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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Savor the Moments: The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

  Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, the place to be when you're in the mood for something tasty, and we're not talking about "what's for dinner"...though today we are talking about dessert.

That's right!  Today's spotlight title is a tasty concoction indeed that'll have foodie and fiction fans alike clamoring for their local bookstore...and bakeries.  It came to my attention via Tandem Literary and tempted my reading palette further when I had the great pleasure of hosting a Guest Post from the author a few weeks back.  It spoke of flavors, feelings, and how what we crave or truly satisfies us can say so much.  Sound good?  I know I sure thought so and wouldn't you know it....first impressions were spot on once again.  Ladies and gents, today's book of choice is...

Judith Fertig
About the book...
Claire "Neely" O'Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can "taste" feelings-cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone's inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.

Maybe that's why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she's always dreamed of-and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.

Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.


 First things first, I LOVE THAT COVER!
It's both expected and unexpected at the same time.  How so?  Well, let's see....the title IS dealing with cake, so no surprise that there is one pictured.  The surprises come into play when we find out that it's Neely's signature rainbow cake and that the layers seen are not JUST cake layers but a physical way of seeing the multiple layers of the story we're about the uncover.  From past to present, character to character, passing visitors and lifelong acquaintances, there is MUCH more than meets the eye going on here.  What better way to reveal it all than with a delicious slice of cake perfectly flavored to suit your palette AND personality?  Indeed!

Next up, the characters!
Neely was a great lead, caring and compassionate without being overbearing. I loved seeing the world through her eyes...AND taste buds.  Her talent was unique and as much as I think it would be interesting to experience first hand, I can't help but feel that at times it would be a burden.  Her heart was so heavy at times.  Neely being the person she is, handled it well and even managed to help a few heavier souls along the way.  Luke was...well we'll leave him out of it; definitely not worth the blog space he'd occupy. Ben was frank but honest, a trait often overlooked and underrated. It wasn't the most welcoming set of arms but once inside, you knew you were at home.  Jett seriously had me worried though.  Despite being a decorating warrior (she's sorta goth and a wiz with the icing bag...what would YOU call her?), she had a soft heart and some people take full advantage of it in the worst ways possible.  (*grr*)  Thank goodness she has a fab supportive work family watching her back.  Pickle and Olive on the other hand, were a bit of a mystery.  I was happy to see their story reach an amicable if unexpected end but it was their very existence that had me scratching my head for a while.  Curious?  Let's get to that third and final breakdown...

The story!
At first, I didn't know what to make of the two sisters from the 1800's (that would be Pickle and Olive).  Their story seemed like it made things a bit cumbersome and other than the odd connection of a name dropped once along the way, it was like a separate story altogether.  Good thing patience is a virtue because the pieces didn't start fitting together until around page 202.  That's right.  It's not that the primary tale was of no interest, in fact it was even more eventful than I ever could have guessed, but this secondary thread was dogging me the whole way until finally, it all made perfect sense and once that enlightenment arrived, there was no stopping it.  As for the main story, it wasn't easy, nor a walk in the park, but it was a journey worth taking.  The author made it easy to step into Neely's shoes no matter how little we may want to at times, and by book's end, you feel like you'd be a welcome patron to her up and coming bakery...greeted with a slice of rainbow cake and a cup of hot cocoa.

When all is said and done, it was a delicious story made with many fine ingredients, the biggest dose of which was LOVE.  Love of family (by blood or by choice), love of friends, love of helping others, and eventually of helping ourselves.  It has many forms and flavors, but the common denominator is that we all deserve it in the best way possible.  Recommended for Women's Fiction and Fiction fans alike with no warnings regarding content, but a reminder that you'll be craving sweets by the final page (if not before).


About the Author:

Cookbook author Judith Fertig grew up in the Midwest, went to La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and The Iowa Writers' Workshop, and now lives in Kansas City. Described by Saveur Magazine as a “heartland cookbook icon,” Fertig writes cookbooks that reflect her love of bread, baking, barbecue, and the fabulous foods of the Heartland. Fertig’s food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appetit, Saveur and The New York Times. The Cake Therapist (June 2, 2015; Berkley), is her fiction debut.


Special thanks to Meg at Tandem Literary for the copy for review.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, the publisher, or those promotions on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title is available now via The Berkley Publishing Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!

1 comment:

Tracy Terry said...

Loving your describing one of the characters as a decorating warrior. I'm sure this novel will tempt the taste-buds of all those readers into foodie fiction.

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