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Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel    by Kathy Cano-Murillo Amazon.com order for
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter
by Kathy Cano-Murillo
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

March is National Craft Month, so what could be a more perfect time for Kathy Cano-Murillo, aka The Crafty Chica, to release her debut novel, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter? I first encountered the Crafty Chica's work in the first volume of the no-longer-in-print Craft magazine. I was drawn to brightly colored flower pots, for which she had provided instructions. This same brightness runs rampant throughout Waking Up in the Land of Glitter.

Carefree Star Esteban has just committed the biggest mistake of her life after a drunken binge fueled by her cousin, Maria Juana: she defaced her somewhat boyfriend's mural at her parents' restaurant, La Pachanga, by covering it in smiley faces. However, being La Pachanga's PR director, she puts a positive spin on it by finally getting Crafty Chloe Chavez, a local celebrity reporter, to cover her family's restaurant and art space.

Chloe has some problems of her own. In order to get ahead as a journalist, she is sleeping with her boss and stuck doing a crafting segment when she hates crafts. Luckily, she has a crafty assistant who supplies her with all of her ideas. With the CraftOlympics finally coming to Phoenix, Chloe sees this as her big break to make it as a national crafting celebrity. In order to get her name out there even more, she joins a committee to make the centerpieces for the big CraftOlympics banquet.

Star has signed up La Panchanga to make the centerpieces and has enlisted her craft-happy friend, Ofie Fuentes, to help out and form a committee. When the committee meets for the first time, it is a disaster as Ofie cannot make a decent craft to save her life, Chloe will not offer any ideas because she hates crafts, and Star looks down on crafts because she does not see them as real art. The only member of the committee who pulls them together is Benecio, a thirteen-year-old handbag designer at odds with his family. Life may not be looking good for these three ladies, but can they pull themselves together to finish the centerpieces on time?

There are some technical problems with Waking Up in the Land of Glitter - mainly instances of telling not showing, which most likely stems from Cano-Murillo's former work as a journalist and non-fiction craft book writer and will improve with experience. However, the larger-than-life characters outshine any negatives. Star's life is full of the ups and downs that make you laugh and cry often at the same time. Chloe starts out as the type of woman that chick lit readers love to hate but then goes on a real journey of self-discovery. Ofie is that best friend we all wish we had, who bubbles over with exuberance and cannot see her own faults, but is too sweet to have her bubble burst.

While the characters go through some real troubles in their lives, Cano-Murillo manages to keep up the beat by interspersing humor like Ofie strews glitter. Personally, I loved how every time Star hangs out with her cousin, Maria Juana, she gets into major trouble what a great running pun! And the scene with Ofie's two chihauhaus is hilarious (but I don't want to say any more and spoil the fun).

If you are feeling crafty, or want to know what the whole craft craze is all about, pick up Kathy Cano-Murillo's Waking Up in the Land of Glitter. By the time you finish, you will be wanting to make some of the crafts mentioned in the book (two of which have instructions at the end). I know I am now dying to go to the only Michaels in my state (which just happens to be the one right by my house) that sells Crafty Chica products and pick up a couple tubes of glitter to have my own glitterific fun!

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