Sunday, January 9, 2011
Book 1/45 finished!
I read Shopaholic and Baby last week.
Was good to start with a light book - ease into it.
Before I get into reviewing the book, I want to explain my star system, as it is key to understanding my reviews:
* Poor:This item has no redeeming value to speak of. An utter waste of time. You were warned. Usually saved for books I can't bring myself to finish.
** Below Average: Not badly written, per se, just didn't hold my interest. Read an excerpt first.
*** Average: Buy it used. It may go on my shelf for a while if there's room, but it likely wouldn't survive a cleaning blitz.
**** Above average: something I will want to keep forever. It has at least one flaw that keeps it from reaching classic status. I'd hesitate to loan it out.
*****5. Exceptional: A classic. As close to perfect as there is. The chances of me loaning this book out is somewhere between slim and none. I better know where you live, for starters. I've been known to stalk people to get these ones back.
Which leads me to my review.
Title: Shopaholic and Baby
Author: Sophie Kinsella
This book is number five in the Shopaholic series. It's about a woman named Becky Bloomworth who has a serious addiction to shopping, and the wacky situations she gets herself into as a result. I loved the first two books of the series, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan and Shopaholic Ties the Knot. Loved them. TThey were side splittingly funny, fast paced, and had some sly satire in them, if you wanted to see it. Book four, despite a few strong points, wasn't up to the quality of the first three, so I was a bit leery when a friend gave me Shopaholic and Baby. Despite that, I dove in this past weekend.
In the end I fell back in love with the character of Becky Bloomworth Brandon. Yes, she's a ditz. Yes, she's shallow, insecure, frivolous, overdramatic, and, well, immature. But she genuinely has a caring side, and she's not a bad person. There's something madcap about her; I kept thinking of a modern day I Love Lucy type as I read the book. For a while, I wasn't quite sure I liked Becky's husband Luke - or at least I didn't buy them together. But this book truly shows that they 'get' each other and they're good for each other, in that they balance one another out.
The plot of the book is almost beside the point... the real focus here is Kinsella's little jabs at modern culture, and the way the characters relate to each other. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Becky takes her mom and her mom's friend with her to a prenatal class. The instructor is babbling all this New Age mumbo jumbo about labour not being painful, and she asks Becky's mom for her input. Needless to say, she doesn't like the answer she gets. It's hilarious. All the characters in this book 'fit' in a way that wasn't true of Shopaholic and Sister. Even Jess, the aforementioned sister, who many have wished was not invented, became more likeable in this book. And for those who have not read the other books in the series, Kinsella does a good job of recapping key points without getting bogged down with too much detail.
Now, the book is not perfect, of course. The villain, an ex-girlfriend of Luke's who wants him back (she's also Becky's obstetrician... Becky doesn't know about the doctor's connection to Luke when she makes the appointment, of course - she just wants to go to the new 'in' Doctor to the Stars') is a paper thin character. More could have been done here to create a legitimate triangle.The 'big secret' Luke is really keeping is pretty obvious. There were not as many laugh out loud funny moments in this book as in the first three of the series, and yet when Kinsella tries to have more 'serious' moments, they don't quite work as well as they should.
All in all, though, the things about that book that weren't great didnt' keep me from enjoying it. This novel is one you want to take with you to the beach or read on a rainy day. It's not taxing - it's a just a fun little quick adventure to help you while away an afternoon.