Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Desert Wedding by Penny Kim (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Penny Kim, author of Desert Wedding!

Author Guest Post

Story Behind Desert Wedding
By Penny Kim

Desert Wedding is a riff on the classic chick-lit wedding story. It takes on the, oftentimes bizarre, rites of passage that come with getting engaged and married, told through the lens of two best friends—Elsie and Res—living in Phoenix, Arizona.

Res works a retail job and has been engaged for about a year to her finance, David. She starts off very passive and accommodating but the process of planning her wedding brings out her stubborn side. Her partner in crime and best friend is Elsie, a rising star in Arizona government. Elsie is rough around the edges with a biting wit, and it’s difficult for her to maintain objectivity when it comes to some to the vapid rituals associated with weddings. Elsie’s boyfriend Jonah is almost the female version of Res, very quiet, patient, and accommodating. But Elsie’s strong personality may be too much for him, and the book takes you through a critical point in their relationship.

After planning my own wedding I had a very clear sense of why I needed to write this book. There is so much friction that goes on during this process and at the end I realized it was all a necessary part of the experience. The arguments aren’t really over the invitations or the flower arrangements but about your role as a part of a new, emerging family. I wanted to write about that journey. We like to hide the friction and focus on the window dressing, but it’s really that friction that can make a wedding such a life-changing event. These characters are exaggerated fragments of personalities from my life. Certain characteristics of Res, for example, are based off of someone very familiar to me. Elsie is my shrew, a compilation of women I’ve run into over the years who have a take-no-prisoner attitude. It was a challenge at times to make her likable, but I think her relationship with the sweet, accommodating Res is an important one. It teaches her to catch flies with honey and soften up some of her aggression.

The book is definitely a love letter to Phoenix, the hot spots, the activities—these girls do a lot of shopping. It’s an outdoor culture, despite the heat, and the climate is always a huge topic of conversation. I spent some time in the southwest and wanted to capture the resort-like culture that permeates the area.

Phoenix is where these girls found the freedom to live independently. This is the city they are building their careers in, their reputations. I think it means something to them to be able to find enjoyment in their careers but also in their chosen city. Their jobs are also an integral part of the book. These girls are in the 20s, very focused on their careers. Phoenix is bursting with opportunity and these girls are making their mark and defining who they are at work. It’s a time in my life I remembered well and wanted to retell.

About The Author

Penny Kim is a Washington, DC lurker and resident of Alexandria, Virginia. She is active in several area book groups that span several genres, from murder mysteries to chick lit and beyond. Currently working on her second book, her debut novel Desert Wedding is a compelling coming of age story for the Millennium generation.

Penny Kim ~ Desert Wedding ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Pump Up You Book!

Book Review

Desert Wedding by Penny Kim
Publisher: Story Girl Press 
Publication Date: July 29, 2012
Format: Paperback - 210 pages / Kindle - 347 KB 
ISBN: 0988804816
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Desert Wedding

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

There is nothing more exciting than when your best friend gets married. And for Elsie McKenna, it seems like she’s got the maid of honor thing figured out. But as the big day date gets closer and wedding planning takes over, Elsie’s friendship with the bride-to-be, Res, begins to go downhill. To make matters worse, Elsie’s boyfriend, the long-suffering Jonah, becomes increasingly distant. It’s not too soon before Elsie begins to wonder if there’s something in the air in Phoenix, or if it’s just a nasty case of wedding fever.

Book Excerpt:

"Wait, why haven't you mentioned this before?" Res stopped helping Elsie fold the clothes and was now looking at her with a little furrow in her brow. "I feel like I don't know you sometimes," Res continued, pulling more clothes to her. "I tell you everything and I thought I knew everything about you and Jonah."

Page 101

My Book Review:

Desert Wedding is an entertaining story about two twenty-something best friends, who are caught up in the frenzy that comes with wedding planning. Res Mba is the sweet bride-to-be who starts out calm and collected when it comes to the details of her wedding, only to feel the pressure build from differences in opinions from her fiance and their families. Elsie McKenna is Res' maid-of-honor, she's a no-nonsense, tell it like it is kind of girl, who steps in and helps with the wedding plans, even when she has a relationship commitment phobia due to a failed engagement. As the wedding plans continue and the walk down the aisle gets closer, both Res and Elsie deal with issues and obstacles in their lives that make them go just a tad bit crazy ... can it be the Phoenix desert air or a case of wedding fever?

In her debut novel, author Penny Kim weaves a fun story written in the third person narrative, set in Phoenix, about two twenty-something best friends who are making their mark in the world and going through the timeless rite of passage into womanhood with engagements and weddings. The reader follows Res and Elsie as they journey down the path of planning Res' perfect wedding filled with obstacles and issues that come with the process of planning that special day. These sassy ladies are total opposites: Elsie is snarky, self-absorbed and brash; Res is gentle and goes with the flow ... but as the wedding planning process proceeds it brings twists and turns that keeps the reader entertained and turning the pages. As the story unfolds, the reader gets the inside scoop into Elsie and Res' lives: Elsie's commitment phobia, Res' in-law issues, their careers, and of course the ups and downs of wedding planning.

With a quirky cast of characters; engaging dialogue and interactions; a rich description of the setting that reads like a travel guide for everything Phoenix; and a fun wedding planning quote/factoid at the beginning of each chapter; Desert Wedding is a classic chick lit story with a humorous twist that is an entertaining and lighthearted read that every chick lit fan will surely enjoy!



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