogs will be perfectly willing to give their time to teach you and all you have to do is listen. Annie has studied hard: Kammie has trained her well and the pair have allowed us to share some of their conversations. Full review...

The Breaking of Liam Glass by Charles Harris

3star.jpg Crime

A flawed but reasonably entertaining swipe at modern media. There's plenty here to like, and plenty not to. But good structure and scramjet pace keep this one flying to the final page. Full review...

Ten Dead Comedians: A Murder Mystery by Fred Van Lente

4star.jpg Humour

Nine comedians are invited to a remote Caribbean island under the guise of working with Dustin Walker, a comedic legend. Each fits neatly into one of the archetypal comic stereotypes: Steve, the washed-up has-been who has fallen far from his early days; Zoe, the rising female star with a new stand-up special coming soon; Dante, who went from being a kid on the streets to the hardest working road comic in the business; Oliver, the child-like prop comic who can't get any respect from his peers; Janet, the insult comic who is past her prime; TJ, the nightly variety show host with a reputation for harassing his female colleagues and guest acts; Ruby, the ultra-feminist YouTuber and Blogger with a chip on her shoulder; and William, whose redneck character Billy the Contractor is a far cry from his real personality as a posh millionaire. Of course, all nine agree because when God almighty walks down on a beam of light and asks for your help, what the hell else are you going to say? Full review...

Elizabeth, William... and Me by S Lynn Scott

4.5star.jpg Humour

Ally is an ordinary woman with teenage children, a husband and a job. Then comes the day when ordinariness flies out of the window. It's not a coincidence that it's the same day she finds Queen Elizabeth I in the pantry and the Bard of Avon in her bath. What's she going to do? Well, Elizabeth and Will have their own ideas about that! Full review...

The Surgeon's Case: George Kocharyan Mystery 2 by E G Rodford

4star.jpg Crime

In the second instalment of this series, Private Investigator George Kocharyan has been hired by a well-known local man to track down some missing valuables. Bill Galbraith, a world-famous surgeon at Cambridge's Addenbrooke's Hospital who hosts a popular medical television programme, has had his briefcase stolen by his live-in domestic servant, Aurora. According to Galbraith, this briefcase contains confidential notes concerning an important patient of his at the hospital. George agrees to look into the theft, assuming it will be a relatively easy and straightforward case – little does he know, he's about to enter a world of deceit and dysfunction. Full review...

Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan

5star.jpg Women's Fiction

As predicted by Caroline and Janice's mother on Caroline and Henry's wedding day, their marriage is over, albeit 15 years and two daughters further along than predicted. Indeed, this is definitely not a good weekend for Janice to be babysitting at Caroline's house. There's the split and the awkwardness of the girls' schoolteacher being the other woman for a start. Then there's that mistaken identity moment involving the neighbours. At least Janice is well adjusted and over her ex-husband Alec. She still dreams of him, yes, but it's so over! Just as well really… guess who's at the door? Full review...

The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor

4.5star.jpg Travel

Meet the Isles of Scilly. (I know they should be called that – the author provides a handy guide to the etiquette of their name, their nature and location, etc.) For our more distant readers, they're several chunks of granite rock out in the Atlantic, where Cornwall is pointing, with just 2,200 permanent residents. They're big on tourism, and big on growing flowers in the tropical climate the Gulf Stream bequeaths them – although the weather is bad enough to turn any car to a rust bucket within years. They're so wee, and so idyllic-seeming, especially at night, you can be mistaken for thinking there would be no need for a police presence. But there is – at least two working at any one time. And one of them in recent years has been Colin Taylor, who has done his official duty – alongside maintaining a well-known online existence, which has brought to life all the whimsical comedy of his work. Full review...

'Twas the Fight Before Christmas: A Parody by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees

3.5star.jpg Humour

It's Christmas Eve and Mum has arranged everything. All she now has to do is await the arrival of the relatives and the food shopping delivery. Little does Mum know that those two elements alone have the potential to ruin everything. Full review...

Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North

3.5star.jpg Humour

For all those who think tragedy plots are too restricted and prescribed, read on. In these pages you too will see that Romeo had lots of options en route to hitting the bottle. Likewise, she could have turned away from her predestined path at no end of junctures. And to what result? Well, happy marriage and a kid called Ben, because the leads have just banged people's heads together and stopped the quarrelling, or Death by Tybalt (him) or a long life running an establishment curing murderous women, such as a Lady M (her). Full review...

The Virgin Mary's Got Nits by Gervase Phinn

4.5star.jpg Humour

Christmas in our house is the time we tend to get on a plane and head to either sun or snow, anywhere that is far, far away from the madness at home, last minute dashes to the shops on Christmas Eve, and food cupboard stockpiles that would imply supermarkets are shutting for a month, nor a mere 36 hours. But I do remember the feeling of Christmas when I was younger, back when it was magical, and back when you knew exactly what the season would bring with carol concerts and school nativities and Christmas parties. This book is an anthology of those moments, and it took me right back to the wonder of Christmas as a child. Full review...

Shoot by Kieran Crowley

4star.jpg Crime

I make something of a habit of being late to discover good writers, in this case getting to Crowley after he is no longer with us. The result is that what is billed as an F.X. Shepherd mystery with all the optimism of there being more to come has the poignancy of being, if not the last of a short line, certainly one of a few. F.X. Shepherd – he doesn't like his first name and prefers just "Shepherd" is, technically, a columnist. He's been sacked by one New York newspaper and is writing a weekly column for another. I don't know much about journalism, but I'm guessing one column a week doesn't pay much as a rule…which explains why Shepherd's soap-washed-foul-mouthed editor (read the book, you'll see what I mean) expects him to turn in some genuine journalism as well: front page, seat of your pants stuff. Full review...

The First Ever Christmas: And Who to Blame by Gray Jolliffe

5star.jpg Humour

If I tell you a secret, will you promise not to tell anyone? Well, I really don't like Christmas: it's my least favourite time of year and whilst some people count down to the day itself, I look forward to that point when I can say that it's all over for another year. It's all too commercialised for me, with a coating of faux religion. I've never found it in the least funny - that is, until I found Gray Jolliffe's The First Ever Christmas: And Who's to Blame. Amazingly, I'd never encountered Gray Jolliffe either, but I'm a convert to his skills as a cartoonist (if not to the idea of Christmas) after reading this collection of Christmas-themed cartoons from his archive. Full review...

Pugh's New Year's Resolutions by Jonathan Pugh

4.5star.jpg Humour

If there's one thing that's for certain, it's that the world is changing. We're dating online, we're communicating in ways that make email seem redundant, and when we're shopping we just tell a website where and when it can be delivered, and how much leeway they have to swap our wishes for whatever it is they do bring us. But those changes are also supposed to be affecting us – we're supposed to use a smart watch to tell us if we're moving or not, we have to keep up with the latest fads, and we're supposed to prick our ears up and take note when the proverbial 'they' change their minds about what we're supposed to eat. Full review...

Invasion by Luke Rhinehart

4.5star.jpg Humour

Super-intelligent furry aliens suddenly appear from another universe. And they've come to earth to have fun. Alien Louie follows fisherman Billy Morton home one day, and he and his family quickly come to love the playful alien. But when Louie starts using their computer to hack into government and corporate networks, stealing millions from banks to give to others, they realise that Louie and his friends mean trouble. As Billy and his family begin a roller coaster ride of fame and fortune, as well as a ranking high on the FBI's most wanted list, the Government soon decides that these aliens are terrorists, and must be eliminated. Whilst the aliens are playing games they hope will help humans to see the insanity of the American political, economic and military systems, they soon come to realise that the Powers that Be don't play games: they make war. Full review...

Only Fools and Horses: The Peckham Archives by Rod Green

4star.jpg Entertainment

We are in the world of one of the country's most famous and well-loved sitcoms – even if it was sort-of killed off for Christmas 2003. Yes, there have been specials since, and more repeats to clog up the BBC schedules than is really pukka, but very few people failed to succumb to its charms at one time or another. I'm sure there have been books before now celebrating the stony-faced reception of that drop through the open bar hatch, and that chandelier scene, but this is much more meaty. Purporting to be the family archives, found dumped in Nelson Mandela House, the documents here were passed from pillar to post, from one council worker in a department with a clumsy acronym to another, from them to the police – and now here they are being published for their social history worth. Will enough readers find them of worth, as the series quietly celebrates its 35th birthday? Full review...

Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson

5star.jpg Autobiography

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of a cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and an adult the world still remembers as a little girl. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being cute enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman's journey from accidental fame to relative obscurity, but also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Full review...

Writing Lines by Tony Stuart

4.5star.jpg Humour

George Gordon Wentworth (1946-2011) lived a humdrum life. He was a barely adequate teacher in a fairly world renowned independent school in Kent and kept a copious diary of his quotidian existence. Most of what he recorded was dross. However, amongst all the utterly uninteresting tailings of his life there were some nuggets and grains to catch the attention. Author Tony Stuart has created these amusing anecdotes, panning them out over twenty six episodes which give us the best of Wentworth – comedy gold. From losing all the pupils in his charge on a school trip to being arrested on suspicion of terrorism; from waking up in bed between the married couple the morning after their wedding, to destroying a ski run; from appearing full-frontal naked in a sheep-farmers' gazette to triggering an air-sea rescue; Wentworth was, blinkered and befuddled, the subject – of these and so many more unlikely but highly amusing events. Full review...

Driving Mad: Maniacs, Morons and the Advanced Motorist's Club by Graham Fulbright

3.5star.jpg Humour

I passed my driving test when John F Kennedy was in the White House and I've recently had to reapply for my driving licence having achieved a venerable age. When I started driving the roads were kinder, more forgiving places - or put another way, the idiots were fewer and further between. I don't know how long Graham Fulbright has been driving, but he certainly knows his motoring morons and in Driving Mad he brings us a fictional sample of their eccentricities. Well, I'm pretty certain that they're fictional - but these days you never know... Full review...

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

4star.jpg Crime

Poldi had not long been widowed when she decided to move from Bavaria to Sicily with the intention of drinking herself to death. She could, of course, have done this in Germany, but she felt that a sea view was essential. Once there, new friends, family already resident on the island and the corpse of a young man, his face blown off by a shotgun, whom she found on the local beach, intervened to give her life some meaning. For a while she was a suspect, but that (and her wig) were no obstacle to her falling for Commissario Vito Montana who was assigned to investigate the case. Assisting him (or having him assist her) came naturally to Poldi and before long there was an investigative and personal partnership. At least so far as Poldi was concerned. Full review...

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

5star.jpg Horror

1988, Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disatrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act...different. She's moody. She's irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she's nearby. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries - and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship enough to beat the devil? Full review...

The Brilliant and Forever by Kevin MacNeil

3.5star.jpg Humour

You know sometimes when someone tells a joke, everyone else laughs, and you're sat there wondering what was so funny? Full review...

Bryant and May: Strange Tide by Christopher Fowler

3.5star.jpg Crime

The thirteenth outing for Bryant and May is looking very much like it will be their last. Arthur Bryant is on compassionate leave whilst tests are continuing, which are likely to confirm that he is suffering from Alzheimer's. His condition is worsening almost by the day, memory lapses are morphing into full-scale hallucinations. Full review...

The Voyage of the Dolphin by Kevin Smith

5star.jpg Historical Fiction

Dublin 1916: Among the unrest and anti-British feeling worsened by the threat of conscription into a war seen as nothing to do with the Irish, Trinity College faculty has other distractions. They'd like a trophy; the skeleton of an Irish 'giant' to be precise. The only glitch is that the main trophy contender, Bernard MacNeill's skeleton, is somewhere difficult to access and all seasoned explorers are otherwise engaged. There may be hope though. They turn to Fitzmaurice, a student not good enough for anything else. Fitzmaurice agrees, picking his friends Crozier and Rafferty to go with him. So… Gentlemen, lace up your strongest boots and pack your warmest underwear – we're all off to the bloody Arctic! Whether battle cry or epitaph, three men and a dog… and an iguana… are going anyway. Full review...

Once Upon a Time in the West… Country by Tony Hawks

3star.jpg Travel

I have often complained in a jokey voice to my partner about life in the sticks, and the way she moved me from an inner-city flat to slumming it in the suburbs with fewer busses, no takeaways within walking-and-keeping-food-hot distance, and no 'Polish' shops for a can of beer whenever you fancy one. Things are different with Tony Hawks, as here he has purposefully decided to up sticks from London to Somewhere, Devon – a tiny village where the people who built their own homes decades ago still live in them, where slugs are a lot more of a problem for the wannabe lettuce-grower than they are for the metropolitan commuter, and where village halls have the power to turn you into both a Pol Pot dictator if you get on their committee and into a quivering, bruise-inducing wreck if you're the wrong gender at a Zumba class… Full review...

Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

4.5star.jpg Entertainment

Oh, how the book reviewing gods like to give, and equally like to take away. Here before me is a brand, spanking new collection of journalism by the wonderful Marian Keyes – but it's a proof copy, so there's no photo of the author. Even if over the years I have stopped reading her novels, I have always turned to the author picture to remind myself such sights exist in this world. Himself is a lucky man, for sure. But beyond sounding like a letch, what can I say about this – the beauty's third large dose of essays, web columns and other journalism? I can start with agreeing that I am not the target audience, but it's easy enough to see from these pages exactly what the target is. So much like that test you do – you know the one, that formulates decisions about the age and commonality of all things in space to come up with how many billions of planets are likely to have alien life on – you can narrow things down quite readily here, and still come up with a huge number. Full review...

Asterix and the Missing Scroll (Album 36) by Jean-Yves Ferri

5star.jpg For Sharing

Asterix is those rarest of book series; one designed for kids which is actually even funnier when you are an adult. I used to love Asterix as a child, but now that I reread them I can't help but wonder why, because they are so full of hilarious jokes that I definitely wouldn't have understood when I was younger. I laughed loud and hard to myself twice within the first two pages of Asterix and the Missing Scroll, so I'd definitely say that this was a hit. Full review...

Braver Than Britain, Occasionally by Spadge Whittaker

4star.jpg Humour

In which Spadge researches Britain's top ten fears and faces them all over the course of a year. We're quite a fearful society, you know. And the things we fear most are, in order: heights (acrophobia), snakes (ophidiophobia), public speaking (glossophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), small spaces (claustrophobia), mice (musophobia), needles (trypanophobia), flying (pteromerhanophobia), crowds (agoraphobia) and clowns (coulrophobia). Full review...