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There’s a New Shopaholic Book Out!

Have you heard? Becky Bloomwood is back!

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I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Shopaholic to the Stars and I can say that   this book is totally on par with the best of the Shopaholic books. It’s about time that Becky Bloomwood found her way to Hollywood! This latest installment is classic Kinsella filled with misunderstandings, mix-ups, and ridiculous situations that only Becky Bloomwood would find herself in. But there better be a follow-up coming out soon because there are some serious unanswered questions about that ending!

But this isn’t about the new Shopaholic book. I was reading Karen’s confession style post (which you can [and should] read here) when I realized that when it comes to Sophie Kinsella, I have a lot to say. I thought it might be fun to run some of that down for you guys.

1. Sophie Kinsella is the undisputed queen of Chick Lit. I am a staunch defender of the genre and there’s no one better at it than Kinsella. When she’s not entertaining us with stories of Becky Bloomwood or any of her other standalone heroines, she’s writing under her real name, Madeleine Wickham and those stories are also compulsively readable, full of hijinx and hilarous.

2. My favourite of her standalone novels has always been Can You Keep a Secret? Emma is a nervous flyer and on a flight home she regales her seat partner with all of her most embarassing secrets. Turns out he’s the new boss coming to inspect the UK division and he remembers her and all her secrets. You can imagine the hijinx that follow. I also love Twenties Girl about modern day Lara who ends up spending time with the ghost of her great-aunt Sadie. Sounds a little far-fetched but I remember it being loads of fun and kind of moving. And I’ve Got Your Number was really excellent too.

3. I thought that the Shopaholic series took a dive somewhere in the middle and I was concerned that either I’d outgrown the genre or Kinsella had exhausted the character. But then Mini Shopaholic (even Shopaholic and Baby was a massive improvement over the previous two books) really redeemed the series. And Shopaholic to the Stars is really very good.

4. The Shopaholic movie was a disaster but I wish that someone would adapt one of the standalone books. I’m fairly confident that The Undomestic Goddess, I’ve Got Your Number or Remember Me? would all make excellent movies.

5. I have read every one of Kinsella’s books and I probably always will. So keep ’em coming Sophie!

Shopaholic to the Stars is out in Canada today!

8

Sporty Chick Lit: The One & Only

I’m having a good reading week. Finally.

I finally read, and enjoyed, The Hotel at Place Vendome: Life, Death and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris by Tilar J. Mazzeo. I’ve been trying all week to come up with a review that accurately portrays the book – I’ve scrapped three attempts so far.

After that I read The One & Only by Emily Giffin. I wasn’t sure what to expect because the last book of Giffin’s that I read left me feeling kind of “meh.” That was a number of years ago and I haven’t had the urge to read another of her books til now.

When I logged the book on Goodreads, I made the mistake of glancing at the reviews of the book so far. Lots of one star reviews. Even more grumbling about how it was like reading a bad episode of Friday Night Lights (a show that I’m currently taking down on Netflix). I wondered if I had made another poor book choice.

But I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. I liked that this book, a definite “chick lit” pick, was set in a small town in Texas instead of New York, London or LA. I liked that the main character didn’t work in PR or publishing but that it still had all the elements of classic chick lit: best friend in touch 5 times a day; a string of eligible and not so eligible men to date; a romantic dilemma enmeshed with tons of dramatic complications.

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Shea Rigsby lives in Walker, Texas, a town obsessed with college football. Their team, headed by Coach Carr, happens to be one of the best in the NCAA. Shea has grown up as a surrogate sister to Lucy, Coach Carr’s daughter. When Coach Carr’s wife Connie, hugely popular in the community and the foundation of her family’s life, passes away suddenly everyone stumbles as they try to form an existence without her. Shea, a close friend of the family tries to juggle being there for her best friend Lucy in the aftermath with her growing realization that she’s not living the life she ought to be and working out her confusing romantic feelings for the aforementioned string of potential bachelors: Miller, the gym coach who’s a nice guy but can barely remember to pick up the mail every day; Ryan James, the star quarterback for “America’s Team” the Dallas Cowboys; and most conflicting of all, Coach Carr, recent widower and father of her best friend.

I would agree with some of the comments that the characters aren’t super well-developed. It’s a first person narrative that doesn’t delve too deeply into the psyches of the supporting cast. The rest of the characters kind of slot themselves into spots direct from central casting: bossy best friend, sexy older man, QB with emotional problems, absentee dad trying to make good etc.

But I liked the book for taking the genre in a new direction, for centering a romantic story on a girl who loves sports in a football crazy town. I liked that Shea was able to hold her own with the men in her world and even though the romantic story line between Shea and Coach Carr did make me a smidge uncomfortable (don’t get me wrong, I love me an older man. But her best friend’s dad?? Her surrogate father? Less than a year after his wife died? *shudder*) I liked the way Giffin worked through the story line.

I unapologetically enjoyed this one! If liking chick lit is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

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I’ve Got Your Number

I love Sophie Kinsella. Love her. She is one of those authors that I obsessively collect everything she has ever written. I was beyond excited when I heard that she had a new standalone novel coming out, I’ve Got Your Number.

I love the Shopaholic books (the latest one Mini Shopaholic was excellent) but I adore her standalone novels. Can You Keep A Secret? was definitely my favourite but I also have a soft spot for The Undomestic Goddess and Twenties Girl was delightfully unexpected.

(Have I mentioned that I Love Sophie Kinsella? Just wanted to get that in there at least one time)

Ladies, I’ve Got Your Number did not disappoint. I obsessively read it into the wee hours this morning because I needed to finish the last 100 pages.

So Poppy Wyatt has this incredible family heirloom engagement ring – a beautiful emerald with diamond baguettes. And she is out at this fancy hotel lunch with her favourite ladies when she loses it. And in the middle of trying to sort out the confusion (did I mention the fire alarm went off right after?) her cell phone gets stolen right out of her hand.

Now she’s ringless and phoneless. Classic Kinsella heart palpitations ensue. By some incredible chance she finds a cell phone in a garbage bin in the hotel. She needs a phone to deal with the fallout of the lost engagement ring so she decides to ‘borrow’ the phone. Only thing is this phone belongs to Sam Roxton’s PA. His PA who has just walked out on the job in favour of a modeling gig. She needs the phone, he needs the messages that come through the phone. So they compromise: she will get to hang onto the phone for now, if she forwards all the communications meant for Sam.

Clearly this has hilarious implications. Sam Roxton is in the mold of Luke Brandon, for those of you familiar with the Shopaholic books. But Sam is slightly less stern. He sounds hot. All of a sudden Poppy is getting all of these insanely personal messages, highly sensitive confidential corporate material and putting her own spin on things to be helpful.

This book was classic Kinsella. There were some seriously cringe-worthy moments, some ridiculous moments that only a Sophie Kinsella heroine would find herself in and a healthy dose of sigh-producing romance. And you know, backstabby frenemies too. Gotta have frenemies.

Anyway, I’ve Got Your Number was delightful. I kind of want to read it again immediately. It also had a note on the font in the back and I LOVE that. So points all around.

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6

Nothing Wrong With A Little Chick Lit

The other day I came across this article that sounded like it was about Sophie Kinsella and how chick lit is awesome, but really it wasn’t. It was more about questioning if chick lit doesn’t do more harm than good.

For some reason, the idea of chick lit is deeply abhorrent to a lot of people. Something about it dumbing women down, making women seem ditzy and scatterbrained, and reinforcing the notion of women as the weaker sex? Something. I don’t know. I personally have never understood the uproar.

I am a self confessed, unabashed lover (and promoter) of chick lit.

In my personal opinion, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes are the complete and total Queens of the genre, dominating my own bookshelves for years now. But there is room for the likes of the equally impressive Emily Giffin, Jane Green and Cecelia Ahern (whose work *confession* I have not read as yet only because I’m terrified of crying (see: sobbing) like a baby, having seenP.S. I Love You completely against my will).

I think the argument against chick lit has a lot to do with the perceived materialism exhibited by the female characters in these books and maybe these days, with a pinch of hindsight, that makes folks uncomfortable. But just like I continue to buy Vogue magazine, chock full of all the beautiful things that I will never be able to have, I love to jump into the Shopaholic books and read about all the beautiful things that Becky Bloomwood finds. If I can’t have them, someone should be able to! Even if that someone is a fictional (albeit it fabulous) character.

I like to think of myself as a smart woman. I’m fairly well read. I know stuff. So what’s the problem with reading chick lit? It’s fun, often extremely poignant and there is always something to be gleaned from them about the human condition. And isn’t an emotional education just as important as a formal one?

By attempting to diminish the work of these brilliant women, the people that have an issue with the chick lit genre are belittling their merit and insulting those of us that love their work. When I finish Catherine the Great, I would love nothing more than to have something chick lit-ish waiting for me next. And I see nothing wrong with that.

Bottom line here: I’m going to read what makes me happy, so if you know what’s good for you, you will stop harping on about all this chick lit stuff and let me read it in peace!

Sophie Kinsella’s new one (I’ve Got Your Number) was released this week. I’ve visited copies of it a few times now. Haven’t taken the plunge. Soon my pretty!