Indie Spotlight: April 2022
In this month’s thematic roundup of BookLife titles, we feature humorous and satirical fiction, memoir, and more.Alice’s Adventures Under Water
Lenny de Rooy
About the book: This book is a continuation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland stories, written in Carroll’s familiar style, but packed with a great number of new puns, poems, parodies, and satires. This time, Alice explores an underwater world where she meets new characters who, once again, make her wonder about their strange logic and behavior.
Author statement: “I have been studying Lewis Carroll’s Alice books and maintaining a popular website about these stories for about 25 years, focusing on their origins and the more or less obscure references that can be found in them. Because I know these books and their background so well, I felt it was finally time to try my hand at a sequel that would be as true as possible to the original tales.”
Havoc & Happiness
About the book: Michaela Peters didn’t let dying get her down. After all, it was only for a few minutes, and the hospital had paid her a huge settlement. Now she’s an emancipated minor with nine million dollars in the bank and her entire future ahead of her. Life could be a heck of a lot worse! Michaela moves to Montana, determined to enjoy the queer high school drama life is serving up. Instead, she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a fight between horrible monsters, which shift with a person’s imagination, and the gorgeous, trigger-happy siblings who hunt them.
Author statement: “Havoc & Happiness is a comedy without being a parody, a sapphic love story, and a monster-hunting adventure. I wrote it because I was tired of queer content that was always so painfully depressing! Especially for teens, it’s always about the pain and challenges of coming out, instead of just an expression of love and joy about my community. Havoc & Happiness reflects my own experiences—with a magical twist, of course!”
My Very Punny Dad
Ryan Milligan, illus. by Justin Castaneda
About the book: My Very Punny Dad is a children’s story for parents with an appreciation of wordplay and kids who are starting to understand all the silly ways in which language can be used. While a young girl goes about her day, her father wants to keep the laughs coming with his constant puns and “dad jokes.” But just like snacking on cheese, can there be too much of a gouda thing?
Author statement: “I have been a fan of wordplay for many years; Amelia Bedelia was my favorite book series growing up. When I became a father myself, I wanted to create a unique reading experience that could be enjoyed by both kids and their parents. Since I couldn’t find any works that actually blended puns with rhythm and rhyme in a full story format, I decided to take on the challenge. English is quite a nuanced language, and the book went through countless rounds of editing to ensure a coherent story and consistent flow. While there are underlying themes of family, love, and respect, My Very Punny Dad is ultimately meant to be a fun and silly read. Creativity and humor are two things I value very much, and language is something that can be used outside its rules and constructs to make people laugh.”
About the book: Meet newly minted nobleman Malfred Murd—the former Royal Fool turned outcast, then con man, then hero. After saving a mildly magical, technologically advanced country from oblivion, anyone else might rest on his lorro-leaves and enjoy being esquire of his very own town, however small. But Fred simply can’t help plunging back into his own special brew of trouble, and this time he takes on a task that’s outrageous even for him: going undercover to bust the biggest crime boss in a vast and decadent city. This page-turning comic fantasy gives readers a second entry point into Sandor’s blend of comedy, crime novel, and adventure.
Author statement: “I’m an illustrator and a former advertising copywriter who decided to take my imagination to the next level by sharing my wordplay and my worldview with you! Join me in and indulge in my own love of strongly drawn characters; long, twisty, and tasty sentences; sensory descriptions that grab you by the imagination; and laughter that hides a serious soul.”
The Secret Sign of the Lizard People
Kevin E. Buckley
About the book: When partners in crime-reduction Jerry “Leafy” Green and Bill “Beefy” Goodness—two of the LAPD’s most skilled homicide detectives—investigate the bizarre killing of a fashion model at the Hollywood sign, it soon becomes clear that this murder is part of a much larger conspiracy that threatens not only the people of America, but the entire population of the planet.
Author statement: “Three simultaneous, yet seemingly unrelated occurrences converged to inspire this book. Firstly, the global resurgence of populism to a level not seen since before the Second World War. Secondly, the immense power and wealth wielded by the giant corporations and the ever-expanding billionaire class and their cynical denial of the ongoing industrial-scale destruction of our planet’s flora and fauna. And last, but by no means least, the huge popularity of the UFO counter-culture and the resultant conspiracy theories that now resonate throughout our literature and social media.”
Roy M. Griefs
About the book: This humorous new interpretation of the Lovcraftian mythos imagines those Dread Beings as part of a large otherworldly corporation. Narg, our hero, was content working as a Damnation Services-10 in HR. Sure, he was related to one of the Elder Gods, but a little nepotism never hurt any Thing. His life was just wailing and gibbering, right up until his uncle needed a small favor from his nephew. All Narg had to do was go down among the humans... and pretend to be one of them.
Author statement: “I had completed a six-volume historical fiction series that was pretty serious. I was a bit worn out from the effort of the research and the crafting of the series. Then my old high school girlfriend—first love, first and forever fan—died unexpectedly and in pretty tragic circumstances. Then my mother died a few months later. I couldn’t write a damn thing for a year. When I was finally able to start writing again, I needed to write something light—nay, something outlandish.”
Memoir & Nonfiction
To B&B or Not to B&B: Deromanticizing the Dream
About the book: In this memoir, Marko recounts her dreadful and hilarious experiences in hosting the public through 14 years of B and B ownership.
Author statement: “I kind of wrote this book by accident. I was living in the literal middle of nowhere, hosting guests in the B and B and managing the whole business and acreage by myself after my ex and I had a rather messy breakup. There was no time to seek out therapy and I sure didn’t have the cash to take a holiday myself, so I created my own therapeutic process to cope with the anger, frustrations, insults, and hurt feelings that I received from my guests. After they checked out, I would pour myself a large glass of wine and sit down at my desk, open up my laptop, and pound out all the ugly offenses I had suffered. About when the glass was empty, I would save them to a file buried deep in the computer, and that was it: purge complete! A couple of years after selling the B and B, I opened up that file in my laptop and was really surprised to see how many stories there were—probably enough for three books!”
I Could Hardly Keep From Laughing: An Illustrated Collection of Vermont Humor
Don Hooper and Bill Mares
About the book: With cartoons by Don Hooper and prose by Bill Mares, I Could Hardly Keep from Laughing is a potpourri of art and words documenting how Vermont humor has evolved over 150 years, retelling some treasured stories to highlight more than a dozen modern humorists. Includes a foreword by Jeff Danziger, political cartoonist, author, and recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast Prize.
Author statement: “Don and Bill met 35 years ago, as first-term representatives in the Vermont legislature from Brookfield and Burlington, respectively. They invented many jokes and quips to fill their days, and, in 2018, when Don asked Bill what his next book would be, quick as lightning Bill said, ‘A history of Vermont humor, but only if you’ll do it with me!’ ”
The Lighter Side
About the book: The Lighter Side is a collection of 32 stories and a selection of poems written after the author’s husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Author statement: “Poetry can craft more skillfully what prose finds clumsy. I am a prolific writer who writes predominantly for a female audience. People identify with the situations my husband and I experienced during his cancer journey. My stories show people another way to respond to tragedies that happen in our lives. We can choose to be victims, or we can choose to use every bad situation as a learning experience. I choose to entertain others!”