I've found a new series to go on my list of favorites! Here's my review for "Cool Beans" by Erynn Mangum.
What do you do when your roommate unknowingly starts dating your ex-boyfriend....your ONLY ex-boyfriend, the one that you (a. dated for 4 years, (b. looked at rings with, and (c. thought you'd marry? And what happens when the guy doesn't even recognize you? Sure, you broke up 5 years ago, but before that you had dated for FOUR YEARS! Do you announce it to your friend and the guy, risking the demise of the relationship before it even begins, or do you keep your mouth shut and act normal? This is the beginning of Maya's super-fantastic-amazingly-awesome and story!
I have to admit: Before I started reading, I wasn't sure if I'd like Cool Beans or not. The synopsis on the back of the book makes it sound like just another take on an over-used sitcom plot. But to my incredible delight, as soon as I started reading I found that I was immediately hooked! The characters are so real and loveable, they truly became my friends, and I really felt for Maya and the awkward situation she got put in.
Maya in many ways reminded me of myself, at times I couldn't even believe it... she thinks so much like I do that if she were real, I feel like we'd be friends! Her sense of humor is awesome, and that allows her to have some amazingly great banter and dialogue with other characters. Jack is great as well; I couldn't help but be amused by his parrot problem! He is such a nice and fun guy, I loved his pet-names for Maya, and also the way he encourages her to do the right thing even when it's difficult. Of course I have to mention Maya's family: they are amusing and authentic, the dynamics between them all are realistically strange! Oh, and Calvin, Maya's pilates-loving beagle...I loved how she talked to him and he always responded with variations of "Roo?" or "Roo!" So funny!
If anyone saw me while I was reading Cool Beans, they must have wondered what was going on, because half the time I couldn't keep the grin off my face. It seems I have the same sense of humor that Erynn Mangum does, because Maya's banter with Jack, and also with Andrew (her pastor) had me cracking up; the fun-slightly-sarcastic tone is just awesome! There were several movies and tv shows mentioned, and I've seen almost all them so I was able to picture the exact scenes that were mentioned, which was really cool. (FYI: Don't worry, if you haven't seen any of the movies, it doesn't matter, it's just a bonus if you have. There were a couple mentioned that I hadn't seen, and I still thought Maya's comments about them were funny.)
For some strange reason this series seems to be marketed towards teens. (I actually had to go to the children's floor of my library to find it, because it's classified as "Young Adult"!) I don't quite understand this, because it technically isn't much different from other Christian Chick-Lit books... the only thing I can figure is that Maya is 24, which is a bit younger than most Christian Chick-Lit heroines. I definitely think teen girls would enjoy it, but the appeal certainly doesn't stop there. I'm 24 and I loved it, and I'm certain that older gals would enjoy it, too. The writing, style, and dialogue do not seem young or simple, and honestly I really feel like it should be grouped with the rest of the Christian fiction in the main adult section. So, to the Teens: yes, you'll like this. And to the Adults: You'll like it too, don't let the "teen" marketing scare you away!
To wrap things up: This book is so fun, I loved it, and I'm anxious to find out what happens in the sequels. Another reviewer mentioned this, but I want to point it out again: As Maya goes through her difficulties and is seeking guidance, the spiritual truths she learns are embedded so masterfully that you actually learn these truths right along with Maya. Some of the stuff really does make you stop and think about things and the way you live your life. One thing in particular that stood out to me is that we are a witness "all" the time, not "only" when we are sharing the gospel, which is a reminder we all need. Yes, I'm serious, there's really some solid content here, and it's all contained in such an amusing and entertaining package. I highly, highly, highly recommend Cool Beans! It's just so "cool!"