The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life by Mark Lowery

Mark Lowery* is a funny guy! I should know, I had the hilarious pleasure of sharing a kitchen with him for a year when we were both mature (mature… snort) students at the University of Winchester. You’ve never really laughed until you’ve seen Mark sing Madonna’s Hanky Panky at pub karaoke night.

I loved Mark’s first two books (Socks Are Not Enough and Pants Are Everything-both shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize), so when his latest book was available I ordered my copy straight away.


Jam DoughnutA jam-fuelled week of disaster is set in motion by a single doughnut!

Roman Garstang is obsessed with food – particularly Squidgy Splodge raspberry-jam doughnuts – but he is about to learn that things are not always as sugar-coated as they might seem. Because of his Monday-morning jam doughnut, Roman’s week takes a very sticky turn . . .

By Friday Roman has been banned from eating for 24hrs, narrowly avoided a faceful of warm toddler-wee, accidentally shoplifted, been given a lift in a getaway van, styled his teacher’s guinea pig with a blue mohawk, started an OAP** riot . . . and still barely managed to scoff a crumb – or lick – of a single doughnut.

Who knew jam could be so deadly?


Mark has a real talent for writing the absurd. In the great British tradition of Basil Fawlty and Mr Bean, NOTHING goes right for our hapless hero, fate conspires against him at every turn and all his best intentions go horribly, hilariously wrong.

But more than that, Mark has the best turns of phrase. He writes things that make me laugh out loud as a reader and turn green with envy as a writer. Why didn’t I think to describe school cafeteria chocolate sponge as ‘as dry as a lizard’s underpants’?

I’d recommend this book to readers who like the Captain Underpants books, The Twits, Gangsta Granny and rooting for the underdog.

To find out more about Mark and his books (and read one of the funniest author bios of all time) visit his website: http://www.marklowery.co.uk/

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*Since I know Mark, I can’t promise this review is 100% impartial BUT it is at least 99.99% impartial. If I hadn’t liked Jam Doughnut, I would have slunk away and hidden in the corner and never spoken to Mark again for fear he might ask me what I thought of it.

**For those reading this in America, OAP stands for Old Age Pensioners

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It’s October, let the Halloween countdown begin!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Costumes and candy, what’s not to like? These days I get my thrills vicariously by handing out sweets at the door, but when I was a kid there was nothing like going out trick-or-treating with a group of friends.

Halloween 198?: That's me as Rainbow Brite

Halloween 198?: That’s me as Rainbow Brite

Here are 13 spooky books to celebrate the season:

1. In a Dark Dark Room and other Scary Stories Alvin Schwartz, Dirk Zimmer (Illustrator) This was the first ‘scary’ book that I had, and I loved it beyond compare. A collection of short stories with just enough scare for young readers.

2. I Spy Spooky Night: A Book of Picture Riddles Jean Marzollo, Walter Wick (Photographer) From the mad scientist’s laboratory in the basement to a spooky cemetery in the backyard, this visual walk through a haunted house is hours of spine tingling fun!

3. The Gashlycrumb Tinies Edward Gorey The definition of macabre.

4. Coraline Neil Gaiman This story is exciting and eerie, and does what all the best fairytales do: speaks to our deepest fears and helps us face them.

5. Clockwork Philip Pullman I won’t spoil it for you, I’ll just say I love how this book comes together. And it features the most terrifying ‘cuckoo clock’ of all time…

6. Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth E.L. Konigsburg After reading this book, I became obsessed with becoming a witch. Not strictly spooky, but a great story about loneliness and friendship (and witches).

7. The Pickle King Rebecca Promitzer The atmosphere of this book is so deliciously oppressive it felt like I was reading underwater. And there are ghosts too!

8. Skulduggery Pleasant Derek Landy A great action series with a skeleton detective and his apprentice/sidekick, Valkyrie Cane.

9. The Witches Roald Dahl Roald Dahl pulls no punches, the Grand High Witch is the scariest character I encountered as a child.

10. The Wardstone Chronicles Joseph Delaney Another great series. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, specially gifted to fight creatures of evil. The books follow his apprenticeship with the current Spook (professional evil-fighter) as he learns and battles all manner of things that go bump in the night.

11. One Day at Horrorland (Goosebumps #16) R.L. Stine I read Goosebumps like they were popcorn, but this was always a special favorite because of my childhood summers at Wonderland in Ocean City.

12. All the Lovely Bad Ones Mary Downing Hahn A classic haunting story, with some very naughty children…

13. The Letter, The Witch and the Ring John Bellairs I could put all of John Bellairs’ modern-gothic books on this list, but this one will always be my favorite. Rose Rita Pottinger and her friend (and real live witch) Mrs. Zimmerman are drawn into a terrifying world of occult mysteries.


  • Fun random fact: The baby in that picture is Ryan O’Keefe from the band River Whyless. Clifford the Big Red Dog is his brother Brendan: puppeteer, performer, builder of magical dwellings, and general renaissance man. The little Rainbow Brite? That’s me!