Saturday, November 28, 2009

MAKE ME LAUGH

by suzanne

No, I'm not asking for your best Internet forward joke...although I have a great one best told in a bar with an Irish accent. What I want, what I'm craving is a funny book to read. A light-hearted fare or one where there are brilliant moments of comic relief.


The first Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) book I ever read was NOBODY'S BABY, BUT MINE. Now, this wasn't a slap-stick funny book. But when she removes all the marshmallows from the cereal box to make it more healthy for him and he says, "I've married a cereal killer!", I cracked up! When she insists on driving up the North Carolina mountain in a storm to have her baby, yep, got me laughing out loud! And it also had me back at the bookstore the next day buying everyone of SEP's back list.





My friend, Jo Davis,(author of TRIAL BY FIRE, UNDER FIRE and HIDDEN FIRE), who reads mostly suspense, claims AIN'T SHE SWEET was the funniest book she can remember reading. One of her favorite parts? When the dog in the front seat beside the heroine farts at her. The heroine thinks, "yep, even the dog hates me.





Another author who mixes great characters, good story telling, some suspense and comic relief is Julie Garwood. In SAVING GRACE , two clans are trying to live on the same land under the same laird, only they refuse to merge into one clan. Many funny episodes occur as the heroine uses quiet defiance and even tosses shattered crockery to get her point across. I chuckle my way through that book every time I read it. (28 at a last reading.)



Another dear friend, Sandy Blair, (author of A MAN IN A KILT, A ROUGE IN A KILT, A THIEF IN A KILT and A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS) says the funniest book she can remember was Garwood's THE GIFT. What makes it so funny? Sandy says it's knowing what's coming next from the heroine's POV and the hero's exasperated reaction to what he perceives as illogical. Garwood sprinkles these gems throughout all her books. One of the reasons she's one of our favorite feel-good authors.





Addison Fox, (author of WARRIOR ASCENDED: The Sons of the Zodiac, coming in March 2010), couldn't pinpoint a specific book by Nora Roberts, but says one of her favorite reasons to read Nora's books is her ability to have witty dialogue that relieves some of the suspense and have her readers chuckling in different places throughout her books.






One of the funniest books I've ever read was Linda Howard's TO DIE FOR. This book works in so many ways. First it is in first person, (not my usual cup of tea), and because we're mostly in the heroine's head we understand why she does the things she does, even if she admits they're stupid. We also get to see the hero's frustrations at her actions, he's banging his head on his desk. This is also a different kind of suspense for Ms. Howard, totally at odds with her usual dark fare. When I was reading it, Rocky-the-wonder-dog was parked on the bed beside me. I laughed so hard the bed shook and he gave me that irritated male dog look (very reminiscent of irritated male human look). I had to stop reading long enough to stop laughing in order to read some more!




Jane Graves, a romantic comedy author, (HOT WHEELS AND HIGH HEELS, TALL TALES AND WEDDING VEILS), points to any book by Jennifer Crusie. Jane says, "I always feel a special sense of delight at her word choice, her sentence structure, and especially her dialogue. Her books are just flat-out fun to read, sentence after sentence, page after page. They're not funny in a laugh-out-loud way, at least not to me. They're just...fun. She's one of the few authors out there who can entertain me with almost every sentence she writes." My daughter, Alison, agrees whole heartily.

In fact, the idea for this blog originally titled, "where have all the funny books gone?", came from my daughter. She was going through a pregnancy, was home on maternity leave a few weeks early and was looking for books to read. She asked me, "Mom, I'm tired of reading serious, dark books. I want to laugh. I need a funny book, do you know of any?"

So, I need some help.

Who would you like to read? What writer makes you laugh? Who do you read when you want a good chuckle or to relieve some of the stress in your own life?

66 comments:

limecello said...

Yay!

limecello said...

Love this post, Suzanne - I'm *whispers* sick of the heroine with uber tragic dark/abused past, etc. You've mentioned a few of my absolute favorite authors already...
Anyway... funny(ish)? Jill Shalvis. Rachel Gibson. Erin McCarthy, especially her contemporary and vegas vampire books.
Uhhh humor isn't my go to - though I like sweet/light hearted/happy books a lot. Maybe Nancy Warren? Janice Maynard? Er is it Mary Janice Davidson? :X I know people who like romantic comedies enjoy her books.
Oh also, Cathie Linz, Elaine Fox, HelenKay Dimon, some of Kresley Cole... Oh! Susan Mallery... Lucy Monroe- the Real Deal is rather light. Susan Lyons... heh. Those are some of my favorite authors that write "lighter" stories.

Helen said...

Congrats limcello what do you have planned for him today ?

Suz
Great post I love Julie Garwood's Saving Grace actually I love all of her historicals. As for books that make me laugh I have read a few over the years Victoria Alexander's Effington series has some great laughs in them. At the moment they are the only ones I can think of.
I am sure there will be lots of recomendations and of course I can see my must have list getting bigger LOL

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Suz, you read my mind. I've been re-reading SEP's entire backlist lately, because I'm in the mood for comedy, too. The trouble is, I'm really picky about comedy (there's a lot out there that tries too hard and fails, I think!) So I end up reading the same old favourites again.

The only ones you mentioned I haven't read are the Julie Garwoods (yes, I know, you're shocked!!) So I will try them.

If you're a historical reader, I can recommend Loretta Chase and of course Georgette Heyer. I'm actually more in the mood to read contemporaries at the moment, so I'll be interested to read the recommendations from everyone else!

Keira Soleore said...

Love your post, Suz. Julie Garwood always gets me, despite incorrect historical details.

My recent find of funny contemporaries are the two books by Julie James.

Emmanuelle said...

I was just rereading Nobody's Baby but Mine for the dozen time last monday. OMG, it IS so funny. That first scene where jane practices her aerobic moves in front of Cal, supposedly to enteace him... too funny for words.
I've recently discovered Robin Kaye and Christie Craig, whose books literally make me Lough Out Loud ! Dh thinks I'm crazy but really, who cares ??

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Lime, congrats on nabbing the bird today!!

I've read some of Rachel Gibson and Erin McCarthy, so I'll have to add your other suggestions to my list!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Helen! I haven't read the Effington series, but I'll be adding those to my list!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Christine!

I still pull out some of SEP's back list just for a laugh! And girl, we really do have to get you reading Julie Garwood. I think you'd really love them.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Keira!

Does Julie James write historicals or contemporaries?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Emmanuelle,

Another SEP fan, huh? I love how she makes the laughter come out of no where.

I'll be Christie Craig and Robin Kaye to my list! Now are they contemporaries or historicals?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh and Emmanuelle, my husband doesn't get it when I start laughing in the middle of a book, either!

Emmanuelle said...

Suzanne, they are both contemporary romances. Robin Kaye's books are set in NYC (italian american community) and Christie Craig's in the South (alabama if I remember well, but not sure). You really should check them out. Of course there are so many great new books out there and you can't read them all (that's too bad right ? ;-).

Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL, Emmanuelle, I do try to read them all, about 250 a year!

Jane said...

Ooh, "Saving Grace" is one of my all time favorite. I love the scene where Johanna sews the two plaids together. Susan Andersen always makes me laugh. Sally MacKenzie's Naked series is also full of humor.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jane! Glad to see another Saving Grace fan! There was so much about that book that I loved and laughed over. Maybe it should be required reading for everyone?

Emmanuelle said...

250 a year !! I'm impressed ;-)

Lori Brighton said...

I love Julie Garwood! She more than any other author has always made me laugh, all her books are keepers for me.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I got here in time to agree with everyone. Someone has already mentioned most of my favorites as far as the funny bits. One I don't see mentioned is Janet Evanovich, the Stephanie Plum series has had me laughing until tears ran down my face. I also agree with Helen about Victoria Alexander, the Effington series in particular has a lot of humor.

Joan said...

Michelle Rowan's books following the travails of Sarah Dearling, newly made vampire from a blind date gone wrong comes to mind.

I've heard about Welcome to Temptation forever but never read it...I've read the one after it and Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise. She can make me laugh (even though her pointed LACK of contractions drives me nuts!)

Nora does infuse lots of character wittiness. I bought her most recent "Vision in White" because I opened up to a line when the heroine asks the hero if he'd ever made his little sister do something when they were little "Now and then.She could be bribed with stickers."

So cute.

And ducking as I admit I've only read one Julie Garwood and never read SEP

Janga said...

Liz Bevarly's My Man Pendleton is probably my all-time favorite funny book. I second the Julie James and Christie Craig recommendations and add Rachel Gibson and Kristan Higgins to the list of those who write wonderfully humorous contemporaries.

Among historical writers, most of Loretta Chase's books (Viscount Vagabond, Lord of Scoundrels, Mr. Impossible, etc.) and many of Teresa Medeiros's (Charming the Prince, Breath of Magic, Touch of Enchantment, etc.) have rich veins of humor. Oh, so do Jill Barnett's, especially Bewitching.

Another of my favorite sources of romance with humor is traditional Regencies--Mary Balogh's The Famous Heroine, Judith Nelson's Kidnap Confusion and The Merry Chase, Nonnie St. George's The Ideal Bride, and almost any of Barbara Metzger's. I reread Father Christmas and Christmas Wishes this week and laughed out loud at both.

jo robertson said...

What a great post, Suz! I loved hearing what authors say are their funny, feel-good books.

Congrats on the rooster, Lime!

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is always a good, laugh-out-loud experience for me. And I enjoy J.D. Robb's more subtle humor in the In Death series.

Susan Sey said...

Oh, Suz, a post after my own heart! I'm still waiting for somebody to fill the Crusie Void now that she's gone collaborating. I love SEP with a fervor that is embarassing, and have recently discovered Kristin Higgins is good for a laugh. I wish I could write funny--I think books that make us laugh are SUCH an important subgenre of romance. Alas, I'm only every funny accidentally. When I try on purpose it doesn't go well. But I'm off to scan the comments trail for some new ideas on funny writers....

Nancy said...

Limecello, congrats on taking home the rooster!

Suz, Ive been drifting toward dark lately, as you may remember, so I'm sort of racking my brain to come up with funny--but I did find a few.

Dee Davis's Match Made on Madison was very funny. I haven't yet read Set Up in Soho, but I have faith it will be, too.

Kathleen O'Reilly's Blaze, Hot Under Pressure, while delivering the expected hot encounters and angst was also ROFLMAO-funny in places.

Stephanie Bond's Body Movers series has lots of situational humor.

Paul Collins' Sixpence House is not a novel but a memoir about a writer who moves his family to Hay-on-Wye, used-book mecca of the universe. It's wry and funny, for those whose senses of humor respond to such things.

Berta Platas' Lucky Chica has funny bits in it, and Berta and Michelle Roper's paranormal YA, The Tree Shepherd's Daughter (a National Book Award finalist in YA), is LOL funny in places. It's the first in their Faire Folk trilogy about a girl who goes to live with her dad, a RenFaire artist, after her mom dies and discovers he's actually an elf. Though it has a dark side, it features teenage angst with a humorous spin.

Nancy said...

Dianna and Jo--how could I forget Stephanie Plum? Lots of humor in there, especially with Grandma Mazur.

Nancy said...

Whooops--correction. The Tree Shepherd's Daughter finaled in National Readers Choice Awards, not National Book Award! My bad--misread the website.

Donna MacMeans said...

Okay, I'm ducking here. I LOVE, love, love Julie Garwood, but I hated Saving Grace. In fact, that's the book that made me thing that I could do better (of course, that was before I realized how difficult writing a novel can be). I thought after the first chapter that they should just sew the two plaids together. Couldn't believe it took a whole book to come to that solution. But I LOVE all her other books.

I'm a big SEP fan. Just chuckled my way through Natural Born Charmer. Did you know that SEP used to teach high school English here in Columbus? Why is it that some of the best comedic writers were high school teachers? (grin) I think it speaks to survival skills.

I love Jayne Anne Krentz as well - her quirky characters always make me smile.

While others prefer dark, scary or angsty stories, I love books and movies that make me laugh. Life's too short for more angst.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Lori!

Yep JG is on my keeper shelf, but I have to confess that with our first move I gave all my original copies to the library then missed the darn books so much and had to rebuy them in Florida. So when we moved to Texas I made sure they all made the trip!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Yep Emmanuelle! I'm a reading fanatic or attic, depending on who you ask. :)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Diana!

Do you know I avoid the Stephanie Plum series ONLY because there are so many and I'd have to start at the very beginning. And while that's a very good place to start, (Yes, I'm hearing Julie Andrews in my head right this moment), I'm afraid I'd get lost in the series and never find my way out!

On the other hand, I have read a lot of the reprints of Evanovich's early romances. What a hoot!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Joanie, joanie, joanie...you and Christine. I swear we need to have an intervention for the two of you. NO GAWOOD? NO SEP? Sigh.

But I do have to agree that BET ME was funny, funny book. My daughter read AGNES AND THE HIT MAN, and laughed a lot through that.

Anna Campbell said...

Congrats, Lime!

Suz, what a lovely post. My first SEP was LADY, BE GOOD which opens with our virginal English headmistress going to America to become not quite such a good girl. She gets picked up by this gorgeous guy at the airport and she's convinced he's a gigolo whereas in fact he's one of SEP's inimitable and wonderful sports heroes. This one plays golf and he's so laid back, he's almost catatonic until he meets our heroine who shakes him up! Great story! Love the mistaken identity plot. It's always worked for me, right from my teenage days of reading Barbara Cartlands!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Loretta Chase, Madame!!! She can write some of the wittiest dialogue I know. And GH goes without saying (although we're both saying it so that kinda takes that statement out of the water). Someone else who always makes me laugh out loud is Janet Mullany. She takes a lot of the conventions of the Regency romance and then turns them on their head in the wittiest way. Love her stuff.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Janga!

My younger daughter adores Mediros' work. In fact, she's probably got every one of her books autographed. It's been a while since I read her. (I think it was her veering off into paranormal that gave me pause.) So will have to look for her newest and give it a try.

And I'll add the regencies to my list of authors to check out. I'd forgotten how funny those can be, just based on the strict rules one couldn't help but break!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jo! It is fun to hear who and what makes other people laugh. I do admire Evanovich's humor, the Plum series, as I said up the blog comments, is the daunting thing for me, but maybe my daughter won't mind a thirteen book series to start. (Heck she stole all my early versions of Kenyon's Darkhunters and caught up with me quickly!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Susan!

SEP is pretty easy to reread, isn't she? I love the beginning of NATURAL BORN CHARMER, when the heroine is walking down the street in a beaver costume. REally? A Beaver? hehehe

I HAD a Kristin Higgins book here to read from nationals this year, but dang if that didn't go home with the daughter while she was pregnant. I'll have to remind her to return it so I can read it.

Nancy said...

Suz wrote: maybe my daughter won't mind a thirteen book series to start.

I love finding a series I can gobble up one after another. And the Plum books read very quickly.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Susan said:Alas, I'm only every funny accidentally. When I try on purpose it doesn't go well. ..

You know, that's why humor is really so hard to write. It has to flow naturally, usually from the characters reactions to the situation or each other.

One of the people who I think does this beautifully is my CP, Sandy Blair. Sandy's Scottish historicals are very much in the vein of JG and you laugh when the big brawny Scott doesn't understand how the wee little lass can get herself into or out of such messes.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Nancy!

See, that's why we need humor in our reading as well as in the books. If everything is dark, with no humor to relieve the load, then the dark will lose its appeal to. Just like in a dark book, a small bit of humor to relieve some of the tension allows the reader to take a breather before being pulled further into the dark plot.

(hehehe...sorry to go all philosophical on y'all!)

cheryl c said...

For a fun read, I pick up a book by Kristan Higgins or Rachel Gibson. I enjoy the authors you mentioned, too.

Nancy said...

Susan, I've always said I could not write funny. My sense of humor tends to the wry and sarcastic, which doesn't always come over well on paper.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Nancy said: Lots of humor in there, especially with Grandma Mazur. ...

That's another thing I like, when the author uses the secondary characters to give us that comic relief.

Nancy said...

Suz, comic relief characters have a long history. R2D2 and C3PO comes to mind as modern counterparts.

I'm always happy to have humor relieve the angst. One of the things I enjoyed about Stargate SG-1 was the humorous interplay between O'Neill and the others and Teal'c and the others. Its successors haven't done as well with that.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Donna!

Did you know that SEP used to teach high school English here in Columbus? Yes, I did. She also graduated from my alma mater, North High School.

I think teachers can make the best comedic writers simply because they've seen the funny ways people and kids interact.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Anna! How are things down under today?

While I love SEP books, not all of them have been my favorite. BUT her sports heroes? LOVED all of them, including LADY BE GOOD. And she could write macho football players with tender hearts forever and I'd buy them!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna and Madame,

While I haven't got Georgette Hyer on my keeper shelf, I did read all her books back in the day and remember chuckling at the dialogue. May have to steer the younger daughter towards her.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Cheryl C! Another Kristin Higgins and Rachel Gibson recommendation. Will definitely be checking them out!

Oh, and I forgot, Lori Wilde! Her YOU ONLY LOVE TWICE and THERE GOES THE BRIDE were very, very funny!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Nancy,

Speaking of secondary characters, Debbie Macombers' angels, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, are a hoot! The first time I read them in a book I was at work and my friends wanted to know what made me laugh so hard.

Another book that made me laugh out loud at work was THE MISTRESS by Amanda Quick. After they have sex the first time and he collapses, she thinks she's killed him with her virginity! hehehe

Nancy said...

Suz, I've heard that about Debbie Macomber's books before--but I had not heard that about Amanda Quick. I used to read those but drifted away when she moved more into mystery. I'll have to check that out.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Nancy,

The early Amanda Quick's all had the rather quirky heroine. There was one who kept leaving little bits of her outfits all over the place and the hero just got in the habit of picking up after her. The funny part was the heroine was absoloutely clueless that she was doing this. I also believe, (because it's been a while since I read that particular book), the habit ended up leading the hero to finding the heroine when she was abducted. Too funny.

The newer Amanda Quicks, while intriguing and I'm enjoying them, don't seem to have the same humorous parts to them.

catslady said...

Annette Blair comes to mind with her witch series. I'm in the middle of Tails of Love - an anthology with some humorous stories involving animals. I don't go for light humor too often but I always like some humor in all my stories. Julie Garwood is a good example.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Catslady!
I'm in the middle of Tails of Love - an anthology with some humorous stories involving animals...

I believe that our own Bandita, Donna MacMeans is one of the authors in that series, along with Lori Foster!

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, we're in the middle of a bit of a heat wave so it's darned uncomfortable down here at the moment. I've got to go out and post some stuff so I'm heading out now before the heat of the day descends.

Pissenlit said...

Congrats limecello! :)

Oh! Funny books! Though they're kid's books, I find Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series an absolute hoot! They always make me burst out laughing. Yesterday, I read the fifth(and last in the story arc? series? something like that) book, The Last Olympian*.

And It's been awhile since I read it but I remember guffawing through Lynsay Sands' Single White Vampire. I think I had to stop reading one scene 'cause I was laughing so hard. It's possible that it involved a heavily decorated codpiece that started out getting caught on a tablecloth. :D


*
Unfortunately, through no fault of the author/book, I've been humming tunes from Disney's Hercules ever since. :P

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, it's unseasonably warm for the last days of November down here in Texas...or is that up here to you? Sort of makes it hard for me to get in the mood for Christmas. Although all these new authors will make my Christmas wish list a little long for the family!

And yes, we do make Christmas wish lists for each other. We put pictures of books, CD's, clothes, jewelry, toys, etc.; where to buy them; and what sizes to get. Then we send them to everyone, so you ultimately get what you wish for, but don't know which items or who is buying it!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Pissenlit!

I'm currently revisiting some of my favorite Children's book authors with my grandbabies.

My oldest is 9 and reads a few years ahead of her school level. She likes scary books, (something she got from her mother), but we did read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle when she was younger. Very funny!

The babies are just now getting some Dr. Seuss books, so those are fun!

Will look for Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for the oldest to add to her presents!

Gillian Layne said...

Christie Craig has a new one out, Divorced, Desperate, and Deceived. She is a very funny writer.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Suz!

Popping in late to say GREAT POST!

You really should read the Stephanie Plum series. They are quick reads and the first four or five will have you literally howling with laughter! Yes, mostly at Grandma Mazur. :-)

I LOVE Jennie Crusie's earlier books too. Plus, our own Donna MacMeans does a GREAT JOB with the humor in Mrs. Brimley and Moonlight. I'm looking forward to her Seduction of a Duke (I asked Santa for a copy) and Tails of Love also.

AC

flchen1 said...

Ooh, I loove SEP! Definitely ditto on Crusie and Loretta Chase. I finally read something by Amanda Quick earlier this year after a friend recommended it--Ravished. That was definitely funny in parts as well as being a great read.

Joan said...

Suz I love Jane Graves' titles esp. Hot Wheels and High Heels. ROFL.....

Louisa Cornell said...

Doing a driveby as I am on a GH by Monday deadline!

Congrats Lime! Have fun!

Don't know if anyone has mentioned them but try Mary Janice Davidson's Undead series. Any series that starts with the line -

The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.

is well worth it. You will laugh your butt off at the shoe craving new unwilling Queen of the Vampires and her British, suave vampire king. It is a hoot!

And also try Stephanie Bond's In Deep Voodoo. OMG !! Trust me, you'll love it. Then move on to her Body Movers series. More fun!

Nancy said...

Fedora, I loved Ravished.

Keira Soleore said...

Suz, Julie James writes contemporary lawyer romances. She's very funny.

For a historical funny, I loved Loretta Chase's The Last Hellion.

Christine, *GASP*, you haven't read any Garwood historicals? Hie thee to a bookstore pronto!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I'm popping in for a moment, Suz, to say Hi! :> we just got home from a long Thanksgiving drive and I'm taking a moment of quiet time with the computer. Ha!

I'm with your daughter in missing funny books. :> It's been harder to find LOL funny books.

Thurber always does it for me, if I'm desperate. Nora's books, as your friend pointed out, can make me laugh. Kinsey Milhone, in the A-is for Alibi mysteries makes me laugh. Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich's series makes me laugh.

My dogs make me laugh, if all else fails, and so do my children.

Ye Olde Banditas do too...And now's a good time for a laugh, so...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Suzanne, I think you would love them, just get them and pace yourself.........LOL

Addison Fox said...

Suz:

What a fun topic - I loved talking with you about this last week. There is just something about reading a book that makes you laugh so hard that is such a wonderful feeling.

One of my favorite memories of a funny book was reading the Stephanie Plum series. I love Janet Evanovich's writing, but #5 is my hands-down favorite. I read that book on a plane and I laughed so hard the person next to me probably thought I was having fits!

Addison