Reading Fanatic Reviews

All Humor, Comedy, and Satire Reviews

Grumpy Old Gods Volume 1 by Various Authors

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Grumpy Old Gods, Volume 1*

Funny Tales of the Discarded Gods

Interestingly, I read Volume 2 before I read Volume 1 of this series. But, of course, it doesn’t really matter as this series is collections of humorous and fun short stories about the old gods. It was a delight to read this first one, a collection of 13 stories by different authors. Some were laugh-out-loud funny. Some authors have been very creative in thinking about how the old gods might interact with humans today or otherwise amuse themselves. These stories are all short, so they can be ready easily when you need to, say, wait at the doctor’s office or are on a break at work. If you love classic mythology, you may very well enjoy this sometimes hilarious spin on it.

The Hypochondriac’s Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases by Dennis DiClaudio

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The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have*

Do Not Read If You Like Medical Information to Be Serious

Like this author’s book on mental disorders, this is a quirky combination of actual facts about unusual medical maladies with some very off-beat humor. If you prefer your information about anything to do with medicine to be serious, you’d be better off skipping this book. But if you don’t mind a little humor with your knowledge intake, this is a surprisingly—if not somewhat scary—read. Most of the humor is in the diagnosis section of each malady, and of course, the cartoon pictures to go along with the diseases and syndromes are meant to be humorous. Although, I actually found some of them to be a little on the scary side! I am a registered nurse, and some information provided is actually spot-on accurate, which is surprising in a humorous book. The author has clearly researched all of these well, enough to both share accurate information and to lampoon the subject matter. The introduction states that this is a new edition; he has updated some straight-up information and played around with some humorous parts. If you don’t mind a book that doesn’t take medical problems too seriously, you might find yourself both amused and educated if you choose to read this book.

NOTE: From what I saw on Amazon, it appears as though the first edition is listed there, not this second. The cartoons are definitely different in the first edition; they appear to be historical art rather than modern-drawn cartoons as are in the edition I received.

The Paranoid’s Pocket Guide to Mental Disorders You Can Just Feel Coming On

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The Paranoid's Pocket Guide to Mental Disorders*

Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Offbeat and Typical Mental Disorders

As the title might suggest, this book is meant to be a lighthearted guide to some typical and rare mental disorders. I know; that seems like a strange concept. The author does address this in the introduction, where he states that he knows that mental disorders are a serious subject. He has written some other somewhat humorous books on difficult topics, like diseases and deviant behavior. When you actually start to read about the various syndromes within the book, over half of each disorder is actually quite serious. The causality and the treatment sections actually seem like solidly researched information about the actual disorder. It’s only in the first parts of the section—namely the quiz, inner monologue, and diagnosis sections—that humor seems to reign. I actually found this combination of slightly silly parts and on-point parts along with sometimes rather bizarre cartoons to make for a fascinating read. I am an RN and have some experience dealing with mental disorders, so that may be why I found this to be a book I couldn’t stop flipping through.

Book Simulator by Chris Yee

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Book Simulator*

Odd Little Book!

I am a voracious reader, so I don’t need a book simulator to make it look like I’m reading. Because I am actually usually… reading. The first part of the blurb made me almost give a pass to this book, but a line in the second part made me decide to give it a try. “While it pokes fun at various aspects of reading, it also celebrates the spirit of storytelling and encourages the exploration of future stories to come.” As someone who loves to read, I thought I would see how this book would celebrate storytelling with humor. The book is definitely tongue-in-cheek and makes attempts at humor, but for me, these fell flat. I didn’t really see any evidence about how this book celebrated anything, whether reading or storytelling. The book is certainly quirky and unusual, but it didn’t quite do it for me.

Rejections from a Literary Agent by G. Randy Kasten

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Rejections from a Literary Agent*

What If a Literary Agent Responded How They Liked

This book, if it isn’t clear from the blurb, is a fictitious collection of query letters to a literary agent with a manuscript sample and a cranky agent’s response (like may want to do but never gets done in the real world). It is meant to be a satirical look at the modern publishing industry according to the book description. Having been a writer, editor, and reviewer, I can say that I am of several minds of this book. There are parts of it that are amusing if you’ve ever dealt with rejection from an agent or publisher. Back in the last millennium, I actually did submit books to publishing houses, so I do understand what the process is like from that perspective. It is hard to get rejections. As an editor and reviewer, some items that the acerbic Ms. Ribbons brings up in her responses are truly problematic with books or with authors in the free-wheeling world of modern independent publishing. I would never be as abrupt and unkind as Ms. Ribbons, but I do understand some of her points. I think the book is overly repetitious; Ms. Ribbons could have made some other salient points instead of some of the same ones over and over. This book might be too much of an insider view for the general reader, but authors, future authors, or writers might be amused by parts of it (or unfortunately see themselves in it).

Mashed Myths by Mick Wannenmacher and Andrew Traucki

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Mashed Myths*

Middle Grade Humorous Retelling of 6 Greek Myths

I may not be in the target age range of this book, but I found it a very fun and engaging retelling of six Greek myths. The drawings were whimsical, and the stories were told with humor and even a few gross-out moments. Now, if you’re expecting the characters in these stories to talk like ancient Greeks, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you keep your mind open and have an appreciation for middle-grade humor, you might find this a very enjoyable read.

The First Village by Ian M. Evans

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The First Village*

A Knight’s Tale in Old Wales

If you look at the cover of this book, you might think that it is a serious work of historical fiction. It is anything but! In fact, it reminds me very much of Heath Ledger’s movie A Knight’s Tale in its approach to history. The author doesn’t even attempt to use what some would think of as historical language, or any other sort of elevated speech. I’ll admit my eyebrows lifted when I saw one character call another a “meanie.” While the places and the politics of the novel are based in truth, the characters themselves are fictional. The story is about a cultural shift, when the Romans were leaving Britannia after having lived and ruled there for over 300 years. What does that mean for the soldiers, some of whom do not want to go back to a place they’ve never known and perhaps their families have never been from? What does that mean for all of the various tribes around Britannia, who often engaged in internecine battles before the Romans? There’s also a romance at the heart of this book, and I found the couple to be an intriguing one to watch. This book is full of humor: slapstick, dry, and tongue in cheek. Again if you enjoyed the movie A Knight’s Tale, you would most likely enjoy this book.

Mermaids Be With You by Jamie Brindle

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Mermaids Be With You*

Funny Send-Up of the Fantasy Genre

If you ever thought that fantasy fiction takes itself too seriously with its world-defining quests and fickle kings and queens, you should read this series. It’s like Monty Python meets Princess Bride. It clearly, and definitely, spoofs the tropes of the fantasy genre. From the offbeat names to the characters’ quirky self-awareness to the strange situations the characters find themselves in, everything (and everyone) is up for ridicule and laughs in this book. I find the book is best taken in small doses. Trying to read it quickly will not allow time before they humor to mellow, and it might get to be a bit much. Some of the interior monologue and self-awareness of the characters is truly funny. The authors clearly enjoy lampooning this genre.

And, yes, tell me more about the Age of Gerbils!

If you’re expecting serious fantasy when you download this book, you will be disappointed. Go into it knowing that it’s firmly tongue-in-cheek, and let yourself just go along for the ride. If you do so, you will most likely enjoy the trip.

The Butcher by Nathan Burrows

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The Butcher*

Tastes Like Chicken…

What a quirky story! I am familiar with this author, having read his first book, Blind Justice, and quite enjoying it. It’s hard to imagine two more different stories, and it is to the author’s credit that he can write a legal thriller and a dark comedy. Even though this is a comedy, the author still did seem to get under the characters’ skins, giving enough detail so that the characters felt individual and real. They felt like people I could meet, though I’m not sure I’d want to.

Like other reviewers, I felt that the first part of the book was a little slow going. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. I’ve read other British writers whom I like who do a similar slow build, layering events and showing nuances of character before we get to the real action. It’s just rare today–a let’s-get-to-it attitude being more common–so it seems usual. Once I understood what the author was doing, though, I was willing just to sit back, read, and trust that he was going to get me there. And the book did not disappoint.

I found myself wondering how accurate this book is about the way that food and restaurant inspection is done in England. My father was a health inspector in the United States over 20 years ago–so I’ve seen the process here up close–and I found Emily’s time as a bumbling newbie health inspector interesting to watch. I have a feeling my dad would have related to some of it! I think he would have liked doing so few inspections, too! Also, oh, my goodness, the Pinch brothers! What an unusual way they found out of their situation. It was definitely a Fried Green Tomatoes moment. Parts of this book are laugh-out-loud funny, although, given the subject, you almost feel a little guilty doing so. Almost.

Whether he’s writing a dark comedy or legal thriller, Nathan Burrows has such a command of the written word that his books are hard to put down.

Jacobites by Name by Sean T. Rassleagh

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Jacobite by Name*

Speculative Fiction with a Heavy Dose of Political Satire

In this satire about near-future Scotland, that country is feeling the after-effects of Brexit and the wrath of the Tories, specifically a post-Brexit faction called the New Georgians. A shadow a group of scientists, the Guild, responsible for advances in cloning and quantum computing conspire with the Vatican to bring about another Jacobite rebellion.

Will this Jacobite uprising succeed? Or will the Tory plans for Scotland come to fruition?

As an American of Scottish descent who visited that area of Great Britain last year, I was intrigued by the concepts of this book when I read about it at a book review site I use. This book is definitely political satire with a healthy dose of wry, dark humor. I would also call it speculative fiction because of the Guild’s work in furthering modern technology and its use. The book lacks a clear protagonist, which sometimes makes the book’s many twists and turns hard to follow. The story is told from the perspective of an omniscient narrator in an almost detached, journalistic fashion, with a heavy emphasis narrative prose that tells more than shows. We are told of political events more than we see them happen in action. I think this book could have benefited from being shown through the dialogue and actions of a narrator-protagonist rather than being told by a narrator.

I did laugh at the line early in the book when the new Viceroy of Scotland’s Tory faction is described thus: “If only they could restore the social structures of Georgian times, London could once again be the centre of a great empire spanning the globe. People said that Tories wanted to take the country back to the 1950s but in the Viceroy’s view, that wasn’t nearly ambitious enough. The 1750s would be ideal.”



The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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