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Shopaholic and the worlds worst kept surprise party!
Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
Member Name: candyfloss89
Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
Advantages: Funny, easy to ready, great characters and subplots
Disadvantages: Not enough Minnie? (some may feel misled by the mini shopaholic title)
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press; 2010 edition (2 Sep 2010)
Sophie Kinsella is one of my favourite authors. Even though I personally am not a fan of chick lit, I love most of Kinsella's books because she makes her characters so funny and engaging and she's one of the few authors that has the ability to make me laugh out loud!
I'm guessing that if you're reading this review, you'll already know that Kinsella is the author of the ever popular 'Shopaholic' series. She also writes under the name of 'Madeline Wickham'.
'Mini Shopaholic' is the sixth book in the series, I've copied the following list of the series from Wikipedia to show you what order to read them in:
1. The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (2000) also published as 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' (2001)
2. Shopaholic Abroad - (2001) also published as 'Shopaholic Takes Manhattan' (2002)
3. Shopaholic Ties The Knot - (2002)
4. Shopaholic & Sister - (2004)
5. Shopaholic & Baby - (2007)
6. Mini Shopaholic - (2010)
When Becky Brandon found out she was pregnant, she dreamed of designer maternity clothes and a mini shopping partner for life. However, the reality's of motherhood are proving to be more difficult than expected as 2 year old Minnie causes chaos wherever she goes - even at her own christening!
But Becky's troublesome toddler isn't the only problem she has to deal with when a big financial crisis causes panic across London. People everywhere are cutting back - unfortunately that includes most of Becky's personal shopping clients. So Becky, husband Luke and Minnie find themselves having to move in with Becky's parents.
To cheer everyone up and to celebrate Luke's birthday, Becky decides to throw a huge surprise birthday party on a budget - she can't wait to impress everyone with her mega moneysaving party. But as always where Becky is concerned, things don't quite go to plan...
What I liked
Anyone who has read my reviews of Kinsella's previous Shopaholic books will know that I have a love-hate relationship with the character of Becky Bloomwood. She's so stubborn that she gets herself into these ridiculous situations that I find hard to sympathise with because it's entirely her own fault. However I didn't find her half as irritating in this book as I have in the past. Yes, she's still a calamity Jane type character who inevitably finds herself out of her depth but in truth, it's not entirely her fault this time! The collapse of the economy and unexpected return of a character from a previous book play a big part in this. Her parenting skills leave a lot to be desired but I actually found this refreshingly realistic as Becky has always been quite an irresponsible character so her being the perfect mum wouldn't work.
There's also the return of some much loved characters here, creating a whole community of familiar and hilarious support characters. Yes Becky is of course the star but I still enjoyed reading about the live's of Danny, Jess, Janice, Tom, Tarquin, Suze and Becky's parents as much as following the latest adventures of Becky and Minnie. In particular, I love Becky's camp fashion designer friend Danny. Although he doesn't feature prominently, he never fails to make me laugh and His crush on Tarquin is hilarious.
Highlights of the book included Jess, Janice, Becky and her mum's visit to the Pound shop. I was in stitches at this scene because I totally recognised my mum and grandma in a similar situation - throwing anything and everything in the trolley just because its cheap regardless of whether they need it or not! I also liked the fact that Becky's secret party was much harder to keep secret due to the internet and the rise of social media - The Youtube videos were a nice touch and very topical. It's true these days that secrets are much harder to keep when you canfind out practically anything about anyone online.
What I disliked
In truth, Minnie doesn't actually feature as much as the title of the book would have you believe. Her out of control antics are really only sub-plots to the much more dominant plot of the budget party planning. This could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of the relationship between Minnie and Becky, and particularly Minnie and Luke, who share very few scenes together. And given the title of the book, this is what I was expecting.
We never really get to know Minnie as a character because Becky is constantly leaving her in the care of others. At the end of the book I knew very little about her apart from the fact that she was a spoilt but very well dressed child. However, there are probably those who would be glad of this, people who'd much rather read about Becky than the exploits of her spoilt daughter. Whatever your viewpoint on this, I still feel the title is somewhat misleading. 'Shopaholic and party' would be more appropriate for this book and 'Mini Shopaholic' should have been saved for a more Minnie-centric book in the series, assuming of course that Kinsella plans to write more 'Shopaholic' books (and I really hope she does).
The ending isn't entirely satisfying. It's happy but with a hint of sadness, which is unusual for Kinsella's books since I'm usually complaining that the happy endings are too fluffy, perfect and unrealistic considering the extent of the mess that Becky finds herself in. I rather think (more like hope!) that this issue is left unresolved so that it can be revisited if there is another book in the series. If there isn't another book written after this one, this might feel some readers feeling as if there is still unfinished business to be resolved.
Where to buy
Remember the book is still relatively new and the Shopaholic series is very popular, therefore you're unlikely to get an absoloute bargain price for it, even on Ebay the typical price seems to be round about the £5-£6 (including postage) mark. Amazon currently have it listed at £3.86 and Waterstones are selling it for £4.79 so you can get it for under £5 if you shop around a bit first.
I think this is possibly my favourite book in the entire Shopaholic series. I found it funny and touching with a bittersweet ending that left me wanting more. Becky is a character who drives me mad but I still enjoy laughing and cringing at her antics. I would like to have seen more of Minnie and Luke was absent for most of the book (busy with work) but Becky is a strong enough narrator to maintain my interest and the superb cast of support characters provided some interesting and hilarious sub plots.
Summary: My favourite of the series