Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Seventh Book Review: “Shopaholic Ties the Knot” by Sophie Kinsella

“Shopaholic Ties the Knot” by Sophie Kinsella is the third book in the Shopaholic Series. I have read this book several times. When I read this book this time, I found myself enjoying it on a different level. Maybe that is because I am so excited to read the new shopaholic book that is coming out. Maybe that is because I am finally one of those people happily reading about engagements and marriage without feeling stonily jealous about the impending marriage I am reading about. It’s probably one of those reasons. Let me adjust my sparkly engagement ring as I write the rest of my review.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE SHOPAHOLIC SERIES AND ARE PLANNING ON IT

When we left off with Becky at the end of the second book, she had decided to take her career in a new direction by becoming a personal shopper at Barney’s in New York City. Luke Brandon and she had renewed their relationship and were planning on living together in an apartment in New York City. Living together is a new challenge for both Becky and Luke.

Part of what makes Becky Bloomwood so entertaining is the way that she daydreams. She goes off on a tangent where she pictures the future and it is amazing. This quote is a great example of Becky going off in a crazy direction while she is out shopping and picturing what her life will be like with the addition of this very important piece of furniture. “Just think, if we had one of these in the apartment it would change our lives. Every night Luke and I would mix martinis, and dance to old-fashioned songs, and watch the sun go down. It’d be so atmospheric! We’d have to buy one of those old-fashioned record players with the big horns, and start collecting 78s, and I’d start wearing gorgeous vintage tea dresses.” (Shopaholic Ties the Knot, pg 8). I love this. Becky Bloomwood is known for her ability to get lost in her daydreams and this quote really helps illustrate that.

It is obvious that Becky Bloomwood is getting married by the title of the book. What the title doesn’t tell you is how many weddings that Becky is having. The main problem that she finds herself dealing with in this book is having two weddings being simultaneously planned in both New York City and in London. Although I frequently find myself relating to Becky, I have to say that this is a problem unique to her. She is constantly trying to make the decision and I thought that this quote helped emulate how Becky behaves when she has a problem. She just sticks her head in the sand whenever possible. It does get a bit difficult to empathize with Becky in this situation.
“I bury my head in my hands. It isn’t any easier on paper.
In fact, it’s harder, because it’s thrusting the dilemma right in my face, instead of where I want it – which is in a little box at the back of my mind where I don’t have to look at it.” (Shopaholic Ties the Knot, pg 121). That is exactly how Becky behaves throughout the series. She has a problem, and instead of dealing with it as an adult, she finds ways to hide from her problems. This does result in hilarity, but at the same time her irresponsibility makes me a little frustrated as I read it. I would love to have the problems that she has. That being said, I couldn’t help enjoying the ride.

Becky’s plans for getting out of trouble are pretty entertaining in themselves. There is a part in the book when Becky is about to talk to Luke about the problems they are having with the wedding, mainly the fact that two are being planned simultaneously. Always one to prepare, these are the thoughts Becky has before meeting up with Luke. “So I’ve written out a speech, a bit like the State of the Union address and I’ve memorized it word for word, with gaps for interjections from Luke. (Or applause. Thought that’s a bit unlikely.) As long as I stick to my text, and no one brings up the question of Ugandan policy, then we should be all right.” (Shopaholic Ties the Knot, pg 241). I just thought this was so funny.

Would I recommend this book? Yes I would, I am a big fan of the shopaholic series and “Shopaholic Ties the Knot” is no exception. The series is a lot of fun. Reading about Becky trying to figure out what she is going to do for her wedding is ridiculous. The best part of this series is the fact that I find myself laughing aloud at Becky’s adventures. This book makes me giggle in public and that is the mark of a good comedic adventure.

Advertisements

Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Sixth Book Review: “City of Fallen Angels” by Cassandra Clare

“City of Fallen Angels” by Cassandra Clare is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series. This is a series that I have very much enjoyed so far and it was no different going into the fourth book.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS SERIES. TO REITERATE – IF YOU HAVE NOT READ “CITY OF BONES”, “CITY OF ASHES”, AND “CITY OF GLASS” YOU SHOULD STOP READING THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU DO NOT CARE ABOUT SPOILERS.

The last we left off with the series, Jace and Clary had discovered that Valentine had lied to them. They were not brother and sister after all. Therefore, the love and lust they felt for each other was not a terrible and forbidden thing. This was discovered shortly before the great battle that took place. In this battle, Jace killed Sebastian, Clary’s actual brother who was made part-demon and was pure evil. Also during this battle, Jace was sacrificed by Valentine when he stabbed Jace through the chest. This caused the angel to be summoned and grant one wish to the person that summoned him. Once Jace had been stabbed, Clary returned the favor to Valentine and killed him. This meant that once the angel arrived, Clary was able to have any wish granted that she wanted. All that Clary wanted was Jace, and so she asked for him to come back. That is how “City of Glass” ended. Little did she know, that one wish to have Jace returned to her caused a domino effect of terrible things to occur in Clary and Jace’s world. Another thing worth mentioning is that in “City of Glass”, Clary carved a rune onto Simon’s forehead – the mark of Cain – so that her closest friend could go into the battle and help without the fear of his coming to harm himself.

I liked the fact that in “City of Fallen Angels” that other characters were followed more thoroughly. Simon, Clary’s friend-turned-vampire-turned-daylighter, was followed almost as closely as Clary was in “City of Fallen Angels”. I have a soft spot for Simon – I think it is my affection for nerds/geeks in general. His character is so well defined and I enjoyed reading from his perspective. “On the one hand, he didn’t think Isabelle had ever referred to herself as his girlfriend before. On the other hand it was symptomatic of how strange his life has become that that was the thing that had startled him most tonight, rather than the fact that he had just been summoned to a meeting by the most powerful vampire in New York.” (City of Fallen Angels, pg 12).

A lot of “City of Fallen Angels” focuses on Simon and the adjustments that he is being forced to make as he transitions into his new life as a vampire. He runs into difficulties with feeding and he also discovers the true power of the mark of Cain that Clary carved into his forehead. Simon shortly finds himself in need of a new place to stay and ends up crashing with a new member of his band. Jace stops by Simon’s place and displays his cocky attitude immediately. ““I can see why you like it here,” he said, making a sweeping gesture that encompassed Kyle’s collection of movie posters and science fiction books. “There’s a thin layer of nerd all over everything.” (City of Fallen Angels, pg 120). This line actually made me laugh aloud. Sometimes Jace’s little quips can be very entertaining.

Here is another quote from Simon that I enjoyed, this one focusing on the fact that he’s newly a vampire and even more newly a daylighter. “Despite the fact that the sun didn’t harm him, he could feel the pull of the nights, the desire to be out under the dark sky and the glimmering stars. There was something in him that wanted to live in shadows, that felt the sunlight like a thin, knife-like pain – just like there was something in him that wanted blood.” (City of Fallen Angels, pg 273). As Simon tries to figure out his life, Clary is trying to figure out why Jace is pulling away from her.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, definitely. This series is highly addictive and such a quick, fun read. I think that it would appeal to a wide range of individuals. The only caution I would leave you with is do not start to read this book if you do not have the next books in the series. This one ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and I was happy to have the next book in my possession so I could dive right into it. This series is highly enjoyable. I cannot wait to finish it.

Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Fifth Book Review: “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan” by Sophie Kinsella

“Shopaholic Takes Manhattan” by Sophie Kinsella is the second book in the Shopaholic series and it is just as wonderful as the first. Rereading this series reminds me why I fell in love with Sophie Kinsella’s writing in the first place. Her books without fail make me laugh aloud, no matter how many times I have read the book previously. I must have read the Shopaholic series at least five times and I still found myself giggling at the crazy escapades that Becky Bloomwood goes on.

SPOILER ALERT: I’M ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT THE END OF THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SHOPAHOLIC SERIES

When we last left Becky Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic, she had taken a new job as a financial advisor on a television show, Morning Coffee and she had recently begun dating Luke Brandon. At the beginning of “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan” Becky is amped up about her new career in television and still happily dating Luke Brandon. She has taken on a ‘philosophical’ attitude towards her career. ““People who want to make a million borrow a million first.”
Honestly, I must have a naturally entrepreneurial mind or something, because as soon as he said it, I felt this amazing chord of recognition. I even found myself murmuring it aloud. He’s so right. How can you expect to make any money if you don’t spend it first?” (Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, pg 15). I loved this. The Becky Bloomwood philosophy: if you want to make money, you have to spend it. A lot.

I find myself able to relate to Becky pretty well on most accounts. The biggest change you would have to make is trade out clothes/shoes for books. Replace shoes with books in the following quote and you’re describing me, Becky Bentrim. “What is it about shoes? I mean, I like most kinds of clothes, but a good pair of shoes can just reduce me to jelly. Sometimes, when Suze isn’t at home, I open my wardrobe and just stare at all my pairs of shoes, like some mad collector.” (Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, pg 17). It’s true. I have an addition to books. And it is reflected so well in Becky Bloomwood’s addiction to shoes and clothes.

I really enjoy how the Shopaholic series is written. There are letters throughout the novel along with the prose narrated by Becky. These letters are almost always replies to Becky Bloomwood’s absurd letters. When she discovered that she would have to deal with a new banker her reaction was pretty priceless. This is the reply she received when she wrote a letter to her former bank manager about her new bank manager. “I am sorry to hear that you are having such difficulties dealing with John Gavin. May I assure you that he is not a heartless android programmed to make your life miserable. If you ever were cast out on the street with nothing but a pair of shoes, I’m sure he would be concerned, rather than ‘laugh evilly and walk away’.” (Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, pg 131).

There is a part of me that finds Becky Bloomwood’s inability to take responsibility for her actions to be frustrating. At the same time, she is such a fun, relatable character that you cannot help but forgive her. Another thing that I really enjoy about the shopaholic series are Becky Bloomwood’s parents. They are so sweet and in a lot of ways remind me of my own goofy parents. “God, I love my parents. If I told them I’d committed murder they’d soon find some reason why the victim had it coming to him.” (Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, pg 225). Honestly, I really feel like my parents would do the same – supportive to an insane degree.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – I love the shopaholic series. It is so much fun to just sit down and spend some time in Becky Bloomwood’s world. Her trials and tribulations make following her story ridiculously entertaining. She is such a fun character that you can’t help but want to be in her life learning about what crazy adventures she is going to go on next. Although Sophie Kinsella’s books fall into the category of ‘chick-lit’ I do believe that this series could be picked up and enjoyed by anyone.

Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Fourth Book Review: “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella

“OK. Don’t panic.” The opening line from “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella paints a perfect picture of what Becky Bloomwood is like. She frequently finds herself in a bit of a pickle and the ways that she avoids problems are not only ridiculous, but ridiculously entertaining. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is one of the first chick-lit books that I ever read. It opened up a whole new genre to me, and what better way to be sucked into a new genre than by a series staring a character named Becky? To celebrate the fact that there is a new book coming out very soon in the shopaholic series, I decided to reread the entire series. This is the novel that started it all.

The main character, Becky Bloomwood works as a financial journalist, which in itself is a bit ironic since her own personal finances are in shambles. As the title of the book suggests, Becky is a shopaholic. This ends up getting her into a mess. Her ability to avoid the real problems in her life is almost admirable. If only breaking one’s leg was an actual excuse to be used when missing a payment on a credit card. As absurd as the lengths are that Becky goes to in order to avoid paying her bills or facing any sort of consequence for her addiction to shopping, the way that Becky reacts when she enters a shop is priceless. “That moment. That instant when your fingers curl round the handles of a shiny, uncreased bag – and all the gorgeous new things inside it become yours. What’s it like? It’s like going hungry for days, then cramming your mouth full of warm buttered toast. It’s like waking up and realizing it’s the weekend. It’s like the better moments of sex. Everything else is blocked out of your mind. It’s pure, selfish pleasure.” (Confessions of a Shopaholic, pg 27).

I think that Sophie Kinsella’s writing is hilarious. She makes Becky such a relatable character (and probably to everyone, not just other Beckys out there). Becky’s desire to shop greatly outweighs her abilities to manage her finances and hilarity ensues. Sometimes the things that Becky does are absurd, but I can always find myself giggling at her thoughts. “God, I love new clothes. If everyone could just wear new clothes every day, I reckon depression wouldn’t exist anymore.” (Confessions of a Shopaholic, pg 171). Her passion for shopping is engaging – despite all of the poor choices that Becky inevitably makes, you can’t help but cheer her on in her many endeavors.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – I think this is one of the best ways to be introduced to chick-lit. Sophie Kinsella is a very talented writer. The series gets better and better as it goes on and I love her standalone novels as well. The shopaholic series holds a special place in my heart for multiple reasons, not the least of which being that the main character is Becky B. Great name. Sophie Kinsella is a fantastic writer and I would strongly recommend her novels to everyone. Although they are geared more towards women, the humor that you find in Sophie Kinsella’s novels really would appeal to a wide audience.

Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Third Book Review: “City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii” by Tracy Higley

“City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii” by Tracy Higley is a novel that I found by chance when touring the Pompeii exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. After walking through the exhibit, there was a gift shop set up of all sorts of Pompeii-related trinkets that you could buy including a book section. One of my companions picked up this book and then offered to let me read it first. There was a certain amount of hesitation on my part simply because I do not enjoy when others read my new books first, then there was the added hesitation of not wanting to be responsible for getting the book back to her in a timely manner. After the trip to the museum the book got placed on the table and other things soon were stacked on top of it. It wasn’t until I was reminded that the book was in my possession that I dug it up and started to read it.

“City on Fire” is set in the time of Pompeii before Vesuvius erupted and obliterated the town. The novel follows three different characters, Maius – a corrupt politician with the run of Pompeii, Cato – a politician that moved to Pompeii to make wine and get away from the political corruption in Rome, and Ariella – a runaway Jewish slave turned gladiator. I do enjoy this writing technique where multiple characters tell the story. “City on Fire” gives a glimpse into the world as it was back then. In many ways the world was a different place and at the same time there were a lot of similarities that show that not all that much has changed in the world.

As much as I enjoyed reading the different perspectives, I found myself enjoying Maius’s thoughts the most. His reasoning behind so much was cocky and comical at the same time. “Men of any status could be controlled, Maius had long ago learned. Each required a different tactic, but he had mastered them all. For the pleasure-seeking vacationers from the city, Maius was the beneficent host, and few of them cared to concern themselves with local politics. His money had purchased much of the town and its surrounding fields, and most of the lower classes were in his employ. For the wealthy townspeople, whose chief pursuits were leisure and distraction, he had informants well placed in many households, and the secrets he kept were as good as chains around the nobility. And for those who could be neither bought nor blackmailed, there was always the effective, if conventional, threat of violence.” (City on Fire, pg 56).

Then there was the part in the story where Maius was beginning to feel threatened by Cato’s presence in Pompeii and tries to come up with the best way to take him down. “Yes…his sister. There was weakness there. Like his mother, apparently, Cato suffered from a disadvantage ill suited to political life – compassion. And that weakness could be exploited.” (City on Fire, pg 113). And then later when he is once again feeling the threat of Cato. “A cushioned chaise sat near the central fountain, and Maius forced himself to recline, for pacing showed a certain amount of weakness, of fretfulness, and he had no need for such things.” (City on Fire, pg 200).

Would I recommend this book? Probably not – there wasn’t anything great about this novel. It was written well enough and the topic was interesting enough, however I just never felt myself drawn to it. When the book was over I wasn’t yearning for more. This book was almost like fast food. It tasted fine while I read it but when it was over, it was over. I do not feel compelled to find and read the rest of Tracy Higley’s novels. Nor do I see myself pushing anyone to read this.