There's little to distinguish this novel, but it hits nearly all the notes it aims for, and there's a tidy ending for those...

READ REVIEW

HOW TO BAKE A MAN

In this frothy, food-filled contemporary romance by Inclán (The Beautiful Being, 2012, etc.), the way to the heart is indeed through the stomach.

Desperate for a new direction in life, 27-year-old Becca Muchmore abruptly quits grad school and starts a baking business in San Francisco. This venture introduces her to a circle of customers who become potential friends, lovers and enemies. In particular, she develops an instant crush on preppy lawyer Jeff and encounters opposition from Jennifer, his beautiful but nasty lawyer girlfriend. Fortunately, Becca’s baking skills are so astonishing that everyone clamors for more. She hires her sexy neighbor Sal as her assistant, relying on his charm, good humor and uncanny ability to find parking to expand her business. At the same time, she chases Jeff and spies on Jennifer in an effort to win the love she assumes she wants. In an effort to address deeper issues, Inclán uses a single coincidence as a major theme: Sweet Becca is apparently the spitting image of mean Jennifer. However, this quirk is only intermittently thought noticeable or significant by most characters and in the end seems an unnecessary gimmick. The stock characters—including the boy next door, the perky secretary and the critical mother—break no new ground. It’s clear to the reader from the outset who belongs with whom, and getting to the happy ending requires tolerance for the cast’s unsurprising foibles. However, for readers desiring a more immersive experience, the book does include recipes for each treat mentioned in the story.

There's little to distinguish this novel, but it hits nearly all the notes it aims for, and there's a tidy ending for those looking for a comfort read.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-957627-15-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ghostwoods Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?

Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more