03 July 2014

Title: The Great Brownie Taste-Off (Yolanda’s Yummery series book 1)
Author: Lisa Maliga
Publisher: Self-published, 113 Pages (April 30th, 2014)
From: from the author
Format: eARC
Add to: Goodreads
Order a copy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK

Synopsis: Yolanda Carter comes from a family of artisans and lives in her deceased grandparent's cottage in Sherman Oaks, California. She works at a small cat shelter but dreams of owning a bakery. Her friend from high school, Teagan Mishkin, knows that Yolanda needs money and suggests better paying work as a cocktail waitress. The interview takes an unexpected turn and she stumbles across a scheme to close down the cat shelter.

The plan Yolanda concocts may be the only way to save the shelter. Helped by her parents, co-workers and friends, a rising young blogger also takes an interest in her plight. Will she bake the best brownies of her life?

Review: 3.5 stars - I was lucky enough to receive a review e-book from the author for this book. Having read another of her novels and mentioning that I would love to read more about an ‘internal’ storyline in that book, Lisa Maliga has written more about Yolanda’s Yummery and here it is- The Great Brownie Taste-Off.

We meet Yolanda Carter, 26, she works at the Crown Street Cat Shelter; she has a passion for baking and an ambition to open her own “Yummery”. She’s even named her cat Miss Pastry Chef or Mischief for short.
What is a Yummery you may ask? Yolanda’s explanation of a Yummery in the book is “Because I’m going to bake everything there myself and it will be yummy” hence the name, rather than it being a regular bakery.

Yolanda knows that unfortunately her $9 an hour job isn’t going to buy her, her Yummery; so when her friend Teagan tells Yolanda that her boss is hiring bar staff and that they earn $100’s per night, she applies but it isn’t quite what she expected. Thankfully Yolanda comes to an arrangement with the owner Rocky Montoya to do office work instead of front of house. It is here that she finds out the Crown Street Cat Shelter is under threat.
Rocky Montoya who runs Wicked Fun Gentleman’s club is also linked to the Freeze N Bake Corporation who want to change the cat shelter into a storage facility for their frozen baked goods.
To try and save the cat shelter Yolanda suggests a taste-off between her homemade brownies and Freeze N Bake’s brownies. Rocky accepts the challenge- the winner gets the cat shelter.

A few nights later Yolanda has a dream. A black cat (Mr Whiskers, one of the residents from the cat shelter) talks to her in her dream and tells her that at the back of the spice cupboard in her kitchen is a green glass bottle and the contents will make everything taste magical, by only using the smallest pinch. When she wakes, Yolanda checks the cupboard and sure enough there is the bottle from her dream. Yolanda’s mission to save the Crown Street Cat Shelter is now on.
I won’t tell you how the story ends, because then you will know all of the story and i’ve already given away a lot of it. The main question I have to ask is what is the magic ingredient- I am intrigued. I suppose I will have to wait for book 2 to find out.

Yolanda from what I can tell is your average 26 year old; she likes nice things, and is at the stage in her life when she wants to pursue her dreams. I, myself can relate to this. She has been dating her boyfriend Zac for 10 months, and truly wants to believe there’s something there between them, but because he can sometimes be inconsiderate she also doubts the relationship. She is an animal lover, like myself and if I was put in the same situation i’d do anything in my power to save an animal shelter.

Zac- I have to admit from the minute he popped up in the book I disliked him. He annoyed me. He seems very self-centred and he only seems interested in Yolanda because she looks good on his arm and can cook. He doesn’t encourage her to pursue her dreams; he tells her that she should work in a Ralph’s bakery, not open her own Yummery.

The other characters in the book didn’t really leave that much of an impression on me. But you can understand from reading about her parents that Yolanda comes from a creative background- her Mum designs t-shirts and her Dad makes glass objects. She also has creative friends- her friend Heather makes soaps and lotions. I feel that having successful creative people around you would only increase Yolanda’s need to open her Yummery.

I will admit that on reading about the magic ingredient and the talking cat, I thought the story may be going off track and be a little far-fetched; but it soon righted itself.
It was another descriptive but quick and enjoyable read; I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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