A Second Bite at the Apple

Author: Dana Bate

Publisher: Kensington Books

Release Date: November 25, 2014

Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 + RR


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Sydney Strauss' dream has always been to become a food writer but she ends up directing a morning television show to pay the bills. When she unexpectedly gets laid off during a personal financial crisis, Sydney finds a job at a farmers' market and ekes out a living while reviving her food blog. Will she ever get her big break?

Sydney's love life has been non-existent since her boyfriend lied to her. Zach was her best friend since their freshman year in high school but they broke up after graduating from college when he crushed her with his dishonesty. Now, after five years of not dating, she's still not interested in a relationship of any kind but it doesn't stop her from feeling a bit jealous that her baby sister is about to get married. How can Sydney be a good maid-of-honor for her spoiled younger sister when her own love life is in ruins?

I chose this book to review since I fondly remember the year I worked at a farmers' market. There's something extra special about the fruits of your own labor providing a living, even if it's a meager one and extremely hard work. Facing the elements alongside others who are doing the same seems like being a part of what I like to call the "new frontier".

Author Dana Bate brings the farmers' market vibe alive with accuracy and humor through her main character's snarky commentary as Sydney starts off as skeptical of her newfound career to cheering on those who do their best to succeed at it. I was captivated by Sydney's journey, the eccentric and true-to-real-life people she met and interviewed, along with her struggle to survive while reaching for her dream. "Write what you know" seems to be exactly what author Dana Bate does in this captivating story.

There was one moment when I cringed at something Sydney does, fully aware that it's a colossal mistake while I dreaded her comeuppance, but it's her personal growth that won my heart. Her rocky start back into dating is often comical and haphazard, but her happy-for-now ending is fully satisfying and left me hoping that Ms. Bate will update us on Sydney someday soon in the future. I'm sure there are plenty of chances for Sydney to land in trouble once again before she finally gets her life sorted out.

I enjoyed this novel for several reasons but most of all because I could relate to the characters. The heroine, although flawed, eventually finds her way from her bad decisions to end up doing what is right. She makes mistakes but owns them which in the end pushes her to grow in the right direction. I found the theme of farmers' markets and food blogging/reporting intriguing and I learned a few things I didn't know. I never felt preached to or over-informed, all the topics explored seemed to fit right into the story and kept me turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. It's almost as though this novel was written with me in mind because it's exactly the kind of story I can zip right through without stopping.

Food blogging is so current for the times that I think the heroine's career choices, as well as her friends', will be relatable to many readers, but especially to foodies. The main character faces hard times, along with her friends and acquaintances, but succeeds at finding her true self in the process.

A novel with great quirky characters and a realistic look at survival in today's world of social media, A SECOND BITE AT THE APPLE is fast-paced entertainment that I enthusiastically gobbled up from beginning to end. I laughed, and then yelled at Sydney when she messed up, worried about her, then laughed again at the crazy things that happen, and hoped she'd finally figure it out before she lost everything, including her self-respect. I recommend this delectable book to all those who love self-starters who reach for the stars while eating some humble pie along the way. Pass the plate--I'm ready for seconds!

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dorine Linnen

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