Still No Kids & Still Ok: A Childfree Humor Book by Ellen Metter

Still No Kids & Still Ok: A Childfree Humor Book by Ellen Metter
Publisher: Browser Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

There’s less pressure these days to make lots of dimply babies. But what about the indecision that would-be parents experience as they consider the Baby, Yes or Baby, No choices? Or the subtle societal nagging that says having zero children will lead to a lonely life with only Netflix and a grizzled old guy with no teeth as your friends?

Now that Ellen Metter is nearly old enough to get “Save the Date” invites from the Grim Reaper, she’s ready to share an illustrated, light-hearted look at an intentionally childfree life, as well as an appreciation for those who do parenting with love, patience, and not too many screaming meltdowns.

Still No Kids & Still OK is for everyone!
It’s for those considering a stroll down the toy-strewn path.
It’s for those who said, “Hell, no, I won’t glow!” and never looked back.
And it’s for parents who will read this in the bathroom for about a minute at a time and appreciate and understand every word.

The author looks at such burning questions as:
“Who will support you when you’re old?”
“Won’t you be lonely?”
“You don’t have a teenager, do you? She’d never have let you out in that sweater!”
And, “Is ok really enough?”

Still No Kids & Still OK has the answers!

The author loves it when people have children since we need kids who grow up to create hilarious Netflix shows. But since parenting can be like flying a Boeing jumbo jet with squirrels in your hair, it’s best if the desire for children is strong. Like Superman strong.

And for those who hesitate to procreate? Ellen Metter gets it! The only doll she loved as a kid was Barbie since that doll seemed old enough to date. (With protection, of course.) Still No Kids & Still Ok shares illustrated evidence that a long and childfree life is often even more than Ok.

Parenthood should be a choice, not an obligation.

One of the things I liked the most about this novella was how deeply it encouraged its readers to think about every aspect of being a parent before deciding to have kids. There are pros and cons to any decision someone might make about if, when, with whom, or how many children they want to have. What works marvelously for one person might be difficult to impossible for someone else for reasons ranging from health to finances to what sort of support system one might have among many other options, so it’s important to have a realistic view of both the joys and challenges of what parenthood entails beforehand.

Sometimes this went a little off-topic with stories that did not seem to be related to the decision to be childfree. As interesting as they were, it was also distracting for me as a reader to be led in those directions instead of digging more deeply into what other options exist when having children is taken off the menu. I would have preferred to have fewer digressions along the way even though I enjoyed getting to know the author along the way.

People who choose not to reproduce are often stereotyped as folks who hate children. I loved the way Ms. Metter pushed against that stereotype by describing why it’s important to ensure that every child has their needs met and the difference between enjoying the company of kids under certain circumstances and wanting to raise one or more of them for two decades or so. There are many other ways to inspire and look after the next generation, from being a teacher to volunteering with at-risk youth to becoming the fun aunt or uncle in the family who gives tired parents a much-needed break for a few hours, and her inclusion of such alternatives was helpful.

I’d recommend Still No Kids & Still Ok: A Childfree Humor Book to readers who would like to understand why some folks choose not to have children just as much as I would to readers who are childfree themselves.

Cows to the Rescue by John Himmelman

Cows to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: Humor, Contemporary, Childrens (0-8 yrs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

It’s the day of the county fair!

Three-legged races, a “Smartest Pig” contest, the Ferris wheel―what could be more fun? But the Greenstalks’ car won’t start, so they’ll need some help getting there. . . .
Cows to the Rescue is the fabulous new book in John Himmelman’s hilarious barnyard saga. It follows Chickens to the Rescue and Pigs to the Rescue, bringing back the fun with brand new mishaps and brand moo―er, new―problem-solvers.

A humorous book about the cows…coming to the rescue!

I liked this story because it showed how sometimes we have to have a little bit of rescue. The series of events and how the cows helped is so funny. Children will love the funny illustrations. The cows aren’t always the best at helping with the situation, but that’s not always bad. They’re trying their best. It’s funny and repetitive, which makes it perfect for children learning to read and those who just want to laugh.

If you’re looking for a funny book that will help younger readers, then this is the story for you.

Zen and the Art of Brazilian Sticky (& other roofing tales) by Gennita Low

Zen and the Art of Brazilian Sticky (& other roofing tales) by Gennita Low
Publisher: GLow World
Genre: Contemporary, Humor, Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Life as a roofer is hard work. Endless hours beneath a blazing sun, pounding rain, howling wind and even the occasional hurricane (you’d be surprised at the calls during a hurricane).

But there are lots of laughs and moments of Zen if you spend time with Gennita’s cast and crew. There is nothing like watching life through the eyes of a female roofer who writes romance books, a bunch of “crapenters,” a grumpy Airborne Ranger Vietnam Vet, and a stucco man affectionately dubbed “the Brazilian Sticky Man” with a flair for creative renaming of just about everything under the sun. In fact, his “Semen Maker” is probably the star of the show, with its Zen way of giving meaning to daily shenanigans.

How a few mispronounced words, a little laughter and friends can make the day!

First, I have to note that the author has done work as a roofer. Really. She’s a tiny woman, but I can imagine her holding her own on a roof. That said, this book is a collection of stories loosely based on her time roofing.

This was a funny book. Hands down. I was told to get it because I’d laugh out loud. Normally, I’m not much for bursting out laughing while reading, but with this book, I did. Jenn is the head of the roofing crew and she works with the Brazilian stucco man. BSM as she refers to him, has a tendency to change words. His stucco is his sticky and his cement mixer is his semen maker. I hadn’t thought there could be that many ways to mess up those words and make the conversation veer right into the dirty, but it’s possible. I loved the stories and could actually see most of them happening.

The writing flowed well because it felt like I was reading a story by a friend or at least a conversation with a friend. I won’t give too much away, but if you’re in the mood to laugh, then this is the book for you. Give it a try.

How to Teach Your Cat Tricks (In Five Easy Steps) by Nicola Winstanley

How to Teach Your Cat Tricks (In Five Easy Steps) by Nicola Winstanley
Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: Humor, Childrens (Ages 3-7 years), Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In this hilarious and clever follow-up to How to Give Your Cat a Bath, a boy, a dog and a know-it-all narrator are thwarted by a cat who refuses to learn a trick. The perfect read-aloud for fans of Interrupting Chicken.

Step one: Decide on a trick
Step two: Get some treats ready
Step three: Hold the treat in your hand and ask your cat to do the trick
Step four: Watch your cat do exactly what you asked him to do
Step five: Reward your cat for doing the trick

Simple, right?

This spoof on an instruction manual features an increasingly bewildered human, a nonchalant cat, a very good dog and a know-it-all narrator . . . who really doesn’t know it all. How DO you teach a cat a trick? Read on to find out!

Trying to teach a cat to do much of anything is well…like herding cats.

I picked up this book because it looked cute, and it was. The little boy is trying to teach his cat to do tricks. Anyone who has cats know they can’t be taught (not much). Cats will do what they will. Then again, children will do what they will and if they think they can train their cat, then this is a funny way to show that not everything will work out the way you want and you have to make the best of what does happen.

This book is written in a cute manner and the story moved right along. I do have to say that I felt sorry for the dog because Einstein (the cat) was being a cat–he caused trouble, chased birds and didn’t take to any of the training. But the dog did. Noodles (the dog) is in the background cleaning up after the mess and following the little boy’s directions. What stood out was that sometimes the one you want to teach isn’t listening, but there are those you can. Kids may not get that, and kids might not be offended by the dog doing the grunt work in the background while the cat did nothing.

Still, it’s a funny story with animals being what they are, and kids should enjoy it. I know I did.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Dear Girls by Ali Wong
Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Memoir, Humor, Non-Fiction
Length: Full Length (240 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so strongly that she even became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.
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The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal single life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and gross) for all.

I laughed, snorted and had a great time while reading this book.

I love the humor of Ali Wong. It’s unapologetic and bluntly honest. She pulls no punches. This book is no different. If anyone thought she hadn’t written it, read the first chapter and it’s evident she was fully in charge.

She’s blunt and talks about the things in her life that affected her—her father’s passing, meeting her future husband, her time abroad, learning to be okay with being different and children. She definitely made me look at having children in a different way. I’ve never thought about saying some of the things she does in this book but that’s okay. It’s her book. It’s also a long letter (in chapter form) to her children. I liked how she told it how she saw it. I also loved the epilogue from her husband. It’s sweet, honest and touching. I should add, she talks about butts a lot. I mean, a lot! If you’re not interested in her affinity for butts, then you might want to turn away. If it doesn’t bother you, then no worries. Read away!

If you’re looking for a book that’s funny, heart-wrenching and will stick with you after the final page, then this might be the book for you.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary, Non-Fiction, Humor
Length: Full Length (219 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
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In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

She might not be the literal girl-next-door, but honestly, does that matter? She’s a riot and I swear, I’d love to have her as my best friend.

Who am I talking about? Mindy Kaling. You might have seen her on The Office or The Mindy Project. I’d never seen either show, but I’d seen her in interviews and thought, this girl is funny as heck. So when I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it.

A word of caution – she writes the book in a series of essays that she claims are not blog posts. In this day and age of things being written in short burst – like blog posts – it works. The writing is clean and conversational, like I was in the room with her and having the conversation. I laughed, cried and felt for her along the way.

This is a glimpse into Mindy Kaling’s world. The ups, the downs and how she got to where she is in life and it was fun to read. I loved her interpretations of college, getting a job and dealing with kids. She’s frank and unapologetic. My favorite part was her writing the plan for her own funeral.

If you want a book that’s a quick read, will pick you up and make you laugh, then this might be the book for you. It was for me.

The Retail by Joshua Danker-Dake

The Retail by Joshua Danker-Dake
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Humor
Length: Full Length (310 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Aspiring writer Penn Reynard has just joined the ranks of America’s fifteen million retail workers: fresh out of college with an English degree, he can’t find a job anywhere except at the local big-box hardware store. Working returns, Penn experiences firsthand the often comical absurdity, chaos, and shenanigans of the retail world. At least he has a new romance with a coworker going for him—if he doesn’t screw it up. The constant pressures of dealing with hostile customers, oblivious coworkers, and overbearing management begin to take their toll on him, though, and as his desired career path threatens to fall out of reach, Penn struggles to break free of retail’s clutches.

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The amount of time that was put into developing Penn’s personality made him one of the most memorable characters I’ve met so far this year. Penn’s flaws happen to be things that deeply irritate me, so I can’t honestly say that I always liked him. I can say that he made me think, though, and that he was written in such a way that I paused about a third of the way through his tale to see if it was actually a memoir. Penn comes across as a three-dimensional person, metaphorical warts and all. That isn’t something that’s at all easy to accomplish, and it’s whetted my appetite for more from Mr. Danker-Dake .

This book includes well over two dozen different characters, many of whom have nicknames that weren’t always easy to connect to their actual names. At times I mixed up the identities of certain employees and customers that made less frequent appearances because there was such a large number of them drifting in and out of the plot. It would have been really helpful to have a brief list of their names as well an indication of whether each character was an employee of the store or one of their regular customers.

Worldbuilding is definitely one of Mr. Danker-Dake’s strengths. Not only does he create incredibly complex settings for his characters, he allows Penn to slowly change in response to the things that happen to him. In some ways the setting almost functioned as its own character due to how much influence it had on Penn’s personal development. Watching this unfold was a treat, and it made me curious about what this author will come up with in the future.

I’d especially recommend The Retail to anyone who has ever worked in the service industry or who wonders what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the booth, till, or help desk.

Stairlift to Heaven by Terry Ravenscroft

Stairlift to Heaven by Terry Ravenscroft
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (127 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Stairlift to Heaven (The journal of an OAP.) Although this book is written by an old age pensioner, non-coffin dodgers should not be put off. Everyone will be old someday, and there are valuable lessons in coping with old age to be learned here. Written by Terry Ravenscroft, former scriptwriter to Les Dawson, The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise. Stairlift to Heaven has been likened by one reviewer to be ‘Like Last of the Summer Wine on cocaine’ Review by Pauline R for Readers Favorite. Stairlift to Heaven is an irreverent, hilarious look about one man’s life after retirement. He pokes fun at everything, no one and nothing is spared including how to silence the neighbour’s barking dog, telephone salespeople and Christmas carolers. His long suffering wife, known as ‘The Trouble’, provides a perfect foil of sanity against the mad antics of the author and his friend Atkins. Like a grumpy old man on funny pills Terry punctures the ridiculousness of life. A particular favorite is a visit to a faith healer and an examination of the concept of a Nuclear Free Zone. There is enough in “Stairlift to Heaven” to keep the whole world laughing.

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Mr. Ravenscroft has a incredibly dry, British sense of humour that relies heavily on irony and sarcasm to get his point across. This works particularly well when he’s discussing all of the body parts that have betrayed him over the past few years and what he’s done to attempt to fix them. What I liked most about his take on the world is that he is just as likely to make fun of himself as he was to use other people as ammunition for his anecdotes.

There were a few times when I thought that the author went too far in his descriptions of certain conversations with his wife. Most of their interactions were really funny, but some of his comments about her appearance came across as unnecessarily snide to me. I suspect that I would have had a far different reaction to these scenes had they been part of a stand-up routine or some other form of comedy that also relies on tone of voice and body language. After all, the exact same string of words can be affectionate or snarky depending on how they’re delivered!

By far the best part of this book for me was the discussion about how everyone magically becomes a wonderful person as soon as they die. In this scene Terry attends the funeral of someone who was known to be incorrigibly mean-spirited and prejudiced when he was alive, but who was made out to be a saint at his burial. There is a lot of truth to this observation, and it was thought-provoking and funny to wonder why people do this.

Stairlift to Heaven kept me grinning from beginning to end. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoy British humor.

Dear Coca-Cola by Terry Ravenscroft

Dear Coca-Cola by Terry Ravenscroft
Publisher: A Razzamatazz Publication
Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor
Length: Full Length (210 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Putting pen to paper with hilarious results, in Dear Coca-Cola Terry Ravenscroft homes in on the Food & Drink industry. Household names such as Heinz, Ryvita, Tesco, Cadburys and of course the Coca-Cola Company are the targets for his entertaining epistles, resulting in a laugh-out-loud letters book with a difference. And you don’t want to know what he asks Jacob’s Biscuits for! But you will when you’ve read his letters to them.

You will never look at the contents of your fridge or kitchen cupboards in the same way again.

Sometimes finding a good non-fiction book to read isn’t always the easiest task. Even if it’s a subject I enjoy, oftentimes they end up being too dry for my liking. That wasn’t the case with Dear Coca-Cola. It was funny all the way through. One word of warning; if you read while other people are around you’ll get some strange looks because you will laugh out loud at some of the author’s antics because that’s what happened to me.
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The idea behind the book is the author wanted to include his letters to various companies, either complimenting or complaining about their products, and their replies back to him.

Some of them begin quite seriously as to what he didn’t like about something but as the two exchanged more letters, the author’s ones got funnier with more extreme requests and suggestions.

Most of the letters back to him were also funny. You could tell they were trying to be as polite and helpful as they could even when Mr. Ravenscroft had made that an almost impossible task. As I was reading this book I thought how much fun it would have been to see the people’s faces as they read his letters and wondered just how to handle the situation. I’m sure some had a good laugh too.

Some of the letters that stand out for me are the first one and hence the title of the book, to Coca-Cola. His son wanting to eat fish food instead of breakfast cereal, and his letter asking if it was safe. A trip to a brewery with one member who had a peg leg. And a couple of them, complimenting the company for their products boosting his sex life.

The author is from the UK, so if you’re a fan of British comedies this will definitely be a book you’ll enjoy.

After reading Dear Coca-Cola I’ll be checking out some of Mr. Ravenscroft’s other titles and hopefully they’ll make me laugh just as much.