Book Review – ZEN QUEEN by Kirsty McManus

Zen Queen Synopsis

Zen Queen by Kirsty McManusJess Harper’s personal life is a mess. She hasn’t had a haircut since 2006 and she doesn’t have time to find better friends than the self-centred associates she’s had since University.

And instead of searching for love, she’s settled for ‘friends with benefits’ status with one of her buddies. Yet none of that matters, because professionally she’s living the dream, and has just scored a highly coveted assignment in Japan with the promise of a promotion on her return. But when she arrives in Japan, instead of the smooth integration she anticipated, Jess finds herself wrongfully fired, abandoned and broke in a country where she doesn’t speak the language.

Now she must rebuild her life and clear her name. But the friendly locals and allure of the ex-pat lifestyle soon have her reconsidering her priorities and challenging her views on climbing the corporate ladder. With a new job as an English teacher and the temptation of her cute (but already attached) roommate, Jess discovers that although life doesn’t always turn out as planned, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. (Amazon)


I’ll admit, it was the super cute cover art that sold this local author’s review request for me. Although Kirsty McManus’ debut novel is titled Zen Queen, do not for one minute expect her leading lady to have things under control… Oh no, she is a hapless single who stretches your average run of bad luck to extraordinary levels to comic effect.

In Zen Queen Kirsty McManus delivers an escapistic romantic comedy without pretense.

While I did not wholeheartedly identify with protagonist Jess Harper, she’s quite unlike me actually, there were enough character traits in both her and the ensemble cast that resonated sufficiently to hold my interest. In particular I think it was the leading lady’s unbridled sarcasm, and at times, an almost slapstick comedic element that I found oddly compelling. After somewhat of a slow start, the story builds well to a satisfying conclusion. There are characters to love, characters to hate, wild goose chases and karma aplenty.

Just like its leading lady Jess Harper, Zen Queen does not take itself too seriously – it is chick lit pure and simple. If what you are lucky for is some light-hearted entertainment on the back of some good natured culture clash humour, Zen Queen could be the novel for you.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5

BOOK DETAILS: Zen Queen (Amazon); Zen Queen (B&N)

Genre: Chick Lit, Drama, Romance, Humour

Author Information: Kirsty McManus was born in Sydney, Australia and moved to Queensland when she was 14. When she was 25, she lived in Japan for a year with her partner Kesh and worked as an English teacher. This was the inspiration behind her novel Zen Queen. She also spent a year in Canada and then settled back down on the Sunshine Coast in 2008. She now writes part time while designing websites and looking after her young son.

– See Kirsty McManus personal blog and the website dedicated to the novel Zen Queen

* My receiving this ebook for free from the author did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions having read the novel.