Tag Archives: chicklit

Daring Chloe (Laura Jensen Walker)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Daring Chloe (Laura Jensen Walker)When Chloe Adam’s fiance dumps her — the night before their wedding — two girlfriends from her book group decide a little adventure is in order for the three of them. After all, why let a perfectly good honeymoon cruise go to waste?

Adventure? Chloe Adams? No way! Chloe’s lived in one town her whole life. The closest she’s ever gotten to actual adventures is reading about them. But her girlfriends won’t take no for an answer.

One good adventure calls for another as Chloe’s friends try to coax her out of her post-dumping funk, and soon she finds herself living ut the adventures in her book club’s latest selections. Hiking. Sailing. River rafting. Traveling to new places and eating exotic food. The play-it-safe Chloe begins to blossom into a new, daring Chloe. A Chloe who just might be ready to take on her biggest adventure of all.

Laura Jensen Walker is one of my favorite authors, hands down. Her book, Dreaming in Black and White was the first Christian chicklit I read and I love reading it until now. She also has a knack for humor in her books, which I can see even in her more serious novels, like Reconstructing Natalie, which talks about breast cancer.

However, this one just didn’t really cut it for me.

The book did not have the same story flow that Reconstructing Natalie or Miss Invisible had that made me kind of not like it as much. The flow of the story was more or less fluid, almost like the Phoebe Grant series. However, the entire plot felt like it was lacking something. The premise was there and it’s really a big conflict but I felt like it wasn’t really delved into. Okay, so romance wasn’t really the main point of the book, but then the some sort of romance between Chloe and the other guy shouldn’t have been hinted.

Don’t get me wrong, the story was nice and it had a pretty nice lesson. It’s all about the great adventure that is life, and I’m still learning that. I just felt like the story lacked an overall conflict that is there in other Laura Jensen Walker novels.

But plus points on mentioning Switchfoot, though. :) And the book list and the mention of yummy food. This book makes me want to go to Paris too.

Apparently, this is a part of a series, and knowing me, I’d most likely get it. Probably. Seeing the blurb of the book from Amazon, I think there just might be more conflict there.

The Undomestic Goddess (Sophie Kinsella)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

The Undomestic Goddess (Sophie Kinsella) Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as a housekeeper.

Her employers have no idea that they’ve hired a lawyer — and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope — and finds love — is a sory as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she wnat it back?

I’ve been a reader of Sophie Kinsella ever since I got ahold of my first Shopaholic book when I was in college. It was because of her books that I started liking chicklit, and Becky Bloomwood/Brandon will always be the benchmark of typical a typical chicklit protagonist. The thing is, I couldn’t really relate to Becky since I’m not that much of a shopaholic. :P However, Samantha Sweeting is someone I could definitely relate to. :P

It was scary how I can relate to Samantha in the first part of the novel: workaholic, long hours in the office, always on the run. Geez, was I like that for the past months? :| I know I didn’t work on weekends, but I pulled long hours…and was gladly doing so. I knew I wasn’t that close to being like Samantha, but it was surprising and scary how much similar I was with her when it comes to how I work.

Anyway, I like this book because although the story can seem a bit typical — kind of like a reverse Cinderella-like — it was very relatable. Samantha’s lack of knowledge in domestic work may seem a bit exaggerated, but I like how Kinsella made her change very realistic, and the lessons that she made Samantha learn are also very important: how to slow down and live life, that work is not everything. I like how money wasn’t much an object here, seeing as Samantha may be really rich because of her job (seems like she could definitely afford a jet charter for herself), and her employers are definitely rich, so it’s refreshing coming from the Shopaholic books which was all about money. :P Anyway, I loved how the characters interacted with one another, especially the Geigers and Iris and Nathaniel. I’m not too fond of the love story, but it was a necessary plot point in the story else it wouldn’t have the very dramatic movie-like ending. ;)

It’s not a terribly serious book, but it’s a good read if you want something with enough substance but light enough not to bring the reader down. :)

Miss Invisible (Laura Jensen Walker)

Rating: [rate 4.0]
Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker

Convinced that her larger size relegates her to a wallflower status, Freddie Heinz hides behind wedding cakes she creates as a professional baker. But life is about to change for Miss Invisible.

First of all, Freddie’s found a new friend who encourages her to come out of her shell. Then, Hal, the cute veterinarian, starts showing interest in he woman behind the delightful cakes. And when Freddie decides to break every rule in the “big girl’s” book and finds out who she really is, life gets even more exciting — and hilarious.

Finally I got to read another one from one of my favorite authors, Laura Jensen Walker. It’s no secret that her Phoebe Grant novels are my favorites, and she was the first Christian chicklit author I read about. :) I saw this book from her website and finally got the chance to get a copy through my dad.

Now, I love how the protagonist of this novel is someone who’s not into fashion, but more into food. Although I am not invisible and there’s no too much stressing on figure from where I am, I can relate to her having a hard time shopping, to her loving food and having dessert at home. Heh. Deborah, the other character is fantastic as well — she even made me feel happy about my curves. :D

The message is good, but I’m not too thrilled about how the story went. Although I think the story is fine, there were some parts of it I really didn’t like. Like Freddie’s blogging. It didn’t seem to gel with the entire story; it felt kind of out of place. And how Freddie’s love life was tackled, especially since my reading eyes were already set on Hal, but that didn’t push through. The “climax” of the story didn’t seem too high as well; although it brought tears to my eyes. The last part of the story reminded me of how she wrote Reconstructing Natalie, where instead of a continuously flowing story, it felt like she was telling me the other highlights of the story instead. Not that that’s bad, it just felt a bit…I don’t know, disjointed?

Oh, but I loved two other things in the story. First is Deborah’s house, which when described seemed SO beautiful and homey. I bet her house beats all the other Condo Hotels out there. Also, there’s all those FOOD! All the cakes that Freddie baked and decorated, as well as the food that Deborah cooked for her catering business…yum yum!

This is a good book, and I recommend it for everyone, especially for those who feel insecure about their figures. :) We are fearfully and wonderfully made! :D

Sushi for One? (Camy Tang)

Rating: [rate 5.0]

Sushi for One? By Camy Tang

Lex Sakai’s family is big, nosy and marriage-minded. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the oldest single female cousin in the clan.

Lex has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a list of traits for the perfect man. but the one man she keeps running into doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex starts to let God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.

After being a visitor and reader of Camy’s blog since last year, I finally got a copy of her first book. I stumbled into Camy’s blog while searching for books to buy from Amazon from my dad, and I’ve been following her blog ever since. I waited for her book to come out here but it seems like it hasn’t yet (so sad), but I’m glad I finally got a copy of this now. :D

I read in one of the reviews from Amazon that the blurb at the back of the book (written above) does not do the book justice…and she’s right: it totally did not. There was so much happening in the story that I felt like I was watching a TV series. I couldn’t let the book go because of all the enjoyable characters and scenes — Lex’s very annoying grandmother, her silly brother who keeps on setting her up with every guy he meets, Aiden, the silent observer and her physical therapist, Mimi, the flirtier cousin and her three closest cousins and friends, Trish, Venus and Jenn. Even if there was a lot happening, everything went well together and was somehow significant as the story goes on.

Continue reading Sushi for One? (Camy Tang)

Kettle Corn and Chicklit

If Books were food...

Since I’m on this big reading project for this year, I thought I’d join Ate Toni‘s latest Blog Carnival. She asks this question: If books were food, what would they taste like?

I am an avid chicklit fan. I used to deny it by saying I like reading all sorts of books, but now I’m coming out in the open: I love chicklit. Some people may look down on chicklit as “fluffy” stuff with too little substance as compared to other genres, but chicklit has so much more to offer than what can be seen on those bright (usually pink) covers. Chicklit is about a woman’s (or even a man’s!) self-realization. It’s about her facing her fears, overcoming obstacles in her life and realizing that she is more than what she thinks she is, or more than what other people think of her. It’s not always about romance or shopping or superficial fluffy stuff. Chicklit is all about getting to know yourself in the midst of life’s trials. Yes it is fluffy, but it’s good fluff. :D

Dreaming in Black and White by Laura Jensen Walker Dreaming in Technicolor by Laura Jensen Walker

I’m picking my current favorite chicklit books right now, the Phoebe Grant series: Dreaming in Black and White and Dreaming in Technicolor by Laura Jensen Walker.

Dreaming in Black and White is the first Christian chicklit novel I got my hands on. By then, the only chicklit I knew of was the Shopaholic series, which I liked, but not really loved. When I bought this book, I was just getting introduced to other Christian authors besides Frank Peretti, plus I never knew this sub-genre existed. I read this book overnight, and if it were food, I’d liken it to Kettle Corn. As in kettle corn popcorn, one of my favorite snack food. Perfect to eat anytime or during a movie, be at the cinema or in a simple movie house decorated with home theater sconces. These books, just like kettle corn is three things: sweet, salty and crunchy.

It’s sweet because I couldn’t help falling in love with Phoebe Grant’s character. Her struggles weren’t that different from my struggles: finding the perfect job, family arguments and singlehood. She isn’t ashamed of her faith, and she rises out of the struggles quite beautifully. Phoebe is like someone who I would want to have as a friend.

It’s salty because of the struggles the author put in Phoebe’s life. Like I mentioned, Phoebe is not that different from any single woman out there. In Dreaming in Black and White she wanted a bigger job, and is devastated when she had to go back to her hometown to take care of her mother, then finds struggle with saving her hometown and her family. In Dreaming in Technicolor, Phoebe has a better job, and she enjoys her time with her family, but now she’s struggling about her singlehood. It’s all normal, and these struggles give more “taste” in our life — the salt that gives the flavor. :)

Finally it’s crunchy because the book is hardly ever boring at all. I love how Laura Jensen Walker peppered the books with yummy anecdotes, quotable quotes and words of wisdom that cannot be found in other chicklit books. :)

Interestingly, Phoebe Grant is a movie addict, and popcorn just fits these books, don’t you think? :)

Lost in NashVegas (Rachel Hauck)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Lost in Nash Vegas (Rachel Hauck)Last week, I stocked groceries in Freedom, Alabama. This week, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, about to take the stage at the famous Bluebird Cafe.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Only one problem, I ‘ve got stage fright.

But after years of being ruled by fear and hiding from my dream, I confronted my limited reality and left home. Forget the hometown hunk who wants to make me queen of his doublewide. Forget Momma’s doubt-inspiring tirade. I can make it in Music City…can’t I?

So I took a leap of faith, gathered my old guitar, my notebook full of songs, and packed up my ’69 Chevy pickup. Look out NashVegas!

With the help of some new friends, especially handsome Lee Rivers, my dream is about to find the light of day. But as I face my first night at the Bluebird Cafe, I realize…I might just do what comes naturally. Look for the nearest exit, and run!

Robin McAfee is an singer and songwriter…when she’s alone or when she’s in her Granddaddy’s porch. But bring her in front of a crowd, she has this really huge urge to run away like a mouse who is caught in the bright light, or a cat who’s afraid of humans.

But after some thinking and some realizations while in her hometown, she decides to make a Robin McAfee decision: try it out in Nashville as a new songwriter amidst all the songwriters around and see if she can make it.

But what if she doesn’t? What’s going to happen to “Freedom’s Song”? Will she stick it out or will she run back to her family and her best friend Arizona (no, not the same as Arizona real estate, as in a real person named after a state) and forget she ever wanted to become a songwriter?

Continue reading Lost in NashVegas (Rachel Hauck)

Dreaming in Technicolor (Laura Jensen Walker)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Dreaming in Technicolor by Laura Jensen Walker

Everyone’s favorite film geek Phoebe Grant heads off to Merrie Old England-and changes her cinematic dreams from black and white to living color.

Phoebe’s family has money troubles. Her spiritual life is dragging. She misses her long-distance best friend, Lindsey, terribly. But all that’s bearable because of Alex, the gorgeous man who shares her love of movies and actually likes women with a little meat on their bones. At last-someone to kiss on New Year’s Eve!

But by New Year’s Eve, Alex is in London, called home by a family emergency. Newly engaged Lindsey has turned into a long-distance Bridezilla, and the snooze button still sabotages Phoebe’s morning quiet times. She needs a break, which is why she jumps at the cheap off-season fare to England.

She’s not chasing Alex. Really. She just wants to broaden her horizons. But what awaits Phoebe in the land of Mrs. Miniver and Notting Hill is nothing short of disaster . . . and nothing less than a miracle.

In this sequel to Dreaming in Black and White, Phoebe wonders when will she ever get her kiss from Alex Spencer, the man who seemed to be destined for her. With her best friend almost engaged (and then engaged at the middle of the novel), she feels like she should hurry up and get her lips locked with Mr. Movie-buff Alex.

But things didn’t turn out the way she wants them, when Alex had to go back to England to care for his father. Phoebe is resolved to just wait, until a certain loss prods her to go to England with her Barley best friend Mary Jo. Why? Not to chase Alex, of course, but because she’s always wanted to go to Europe.

Oh, and she had to do a favor for a friend too.

And maybe see Alex in passing.

The author paints England in a way that you feel like you’re also with Phoebe and Mary Jo (or MJ, as Phoebe calls her in England) in their trip. You’d laugh at Phoebe’s mental notes and trips to dreamland, but then feel bad for her when she ends up being disappointed.

Phoebe feels like someone you’d want to have for a friend: always game, always making sure things are okay for you and sometimes even forgetting herself in the process. She can get into her dreamland quite often, until the end of the novel, that is.

I read this book after I read With This Ring I’m Confused by Kristin Billerbeck that’s why I had strong points of comparison. Ashley Stockingdale may seem normal but Phoebe is a different kind of character. The novel encourages the readers to be content with the gift of singlehood, as well as taking the leap when God gives you the chance to. :) It’s quite empowering for singles and sad to say, it doesn’t really have the same happily-ever-after ending like the Stockingdale series has. It’s still a happy ending, but not quite what the readers would expect. :)

Great book. :) I wish there’d be another one…but then what would the title be? Dreaming in 3D? I don’t think Phoebe’s up to that yet. ;)

With This Ring, I'm Confused (Kristin Billerbeck)

With This Ring I'm Confused by Kristin BillerbeckRating: [rate 4]

“Confusion is part of God moving you out of a comfort zone. A comfort zone that should cease to exist. God’s way is never the easy path, but it’s by far the most exciting.”
Ashley Stockingdale

She’s got the rock, so when does happily ever after kick in?

At long last, Ashley Stockingdale–patent attorney, fasionista, and homeowner–can finally add “fiancee” to her spirited resume. That means the next four months will be a dizzying and decadent waltz through aisles of Vera Wang, Kenneth Cole, Sheridan sheets, Kate Spade place settings, and Oneida flatware. Well…maybe not.

For starters, the HR department has hired Ashley’s ex-boyfriend (yep, the one who ran off to India with that other woman) as the new director of software. And now her fiance is starting to sound crazy–something about moving across country, to Philadelphia of all places. Worst of all, right before her eyes, Scarlett-I-need-some-Prozac O’Hara is hijacking her wedding plans!

Life for our heroine is spinning from out of control to downright confusing. But whether she makes it to the end of the aisle or not, she’ll never be at a loss for drama!

This is the third and last installment of the Ashley Stockingdale series, and the book (obviously) focuses on Ashley’s wedding preparations. In this novel, it occured to me that Ashley is pretty normal for a protagonist — albeit a bit neurotic sometimes — but she does attract chaos quite often.

Ashley faces a lot of challenges in preparation for her wedding, mostly concentrating on her in-laws who seem to be driven to make Ashley’s most dreamt-of day to be a disaster. Her future sister-in-law (Emily) is determined to make Ashley a laughingstock in her own wedding by following a “theme” while her future mother-in-law (Elaine) is set to make her look unworthy of her son. Add her commitment-phobe ex Seth’s comeback into her life, her fiance Kevin is always out and he has plans of moving to Philadelphia, and the fact that she is broke, how will she plan the day she has been waiting for all her life?!

The characters of the past two novels make a comeback in this last installment, giving a particular familiarity with the wacky Silicon Valley bunch. Although Ashley’s struggles seem too far-fetched at times, it could happen to anyone still.

The Christian point of view of the novel is a bit hard to grasp at first, but then the author shows it all in the end: marriage requires a lot of hard work, and it doesn’t end at the wedding; in fact, it only starts there.

With This Ring, I’m Confused ends with a happily-ever-after-like ending, which is a great feel-good novel to read on a lazy afternoon. :)

She's Out of Control (Kristin Billerbeck)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

She's Out of Control by Kristin BillerbeckEver been on the verge of buying your own engagement ring?

Ashley Stockingdale, the charming, but always-in-over-her-head patent attorney from What A Girl Wants, has finally found the man she wants to marry. But after nine months of dating, it seems her commitment-phobe boyfriend will never use the “M” word. And just when she thinks she’s got it all together, Ashley is having trouble knowing where to put it.

A massive remodeling project, a hyperactive puppy and an ex-boyfriend who wants to be part of her lie again all keep Ashley’s world spinning. As the mayhem escalates, Ashley’s life quickly goes from What A Girl Wants to out of control.

Reading the second book in the Ashley Stockingdale series makes me wonder if the author has read the Shopaholic series and got an idea there or vice versa. I really think Ashley Stockingdale is Becky Bloomwood on the Bible, although she [Ashley] seems to be a lot smarter and deeper than her secular counterpart.

This novel is even a more fun read than the first one: you wonder if there would be any redemption for Seth and Ashley’s relationship which seemed to be going downhill. But then another guy gets in (the same guy from the first novel) and you find yourself rooting for that guy for Ashley and totally disliking Seth for the way he’s acting.

And if there’s such a thing as the most romantic fictional male character in chicklits, Dr. Kevin Novak should win the prize!

The story focused more on how much Ashley liked controlling her life but then God sends a lot of things her way to make her stop wanting control and just leave it all up to Him (hmm, now that’s something I could use). The novel would make you laugh, feel bad for Ashley, want revenge on the other guy and the annoying girl and love Kevin’s ways at the same time wish for someone like him too.

Such a fun fun read, and the ending is just worth everything Ashley went through for the first two novels. Read, read, read! :)

What a Girl Wants (Kristin Billerbeck)

Rating: [rate 4.0]
What A Girl Wants by Kristin BillerbeckEver felt like the last item left on the clearance rack?

As a successful patent attorney, Ashley Stockingdale has all the makings of a perfect catch — the looks, the brains, even a convertible. ut at 31, she’s beginning to wonder if she’s been passed over for good.

Deciding to adopt a new attitude, Ashley suddenly becomes the romantic interest of three men within a matter of days. While her heart enjoys turning the tables on the dating game, the rest of her previously predictable world is being turned upside down. Is it more than Ashley can handle? Or is it exactly what she wants?”

Ever since I read Dreaming in Black and White, I’ve always wanted to read more Christian chicklit. I’ve heard a lot of good reviews for this book, and so when Marvs headed over to the US, I jumped on the chance to get this book from him. :D

What’s fun about What a Girl Wants is the main character, Ashley. Ashely is a devout Christian, and I know that whenever anyone hears that, they already expect her to be holier-than-thou, one who doesn’t care about the world or dressing right or whatnot. But Ashley is none like that — in fact, she may be not how you expect a Christian to be. I don’t mean that in a bad way, of course. Ashley is just as prayerful and just as nice as what you would expect of her, but she can also be quite vain, quite fashion conscious and can still have enough bitterness and envy going on with her — which just makes her more human, more easy to relate to.

Storywise, the novel is a fun read. It can seem a bit exaggerated at how things turned out the way it was for Ashley, and you’d find yourself siding with her at how unfair life became for her. As with her dating life, one of the guys who dates her seem to be the perfect one, with all his manners and good looks, although at the end, she chooses someone she had been noticing before. It felt a bit anticlimatic for me since I like the other guy already. But then, that’s why there’s a sequel. ;)

Anyway, the novel is fun: a lot like Shopaholic, but a bit less shallow. :D And because it talks about singlehood and finding the perfect guy, it becomes an even more appropriate read for singletons like me. ;)