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-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 Eighth Book Review: “Shoe Addicts Anonymous” by Beth Harbison

“Shoe Addicts Anonymous” by Beth Harbison was a fun, chic-lit novel that would be great to pick up if you are looking for a quick, enjoyable read. I would categorize this as a ‘beach read’ for sure, but that didn’t make the book any less enjoyable.

The premise for “Shoe Addicts Anonymous” is a group of women – all addicted to designer shoes and all going broke because of it – decide to meet in order to swap shoes. One of the tag lines on the back of the book is “Four different women. One common shoe size. And a shared lust for fabulous footwear.” The group ‘shoe addicts anonymous’ is founded by Lorna Rafferty who has an enormous amount of debt and can’t stop shopping for more shoes. On a whim, she decides to make a post on craigslist and see if she can meet up with other shoe addicts in order to swap designer shoes. Her ad is something along the lines of “you must wear a size 7 1/2 shoe, love designer footwear, and be willing to swap”. This ad leads to some unexpected friendships between four women.

Lorna starts the group because of her enormous amount of debt. Helene Zaharis is one of the women who comes. She isn’t in debt, but her husband wants a baby and cancels her credit cards until he gets his way. A third women is battling agoraphobia, so even though she has the means to buy shoes through the outrageous money she makes as a phone sex operator, Sandra Vanderslice joins the group to face her fears. Plus, what better way to get over your fear of leaving your house then to hang out with a bunch of women who love shoes as much as you? The fourth women who joins the group isn’t that into shoes, but is looking for any way to get out of the house as she is a nanny for two sweet boys with a terrible mother that takes advantage of Jocelyn Bowen at every turn.

These four women meet up every Tuesday. They trade shoes and form friendships and in the process, they fight and triumph over their problems. The book was funny, but with an underlying of drama that gave the book another level. The story is told from each of the four women’s perspectives which is a writing technique that I very much enjoy. I think that Beth Harbison has a real talent and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes, but it is certainly a book for a very specific audience. I don’t think most men would find the book appealing, but it is a great beach read. I’d say that it is a good book to read if you are a fan of Sophie Kinsella because it is along the same lines.

Becky’s One Hundred and Fourth Book Review: “The Little Lady Agency” by Hester Browne

This book was quite a fun surprise. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for awhile and since it was an unknown author, I didn’t rush to pick it up. Clearly, my mistake. What should have tipped me off was the fact that Sophie Kinsella was one of the authors commending the book on the back cover. Either way, I picked up “The Little Lady Agency” because I was looking for a light read after having pretty much overdosed on Stephen King. While “The Little Lady Agency” was definitely a chic-lit novel, it was a very well put together one with a main character that you couldn’t help but cheer for.

The premise of “The Little Lady Agency” is a girl, Melissa Romney-Jones, finds herself out of a job for the umpteenth time in a very short while. The Americans bought the company that she worked at (the book is set in England) and since she was the newest employee, she was expendable. Melissa needs to find a new source of income and fast and when she is out with her two best friends, Nelson and Gabi she bumps into an old acquaintance. This starts a series of events that leads to Melissa opening her own company called “The Little Lady Agency”. Her goal: help the men of the world without a clue. She does it all, from basic makeovers to posing as a girlfriend for gay guys not quite ready to come out of the closet. She even pretends to be one guy’s wife when his one night stand won’t back off. Now that was fun to read about. For all of these ‘male makeovers’ that she is making, she goes by the name ‘Honey’ and wears a blonde wig.

Most of her clients only need her services for a short while but there is one guy who hires her to pose as his girlfriend. New to England and recently divorced, he doesn’t want to have to deal with friends and acquaintances trying to set him up on blind dates – enter Honey.

Soon the lines begin to blur between Melissa and Honey. Melissa starts to take on some of Honey’s traits and even a blonde wig cannot keep the two separate. Melissa is finding the strength and confidence that came with the blonde wig are seeping into her life. She is becoming less of a pushover and embracing the fact that she is a smart, beautiful woman. It was fun to read about how Melissa pretended to be confident so she could be ‘Honey’ and found she benefited from embellishing Honey’s character. 

I found Melissa to be quite a fun character to read about. I felt a very similar affection for her as I felt for Becky Bloomwood the first time I read the Shopoholic series by Sophie Kinsella. There are a lot of differences in each girls’ world though. For one, Becky has a very supportive, loving family with a lot of quirks. Melissa on the other hand has a terrible family for the most part. Especially her father, I did not like him at all. Whenever I read things like this where the parents are awful I’m reminded of just how lucky I am to come from the background that I do. That being said, “The Little Lady Agency” has plenty of quirks and even though her family was a nightmare to read about, they made for some very funny situations.

Would I recommend this book? YES! I am so pleased that I found another chic-lit author who is able to paint her character’s world so well. I have high hopes for Hester Browne. She has written several other novels including two sequels to “The Little Lady Agency” which I am planning on devouring as soon as I can find the time. This book was a really fun read and just might appeal to a male audience as well although it is definitely aimed towards the women of the world. If you’re looking for a light, fun read – pick up “The Little Lady Agency”.   

Becky’s Ninety-Sixth Book Review: “Swimming Pool Sunday

Not everyone knows that Madeline Wickham is Sophie Kinsella. But it’s true and for awhile, Madeline Wickham wrote under her own name (Sophie Kinsella is a pen name) and “Swimming Pool Sunday” was one of those books released under Madeline Wickham.

I picked up “Swimming Pool Sunday” with the assumption that it would be another quirky, chick-lit novel filled with romance and comedic moments. “Swimming Pool Sunday” has a touch of romance, not much comedy, and is more sad than anything else. The story is told by several different people, mainly from two families. There are the Delaney’s, Ursula and Hugh along with their recently widowed daughter-in-law, Meredith. Then there are the Kembers, Barnaby, Louise, and their daughters Amelia and Katie. Barnaby and Louise separated and Louise is seeing another man, a lawyer named Cassian. The other characters who also tell the story are Alexis (also a lawyer) and Daisy, the new girl in town.

 “Swimming Pool Sunday” comes once a year when the Delaney’s open their home and their swimming pool to the neighborhood. Ursula and Hugh have made this annual tradition a big event so that when Amelia and Katie realize that they are going to miss it because it is their weekend with their dad they get very upset. Everyone makes it to the pool, but it is not the happy occasion it once was and while Barnaby is hanging out with Hugh and trying to stay upbeat about the fact that his wife asked him to move out, Louise is convinced that everyone in the small village is judging her as being the woman who left her husband because she was involved with another man. It doesn’t help that the other man is a younger one who is trying to prove himself as a lawyer. In addition to these personal dramatics something even more upsetting occurs during “Swimming Pool Sunday”. Life really can change in an instant and lives do change.

 So it is on “Swimming Pool Sunday” that everyone is interacting with each other and it is also where Daisy and Alexis meet. I’m not really sure why these two were considered important enough to be telling their stories in the book. They only had appearances a few different times and it felt a little forced. Really, the main characters were Barnaby and Louise with Cassian up there as well. Hugh and Ursula were ever present, but did a very small amount of actual narrating. More often Meredith was the one narrating when Hugh and Ursula were involved.

I don’t want to give too much away because that’s half the fun of reading a book. But I will say this, although the book is well written because I don’t think Madeline Wickham/Sophie Kinsella can produce anything not well written…this wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t like the intense seriousness of this novel. I also found it harder to relate to Louise who is arguably the main female character because she wasn’t really a good person. I definitely sided with Barnaby, especially the more I got to know Cassian and his character. (I mean really, who would fall for a lawyer?) Overall, the book was worth reading, but I wouldn’t recommend picking it up if you were looking for a light-hearted beach read. Would I recommend this book? Yes and no…I think that it was a good book, but since I was looking for something different when I picked it up I was a little taken aback. I think it is a book that would be more enjoyable if you weren’t going into it with the expectation that you were going into a romantic comedy world. Still worth the read though. 

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.