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!

Dear Donald Trump

by Sophie Siers

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is the title this book was published under in the author’s home country of New Zealand. In other countries this book was published as Dear Mr President.

Interestingly, my review received fewer likes than usual on Goodreads.

This book has a lot of charm.

Young Sam has a problem. His older brother keeps winding him up – & they share a room. Sam needs advice – fast. Who better to turn to than the most powerful man (at the time of writing) on Earth? & Trump is building a wall. Surely a wall would be the answer to all Sam’s problems.

The humour is gentle, but the book makes it’s point. It has a moral but doesn’t hit the reader over the head with it.

Trump haters – his presence is very subtle;

Spot the Trump!


Summer Half

by Angela Thirkell

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I was so hoping this would be a Thirkell that I could wholeheartedly recommend, as I found the beginning very amusing. Minor character Edith reminded me greatly of a family member of my husband’s who never listens properly!

“Well,” said Colin, “I went over to Southbridge today and saw the headmaster. I think…”

“I don’t know him well but I know his wife,” said Edith, “She is charming. My brothers were there when Mr Birkett was the headmaster of the preparatory school, and they adored him.”

“I liked him very much. We had quite a long talk and he said…”

“Then you can give me really good advice about sending Henry there…”

You get the idea!

There were parts that showed a quite magical England in the countryside.

But the book for me had three faults;

• The supposed main character Colin was the least interesting in the book.

• Nothing much happened for very long periods of time.

• A piece of really appalling racism in Chapter 6. Normally I am very good at shrugging this stuff off as a product of it’s time, but this was really bad & frankly, really unnecessary.

I could still laugh at dim bulb Rose & I do hope to meet the outspoken Lydia again some time, but I have had to reduce the rating for this book.

A pity. The parts I enjoyed, I enjoyed very much.

Rhodendron Pie

by Margery Sharp

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Firstly, thanks to my very good Goodreads friend, Abigail, for sending me a copy of this book. I enjoyed it very much!

Abigail is a retired proofreader, & all the typos & missed punctuation obviously drove her bonkers as she has put little proofreaders marks right through the book! 😊 Was the original this poorly edited or have the mistakes crept in on this edition? I guess I’ll never know!

Still need to give Dean Street Press big ups for rescuing this gem from obscurity – it was Ms Sharp’s first book and hadn’t been republished since 1930!

The father of the Laventie children had passed on to his two elder children both his artistic inclinations & his really odious air of self satisfaction. (although Elizabeth is nothing like as bad as her male relatives) He hasn’t noticed that his daughter Ann is more, well… ordinary & aspires to quite a different life. When it looks like Father, Dear, Father will try to thwart this, help comes from a surprising source!

Sharp out Thirkells ([authorimage:Angela Thirkell|142160]) throughout this book. She is far more perceptive, far more witty & Sharp only falters with a slightly clumsy ending – total forgivable in a first novel when the writer was only 24!

I will definitely search for more of her adult books – although some of the old hardbacks (including this one!) are an absolutely eye watering price!

No Bed for Bacon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dagglebelt almost snatched the held-out pumpkin in his eagerness. His big chance had come. “Now just watch me a minute,”he pleaded. He planted his feet in an open fourth. He threw up one pumpkin. He threw up another. He threw up the third. “Juggler, “explained the Master of the Revels. Breathing heavily Dagglebelt caught the first pumpkin. He clutched at the second. He missed the third. “A bad juggler,” said Burghley disappointed. “It was an accident,” said Dagglebelt. He picked up the pumpkins. He tried again. “Dolt,” cried a raw voice from an upper storey. “Run away and practice while you still have hands to do it with.” Dagglebelt gave one glance. He abandoned his pumpkins. He ran. Elizabeth of England withdrew from the window. She was smiling.

If this strikes you as funny (or like in my case, mildly amusing) this might be the book for you! There were only a couple of parts that I laughed out loud (the best one was Elizabeth of England choosing her outfit for the day) but I read most of it with a smile.

A wild mixture of Shakespearean fact & the authors’ equally wild imagination (they were both Fire Wardens during WWII when they wrote this together) , until near the end when this tale started to drag a bit.

I was curious what a pantoble was. Some of the characters threw one quite a bit. Sounded like a small piece of furniture. The (uninformative definition) I googled said it was another name for a pantofle. (which sounds like a pastry)

It is actually;

a type of footwear.

Good fun!

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