Newest Humour Reviews

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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

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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...

Trust by Mike Bullen

4star.jpg General Fiction

Greg and Amanda are happy. Unmarried, but together thirteen years and with two young daughters, they are very much in love. Dan and Sarah aren't so fortunate. Their marriage is going through the motions, and they're staying together for the sake of their troubled teenage son. Following a business conference away from home, one bad decision sends a happy couple into turmoil, and turns an unhappy couple into love's young dream. As secrets and betrayals threaten to send both relationships out of control, there's only one thing that can keep everything from falling apart: Trust Full review...

When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow by Dan Rhodes

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Two people are on a train on their way to, of all things, a WI meeting where the ladies of All Bottoms will be lectured on the non-existence of God. One of the two people is Professor Richard Dawkins, rampant atheist, hectoring scientist chappie, and all-round devotee of Deal or No Deal. The other is Smee, his mono-named assistant, amanuensis or 'male secretary'. Smee will come to the fore when the weather sets in and the train journey has to be abandoned some way short of its ultimate destination, Upper Bottom. Instead the pair fetch up at the isolated yet friendly community of Market Horton, and the only option for accommodation is taken – yes, the died-in-the-wool non-believer has to be housed by a retired vicar and his wife. This clash of titanic opinions, peppered with social faux pas aplenty will provide for a particularly English kind of farcical comedy, but one with the legs to go as far as any other Good Books have reached in the past… Full review...

Very British Problems Abroad by Rob Temple

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Meet, if you haven't already, the phenomenon of the Very British Problem. In this format they're in pithy little comments (of, ooh, about 140 characters in length, for some reason…) and detail the minor things in life that we like nothing more than to inflate to a major factor of life. They can involve manners, staring at things until they mend themselves, hitting things ditto, or the fact that nobody apart from you and I know how to queue properly. And if the idea hits the world outside our shores, then – well, you certainly have a book full of content regarding our attitude and ineptitude abroad. Full review...

Stuff Brits Like by Fraser McAlpine

4star.jpg Humour

With over 100 chapters on different aspects of Britain and Britishness, this book is both fascinating and hilarious. Just looking at the list of subjects is enough to produce a sardonic twist of that stiff upper lip: the chapters cover topics that range from offal to curry, from pedantry to banter, from conkers to rugby. There may be many chapters but this is no academic tome - each chapter is just two to three pages long, each is written with endearing affection, each is easy and satisfying - and quirkily funny - to read. Full review...

What I Tell You in the Dark by John Samuel

3.5star.jpg Humour

A man called Will is fighting fiercely against corruption – desperate to expose his company's dodgy dealings to the press. Overcome with doubt and fear, he goes to kill himself. But, at the exact moment he attaches his noose to the back of the door, he is saved. By a curious housemate or a concerned girlfriend? No, by an Angel. Not the white-feathered guardian Angel you may expect, but one who wishes to help Will achieve his ends, and so possess the body of the hapless Will in order to finish what he started. It goes without saying that the Angel is hoping things go better than they did with the last guy he possessed – a hapless young man from Galilee called Jesus… Full review...

The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven

4.5star.jpg Humour

Susan Frobisher and Julie Wickham live in a small Dorset town. Friends since school, they live fairly uneventful lives – Susan has a lovely house and a lengthy marriage to accountant Barry, whereas Julie is doing slightly less well – living in a council flat and working in an old people's home. When Barry is found dead trussed up in a sex dungeon, it transpires that he has been leading a hidden life for years, and his expensive fetishes lead to the bank moving to take Susan's home. Struck by both desperation and a sense of injustice, Sue and Julie conspire to rob a bank, taking along their friend Jill – a devout Christian conflicted due to lack of money and a terminally ill grandson, and Ethel – a foul mouthed resident of the nursing home longing for adventure. Full review...

The Table Of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips

4.5star.jpg Fantasy

Sir Humphrey has been demoted from King Arthur's Round Table to the Table of Lesser Valued Knights. The only way to get his comfier seat back is to redeem himself via a quest. Therefore when damsel Elaine seeks help to find her kidnapped fiancé, Humphrey and his ward, the teenage giant Conrad, eagerly set forth. Meanwhile in the kingdom of Tuft, new Queen Martha has run away after a disastrous wedding to… a… well… disastrous Prince Edwin. She may not realise it yet, but she too will have a job for Humphrey! Full review...

The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish by Tim Flannery

3star.jpg Historical Fiction

Meet Archie Meek. He's about to leave the Venus Islands, where he's lived for the last five years, and return to Sydney, where he'll take his office in the museum and fill it with all the cultural artefacts he's found and wildlife he's plucked or pickled. That's not to ignore the fact he'll count as something quite alien himself, with his filled-out frame, nearly all-over suntan and totemic tattoo, in amongst other changes to his body. But what's this? When he gets back, he finds one of the main Venus Islands artefacts that caused him to go there in the first place, a huge, macabre ceremonial fetish mask, purloined as corporate artwork. And some of the curators he wishes to work alongside have vanished. Is the weird society of the museum he's returning to, perchance, even weirder, stranger and more violent than the cannibalistic society he's waving farewell to? Full review...

The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

How many picture books are there about cats? And how many do you know that you would really NOT prefer your children to see? If the answer to the second question is 'none – yet', scratch that last word. The title piece in this collection is, by the author's own admission, his imagining of the Joseph Merrick (the 'Elephant Man') of the feline world – who struggles to sneak up behind a mouse when the shadow of his head is a total giveaway, and who can hardly even eat with dignity as bending down to his bowl would break his neck. If that's too dark or oddball for you, try the second major piece, which has a most revealing foreword – Dedicated to a certain girl… I hope your life is filled with wonderful accomplishments, love and all the magic you desire… - But I hope your death is slow and horrible. Full review...

Not Far From Dreamland by Val Hennessy

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Ronald Tonks has reached that stage in life which I call upper middle age: you've qualified for your pension but not yet got to the free television licence barrier. What Ronald has got is a roof that leaks (there's good reason why his home is called 'the shack'), a dog who is going bald (in patches) and money that's in very short supply. On the plus side he has friends, mostly platonic and usually in much the same boat as Ronald. But are they downhearted? Well, they are occasionally, but mostly they're generously optimistic and out to make the most of what they've got, usually bought from charity shops and jumble sales. Not Far From Dreamland is the story of a year (2012) in the life of Ronald Tonks, his friends and relatives. Full review...

Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

3.5star.jpg Science Fiction

Meet Bill. He's a simple farmer – well, he is taking a correspondence course in being a Technical Fertiliser Operator – but fate has something else in store. And so does the mechanised, technological, industrial military, which needs several billion grunts to fight the Chingers, in mankind's first inter-galactic war. Still, at least he gets medals just for signing up. After that it's all downhill, and the likes of Petty Chief Officer Deathwish Drang can only make that a straight line down. Really, what hope is there? Full review...

William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher

4.5star.jpg Humour

Join us, good gentles, for a merry reimagining of `Star Wars Episode 1' as only Shakespeare could have written it. 'Tis a true Shakespearean drama, filled with sword fights, soliloquies and doomed romance…all in glorious iambic pentameter and coupled with gorgeous illustrations. Hold on to your midichlorians: The plays the thing, wherein you'll catch the rise of Anakin! Full review...

The Book of Hugs by Attaboy

4star.jpg Humour

A hug's a hug, OK? You either do, or you don't. Some people might be a little more enthusiastic about the process whilst others are more elegant in the execution of the hug, but basically you just get on and do it and then forget about it, right? Full review...

Bryant and May – The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler

4star.jpg Crime

The Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) has a new set of overlords. For reasons that were explored in the previous couple of outings they have been transferred to the City Of London Police. The Met are still the big players in the area. City of London Police only police the old city, the square mile, the financial district in other words, that has very little in the way of street crime, because no-one lives there anymore and the people who work there are, by and large, either too rich to need to steal, or too smart to have to do so on the streets. Full review...