Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book Review - Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette

Title: Simply from Scratch
Author: Alicia Bessette
Year: 2010
Page: 304
Genre: Fiction - Chick Lit

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Probably not
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
Rose-Ellen ("Zell") Carmichael Roy wears her late husband Nick's camouflage apron even when she's not in the kitchen. That's her widow style. Simply from Scratch is a radiant celebration of friendship and the strength of the human spirit.
It's been over a year since Nick died tragically during a post-Katrina relief mission in New Orleans. Long enough, according to the grief pamphlets, to have begun to move on with her life. But Zell is still unable to enter her attic, which is full of Nick memories. She hasn't even turned on her oven because cooking was Nick's chore. That is, until she decides to enter the first annual Desserts that Warm the Soul baking contest, hoping to donate the grand prize to Katrina survivors in Nick's memory.

Meanwhile, Zell's nine-year-old neighbor, Ingrid Knox, is learning to cope with the loneliness of growing up without a mother. With an imagination as big as her heart, Ingrid treasures her doting father but begins to plot how she will meet the woman who abandoned her so many years ago. When an embarrassing baking mishap brings Zell and Ingrid together, they form an unlikely friendship that will alter both of their lives forever. Together, and with the help of a lively and loveable cast of friends and family, Zell and Ingrid embark on winning the Desserts that Warm the Soul contest - and learn that through the many sorrows and joys of life, with a little bit of flour and a pinch of love, anything is possible.

First Sentence:
I knot Nick's camouflage apron under my boobs, unable to remember the last time I wore a bra, or preheated the oven.  

Why did I pick this book?
Charolette's Web of Books highly recommended this novel (see her review here) and the premise intrigued me.

My thoughts:
  • Well for those of you who followed my blog, would know that I am not into chick lit at all. Usually I can't identify with the protagonists, and the plots are typically too predictable (hence I enjoy reading murder / mystery / thrillers much more). However, work and home life was getting a bit busy, so I wanted to read something a bit lighter. Plus there were something I have in common with this protagonist (Zell) - she and I both don't cook/bake, and I want to learn to cook/bake more - I thought I'd give this a try. Plus it would add another book to my Take Another Chance challenge.
  • Let's start with the positive - I like the cover, it's cute. And since I'd lived in Australia, Ugg boots have a soft spot in my heart even though I don't own a pair (more of a "want" than a "need", since they aren't quite suitable to wear outside in Minnesota winter). It was also a pretty fast read, and despite the potentially depressing subject (grieving widow), it was a "light" read for me. And the little girl (Zell's neighbour) in the book, Ingrid, was quite cute. Oh, I also like Zell's name (better than Rose-Ellen).
  • As I described what I don't like about the book below, there may be some **** SPOILERS ****. So readers beware!
  • Well, it turned out, Zell and I didn't have much in common even though we're about the same age and both don't like to cook/bake (apart from that she was widowed and I am happily married). I mean, if you have never baked before, and you wanted to enter into a baking contest, wouldn't you at least try to bake a few things by using others' recipes or learn what baking powder / baking soda etc do, before developing your own recipes? Zell pretty much just combined whatever ingredients she had at home and was all disappointed when the recipe failed. Duh. 
  • I got that she loved her husband, but her marriage seemed too perfect that it didn't seem realistic. I also really couldn't feel her grieve - sure the author attempted to demonstrate she was grieving, but I felt it was too superficial. It was more like "yes I know she's grieving because she is supposed to be grieving - she lost her perfect husband at a young age unexpectedly" - rather than really felt her emotion. I'd read other books about loss, and I physically could felt their heartbreak - I cried and my heart ached for them. Not so in this book
  • I also couldn't quite get why she blamed her friends who were so supportive?
  • I also didn't get why her sister wanted her to paint a mural of Zell, Zell's husband, the sister, and the sister's husband, onto the sister's bathroom wall?!?! Kinda creeped me out to have them staring at you as you used the bathroom... 
  • So, overall, I got a bit bored with the book... and what happened toi the dog? And so what if she wasn't wearing a bra all the time and her friends could tell... and if she said BALLS one more time... 
  • Okay, **** END SPOILERS **** enough venting. I guess I am just too picky when it comes to chick lit. For some reasons I couldn't just enjoy this genre without being critical. So I don't think it's really the author's fault, it's just me who don't like this genre (or chick flicks). But hey at least I finish it.

    Overall Rating: 2 Stars

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading
    Take Another Chance

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