What's Cookin'? 06/06/2011
 
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The Kitchen Daughter
by Jael McHenry
272 pages
2011
Fiction ~ Magical Realism

Ginny, a twenty-something chef-extraordinaire finds solace in her family kitchen as a means of avoiding people (she doesn't like them) and the world around her (she doesn't understand it). Often referring to her Normal Book and multiple blogs and websites for advice and cooking information, Ginny lives a quiet life in the safe shelter of her mother and father. When they both pass away in an accident, Ginny must grapple with her world turning upside down, and to cope, turns to the kitchen's familiar scents and tastes. However, she is now able to summon the spirits who created the beloved recipes she holds dear, and these spirits reveal information to her that will change her reality.

I had a difficult time rating this book because I often wasn't sure how I felt about it as I read. I didn't care for Ginny as a protagonist. I know I was supposed to mostly dislike her sister, Amanda, but I generally felt apathetic towards her. As for the secondary characters, I don't feel that they added too much to the story. People are calling this a novel of magical realism, but I don't think it had enough magic in it to warrant this title.

It's a quick read with the smell and taste of food really brought to life by the author's words; for me, this was the best part of the book. Worth a shot if you enjoy foodie fiction.

three stars

 
 
***** Recommended Reading*****

Garden Spells

Published in 2007
290 Pages

This is one of the most pleasant reading experiences I have had lately. Sarah Addison Allen weaves such a beautiful story of two sisters who possess unique abilities passed down through the Waverley generations. The main character, Claire, has a gift that enables her to cook and bake using ingredients from her magical garden to make those eating her dishes feel or act a certain way. Her sister, Sydney, has another gift that she discovers about halfway through the book. We are also introduced to ...more This is one of the most pleasant reading experiences I have had lately. Sarah Addison Allen weaves such a beautiful story of two sisters who possess unique abilities passed down through the Waverley generations. The main character, Claire, has a gift that enables her to cook and bake using ingredients from her magical garden to make those eating her dishes feel or act a certain way. Her sister, Sydney, has another gift that she discovers about halfway through the book, which I will not reveal here. We are also introduced to a bevvy of other interesting characters, many of whom we get to know more through flashbacks. These include the neighbor next door, an old childhood friend, a rival family, a cousin who has an uncanny knack for providing people with gifts they are going to need but don't know for what at the time of receiving them, and an apple tree with a mind of its own. Magical and fun, this story reminded me a little bit of "Practical Magic" but carried a more whimsical tone.

The Sugar Queen

Published in 2008
276 Pages

Not as magical and fun as Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen still tells a good interlocking stories of an overbearing mother, a delicious mail carrier, a gorgeous man who appears to have been drawn with charcoal, a cheating boyfriend, a woman hanging out in a closet, two gals with trendy names, and box upon box of Swiss Cake Rolls mixed with other assorted sweets. Some people will really enjoy the twist ending; others like me (patting myself on the back here) will figure it out long before turning ...more Not as magical and fun as Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen still tells good interlocking stories of an overbearing mother, a delicious mail carrier, a gorgeous man who appears to have been drawn with charcoal, a cheating boyfriend, a woman hanging out in a closet, two gals with trendy names, and box upon box of Swiss Cake Rolls mixed with other assorted sweets. Some people will really enjoy the twist ending; others like me (patting myself on the back here) will figure it out long before turning the final pages.

If you're new to the author, try Garden Spells first.


The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Published in 2010
269 Pages

Addison Allen weaves together yet another wonderful story with magical elements in this tale about "coming home" to Mullaby. You can read the summary on Goodreads, but I would hate to give away any more than that as far as plot, characters, and the magic. Addison Allen has hit a nice stride with the types of books she is writing, and people are certainly responding.

If you liked Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen, this is a sure bet, although Garden Spells is still my favori...more
Addison Allen weaves together yet another wonderful story with magical elements in this tale about "coming home" to Mullaby. You can read the summary on Goodreads, but I would hate to give away any more than that as far as plot, characters, and the magic. Addison Allen has hit a nice stride with the types of books she is writing, and people are certainly responding.

If you liked Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen, this is a sure bet, although Garden Spells is still my favorite!