It's rare for a book to come with a money-back guarantee, but especially one like this. "As good as Sophie Kinsella or your money back" screams the sticker on the front. And, given the huge Shopaholic fan base out there, that's quite a claim to make. Still, if ever there was a heroine to dethrone Becky Bloomwood then it is one Isabel Bookbinder.
Confetti Confidential is the third book in the Isabel series, but the first one I've read. Even without that grand claim on the front, you couldn't help but draw comparisons between Kinsella's series and this one from the very first page. The writing style is virtually identical - to the point where you do actually wonder if this is just a pseudonym - and while the chatty, chummy, conversational approach is not for everyone, if it's the sort of thing you like then this is the sort of book you'll love.
Isabel has had a few false starts, work-wise, but she is now in her dream job, as a wedding planner extraordinaire. Or, hmm, maybe just assistant to a wedding planner extraordinaire for now, but then you have to start somewhere. And, whatever her father says, it's not really a step down from being a Creative Director at a fashion label, even if the job title might lead you to that conclusion. But still, weddings are a lot of fun - heaps of white satin and lace, delicious five course meals and hand-finished cakes, happy couples. Isabel just knows she's going to enjoy her new job, a lot.
Except...her new boss, wedding guru Pippa, doesn't has quite the same faith in Isabel's Bride Management techniques that Isabel herself does, the best laid plans can sometimes fall apart at the last minute, there are only so many spumas a girl can eat before starting to gag and, sometimes, brides just don't want to get married, which is really rather unfortunate. Undeterred, Isabel soldiers on, but with crisis following crisis and catastrophe after catastrophe, will she ever manage to pull off a wedding that's a day to remember for all the right reasons?
This is a really fun book that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's definitely more of a howler than it is a tear jerker, but the odd bit might tug a little on your heartstrings. I was impressed by its length (a chunky 500+ pages) and the way the story ploughed on throughout, never feeling like it had been padded out. Clearly a story solely about a wedding might be stretching it just a little, but the additional threads to the story, from friendships to family relationships to more than a few romantic entanglements, kept it interesting and add fresh material to each chapter.
My sole criticism of the book is perhaps really linked to one of its key strengths: there is one off shoot involving a handsome wedding photographer that seems to end quite abruptly which was frustrating because I had been so drawn into the story and so swept away with the characters that I really wanted something to happen. This occurred again later, this time with the camera man, and I couldn't help feeling that not enough thought had gone into these encounters, and that they could have been more significant and less of an after thought. But, if the rest of the book hadn't been up to much, I really wouldn't have been so bothered by this, so it really only goes to show how into it I was by the end, and how the characters' disappointments somehow became mine too.
This is a worthy read on its own, and the fact that it is the third in a series doesn't affect this. There may be subtleties or in jokes I didn't pick up on, not having read the previous installments, but at no point was I left confused about the people and their interconnecting lives in the way you can sometimes be with sequels. Everything is handily explained from scratch, and if I'd not read the blurb at the front, I never would have guessed that Isabel had had previous outings.
This review first appeared on The Bookbag.
Newly released, this book is cheap online and cheap in supermarkets: you've no excuse not to.
Isabel Bookbinder is back and after failing as both a novelist and a fashion designer, this time she's determined to make her career choice work and has decided to become a wedding planner. Isabel manages to bag a job working for Pippa Everitt but after losing a couple of brides, she ends up losing her job. Isabel isn't deterred and instead decides to start up her own wedding planning business. Her first few clients include best friend Lara, who is marrying Matthew, Isabel's brother and Summer Shelley, an ex-pop star who's determined to have a lavish bash. But, with Isabel, life never runs smoothly; the question is, can she manage to get her brides up the aisle without too many hitches?
I first heard about Holly McQueen's Isabel Bookbinder series when I saw it on Amazon. I liked the sound of the synopsis for the first book (The Glamorous (Double) Life of Isabel Bookbinder) and I wanted to read it even more after reading all the reviews on Amazon. They weren't nice and likened Isabel to everyone's favourite heroine Becky Bloomwood which is why I wanted to read the book; I love Becky so I figured it would be interesting to see if the Amazon reviewers were correct and Isabel was indeed a carbon copy of Becky. I managed to get a hold of the book and I actually loved it. Yes, it was remarkably similar to Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I then picked up book two (The Fabulously Fashionable Life of Isabel Bookbinder) and I didn't think it was as good. After reading the synopsis of Confetti Confidential, though, I decided I would buy the book because, believe it or not, I do like Isabel so I was looking forward to reading it.
All of Holly McQueen's books seem to follow the same format for Isabel: she comes up with a wacky new career she'd like to try (novelist, fashion designer and, now, wedding planner), she ends up getting herself a good job in each of those careers before messing it up spectacularly and deciding she'll just do it herself. There may be some variations on that theme, but that's generally how the books go. It works, don't get me wrong, although it is debatable just how believable it is that Isabel changes careers so often. My main problem with the second Isabel Bookbinder book (Fabulously Fashionable) was that Isabel didn't seem to learn anything after everything that happened in book one (Glamorous (Double) Life). That's the only problem I had with the book and overall I did enjoy it.
Confetti Confidential sees Isabel trying to become a wedding planner. She manages to wangle herself a job with Pippa Everitt but it all goes inevitably wrong so she decides to set up her own wedding planning business called Isabel Bookbinder, Individual Weddings. I have to admit I do admire Isabel's determination. Despite not being a very good novelist, and not being able to stitch or anything, she does stick to her career choice (until another one comes along, anyway). Isabel is easily likeable, too. A lot of people may use the term 'annoying' rather like 'likeable' but I personally like her. She's sweet and the things she does aren't out of spite or anything but to try and help her friends and family. Isabel does seem to have grown up a little bit and does recognize (eventually) how some of her ideas and full-on-ness might be misconstrued. Isabel's family and best friend Lara play a huge part in all of the books and despite the fact that it seems Isabel's dad doesn't totally get her, they do seem like a nice family. Finally we have Will, Isabel's boyfriend. I like Will, but even after three books I still don't think we know him as well as we could and I wish he featured a bit more.
Confetti Confidential is fairly well written; it's very similar to Sophie Kinsella's writing so it's easy to read and I did manage to fly through the book which has just over 500 pages. One thing that is starting to get a little annoying is the many letters/interviews Isabel conducts between some of the chapters. They kind of break up the flow of the story, despite some of them being a bit amusing. There are also some amusing parts throughout the book and Holly McQueen definitely writes some good comedy moments. My main problem with Confetti Confidential though was how Isabel and Will's relationship progressed. Or, rather, how it didn't progress. You would think after two books we would be making good progress in the third but there wasn't much, not really. Isabel does wonder if he might be about to propose, and Isabel does move back in, but as expected another man comes into the picture and it all goes back to square one. It's frustrating because I personally believe that instead of throwing other men between Isabel and Will, we should instead see how their relationship moves on (like Becky and Luke's in the Shopaholic series). There's no need for man drama, because Isabel has enough drama with her job.
There was a nice ending to Confetti Confidential, which rather paves the way for book four, should such a book be in the works and I will certainly buy it. I do enjoy getting into Isabel's life because it's certainly full of colour and drama but I do wish there'd be more progress made. I'd love to see Isabel stick with a job for more than one book and I'd love it if Isabel and Will could make a bit more progress together. Overall, it was a decent enough read and it certainly has readability. It's a good series, don't get me wrong, but the two sequels so far haven't managed to live up to the fab first book.