Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson + Make it a Gift


Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER.
Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.

But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember…


Review: I read this book right before the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon which was a nice way to get me in the mood for some holiday reads. Bella's Christmas Bake Off is almost like a Hallmark film just in book form. I love holiday themed Hallmark movies, however, so I did enjoy this one overall.

Amy Lane and Bella Bradley used to be best friends growing up, until Amy betrays Bella and she never sees her again, except for an occasional holiday card in the beginning. Years later, Amy has been left by her husband and her twin kids are away at university. Bella is a famous TV personality who is the Queen of Christmas in England. Despite the past, Amy still tries to reach out to Bella by sending a holiday card each year with a recipe that her mom created. Amy and Bella grew up baking with Amy's mom and Amy thinks this might be a way of getting Bella to finally talk to her about the past (we don't know what Amy did until well into the story). However, Bella announces on her show that she's releasing a cookbook of her mother's recipes, and Amy realizes that Bella took the ones she had sent to create a book. Amy, of course, is furious.

The official summary gives you the overall idea of the book and I just went through and summarized a bit more in the paragraph above, so for now, I'll just get into it:

Amy is quite humorous and someone you feel you can relate too and feel for, especially when her husband walks out on her own for a younger girl. Bella, on the other hand, is harder to understand. Even in Amy's memories, Bella is a bit of a brat. However, her parents weren't really around or there for her, and Amy's mom was pretty good at tempering Bella's moods. You can see how they were almost a little family and why Amy misses that since Bella won't talk to her and her mother has passed away.

Of course, like any Hallmark film, things do start to get better for both ladies. There is a big lesson of "don't judge someone by their outsides" when it comes to the characters in the book. It's nice, if not a bit overstated sometimes. That's probably my main issue with the book. Amy seems to repeat herself quite a bit, especially in the beginning, and I just wanted to yell "get on with it!" As Amy reunites with Bella, though, things pick up more. There is more humor, as well as happy moments. There are also some secrets that were easily picked out by me, but it doesn't really affect the story either way since it's not a mystery book.

Overall, this was a fairly quick holiday read. I like that it took place in England, since it's nice to read books in other countries!


If you were to gift someone this novel, I would suggest adding the following to really make it a gift:

Bake Your Own Party Gift Basket from Kohl's: As I write this, the basket is on sale. However, the original price was $44.99. I would suggest buying this and adding the book in the basket if it's on sale. However, if it's around $45 then you might be better off shopping for some of these products individually and creating your own basket! At any rate, a fun baker's collection of items is perfect with this novel!

18 comments:

Cleo Bannister said...

What a genius idea Lauren a book tie-in - there is a program that is huge here in the UK called the Great British Bake Off (sounds lame but young and old alike all watch) which I think was possibly the inspiration for the title.

Christy LoveOfBooks said...

This seems like a fun book. I'd be pissed too if she did that, but I'm sure it all works out.

Lexxie Lin said...

The books sounds great, Lauren, and you know I love anything food-related in my stories :) It's a great idea to give the book as a gift with some items for baking as well!
Have a terrific Thursday and happy reading.
Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

Medeia Sharif said...

I love British settings. This looks like a charming read.

Jennifer Humphries said...

i just adore books where baking is one of the important elements! I guess that means I love food waaay too much!

Kindlemom said...

I too love the Hallmark movies (not just holidays but most of them LOL!) so I think I would like this just as much as you did. Great review!

Brandi Kosiner said...

Aw hallmark feel to it? Sounds good to me

Tracy Terry said...

Another possibility for the Christmas reading challenge I'm doing. There are so many great festive books around.

Loving what you have done combining the book with the basket of bake your own goodies. Ideal for the bibliophile who likes to bake. I'd sit reading whilst Mr T got down to being creative in the kitchen.

Books And Authors Spot said...

Amy sounds like such a nice character and this book is giving me little bit vibe of Angels by Marian Keyes!
Haniya
booknauthors.blogspot.com

Heidi Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I had a couple of those Hallmark type reads myself during the read a thon, and I know what you mean, I liked them but then I had issues. What a cute gift idea. Thanks for sharing.

Irene Thayer said...

Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing:)

irenethayer.com

Lola R said...

Those christmas reads are awesome to get you in the mood for christmas. I like the sound of the bake-off. That's interesting that what Amy did stays a secret till well into the story. I really like your gift tips with how you can combine a book with a gift that fits the book. Baking products sound like a great addition to gift with this book.

Bec Reader said...

This books sounds like it could be hilarious! And maybe something I'd like to watch as a movie haha

It'd be cool if it had the actual recipes in it too, so you could make the stuff they talk about in the book

Midnight Cowgirl said...

Sounds like a cute holiday read, and I love anything to do with baking :)

The Bibliophile Babe said...

British settings are always fun!

Nicole Hewitt said...

Sounds cute! And I love the basket idea!!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Lindsey said...

This sounds like a perfect book for this time of year. :) And I love your idea of pairing it with the baking basket for a gift!

Lindsey

Lisa @ Lost in Literature said...

I love the sound of this!! And it would definitely make a FANTASTIC Christmas gift!!! I wish my family gave books and bookish goodies as gifts. :)