BOOK REVIEW: The Cupcake Queen, by Heather Hepler

Released: September 17, 2009 (Dutton Juvenile)
Author Links: WEB / GOODREADS
Source: Library

Challenge: 2012 Mixing It Up – Children’s and Young Adult
Buy Now From: Amazon

A confection of a novel, combining big city sophistication with small town charm. When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny’s life isn’t what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn’t talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there’s Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks almost daily. There are also bright spots in Hog’s Hollow–like Tally, an expert in Rock Paper Scissors, and Marcus, the boy who is always running on the beach. But just when it looks as though Penny is settling in, her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside down again. A sweet novel about love, creativity, and accepting life’s unexpected turns.

My Thoughts

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for any book that might have something to do with food. I absolutely love books that involve cooking or baking, even if they always give me the urge to cook or bake!

I noticed Heather Hepler’s book, The Cupcake Queen, while wandering through the teen section of my public library. I had already picked out a few books to take out, but when I saw the beautiful cupcakes on the cover, I couldn’t resist! Continue reading

ARC REVIEW: How to Cook Like a Man: A Memoir of Cookbook Obsession, by Daniel Duane

Released: May 8, 2012 (Bloomsbury)
Author Links: WEB / GOODREADS
Source: NetGalley, for review
Buy Now From: Amazon

When Daniel Duane became a father, this San Francisco surfer and climber found himself trapped at home with no clue how to contribute. Inept at so many domestic tasks, and less than eager to change diapers, he took on dinner duty. Duane had a few tricks: pasta, stir-fry … well, actually, those were his only two tricks. But he had a biographical anomaly: Chef Alice Waters had been his preschool teacher. So he cracked one of her Chez Panisse cookbooks and cooked his way through it. And so it went with all seven of her other cookbooks, then on to those of other famous chefs—thousands of recipes in all, amounting to an epic eight-year cooking journey. 

Butchering whole lambs at home, teaching himself to make classic veal stock, even hunting pigs in Maui and fishing for salmon in Alaska, Duane so thoroughly immersed himself in the modern food world that he met and cooked with a striking number of his heroes: writing a book with Alice Waters; learning offal cookery hands-on from the great Fergus Henderson; even finagling seven straight hours of one-on-one private lessons from the chef he admires above all others, Thomas Keller. 

Duane’s inimitable voice carries us through, with humor and panache, even through a pair of personal tragedies. Here is a writer who can make chopping an onion sound fun and fascinating. But there is more at stake in his wonderful memoir: In the end, Duane learns not just how to cook like a man, but how to be one.

My Thoughts

I am not the best chef. While my cookbook cabinet houses more than 30 cookbooks, I usually buy them for one or two recipes only. Sometimes I’ll find a cookbook that has many, many good recipes, but even then I’ll only make them once in a blue moon. I tend to prefer simplicity in the kitchen — spaghetti, eggs, soup, etc. I’ve just never had the patience for elaborate recipes, nor do I have the desire to spend all my money on ingredients for a recipe I might not even end up liking. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Friendship Bread, by Darien Gee

Released: April 15, 2011 (Ballantine Books)
Source: Library / Overdrive

Challenge: 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Buy Now From
: Amazon

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.
One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others. 

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.  

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family,Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

My Thoughts

Why, oh why do I read books that make me want to eat? While reading Chocolat, by Joanne Harris, all I wanted to do was eat chocolate. In fact, I found I was savouring the book much like I would a piece of chocolate, just so I could eat more chocolate while reading it! The same went for Darien Gee’s, Friendship Bread.

Just a warning if you want to read this book: Continue reading