Undercover Tai Tai by Maya O. Calica.
FINALLY after all my events I have time to review it. Yesss… you know in one sentence how to describe it? ABSOLUTELY FUNNY. Okay, that’s two words and not a sentence but whatever… It’s truly chic lit set around here-ish!
Why “here-ish”? Well, it’s obviously a tai-tai story. One can always jet set and sail away to other islands besides Singapore, non?
I bought it at $17.66 at Times bookstore. I think I went “Darn!!” when I saw the price was $16.50 at Marshall Cavendish… But then I didn’t know about the shipping price so in total, it’s probably the same.
Let’s talk aesthetics first. The book obviously is cute and handsized. Pretty good for your shelves. Paper’s good too and it has a cute paragraph break with a design of a shoe or at the bottom you see Amanda sitting on her chair like how the cover page is. Funky little detail, the title is actually embossed, as in the words pop up! I like it when you feel for the title with your fingers.
All in all, the book doesn’t look like crap which says a LOT since it has mucho effort in it.
The cover artwork however IS very nice!!! It’s actual artwork instead of the vector or stock photo stuff I see nowadays. HEY WHOEVER YOU ARE, I LIKE IT (Well the credits say it’s Ben Quek (MRB) but yeah).
I mean, if you just happened to notice this book review anywho.
One thing bugs me though, most of the tai-tais in the illustration have cucumbers… or some fruit slices stuck to their faces. Look, we get the idea it’s like some spa thingy but the cucumbers are kinda distracting in a “Is that a piece of cucumber or is it a lemon?” kind of way.
Plus, I don’t think you put fruit/vege slices on your face while standing upright cause it usually slides down. I mean, I’ve TRIED it before and it always falls down. 🙁 If it’s the idea of whoever directs you to illustrate it to go fruit-apalooza then I totally understand since it’s always clients first anywho.
NOW ONWARDS TO THE STORY.
It’s full of pop culture and especially if you’re a Singaporean, you’d TOTALLY get it. If you’re not, well you’d STILL get it. Let me type out the blurb since the summary on the website of MC is too brief.
Capoeira-fighting loner Amanda goes through life virtually unnoticed. But when a celebrated tai tai disappears off a luxury cruiser one evening, Amanda’s quiet life is sent into a tailspin.
A chance meeting with brooding intelligence officer Brian is the juggernaut that instantaneously changes her destiny from book researcher to undercover operative, hired to investigate the case of the missing tai tai. With a team of experts to help her- including a crime-fighting chihuahua– Amanda goes about solving the mystery in designer outfits, false eyelashes and high heels.
From smouldering nights at chichi dance clubs to vanity cruises on the high seas- where she meets dashing and oftentimes dangerous men- Amanda sets out on a journey to uncover the truth, and reluctantly, about her own past.
Okay, I have a sorta checklist for chic lit and this book fulfilled these conditions:
– Being quite original
– Hot hero guy (be apprehensive on the guy in the FIRST place and then swoon in the later chapters)
– Hero guy is really nice and has some cool bonus hobby/skill/whatever
– Girl is ridiculous even if she is smart/stubborn/persevering
– MUCHO hot guys
– Tres, tres amusing dialogue with the characters
Actually girl being ridiculous is a must for chic lit. In any case, this story is a bit like Miss Congeniality without the popularity contest but with more tai tais, gadgetry and intrigue!!
There’s an underlying deep story within it regarding Amanda’s family too and herself and it’s a bit “awwitic” once you get to the end and how she realizes her own true self.
Fun fact, I was kinda surprised to see… NEAR sexings (cause there was some interruption of sorts, hohoh read to find out) in this book!! I mean OH HECK YES. It’s the type of near sexings (or not so near) in the other normal chic lit books I read that are by authors not in Singapore.
I mean, OH YES. I was surprised because Singapore is like the land of no sex even if we have the whole make more babies campaign? I mean, you should get the idea. It’s still quite tame comparatively to US/UK books but still! OH GASP!
I liiikes it.
Since this book has the tag “asian chic” (chic as in chic-lit or chic as in suave/cool chic? I’ll never know), hopefully there’ll be more books like these printed?
Lastly, Ms Maya O. Calica, if you’re reading this review or if your friend reads this or whatever, I hope you might have a sequel of sorts because Amanda Tay?
She is utterly cool.