Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review.

Title: Shopaholic to the Rescue

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Chick-Lit, Humour, Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy


OK,’ says Luke calmly. ‘Don’t panic’

Don’t panic? Luke is saying ‘Don’t panic’? No. Nooooo. This is all wrong. My husband never says ‘Don’t panic’. If he’s saying ‘Dont panic,’ then what he really means is: ‘There’s every good reason to panic.’ 

God, now I’m panicking.

For about for about six years now, I’ve been buying, reading and rereading Sophie Kinsella’s book saga ‘The Shopaholic Series’. As a teenage girl, these novels were the perfect read for those stressful times between school, exams and then college. And now, as a twenty-one year old, this series still holds a great deal of sway over my life, as I begin to emphasise with struggles in love, work and shopping. And in the last few weeks, Kinsella published the ninth book in the series ‘Shopaholic to the Rescue’, and the minute I opened the first page, and saw those opening emails, and immortal words which make up every beginning of these books ‘Ok. Don’t panic’, I fell back into the world of Becky Bloomwood nee Brandon, and her lovable and crazy life.

Overall, the series follows Becky as she deals with falling in love, marriages, families, children, friendship, housing issues , and all of this alongside a pretty serious, yet hilarious shopping addiction. And before I get into the review, I would thoroughly recommend that you read the entire series before this one – as it does follow a pretty straight forward plot throughout, and with the changes in Becky’s life, such as family dramas and the introduction of new characters, you would need to know how they wound up in this particular scenario. And in the ninth book, we find Becky taking on her biggest and most elaborate challenge yet.

After Kinsella, in Shopaholic to the Stars, left her in LA, with her relationship with her best friend, husband and career up in turmult, we pick up when Becky decides that a rescue mission is in order. And who is she rescuing?
Her father Graham, and her best friend’s husband Tarquin, who both vanish after Graham arrives from England to track down some old friend’s, and tags Tarquin along for the ride. However, despite assuring them all that they are all fine, Becky decides that the only possible solution is to hire a RV, drive the family from LA to Las Vegas and hunt down the missing men. But when she arrives in Las Vegas, Becky and her family get more than they bargained for, and are thrown for a loop when secrets from the past get dug up, and in typical Bloomwood fashion, not everything is as it appears.

So, for the ninth (and possible last) book in the series, Kinsella brings all the big guns out. Getting all the loved, and loathed characters together for one big American adventure was a sweet touch, as we got to see how they would all interact together, and some old faces even came back from the first books to play crucial parts. Kinsella’s writing of Becky hasn’t changed much in the years she’s been writing, which doesn’t limit the Shopaholic world in the slighest, but improve it. Becky, through all the ups and downs of the last few books, is still the young girl we all fell in love with. She still worries about spending, about her family, about Suze and about Alicia Bitch-Longlegs, and she still comes up with all the harebrained schemes that made her so lovable in the first place. The interactions between all the characters are familiar and comforting, and Becky once again triumphs in the end. However, what I did like was that nothing is entirely perfect in Becky’s life. She has some issues that seem entirely truthful, and frank to be able to touch some readers in a personal way, and she doesn’t skirt over them.

As story goes, it was a light-hearted romp full of very familiar (good familiar) scenarios, and nothing seemed too manic or impossible. The scheme that Becky pulls off is very typical ‘her’ style, but doesn’t seem that repetitive, or impossible. However, I should say that perhaps Kinsella should hang up the Shopaholic series for now. To be honest, after this book (which is a continuation of the story that she wrote in Shopaholic to the Stars) there doesn’t seem much to write about anymore. This books seems to be the perfect ending for Becky’s saga, and despite not wanting her to go and to continue to have more madcap ideas, if Kinsella continues on, it could just lose its sparkle and just be one of those series that you want to end.

The writing isn’t complex or challenging at all, but very personal and almost diary-esque. I’ve always thought Kinsella excelled at this particular type, and she uses it frequently in other stories. However, I must say that I’ve fallen out of love with Kinsella’s other books in the last few years, and it’s only been Becky that I’ve solidly stuck with. But that could just be my tastes changing.

So for a ending for the Shopaholic series, I’d say this is a fitting, well-done and proper conclusion. The story, the characters, and the essence of the plot is the same you fell in love with eight books previous, and the read is totally chick-lit, totally girly, and totally feel-good.

But please, let me know if you’ve enjoyed the series!

Links:

To buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

To visit Kinsella’s website – Click Here 

Girl Online by Zoella – Book Review

Title: Girl Online

Author: Zoe Sugg/Zoella

Rating: 3/5

Rating: Young Adult Literature, Children Literature, YouTuber Fiction


“Every time you post something online you have a choice. You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world—or you can make it something that takes away.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or perhaps just don’t know about the modern phenomena of the YouTuber, you would know who Zoella, or Zoe Sugg is. But for those who are unaware, I’ll give you a brief update.

Zoella is a beauty/lifestyle vlogger and online presence that is one of the most famous English YouTubers to date. With nearly 9 million subscribers, over 500 million video views, and nearly 4 million Twitter Followers, she has been crowned the ‘Queen of YouTube’, by a number of articles.

To get a fuller picture, I’ll link some articles below for your casual reading.

Zoella (The Independent October 2014)

Zoella (The DailyMail November 2014)

Zoella (DigitalSpy November 2014)

And, last year, this bubbly twenty-five year old released her debut novel, ‘Girl Online’. And in October, Girl Online: On Tour is to be released. So I thought I’d do my own review of the debut book, just to prepare readers for the sequel.

So meet Penny. Under the alias, Girl online, Penny blogs about her hidden feelings and personal experiences with friendship, boys, school drama, family issues and her recent panic attacks that are slowly beginning to take over her life. And when things go from bad to worse, her family decide to take her away to New York for a break away from normality. Whilst there she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. And suddenly, Penny is falling in love. And, of course, writing everything about it on her blog.

But she’s not the only one that has a secret. Noah has his own secret, and this one could be one to threaten to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever

So, as you can see, Girl Online fits in with the generalised, chick-lit-YA style of novel, as well as being an obvious tie in to Zoella’s own experiences – as starting off as a blogger, and moving onto a bigger audience on YouTube. This novel is a pretty heart-warming tale of young love, that does grip the reader at the end of each chapter, as well as having an ending that is both satisfactory as a stand-alone book, but could open up for possible sequels.

However, this novel features something that’s unique to the modern young adult market, as it deals with issues and pressures that teens nowadays would relate too – such as cyber-bullying, an online presence conflicting with the real self, issues with sexuality and then ‘coming-out’, the loss of friendships, mental illnesses and the first dizzy dabbles of love – and it does this with the sensitivity and knowledge that one would expect Zoella, as a significant idol for many young girls, would deal with. Now, it was revealed after publication that this novel was ghost-written, which did throw up some criticism from Suggs’ fans, but it is clear that despite not writing it, the ideas and plot idea is personal to Zoe.

I found the story arc of panic attacks and anxiety disorders to be something that I could seriously relate too. It wasn’t hidden under a guise of anything, but out there in the bleak daylight. The physical and mental effects of going through a panic attack was well-documented, and Penny does go through the same worry about having them as millions of people around the globe have, whilst dealing with them. And also, in a little side-note, Noah gives Penny a coping strategy to dealing with panic attacks that I would be interested to know if it works, as this could be a really important piece of knowledge that Zoe has shared out to her audience.

For the actual writing, I was pleasantly surprised. Now, as I said before, this is a ghost-written piece of text, but the writer has clearly written in a way that imitates the way that Zoe talks, writes her blogs and has just an overall Zoe-esque vibe. This is no great piece of literature, so don’t put it up there. It fits more into the realm of YA literature, as it’s easy to understand, and the writing doesn’t offer any surprises or plot spoilers. Like most YA novels, there are clichés and corny bits that did make me roll my eyes, and the whole episode where there was farting did make me a bit exasperated, but it was definitely a ‘safe’ story, so all ages could read it. Even a ten-year old could read it.

And for characterisation, I was equally as surprised to how developed they were. I did find myself wanting a boy like Noah in my life, and definitely wanting a friend like Elliot’s – who is Penny’s best friend and overall rock of support. I thought that Zoe did also bring the romance to life. She made the feelings very real, and made you, as the writer be immersed into the emotions that Penny was feel. You felt excited when Penny did, or sad or worried whenever she felt that. And that’s a good test of a good story.

Through my reading of the text, Zoe puts her whole heart-and-soul in this narrative, and she poignantly includes blog posts that do sound a lot like her own. But it was one line that made me think ‘ah, this is Zoe talking to us, not Penny’, and it was the line:

Everytime you post something online you have a choice.

For me, this is crucial tip that Zoe is sharing out to her readers and fans. Because there is that choice – that choice that you as the reader, or internet-browser, or blogger or whatever, need to keep in the back of your mind. You have a choice about what you think is right to share online, and you need to have limits. If you think that sharing personal information is what you want to do, just remember how it could affect you in the future.

You have that choice.

And nobody should ever pressure you into making up your mind about what you think is right and wrong.

This novel did surprise me in how much I would love it, and how much it made me want read on well into the night and not want to put it down. I’ve been a fan of Zoe for a few years now, and I do own some pieces from her cosmetics line which also did surprise me over the quality of the products. So, I’d happily recommend and pass this novel onto other readers. I’ll continue to support Zoella through whatever she does, and I am excited for the next installment to come out. But be aware. This isn’t a great piece of literature, but it never puts on a front saying it will.

So, if you want a novel that is heart-warming, addictive, romantic,

Image courtesy of Penguin.com

clichéd and a bit corny in the right places – then go to your local bookshop and pick up ‘Girl Online’.

Links:

Buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

Zoella – Youtube/Twitter/Blog

Thank you!

-Alice

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher – Book Review

Title: Billy and Me

Author: Giovanna Fletcher

Rating: 3/5

Genres: Women’s Literature, Chick-Flick, Romance, Summer Reads, Girl-Meets-Boy


“I wish I could bottle the feelings of love inside me and save them for a rainy day – to remind myself of their magnitude in those moments of doubt.”

Summer’s always call for a nice, easy romantic novel to read by the beach or on a train. And after rereading Billy and Me, and keeping it in my bag for such trips, I fell back in love with this first novel by author, Giovanna Fletcher. Now, Fletcher has written other books in her short time of being an author, and each on follows a relatively easy, and similar style of the ups and downs of love, but Billy and Me has held a special place in my heart.

So, meet Sophie May, a down-to-earth and kind-hearted young woman who lives and works in the picturesque village of Rosefont, and has been working for years at the charmingly named cafe called ‘Tea-on-the-Hill’. However, for years Sophie has been hiding something. A secret that stopped her from going to university, travelling and gave her a reason to stay in this tiny village with her mother. But, when Sophie meets Billy, a gorgeously talented, up-and-coming movie star, she falls in love, finds a new way of life, and she gets swept up in the life of a Hollywood plus-one. But does Sophie really want to change her set in stone way of life, and go into the world of the celebrity which could force her secret to be revealed?
—-

This book is easy to read.

That’s the first thing I must say.

And this is not entirely a positive thing, but neither is a negative. Fletcher writes in a very simplistic, exclamation-mark heavy way, which did put me off slightly, and for people who are used to reading descriptive, Pulitzer-prize winning writing, this may be just too simple for them. But for a romantic, silly summer read, it is perfect.

The characters are a mixed bunch. I found Sophie to be one of those women who you either adore, or just be annoyed by. But what Fletcher did do well is giving Sophie a deep-seated and true set of morals, as she doesn’t just go whisking off to live the ‘easy’ life with Billy, but she has family and commitments that she cannot just abandon. Billy was written well, as his character was flawed, and it takes the reader the entire novel to really notice these flaws, and with Molly, and Sophie’s mum, these were the perfect side characters to dealing with the drama of Billy and Sophie’s relationship. However, other than that, the smaller characters don’t have much depth, and could have been developed more, and been more integral to the part.

In world-building, Fletcher’s Rosefont village is a good example of the dynamic of a small village, where everyone does know everything, and to keep a secret can be a struggle, and she writes it in a way that is true and personal to Sophie’s issues/

Overall, Fletcher’s writing is almost too simple, and sometimes fluffy, but it gets the plot through in a fast-paced and interesting way. There are some points that you do have to battle through the sheer amount of exclamation marks, and frustrating use of ‘Bloomin!’, but it is a lighthearted and sweet read to take with you, when you don’t want to tax your brain too much. And, in my opinion, Fletcher’s original debut into the literature world was one that shows a flair of talent that she hasn’t properly developed yet, and that she had a promising start to go on from that.

Also, what I find interesting, and what I took from the novel, is how Fletcher may have been influenced by her own life to write Billy and Me. If you, as the reader am unaware, Fletcher is married to long-time love Tom Fletcher, from the pop group, McFly. And the idea of a young girl who was pushed into the limelight could be very similar to how Giovanna felt in the early stages of Tom’s career. So, perhaps that is what makes this novel so touching. That the personal life of the author has seeped into this novel, and makes it slightly more believable.

So yes, for all those star-crossed love readers out there, and all those who just love the whole love-triumphing-or-does-it stories, I would recommend Billy and Me, without a second thought.

If you, as a reader, loved:

1: Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult.
2: Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
3: The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

I’m sure you’ll love this book!

Links

Buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

Author’s Website – Click Here

Author’s Twitter – Click Here