Tag Archives: humour

For the Love of Mary — Christopher Meades

15 Dec

love

 

Publisher: ECW Press
Released: June 14th, 2016
Genre: YA
Source: eARC from publisher

 

A hilarious coming-of-age novel about the pain of young love, family secrets, and sick ferrets

Fifteen-year-old Jacob feels almost on the inside: almost smart, almost funny, almost good-looking, almost worthy of falling in love. His sister is too busy dating guys in Whitesnake jackets to notice, and his best friend is occupied with his own painful pubescent crisis. Jacob’s mother has just started a curious (and rather un-Christian) holy war with the church across the street, while his father has secretly moved into the garage.

Everything changes when Jacob meets Mary. Jacob thinks Mary is the most beautiful girl in the world. If only Mary’s father wasn’t the minister at the enormous rival church. If only she wasn’t dating a youth pastor with pristine white teeth and impeccably trimmed hair. If only Jacob could work up the courage to tell Mary how he feels . . .

As the conflict between the churches escalates, a peeping Tom prowls the neighbourhood, a bearded lady terrorizes unsuspecting Dairy Queen customers, a beautiful young girl entices Jacob into a carnal romp in a car wash, and the church parishioners prepare their annual re-enactment of Operation Desert Storm.

For the Love of Mary is sidesplitting satire with a surprising amount of heart.

From Goodreads

Do you remember The Best Christmas Pageant ever? It’s a book but was also turned into a TV movie.  For the Love of Mary reminds me a bit of it. The whole fighting between the churches, both sides trying to one up the other, just has the same feel to it. And I LOVE it. This is a quirky book and quirky is very hard to nail. But Meades does it beautifully.

I love how weird and imperfect all the characters were. So so relatable. Every single character is a bit nutso, and really, isn’t that how life is? Their actions and dialogue are so believable even if the situations in the book seem a bit over the top. But because of how believable the characters are, it actually makes those over the top plot points seem believable.

This is humorous satirical writing at its best. But it’s not all about getting the laughs. There’s a real story here about friendship, first loves and tolerance.

I have to take a moment to talk about Jacob’s best friend, Moss Murphy. First of all, how great is that name? And the fact that he’s always referred to as Moss Murphy, not just Moss, is AWESOME. Like there’s the possibility that Jacob knows someone else by the name of Moss. And Moss Murphy is a character well-deserving of the name, let me tell you. He’s one of my favourite parts of the book.

My only issue is with the ending. Not necessarily the way it ended, but how abrupt it seems. I am all for open endings (and I actually prefer them) but the quickness of the ending caught me a bit off guard. This could in part be due to the fact that I really liked the book and didn’t want it to end.

I can’t recommend For the Love of Mary enough. If you like believable, quirky YA, then this is right up your alley.

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Vengeful Hank and Other Shortweird Stories — Marcel St. Pierre

8 Dec

hank

 

Publisher: Mkz Press
Released: April 23rd, 2016
Genre: Short stories, comedy, flash fiction
Source: Review copy from author

 

Canadian comedian, actor and television writer Marcel St. Pierre brings his years writing sketch comedy and advertising copy – where brevity is key – to bear in this, his first book of short stories. St. Pierre’s playfully accessible writing style complements an ability to conjure unique characters and situations as universally ridiculous as a Gary Larson ‘Far Side’ cartoon. The stories are fast-paced, quick-witted – some laugh-out-loud and some even poignant and sweet. If you like the absurdity of Steve Martin’s ‘Pure Drivel’ but haven’t the time, commitment or attention span to stick with any printed word much longer than the length of several text messages or a Facebook post, this is the perfect book for the cottage or your daily commute. “(An) offbeat linguistic romp – delightful twists – sketches of a sunshine mind making leaps of logic into the absurd…” – Sheree Fitch, author, Kiss The Joy As it Flies, Stephen Leacock Literary Humour Award-shortlist “Never has a title of a book so correctly advertised what is between the covers… I laughed, ate a sandwich, worried about Marcel for a while, then laughed again. Read!” – Colin Mochrie, comedian, author ..”. funny, charming, surprising, whimsical – a delight… an imaginative gem where what’s real is redefined and the absurd has become the new normal. I couldn’t stop smiling from the moment I picked them up.” – Don Ferguson, Royal Canadian Air Farce “I take a deep breath and read nine stories. They’re very clever… and weird. Like Marcel” – Peter Wildman, The Frantics.

From Goodreads

This book is weird. And funny. But yeah, a whole lot of weird. But I like that about it. I think it knows it’s weird and it embraces its weirdness. And I can get behind that.

A lot of these stories are a page or less, making for a quick read. It’s also super easy to pick up and set down. Although once I started reading it, I didn’t set it down a lot. I kept flipping through story after story, wondering just how weird things were going to get. And I was never disappointed.

Some of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny while others kind of just left me scratching my head and wondering about the sanity of the author. But it worked. The writing is tight but also airy and whimsical.

While this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, those who enjoy their humour very very odd or are looking for a different kind of read will definitely love this book.

 

Review: The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis – Canada Reads

2 Feb

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd
Released: Sept 5, 2008
Genre: Canadian literature, politics, satire
Review copy from the wonderful folks at CBC Books.

Here’s the set up: A burnt-out politcal aide quits just before an election — but is forced to run a hopeless campaign on the way out. He makes a deal with a crusty old Scot, Angus McLintock — an engineering professor who will do anything, anything, to avoid teaching English to engineers — to let his name stand in the election. No need to campaign, certain to lose, and so on.

Then a great scandal blows away his opponent, and to their horror, Angus is elected. He decides to see what good an honest M.P. who doesn’t care about being re-elected can do in Parliament. The results are hilarious — and with chess, a hovercraft, and the love of a good woman thrown in, this very funny book has something for everyone.

From McClelland & Stewart website.

Okay, so, yeah, I just didn’t dig this book. Sorry. It’s not that it wasn’t well-written (because it was) or that the story sucked (because it didn’t). I think it’s just a matter of it not being my kinda book. Which blows. But there you have it.

I find books that I didn’t like simply because they weren’t really my genre the hardest to review. I mean, what can I say? This is a political satire written in a style that I just don’t like. Does it mean it’s a shitty book? Hell no. Does it mean I’m a dumb-ass who just didn’t “get it”. Nopes. It just means that this wasn’t a good fit for me.

I started out with high hopes that I would fall in love with The Best Laid Plans. I like funny books. I like poking fun at politicians. But, alas, the love affair was never to happen. Sure, I found parts of the book humorous, but not laugh out loud funny. And, in all honesty, there were complete parts of the book I skipped. Go ahead and gasp, leave comments telling me I obviously didn’t like it because I didn’t read it all. But let me explain.

So, one of the characters, Angus, writes in a journal to his dead wife. Yeah, I basically skipped all these journal entries. Why? Because they summarized everything that had just happened. Everything I had just read about. I know that the point of the journal entries was so that the reader could get a true feel of Angus’ perception of what was happening, but the entries that I did try to read just seemed to be a rehashing. Maybe I missed key things. Maybe not. But I know if I had forced myself to read these entries I wouldn’t have finished the book.

I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Daniel, either, through no fault of his or the author’s. The way Daniel spoke was a bit pretentious and reminded me of a fella that I know and can’t stand. He’s a pretentious twit. I avoid him at all cost. So, unfortunately, I kinda ended up hating Daniel through osmosis. Like when you meet a jerk named Blake and from that moment forward, you forever HATE the name Blake. Not fair, I know, but thems the breaks.

And here’s where I make your head explode: despite the fact that I didn’t like The Best Laid Plans, I think it deserves to be a Canada Reads finalist. Yep, I do. This is a tale of an underdog who wants to stay an underdog and what happens when said underdog has to rise to the occasion and lead. It’s about changing the status quo and being true to who you are. And if that ain’t Canadian, then I don’t know what it.

 

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

27 Aug

Published by Knopf Canada, 2009
Reviewed by Colleen McKie

As a Canadian, I am a wee bit partial to books that are not only written by Canadians, but that take place in Canada.  I am also a fan of weird, quirky characters and stories.  Thankfully Come, Thou tortoise, written by Canadian Jessica Grant, taking place in St. John’s, NFLD and featuring a tortoise as a main character meets all of these prerequisites.

The book centers around Audrey and her tortoise, Winnifred. The two areCome_Thou_Tortoise temporality separated when Audrey has to leave her Portland, Oregon apartment to head back to her hometown of St. John’s NFLD after her father receives a blow to the head and ends up in a coma.  Unfortunately her dad succumbs to his injuries before her plane even lands. Her uncle Thoby takes off for England shortly after, leaving Audrey alone to deal with things like clearing out the house and a set of faulty Christmas lights.  To cope with the situation, Audrey throws herself into solving a mystery she has stumbled across, using that as a way to avoid dealing with her father’s death.

Interspersed with Audrey’s story is that of Winnifred, who reflects on her life thus far and spends a lot of time wondering if Audrey has abandoned her. While at first the idea of reading the musings of a tortoise was a bit weird, a quarter of the way into the book, I was loving Winnifred and her unique take on things.

I also loved all of the play on words (Audrey often referred to her father as being in a “comma”) that Grant includes throughout the book. Audrey’s thoughts are often jumbled, but Grant writes them so that they appear to flow from one another. The only issue I had with the language in the book is really a technicality and an issue I have had with many other “literary” books: the avoidance of using quotation marks for dialogue.  I found it very confusing and distracting at first, but once I got into the characters and the story, it became less of an issue, although I always remained aware of it.

And speaking of the story, it kept me hooked throughout and the ending, while somewhat open (which I LOVE) was a bit of a surprise for me, but in a good way.

Jessica Grant is definitely a writer to read and watch out for and for me Come, Thou Tortoise is up there with Miriam Toews The Flying Troutmans and a Complicated Kindness.

Take a peek inside Come, Thou Tortoise.