6 August 2009

Book Review: How Not To Shop by Carmen Reid

Annie Valentine is back! Annie, a successful personal shopper at The Store has hit the big time. She's been offered a slot on a primetime TV show as a fashion advisor, and she can't wait. But things go slightly wrong when Annie realises she has a tiny budget, unwilling participants and a co-star from hell.

While she's trying to perform miracles, her ever patient boyfriend Ed is waiting for her at home with her 2 children... but Ed wants his own baby, even though it couldn't be further from Annie's mind. Is Annie able to handle the work and home pressures? Or is fame not all its cracked up to be?

'How Not To Shop' is the third book in the Annie Valentine Series by Carmen Reid. The first 2 are 'The Personal Shopper' and 'Late Night Shopping', and I've read both. I wasn't overly keen on the first book of the series but I was intrigued to see the direction of the next book so I read that which was much better. I really enjoyed Annie's second adventure so when I saw Carmen had a third book coming out I was excited. How Not To Shop follows Annie after she leaves her job at The Store so is a totally different setting, but it really works!

Obviously this book will make much more sense if you read it after you have read the first two books because of the chronological storyline. However, if you like the sound of this and haven't read the others, it is possible to enjoy this one, you just may not get some of the references to previous things that have happened to Annie and her friends/family. I managed to get into this book incredibly easily, and found myself slipping into the life of Annie quickly and seamlessly, and the reminders along the way helped bring the previous 2 books back for me.

Annie is the same as ever, funny, fame-hungry, mad and obsessed about shopping. I really didn't like her in the first book but I very much liked her in this one. It's very funny and Annie seems to lurch from one disaster to the other in an incredibly amusing way. You are endeared to her because of her endless disasters, and her attitude in this book was brilliant. She stands up for herself, does a good job and holds a family together, and is a likeable character which is essential for a book where the lead character is a female and is read by females! If you hate Annie, you might hate the book which isn't good!

The other characters in the book are brilliant and thread an excellent story between the main story of Annie and her TV career. Ed, her other half is the perfect man, and is the perfect contrast to eccentric Annie. He is a calming influence, and I defy any woman reading the book not to love Ed! Annie's children are less prominent in the book, but her best friend, Russian millionairess Svetlana is hilarious and has a shocking yet hilarious storyline throughout the book too which takes it in a totally different for a while which was fabulous to read and not what you'd expect from this book!

Despite the laughs and disasters of Annie, the book does have some more serious undertones for the readers that make it seem a bit more realistic. Annie's sister has fertility troubles and this is covered sensitively by Reid, and is a credit to her writing skills. She manages to convey the desperation for Dana to have a baby with Annie's unwant of one with Ed, and balances the two to create a mature and interesting storyline that will have you feeling every emotion along with the two. It was great to have this story running alongside the funnier ones because it grounds the book a bit and adds a more adult theme to the book.

For Reid, this is an excellent return to a brilliant character, and I loved every second of this book. It's my favourite of the series so far, and I would love for her to write a fourth as I think she's left it open enough at the end for that to happen which would be brilliant! All the shopping references as seen in the first 2 books are there - mentions of designer clothes, costs and descriptions are perfect, Reid must do some lovely and fun research to write these books! If you loved the first 2 books, this is a must-read for you and even if you haven't read them, this is a great light-hearted summer read, especially if you love your shopping!

Rating: 5/5

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