Kinsella is all out of fresh ideas

What happened to Sophie Kinsella? My first Kinsella experience was reading Can You Keep a Secret? and absolutely loving it. Even now, it is one of my favorites and a book I generally re-read once a year. I’ve cast and re-cast the movie version of it in my head. It was just a funny and endearing story that I enjoyed. I tried Undomestic Goddess next and found that enjoyable as well even though Samantha wasn’t quite as much fun as Emma. Then I discovered the Shopaholic series. In books one and two, I thought Becky was entertaining if a bit financially irresponsible. I mean, who hasn’t done a little tight-budget splurging? Who hasn’t bought that fabulous pair of shoes that were just a teeny tiny bit expensive? Though far from a shopaholic myself, I could relate to her. Then the Manhattan book came along where Becky is engaged and ends up planning two weddings all because she can’t pluck up the nerve to tell her mother and mother-in-law that the other has each offered to host a wedding for her and Luke. What started off as humorous quickly deteriorated into a fiasco of Becky’s own making. It became irritating by the time the book finally wrapped up, and I had trouble believing that smart, successful Luke was too stupid to realize what was really happening. And this was the last time I would give a decent rating to a Shopaholic book.

Shopaholic and Sister completely derailed the series, which ran off the track to “Decent Read” and crashed into “Awful Mess.” First of all, the sister out of nowhere created a plot out of nowhere, and Jess was just as unlikable as Becky was becoming, albeit for entirely different reasons. By the end, with Becky becoming lost on a mountain and then rescued by a rich friend in a helicopter, it was all just too ridiculous to accept. But I am nothing if not stubborn so I somehow persevered through books five and six, and that was it for me. I couldn’t take another Shopaholic repeat.

So what I had learned or concluded by the end of book 6?

  1. Becky will always be a liar, but will no longer be endearing at the same time.
  2. Becky is a terrible mother incapable of disciplining a child and will probably raise a spoiled brat.
  3. There is no way Luke loves a person who is so self-absorbed and financially irresponsible.
  4. Kinsella should have quit while she was ahead; she has run out of ideas, and this series has become wash, rinse, repeat.
  5. This series will never improve, and Kinsella has ruined her own character.
  6. I am probably still willing to read non-Shopaholic Kinsella books.

And I was and I did. Remember Me was okay. It was no Secret or Goddess, but I didn’t want to throw it across the room mid-read. Twenties Girl was interesting and certainly a different plotline for a Kinsella read. I think I even gave it a 3-star review, then came I’ve Got Your Number, and I was done. What a half-assed attempt at churning out the same old shit. I predicted the ending just by reading the blurb on the back. The characters were dull and lacked any chemistry. The whole book felt like a cog in a money making machine, and I was just so done with Kinsella and her repetitive plots and ditzy characters. Get a fresh idea already!

That was four years ago, and a new Kinsella book hadn’t touched my hands since…until last Saturday when I went to a book sale at a local church. It was “Fill a Bag for $5 Day,” and my bag wasn’t full, and there was a hardback copy of Wedding Night just sitting there, and there was space in my bag. I mean, what kind of book lover could walk out of a book sale with a partially-empty bag??? Not this one. In the bag it went. I had just finished an intense biography and thought a fluff piece would be a quick, no-fuss read. And the eternally optimistic (read: stupid) part of my brain was all, Hey, maybe Kinsella has improved in the last four years.

Hahahahahahaha!

Nope. She may have actually gotten worse! Lottie is the stupidest character Kinsella has ever written. If you combined the airheadedness of every previous Kinsella character, they still wouldn’t be a match for the idiocy of Lottie. She makes Becky look like a Type A CEO or the Prime Minister or someone who actually uses her brain. And Fliss isn’t much better except instead of being stupid, she’s the queen of temporarily suppressed rage, and she flies off the handle so often, one wonders how she hasn’t had a stress-induced heart attack yet.  I am about a third of the way through the book, and I can’t decide whether to persevere or give up. No matter what I decide to do about this one, I think I have already decided that this will be my last Kinsella attempt. I think I’ll stick to re-reading Can You Keep a Secret every year and stop hoping for something fresh from a former favorite author of mine.

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When Hollywood ruins a perfectly good book…

You all probably know exactly where you were and what you were doing the moment you heard the news. Maybe you were pouring a cup of coffee and let it overflow and spill all over while the terrible reality set in. Maybe you were driving and the shock made you crash right into a building. Maybe you were secretly looking at your phone in the middle of a test that you failed once you read the awful, devastating news.

You know what news I am talking about…

That moment when you heard who was going to play Jace in the Mortal Instruments movie.

My reaction: Who? You mean the dog-faced boy from Sweeney Todd? Are you effing kidding me?
What the hell happened to Alex “Prettyface” Pettyfer?
No! No! No! Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!
Why, God, why????

Then I went through the stages of grief. I denied that this was happening. I prayed that the gods of film would intervene and cast ANYONE ELSE as my beloved Jace. Once I had to accept the truth (which only happened after I accidentally saw 3 seconds of a preview), I cried. Then I boycotted. I refused to watch the previews or read articles about the movie. I un-followed Cassandra Clare on Goodreads and unliked her on Facebook. It was nothing personal, but she kept talking about that abomination of a movie, and I simply couldn’t tolerate it. I cheered when the movie tanked. Frankly, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it didn’t go straight to DVD.

So, of course, this got me thinking about all the great books that Hollywood has turned into mediocre or downright awful movies, so here goes:

Eragon – The book is a well-crafted world of fantasy, magic, dragons, protagonists, and antagonists. Sort of like Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones, if you will. The movie was just bleh. Dull cast, dull characters, and the plot was so hacked to pieces that I found myself wondering if the screenwriters had even read the book. Very disappointing.

Seabiscuit – Laura Hillenbrand crafted one of the greatest horseracing books of all time. She captured the people, the horses, the time period, and America perfectly. Page after page, she made the people and the horses come alive and transported us readers back to the glory days of American horseracing, which used to be one of the most popular sports in this country. Then along comes the movie and one of the worst directing decisions of all time. I can forgive the casting of Bug Eyes Maguire as Red Pollard, but what I can’t forgive is the director’s decision in the middle of the match race (which is the height of tension, the point that the entire movie has built up to) to cut away from the race and show people listening in on radios. Are you kidding me? Get back to the damn race! Cutting away from the horses at that crucial moment killed the momentum and ruined the movie for me.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Director Alfonso Cuaron was praised for his “amazing vision,” and many critics said it was the best Harry Potter film yet. Uh, what movie were they watching? I could barely follow the film because I was too busy trying to figure out what on earth had happened to Hogwarts. The once beautiful castle now looked dark and foreboding and even the layout of the grounds had been changed to suit the director’s “vision.” The pacing was off and so much of the story had been cut that my friends who hadn’t read the books (yeah, I actually hang out with people like that – hard to believe, isn’t it?) had trouble understanding what was going on. The movie has grown on me somewhat over the years, but it is still far from my favorite.

Confessions of a Shopaholic – While I think this books series has gone from fun and entertaining to utterly ridiculous, the movie went straight to unbearable. How do you take a British book by a British author about a British girl living – you guessed it – in Britain, and then have the movie take place in NYC? As the salsa commercials used to say, “New York City? Get a rope.” Better yet, get a ticket to any other movie playing. I refused to watch this movie based on that fact alone. And judging by the money the movie didn’t make, other fans of the books apparently felt the same way.

I am not saying Hollywood always gets it wrong when converting a book to a movie, but if given the choice, I’ll take a book in my hands over a movie on a screen any day. Did I miss a terrible movie? Toss in your two cents, and thanks for visiting.