Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: The Bake-Off

The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 336pp
ISBN-13: 9780451233103

(Received for review from Berkley NAL)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Beth Kendrick on the WEB: website, facebook, twitter

from The Bake-Off

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Suburban soccer mom Amy has always wanted to stand out from the crowd. Former child prodigy Linnie just wants to fit in. The two sisters have been estranged for years, but thanks to a series of personal crises and their wily grandmother, they've teamed up to enter a national bake-off in hopes of winning some serious cash. Armed with the top secret recipe for Grammy's apple pie, they should be unstoppable. Sure, neither of them has ever baked anything more complicated than brownie mix, but it's just pie - how hard could it be?

When the competition heats up, what began as a straightforward pact for victory deteriorates into a sugarcoated free-for-all. Amy and Linnie struggle to rebuild their relationship as family secrets, old betrayals, and new romance arise. Given the right recipe and an unexpected blend of bitter and sweet, even the oddest pairings can produce something delicious.


Beth Kendrick's latest offering for readers is a tale of two sisters. The Bake-Off, takes sibling rivalry to a whole new level. Readers will be enthralled by Kendrick's storytelling ability and her knack for delivering interesting and believable characters. Sister's, Amy and Linnie's experiences in the kitchen and in life will have readers laughing and crying before they turn the last page. With romance, betrayal, old family secrets and some help from Grammy, this book is a hit!

Soccer mom, Amy finds herself wondering if their is more to life than her hum-drum suburban experience, while her sister, Linnie, once a child prodigy is now a high-stakes dealer in a Las Vegas casino. After a huge falling-out over ten years ago the sisters have hardly spoken until a series of events brings them back together again. When Linnie's apartment is broken into and their grandmother's priceless brooch stolen, Linnie tries to win it back in the poker-game of her life. When she fails, Grammy suggests a new idea. Use the family recipe for Apple pie and enter a national dessert competition for a huge cash prize, one catch, she has to enter with Amy as her partner. When the sisters get back together it isn't long before the sparks start to fly. Who knew that the baking world was so cutthroat?

Beth Kendrick's new book, The Bake-Off, releasing today from Berkley NAL, certainly has what it takes to make a great read. From the unique cover design to the overall premise, Kendrick writes with originality and humor that women can appreciate. I will be the first to tell you that women's contemporary fiction isn't something that has come easy for me. I come from a background of reading historical romance and fantasy and the genre has really had to grow on me. But, there have been some authors that have really garnered my interest and given me a new experience with this type of writing and Kendrick is one of them.

Kendrick has a knack for creating characters that women can relate to and want to read about. In The Bake-Off, sisters Amy and Linnie cannot be more different. Amy wants a life that is exciting and full of surprises, while Linnie would rather be in the background, but their everyday lives are the opposite. Amy is a suburban soccer mom, and Linnie is a dealer in a Las Vegas casino. The reader will appreciate the fact that sisters wish for something different in their lives.

Amy is a very congenial character, she seems easy to get along with and just sort of goes with the flow, but underneath she longs for something more. Linnie has had too much of the spotlight because of her high IQ. It's something that has always driven her to extremes. Going against her abilities she is squandering her potential by being a dealer instead of something prestigious like a scientist or a doctor. The differences between the two sisters has always caused problems between them. It's not so much a issue of jealousy, but of sibling rivalry. Kendrick does an excellent job of giving the reader an inside look into this interesting family dynamic. She has crafted a novel that will speak to women who have sisters and those who wish they did. Having a sister of my own, that I tend to argue with a lot, I appreciated the way she dealt with the subject and showed the comical side as well as the bitter side of sibling rivalry.

One of the more fun parts of the book dealt with the competition itself. I really enjoyed how Kendrick gave the reader a behind the scenes look at what goes on behind the closed doors of the kitchen as these kinds of competitions ramp up. With so many people becoming interested in cooking these days, with the advent of The FoodNetwork and celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Curtis Stone, I thought the premise of the story was refreshing and very current. I really enjoyed all to the crazy antics the sister became involved in throughout the competition.

I loved the way Kendrick was able to show how two sisters with very little cooking experience could end up in a competition where they were not only able to make the perfect pie crust, but also resolve issues they had, had with each other since childhood. This book is a great mix of family drama and adventures in the kitchen, with a sprinkling of romance and a pinch of sibling rivalry thrown in. I recommend this one to anyone who is looking for great women's fiction or books that show off the relationships between family members. The Bake-Off is perfect for a rainy weekend or a day at the beach. It's fast paced and full of fun. I loved it and I think you will too!

The Bake-Off is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

Check back a little later today for my Interview and Giveaway with Beth Kendrick for your chance to win a copy of this wonderful book!

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Beth Kendrick is still mastering the Zen art of making piecrust, but she can whip up a decadent chocolate-cranberry cheesecake, and her chocolate-chip cookies have been described as "utopian." Her previous novels include Second Time Around, The Pre-nup, and Newlyweds. She lives in Arizona with her family and a pair of unruly rescue dogs.