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.

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Becky’s Two Hundred and Sixth Book Review: “Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella

“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella was so good. It’s her first young adult novel and I was a little apprehensive about it because of that, but I really enjoyed this book. So much so, that I was literally laughing aloud while reading it on the train on my way into work and I devoured it in one day. It was amusing and entertaining, but it also covered a much deeper issue and I think Sophie Kinsella did this well.

When we meet Audrey, she is suffering from an anxiety disorder that surfaced after an unpleasant incident at school. She had a complete breakdown and had to leave school and spend time in the hospital while she got over the worst of it. Now she is staying at home, working on her recovery, which is a very slow process. She cannot be around other people, and she wears dark glasses all the time. “Finding Audrey” is about her trying to pick herself back up again, and while she is doing that she is interacting for the most part only with her immediate family. I really enjoyed Audrey’s family. She has the overprotective mother that takes advice from the articles she reads in the newspaper a little too seriously, “She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the Imaginary Daily Mail Judge, who constantly watches her life and gives it marks out of ten.” (Finding Audrey, pg 19). Her older brother Frank is moody and always playing video games, and Felix, her 4-year-old brother is just hilarious. ““I will fight the chicken pops with my sword,” he says importantly. “I’m a very strong fighter.”” (Finding Audrey, pg 53). Audrey’s dad is great, he’s supportive and sweet, and frequently living in his own world removed from the conversation.

Besides her family, Audrey goes to see her doctor on a regular basis, which is the only time she ever leaves the house. Her doctor gives her some homework: she asks Audrey to get a video camera and make a movie. Audrey is instructed to be a fly-on-the-wall and just observe for a few days and then to try to work up to interviewing her family, and then try interviewing someone outside of her family. What I found really neat about this was that once she was given this assignment, the book was split up between a narrative and a screenplay, which was a lot of fun.

I liked that Sophie Kinsella had Audrey wearing dark glasses to guard herself from the outside world. Audrey gives a bit of an explanation about the dark glasses, “…if you ask me, most people underestimate eyes. For a start, they’re powerful. They have range. You focus on someone a hundred feet away, through a whole bunch of people, and they know you’re looking at them. What other bit of human anatomy can do that? It’s practically being psychic, is what it is.

But they’re like vortexes too. They’re infinite. You look someone straight in the eye and your whole soul can be sucked out in a nanosecond. That’s what it feels like. Other people’s eyes are limitless and that’s what scares me.” (Finding Audrey, pg 27). I thought this was a pretty powerful and insightful statement.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely – it is something that would be especially enjoyable to the female readers out there, but that doesn’t mean that guys wouldn’t like it too. I almost feel like it would be a good book to share with any parents that find themselves in a similar boat as Audrey’s parents. It’s fictional, sure, but reading about Audrey’s illness from her perspective could help some parents better understand why some things work and other things don’t, and how it is a slow process to get better. I think it is a great book to read for entertainment’s sake, but it could also be used almost as an educational tool for anyone in a situation similar to Audrey’s.

Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Eighth Book Review: “Shopaholic on Honeymoon” by Sophie Kinsella

“Shopaholic on Honeymoon” by Sophie Kinsella is a fun short story that takes place between the third (Shopaholic Ties the Knot) and the fourth (Shopaholic & Sister) shopaholic books. I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of short stories, but I was pretty pleased with this one. This is also a rare situation where I wouldn’t recommend this short story as a way to get a taste of Sophie Kinsella’s writing. The main reason being that the entirety of the shopaholic series is a lot of fun and I feel like starting in the middle would just be a bit crazy. As an alternative, I would point a potential Sophie Kinsella fan to one of her stand-alone novels to get a sense of her writing. They’re all wonderfully entertaining and reading one book is not as much of a commitment as starting an entire series.

SPOILER ALERT: THERE ARE REFERENCES TO THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SHOPAHOLIC SERIES THROUGHOUT THIS REVIEW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

The premise of the short story is all in the title, “Shopaholic on Honeymoon”. The story opens up on Luke and Becky in the very beginning of their honeymoon. At the conclusion of “Shopaholic Ties the Knot” Becky reveals that she returned all the gifts they received as wedding presents and used the cash to buy round-the-world tickets for the two of them. The proposed plan is to take a year off and spend it traveling. In “Shopaholic on Honeymoon”, Luke is having difficulty coming to terms with not working for any period of time. “The truth is, Luke’s not brilliant at going on holiday. He doesn’t really get the whole chilling-out-and-doing-nothing thing.” (Shopaholic on Honeymoon, loc 109).

Most of the story is dedicated to Becky trying to get Luke to relax and enjoy himself rather than rushing back into work. She finds herself trying to balance between getting Luke to relax and enjoy the honeymoon and getting him to understand the importance of souvenirs. Of course rather than hauling all their goodies around for the whole trip, Becky has been sending things back home. ““Won’t it be fun when we get home and open everything we’ve bought?” I turn to Luke. “It’ll be like Christmas!”
“Yes.” Luke looks a little doubtful. “Becky, we must keep track of everything we send back.”
“Of course we will!” I say, a bit impatiently. “I’ll remember everything.” Luke has such a way of inventing problems that don’t exist.” (Shopaholic on Honeymoon, loc 78). I liked this reference to “Shopaholic & Sister” where Luke and Becky return home to find that they ordered quite a lot during their honeymoon. It is one thing that Luke is less than happy about when they return home.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I thought it was a fun addition to the Shopaholic series. It was nice to have a short visit to Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood)’s world while I wait for the next book in the series to come out. I do highly recommend Sophie Kinsella’s work. She provides a great blend of problems and humor to keep you coming back again and again to the worlds she creates. I really enjoy her sense of humor. This one quote discussing museum visits I just have to share: “…There’s just the right amount of art. Enough that you can nod and go “Mmmm” and appreciate it and everything, but not so much that your eyes start to blur over and you start wanting to die.” (Shopaholic on Honeymoon, loc 117).

Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Second Book Review: “Shopaholic to the Stars” by Sophie Kinsella

“Shopaholic to the Stars” by Sophie Kinsella is the latest in the Shopaholic series featuring the infamous Becky Brandon née Bloomwood. I was extremely excited when this book came out and couldn’t wait to start it. But I ended up putting off starting the book because I wanted to wait until I had time to devour the whole book in one sitting. After having the book in my possession for weeks I finally broke down and dove back into Becky’s world.

The premise for “Shopaholic to the Stars” involves Luke, Becky, and Minnie moving to L.A. for a few months so Luke can expand Brandon Communications to cater to celebrities. Becky takes quickly to the L.A. scene and soon finds herself shopping for exercise outfits and of course hilarity ensues when she finds herself stuck in an outfit. Instead of taking it back off, she decides to wear it home. “As soon as I get back to the hotel room, I’ll cut the whole thing off myself with a pair of nail scissors and dispose of the remains in a public bin so Luke doesn’t find them and say What’s this? or You mean you bought it even though you knew it didn’t fit? or something else really annoying.” (Shopaholic to the Stars, pg 9). I thought this was very typical Becky-behavior. Her interactions with Luke are one of the most ridiculous parts of the Shopaholic series. Becky’s imagination frequently runs away from her and she tends to get frustrated when Luke inevitably reels her back into reality. “This is typical. Luke always lets practical plans get in the way of creative inspiration.” (Shopaholic to the Stars, pg 57).

As a wife Becky is pretty ridiculous, but as a mother…she’s something else. Minnie has proven that she has a strong personality in the previous book in the series “Mini Shopaholic” and she continues to exhibit hilarious behavior. “For a long time, my daughter’s favorite word was “mine.” Now, after intensive training, we’ve got her on to the word “please.” Which you’d think would be an improvement.
I swivel around wildly and finally spot Minnie. She’s balanced on a stone bench, tussling with Suze’s son Wilfrid over a red plastic truck.
“Pleeease!” she’s yelling crossly. “Pleeease!” Now, to my horror, she starts hitting Wilfrid with the truck, yelling with each blow: “Please! Please! Please!”
The trouble is, Minnie hasn’t really absorbed the spirit of the word “please.”” (Shopaholic to the Stars, pg 78). I loved this; Minnie is such a funny character.

Becky’s interactions in L.A. are intriguing. Because of what Luke is trying to accomplish, Becky finds herself in a position where she is able to meet celebrities and attend red carpet events. Suze and Tarquin come out to the West Coast to visit with Becky and Luke and end up tagging along for some of these events. It was pretty ridiculous reading about Tarquin meeting and chatting with some of the Hollywood personalities. “Luke has been bursting into laughter a lot – especially when some studio executive asked Tarkie what was his view of the American Pie franchise and Tarkie said, gosh, he wasn’t sure – was it similar to Starbucks?” (Shopaholic to the Stars, pg 206). In “Shopaholic to the Stars” a lot was happening including Becky’s old rival Alicia Bitch Long-Legs comes back into the picture. Although there is a lot that happened, especially in the second half of the book, I don’t want to give away the whole book. I will say that one things built upon the other and it made for a very exciting second half.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, although I was disappointed with the fact that things were not wrapped up as neatly as the previous Shopaholic books have been. I always enjoy reading about the many adventures of Becky Brandon née Bloomwood and I usually find myself laughing aloud throughout the book. That wasn’t the case right away with “Shopaholic to the Stars”. There were some moments that I thought were funny, but I didn’t find myself laughing aloud the same way that I have in the past. I’m still very much looking forward to the next book in the series, especially because I cannot wait to see what happens! Sophie Kinsella has assured me that she is working on the next book, so hopefully it will be out soon.

Becky’s One Hundred and Seventy-First Book Review: “Mini Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella

“Mini Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella is the sixth book in the Shopaholic series where Becky is facing her wildest challenge yet – a toddler. It definitely makes for an interesting read to observe Becky as a mother. In a lot of ways, Becky Brandon née Bloomwood has always been a bit childish herself and part of what makes her so charming is her innocence and imagination. For example, she frequently finds herself swept away by her own daydreams. But there are some things that she does that make you question how well Becky would do having a whole other person completely dependent on her to exist. That being said, Becky does her best at being a mom and it is really entertaining to see all the challenges she faces with Minnie. Watching Luke try to juggle two shopaholics is even more enjoyable.

The book opens on Becky out Christmas shopping with her two-year old daughter, Minnie. Like her mother, Minnie is determined to get what she wants, especially when it comes to shopping. While fighting with Minnie about buying a toy pony Becky finds herself with an unwanted audience. In order to save face in front of a judgmental parent, Becky quickly determines that Minnie can buy the pony if she uses her own pocket money. After explaining the whole concept of saving up money to buy things you want, Becky tells Minnie that she can buy the pony but that she’ll have used all her pocket money up. Then the sales woman tells Becky that the pony is one of a set and asks if she wants the other one. Of course the judgmental parent observes all of this and makes a comment about how it is too bad that Minnie already spent her pocket money. “…she says to Minnie with one of those tight, unfriendly smiles which proves she never has any fun or sex. You can always tell that about people, I find.” (Mini Shopaholic, pg 14). I love how Becky reacts to such things. Instead of giving up on this, Becky explains to Minnie how overdrafts work and proceed to buy the pair of ponies based off this idea. Shopaholic in training.

In addition to dealing with the trials of raising a mini shopaholic, there is a financial crisis going on in England during “Mini Shopaholic” and because of this, everyone is being careful with their money. The entirety of the population of England is cutting back – including the Bloomwood family. It’s pretty funny reading about the challenges that everyone finds themselves in during “Mini Shopaholic”. At one point Becky’s mom, Janice, Becky, and Jess go shopping together at the pound shop and Becky finds herself in awe of her ever-thrifty sister, Jess. “I stare at her, gobsmacked. In fact, to be honest I feel a teeny bit affronted. Here we all are, feeling really virtuous because we’re shopping in the Pound Shop. And Jess has to trump everyone by not shopping at all, ever. That’s so typical of her. Next she’ll probably invent some form of anti-shopping. Like antimatter, or antigravity.” (Mini Shopaholic, pg 151). Becky’s reaction is after Jess reveals that she has begun bartering for goods or services when she needs them instead of spending any money.

Without giving anything away, I will say that at one point in “Mini Shopaholic” Becky finds herself in a rather humiliating situation. “…I’ve never felt so humiliated in my whole entire life.
Actually, on second thought, maybe I have. But this is definitely equal with all those other times.” (Mini Shopaholic, pg 297). I love this. Becky is really funny but also she speaks the truth. She constantly finds herself in embarrassing situations and always manages to save face somehow.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – this book was just as much fun if not more so than the earlier books in the series. Watching Becky Brandon née Bloomwood grow as a character first into a girlfriend, then into a fiancée, then into a wife, and then into an expectant mother, it’s been really entertaining. Becky is full of life and wherever she goes, hilarity ensues. Reading about her dealing with a two-year old version of herself is really hilarious. I love the series and I am eager to read the next book in the series “Shopaholic to the Stars”.

Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Ninth Book Review: “Shopaholic & Baby” by Sophie Kinsella

SPOILER ALERT: THIS IS THE FIFTH BOOK IN THE SHOPAHOLIC SERIES AND THEREFORE THERE ARE DETAILS ABOUT THE EARLIER BOOKS THAT MAY BE REVEALED

“Shopaholic & Baby” by Sophie Kinsella is the fifth book in the Shopaholic series starring the endlessly entertaining Becky Brandon (neé Bloomwood). I really enjoy these books and I would even if the main character and I didn’t share a first name. There is something about Becky’s world that is so much fun to dive into and get lost in for a while. Reading these books is such a comfort – it’s almost like meeting up with an old friend that still has the uncanny ability to make you laugh. That’s what Becky Bloomwood is to me.

At the end of “Shopaholic & Sister” Becky and Luke find out that they are expecting a baby. When “Shopaholic & Baby” begins Luke and Becky are at the doctor finding out if everything is okay with the baby.
“I take a deep breath. “Actually, I did have one question, Dr. Braine.” I hesitate. “Now that the scan results are OK, would you say it’s safe to … you know…”
“Absolutely.” Dr. Braine nods understandingly. “A lot of couples abstain from intercourse in early pregnancy.”
“I didn’t mean sex!” I say in surprise. “I meant shopping.”
“Shopping?” Dr. Braine seems taken aback.
“I haven’t bought anything for the baby yet,” I explain. “I didn’t want to jinx it. But if everything looks OK, then I can start this afternoon!”
I can’t help sounding excited. I’ve been waiting and waiting to start shopping for the baby. And I’ve just read about this fabulous new baby shop on the King’s Road, called Bambino. I actually took a bona fide afternoon off, especially to go!
I feel Luke’s gaze on me and turn to see him regarding me with incredulity.
“Sweetheart, what do you mean, ‘start’?” he says.
“I haven’t bought anything for the baby yet!” I say, defensive. “You know I haven’t.”
“So…you haven’t bought a miniature Ralph Lauren dressing gown?” Luke counts off on his fingers. “Or a rocking horse? Or a pink fairy outfit with wings?”
“Those are for it to have when it’s a toddler,” I retort with dignity. “I haven’t bought anything for the baby.”
Honestly. Luke’s not going to be a very good dad if he doesn’t know the difference.” (Shopaholic & Baby, pg 13). I loved this quote. It really paints the picture of just how quirky Becky is and how Luke reacts to her oddities.

In addition to expecting a baby, Luke and Becky are house hunting. Their escapades during this, more specifically Becky’s, are quite amusing. At one point they find their dream house and are preparing to make an offer when they find out the owners have already accepted another offer. Becky however, refuses to accept that. ““Luke!” I lift a hand. “Stay there!” I feel like Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Luke Skywalker not to interfere because he doesn’t understand the strength of the Force.” (Shopaholic & Baby, pg 39). She’s ridiculous in the best way.

One thing that is a consistent in “Shopaholic & Baby” is Becky’s complete denial about her pregnancy and what it means. Of course, I do not have any frame of reference personally, but I think that her attitude towards the whole situation is pretty amusing. “I mean, obviously I don’t mind. I’m creating a beautiful new human being and all that. But still. If I were God, I’d make it OK for pregnant women to have cocktails. In fact, I’d make it healthy to have cocktails. And your arms wouldn’t swell up. And there wouldn’t be any morning sickness. And labor wouldn’t exist….
Thinking about it, I’d pretty much have a whole different system altogether.” (Shopaholic & Baby, pg 59). Then again she shares a similar thought process about thirty pages later. “…To be honest, I’m in denial about this whole birth business happening at all. I’m half hoping they’ll invent some new labor-substitute device by the time I reach my due date.” (Shopaholic & Baby, pg 89). Although I have yet to be pregnant myself, I am pretty sure that if they did somehow come up with another system where labor is moot, I might be on board with that. Especially considering my pain threshold is almost nothing.

In addition to all the pre-baby drama and house hunting drama that Becky is experiencing in her life, it’s nothing compared with the fact that she believes that Luke’s ex-girlfriend who happens to be their OB-GYN is after Luke. Much hilarity ensues because of this. There’s also the very real fear that when you’re expecting that your husband will lose interest. But that doesn’t slow down Becky. I really like the fact that although the book is largely comedic in style that there are still many real emotions and real situations that Becky has to deal with. She just has a funny way of doing that. I think that is part of what makes Becky so relatable. She is coping with real situations, however exaggerated they may be.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. I am of the mindset that each Shopaholic novel is better than the next. But still, that doesn’t take away from the rest of the series. I love following Becky’s adventures and adding pregnancy and a potential extramarital affair just makes “Shopaholic & Baby” that much more exciting.

Becky’s One Hundred and Sixty-Eighth Book Review: “Shopaholic & Sister” by Sophie Kinsella

SPOILER ALERT: THIS IS THE FOURTH BOOK IN THE SHOPAHOLIC SERIES AND THEREFORE THERE ARE DETAILS THAT MAY BE REVEALED ABOUT THE EARLIER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

“Shopaholic & Sister” by Sophie Kinsella is the fourth book in the Shopaholic series. This book once again follows Becky Brandon (neé Bloomwood) on her many adventures. The book picks up with Luke and Becky on the tenth month of their yearlong honeymoon. After ten months they are starting to feel a bit homesick and so they change their plans and come home earlier than planned. They make one more stop before returning home – Milan.

Once in the fashion capital of the world, Becky gets a little irritated at Luke for his comment to control herself while they are in Milan. In an effort to show her dedication to soak up the culture rather than go shopping, Becky tells Luke to take her purse to prove that she doesn’t need to go shopping. He actually takes it and leaves her in a rather challenging situation. “As the door closes I feel a tad disgruntled. Little does Luke know. Little does Luke know I was actually planning to buy him a present today. Years ago, when I first met him, Luke had this belt which he really loved, made of gorgeous Italian leather. But he left it in the bathroom one day and it got hot leg-wax on it.
Which was not entirely my fault. Like I told him, when you’re in total agony, you don’t think “What would be the most suitable implement to scrape burning wax off my shins?” You just grab the nearest thing.” (Shopaholic & Sister, pg 29). I thought this was pretty funny. Having dealt with hot wax before, I can completely understand her reaction. After Luke left, Becky decides to venture out with the small amount of cash she had on her. Of course she also had her emergency credit card glued to the inside of a compact mirror. She stops at a leather goods store to find the belt for Luke and meets a man that helps her out: Nathan Temple. He helps Becky acquire an angel bag – the must-have item that is impossible to get. Elated at her new bag, she doesn’t even consider the ramifications of owing a debt to someone she had never met before.

Luke and Becky head back to London after she gets her fabulous bag completely unaware that her exchange in Milan was the beginning of a bigger issue. Once they get back they happily head over to her parents’ house with big plans of a tearful reunion. Instead, Becky finds that her world has changed quite a bit. In her absence, a woman has surfaced and made contact with her parents – a sister. Becky also finds that things have changed with her best friend, Suze. Everything seems to have turned upside down in her world. Becky tries to cope with all of this and at the same time survive on a budget enforced by Luke and deal with the many, many purchases made during their honeymoon.

I really enjoyed reading about all these extra challenges that Becky has thrown at her. It’s interesting how much has changed in her life. She doesn’t have a full time job at this point, so Becky has to amuse herself (on a budget) while Luke is at work all the time. Then there is the issue of her family and friends becoming alienated from her when she was gone for such a long time. Becky is also coping with having a long-lost sister and is pretty ridiculous about the whole situation. Jess is the complete opposite of Becky. This becomes perfectly clear when she spells out that she hates shopping. Part of what I really enjoyed about the addition of Jess’s character in the Shopaholic series is that Becky is thrust into a situation that she cannot exactly talk herself out of. She has to work through her own selfish ways in order to make room for a relationship with a sister that she never knew she had. It’s nothing short of entertaining. Throughout all this mess, Becky also has the interaction in Milan come back and bite her in the ass. You can certainly count on Becky to bury her head in the sand and hide from all her problems.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think it was yet another fun read in the Shopaholic series. It brings a lot of interesting issues to light, the challenges that you would face coming back from almost a year long hiatus: trying to find where you fit in other people’s lives now, how you would react and deal with a newly discovered family member, and also the additional challenges of meeting a new relative and having nothing in common with them. Not to mention coming back to reality after being on honeymoon for so long. It was really fun reading about Becky and how she dealt with these new challenges. As hilarious as ever, the fourth book in the Shopaholic series is well worth reading. Look below for a funny excerpt.

“But that’s so…narrow-minded! Most people have probably got a criminal record these days!” I gesture widely with my arms. “I mean, who sitting round this table does not have some kind of criminal record?”
There’s a short silence.
“Well,” says Luke. “I don’t. Gary doesn’t. You don’t.”
I look at him, taken aback. I suppose he’s right. I don’t.
That’s quite a surprise, actually. I’d always thought of myself as living on the edge.” (Shopaholic & Sister, pg 166)