For my book review of “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray, I spent hours on a cake for a book that wasn’t my favorite. Some may ask the question “why?” Why would I spend a total of four hours creating a cake, suffering through the trauma of the second bee sting in my life, and endure a week’s worth of pain from that sting with the only purpose of attaching it to a book review blog? The answer is easy — Because the author deserves it.
The cake fun started as soon as I finished the book. The image of a doll cake was immediately in my mind, but I spent hours thinking of how I would create it to best describe Beauty Queens. I didn’t buy a special pan, but went the traditional way of creating a six-inch chocolate round instead of the normal eight inch round to give it more height. There was even the benefit of learning a new fondant technique, how to add the color when I created the gold dress. The cake went better than I expected and I was pretty happy with the results. In a blissful confidence, I decided I should do a more creative background than the usual red wall of my kitchen for my cake masterpiece. I should’ve known better.
It was getting late and I was running out of day light. My vision included the cake teetering on the small upper edge of my back fence with the neighbor’s tall trees waving in the light breeze. This was also one of our first days of sun in Oregon and the kids had enjoyed an afternoon playing with the hose in the yard. Here is the point where I probably should have thought about the millions of bees and wasps buzzing around all day. In what I now realize was the not smartest move, I trampled outside in my bare feet. It only took a couple of seconds before a sharp pain pierced the top of my foot. At first I tried to kick off the pain, but then looked down to find a bee walking away from the scene of the crime.
There were choices to make in an instant. I had a long-labored cake in one hand, a ready camera in the other, and a bee assault on the neighbor of my big toe. What to do? The cake was first priority. I limped into the house, called out for Hubs to remove the bee’s weapon lodged in my toe, and safely placed the cake down before allowing Hubs to complete surgery.
Some may think this was to save the thing I’d worked on. (And maybe there is some vanity in that.) But the real reason was much deeper. I envisioned this cake for this book. I knew if this one took a header in the grass, I’d be creating a new one for the review. This brings us back to the original question of why so much time on a cake for a book I didn’t review favorably? Although I didn’t connect with Beauty Queens, it didn’t mean it was a bad book. There are hundreds of awesome reviews about this story. Not to mention thousands of Ms. Bray’s fans (me being one of them) who enjoy her writing style. I have a TON of respect for all authors and especially the classy ones. You want to see class? Check this out:
Ms. Bray’s tweet made my day! At first I was worried if I’d hurt her feelings with the review, but then I realized she’s a professional (and way more secure than me). It doesn’t mean she’s bulletproof to criticism, but she understands not everyone is going to connect with every story. I can tell you, her show of cool inspired me to follow her on Twitter and set the plan to read Going Bovine in the near future.
This is why I spent all that time on a cake. Because if my baked good inspires someone to support an author by reading their book, I’ve done something good for the writing world. The same writing world I hope to be a part of some day. Maybe one day someone will bake a cake for my book and also write a not-so-glowing review. I hope when that time comes, I’m as poised, cool, and take a totally cute photo like the gracious Ms. Bray.
*Side note: The bee sting took five days for the swelling to go down. Seven days after, there is still the tinge of purple around my toes and into the top quarter of my foot. A very smart friend of mine called it right when she said I’d been attacked by a Tracker Jacker.