Becky’s Eighty-Fifth Book Review: “Wedding Night” by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella. What can I say? I love her. I love her writing. I love her characters, her quirky plot lines, her witty dialogue—all of it. So when I found out that she had a new book coming out I was ecstatic and of course, I devoured it. “Wedding Night” by Sophie Kinsella was released on April 23rd. I finished it yesterday, and I didn’t actually get it until the 24th.

“Wedding Night” was different from most of her other books, but still had the same ingredients. The biggest difference in this book was that the story was not told by one person exclusively. In the Shopoholic series, the main character is Becky Bloomwood and she is the narrator. In the Undomestic Goddess, the story is told by Samantha. Can You Keep a Secret has Emma telling the story, Remember Me has Lexi, I’ve Got Your Number has Poppy, and Twenty’s Girl has Lara. All books were excellent—but they were all told by one character. “Wedding Night” was told by two (with the exception of like two chapters). The girls telling the story are sisters, Fliss and Lottie. One of the sisters, Fliss is in the middle of a nasty divorce and is constantly trying to not kill her ex. Lottie on the other hand is convinced that her boyfriend is about to propose.

The sisters are such polar-opposites which makes reading the story from two different perspectives extremely entertaining. Lottie sees the world through rose-colored glasses. The way she describes things makes me think that she saw waaaaay too many Disney movies as a child and took them all far too seriously. Fliss in the opposite, she sees everything through either gloom or rage and sometimes a mixture of both. Lottie was so convinced that her boyfriend was going to propose that she told everyone. When things go wrong, she decides things will be different the next time she is in a relationship. “Next time I meet a man, I’m saying nothing to anybody. Nada. Zip. Not until we’ve been blissfully married for a decade and have three kids and have just renewed our wedding vows. Then, and only then, will I send a text to Fliss saying: Guess what? I met someone! He seems nice!” (Wedding Night, pg 28). This kind of light hearted humor is what I love about Sophie Kinsella. She does it constantly and it feels very natural.

While Lottie tries to figure out what she is going to do with her life now, Fliss is concentrating on her career, which is Editor of a travel magazine. Part of her job is to review places all over including hotels, spas, restaurants and more. (A job that comes in handy when Fliss finds out what Lottie has in mind for changing her life). Fliss peers in the mirror and thinks she should lighten something. This is her thought process, “There must surely be a spa somewhere that has an all-in-one bleaching tank. One quick dip; keep your mouth open for the teeth-whitening option.” (Wedding Night, pg 39). That is how she thinks when it comes to work but when it comes to her ex, Daniel, her thoughts are even funnier (at least in my opinion). “Generally the rule is: the more I smile at Daniel, the more I’m feeling like stabbing him.” (Wedding Night, pg 41).

I don’t want to give away too much, but Lottie breaks up with her boyfriend when the engagement that she was expecting does not appear. Moments later, her boyfriend from fifteen years ago pops into her life and pops the question. They decide that they have to get married as soon as possible and go on honeymoon in Greece which is where they met. Lottie is convinced that the reason she hasn’t been proposed to yet is because she’s been giving it away, so she tells Ben that if they’re going to be together there will be no sex before they get married. When Fliss hears about this brilliant plan, she does everything she can to sabotage her sister’s wedding night so that Ben and Lottie do not have sex. Her reasoning is that Lottie will realize this is a big mistake and if they don’t consummate the marriage, they can get an annulment. Fliss even teams up with Lorcan, Ben’s friend, in an attempt to bring them both back to reality.

“Wedding Night” is full of entertainment and it is such an absurd concept that I really couldn’t put it down. It was a really fun read and I think that anyone who enjoys chick-lit would enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel. Really, her humor does aim more towards a female audience, but I think men could appreciate her writing as well. 

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Becky’s Eighty-Fourth Book Review: “The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin

I finished reading “The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin at the end of last week. Why am I only just now getting around to writing the review? Well, a couple of reasons, but mainly because I had a deadline at job #2 that had to by top priority. That led to me staying up late several nights in a row, so I spent my weekend recovering and relaxing. That being said, even if I didn’t have a lot of my plate, I’m really not sure that I would have written my review right away. This is why.

“The Orchardist” is a book that I kind of stumbled upon when I was looking for things to put on my Christmas/birthday wish list. I read the little blurb about the book and thought it might be interesting. That was quite an underestimation. “The Orchardist” is one of those rare books that comes along and devours you. The language, the topics, the symbolism, the characters, everything in this book was extremely well done. And it was a heavy read. One of those books that when you put it down, you just sit there for a bit trying to figure out why everything just happened as it did. While I spent my weekend relaxing, I also spent quite a bit of it reflecting on the book.

“The Orchardist” is about a man named Talmadge who tends a huge orchard in the Pacific Northwest around the turn of the 20th century. Talmadge came to the land with his mother and sister and inherited it when his mother died and his sister disappeared. Talmadge lived a very quiet life in the orchard with no family and few friends to speak of. A band of men would come through and help with the harvesting and some of these men were his friends, especially Clee whom didn’t speak. Talmadge and Clee enjoyed a quiet but solid friendship. Another friend of Talmadge’s is a woman named Caroline Middey. While Caroline speaks, she is not a trivial person and I think that part of what attracts Talmadge to Caroline for a friendship is this. When she speaks, she speaks the truth and she doesn’t feel the need to fill the air with silly small talk. These are the kinds of people that Talmadge feels most at home with. After Amanda Coplin introduces Talmadge, his family, his friends, his orchard, and his general quiet way of life she brings in two characters who will change everything. Two girls, Jane and Della, both pregnant, find refuge amongst the trees in Talmadge’s orchard. The girls disrupt his quiet life among the trees and change everything.

While I would love to discuss more deeply all the different things that happen in the book, I don’t want to give anything away. I personally think that most back cover book blurbs give away too much. What I will say is that “The Orchardist” is not light reading. This is not a book to pick up if you have just a few minutes to read. This book will draw you in with the enchanting language that Amanda Coplin uses to describe for each sense Talmadge’s world. Once you’re hooked, that is when the book gets really good. I would highly recommend this book, it is an excellent read. Other authors that I believe to be similar to her would be Tracy Chevalier and Margaret Atwood.   

Becky’s Eighty-Third Book Review: “Bound to You” by Christopher Pike

There has been much debate on whether or not I should write two book reviews for this book. At least I have been debating it a lot. I finished reading “Bound to You” by Christopher Pike which is actually two of his books published together. This review will be of each of those books, “Spellbound” and “See You Later”. Christopher Pike most often focuses his works on horror/thriller with a touch of science fiction thrown in. These books leaned a little more towards science fiction than some of the others that I have read.

“Spellbound” was the first book in the “Bound to You” collection. The story revolves around Cindy. Weeks ago, a girl’s body was found in a stream on a mountain—the victim of a bear attack, or so claims Jason, the dead girl’s boyfriend. The story starts off with Cindy becoming instantly defensive for Jason who is now her boyfriend. Then the secrets start to come out and Cindy begins to question everything and everyone. What I really liked about this story was how it went in a different direction from what I had expected. I always try to guess what will happen next and while I had some of the right ideas, I was still taken away by the twists at the end. The book is a quick read and was very entertaining.

The second book in the “Bound to You” collection was “See You Later”. This story followed Mark, a computer game designer who has a bad heart. The story really begins when he meets a girl, as so many stories do. But then he meets a few more people and his life becomes very interesting in a very short period of time. “It began with a smile, or at least that’s what I thought. But then, I didn’t think much when I was eighteen. I just longed for things I didn’t have, and reacted when they came to me and I no longer wanted them.” (See You Later/Bound to You, pg 257). I like how Christopher Pike starts out this story, it is very accessible. I also like the voice that he uses for Mark, it is very sarcastic and he said a lot of things in a similar fashion of how I tend to speak which I found entertaining. “I had no trouble identifying Ray. My psychic powers were operating at peak performance. He had a name tag on.” (See You Later/Bound to You, pg 304). There were so many statements like this throughout the novel that I just loved. The book took an interesting twist that I did not see coming too which is so often the case with Christopher Pike. I think that is part of what appeals to me; he keeps his audience guessing all the way to the end.

This collection was a fun read. I’ve been reading Christopher Pike since I was old enough to have my own library card and it is always fun when I come across books that I haven’t read before. I hadn’t read either of these books even though I own them in their separate formats. Would I recommend this collection? Yes, I think it would be an enjoyable read for anyone who gravitates towards thrillers. His work is always an easy read as well which is great for when you want a relaxing read, even though he does throw in enough action and thrills to keep your heart pounding in almost everything he writes. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books I recently acquired by him.

Becky’s Eighty-Second Book Review: “Firestarter” by Stephen King

Over the weekend I finished reading “Firestarter” by Stephen King and I have to say, I think this may possibly be the most frightening book of his that I have read. Let me explain.

“Firestarter” is about a little girl named Charlie who can start fires with her mind. It is an ability that she was born with because both of her parents participated in a science experiment in college. Each parent unlocked their own psychic abilities after the experiment. This science experiment was all done under the supervision of a division of the government called ‘the shop’. When they realized what they had with Charlie and her parents they wanted to pick it apart and study it. This is what I really found frightening, the lengths that these government characters go to in order to obtain this family. Because you just know that the way that Stephen King portrays the government is not only his opinion, but a fairly accurate representation of just how out of control things can get. There are too many government officials who wave their badges and believe that gives them absolute authority.

While the shop is pursuing Charlie and her family they realize that they have something more powerful than they can handle. Part of the problem is that different characters react to this differently. An example of this is, “…an old man who had once opened Pandora’s box and now wanted to shoot all of the things that had flown out instead of putting them to work.” (Firestarter, pg 81). Some characters recognized the danger while others chose to see things differently. Another good quote that represents this is, “It is your great failing. You look, you see a monster. Only in the girl’s case, you see a useful monster. Perhaps that is because you are a white man. White men see monsters everywhere.” (Firestarter, pg 196). Very true.

While Charlie was the main goal of the shop, her father also seemed promising to them. He is the one telling the story for most of the beginning. He is a very solidly built character and I like what Stephen King does with him. He makes this guy very easy to relate to and often he says (or thinks) very insightful things. “It was all in the past; none of it could be changed; it was time to stop thinking about it. A neat trick if you could do it.” (Firestarter, pg 171). This particular statement jumped out at me because it is something I have been struggling with personally—letting go of the past. Much more easily said than done.

One thing that Stephen King often does in his novels is that he has several people tell the story. This is a great technique in my opinion because it gives the reader a chance to know the minds of all the characters, not just the protagonist. This also allows for King to slip in some foreshadowing in the book. “A third part was remembering a Chinese curse, a curse that sounded deceptively pleasant until you sat down and really though about it. May you live in interesting times. For the last year and a half he had lived in extremely interesting times. He felt that just one more interesting thing would drive him totally insane.” (Firestarter, pg 195). I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the character was not far off base.

Would I recommend this book? Yes—to a certain crowd. I don’t think those who dislike horror books would find anything that King has written to be very appealing. But for those die hard Stephen King fans, this is a must-read. It would even be a good introduction to Stephen King book for someone who hasn’t picked up his work before. 

Becky’s Eighty-First Book Review: “Can You Keep a Secret” by Sophie Kinsella

I like to read a wide variety of books from classic literature to horror stories to memoirs, but one of my favorite indulgences is reading chic-lit. Sophie Kinsella is one of my favorite authors; I’ve already reviewed a few of her books on my blog. She writes the kinds of books that are silly but they still feel substantial in a way. Also I find it very easy to relate to her characters (especially the ones with whom I share a name). I recently finished reading “Can You Keep a Secret” by Sophie Kinsella. Once again, I’m writing a review on a book that I have read before, but since I didn’t write a review the last time I read it I thought why not?

“Can You Keep a Secret” is a stand-alone novel about a woman blabbing it all to a complete stranger when she thinks she is about to die. The main character in this book is Emma Corrigan and she is on a business trip—her first business trip—when this happens. The flight happens after Emma has a very discouraging meeting. On her way to the flight she quotes Julie Andrews, “It’s just like Julie Andrews said. When the dog bites, when the bee stings…I simply remember I have a boyfriend—and suddenly things don’t seem quite so completely shit. Or however she put it.” (Can You Keep a Secret, pg 12). Awesome quote, that is exactly how Julie Andrews put it.

During the flight they experience some turbulence and Emma purges all of her secrets to a complete stranger from how she feels about her boyfriend to where she lost her virginity to the fact that she finds g-strings uncomfortable. I personally am not a big fan of flying so I was able to relate to her mounting panic as the plane continued to endure mounting turbulence. “’I don’t think we’re going to die,’ he says. ‘They said it was just turbulence—‘ ‘Of course they did!” I can hear the hysteria in my voice. ‘They wouldn’t exactly say, ‘Ok, folks, that’s it—you’re all goners!’” (Can You Keep a Secret, pg 23). I laughed out loud when I read that. Partly because it was just funny and partly because I can just hear myself saying the same thing. Either way, the whole book is full of hilarious moments such as these. A few days after the flight Emma discovers that the stranger whom she blabbed all of her secrets to isn’t a stranger at all but the owner of the company that she works for. So instead of having this guy ‘disappear into the ether’ Emma is forced to deal with him.

Emma’s mounting panic about the consequences she is sure she will have to face is hilarious. Her mind keeps running through all the secrets that she rained on this stranger including the fact that she lied on her CV and that she and a friend at work have a code for playing hooky. Emma tries to hide behind a calm exterior even though internally she is struggling to act normal. The whole situation is absurd and I love how Sophie Kinsella describes Emma’s thoughts. “I’m trying to look as natural as possible. But God, this is like being on telly or something. My legs aren’t working properly and my smile is pasted onto my face and I have a horrible conviction I might suddenly shout “Pants!” or something.” (Can You Keep a Secret, pg 89). This made me laugh so hard because I know exactly what she is talking about. There are some times when I’m in a serious situation and my mind just wants to burst out with the most random word and crack up. I have no idea why my brain does this, but I am glad to know that I’m not the only one it happens to.

Would I recommend this novel? Well, there really is no depth to this novel, but that isn’t the point. It is a fun read and it makes me smile. The only downside to reading Sophie Kinsella novels is that they are usually done so quickly because you can’t help but devour them. I believe that most women would enjoy reading any of Sophie Kinsella’s works but they might be a bit difficult for guys to relate to. Either way, I know I am excited for April 23—the release date of “Wedding Night” which is Sophie Kinsella’s most recent novel.