Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: THE PARTICULAR SADNESS of LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender. Two Winners for this one.

I love the cover of this book. It's my favorite color, aqua; combined with the lusciousness of the cake, it pulled me right in. The title intrigued me as well and I settled down to dig into what appeared to be an unusual story. Let's look at how the blurb on the book describes things:

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice.

She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother--her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do-mother--tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. Anything can be revealed at any meal. She can't eat her brother Joseph's toast, a cookie at the local bakery is laced with rage; grape jelly is packed with acidic resentment.

Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden--truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment, Joseph's clash with the world.

Yet as Rose grows up, she realizes there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern.

The first thing I noticed about this book, was the lack of quotation marks. The author doesn't use them anywhere--at all. I guess it's a stylistic thing and initially, I felt like: oh my goodness. I can't read this thing, but after a few pages, I was able to decipher when someone was talking as opposed to thinking so it was okay. Even though I learned to make the distinction, the lack of quotation marks felt like there was a kind of filter between me as a reader and Rose, the protagonist. It had a sort of distancing effect that was irritating and I found myself constantly thinking about this as I read.

The novel starts off rather slowly. Even when it got to the part about how Rose was able to taste her mother's emotions, I wondered for a while after, where the story was going. My interest definitely perked up when I realized Rose had a special fondness for her older brother's friend. Was it platonic or romantic? I was anxious to find out. (Never underestimate the power of romance, writers, to draw a reader in! Lol...)

This story is a quirky, odd telling that utilizes magical realism. It's literary in it's sensibilities and somewhat poetic in it's use of language. The language is rather spare, minimal. I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I have my suspicions about what happened to Rose's brother, but I'm not sure if I'm right! The story doesn't tie up completely neat at the end and left me with questions, but I still found it interesting and a nice study in the use of language.

Two people will have the chance to find out what they think about this rather unusual book and story. If you'd like the chance to receive it, just leave a comment with your email. I won't even require that you become a follower, though I'd be extremely grateful if you did!

This giveaway if open to residents of the US only at publishers request. No PO boxes please.

Thanks to Judy Jacoby of DoubleDay for making the books available.
Winners will be chosen randomly utilizing RANDOM.ORG

Giveaway ends Tuesday July 6th.



  1. Please enter me in.

    stephaniet117 at yahoo dot com

  2. Please count me in.

    teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

  3. Please enter me. ^^

  4. Oooh, count me in!

  5. Sounds super - thanks for hosting! Please enter me!

  6. I have heard so many good things about this book...count me in, too...hee hee hee...

  7. So many wonderful reviews regarding this book. Please count me in.


  8. I would love to read this book—please enter me to win!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  9. This one sounds good! Please enter me for it.

    I do follow on gfc!

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  10. I’d love to enter. This one sounds good.

    I’m a follower.

  11. Already publicly following Writing is a Blessing with Google Friend Connect [Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug}] -- I would love to read THE PARTICULAR SADNESS of LEMON CAKE :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

  12. I would just love to win this book! It sounds so amazingly good!

    I am a follower. :D


  13. I would love to read this.

  14. Please include me in your giveaway.
    Debbie D

  15. This sounds like an awesome book! Please enter me!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  16. I've seen this one and thought it looked fantastic! So glad to hear you liked it.

    foltzsfantasticbooks at

  17. I would love to be entered into this giveaway! I am still following!

    lovemykidsandbooks AT gmail DOT com


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