Monday, July 26, 2021

Review: Where There's A Whisk by Sarah J. Schmitt

If you're a fan (or sometimes fan) of cooking shows, today's review might just be for you. I saw the title and read the blurb, and had to get my hands on this one. It's a young adult novel (teen cooking competition), so that seemed original to me.

Grab those aprons and let's take a peek! 

by Sarah J. Schmitt
Running Press Kids
Young Adult Contemporary
400 pages

OCTOBER 5th!!!

Life is what you bake it.

Peyton Sinclaire wants nothing more than to escape her life as a diner waitress in her small, North Florida town and attend culinary school. Top Teen Chef, Food TV's new show that pairs reality TV drama with a fast-paced culinary competition, is her ticket out of her boring future. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make her dreams come true and Peyton is determined to prove to herself, and the world, that where you're born does not determine where you can go. However, once on the show, Peyton quickly discovers that there is more to the competition than just a well-seasoned dish. 

As things start to heat up on and off the set, Peyton will have to prove to the judges that she deserves to win while trying to untangle what is real and what is scripted drama, and decide what she is willing to risk to win before her dreams end up on the chopping block.



Mix several cups of drama with a tablespoon of showtime pizzazz and a pinch of romance to get a mix of nerves, concerns, mistrust and simple fun.

Peyton can't believe she was chosen to participate in the first Top Teen Chef cooking show. The prize, a scholarship to a culinary university, is the only way she believes she can escape her otherwise difficult life. But not only her past becomes a part of the show's scripted drama, but the relationships with the other contests are throwing loops she'd rather avoid. Still, she may not be able to if she wants to win the show.

I grabbed this one up with very high hopes, and while this wasn't quite as good as I was wishing it might be, it still held its own. The novel starts at the cooking show, a few moments before Peyton makes her first walk out into the spotlight. Her confusion and nerves are clear as she meets her contenders one by one for the first time. That this isn't only a cooking show but a reality show, the cameras follow them everywhere, the contestants live together, and scenes (faked as also real) play a role. It's cooking with a huge heap of drama...and that's why it wasn't as I'd hoped.

In the first part of the book, we do see Peyton cooking a bit and hear her thoughts as she chooses her recipes. The actual cooking is summed up pretty fast (which it needs to be to avoid boredom), and it is fun to picture her working through the kitchen with the different themes and difficulties. Unfortunately, the cooking only stays front and center during the first part of the book and slowly fades into the background as the drama of the set takes over. Now, drama is necessary to hold the plot. But there are so many plot threads weaving along...or possible plot threads is a better term.

There a many characters, which each bring a different background and twist, but they pop in and out without ever gaining much depth. Peyton has a tough past, but it's basically ignored. Her 'enemy' during the show is never fleshed out or the problem really addressed. The romance is superficial. Friendship is a glance. Even the difficult judge is there as required but without reason. This book could have gone in so many directions and it took none of the paths. What was left was an entertaining read but it lacked any depth...which is too bad because it could have been an awesome read.

Still, I wouldn't say this one isn't worth picking up. It's an easy read with a very quick pace, tons of humor, enough tension to keep those pages turning, and Peyton is a character to like. I did enjoy reading this one and read it in one sitting. It just that it was good when it could have been great.

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