26 November 2010

Mini Shopaholic

By Sophie Kinsella
Published by Transworld Publishers,
a Random House Group Company
First published in Great Britain in 2010

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) has a spoilt daughter. Everyone says so, including Becky's husband, Becky's mom, Becky's mom's best friend, and the new nanny. Minnie has been barred from various shops and she's only two. Grabbing the items she wants from store shelves and yelling "miiiiiiiiiine" has become Minnie's catchphrase. What's a shopaholic mommy to do? How can Becky continue to buy baby Dior and baby Dolce & Gabbana and other designer toddler outfits if Minnie doesn't behave in the shops?

When a banking crisis hits Britain, Becky, Luke, and Minnie - still living with Becky's parents - have to Cut Back (it amuses me that Kinsella writes it with the importance of capital letters). Luke has made Becky swear she will not buy any new clothes until she wears everything in her closet three times. But Becky is planning a surprise birthday party for Luke and shopping at the Pound Shop is just not going to cut it.

Sophie Kinsella has written another Shopaholic book (this is number six) that had me in fits of giggles from beginning to end. Between spoilt little Minnie, the problems Becky encounters whilst trying to buy a house, and the whole cast of characters trying to ensure Luke's surprise birthday party remains a surprise, this installment is one of the best in the series.

For lighthearted fun and pages of giggles, this book is a must-read for all Shopaholic fans.

04 November 2010

Minding Frankie

By Maeve Binchy
Published by Orion Books
an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group Ltd

As soon as I heard Maeve Binchy had written a new novel I was excited. After all, who can tell a story like Maeve Binchy? Even the book's cover announces:
"The new novel from the world's favourite storyteller"
Maeve (I feel I can be on a first-name basis with my long-time reading buddy) has thrown a few curveballs with this novel. I didn't particularly like all of these curveballs, but I went with it and ended up rethinking my position on a few topics.

Biggest curveball - She has managed to create a character I actually despised. Really, truly despised. Moira Tierney, the novel's social worker, is the biggest pain in the arse character Maeve has ever produced. Mind you, she's meant to be completely unlikeable. Moira's character was so well written, I hated every word out of her mouth and every idea in her head. At one point, I had my fill of her and walked away from the book for a while. It takes talent to create that character.

Minding Frankie is a story that proves that families come in all shapes and sizes and that the birth of a baby can change people's lives. Frankie is the baby. Before she is born, her mother seeks out Frankie's father, Noel, to tell him he is the father. The catch is that, even though Noel doesn't remember Stella or the one-night-stand he had with her, Stella is now dying of cancer and she wants Noel to raise Frankie.

The best part of this book was catching up with character's from Binchy's past novels; a technique of Binchy's that is useful in drawing you quite quickly into the story. There are new characters as well and, as usual, all the stories are nicely weaved together, which is amazing given the number of people in this book.

This is a novel that touches on extended families, adopted families, broken families, alcoholism, paternity, celebrity, and death. It spends a great deal of time with the hated Moira Tierney but, through that character, Binchy gives us an in depth look at the life of a social worker.

Written in that strong Maeve Binchy style, with an insight into community life and family living that only Maeve Binchy seems to have, this is another winner from "the world's favourite storyteller".