Misc.

Reads for April Fools’ Day

April Fool's Day

Yes, it’s the first day of April, which means it’s also April Fool’s Day! Have you played any evil tricks yet? Spotted any funny jokes or pranks? Today I thought I’d share some of the funniest and most humorous books that I’ve read, perfect for a day like today.

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Oh Miranda, how I love you so. If you’ve not heard of the wonderful Miranda Hart, she is a British comedian and actress, and absolutely 100% relatable – and hilarious. Her sitcom, Miranda, is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a single woman in her mid-thirties (34 IS LATE TWENTIES!) who runs a joke & gift shop. Miranda manages to get herself into the most awkward of situations, is quite possibly the clumsiest person alive as well as just slightly socially inept… Many of the things that happen to Miranda in the sitcom actually happened in real life, either to Miranda Hart or people she knows. In this book, she discusses some of the more embarrassing horrors she’s lived through, so prepare to both laugh out loud and cringe – but it’s SUCH FUN!

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Anything by Bill Bryson

I think I’ve mentioned Bill Bryson on the blog a couple of times before, but if you’re looking to start reading some travel writing then in my opinion, he is definitely the place to start. With a wonderful sense of humour and a brilliant way of turning even a mundane story into something amusing, each of his travel books have never failed to make me laugh. He has a way of observing and noticing things that might not be fascinating on first glance. He’s written about travelling through Europe, along the Appalachian Trial, Australia, Great Britain and the USA (on several occasions), as well as an autobiography.

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

One of my favourite manga series, Azumanga Daioh is the tale of a group of high school girls, and centered around the character of Chiyo. Chiyo is a child prodigy, already approaching the end of high school at the age of eleven. Her friends are a group of misfits: the sporty one, the clever one, the ditzy one, the tomboyish one, the mischievous one, but these stereotypes don’t get old. Unlike many manga, it’s presented in four-panel comic strips – some are continuations of ones before, but mostly you get a new story every page. It’s absolutely hilarious and also completely adorable.

Mort by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

Pretty much any of the Discworld books are perfect if you want a humorous read. Terry Pratchett’s unique and brilliant sense of humour is unparalleled. My particular favourite of his is Mort, but with over forty books in the series alone there’s plenty of choice. And you don’t even need to read the series in order: some characters occupy multiple books, some only appear the once, plotlines and events vary greatly, and he’s even written some for children. But you can guarantee that each one will have you laughing.

What are some of the funniest books you’ve read? Do you have any recommendations?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #10: A Gateway Into The Fantasy Genre

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: gateway fantasy books.

I know that fantasy can sometimes receive a bit of a bad reputation – some people seem to think it’s either a really difficult genre to read, or really geeky, or they just have no idea where to start. So I want to share with you today a three stage process for people new to the fantasy genre. I’ve split them into three ‘stages’, with the idea that you tackle them in order, to build up confidence reading the genre. It was really hard to split these books into stages, and I hope my explanations of why and how I split them make sense and don’t offend anyone!

Stage One: for younger readers AND/OR fantasy set at least partly in our world

Sabriel by Garth Nix Inkheart by Cornelia Funke The Magicians by Lev Grossman The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett Song Quest by Katherine Roberts

These books come under ‘Stage One’, as they are either aimed at younger readers so the fantasy world is not as complicated as say, The Lord of the Rings, or they are set either partly or entirely in our world. I think these are pretty good books to start with, particularly the ones set in our world: Sabriel by Garth Nix, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and The Magicians by Lev Grossman (this one is definitely an adult book!). This way you won’t be immediately thrown in at the deep end, and at least some elements of the story will be familiar. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett and Song Quest by Katherine Roberts are set in fantasy worlds, but are aimed at younger readers so you know you won’t need to worry about keeping up with a huge cast of characters, assortment of strange languages and entirely new and vast geography that you might find in books for older readers.

Stage Two: aimed at Young Adult audiences and older AND/OR set in a ‘less detailed’ fantasy world

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore The Wind Singer by William Nicholson Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta Mort by Terry Pratchett Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I say ‘less detailed’ because I do not mean in ANY way that the author has only half-heartedly created their world, or that these books are seen as ‘lesser’ fantasy. I just mean that the scale of the world-building is as not big as some of the books in the next stage. ‘Stage Two’ includes these sorts of books, as well as Young Adult Fantasy, which often falls into the category anyway. Throne of Glass (my review) by Sarah J. Maas, Graceling (my review) by Kristin Cashore, The Wind Singer by William Nicholson, Finnikin of the Rock (my review) by Melina Marchetta and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo come under Young Adult fantasy fiction, and all are fantastic examples of the genre. Mort by Terry Pratchett, like the rest of the Discworld books, is primarily aimed at adults but Pratchett’s brilliant sense of humour makes it a lighter read.

Stage Three: ‘heavier’ fantasy

The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett Mistborn (The Final Empire #1) by Brandon Sanderson The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Feeling ready for ‘Stage Three’? By ‘heavier’, I mean that these books have more detailed world building than those in Stage Two – perhaps the author has created an entire history, a new language etc. If you’re prepared to take a dip into the world of heavier fantasy, then I’d recommended starting with The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan. And if you’re not too scared of reading some Tolkien, then give The Hobbit (or even The Lord of the Rings) a shot! So many people are unsure about reading his work, but I was recently interviewed by Pages Unbound for Tolkien Reading Week, where I shared my love for Middle-earth – hopefully that will convince some people! As you feel more confident with reading fantasy books, I would highly recommend the following: The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Are you going to give any of these books a try? Have you read any of them already, or are there any others you’d recommend for new fantasy readers?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #2: Favourite Fantasy Book Covers

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my new feature, made to replace Why You Should Read This Book. It will be posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: favourite fantasy book covers.

 

  • Mort (Discworld #4) by Terry Pratchett – I love the artwork of Josh Kirby, who does all the Discworld covers, and I think it really suits Pratchett’s work. The cover images always capture the essence of the book, whilst injecting that Pratchett-style humour.
  • HarperCollins’ covers for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – the effect isn’t obvious looking at the image on screen, but these covers are just lovely. Within the ring on the front (yellow for Fellowship, red for Two Towers, green for Return) there are light grey patterns relevant to the specific story, as well as runes along the top and bottom edges of the books. It’s not just The Lord of the Rings that has these covers – most of Tolkien’s Middle-earth based works have similar editions.

 

  • Lirael (Abhorsen #2) by Garth Nix – a darker cover than the first book, I think this captures the story very well: a lonely journey, through a dark landscape. The rune also has a pretty nice effect, as it’s raised from the rest of the cover.
  • Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo – known as The Gathering Light here in the UK, our cover isn’t as nice as this US one. I really like the vector images and the colours used, plus the text intertwining with the horns/branches.

 

  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling – a gorgeous cover because of the colours used and delicate illustrations, it also looks suitably aged and you could almost believe it is the same edition that Hermione herself has!
  • Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas – whilst Throne of Glass also has a beautiful cover, I love how Celaena is really herself on this one – she looks deadly. I like that it’s almost a greyscale image, but for the bits of red.

What are your favourite fantasy covers? Share them with me and my readers in the comments below!