I've been in a food memoir phase for several years now. I can't get enough of them. There's not as much food fiction out there but I'm hopeful this is about to change. A couple of years ago TLC Book Tours contacted me to review Erica Bauermeister's The Lost Art of Mixing, which I loved. Because of this, I came to straight to mind when they began setting up the book tour for Jessica Barksdale Inclan's How to Bake a Man. (Deal alert: only $2.99 on Kindle right now.) Giveaway details at the end of this post.
How to Bake a Man is an enjoyable chick lit read.We follow Becca through a mid-20s crisis, which results in her throwing off others' expectations and starting her dream job. Becca figures out her small business as she goes with the help of her mother and quirky neighbor Sal. This alone was a promising premise but then things became complicated as we meet the law firm employees where Becca sells her baked goods. Yes, there's a love interest. Yes, that love interest is dating the woman from hell. Yes, that doesn't deter Becca from developing her crush.
(Here I need to say I'm tired of plotlines where the hero or heroine is in a relationship with someone else, especially when that someone else is so obviously horrible, and especially when it appears the reader (or viewer- I'm looking at you, Hallmark Channel) is supposed to root for infidelity.)
Each chapter starts out with a description of a cookie or other baked item. Both the description and the treat play a role in the ensuing pages and was one of my favorite parts of the book. Bonus: the recipes are included in the back of the book. I also liked Becca's wry observations about dating, which I greatly related to.
"I always say," my father goes on, "that when all else fails, go to the movies. You never know what you'll find."
I stare at them, wishing they had another story, one that didn't involve a chance encounter. One that involved years of painstaking internet dating or a pen pal correspondence while Marcie was in jail, on death row for killing the second wife with the rope in the library. But it wasn't anything more than the miracle that all those around me seemed to be experiencing.
"I'll take your advice," I say, my voice a weak monotone. "The movies."
I had a hard time putting it down. I liked seeing Becca follow after her dreams and how this set into motion a bunch of other positive changes into her life. Very encouraging to me as I'm the middle of my own transition season. I liked the character development that occurs with her mother and neighbor Sal. The eventual love interest is an unexpected choice but it works.
In the spirit of honesty, I give this book 3 stars. I liked it. But there were a few minor snags.
Becca has quirks and neuroses. She is 27 years old but seemingly an immature 27. I kept wondering if I was viewing my own mid-20s with rose-colored glasses but I couldn't see myself or my friends in Becca. I often didn't understand her decisions or the way she related to certain people in her life. But maybe I'm just persnickety.
Like I said, I couldn't put it down and that's just the right kind of effect chick lit should have. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to make some Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies.
To learn more about Jessica Barksdale Inclan, visit her website.
TLC Book Tours is giving away 1 copy of How to Bake a Man. This giveaway is open to everyone! The giveaway will end next Thursday October 30 at midnight. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be selected. To enter, please leave a food-related comment: your favorite cookbook, food memoir, thing to eat, etc.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. You can see other book tour participants here. Affiliate links included in this post.