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I have read all the Personal Shopper books, and although the first few of them are my favourite ones, they are all very readable. I do like Carmen Reid books, and the Personal Shopper ones is my favourite ones from the author.
The book centres around the main character who is Annie Valentine. This book is the first in the series.
Annie is a single mum to 2 children - a Teenage girl and an 11 year old boy. Annie works as a personal Shopper in a posh department store. Annie loves her job as she has a keen interest in clothes and fashion and she likes to interact with her customers, get to know them and advise them on what would suit them. She is good at her job and has many happy customers who like to book appointment with her. She also sells things on e-bay as being a single mum things can be a little tight money wise.
Although Annie seems to be happy at how her life it, she would still like a bit of male company in her life, but where would she find someone?
There is a few other characters through the book such as Annie's sister Dinah and Annie's friend Connor - as well as Annies work colleages and boss, but the story of Annie is entertaining and nice. To read Annie sounds like a nice person, the kind of person that would make a good friend and it seems as if Annie has her priorities in place and is doing everything to help support herself and her family.
This book makes a good start to telling you the life of Annie and once I started reading this then I kept wanting to read a little bit more of this to find out if Annie got her prince charming in the end.
I would recommend this series if you are a fan of the Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella as I find the style of writing quite similar.
A really good series of books and recommended by myself.
According to amazon, Carmen Reid is one of their best selling chick lit authors, so I found out whether this was just hype or she really was good when I picked up one of her books cheaply at a second hand book shop.
Annie Valentine has shopping on the brain, she works in The Store as a personal shopper with clients who love her as she can always find them the perfect outfit, however her boss doesn't love her quite so much. She works hard to make sure that she can keep her children in private school even though she can't really afford it, so supplements her job with an online business selling clothes. One day in the store she meets a man and is intrigued, but then later meets someone else, will she end up going for the rich man who can offer her everything? And when she gets fired from her job early on in the book will she be able to pay for everything?
I really liked this book, the characters seemed very likeable and although it is slightly predictable there are some things that you don't expect to happen and as well most chick flicks are expected to be predictable! I also liked the style that it was written in, at the start of each chapter she described an outfit and who wore it and why, I thought that was good as it gave us insight into the characters a bit more. You can buy it from amazon for £4.50 or used for a bit less.
Being a lover of anything by Sophie Kinsella (come on girl, get another Shopaholic book out this year before my others drop to pieces!) I had read and re-read all my books by her till I knew them off by heart. I don't mind reading a book again if it's one I've enjoyed but I needed to read something new; I wanted the excitement of turning the page and wondering what was going to happen next. A new book had to be found with ideally a new heroine to keep me enthralled. But what to do?
Having read a Carmen Reid's Three in a bed in the past and enjoyed it, I recently read Late Night Shopping (see review) by her which after a slow start (on my part) I also enjoyed. At the time of reading it I wasn't aware it was a series of books featuring new character Annie Valentine, star of 3 and soon to be 4 books about the trials and tribulations of her life.
Getting giddy at the thought of some new books to sink my teeth into I mentioned it to hubby that he could get me these books for Christmas if he so wished? When this book and the third in the series How not to shop arrived I was very excited to start the books and snuggled up early in bed with this one. Will it be as good as the second?
(Just for the record I ended up ordering the books myself and 'knocking the money off' what I'd borrowed from hubby the week before, but it's the thought that counts..?!)
This isn't what the blurb has to say on the back of the book by the way, it's merely my rambles about the storyline.
This is where we meet Annie Valentine. She is a personal shopper in a large trendy store called aptly enough The Store.
She is a single mother to 2 children - Lana who is 14 and Owen who is 9.
Annie is juggling grueling hours at the store, her 2 kids, her busy Ebay store 'Annie V's Trading Station', so has no time to find a new man.
At a family gathering Annie's mum Fern has arranged for her to meet one of the guests. Gray ( yes you read that right) is a very well to do dentist who takes a shine to Annie, and before we know it she's been wined and dined and is moving in with him.
Ed, Owen and Lana's teacher starts to take an interest in Annie after he gives music lessons to Owen.
But Annie doesn't see the signs and is happy with her new man isn't she..?
I'm not going to say anymore about the plot in case you haven't read it, but the main storyline in this first book is introducing the characters and the possible love between Annie and Ed.
The first thing I noticed about Annie was she wasn't quite as annoying in this first book as she was in the second. I don't know what it is about her but she is not instantly likable at all and you find yourself getting uptight when reading about her. Maybe that's just my opinion? In this first book she seems not as bossy and thankfully doesn't call everyone 'babes' all the time (well not All the time but a little as the book goes on).
We learn that Annie is a strong willed lady who after losing her husband has kept her dignity and refused to wallow in any self pity, which I did admire about her.
Lana is Annie's 14 year old daughter who is featured throughout the book as a brooding teenager. Again this character wasn't quite as whiny in this book as the sequel but didn't stand out too much.
Owen is Annie's 9 year old son and is excruciatingly shy to the point it's painful. When Ed comes into their lives as his and Lana's teacher he brings out his self confidence by teaching him to play musical instruments. Owen seems a likable character and really takes to Ed.
Judging by the description, Ed is the rough around edges sexy school teacher. Well at least according to the other mothers say at the private school Annie sends her children to. What so good about him? Annie thinks he is a bit on the scruffy side with unruly hair and just doesn't see what all the fuss is about. Ed is a really nice character and from the start I liked him. He is a genuine guy who tries his to help everyone whilst trying to get close to Annie. In the second of the books he is bossed about by Annie but the first introduction sees him standing up for himself quite a lot which I preferred.
Dinah (Annie's sister) and her 5 year old daughter Billie don't feature much in this first outing so you don't get too know the character very well unfortunately, but I like her character and I'm glad in book 2 she comes into her own more.
I do really like Connor - he is a very funny character who features throughout the storyline, again as with the Dinah character he is involved in book 2 far more. Connor is an actor who stars in a Sunday night TV show called The Manor. It's hinted at that it's similar to Heartbeat and is has a large fan base. Good news for the men he is gay, bad news for his female fans. Annie seems to have acquired him as he was her husband's Roddy's best friend.
My thoughts and opinion~
I really enjoyed book 2 so was equally excited to read this and discover the background of the characters. There are some genuinely funny, laugh out loud parts in this book mainly involving Annie trying to get romantic and amorous with the suave sounding Gray.
I did like this book but maybe not quite as much as the second? Maybe that's my fault for reading them the wrong way round as I put the sequel on a pedestal and found this just didn't live up to being quite as good.
Having said that its a very enjoyable book and far funnier than the second. The only thing that really grated me was the way Reid kept it 'secret' about Annie's long lost husband. Again this is probably my own fault for knowing from reading it in Late Night Shopping, but it was getting frustrating wondering why it was left towards the end of the story to fully find out (pages 362/363 to be precise). It hinted at several different situations but was obvious to what had happened. A friend who read this first also said the same thing so I'm glad it wasn't just me thinking it.
Would I recommend this book?~
If you like chick lit then you can't go far wrong with this! Reid has a habit in her books of after several chapters suddenly going back in time to tell you the back story. This isn't a bad thing, but it's just as you have got in to the present storyline that you are catapulted back to a significant period in the character's life which goes on for a while. Similarly just as you have got absorbed into that storyline you are back to trying to get into the present one again; it's almost like a story in a story which seems to be Reid's style of writing and her books, including this one are always quite sexy but not in a vulgar way.
There is a fourth book due out in March so it looks like Annie Valentine is here to stay.
Well worth a reid..
RRP £6.99 but can be found cheaper so look around
Annie Valentine is stylish, savvy, mulit-tasker extraordinaire and she is the central character in Carmen Reid's 'The Personal Shopper'. I've never read anything by Reid before and I nearly didn't read this after I noticed the appallingly cheesy tagline on the back of the book - 'A fabulous read. A sexy read. A Carmen Reid'. But I decided to overlook this minor 'flaw' and give it a go - after all, you should NEVER judge a book by its cover!
Annie Valentine is the single mother of a stroppy teenage girl and painfully shy eleven year old boy. She is a super-busy personal shopper in a super-swanky department store. She spends her days mentoring and re-inventing her clients through the medium of clothes and she's damn good at her job. It seems though, that she is so good at her job that she leaves no time for her personal life. Will she find time in between solving everyone else's problems and creating her mark on the fashion world, to find the perfect man?
This book is a shopper's dream. Everything about it relates to shopping in some way or another and as a result, it is the escapism that you sometimes need, in handy book shaped package! It's a fun story that is light-hearted and easy to read. Great to pick up and put down when you have a spare minute.
Annie Valentine is a feisty character, as is usually the case in these stories, and she will try anything to get to her ultimate goal of being financially stable and happy. She is strong and independent to a fault and, for the most part, Carmen Reid has created a likeable character. I didn't find myself warming to her completely though. I thought she was a little too brassy at times and sometimes I found myself getting irritated with her mad-cap ways.
The story is a nice one, a modern version of the princess fairytale. She comes from humble surroundings and overcomes dragons (in this case her evil boss) to find her prince charming in the most unusual of places. We all see it coming before she does, but it's nice all the same when it happens.
Overall I would say this is a good, but not great chick-lit book. It hasn't put me off reading her next book (in fact I already have, so expect the review soon!), but that was because I got it for half price with this one. Would I go out of my way to find more of her books? Probably not; It was good fun, but I think there are others that do it better.
For some reason I have never come across Carmen Reid before, I don't know why. I suppose I read the authors I liked and didn't stray far from them. Now I have read all my favourites offerings and have been looking around for other authors. I was spending a voucher on Amazon and the pink cover caught my eye. I found that Carmen Reid has written quite a few books and she looked right up my street so I bought this book and its sequel 'Late Night Shopping' hoping that I liked the first!
Carmen Reid has written nine novels two of which are aimed at teenagers and the others for grown ups (urgh I suppose thats me then!) She has a lovely website www.carmenreid.com which I love looking at since I am very nosy and like to know as much about the author as I do about the book! Carmen lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children, after working in London as a journalist. She is a bestselling author and deserves the title. There is a little quote on the back of each book 'A fabulous read. A sexy read. A Carmen Reid'.
Annie Valentine is a personal shopper to the rich ladies of London in The Store. Its a job she is both excellent at and that she adores. Her life is nice, she has a teenage daughter Lana, and a nine year old son Owen. She is a single Mum and struggles to juggle home and work life. She craves the stability that her husband used to provide but the expensive singles dinner dating scene isn't producing the high class designer specimin she is after. The book follws Annie as she tries to find a new man, whilst keeping her children content and her bank balance er... balanced.
I think the best part of this book is the characters.
* Annie is nothing like me at all but I could still relate to her, I sometimes think if I could have the perfect outfit everything would seem much better. To Annie the perfect outfit isn't an option it is a necessity. I'm just happy to look ok bordering on nice!
* Lana is your typical teenager, she is moody, difficult but has a sweet concern for her younger brother and her mother although it wouldn't be cool to show it. She is just starting to date boys which worries Annie.
* Owen is an odd child he is painfully shy, and rarely talks at all until his music teacher brings him out of his shell slowly but surely. this teacher is the male influence Owen was desperate for and when they go on a camping trip Owen finds someone he can talk to.
* Ed is just lovely he is Owens music teacher and I want an Owen all for myself.
There are quite a few story lines going through the book all at once, each character has their own little story. It wasn't difficult to keep track of the storylines and they kept the pace of the book going nicely. Svetlana, the wife of a billionaire, pops up regularly without being a main character, she is obviously very rich but hasn't a clue on how to dress so she sees Annie regularly both for advice on clothing and on life. Annie is very good at advising others but useless at taking her own advice. By following Svetlanas life it highlights Annies character too.
At the beginning of each chapter is a little list of the items of clothing in an outfit the price, who is wearing them and a quote from them (the wearer not the clothes!), this is nice little touch in the book. The quotes don't make much sense when you first read them but by the end of the chapter you understand and it ties the chapter up nicely. It also paints a visual picture of the character before you start reading. I haven't a clue what some of the items would look like to be fair since I could never afford Gucci etc but it really does make you want to go out and redesign your wardrobe (as if I needed an excuse!)
The book is very readable it is written in a very chatty style so you can read the story without needing your dictionary every five minutes. Thankfully I loved this book and read the second just as quickly, The Personal Shopper is not a 5 star book but definately deserves 4 stars, I enjoyed it while it lasted but it won't change my life forever.
RRP £6.99 but is currently £4.41 on Amazon or used from 1p
Published in 2007 by Corgi Books
I actually swapped this book because I had read a review on this site about how fantastic this book was. So I eagerly tried to get hold of it and was really pleased when I did, so much so it went straight to the top of my "To be read" pile. I finally got around to starting it last weekend, and let's just say I am more than a little disappointed with it now I have got to the end.
The Personal Shopper tells us the story of a woman named Annie Valentine, who works as a personal shopper (surprise, suprise) in a fictional London department shop called The Store. Annie has a massive client base, from Russian millionairesses to mothers at her daughters school to WAGs (footballers wives and girlfriends). She knows her fashion inside out, and is able to find an outfit to suit any woman, with any shape. And she has been known to style a few men at The Store too.
However, don't be fooled into thinking this book is going to be completely about Annie as a Personal Shopper because it isn't. The book actually focuses on Annie's personal life, with her 2 children, teenage Lana and shy Owen, and her struggles to keep them at their private school, her financial troubles, and her broken relationship with husband Roddy, as well as a few more romantic prospects for Miss Valentine. As you can see, the book has a lot of threads running throughout it, but I must say they are all easy to follow and not too difficult which is a good thing.
To be honest, it wasn't the main character that I didn't like, it was just the whole book! I felt that it started quite well, introducing us to Annie and her job, as well as a few of her clients and showing us how well she could interact with different people. But after a few chapters, I found that the pace slowed down, then sped up, and carried on like this, making some parts really interesting to read and others were down-right terrible. I couldn't find a consistent feeling for myself about this book, and I found that I had to really push myself to pick this one up and read a bit more, something I never usually experience with books.
By about halfway through, I was actually not enjoying this at all, but I wanted to find out what was going to happen with Annie, why her husband was barely mentioned in the book, and who, if anyone, Annie was going to end up with. Consequently, I don't think I was reading it for the right reasons which also impaired my enjoyment of this book. I just found it hard-going, and I was really disappointed after really looking forward to reading it.
I suppose one positive thing I can mention about this book is the well-written characters. Each of the characters are very unique, and work well together within the novel. Even the minor characters, such as Annie's clients as The Store, all have a good story and pop up throughout the book, giving you some continuity as you are reading, and are all quite believable characters living their lives as normal people, some with more money than others! My favourite characters had to be Svetlana, a Russian lady married to a Russian Millionaire who spent ridiculous amounts on clothes just to keep her husband interested...hilarious!
To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this one, but that is just a personal opinion, I am sure there will be many who will enjoy this one! But this is my first Carmen Reid book, and I am not sure that after this one, I will be bothering with any others, and that is a pity! However, I have heard that this isn't her best book, so I may give her the benefit of the doubt. It's bright pink, chick-lit looking cover appealed to me, but sadly its contents didn't!
ISBN: 978-0552154819. The book is published by Corgi Adult, and contains 432 in the paperback edition. RRP is £6.99 but Amazon are selling it for £5.19. You can find out more about the author Carmen Reid and her other books on her website, http://www.carmenreid.com. Oh, and I generously gave it 3 stars as I don't think it is bad enough for just 2 stars!
Thank you for reading.
And to think, I very nearly passed this book by!
Why? Well, the saying that you should never judge a book by its cover has never been so true. Pretty though the cover is - Barbie pink with the image of a glitzy high-heeled shoe and sumptuous shopping bags - I did assume that this was a definite chic lit offering. Some chic lit I have liked, but I really do think it's run its course and so very few authors can write it well (I do enjoy Sophie Kinsella - although I didn't much rate the one-and-only Shopaholic book I read - and Lisa Jewell) but most chic lit is written in a formulaic way and doesn't grab my attention at all. As an older woman, I try not to turn my nose up at such offerings, but really, what do books about sex, drinking, hangovers from hell and man-hunting have to offer me? I sooo can't be ars*d and much prefer a good book.
Generally, the kind of books I like have a strong feel-good factor. They will feature a heroine who is feisty and funny; she will have problems to overcome and by dint of her own hard work, she will win through.
The books I enjoy will also be well written. I can't abide half-hearted writing.
One of my favourite tv programmes is Channel 4's '10 years Younger' where Nicky Hambleton-Jones takes a miserable duck and makes her a swan again. I am not a fashion plate, myself, although I do like to dress as well as I can, and whilst I am in no way a shopaholic, I do like to see how different styles of clothes plus a change of makeup and hairstyle can dramatically change the way a woman looks and feels.
Taking the time to read the blurb on the book's cover and after reading the first few lines, I decided that I might just enjoy Personal Shopper, after all.
Annie Valentine works as a senior Personal Shopper in a big London store. She knows her job inside out; she knows how to re-style the wives of billionnaires and re-invent even the most dull and invisible housewives who have let themselves go and lost sight of themselves when they disappear below the radar after putting their families first.
Annie is a sassy, thirty-something Londoner with two children. Besides her job in the store, Annie has fingers in other pies to make a decent living in order to support herself and her children. As she juggles these with an loving support network of a close sister, her mum and a most entertaining gay man-friend, she tries to fit in some kind of social life and, more importantly, would like to meet a special someone who she can settle down with.
I must applaud Ms Reid for describing Annie early on in the story for us. So often, when I'm usually halfway through a book, the author will decide to chuck in a random description of the heroine and you can bet she will be totally opposite to the one I've dreamed up, due to the lack of any clues.
Also, she gives Annie a definite voice. We know Annie is a Londoner born and bred and with the use of clever phrases and Annie-isms, every time she opens her mouth we know exactly how she speaks.
Each and every one of her other main characters, from her children (stroppy teen Lara and painfully shy Owen); to Annie's dragon of a female boss (so like one of my own recent employers, it was scary) are wonderfully rounded. They are all given great parts in this busy story and not one is a disappointment. I loved and hated them as necessary.
No way does the story focus totally on Annie's job as a Personal Shopper. You won't find screeds of fashion tips and hints cunningly included within the plot. You will find some, of course, but the theme is certainly not intrusive.
We meet a few of Annie's favourite customers and their parts are well written and the interaction between them and Annie is not in any way unnecessary to the story. There's no padding in Ms Reid's writing.
Oh! And I have to tell you that Carmen Reid is also the only author I've read to date who can write a lovemaking scene which is actually delightfully sexy and funny and not at all clinical or mucky.
With lots of love and laughter, a little sadness and a huge amount of general entertainment, this is an irrepressible story with a heroine who will capture your heart.
My opinion in a nutshell? As someone else said: 'A fabulous read. A sexy read. A Carmen Reid..'
Thanks for reading.
Available from Amazon for £4.00 and AmazonMarketplace from 0.01p
Further info on Carmen Reid and her books: www.carmenreid.com
© Louise Saunders - 2007