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Review: Waking Up In The Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo

When I am not crafting my heart out on one project or another, you can find me with my nose in a book.

So when I heard about Kathy Cano-Murillo (aka the Crafty Chica) writing a novel I was intrigued. I have never read a fiction book about crafters because I’ve yet to see one that interested me. This book had me with the promise of glitter, friendship, a happy ending, and heroines with Hispanic heritage like myself. How could I not be interested? I pre-ordered a copy at Amazon.com and went back to crafting…

Several days ago my copy of Waking Up in the Land of Glitter arrived, and I couldn’t help but dive right in. The cover (which is actually glittered in spots) beckoned me to open up and dive into the world of Kathy’s creation. I was enthralled with Kathy’s ability to embellish and describe each scene with such care. She really sucked me into the world of her book, which is set in Phoenix, though I was put off by the characters initially.

Star is a curvy, young, colorfully dressed artist who views crafting as something that’s beneath her. Her best friend Ofie is an obsessed crafter who tries a little bit of everything with heart and enthusiasm. Ofie is a plump stay-at-home mother with a tight budget who has uncontrollable urges to buy crafting supplies and spends more time crafting than doing anything else. To round out the craftista trio, there was the thin, angry, selfish TV personality “Crafty” Chloe. Chloe, though on camera loves all things crafty, has some dirty secrets and is building up some seriously dark karma.

The premise is really that Star digs herself a big hole and winds up in a lot of hot water with her family, job, and just about everywhere else with her flighty “take no responsibility for myself and finish no project” attitude. Bottom line? She has to craft hundreds of table centerpieces for the upcoming Craft Olympics, sort out her life, and figure out what she’s going to do with 350lbs of German glass glitter sent to her by mistake (vs the 3.5lbs she ordered).

To me, crafting is like a big, warm, gooey fudge brownie. It makes me feel good and I love to share. I’m not the best housekeeper or cook, but when I craft, I feel like a superstar.

That’s a line from Ofie in the book that I just love. As a crafter, I loved that the book centered around women whose lives were wrapped up in the craft world. The Spanish (and Spanglish) endearments and words sprinkled throughout the book made me smile. I heard and saw so much of my Hispanic Aunts in some of the supporting characters, and I loved that. If you didn’t grow up with Spanish in your house you’ll still know what she means because Kathy has thoughtfully included a glossary at the end of the book for reference.

What I loved most is her artful use of language. I could see the sparkle of the high quality glitter, feel the Arizona heat, and share the passion Star had for creating something special.

Hunched like a crafty surgeon about to perform a double-collage bypass, she snipped… She affixed the picture to a piece of thick red glittered foam board mounted inside the cigar box. The side panels glistened with the vintage glass glitter and the border’s edges shimmered from two rows of ruby crystals.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of crafting. So many parts made me smile or laugh aloud. While it seems like a super light read on the surface, each character has serious issues, flaws, and problems to work out. I loved the richness of her characters and how vividly I could envision everyone and everything.

Despite all my praise for it, I do have two issues with this book, however:

  1. Some hard stuff is too convenient in resolution and we’re told but not shown the conflict. I felt there were a few parts to the book (I will not specify so as not to spoil it!) where things worked out too neatly, too easily, and too simply for the sake of moving the plot along. I also felt that I was often told that someone was fragile, kind, angry, selfish, or some other character trait or emotion rather than shown. I prefer to decide someone is sweet based on her actions rather than just being told and having the author move along.
  2. There were too many points of view. This story was told from at least seven points of view in total (although some of those only popped up once or twice and for very short periods), and it pulled me out of the story as I stopped and figured out whose voice I was hearing this time. I would have preferred to read just from our three heroines’ perspectives.

What my issues truly boil down to is that Kathy had me entranced in her world, but I couldn’t get emotionally invested in her characters nearly as much as I’d have liked. Things were moving along so quickly that I just didn’t feel the struggles like I felt I could have. Am I being picky? Absolutely! As a woman who reads a minimum of fifty novels a year I have a lot of expectations and I know what makes a work of fiction great to me.

My hope is that she continues writing novels that are as beautifully detailed as this one and that she continues along this path. I cannot express how much I enjoyed her way with words – she’s truly a crafty chica with words as well as paper and glue. I enjoyed my time in the land of glitter, and I am now itching to build a shrine as described in my above quote and all over the book. Assemblage is an art form I’ve never held much interest in but I’m sitting here barely able to contain myself from making some kind of shadow box piece right this minute. Better yet, she has some crafty instruction at the end of the novel to help me get started.

Crafty fiction that inspires me to go create and has my head spinning with ideas? Yes please! This book is a WIN for sure.  This novel gets a thumbs up from this crafty girl.

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel by Kathy Cano-Murillo is currently available in paperback at Amazon.com.

Editor’s note: Scrapbook-themed fiction has been a growing market segment. For previous articles on the topic by Scrapbook Update, see:

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