Writing, witty and funny books is not an easy task (Trust me, I've tried), but when it is done well, it is a sheer pleasure to read. When I chuckle or better still, belly laugh, whilst reading a book, you know the author has touched a nerve and succeeded. All three of the nominees, in this category, have managed to do just that, in this past year. Three very different, but very funny books make up the nominations in the HUMOUR category.
I was fortunate enough to be offered this book by Lucinda Clarke for Beta Reading, prior to final editing and production. Having read Clarke's work in the past and realising this was a totally new genre for her, I was keen and excited to do so.
This dip into the world of Grown Up Fairy Tales is one that I enjoyed greatly. What I find, especially with legacy published authors is that they get caught up in a genre, or a character series, that quickly becomes their sole focus. What was successful before, must be successful again and they spend their time churning out turgid, formulaic and often, frankly, boring books, year after year. That is why the vibrant Indie Author community is so important. These authors have nothing to lose, so they are prepared to push the boundaries and try different things - things that interest them and excite them. The benefits are apparent for the readers as the variety on offer is so great and so extensive. This is exactly what Lucinda Clarke has done. The author of two exceptional adventure, fiction novels set in Africa, she has also written several memoirs detailing humorous and fascinating parts of her career to date. Now, she has switched genre and focus completely, bringing us; Unhappily Ever After, and we, as readers, are richer for that.
Unhappily Ever After is exactly what it says; a fairy tale for grown-ups. Clarke uses humor and sarcasm, combined with a weird and wonderful cast of characters to expose base human traits, political correctness and stereotypes for what they really are; a joke! I love reading stories that use characters from my childhood and you will find many of these characters in Unhappily Ever After. We are presented with a variety of princesses that we first met as youngsters, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and others, but their characters now are barely recognizable. These are lazy, indolent and arrogant people who look down their noses at us mere common folk and dismiss the riff-raff as just being grateful for whatever crumbs they are lucky enough to receive from their tables. I found myself often thinking of the similarity of these characters to those of the Shrek movie franchise, so if you liked Shrek, you'll probably enjoy Unhappily Ever After.
Unhappily Ever After may not set you "belly-laughing", but the humor is subtle and clever and a credit to the author's wonderful imagination. If you want a break from the everyday fare available out there, I would recommend you escape into the fantasy world of Lucinda Clarke's mind. This is a book for grown-ups, though, as it pulls no punches in its political incorrectness. It is fun and harmless entertainment, at its very best.
Every once in a while, you get to read something special and this is what John Sharpe: No. 1,348 by Riley J Froud is - something very special.
To be honest, I had always intended to read this, but I guess the title was strange enough to make me move it down the to be read list, each time it came up. I finally dived into it and what a treat was in store for me.
How to describe John Sharpe: No. 1,348? Possibly it was the Author herself who summed it up best in the story when she talked about Alice in Wonderland. I guess, for me, it is Alice in Wonderland meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - for adults.
As I was reading this, I couldn't help but think that this type of book is exactly why I love Indie Authors. They are fresh, interesting and full of wonderful ideas. This book is the epitome of the classic indie author. I couldn't imagine a legacy publisher going for this book and yet it would be well worth someone taking a chance on Froud.
I loved the style this was written in, especially the little asides to the reader, sort of like a narrator shot to the camera, in a movie. I've seen this done before, but not as well as Froud does it in this book.
The tale itself is a mishmash of fairy tales, but centers on the premise that there were two evolutionary paths of man, many eons ago. Eventually, one of these paths (the smarter ones) removed themselves from the "overworld" and created an "underworld" for them to live in. The humans left in overworld apparently are now devolving back to their ancestral roots (perhaps an astute observation by the author), whereas those in the Underworld continue to evolve.
The story of the hunt for the real John Sharpe (the Underworld's Queen's son, who was banished to the Overworld, years earlier) is told in a fun, conversational style. I found it incredibly refreshing and enjoyable to read. There was the odd occasion when I felt the little explanatory asides were beginning to get patronizing, but I could easily forgive that as the read was so much fun.
I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a bit of a laugh or cheering up. The humor is very British, which as a colonial, I got and loved. This is a fun, light, read and just what the doctor ordered.
In The Soup is the second book of Wilton's that I've read in this series. The first of these, Save Our Shop, first introduced me to Wilton's rather quirky and very British sense of humour. For me it was very reminiscent of the humour I grew up with; the Frankie Howard's and Benny Hill's of this world. I found it fun, enjoyable and a real break from the more weighty subjects that I was generally reading.
While I remember belly-laughing at some of the antics in the first book, I found this less so, in the second. That doesn't mean to say I didn't enjoy In The Soup, I very much did, but some of the slapstick and caricatures seemed a little more over-the-top than in the first book.
The second book continues the efforts of our hero, William to have his first book published and to find a satisfactory end to his unrequited love for Sally. No matter what William tries to do, he always seems to create a situation that Sally can misread and accuse him of philandering.
This is a great book to while away a rainy afternoon and release some of the tensions of our everyday life. I would definitely recommend In The Soup if you need some light-hearted reading and, if you are a fan of that typically self-deprecating British humour, I know you will love it. An enjoyable read.
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME