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Convenience Store Woman

by Sayaka Murata

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is another book where the average Goodreads rating was relatively low (3.71 at the time of writing this review) but the book was a 5★ read for me.

This may be partly because I used to work in a supermarket (& sadly that wasn’t the nadir of my working life) We didn’t have inspirational chants or anything like that, but doing mundane tasks well was how I kept feeling of value in this world. To say I don’t miss it, is putting it mildly.

I think my enjoyment may have been enhanced by the translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori Generally any (originally) Japanese language books I have read have seemed detached & a bit stiff, so I thought that must be the writing style. But this book had a warm natural flow

This book is slyly amusing with a good underlying message. That would be we are all different & just because Keiko’s choices wouldn’t be yours that doesn’t make them wrong. That makes them right for her.

Recommended.

My Sister the Serial Killer

by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mum, it talked! The doll talked!”
“She is not a doll, Korede. She is a baby, your baby sister. You’re a big sister now. And big sisters look after little sisters.”

This book just shows that as readers we are all different. It has a relatively low rating on Goodreads (3.70 at the time of writing) but I loved it.

I was originally attracted by the gorgeous cover art & the hilarious (to me) title.

The humour is very dark – I mean the (spoilt) sister is a serial killer but there are a lot of other themes too – blind loyalty, manipulation, love, making choices.

I loved the cultural touches as well as I have never been to Africa, let alone Nigeria. The author doesn’t spoon-feed her reader at all, so you may need Google. If you don’t like YA writing you may not like the writing style – the author uses the flat American style of YA writing – fortunately that is a style I love. (& yes, I know the writer isn’t American!)

The ending is abrupt but I found it gave me a lot to think about.

Recommended.

Love in a Cold Climate

by Nancy Mitford

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Oh what a pity it happens to be Davey’s day for getting drunk. I long to tell him, he will be so much interested.”

This was such a problematic read for me!

This should have been a 5★ read for me. The book was very well written, witty & with a far better storyline than The Pursuit of Love which I gave 4. 5★.

I know this was written as a satire but the part I can’t stomach is child molester Boy. He did get his comeuppance though, but it is almost treated as a minor annoyance! I was relieved to read some criticism of Boy near the end of the book It is never something I’m going to find funny. And this book, like The Pursuit of Love, treats death quite casually. Maybe that is to be expected in an author who lived through two world wars.

But I loved many of the characters (especially Cedric – so much fun!) & look forward to Don’t Tell Alfred, the final book in this trilogy.

The Passionate Witch

by Thorne Smith

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Anyone coming to this book because it was the inspiration for the film I Married a Witch, which in turn inspired a favourite programme of my childhood, Bewitched

expecting the sexist but silly fun of the above (as a child I could never understand what Samantha saw in Darrin – what a drip!) will be disappointed. Thorne Smith died aged only 42 before this book was completed and he was a pretty far gone alcoholic by then. Goodness knows what hallucinations he was having while experiencing the d.t.s!

I would be prepared to bet the first 50 pages were all Smith, as I had a few chuckles at the early adventures of the stuffed shirt businessman and tee-totaller T. Wallace Wooly. That changed on page 51 where Wooly was cruel to a horse. I’m just never going to find cruelty to animals funny.

Maybe Smith had sketched out some rough ideas that Norman Matson (the author who completed this book) followed because there was the occasional funny line & I found some of witch Jennifer’s pranks hilarious, especially when Wooly could read people’s thoughts! These parts were inspired!

I enjoyed the b/w illustrations by Herbert Roese.

The example I’ve selected is from Chapter X, the wonderfully named They Let Anyone Live in Miami.

Indeed.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

by Chelsea Handler

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I watch a lot of American (or American based) hosts of late night shows on You Tube. I’m not a big fan of Jimmy Kimmel, but the title of this book made me think I would enjoy Chelsea as a guest host.

Which I did.

Her take no prisoners style of delivery on the show made me a fan, & wish Chelsea would get her own talk show again.

I don’t know if Chelsea’s style works for me so well in print, although I certainly laughed out loud quite a few times.

How they grow grapes in a part of town that is mostly populated by gangs and high-rises is beyond me, but when alcohol is involved, I rarely ask questions.

As a tip, I think would have been a happier person if I hadn’t read Chapter 8. I’m still trying to find a way to bleach it from my brain.

Pomfret Towers

by Angela Thirkell

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My favourite Thirkell so far!

I will be honest & say that until I devoured this book, I didn’t quite get the Thirkell Mania that some of the members of the Retro Reads (one of my Goodreads groups) feel. But this title charmed me! It didn’t quite make 5★ because, for me, there was a bit of a lull after an absolutely sparkling beginning.

This book is mainly about shy (extremely shy) Alice Barton receiving a normally much sought after invitation to join a weekend party at Pomfret Towers. While Alice’s shyness becomes tiresome after a while, as a shy person myself, I can understand the agonies Alice went through.

But the party, while a bit difficult & full of lively characters leads to Alice having both her first infatuation & finding true love.

I particularly liked the characters of writers, Mrs Barton & Mrs Rivers. I think possibly Ms Thirkell gave them elements of her own personality. (I can remember reading an article about Thirkell where one of her sons said he loved his mother, but she was completely bonkers!) The good Angela & the bad Angela?

I was also relieved that there was none of Thirkell’s usual casual racism.

If you are wanting to escape to another world (& in 2022 who can blame you!) & enjoy lighthearted humour, I can recommend this book.

Artificial Condition

by Martha Wells

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I didn’t love this one as much as I loved All Systems Red (there were a couple of lulls) but I still enjoyed it very much!

The book is full of amusing quotes like this one;

Now that I knew something was hacking the security cameras to watch me, I could use countermeasures. I probably should have been doing that from the beginning, but as you may have noticed that for a terrifying murderbot I fuck up a lot.

The entertainment media addicted Murderbot is not doing a very good job of hiding a kindly…heart??? & I love that Murderbot now has a sidekick!

I still have some credit on an Amazon gift card, so I am looking forward to picking up the next installment.

All Systems Red

by Martha Wells

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book turned out to be everything I want in a science fiction book!

Now, before anyone gets too excited, what I really like in my science fiction is a bit of humour (like the Hitchhiker Books) – & this book had it in spades! After a great start, this novel did slow down for a while, then headed for the finale with a breathtaking speed. I laughed out loud often enough for my husband to finally poke his head through the door to ask me what was so funny!

For example:

Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.

I enjoyed Murderbot a Sec Unit, (who reminded me of Marvin the Paranoid Android) develop feelings for his humans whether he wanted to or not!

Definitely my best 21st century read so far this year, & I’m just about to buy the next installment!

Right Ho, Jeeves

by P.G Wodehouse

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I laughed outloud so many times whilst reading this book, in which poor deluded Bertie thinks he can manage other people’s affair better than that most impeccable of manservants, Jeeves. It isn’t a spoiler to say that of course Bertie can’t, & much hilarity ensues.

In particular you should look out for Aunt Dahlia giving instructions to Bertram what he should look out for when going for a walk & an impassioned speech from the French chef, Anatole.

I’m not knocking half a ★ off for one piece of casual racism. (I’m wondering if it has been censored from other copies as none of my friends at Retro Reads have mentioned it) but because just before the peerless Jeeves  resolved everything,  there was a portion where it dragged. The resolution though was highly satisfactory & left me craving more Wodehouse!

Mophead Tu

by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved Mophead and I love it’s sequel as well!

Selina (NZ’s Poet Laureate at the time) is invited to read a poem to the Queen at Westminster Abbey.

Being called a


doesn’t phase her, but having to work from a word that the Queen has chosen calls for a bit of thinking and reflection.

The book that has resulted is hilarious!

The illustrations aren’t quite the same quality as the first Mophead book (but I love this one of the late Prince Philip!)

This book has some important and thought provoking messages.

Rock on, Selina!