The Party Crasher

by Sophie Kinsella

This weekend,” she says, sotto voce. “It’s mad. It’s the maddest ever party, ever.” “Agreed.” “I can’t believe you’ve stayed hidden this long,” she adds. “You must want to leap out and say, Surprise!” “Nope,” I say. “Not even a tiny part of you?” I try to imagine Krista’s face if I popped up from under the brunch table, brandishing a pair of cheerleader’s pom-poms, yelling, It’s me! I mean, it would be quite funny. Until the recriminations and carnage began.

There’s a moment of silence—then I lift my chin firmly and walk into Greenoaks. Effie Talbot is in the house.

This book was a pure joy. It’s not deep, there are no serious issues tackled unless you count the importance of family and keeping the lines of communication open (hardly an uncommon message in chick lit, or women’s fiction if you will, or, OK, just fiction) I teared up a couple of times near the end, but it was hardly heart-rending. But it was one of those books that I not only enjoyed but made me happy. It took me back to those rare times when reading a book just engulfed me. Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt when I was a pre or young teen, Barbara Michaels and Georgette Heyer a little later, and recently, Milly Johnson, Kristan Higgins, and Mhairi MacFarlane. Also, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Effie as well as her brother and sister, have been estranged from their father since his divorce from their beloved stepmother and his new relationship with the avaricious but sexy schemer, Krista. To her horror, she learns the two are selling their huge, quirky, and beloved childhood home. Krista is throwing a big “House-cooling” Party, to which Effie, who has been Krista’s main antagonist, was not properly invited.

She decides to secretly infiltrate the party to save a precious childhood treasure. She hides in attics, secret alcoves, under tables, and behind bushes, all the while observing and listening to all of the goings-on. She learns a lot and is eventually aided by her sister and brother and her ex, Joe, her first love who broke her heart. The set-up is genius. It promises adventure, suspense, comedy, ah-ha! and oh no! moments, and romance. It delivers on all counts. And of course, we have some twists and surprises for the reader as well as Effie. All of the beautifully realized characters have their stories which, needless to say, all come to satisfying resolutions. It’s one of those books that you want to read slower so it will last but just can’t help just gobbling up. I think I need to add a special shelf on GoodReads for books like these.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November 11, 2021

Love Your Life

By Sophie Kinsella

I swear, Sophie Kinsella just keeps getting better. This book, which I listened to on audiobook, started off to be very dull. Matt and Ava meet on a writer’s retreat in Italy and fall in love. They were both perfectly likable but pretty nondescript. Their romance went smoothly and sweetly. Yawn.

But boy, when they returned to the real world from the vacuum of paradise, all hell broke loose! And it was delightful! It turns out Ava is a lovable flake (not unlike most of SK’s heroines)with a squad of crazy friends. And Matt is a closed-off uncommunicative CEO of his family’s global corporation with a cold and manipulative family. They not only have nothing in common, but they are total opposites in every aspect of their lives and tastes. It was hilarious. I couldn’t decide who I was more in sympathy with (or felt more sympathy for). But remarkably, as much as they are horrified by what they learn as they get to know each other, they stay in love. And just when I had had it up to here with their personalities, each would do something lovable or we would learn something about them that helped to make me understand and (almost) forgive their behavior.

When it all comes to a head late in the book, and they inevitably part ways, you know that it will be the making of them. But will Matt-land and Ava-land be able to negotiate an accord, become allies, and once again and fall back into their “special friendship?” Well, may I remind you of who the author is? **5 stars out of 5**

January 26, 2021

I Owe You One

By Sophie Kinsella

“Family bloody first. I’m not saying Dad was wrong, I’ll never say that, but maybe I’m starting to see “family” differently. It’s not just the people you share genes with; it’s the people you share loyalty and friendship and respect with. It’s the people you love.”

This was a delightfully typical Sophie Kinsella. She is a master at wanting to make me slap some sense into her heroines while simultaneously adoring them. I loved Fixie. Yes, she was very frustrating due to her letting her brother and sister walk all over her, and her blindness and delusion as to her childhood crush’s true nature. The reader is so far ahead of her in seeing what her family and Ryan are doing to her that you just itch for her to finally see the light. It takes quite a while! You think she is going to see clearly and act accordingly, but she just is not strong enough. When both her family and their beloved Farr’s housewares store is in shambles and her horror at disappointing and hurting her mother finally cause her to turn the corner for good, it is all the sweeter and more satisfying. Kinsella doesn’t take the quick route here. When she finally fixes things, it is not by giving her brother and sister the hell they richly deserve. It is out of love and concern for them and her own kind and generous nature, which never wavers. Kinsella gives us a glance at a childhood trauma, that helps us understand her better, and gave me more patience with her than I normally would have had.

The love interest, Seb, is wonderful and has a little more depth than some of her early heroes. He loves and appreciates her but also tells her a few home truths about herself and her family that is one step in her growth and change.

“I think you need to start thinking less about what you owe other people and more about what you owe yourself.”

He is a strong presence and her port in the storm until she makes some mistakes. Luckily, though painful, the separation is not drawn out, and in the long run, it was good that her family and business had her full attention at last. Family first!

The ending is the best ever, with everyone and everything coming together at the end. She could have ended it sooner and I still would have given it 5 stars, but I love that we finally saw the mother back home again, and her family whole and happy and giving Fixie her full credit for everything she fixed. I loved Jake’s reformation. He was so awful for so long, despite Fixie’s efforts, It was hard to believe. The complete turn around at last about gave me whiplash, but I loved it.

The narrator, Fiona Hardingham, was superb. Her intonation and accents made the bad guys, Ryan, Jake, and Uncle Ned even more hateful, and really made Leila, Nicole, and the rest of the secondary characters come alive. Her reading of Nicole made me want to laugh, roll my eyes, and shake her all at once.

If the last two books are any indication, Sophie Kinsella is just getting better and better over the years. Her books are still light and fluffy, with lot’s of humor, but she has developed some seriousness and depth as well. **5 out of 5 stars**

April 29, 2019

Surprise Me

by Sophie Kinsella

Where’s the joy in our lives?” He looks around the kitchen with a questing gaze, as though it might be in a jar labeled joy, next to turmeric.

In Surprise Me Sophie Kinsella has achieved an undercurrent of real depth, seriousness, and complexity running under the usual fun and humorous shenanigans. There is potential for real danger and harm in the mostly amusing misadventures of our heroine. Maybe it is because the stakes are higher given that the possible outcome is the breakup of the happy marriage of a mother and father of two little kids. A family is at risk, not just a single girl seeking love and career success. In addition, we are teased with the possibility that our unreliable narrator, Sylvie, is actually unstable and in serious danger of a breakdown once the truth is revealed. Fairly early on in the book, the reader realizes that our heroine has been coddled and cosseted all of her life. She lives life in a bubble wrapped in cotton wool and sprinkled with sparkles. She hero-worships and adores her dead father whom the reader knows early on is not the shining golden hero she thinks he was. We know that she is headed for a fall, and we are in suspense as to what the nature of his weaknesses is and how badly Sylvie will react to her bubble being burst.

Even though we laugh at her antics and inner dialogue and shake our heads at her self-delusions, we like Sylvie. At least I did. She is a sweet funny woman, and good mother, and has her priorities in the right place, despite the fact that she comes from a world of wealth and privilege. Usually the author’s heroes are kind of cardboard and interchangeable, and her heroines kind of shallow. Not so in this book. Both Dan and Sylvie reveal hidden depths. The revealed secrets throw the reader for a loop by both their nature and how widespread the effects. Just when we think we know the extent of the damage, she adds another twist of the knife, and then another. But worry not. The depth of what Sylvie has to confront and heal from makes the resolution all the more affecting. Even powerful. I never thought I would use that word about a Kinsella novel.

Sylvie’s challenges with her personal life would have made this a 5 star book. But Sophie Kinsella ups the ante with a fun career subplot which further reveal her character arc. Add to this mix rich and multifaceted secondary and tertiary characters and you have so much more than her usual light-hearted romp. And the ending was great. It made we want to cheer. I hope SK continues the growth as a writer that she displays in this book: by far my favorite of hers so far.**5 out of 5 stars**

March 21, 2018

Wedding Night

by Sophie Kinsella

“You can’t switch sides!” I glare at him in fury.

“I was never on your side,” retorts Lorcan. “Your side is the nutty side.”

I Loved this book. and loved the performances for the audio version even more. I am sure this was a very funny read, but I am also sure that the audio version was twice as funny as the book would have been. It was everything I have come to expect from Sophie Kinsella. Of course, it had its drawbacks. Lottie was very flawed (as is usual for SK) but I kept my patience with her because she is shown to be wise, kind, generous, and talented in her professional life. In a great scene, she and her colleague speak to a class of what they assume are science majors but who turn out to be cosmetologists. Her partner freaks out (they are recruiters for a pharmacological corporation) and walks off the stage, but Lottie carries on, changes her approach to fit her audience and ends up getting a standing ovation. Fliss, her overprotective sister, was also a very likable character as were both of their love interests. And Fliss’s little son Noah is one of the funniest creations of a little kid I have read in a long time.

There were aspects of the plot that went on a little too long and tended to go over the top at times. I wish there had been a little more closure as to what became of Ben’s company and his relationship with Lorcan. Kudos to Sophie Kinsella and the continuing maturation of her plots and characters. (this one had a bit of a serious thread that I have enjoyed in the last 2 or 3 novels and are not present in her earlier ones.) But extra Kudos to Mark Bramhall, Jayne Entwistle, Fiona Hardingham, the brilliant performers in the audio version.**5 out of 5 stars**

October 24, 2019

Twenties Girl

By Sophie Kinsella

I had to speed read through a good portion of this one because I found the Heroine and the Ghost both so incredibly annoying. The Heroine, due to her blind obsession with and criminal behavior towards her ex, and Sadie, the ghost, for her unreasonable and constant screeching and selfishness. Lara’s great Aunt Sadie, who is a ghost, starts to haunt Lara. Sadie gives her the mission to find her missing necklace. It’s a fantasy. In the course of her mission, Lara learns many things. It kind of got bogged down, but things got back on track about 2/3 through when Lara came to her senses about her ex-boyfriend. The romance was pretty great, and the resolution was top notch.**3 stars out of 5**

October 4, 2016

Confessions of a Shopaholic

By Sophie Kinsella

I’ve read almost all of Sophie Kinsella’s stand alone novels and enjoyed them all. I have avoided the Shopaholic books because people being irresponsible and wasteful with money really frustrate me. As predicted, despite her charm and good heart, Becky made me angry and contemptuous. It was amusing in places and the end salvaged the book for me. She finally sees herself for what she is, acknowledges the ruin she has brought upon herself and innocent bystanders and makes it good. I got 10 % into the sequel to realize she had not learned her lesson and was worse than before. I couldn’t take any more. I quit reading Shopaholic Takes Manhattan and skipped through to the end. I won’t be reading anymore of these, going by the reviews of the rest in the series.

But I simply can’t tell my kind, loving parents that their so-called successful daughter with her so-called top job is in fact a disorganized, deceitful mess, up to her eyeballs in debt.

You forgot selfish, gluttonous, thoughtless, delusional, lazy, foolish, shallow, and just plain dumb. But Hey, if these are traits you don’t mind in your leading lady, knock yourself out! **3 stars out of 5**

June 28, 2017

I’ve Got Your Number

by Sophie Kinsella

“When you read my texts, you saw a curt, miserable git. And you told me so. Maybe you’re right. But you know what I saw when I read yours?”
“No. And I don’t want to know.”
“I saw a girl who races to help others but doesn’t help herself. And right now you need to help yourself. No one should walk up the aisle feeling inferior
or in a different league or trying to be something they’re not.”

This was a cute book with a likable heroine, despite her tendency to let people to run roughshod over her. Unfortunately the whole book is founded on a false premise. If you lose your phone, you do not ever lose your number, so the whole phone sharing thing was just dumb and unnecessary. It did help that at halfway through the book, Sam, the hero, told her some much needed home truths about her inferiority complex, neediness, and fear of not being liked. He nailed it when he needled her, “Please Like Me! Please Like me!”. Good for him, she needed that wake-up call.**spoiler**

I was very disappointed in Poppy when she went back to Magnus after he cheated on her(with that horror of a wedding planner, no less!). She did come to her senses, albeit not until standing in front of the altar. I liked the arc his parents took, from hateful to likable, when Poppy learned the truth.**end spoiler**

Enjoyed the sub-plot of the corporate intrigue at Sam’s company. Unfortunately, it was not apparent enough for me, that Poppy developed a backbone and sufficiently became a stronger more sensible person.**4 out of 5 stars**

September 6, 2016

Can you Keep a Secret?

By Sophie Kinsella

In Can You Keep a Secret? an ordinary girl with a kind heart becomes involved with the owner and founder of the multinational company she works for. She is a kind of a Bridget Jones character in a kind of Bridget Jones-type position. Jack, the founder of the company, is a Steve Jobs type (but a decent human being). It is an unlikely romance, and certainly kept my interest. There was a lot of chemistry between them. Emma has quite an inferiority complex due to her family circumstances, and is prone to get herself in embarrassing situations. Kinsella shows us rather than tells us how charming, and attractive she must be despite her self-deprecating inner voice that we, the readers, are privy to. A flight attendant upgrades her coach seat to business class for no apparent reason that is told to us, her best friend is a high powered brilliant lawyer, people she runs into are friendly, nice, and seem as fond of her as I was: the waiter at the high end restaurant Jack takes her to on their first date, Antonio the restaurant owner, and Aiden the barista. Not to mention, her boyfriend Connor. He is successful, handsome, nice, and quite a catch. He is crazy about her and heart-broken when she breaks up with him. I loved Emma from the beginning and was really invested in her and her relationships. Unlike the heroine in the other Kinsella I read, Remember Me?, she is not a doormat. She stands up for herself. I loved Jack as well. The scene at the picnic where he puts her mean cousin Kerry in her place is priceless. The inevitable misunderstandings and conflicts are understandable and resolved in a timely manner; neither party being too dumb to live. Oh, did I mention? The book was hilarious. The ending was very satisfying and I loved the epilogue. **5 out of 5 stars

July 27, 2016

Remember Me?

by Sophie Kinsella

I’m a whiz kid! I have strategic visions of the future! I just hope I wrote them down somewhere.

This was very much a light-hearted take on an amnesia-stricken heroine. Both Kinsella’s writing and the story were very enjoyable, although I think, in this case, the intrigue of the amnesia plot was what kept me interested to the end and looking forward to reading the next chapter. I enjoyed the humor and funny situations Lexi found herself in, but the story really kicked in about 30% into it when she finally started to realize that not all in her life was as perfect as it appeared to be. The overarching mystery of the story was how she could have changed so utterly and completely from an awkward insecure unremarkable drone to a sleek, fashionable business dynamo in 3 years. I was afraid this would be a plot hole that Kinsella was not going to address, but at last she does, and very believably. I was frustrated by how naïve and trusting Lexi was of her reprobate sister who betrayed and lied to her time and again, although Amy did achieve some measure of redemption at the end. Also, no matter how many times she explains her amnesia to her mother (horrible selfish weak woman), co-workers, “friends”, and even her Knight in shining armor, they continually act surprised when she doesn’t remember something. This was really a weakness towards the end when Jon, her one strong and reliable ally, has his “I-can’t–believe-you-didn’t-remember-that” moment that comes within a hair’s breadth of causing a disaster and devastating failure. I do wonder if I would enjoy any of her other books as well as this one because I’m kind of a sucker for amnesia stories. **4 stars out of 5**

July 04, 2016