I have always been a big fan of Sophie Kinsella. I think that humor writing is a tricky genre and she has mastered it. I always find myself laughing oI have always been a big fan of Sophie Kinsella. I think that humor writing is a tricky genre and she has mastered it. I always find myself laughing out loud throughout her novels. It's been a long time since a Shopaholic book came out so I was really excited about the newly released Shopaholic to the Stars. I have to admit that the situations that the main character, Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood), gets herself into are completely ridiculous but they are still entertaining.
In this installment, Becky and her husband, Luke, have moved to the Hollywood Hills with their two year old daughter, Minnie. As expected, Becky is completely obsessed with the celebrities that live in the area and is scheming from the beginning on how to become a part of the Hollywood social scene. Along the way she has a lot of missteps and gets herself into some tricky situations that are in true Shopaholic style. I had kind of forgotten how ridiculous Becky can be, but it still made me laugh.
What did not sit so well with me though was that this has a cliffhanger! All the other books in this series have essentially been standalone novels, but this one was definitely cutoff just when things were getting good! It was frustrating because it was still a rather lengthy book and I felt like things did drag a bit here and there and I feel like it could have been resolved rather than dragging out to another book.
Other than seriously being annoyed about the cliffhanger, I did enjoy this book. I'm going with the three star rating because there were moments where Becky was just a bit too crazy and I did hate the cligghanger. I'd recommend holding off to read it until the next one comes out though to save yourself the anticipation....more
Another light and easy chick-lit novel after the rather heavy experience of my last read, The Drowning People. This was slightly more substantial thanAnother light and easy chick-lit novel after the rather heavy experience of my last read, The Drowning People. This was slightly more substantial than the last few fluff chick-lit novels I've read, but not too much so. I think it took itself more seriously than it actually was, trying to make a statement about medical marijuana as well as pulling in some fairly far-reaching plot points, but it was an interesting enough read.
The novel switches between the perspectives of three generations of Moon family women: Allegra, her daughter Mariah, and Mariah's twelve year old daughter Lindsay. After being laid off from her University teaching position, Mariah moves herself and Lindsay in with her mother and grandmother who live in the apartment over the family business, the Owl & Moon Cafe, near the beach in the coastal city of Monterey. As to be expected there are some tensions of these very different women all loving together, which is not helped by Allegra's diagnosis of leukemia. While they try to put aside old arguments in the effort of taking care of Allegra during her chemotherapy, they are not always successful, and it turns out that their path to understanding one another and becoming a closer family is much more nuanced and difficult than expected.
In my opinion the most interesting character was Mariah's mother, Allegra. She is a product of the 70's and is as interested in the latest cause as she is in organic cooking in her cafe. She made mistakes in her youth, getting pregnant at 16, but is now trying to make amends for her parenting mistakes with Mariah by being a better grandmother to her granddaughter Lindsay. She's an infectious personality who makes her quirky cafe a popular spot among the locals. Her progression and acceptance of her leukemia was the most interesting journey for me in this novel.
The author uses Lindsay, the smarter-than-average kid who attends a pricey private school, to bring in the topic of medical marijuana (she does her science project on it based on her grandmother's illness). It was ok and kind of interesting, but seemed like a bit of a side point. I'm not one for the "genius kid" characters in novels though as most authors really have trouble creating a voice authentic enough to be knowledgable and innocent. It generally just rings false to me, as it did here from time to time. Maybe I'm just being nit-picky, but everyone has their little things and this is one of mine. Maybe it won't bother you a bit.
Anyway, it was an interesting read that helped me pass a lazy Saturday morning while I had the house to myself. I'd recommend it if you're looking for something a bit more substantial than your normal chick-lit, but not too heavy. ...more
So, I'll admit to having terribly ADD taste in books. I love good literature, but I'm also a sucker for some entertaining chick-lit too. One of my favSo, I'll admit to having terribly ADD taste in books. I love good literature, but I'm also a sucker for some entertaining chick-lit too. One of my favorite chick-lit authors is Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic series among others). So, when I saw her recommendation on the cover of this novel, I thought it must also be a good, fun read. Unfortunately, it was predictable, rather stale, and overall a bit of a flop.
The premise sounds right up my ally: Issy, a thirty-something gets laid off from her corporate desk job and decides to follow her passion for baking and open a cupcake shop, following in the tradition of her now elderly grandfather who raised her and ran his own bakeries all his life. Anyway, I like to bake, and as previously mentioned, I can be a sucker for a good chick-lit novel so I expected this to be a fun romp, but it just wasn't. Moments of it were fun, I loved some of the characters, but the plot line just wasn't all the way there. I think the main problem here is that the author held onto the former boyfriend storyline for far too long. I get that she's trying to build tension and create an arc, but it just went on too long. I would have much preferred developing the new love interest sooner rather than rushing it at the end and then giving it a blip in the epilogue. The old boyfriend, Graeme, is such a pompous ass and Issy just doesn't even act like herself around him. Much of the novel is dedicated to her growing enough to realize that even though she is getting into her thirties, it isn't too late to meet someone and start a family, that she doesn't have to settle for Graeme. She does eventually figure it out, but rather than it being an enlightening journey, its drawn out and a bit frustrating. Its like having that friend who just does not listen to you about that bad choice boyfriend and keeps going back. I honestly kept rolling my eyes at her in the scenes with Graeme.
The new love interest is Austin, a much nicer guy who is raising his younger kid brother (ten years old to his late twenty-something). He's the bank manager on her business loan and they have great chemistry from the beginning. Their story is the one I wanted to see develop, not Issy's trudging along with Graeme. I think the book would have had so much better momentum if we had traded out the love interests sooner.
Another thing that bothered me was that some of the little details were either inconsistent, or didn't ring true. In the beginning for example, I think there is a mixup of where the grandfather lives, North or South London. It isn't a huge deal, but it really bugs me when those little things are inconsistent. Or, the woman who eventually goes to work with Issy in her shop, Pearl. There are many instances where other characters describe her as a larger woman, but the author never actually paints a picture of her physical description. The pieces that we get from other characters just aren't enough to paint a full picture, and its something that could have so easily been taken care of quickly and early on that I don't see why it wasn't. Also, Austin's little brother is supposed to be ten years old, but he acts more like he's I dunno, seven or eight maybe. He just seems far too young and it seems odd.
Now, this novel was advertised as a novel 'with recipes' which I found a little hokey, but figured it might be interesting. Turns out that the 'recipes' are written from the perspective of the grandfather who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, so accordingly, are not always coherent or terribly clear. I think the inclusion of them is fun, and adds a nice link to the grandfather in the storyline, but I don't think it should be advertised as a novel 'with recipes' as they aren't entirely proper recipes.
I didn't terribly dislike this novel, but it wasn't anything I'd really recommend. I was just hoping for so much more for this novel that it was disappointing. The only thing it really did was inspire me to do some baking. I didn't make any cupcakes, but I did make some cinnamon rolls, which were delicious. ...more
Some of my favorite, fun, chick-lit novels are by Sarah Addison Allen. So when I saw she had a new one coming out, I was excited to grab it up and losSome of my favorite, fun, chick-lit novels are by Sarah Addison Allen. So when I saw she had a new one coming out, I was excited to grab it up and lose myself in it. Unfortunately, Lost Lake did not live up to her previous works for me and ended up being rather flat. Overall it just didn't feel developed enough. The characters were all interesting and quirky, but none of them were fully developed. And the predictable plot seemed even more formulaic without the benefit of fully rounded characters to balance it out.
The premise sounds interesting enough: Kate, a newly widowed young mother, finally comes out of her grief on the eve of moving in with her controlling mother-in-law and decides to take her daughter on a fun summer trip to a lakeside cabin resort owned by her aunt. As a child Kate remembered this place fondly as one of the last carefree, fun summers she had before entering into adolescence and hopes to enjoy it with her own daughter. Once they arrive, however, they realize that the idyllic memory Kate had has become worn down over the years and they find themselves two of only a handful of guests gathering to celebrate the last summer before Kate's aunt Eby sells the place. Running the cabins is Eby as well as her best friend, Lisette, who can't speak but instead writes to communicate. Among the guests we have the devoted and taciturn Jack who has been harboring a crush for Lisette for years. There's also the unlikely pair of the cantankerous Buhladeen and her friend Selma, a perpetual divorcee who's always on the lookout for her next husband (married or unmarried is not a qualifier in her search). The two are night and day but have been regulars at the cabins for decades. And finally, there's the local boy, Wes, who was Kate's first almost-kiss as a child and who is now a handsome (single) man still living in town and now running his own business. All of these characters are interesting and fun, but I don't think that any of them get enough development to do them justice. Its almost as if Allen bit off more than she could chew and the novel suffered for it.
I won't go into the plot details here, but suffice it to say that there is some magical realism tossed in with some rather formulaic elements. Usually the magical realism in her novels is just enough to spice things up and make them fun, but this time, in the main storyline it just seemed a bit forced and silly. I did like the mystery surrounding Selma though and would have loved to hear more about her life. Any of the periphery characters would have been interesting to develop, but it just didn't happen.
Sadly, I think that Allen fell into the bestseller's curse. I don't know if she tried to write this too quickly or what happened, but I think that there was just so much more that could have happened with this novel. Some serious development is needed and even some better quality writing. I don't remember her writing being so amateur and am now curious if the story lines from her last books have distracted me from sub-par writing. I won't be reading this one again, but I'll have a more crucial eye when I re-read her other books. If you're interested in reading something from this author I'd recommend either Garden Spells or The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I honestly wouldn't even bother with this one. ...more
On a completely different end of the spectrum, I just started, and finished in one day, Mary Simses The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe. ThisOn a completely different end of the spectrum, I just started, and finished in one day, Mary Simses The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe. This was a fun, engrossing read that kept me up too late because I wanted to finish. I think Mary Simses could teach Camille DeAngelis a thing or two about pacing because I found myself not wanting to put this book down. (Alert: spoilers abound)
It is a fairly predictable tale: city girl goes to a small town to finish some business for her dearly departed grandmother and meets a local boy. Through a series of entertaining hijinks, she begins to question her engagement to the successful and handsome man waiting for her back home. There are some laugh out loud funny moments, and a few sad realizations that help our heroine on her way to realizing what she really wants in life, and some even tougher moments reflecting on her grandmother's life that inspire her to act on her desires rather than merely daydream about them. I probably could have told you that Ellen and Roy would get together in the end, that Hayden (the fiancé from the big city) would actually be a gentleman about the whole thing, and that Ellen would come to these self-realizing moments that were both funny and enlightening along the way. But, just because it was predictable doesn't mean I didn't like it. For some reason, it really worked for me. The author wove the characters together well and I liked seeing Ellen's subtle changes throughout the novel. I did know what was going to happen, but I didn't foresee all the little details that made it fun and worthwhile.
Some of those details were the characters themselves. They seemed very real and natural. The dialogue flowed well and wasn't forced or false-sounding. They had real faults and strengths, and were overall rather eclectic and entertaining as a whole. I liked following Ellen as she discovered more about her departed grandmother, and in turn, questioned some things about her own life. The changes weren't earth-shattering, and were thus more believable. She didn't pick up and change everything right away, she took smaller steps which made it work.
Another thing I really liked was the author's description in general. It wasn't too heavy handed where it felt like too much, but I did still get a nice mental image of the little town of Beacon and its inhabitants. It was a nice balance. I also personally liked all the food descriptions, I think those little details are interesting and can fit in if done well. Plus, it gave me an idea or two about some salads I want to try ;) Speaking of Beacon, I thought it was a lovely setting. Very quaint and relaxed, it was a perfect setting for this story that kind of ambled along. And there is the key point: it did take its time, it wasn't rushed, but I felt interested the entire time. I think it really is a skill on the part of the author to be able to write something that achieves that balance. ...more
Ok, I know that these books are pretty predictable and slightly cheesy, but they never fail to make me laugh. Like really laugh, not just smile quietlOk, I know that these books are pretty predictable and slightly cheesy, but they never fail to make me laugh. Like really laugh, not just smile quietly to myself. This is why it is best to read these books at home so people don't look at you like a crazy person while you're sitting there cracking up by yourself. Not that that has happened to me or anything. Right. Anyway, this book completely follows in her normal style: slightly flaky but lovable heroine gets herself into a sticky situation, hilarity ensues, ends with a nice little package tying up all those loose ends. I think what I like most about her heroines is that they're identifiable in a way - sure, they're completely exaggerated to play up the comedic bits, but you can see yourself thinking those same things sometimes. It's like imagining what ridiculous things would happen if some day your filter for not doing or saying silly things was broken. The last of Kinsella's books I read was "Twenties Girl" which was sadly disappointing so I was glad to read this which is more in her usual style. Definitely recommended for a fun, quick read. ...more
I was rather disappointed in this book - I normally love Sophie Kinsella, and since this was by her, just under a different name I thought that wouldI was rather disappointed in this book - I normally love Sophie Kinsella, and since this was by her, just under a different name I thought that would be true of this book too. But I was wrong. Everything I love about Kinsella was not in his book: humor, fun characters, interesting plot twists. This was more like a soap opera. It's like she was trying to be serious and desk but it came across as kind of grating and melodramatic. I didn't really like any if the characters except for the nanny who added some relief to the 'pity me' theme going on with the rest of the characters. I honestly started skimming over parts so I could get to the end. I was a decent enough idea but the characters weren't developed, the plot seemed forced, and the dialogue was monotonous. Definitely not the fun Kinsella type book I was looking for. ...more
This was actually kind of a fun, creative read. It was definitely written in the style of a Jane Austen novel, but I found it to be more tongue-in-cheThis was actually kind of a fun, creative read. It was definitely written in the style of a Jane Austen novel, but I found it to be more tongue-in-cheek than taking itself too seriously. Reminded me quite a bit of Austen's "Northanger Abbey," actually. I'm not sure if it was meant to be so silly, but there you have it. I definitely got irritated with the characters at points, but that was mostly due to the sentimentality that the author was borrowing from the era she was mimicking. I liked the ending of the novel and thought that the little bits of magic tossed in were actually kind of fun. I liked the idea of art and talent adding to the values of the heroine, even if it was a bit on the trite side. Overall, this was a fun filler kind of book that gave me a break from some other, more serious things that I've been reading. ...more
I really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I read the first book in this series and actually rather enjoyed it - by the end the mainI really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I read the first book in this series and actually rather enjoyed it - by the end the main character, Jane, had become really interesting and I was excited to find out what happened next. However, this second book dissipated whatever kind feelings I had towards Jane in the last book - throughout this novel she is whiny, self-absorbed, and, frankly, rather irritating. She drove me crazy and the only reason I finished the book was because I was so curious about the plot. Some redeemable qualities of this book were that it at least had some good supporting characters, but like the first book, the beginning was rather slow and it mounted to a total cliff-hanger. I still want to know what happens, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to brave another session of this whiny main character. ...more
I went into the book for purely escapist reading - I wasn't expecting any profound themes or intense writing, so I wasn't disappointed when there wasnI went into the book for purely escapist reading - I wasn't expecting any profound themes or intense writing, so I wasn't disappointed when there wasn't any. While I do agree with some of the other reviewers that this book was a bit slow in the beginning and that it does lack a certain depth, I was more easily able to forgive that because I wasn't searching for the next Pulitzer prize winning novel. Rather, I thought that this was a fun little read which kept me interested and entertained. Yes, it was a bit slow to start with, but it did begin to pick up and probably around half to three quarters of the way through really started to draw me in even more. I think that part of that has to do with the heroine's progression thoughout the book. As she begins to understand what is happening around her, and to her, she begins to believe more in herself and becomes a stronger character, which was a nice element. The supporting characters in this book are just that: supporting without much merit on their own. Though they add to the story, they aren't terrbily strong on their own apart from the atrocious Lynne Doran of course. Some characters that I wanted to have further developed were the Montagues and Jane's friend, Dee, but I think that might unfold a bit further in the sequel, which I plan on picking up when it comes to my local library. Yes, I thought that this was a fun read, and a great cover, but it isn't something that I would say I had to own. Borrow a copy it you can or get it from the library to save yourself the expense of a book you likely won't read a second time. It was fun and worth reading, but not necessarily worth buying. ...more
This book definitely had its moments, but overall it had too many loose ends and undeveloped characters for me to really like it. A fun read, but notThis book definitely had its moments, but overall it had too many loose ends and undeveloped characters for me to really like it. A fun read, but not much more than that. ...more
Even though this author's underlying plot is generally the same in all her books - small town girl struggling to overcome the perceptions of the peoplEven though this author's underlying plot is generally the same in all her books - small town girl struggling to overcome the perceptions of the people she grew up with and come into her own as a stronger person, with a hint of magic thrown in - I really like them all. This wasn't my favorite, but it was still a good read. I was tempted to finish it in one sitting, but seeing as I had to get up for work the next morning, I had to put it down and finish it the next day. I like how all the different characters in this book intertwine and eventually come together and I especially liked how the author tied in characters from another of her novels, it was subtle but nice for those who have read "Garden Spells." The element of magic was played down a bit in this book compared to the others but still there in the background, which I liked. Overall, it was a fun read and I would definitely recommend it :)...more
I actually really love this author! All of her books have a bit of magic thrown in which makes them kind of fun and unique. The plots are generally alI actually really love this author! All of her books have a bit of magic thrown in which makes them kind of fun and unique. The plots are generally along the same lines but the characters always have something quirky or odd about them and it always gets me hooked. I definitely consider these "candy" books, but they are fun nevertheless. ...more