Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Second Book Review: “Shopaholic to the Rescue” by Sophie Kinsella

“Shopaholic to the Rescue” by Sophie Kinsella was amazing. I have always been a fan of Sophie Kinsella and I can relate so well to the main character in the shopaholic series – Becky Brandon nèe Bloomwood. I have to say, I think Kinsella outdid herself; I enjoyed this book so much.

SPOILER ALERT – Don’t read further if you haven’t read the previous Shopaholic books! (Unless of course you don’t care about spoilers.)

“Shopaholic to the Rescue” picks up right where “Shopaholic to the Stars” left off. Becky, Luke, Suze, Becky’s mom, Janice, Alicia-bitch-longlegs, and Minnie are in an RV on a mission to find Becky’s dad and Suze’s husband. The group believes that Tarquin (Suze’s husband) was brainwashed by Bryce and they don’t know what is going on with Becky’s dad beyond a mysterious message saying he had to put something right. Despite the serious situation that everyone believed themselves to be in, I was giggling into my book by page two. I love the way that Kinsella writes these novels. She breaks the narration up with letters and emails that add to the story in such a unique way. I was very pleased to see the return of her old bank manager in these email communications.

I love Becky, but I think that Minnie has become my favorite character in the Shopaholic books. She is just hilarious. I think that Sophie Kinsella has a real talent for capturing the behaviors of a two-year-old, and it is safe to say that Minnie is not your average child. “She doesn’t yell “Miiiiiiiine” anymore, which used to be her catchphrase. Instead, she says, “I like it.” We’ll walk around the supermarket and all she keeps saying is, “I like it, I like it, Mummy,” more and more earnestly, as thought she’s trying to convert me to some new religion.” (Shopaholic to the Rescue, pg 81). Every interaction with Minnie was cracking me up. I think that having a child has really matured the main character and made for a whole new level to the Shopaholic saga.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!! I love the Shopaholic series and I think that the further into the series that we get, the better Sophie Kinsella’s writing gets. I was impressed with the diversity in her writing that I saw in “Shopaholic to the Rescue” and although I was a little angry that “Shopaholic to the Stars” was a bit of a cliffhanger rather than ending in a nice bow like the other Shopaholic books, this was an amazing second part. This latest book was probably the most well-written Becky Bloomwood book. I cannot wait to read the next book and I hope Sophie Kinsella keeps them coming.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-First Book Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky was a short but intense read. I loved it. The main character, Charlie is dealing with some issues and as the story unfolds we learn bits and pieces about him. I liked that the book was written in a diary fashion with the readers being the diary. It gave a unique perspective into Charlie’s mind. “I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.” (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, pg 2).

At the start of the book Charlie makes some new friends. He is very awkward and doesn’t know what to do in pretty much any social situation. These friends that he makes help to draw him out of his shell. He also has a teacher that has been giving him different books to read and then discussing them together. I really enjoyed all these different characters. They each had an impact on Charlie’s life and I enjoyed reading from Charlie’s perspective his thoughts and interactions with everyone. “When I was done reading the poem, everyone was quiet. A very sad quiet. But the amazing thing was that it wasn’t a bad sad at all. It was just something that made everyone look around at each other and know that they were there. Sam and Patrick looked at me. And I looked at them. And I think they knew. Not anything specific really. They just knew. And I think that’s all you can ever ask from a friend.” (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, pg 66). It made me happy that Charlie was finding what he had been looking for in these friendships. It’s not all rainbows and happiness, but he finds that understanding and sense of belonging in his friends.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – especially if you have someone in your life with problems, which who doesn’t? “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” gives the readers a unique look into the life of a kid that is struggling. We don’t know exactly what the problems are that he is dealing with, but it is clear from the start that he is not okay. And I think reading this book can help those on the outside get a glimpse of what those on the inside are dealing with, and how hard it can be when you feel alone. “I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning. If this gets any worse, I might have to go back to the doctor. It’s getting that bad again.” (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, pg 94). It’s a great read and I think it would be worthwhile for anyone.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirtieth Book Review: “Raven” by V.C. Andrews

“Raven” by V.C. Andrews is the fourth and final book in the Orphan Miniseries. What set this book apart from the other three was that Raven is not actually an orphan. We learn early on that her mother is a drug addict and barely pays attention to her daughter. When she gets picked up and thrown in jail, Raven is sent to live with her Aunt Clara and Uncle Reuben. That is when the real nightmare starts for her.

Raven quickly learns that the home she has been brought to is an unhappy one, and that her Uncle Reuben is a tyrannical monster. “I was beginning to think I would rather settle for the occasional good days with Mama than the constant life of tension and fear that existed in this home, but I didn’t even have the choice anymore. Maybe I truly was a mistake.” (Raven, pg 89). In true V.C. Andrews fashion, there is plenty of horror and uncomfortable sexual situations throughout the novel. The way that sex is portrayed in this novel felt really forced. Like the book would have been good enough without the uncomfortable sexual situations. But that does seem to be a constant in Andrews’s work.

Would I recommend this book? Not really, the series was somewhat enjoyable, but it isn’t something I would push on other people. I thought that since this was a series that there might be more of a connection at the end between the four characters in the four books, Butterfly, Crystal, Brooke, and Raven. There was just a paragraph or two at the end of each book where the girls met; I expected more of a conclusion. Overall, I finished the book and the series with a feeling of eh. Not terrible, but not great, and certainly not something that I would recommend.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Book Review: “The Vessel” by Taylor Stevens

“The Vessel” by Taylor Stevens is a novella that takes place between “The Doll” and “The Catch” following Vanessa Michael Munroe as she, once again, embarks on an insanely dangerous task. Munroe’s moral compass may be a bit skewed, but her mission in “The Vessel” is to use her talents to right a wrong, to stop a man that will only continue to cause pain on a massive scale. To do this, she turns to her well-honed talents.

“…surrounded by the poor and the struggling while phrases and tones and speech shifted form and made shapes inside her head, as they did now in the bar. As they had her entire life. Language had defined her, made her who she was. Language, the savant-like ability to find the pattern in foreign sound, was a poisonous gift that had been with her since childhood.” (The Vessel, loc. 63) I love the way that Stevens describes Munroe’s talents. From Munroe’s perspective, everything that makes her appealing to hire is a burden that she has to carry, that she has always had to carry. Her talents with language, her ability to shift into different environments, to become a different person, her instincts, her ability to survive – all of these things Munroe accepts as part of who she is, but she still views these as encumbrances.

One of the things that I like best about Munroe is that she is a badass that is capable and willing to take a life, but that she doesn’t do it lightly. When she kills, Munroe enjoys it in a primal way – but the non-animal part of her brain hates the fact that there is blood on her hands. The balance that she tries to maintain throughout the series is part of what makes her so compelling. “Like a modern-day Apostle Paul, she was made all things to all men. She was everyone and no one. She would find him, kill him, and he would never see her coming.” (The Vessel, loc 405).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, and not just to those already familiar with Munroe. The Vanessa Michael Munroe series is violent and not necessarily for everyone and “The Vessel” is a great way to get a taste of Taylor Steven’s writing. But in my opinion, these books are awesome so you’ll probably get addicted. Fair warning.

Two Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Book Review: “Without Fail” by Lee Child

“Without Fail” by Lee Child is the sixth installment in the Jack Reacher novels. In this one, Reacher is forced to deal with a lot of issues around his brother’s death, which (spoiler alert) occurred during the first Jack Reacher novel “Killing Floor.”

From the first time that we meet Jack Reacher he does not display a lot of emotion. He tends to focus on the logicality of every situation. He looks for solutions – he’s a problem solver – and he doesn’t waste a lot of time overanalyzing. So when he finds himself in the D.C. area Reacher brushes off the condolences that are given by those that worked with Reacher’s brother Joe. He doesn’t spend time dwelling on the past and he certainly does not have time to be in continual mourning for a brother that he wasn’t all that close with. It isn’t until he meets Joe’s ex that he is forced to talk about his brother’s death. “He just stopped being there, but the world carried on anyway. It should have changed, just a little bit.” (Without Fail, pg 35). I liked this quote because it is so true. People die every day, but when it is someone that you know and your world feels so empty, it is hard to understand that it is just a normal day to the rest of the world. Like your world didn’t just get a little bit darker because there was one person in it that mattered so much to you and they’re gone.

The more Reacher gets to know Joe’s ex, the more time he spends discussing and thinking about his brother’s death. I thought it was really interesting hearing from Reacher in such a straightforward way what happened with his brother’s death. “We were clones, physically, the two of us. But we had different brains. Deep down, he was a cerebral guy. Kind of pure. Naïve, even. He never thought dirty. Everything was a game of chess with him. He gets a call, he sets up a meet, he drives down there. Like he’s moving his knight or his bishop around. He just didn’t expect somebody to come along and blow the whole chessboard away.” (Without Fail, pg 134/135). I really feel like with every book Lee Child reveals just a little bit more about Jack Reacher as a character. Reacher’s evolution is gradual to a point where the readers appreciate that he is undergoing a certain amount of self-discovery.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the Jack Reacher series is amazingly good. Shout out to Brad Parks for turning me onto these books. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to not devour the entire series and ignore everyone around me. The next book is already on my short to-read list and I cannot wait to continue learning more about Jack Reacher.