Posts Tagged ‘humorous fiction’

The 100-year-old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

The 100-year-old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Find this book in our catalog)

I zipped through this book and highly recommend it for all who love dry and searching humor.

I think The 100-year-old Man would appeal to fans of Forrest Gump by Winston Groom or of  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  The three books have humor in common, all are quests, in all three the protagonists meet interesting and quirky characters.

The book has sold very well around the world.  The Swedish translates into a spare and matter-of fact prose that really goes with the character – a really old man who has seen it all and believes in just going with what life dishes out.  Cheerfully!

With modest common sense and deadpan humor he sums up the world leaders he has come across in his accidental tour through the political hotspots of the Twentieth Century.

He also meets a cast of far from ordinary ordinary characters as he goes philosophically on his way. For me, as well as the humor, the charm of the book is the sense of real friendship and love that develops between the most unpromising people.

The publisher’s blurbs do not do this complex and totally adsorbing book justice, but here is a taste of what it says in our catalog:

“After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.”

You can also read more for yourself when you go to our catalog to place your hold.


Book to Movie – Austenland, Opens August 16

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

The first trailer has been released for the movie Austenland, adapted from the novel, Austenland by Shannon Hall (Find the book in our catalog). Indiewire reported that the project, “looks like a pretty cutesy, girls-night-out kinda flick…” Austenland opens August 16.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog:  “Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen–or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?”- (McMillan Palgrave)


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Friday, July 12th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog).

Harold Fry is the most ordinary of men. He leads a humdrum existence where he appears to be estranged from his son, & he & his wife sleep in separate rooms with little communication between them. One day, however, he receives a letter that changes his life. An old friend & ex-colleague writes to say she is dying of cancer. Harold decides to write back but when he goes to the post box, he just keeps going & begins a pilgrimage that takes him from the south west of England to the far north east where Queenie is in a hospice. On the way Harold meets some interesting characters & goes through a personal transformation. Back home, his wife also begins to examine her life. Although, initially, quite a slow-paced story, it picks up, with some surprises & insight not only into the main characters but those around them. This is a different book for those looking for a thoughtful & entertaining read.

Read more about the author at

Find Information about the author’s new book, Perfect  at

A Daily Mail article about Rachel & her father, who died of cancer.–real-hero-novel-win-Booker.html

This was the Abingdon Book Group read for July.

Posted by Julia

Classic Romances

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

According to Romance Writers of America, purchases of romance novels outstrip every other fiction genre.  Here are some older but still classy romances you may have missed.  Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig.  “Deciding that true romantic heroes are a thing of the past, Eloise Kelly, an intelligent American who always manages to wear her Jimmy Choo suede boots on the day it rains, leaves Harvard’s Widener Library bound for England to finish her dissertation on the dashing pair of spies the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. What she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: a secret history that begins with a letter dated 1803. Eloise has found the secret history of the Pink Carnation—the most elusive spy of all time, the spy who single-handedly saved England from Napoleon’s invasion. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation , a wildly imaginative and highly adventurous debut, opens with the story of a modern-day heroine but soon becomes a book within a book. Eloise Kelly settles in to read the secret history hoping to unmask the Pink Carnation’s identity, but before she can make this discovery, she uncovers a passionate romance within the pages of the secret history that almost threw off the course of world events. How did the Pink Carnation save England? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly find a hero of her own?”

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie.  “This is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Crusie’s novel about long shots, risk management, true love, and great shoes. . . . Minerva Dobbs knows how to work the odds. Calvin Morrisey always plays to win. But when they face off, neither one is prepared. Because when real life meets true love, all bets are off. . . . Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet, even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs, even if she does wear great shoes and keep him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again. But fate has other plans, and it’s not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon they’re dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.”

The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna M. Bourne.  “She’s never met a man she couldn’t deceive…until now. She’s braved battlefields. She’s stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She’s played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can’t outwit.”


Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  “Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard is the luckiest man in the world: a bona-fide sports superstar and the pride of the NFL with a profitable side career as a buff billboard model for End Zone underwear. But life in the glory lane has started to pale, and Dean has set off on a cross-country trip to figure out what’s gone wrong. When he hits a lonely stretch of Colorado highway, he spies something that will shake up his gilded life in ways he can’t imagine. A young woman . . . dressed in a beaver suit. Blue Bailey is on a mission to murder her ex. Or at least inflict serious damage. As for the beaver suit she’s wearing . . . Is it her fault that life keeps throwing her curveballs? Witness the expensive black sports car pulling up next to her on the highway and the Greek god stepping out of it. Blue’s career as a portrait painter is the perfect job for someone who refuses to stay in one place for very long. She needs a ride, and America’s most famous football player has an imposing set of wheels. Now, all she has to do is keep him entertained, off guard, and fully clothed before he figures out exactly how desperate she is. But Dean isn’t the brainless jock she imagines, and Blue-despite her petite stature-is just about the toughest woman Dean has ever met. They’re soon heading for his summer home where their already complicated lives and inconvenient attraction to each other will become entangled with a charismatic but aging rock star; a beautiful fifty-two-year-old woman trying to make peace with her rock and roll past; an eleven-year-old who desperately needs a family; and a bitter old woman who hates them all. As the summer progresses, the wandering portrait artist and the charming football star play a high-stakes game, fighting themselves and each other for a chance to have it all. Natural Born Charmer is for everyone who’s ever thought about leaving their old life in the dust and never looking back. Susan Elizabeth Phillips takes us home again . . . and shows us where love truly lives.”


The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

(Find this book in our catalog)  If you are a bit of an anglophile & like a gentle read that is very quirky & humorous, then this might be the book for you. Ms. Stuart tells the story of Balthazar Jones, who lives with his wife in one of the buildings at the Tower of London, where he is a Beefeater, or Yeoman Warder. His life is about to be turned upside down when he becomes the organizer of the Queen’s Menagerie that is being relocated to the Tower from the London Zoo. Mayhem ensues, from lost penguins to a lonely Albatross. A colorful cast of characters make this an entertaining story, yet it is not without pathos.  Hebe, Balthazar’s wife, & her friend,Valerie, work at a lost property office. They add an unusual & interesting dimension of interest as they try to reunite owners & items at the same time as making sense of their own lives. Recommended as a fun read that also contains nuggets of English history connected to The Tower.

Ms. Stuart also wrote The Matchmaker of Perigord set in a small French village. As the local barber’s business declines, he decides to become the town matchmaker. This very charming & delightful book is another easy read with entertaining characters & gentle humor.

Posted by Julia

Book to Movie – Savages

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

  Universal released its first trailer for Oliver Stone’s Savages which is adapted from the novel by Don Winslow and stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. reported that “Universal was impressed enough to move the film from fall into the July 6 slot.”

Summary of the novel in our catalog:  “A breakthrough novel that pits young kingpins against a Mexican drug cartel, Savages is a provocative, sexy, and sharply funny thrill ride through the dark side of the war on drugs and beyond. Part-time environmentalist and philanthropist Ben and his ex-mercenary buddy Chon run a Laguna Beach-based marijuana operation, reaping significant profits from their loyal clientele. In the past when their turf was challenged, Chon took care of eliminating the threat. But now they may have come up against something that they can’t handle–the Mexican Baja Cartel wants in, and sends them the message that a “no” is unacceptable. When they refuse to back down, the cartel escalates its threat, kidnapping Ophelia, the boys’ playmate and confidante. O’s abduction sets off a dizzying array of ingenious negotiations and gripping plot twists that will captivate readers eager to learn the costs of freedom and the price of one amazing high. Following “the best summertime crime novel ever” ( San Francisco Chronicle on The Dawn Patrol ), bestselling author Winslow offers up a smash hit in the making. Savages is an ingenious combination of adrenaline-fueled suspense and true-crime reportage by a master thriller writer at the very top of his game.”  (We also have the Audio Book on CDs and an MP3 CD)


True Grit

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The Movie True Grit based on the book by Charles Portis (Find this book in our catalog), opens this Wednesday, December 22.  Jeff Bridges stars in this Coen Brothers remake of the story about a U.S. marshal hired to track down a murderer.  The film is based more on the 1968 novel than the 1969 movie classic starring John Wayne.

Summary from our catalog: “Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America’s foremost writers. True Grit, his most famous novel, was first published in 1968, and became the basis for the movie starring John Wayne and now the film by the Coen brothers starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father’s blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory. True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true status, this is an American classic through and through.”

Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Wins Montana Book Award

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: a Novel by Jamie Ford (Find this book in our catalog) won the 2009 Montana Book Award, which recognizes literary and/or artistic excellence in a book that was written or illustrated by someone who lives in Montana, is set in Montana, or deals with Montana themes or issues.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog:

“This debut novel tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life (Jim Tomlinson, author of Things Kept, Things Left Behind).”

Consider also checking out these honor books by the Montana Book Award Committee:
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the fire that saved America by Timothy Egan
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Muletrain to Maggody: an Arly Hanks Mystery by Joan Hess

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I have just finished reading Muletrain to Maggody by Joan Hess (Find this book in our catalog).

This is the 2004 entry in the colorful, humorous, larger-than-life, irreverent, and marginally politically correct series about feisty Police Chief Arly Hanks in the sleepy Arkansas town of Maggody. I have always liked Chief Hanks and her attempts to stay sane in a town of misfits, some of whom are benign, some of whom are vicious and many of whom are inbred. In this story she has to battle cannily with the local county sheriff in order to get his help with a suspicious death that occurred among a group of Civil War reenactors, who have descended on the town to make a documentary movie about a lost muletrain of Confederate Gold. A bizarre cast of characters take over the isolated town and add their own tortured motives to the already confusing mix of red herrings Arly has to pursue in identifying the killer. The locals add to Arly’s problems – everyone seems to think he or she is entitled to the Confederate gold, could they just find its hiding place in the local system of caves. Everyone is hiding something. Two senior citizens just disappear on Cotter’s Ridge, and the local home-ec teacher goes missing too.

I have liked all the books in this series. Despite at first seeming to be a case of the Dukes of Hazard meets Murder She Wrote, this story, like the others, is a carefully crafted and satisfying classic closed-community mystery. All the diverse plot lines neatly come together in the end. The clues are there for the alert reader to see. This caricature of Arkansas country life may seem very broadly drawn, yet Joan Hess cunningly skewers greed, infidelity, and hypocrisy in her characters. Their vanity and self-absorption lead to outcomes ranging from burlesque to tragedy. Evil stalks the quiet community and another, this time harmless, soul falls victim to violence before all is sorted out. Arly does always manage to sort things out, and things get back to what passes for normality; but under the comedy there lingers a sense of seriousness and sadness.

Family dramas of the best kind

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Here are some books you might enjoy if you like warm, funny and achingly human family dramas:

*The Family Man by Elinor Lipman Find this book in our catalog
“An hysterical phone call from his ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend Henry Archer’s well-ordered life. They bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago. Henry is a lawyer, an old-fashioned man, gay, successful, lonely. Thalia is now twenty-nine, an actress, hopeful, estranged from her newly widowed crackpot mother – Denise, Henry’s ex. Hoping it will lead to better things for her career, Thalia agrees to pose as the girlfriend of a former sitcom star and current horror-movie luminary who is down on his romantic luck. When Thalia and her complicated social life move into the basement of Henry’s Upper West Side townhouse, she finds a champion in her long-lost father, and he finds new life—and maybe even new love—in the commotion.” (catalog notes)
*About a Boy by Nick Hornby Find this book in our catalog
“Inventing a son got Will into a single parents support group, but rather than a fabulous new sex life, he found someone else’s very real son–a 12-year-old with a lot to teach about being a grown up.” (catalog notes)
*Step-Ball-Change : a novel by Jeanne Ray Find this book in our catalog
“With a ringing phone, Jeanne Ray’s charming and amusing new novel gets off to a rollicking start that never lets up. Not for a minute. On the other end of the phone is Caroline’s daughter, Kay, a public defender like her father, sobbing at the improbably good news that the richest, most eligible boy in Raleigh, North Carolina, has asked her to marry him. While Caroline and Tom are trying to digest this, the other phone, the “children’s line,” rings; it is Caroline’s sister, Taffy, hysterical over her husband’s decision to leave her for a woman two years younger than her daughter. Soon Taffy is wending her way up from Atlanta to seek solace in her sister’s home, even though the two have been separated by more than just geography for the past forty years. With her is her little dog, Stamp, who has a penchant for biting ankles and stealing hearts. Tom and Caroline quickly realize that the wedding their future son-in-law’s family is envisioning for nine-hundred-plus guests is to be their fiscal responsibility. To top it all off, the foundation of their home is in danger of collapsing and their contractor and his crew have all but moved in. It’s a thundering whirlwind of emotion that finally boils down to: Who is in love with whom? and Who’s going to get the next dance? Wise, funny, and impossible to put down, Step-Ball-Change is peopled with characters you feel you have known your whole life. It’s the kind of book that you can’t bear to see end.” (catalog notes)
*Busy Woman Seeks Wife by Annie Sanders Find this book in our catalog
“When Alex Hill’s demanding mother moves in with her, Alex realizes she needs someone more committed than a maid–what she needs is a “wife.” Someone distinctly male shows up, and Alex can’t help wondering if her new “wife” could perhaps have husband potential.” (catalog notes)