Corinna is an interesting character. She is a proud larger lady who has been single for a couple of years after divorcing her slimy ex husband James. At the same time she gave up her corporate life as an accountant and started her own small bakery (called Earthly Delights) located in the centre of the city, and conveniently her apartment is just upstairs!
Along with Corinna and her bakery, the building is filled with interesting side characters - there is Madame Dread who owns a specialist leather shop (yes, the kind you are thinking), Meroe who is a witch and sells lots of herbs, spells, potions etc, the three Lone Gunmen - techie geeks who rarely ever see daylight, Kylie and Goss two practically anorexic women who work in Corinna's shop and live in an upstairs apartment and more.
Everyday Corinna starts the day at 4am, ready to start baking all the bread and muffins that she needs to fulfil her contracts and then open up the shop for all the city workers who grab breakfast on the way past each day. She wakes up one morning to find a girl who has overdosed lying on her ventilation grate. After performing CPR and calling the authorities, Corinna goes back to her normal day never guessing that she has been drawn into a spate of overdoses - someone is killing the drug addicts of Melbourne.
Things take a turn for the worse though when Corinna and the other ladies of the apartment block start receiving threatening letters and graffiti and vandalism targeting the women is also left in and around the building. Add in the search for a missing teenage girl and it is busy, busy, busy. The big question though is are these events connected? And what does the contemporary vampire culture that seems to be thriving in Melbourne have to do with everything?
One good thing for Corinna that does happen as a result of all of these events is that she meets Daniel - man of mystery, intensely private but gorgeous and seemingly attracted to Corinna, much to her surprise (and gratitude, if that is the right word). He is the heavy on the local soup run and therefore has more than passing acquaintances with many of the people who are now threatened by the risk of dying at the end of a needle. She also meets Jason. He is a young homeless boy who she initially helps out by doing a little work for her but he soon shows a remarkable talent for muffin making.
I would love to work near a bakery like Earthly Delights nearby. I was salivating as I read the book. I would be most likely to gravitate towards Jason's muffins rather than some of the breads but that is okay. Food has a strong role to play in the book, whether it be the baked goods or the various dinners that are picked up from the Greek family restaurant nearby or the local Japanese shop, or the herb omelets that Corinna sometimes whips up.
I don't think that you can really read this book without knowing where Corinna (and the author) stand on a lot of political and social issues. There is a strong sense of being aware of social justice issues and the fate of the homeless in the pages. I suspect that Kerry Greenwood would be very interesting to chat to because even her short author bio makes it clear that she leads an interesting life juggling between writing, being a legal advocate and also being the partner of a legally registered wizard. This book is littered with references to music and literature but it was all done in such a way as to not make the reader feel uneducated if they didn't get all the references. She is also clearly a cat lover, as the references to the three cats that Corinna owns are numerous - I might not be quite so keen to talk about that particular topic with her! I suspect though that I might be a bit too boring to keep her attention for very long.
Some of the repetition of daily routine got a bit monotonous but I get why it was there as it served to further draw Corinna as a character, but for a first book in the series I am sufficiently invested to want to read more. I am looking forward to reading more about all of the characters who live at Insula, the apartment block that features in the book. Oh, and if anyone knows where I can get a Daniel, just leave a comment!
Baking is an alchemical process for Corinna Chapman. At four am she starts work at Earthly Delights, her bakery in Calico Alley.Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.
but one morning Corinna receives a threatening not say "The wages of sin is death" and finds a syringe in her cat's paw. A blue-faced junky has collapsed in the dark alley and a mysterious man with beautiful eyes appears with a plan for Corinna and her bread. Then it is Goths, dead drug addicts, witchcraft, a homeless boy and a missing girl and it seems she will never get those muffins cooked in time.
With flair, chutzpah and a talent for kneading, Corinna Chapman will find out who exactly is threatening her life and bake some beautiful bread.
In addition, this book also counts for the Aussie Author challenge and Australian Women Authors Challenge.
P.S. Apologies to those of you who saw this in your feeds on Thursday. Apparently pre scheduling when you are barely awake isn't a good thing, especially if you apparently have no clue what the date is on either Thursday or Saturday!
P.P.S I just picked up the next book in this series from the library and had a quick look at the recipes in the back and there is an awesome sounding recipe that I might just have to try before I review the next book!