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Karma Girl    by Jennifer Estep order for
Karma Girl
by Jennifer Estep
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

I have discovered a new favorite author! Jennifer Estep's debut chick lit/paranormal romance novel, Karma Girl, is just too funny to put down. The adventures of Carmen Cole will have you laughing, cheering, and rapidly turning the pages until the end (even if it is somewhat predictable).

Carmen Cole's wedding day was ruined when she discovered her fiancÚ in bed with her maid-of-honor a half hour before the ceremony was to begin. More shocking to Carmen than the infidelity, however, was another secret they were hiding from her: they were none other than her small town's superhero and ubervillian: the Machinator and his nemesis, the Crusher. No longer able to trust anyone, Carmen travels the county as a reporter unmasking superheroes and ubervillians everywhere, figuring that what goes around, comes around.

Eventually, her crusade lands her in Bigtime, New York, working for one of the two top newspapers, The ExposÚ, hot on the trail of the Fearless Five and their foes, the Terrible Triad. Little does she know that unmasking one member of the Fearless Five will make her the center of attention for both superheroes and ubervillians, resulting in a kidnapping, death threats, and love from the unlikeliest of sources. Carmen sure has her work cut out for her if she wants to keep spreading around the karma.

Estep makes loving fun of the guy-centered world of superheroes while making women fall in love with them. The names of both superheroes and ubervillians - as well as the names of the regular characters - are full of amusing alliteration. Even companies and cities have over-the-top hokey names that could be found in any comic book. These hilarious tidbits combine flawlessly with Estep's easy-going, smooth-flowing writing, leading to many mini-climaxes as well as the main climax that, although predictable (and what superhero story isn't?), will have the reader roaring for the good guys.

Estep also creates very likeable, even if a little stereotypical, characters. Carmen is a tough but realistic protagonist. Her love interest is super handsome, but also super sweet (if a little bad with words as guys can be). The bad girl is uber bitchy and stuck up. And the catty superhero learns her lesson in the end (which is good since she is the star of Estep's next Bigtime novel). These stock characters are what make comic books, and Estep uses that to her advantage to create a thoroughly enjoyable novel.

Jennifer Estep's Karma Girl is the perfect summer read. While the men are all off watching the latest Spiderman or Fantastic Four movie for the bazillionth time, you can be curled up with the first Bigtime novel, having just as much superhero fun.

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