Tag Archives: chick lit

The Fortune Quilt (Lani Diane Rich)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

The Fortune Quilt (Lani Diane Rich)Carly McKay’s life is going just fine until she produces a television piece on psychic quilt maker Brandywine Seaver and receives a quilt with an enigmatic reading telling her that everything is about to change. And it does. She loses her job and her best friend (who proclaims his unrequited love for her). And her mother, who deserted the family seventeen years ago, returns, sending Carly into a serious tilt.

Convinced it’s the quilt’s fault, Carly races down to the small artists’ community of Bilby, Arizona, to confront its maker, and ends up renting a cabin from her. Carly even starts to enjoy her reimagined life, until her old life comes calling. Now Carly has to decide what parts of each world she wants to patchwork in…and how much she’s willing to leave to fate.

I’ve been curious with Lani Diane Rich’s work ever since I learned that she wrote her first novel during NaNoWriMo, so when I finally got a chance to read one of her books, I grabbed it immediately. Look at that cute cover. :P

The Fortune Quilt starts with Carly’s sister’s wedding and with Carly, her younger sister Five and her dad making bets at who will be disturbing Ella’s wedding because of a dream that Five had. Turns out the disturbance was meant for Carly, from her ex Seth, and she was saved by Ella’s ex Will. Then we meet Carly’s best friend Chris, and the quilt maker Brandywine, and now we have the cast of characters complete. You just know something is going to happen right after all that normalcy.

And so it happens. Carly receives a quilt from Brandywine that apparently contains her fortune which Carly scoffs at, and then her world turns upside down. What’s a girl to do then? She runs away, not to any Vegas hotels (which is too far) but back to Brandywine, and into another cast of wacky characters in the town of Bilby.

In a way this book reminds me of The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella but with less spaz from the protagonist. There was the same tone of running away from the old life and finding a new one as the character is in the new place. However, Carly is a focused and smart woman who got her life turned upside down by forces that she couldn’t understand, while Samantha in The Undomestic Goddess got to where she was because she was too workaholic. And again, Samantha just feels a bit more of an airhead than Carly was.

The other characters in The Fortune Quilt were also hilarious — from the gay couple with their daughter, Brandy, Janessa, the grumpy man who always buys charcoal from the art store and sexy Will, who becomes Carly’s love interest in the story (you can tell from the first chapter).

This is a very fun read. It had just the right combination of humor and seriousness, and it’s a good way to get myself into Lani Diane Rich’s works. :) I’m definitely reading the other ones she has. :P

Only Uni (Camy Tang)

Rating: [rate 5.0]

Only Uni (Camy Tang)Senior biologist Trish Sakai is ready for a change from her wild, flirtatious behavior. So Trish creates three simple rules from First and Second Corinthians and plans to follow them to the letter. No more looking at men as possible dates, especially non-Christians. Second, tell others about Christ. And third, she will persevere in hardship by relying on God. And just to make sure she behaves, she enlists the help of her three cousins — Lex, Venus and Jennifer — the only Christians in their large extended family.

But Trish’s dangerously tempting ex-boyfriend, Kazuo the artist, keeps popping up at all the wrong moments, and her grandmother, who has her eye on his family money, keeps trying to push the two of them back together again. Then there’s Spenser, the hunky colleague at work who keeps turning Trish’s thoughts in the wrong direction.

It just isn’t fair! She’s trying to hard, but instead of being God’s virtuous woman, she’s going nuts trying to stand firm against two hunky guys. Trish thought following her three rules would be a cinch, but suddenly those simple rules don’t seem so simple at all.

So I finally got my hands onto this book — much thanks to Camy for her e-group contest and the free books! This book is signed too, so I’m definitely keeping this.

Anyway, so I read the Sushi series out of the original order, and it really doesn’t matter, except if you don’t want to know what happened to Trish at the end of this book. Nevertheless, reading Single Sashimi first didn’t spoil me of the details in this book, so it was still a fun read.

If Lex is kind of boyish and Venus stays away from boys, Trish…well, she embraces them. She’s the flirtiest among all the cousins, and it came to a point that she let her cousins down because she chose a guy over them (that was foreshadowed in Sushi for One?). This time, though, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf by making three rules based on the book of Corinthians. She can do this, right?

If only life were so easy, then maybe everyone could make up a set of rules in their life and avoid sin at all times. But life isn’t like that, and Trish had to learn it the hard way. From a roommate who gets her kicked out of her place to finding a new place that is basically a dump (with mutant mold and discount sinks)  to her ex-boyfriend wooing her again to her hunky colleague and to churchmates who couldn’t understand the way she worships (and there’s more, actually), this book is such a fun read, just like the two other books in the Sushi series. There was never a dull moment, and the faith issues were realistic and tackled head on.

The ending was quite surprising (but of course, since I’m already spoiled, it wasn’t that surprising, but I bet other people would think it is surprising for Christian fiction), but it presents a reality of life, where we have to face the consequences of our actions and be responsible for it. It’s something all Christians — be it a new one or one who has been a Christian all his/her life — should remember.

Oh, and to actually get how the ending happened, you’d have to pay attention to the smaller details in the book. I was kind of surprised when it was sprung on to Trish, but reading the past pages showed that Camy left enough clues about it. :P

So far, out of the entire series, my favorite female character is still Venus, but my favorite male character is Spenser, hands down. He’s second to Kevin Novak from the Ashley Stockingdale series. :D

I’m kind of sad that the Sushi Series is over (save for the novella about Jenn which is exclusive for Camy’s e-group — so join now!), but I can’t wait to read the other things that Camy will write! I’m sure they’d just be as awesome. :D

How to be Single (Liz Tuccillo)

Rating: [rate 1.5]

How to be Single (Liz Tuccillo)Following a disastrous night out that began with steaks and martinis and ended in hospital, Julie Jenson decides that she and her four single friends, Georgia, Alice, Serena and Ruby, are doing something wrong. Between them, there’s more dysfunction and disappointment than she can handle.

So Julie quits her job and sets off to discover how women around the world deal with the Single Life. From proud Parisiennes to intense Italians, ice-cool Icelanders to brazen Brazilians, Julie attempts to learn the secrets of these women’s success.

Will she come back with the answers? Or will her jouney of self-discovery take her in another direction entirely…?

I really wanted to like this book. The title is sassy, and I knew I would be able to relate to it. The blurb seemed interesting enough, and when I saw that the paperback copy is already available at National Bookstore, I immediately swooped in and bought it (and it turns out the book isn’t in their system yet because it can’t be scanned, haha).

Like I said, I really wanted to like it. I promise, I wanted to. But after I got into a few chapters of it, I started to get bored. And I wanted to start strangling the characters — if they had enough life, that is. Why?

  • None of the characters felt real to me. They’re either too flat (Serena) or too extreme (Ruby) or just plain psychotic at some point (Alice/Georgia). The main character is not any help too, I didn’t feel any connection or sympathy to her at all.
  • The story felt too much like Eat, Pray, Love. Traveling around the world to write a book, meeting people and getting to know singles. The last item is not really a part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s goal in Eat, Pray, Love, but that book contained a story of self-discovery. The only self discovery I figured out here is she’s desperate, she fell in love and went into an adulterous relationship with a married guy, and she’s desperate (I’m sure there was also a mention of some sexy lingerie somewhere, but I can’t remember anymore). How about that for self-discovery?
  • The situations just seem…exaggerated. I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just because the entire book went everything I believed in that I had a hard time believing everything. Or I just refused to believe them. I know I’m not their age (35-38), but I hope I’m not that desperate (bordering on pathetic) if I get to their age and their situation.

Maybe I expected too much. Or maybe I shouldn’t really have picked it up anymore. I mean, it’s not like anything I’ve read before, and I’ve never read a book that just dripped of  desperation in almost every page. Like I said, I don’t know how it feels to be in their shoes. But I really refuse to believe that you have to go through all that to know how it is to be single!

But you know what’s funny? The last two pages of the book kind of saved this one for me. I find it funny that it would take them 400 pages for the characters to really accept the first lesson that they all know at the start: love yourself. They were just too convinced that it’s not enough to attract a good guy that they turned to other things. The last two pages somehow made the book almost okay, which is why it gets two stars. If you’d rather not go through the fluff, just read the last two pages and you’ll get the gist of the book.

If you’re feeling a bit…well, sad about your singlehood, I don’t really think it’s much a of a good read (except for the last two pages).

Oh and I just remembered. The writer of the book is also the co-author of He’s Just Not That Into You and a producer of Sex In the City. I haven’t read the other book (or watched the movie yet), and I’m not a fan of SATC, so maybe that kind of influenced my thoughts on the book. There’s the chick lit factor in the book, definitely, but it’s just not my kind of chick lit.

Local Book Reviews

I figured I won’t be able to reach my goal of reading 50 books in 2008 as I’m still at books # 45, 46 and 47 (This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, Fast Food Fiction edited by Noelle de Jesus and Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado respectively), but I figured I should be able to reach my resolution to review 25 books. I removed my progress counter from the previous layout already, but if my count was right, I think I’ve reviewed 20 books already, including the last three ones I reviewed (The Thirteenth Tale, City of Bones and Privileged).

Anyway, the next reviews will be on the local books I picked up late this year. I started reading some local chick lit for research on my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel, and I ended up buying and reading more than I originally planned to. It was…entertaining. It’s interesting to read some local chick lit, and I’m glad there are some, but I wish they’re longer. Reading really thin books makes me feel like I’m not reading anything at all. But then again, who knows about the market here?

Here are the books I’ve lined up for review for this post:

Since they’re all relatively short novels, I thought I’d bunch them up in one post. :) Before anything else, please note that the contents of this post are purely based on my opinion. My opinion is bound to be different than others’, so no offense to anyone. :)

Continue reading Local Book Reviews