Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Second Bite at the Apple by Dana Bate

I'm still on my kick of fun books to read while finishing up my school semester.  I just finished this book today right after I had my last class for the semester!  Now it will take me a few weeks to decompress, then gear up for the Spring semester in January.  I will do my best to read like a fiend.

Meanwhile, let's talk about A Second Bite at the Apple by Dana Bate. If you're a fan of food fiction (or food writing), you will love this book.  If the character of Rick the baker wasn't described as so physically unattractive and chauvinist, I'd want  to marry him just for his baking skills.  I'm pretty sure I can rule out working at a farmer's stand selling baked goods as a future job.  I'd be like the candy-line Lucille Ball of the farmer's market, stuffing food in my mouth in a futile attempt to maintain control. 

Sydney Strauss lives in Washington, D.C.  She's just been handed her pink slip from the television station where she works at a job she hates, with people she can't really stand.  It's not what she wants to do anyway, but once again she feels like a failure at life.  Sydney really wants to be a food writer, but no one will hire her to write about her passion.  A breakup with Zach 5 years previously has given her a complete avoidance of cooking.  They were quite good at creating meals together, and it gave Sydney her passion for food writing.  Now all she has left is a horrendous, visceral reaction to spaghetti carbonara, and plenty of bitterness towards men and love.  

Sydney makes ends meet by working for Rick, owner of the Wild Yeast Bakery.  He travels to local farmer's markets each week and sells amazing breads, cookies, muffins, and pastries.  He's a total crab, a real ass, and a giant complainer.  But his food is amazing.  Sydney meets Jeremy when her friend forces her to go out, and they have a rocky beginning.  Jeremy keeps coming back, and eventually they start to date.  Jeremy has a past that Sydney finds out about, and she questions her choice in men.  Their relationship has plenty of ups and downs, mostly based on Sydney's problem with trusting men.  Oh--did I mention Jeremy is a home brewer, who has a knack for creating pretty awesome beer?  

Things seem to be going slowly, but  pretty well with Jeremy. But Sydney has to make things complicated when she finds out Jeremy is indirectly involved in a huge food world cover-up.  This is her chance to finally have a story in a major newspaper, and jump-start her career as a food writer.  Her decisions are the one thing about Sydney that really, really really  annoyed me.  To the point that I was talking to the book, telling her what an idiot she was; I believe I had a few other choice comments to make to Sydney.  She really does have a problem with her past determining her present decisions.  She makes some really poor choices.  

So.  Did I like this book?  Yes.  Put food in a book and I'm all over it!  I was, and still am, not completely happy with Sydney.  I am a big believer in learning from the past, and moving forward.  Reading a novel about someone who carries her past with her all the time kinda drove me a bit batty.  I would have liked her to have a bit more faith and confidence in herself.  I won't tell you what happens to Sydney, but you'll be satisfied.  And you will love all the food!  And Dana Bate makes me want to jump on a plane to Washington, D.C. in the spring just so I can walk around the city and take in all the sights.  

Available in paperback and e-book.
Rating:  7/10.  The food and city of Washington, D.C. are lovingly described.  Sydney is a complex character that stayed stuck too long on her past for my taste, but otherwise I enjoyed this novel and would probably read more from this author. 

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