Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: Shopaholic to the Rescue

When my mother first suggested this series, I was skeptical because I'm really not one for shopping. I thought a character who was all about shopping simply wouldn't appeal to me. Then, I opened the first book and met Becky Bloomwood. What a hoot! This character jumps off the page and into your heart with her wild imaginings, her rationalizations, and her inability to tamp down her desire for things.

Still, I opened this book, Shopaholic to the Rescue, with about the same trepidation as I felt opening the first cover, because I haven't really enjoyed the last two bites of Becky (nee Bloomwood) Brandon's adventures. I attempted a short story the author offered for free on her website and felt dissatisfied. Then, I read the seventh installment of the series, Shopaholic to the Stars, and didn't care for it at all. I thought perhaps the trouble was that Becky moved out of her natural environs of England and transplanted to the United States. But, this book was due to continue the American adventure and I wasn't sure I would be pulled in.

This eighth book in the series, Shopaholic to the Rescue, was a bit better than the last but nowhere near as endearing as the first few books in the series. Perhaps I simply prefer Becky when she is in her own country. She also lost a bit of her flair in this book as she was struggling with being out of sorts and her joy in shopping had abandoned her. But, bits of Becky's natural spunk do shine through and I didn't feel the time was wasted in reading this (even though I would consider the whole series to be fluff reading).

Picking up where the last book left off, Becky is on a quest, crossing the United States in an RV with her husband, her daughter, her estranged best friend (Suze), her archenemy, her mother and her mother's best friend. They are searching for her father, who has disappeared with Suze's husband. Nobody seems to know why the men left or where they are going, but the whole lot of them feel a determination to find the men. Becky feels responsible for their departure. Suze feels conflicted about her marriage. The archenemy seems to be trying to steal Suze's friendship from Becky. Moreover, her mother is questioning why her father would have left without explaining where he was going.

I still agree with the praises of top periodicals who rave about the series. USA Today wrote "Hilarious ... hijinks worthy of classic I Love Lucy episodes ... too good to pass up." People declared "Kinsella's Bloomwood is plucky and funny .... You won't have to shop around to find a more winning protagonist." And The Washington Post enticed with "Faster than a swiping Visa, more powerful than a two-for-one coupon, able to buy complete wardrobes in a single sprint through the mall - it's Shopaholic!" I was worried I might be tiring of the series, but I'm fairly sure I would give another episode a try. Along with others, I simply find Becky Bloomwood to be irresistible and fun, but I would caution readers not to begin with the seventh or eighth installments. Start at the beginning, so you can fall in love with this feisty character first.

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