Monday, February 27, 2012
Is a picture worth a thousand words, or is a good book worth a thousand -- whatever? I'd go with the second, really. Pour me a cup of coffee, and let's relax with a good book.
Whipped, not Beaten by Melissa Westemeier is a great read. It's smooth, it's quick, and it's quality. Melissa manages to hit all the right buttons for an enjoyable piece of pleasure reading.
The characters ring true. They dress casually, their friendship groups are realistic, and the dialogue is natural. This dialogue sets up characters and even directs the plot at times. The diverse group realistically could live in Madison, Wisconsin, the central location in Whipped, not Beaten. The studio apartments, the close-knit young people meeting at the corner coffeehouse or bar, the staff at Public Radio - all are based in reality. A reader could meet them on the street, or at least meet people just like them.
On the same note, the descriptions of Madison and the tiny town of Neillsville (a stop in the road late in the book) are spot on. College towns and university cities in Wisconsin often sport a small town atmosphere where everyone knows someone who knows someone else who knows you or your best friend. That tendency is comforting, but can get in the way, too. When Sadie needs a date for a party, she's a bit stuck because all those she knows are either inappropriate or already invited. She gets lucky by running into a handsome neighbor at (of course) the corner coffeehouse. No spoilers, but when he spills cappuccino down her front, it brews up a new adventure for our heroine.
The author has obviously attended a fair share of product parties and heard the recruitment pitches. She knows the structure and the lingo well enough to place Sadie in an entry-level sales position at Coddled Cuisine, a cookware line sold at home parties, and to grant Sophie a small but significant amount of success.
Sadie joins the Coddled Cuisine crew to supplement her income at Wisconsin Public Radio. I loved this placement. Amigo and I (and Chuck, too) are Public Radio junkies. We just had stuffed chicken for dinner, in fact, a heart-healthy recipe we heard on Zorba's show this morning. Amigo and I have trekked to Bayfield, Wisconsin, with other Public Radio junkies and some WPR staff members and interns. I understood the workload Sophie faced each day, her research requirements, and the fast-paced atmosphere. Her need for a second income is realistic, too, which led to the adventure of Coddled Cuisine. WPR's fundraising has slipped with the recent recession, and salaries probably resemble those of others employed in the public sector in our fair state. Okay, enough politics. Back to the story.
Too much detail would spoil the fun of reading this book. I wonder if Sadie's job changes and successful -- never mind -- will lead to a sequel? Melissa, if you write it, I'll read it.
I hope many of my blog readers will pick up Whipped, not Beaten, and read it, too.
Disclaimer: I bought this book; it was not donated. The review is honest and not compensated in any way. But maybe, just maybe, the author will let me pick raspberries at her homestead again next summer...?Stumble It!