Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit, by Jessica Tom {ends 12/15}

And I looked up those acronyms I'd seen on Jake's reservation sheet, to see what lay on the other side:

LOL: Lots of Love
SFN: Something for Nothing. Typically an appetizer or dessert.
Bubbles: Champagne upon Arrival.
WFM: Welcome from Manager.
And then, the term that encompassed them all: PX. From the French. 

Personne Extraordinaire.

Even as I grew tired, that knowledge strengthened me. By the time I heard the birds singing and the sun had crept up in the sky, I had something to hold on to. Knowledge, authority, direction. And a goal: to become an extraordinary person.

Tia Monroe is a Yale graduate who decides to go to NYU for her Master's degree. She doesn't get in to her top internship choice, with Helen Lansky, a renowned cook and cookbook writer; instead, she gets to work at coat check at a restaurant that she doesn't even remember applying to. So when an interesting offer comes her way, from the New York Times restaurant critic, at that, she decides to accept it.

Official synopsis:
Food whore (n.) A person who will do anything for food.

Fresh out of college, Tia Monroe has every intention of taking the New York City restaurant scene by storm. But after a coveted internship goes up in smoke, Tia’s suddenly just another food lover in the big city.

Yet everything changes when Michael Saltz, a legendary New York Times restaurant critic, lets Tia in on a career-ending secret: he’s lost his sense of taste. Now he wants Tia to serve as his palate, ghostwriting his reviews. In return he promises her lavish meals, a boundless cache of designer clothing, and the opportunity of a lifetime. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Tia agrees.

Within weeks, Tia’s world transforms into one of glamour and luxury: four-star dinners, sexy celebrity chefs, and an unlimited expense account at Bergdorf Goodman. Tia loves every minute of it…until she sees her words in print and Michael Saltz taking all the credit. As the veneer of extravagance wears thin and her secret identity begins to crumble, Tia is faced with what it means to truly succeed. In a city where “making it” is the ultimate goal, Tia will have to decide: how far is she willing to go for the life she craves?


I'm a huge foodie and I loved all of the meals that Tia got to eat throughout this novel, as well as all of the 5-star NYC restaurants she ate at (most of which, I'm assuming, are fictional). A friend of mine used to live in NYC (she also attended NYU for her Master's, coincidentally) and when I would visit her there we would have the best meals; everything was so good.

The premise of this book was intriguing, as well: the NYT food critic (Michael Saltz) recruits her to be his taster, essentially, since his taste buds have gone - perhaps as a side effect of smoking? we never find out why - which, as you may figure out, makes it extremely difficult for him to do his job. Saltz is very rich, and he lures Tia in which promises of her words in the NYT (under his byline, of course) and access to his expense account at Bergdorf Goodman.

I enjoyed this novel a lot, although some things seemed to come almost too easy to Tia. At first she was a little hard to like - she had her 15 minutes of fame about these fantastic cookies she makes, and in my opinion she expects things to come easy to her in NYC too - but after a few chapters, I started to like her. Near the end of the novel, too, things seem to fall into place pretty easily; she ends up getting everything she wants.

My other small issue with this book is some of the writing. When Tia first meets Michael Saltz, she recognizes him, and the novel said she "snapped" or "yelled" at him. I'd understand that she might lose her cool since he's pretty famous, at least in her world, but if you recognize someone like that - even under the circumstances, where had had (accidentally?) tripped her, and her homemade cookies had flown out of her hands and onto the street - you definitely wouldn't yell at them.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this book, which was Jessica Tom's debut novel, and I'm looking forward to her future novels.

3.5 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a paperback copy of Food Whore!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, December 15th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Food Whore book

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