STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!

STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!Stars So Sweet (All Four Stars, #3) by Tara Dairman
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on July 19th 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 288
Goodreads
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Joan Bauer meets Ruth Reichl in this charming middle grade foodie series.

As the summer winds down and Gladys Gatsby prepares to start middle school, she is nervous about juggling schoolwork and looming deadlines from her secret job as the New York Standard’s youngest restaurant critic. When her editor pushes for a face-to-face meeting to discuss more opportunities with the paper, Gladys knows she must finally come clean to her parents. But her perfectly planned reveal is put on hold when her parents arrive home with a surprise:  her Aunt Lydia, one of the only adults who knows her secret, fresh off the plane from Paris. Gladys and Aunt Lydia try one last ruse to fool her editor at the Standard, but even with her aunt’s help, Gladys just can’t manage the drama of middle school and a secret life. It’s time for Gladys to be true to herself and honest with her friends and family, regardless of what those around her think.

Gladys Gatsby is back! And this time it’s in the final installment of the ALL FOUR STARS foodie Middle Grade trilogy by Tara Dairman. You know I (and many others) adored the first two books, ALL FOUR STARS and A SUMMER OF STARS. July 19th, 2016 will see the publication of STARS SO SWEET, and let me tell you, you will not disappointed! You can expect more hilarious antics from Gladys and her friends, as well as challenges and adventures that inevitably come her way. Gladys is starting Middle School, and she is also being offered an amazing new opportunity at her top secret job for The New York Standard as a restaurant reviewer. The surprise arrival of a family member also has Gladys working on yet another project, and then you might remember the famous Hamilton from A SUMMER OF STARS. I won’t give too much away, but it’s possible the child literary star also makes an appearance. To sum up, you can expect more mouthwatering treats from Gladys as well as her creative and interesting attempts to navigate various foodie scrapes and challenges.

Now onto some of the highlights of this Middle Grade treat.

What I Loved

-Gladys’s passion for cooking and all things foodie is front and center in the narrative, as it has been in the last two books.

-Her diverse group of friends and their differing personalities and quirks are part of the action as welll—you’ll find appearances by Parm, Charissa, and Sandy. I assure you—you’ll definitely be laughing throughout the book, just as you probably were with the first two.

-The story features different cuisines and ingredients some readers may have never heard of before! Whether Gladys is browsing Mr. Eng’s specialty food shop or creating Salvadoran pancakes, she is sure to introduce readers to something new in the culinary world. At one point Gladys, Aunt Lydia, and Charissa attend a foodie trade show and sample foods such as biltong (South African beef jerky), antelope meats, yak meat, and even horse-meat bites!

-The rich themes of friendship and becoming comfortable in your own identity (something that can be quite challenging in Middle School) are appreciated and embedded in the narrative without being preachy. I love the way Tara illuminates important and relevant aspects of friendship in her storyline.

-The resolution of all the loose ends, especially regarding Gladys’s top secret job of restaurant reviewer for The New York Standard. The conclusion of STARS SO SWEET is stunning, and everything I had hoped for in the ending to this fantastic trilogy. I know this series will continue to be a popular one in my school library. I already have many students who have been waiting avidly for the last installment in the series. It’s true: Young readers love these foodie books!

-I always love the fact that each chapter features its own title. I especially enjoy that Chapter 21 is called “Irrational Doughnuts.”

Some Foodie Connections

-Gladys receives an assignment from her job: Distinguish between Salvadoran, Peruvian, and Cuban food by visiting restaurants with these cuisines. I decided to bring a few links for you to check out, so that you can do your own investigation of these three different cuisines.

10 FOODS FROM EL SALVADOR YOU NEED TO TRY RIGHT NOW: http://www.theflama.com/10-foods-from-el-salvador-you-need-to-try-right-now-1592974846.html

ESSENTIAL PERU: 10 MUST-EAT DISHES TO SEEK OUT: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/06/essential-peruvian-cuisine.html

9 DISHES TO MAKE YOU FALL FOR CUBAN CUISINE: http://www.saveur.com/article/-/Cuban-Recipes

FINALLY

I can imagine that yet another reason you would want to purchase the book once it’s out in the world on July 19th is that the cover is as gorgeous as its predecessors and that the trilogy presented together on the bookshelf will be absolutely stunning.

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I’m in denial that this is the last installment of Gladys’s adventures, and I’m hoping that one day maybe we’ll get another book….or a novella, even. I just don’t want to say goodbye…

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Would you like to win a complete set of the ALL FOUR STARS books? I’m running a giveaway, courtesy of Penguin, and one winner (USA only) will receive a complete set of the trilogy. To enter, all you have to do is leave a thoughtful comment about why you are excited to read STARS SO SWEET (or any of the other All Four Stars books)!

If you missed my first interview with Tara, you can explore it here. Also, if you aren’t familiar with All Four Stars, you can read about that here. My thoughts on the second book, The Stars of Summer, can be found here.

REVIEWS OF TARA’S BOOKS

ALL FOUR STARS (Putnam/Penguin, 2014)

*An Amazon Best Book of the Month*

 

THE STARS OF SUMMER (Putnam/Penguin, 2015)

“Hilarious.” – School Library Journal

 

STARS SO SWEET (Putnam/Penguin, coming 7.19.16)

“A tasty dish that series fans should eat up.” -Kirkus

Tara Dairman’s Bio

Tara Dairman is the author of the middle-grade foodie novel ALL FOUR STARS (Putnam/Penguin) which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and won a 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. THE STARS OF SUMMER followed in 2015, and STARS SO SWEET (6/19/16) completes the series. Tara grew up in New York and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world’s longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her family.

Tara Dairman headshot

Links to Find Tara

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Are you excited about STARS SO SWEET? What are some of your favorite memories of Gladys from the first two books?

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What Katie Read

The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman Blog Tour (Giveaway + Recipes!)

The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman Blog Tour (Giveaway + Recipes!)The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman
Published by Penguin on May 5th 2015
Genres: Cooking & Food, Humorous Stories, Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 336
Goodreads
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“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince for All Four Stars. In this charming sequel to All Four Stars, eleven-year-old foodie Gladys Gatsby now has her first published review under her belt and is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and reviewing. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley. As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy: she struggles to pass her swim test and can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches. The worst part is she can’t seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper and sneak away for her latest assignment—finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when it turns out her hot dog assignment was a dirty trick by a jealous reviewer, Gladys’s reviewing career may be over forever.

I’m honored and excited to kick off the Official Blog Tour for the sequel to Tara Dairman’s All Four Stars: The Stars of Summer! After falling in love with Tara’s debut last year, I was jumping for joy when I received the ARC of its sequel, and I think you are going to adore this book!

In fact, you can enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway at the bottom of this post to win a SIGNED COPY of both All Four Stars and The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman!

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Prepare to be entertained by Gladys and her family and friends yet again in this May 5th release from Putnam.

A sequel to the utterly delightful All Four Stars, Tara Dairman’s The Stars of Summer opens with Gladys’s birthday dinner in NYC at a Tapas restaurant where Gladys is faced with the task of reviewing the meal with her family and friends and jotting down her notes in secret. While in the restaurant restroom, Gladys discovers that there’s a $1000 dollar reward for cracking the identity of restaurant reviewer “G. Gatsby”!

Gladys’s mishap in the previous book—the crème brulee incident is thankfully behind her and she is able to use the kitchen once again. Readers open the story expecting Gladys will be able to cook and create her culinary delights once again.

But, there’s more in store for Gladys this summer than just typical time in the kitchen. And let me give you another hint: there’s a BOY involved! Just what Gladys needs…

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When Charissa gifts Gladys with a free summer at Camp Bentley, Gladys’ summer plans quickly take on a nightmarish quality. No way does Gladys want to spend her days in the sun swimming or running relay races! Her newest assignment for the newspaper is also a bit strange—she will have to find the best hot dog in New York City!

It is no surprise that adventures for Gladys ensue in this equally charming sequel to Tara Dairman’s 2014 debut.

What I Loved

The Food: From the beginning of the book, your mouth will water. Whether you’re reading about items from the Tapas Menu at Gladys’s birthday restaurant such as Ham-Wrapped Roasted Asparagus and Griddled Polenta Cakes or her three-tired Strawberry Lime Birthday cake, you might not want to read this book while hungry.

Having a healthy obsession for cookbooks, I absolutely adore the fact that Tara’s books feature a healthy number of food references! Gladys isn’t afraid to take on a culinary challenge and I love that.

Though Gladys normally wouldn’t consider scouring the city for the “best hot dog,” her summer experiences lead her in this direction. I found this to be a fabulous aspect of the sequel, especially as it’s releasing in late spring and the summer is fast approaching.

The Laugh Aloud Moments: I don’t think you can read this book with a straight face.

Gladys’s antics (especially when you add her parents as well as her friends and a new kid named Hamilton Herbertson) infuse the narrative with the perfect ingredient of humor.

I appreciate when a story, especially a middle grade novel makes me laugh, and The Stars of Summer is no exception. My hope is that you find Chapter 14: A (Hot) Dog Day of a Summer as funny as I did.

The Curriculum Connections: Both All Four Stars and The Stars of Summer are excellent choices for titles in the upper elementary classroom. Whether chosen for individual reading by students or featured as a whole class read-a-long, Tara’s books feature colorful characters, engaging plots, and humorous antics that I think would especially engage this age group.

Its culinary aspects made me think—what about including the book as part of a Home Economics/Language Arts hybrid lesson plan?

It would depend on the school’s curriculum, but I love the idea of giving students the chance to read the book and then to learn to cook some of the recipes referenced in either All Four Stars or The Stars of Summer.

The New Twists and Challenges for Gladys: Whether it was learning to swim, navigating a summer camp kitchen with the bossy Mrs. Spinelli, dealing with a boy who “might” like her, or combing the streets of New York City for every hot dog stand in sight, Gladys has her share of new adventures and lessons to learn. Gladys is as endearing a character in the sequel as she was in All Four Stars. The addition of new characters supplies welcome challenges and tension to a narrative that, to be honest, I couldn’t put down.

Reasons to Read The Stars of Summer

-You read All Four Stars and have fallen in love with Gladys and her culinary adventures.

-You need a story to get you in the mood for summer.

-You’re fascinated by the idea of the search for the perfect hot dog in New York City.

-You’re hungry for a delightful contemporary Middle Grade read about an ambitious twelve year old whose adventures and interactions will entertain you and keep you chuckling.

View Spoiler »

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Now, this tour stop wouldn’t be complete without at least a few gourmet hot dog recipes. I hope that Gladys would approve of these, and I have selected a few I found through my online search for some more “creative” hot dogs. Here’s one interesting tidbit—I started searching for hot dog recipes before I had finished my reading of the book. I inadvertently highlighted a hot dog recipe I wanted to include that actually shows up in the book—the Sonoran Hot Dog!

Enjoy!

If you have recipes to share, please do so in the comments below!

HOT DOGS WITH CHEDDAR AND SAUTEED APPLES

CAPRESE DOG

(Mozzarella, Basil, & Tomato!)

BACON WRAPPED SONORAN HOT DOGS

(Beans, Tomatoes, Onions, Cilantro, Avocado!)

HOT DOGS WITH DAL & RED ONION RAITA

(Lentils, Red Onion, Yogurt, Mint, Serrano Chile!)

If you missed my first interview with Tara, you can explore it here. Also, if you aren’t familiar with All Four Stars, you can read about it here.

**Thank you to Kristin Rae for a beautiful blog tour button!

BIO: Tara Dairman is the author of ALL FOUR STARS, which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Mighty Girl Top Book of 2014 for Teens and Tweens. She is also a playwright and recovering world traveler. She grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world’s longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her husband and their trusty waffle iron.

Tara Dairman headshot
Photo Credits: Tiffany Crowder @ Crowded Studios: http://www.crowdedstudiosphoto.com/

Book buying links:

Penguin: http://www.penguin.com/book/the-stars-of-summer-by-tara-dairman/9780399170690

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780399170690

Powells: http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780399170690-0

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stars-Summer-Tara-Dairman/dp/0399170693/ref=la_B00IK6WU4U_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412958767&sr=1-2

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stars-of-summer-tara-dairman/1120421974?ean=9780399170690

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Stars-Summer/Tara-Dairman/9780399170690?id=6117508412118

Indigo (Canada): http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-stars-of-summer/9780698173675-item.html?ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=2

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Stars-Summer-Tara-Dairman/9780399170690

Social media links:

Website: http://taradairman.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaraDairman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraDairmanAuthor

Instagram: http://instagram.com/allfourstars/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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What Katie Read

ALL FOUR STARS AUTHOR INTERVIEW: TARA DAIRMAN–WORLD TRAVELER

ALL FOUR STARS AUTHOR INTERVIEW: TARA DAIRMAN–WORLD TRAVELERAll Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on July 10th 2014
Genres: Author Interviews
Pages: 288
Goodreads

Gladys Gatsby has dreamed of becoming a restaurant critic for New York's biggest newspaper--she just didn’t expect to be assigned her first review at age 11. Now, if she wants to meet her deadline and hang on to her dream job, she’ll have to defy her fast-food-loving parents, cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy, and battle Manhattan’s meanest maitre d’.

When I posted ALL FOUR STARS by TARA DAIRMAN as one of my top anticipated releases for 2014 at the beginning of the year, I had no idea the blog would be one of her interview stops, or that I would write a recipe-inspired post from the book. If you’ve read my review of this contemporary middle grade novel, out July 10th, you will know that it is one of my new favorites, and I absolutely fell in love with Gladys and her culinary antics!

I appreciate that Tara took the time to visit the blog and answer some questions I devised for her. I think you’ll enjoy reading her responses. And A SEQUEL!! She talked about a sequel!!

Enjoy!

Tara Dairman headshot

1. I loved All Four Stars and think the plot is fantastic. Where and when did the idea for the story start to brew?

Thank you so much, Katie! I was living in New York when I first started to write ALL FOUR STARS, and working as an editor at a small magazine. In that job, I had freelance writers who wrote stories that I edited, but I never met most of them, or even talked to them on the phone. So it occurred to me that if a kid was a good writer, she might be able to hoodwink me into publishing her. And if she could trick me, why not the biggest newspaper in New York? 

I was interested in food and cooking, too, so it made sense for me to make my young writer a wannabe restaurant critic. And I moored her out in the suburbs, where I grew up, with parents who couldn’t have been less interested in gourmet food. The rest of the plot just kind of flowed from that!

I loved the contrast of a foodie protagonist with parents who cooked using the microwave–brilliant! 

2. What’s your writing process like? Is it very structured? Do you have to write in a specific location, have a certain noise level, etc.?

These days, I tend to be more structured about my writing process than I used to be. I prefer to work in the mornings, either at home or in public. I don’t mind a low level of background noise, but I can’t listen to music while I write. A hot beverage next to the computer is nice. But really, I can write anywhere if I have to. I drafted parts of ALL FOUR STARS on the New Jersey Transit Bus during my morning commute when I was living on the east coast, and in various spots (mostly cafes) around the world while I backpacked for two years with my husband.

I love to write while traveling, and I love the idea that some of your story was written in different cafes of the world!

3. What would you say to young readers who pick up ALL FOUR STARS and then want to learn to cook or bake, but have never made anything before? What would you encourage them to start with?



That’s a terrific question! Well, first of all, I’d make sure you have permission from an adult and supervision if necessary, especially if you are going to use knives or the stove or oven. Then I would pick a recipe that has a short list of ingredients. If you’re baking, something like muffins or a quick bread can be a good place to start; for dinner, maybe pasta with a very simple sauce, like garlic and oil. And a fancy salad is easy to make and can be surprisingly delicious—baby spinach with sliced pears and blue cheese was the first salad I ever made, and I love it to this day!

That is a lovely salad combination!

4. I love Gladys’s determination to get that restaurant review completed—are there any parallels between Gladys’s antics and her experiences in the book and your own childhood?

Haha—not that I can recall. Gladys is much bolder and more adventurous than I was at that age. The only real parallel I can think of is that I eventually developed a taste for surprising people—for instance, in high school, I did Mathletes and cheerleading at the same time. But that was about as bold as things got for me. 🙂

I enjoy hearing about unique high school experiences–they definitely make for interesting plot lines…

5. These are important questions I love to ask authors who visit the blog: Favorite kind of donut, Favorite kind of pie, Favorite kind of cake?


My favorite donut is the peanut butter and jelly donut from Square Donuts from Terre Haute, Indiana! My favorite kind of pie is cherry (closely followed by rhubarb), and my favorite kind of cake is carrot. Mmm, now I’m hungry for all of these things.

Excellent choices! Cherry pie is such a perfect choice for this time of year–I have to say I wouldn’t mind a slice myself.

6. I read about your amazing two year journey around the world with your husband—could you name your top three favorite meals? (and places where you had those meals?)

Ooh, a trip down culinary memory lane! It’s almost impossible to narrow it down, but here are three amazing meals I had:

-Breakfast of pan de yuca (cheese bread) and yogurt smoothies in Quito, Ecuador (2009)

Breakfast of pan de yuca and yogurt

-Lunch of donkey meat in Beijing, China—surprisingly tasty! (2011)

Lunch of donkey meat in China

-Christmas dinner in Hyderabad, India—chicken saag, Hyderabadi biryani (a specially-prepared rice dish with beautiful, extremely long rice grains), and so many different kinds of bread that the waiter warned us that we were ordering too much (2010)

Christmas dinner in Hyderabad

These look like three amazing meals! My cousin is getting ready to visit China–I’ll have to ask her about trying donkey meat. That Indian meal is definitely making my mouth water….Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos! 

7. Will there be any future books with Gladys or do you think you will write another foodie book?



Yes—there will be a sequel to ALL FOUR STARS in summer, 2015! It’s set during the summer after sixth grade, and Gladys faces a whole new world of professional and personal challenges. I’ll hopefully be able to share more information about it soon. I’m really excited about it.

(jumps up and down) I can’t wait!

8. Is there a dessert place in NYC like Classy Cakes that you would recommend to your readers?

Classy Cakes wasn’t based on any one place, but the restaurant Serendipity 3 on the Upper East Side is pretty well-known for its pricey desserts (and its long lines and snippy attitudes!), so I may have drawn a bit of inspiration from it. 

The Internet tells me that there is also an all-dessert restaurant in Manhattan called ChikaLicious, which sounds a lot like Classy Cakes, but I’ve never been! Maybe next time I’m in town…

Yes! I’ve been to Serendipity 3–we waited a long time to get in, but we wanted to try that frozen hot chocolate. 🙂 

Thank you so much for having me, Katie! These were terrific questions!

Thank you, Tara!!

Do look up this debut author–see links below! And you can get her book, out in just TWO DAYS!

Social media links:

Website: www.taradairman.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaraDairman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraDairmanAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13598351-all-four-stars

Also, be sure to check out The Midnight Garden ALL FOUR STARS blog tour, if you haven’t already!

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What Katie Read

A True Delicacy: All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

A True Delicacy: All Four Stars by Tara DairmanAll Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Published by Penguin on July 10th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Cooking & Food, Humorous Stories, Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 288
Goodreads
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Are you interested in a fabulous middle grade novel celebrating all things culinary?!?

Today kicks off a fabulous blog tour, hosted by The Midnight Garden, for the new middle grade book, All Four Stars by Tara Dairman!

Don’t worry—the book is out on July 10th, but between now and then, enjoy visiting all the stops on the tour. Spirit of Children’s Literature is on the schedule for this Friday, July 4th, but today I share with you my review of this wonderful story. Stay tuned, however, for a special recipe inspired by the book on Friday!

There’s even more! (That’s how much I loved this book!) An interview with the author, Tara Dairman, will be live on the blog next Monday! You won’t want to miss it—it was so much fun asking Tara about her favorite desserts, her best meals eaten around the world, and a possible sequel to All Four Stars.

The first stop on the blog tour is a Foodie Tour of NYC and giveaway for the book, so go check it out!

Bon Appetit!

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All Four Stars by Tara Dairman (2014)

Suggested age range: 8 and up (Two Lions, 294 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: e-ARC from Netgalley

Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary Realism

The Book: Gladys Gatsby loves to cook! Her parents: not so much. Mom and Dad are terrible cooks, microwaving meatloaf and preparing gross sandwiches with too much mayonnaise. But by the 6th grade, Gladys is an amazing cook, and delights in buying special ingredients and creating gourmet dishes. Her hobby is ground to a stop, however, after a mishap with a blow torch and crème brulee. Gladys just wants to create in the kitchen—is that too much to ask? When she enters an essay contest for school, her letter accidentally lands her a position as a restaurant reviewer at the famous New York Daily Standard. She receives her first assignment: visit Classy Cakes in NYC and sample their desserts so she can complete her review. How is she going to pull it off when she’s been barred from all things culinary? Dive into All Four Stars and find out how Gladys navigates the challenges of cooking in secret, new friendships, and keeping her young identity a secret.

Spirituality in All Four Stars: Figuring out our place in the world can definitely illuminate a spiritual aspect of our lives. I thought this was an important dimension in the story—Gladys’s growing confidence in who she is. This also leads to her connecting meaningfully with other people and pursuing what she’s passionate about! A kid who visits a shop regularly for specialty ingredients and can cook far better than her parents isn’t always the norm, and Gladys certainly has her share of challenges in the story. The way she navigates them, however, makes room for meaningful discussion about what makes our hearts happy and how to approach situations that stand in the way of that.

Who Should Read This Book: I adored this book, so I’m going to go ahead and suggest that everyone read it! Young readers will love it, young adults would love it, and adults: you too! Gladys’s humorous antics and her interactions with memorable characters at school add spice to the story, resulting in a fast-paced and enjoyable read.

The Final Word: This is a delicious and delightful book that will have you cheering for Gladys as she navigates a world filled with parents who are terrible cooks, undercover baking, and a top secret job as a restaurant reviewer! I loved the way Dairman wove in delectable descriptions of food, and I enjoyed every moment of Gladys’s antics as she makes friends and strives to complete her restaurant review for The New York Standard. I closed the book with a desire to bake a dessert myself in honor of the end of All Four Stars. At the same time, I was sad the story ended. Certainly worth a re-read and strongly recommended! I’m certainly looking forward to reading more from Tara.

 

 

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What Katie Read