Cover Image: The Golden Spoon

The Golden Spoon

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Member Reviews

I love supporting debut authors! This was marketed as “a deliciously suspenseful thriller for murder mystery buffs and avid bakers alike,” and I’d agree, to a point. I don’t know that I’d categorize it as a thriller. Regardless, it was just what I needed on a rainy afternoon. You may want to have a cup of tea and a cupcake to nibble on as the delicious narrative will have you salivating!

✔️great premise 
✔️good balance between bake-off tension/shenanigans and secrets being revealed 
✔️diverse range of characters
✔️plenty of backstories and hidden agenda
✔️character driven story
✔️multi POV
✔️inter-character tension
✔️great murder mystery
✔️focus on food
✔️locked-room cozy mystery
✔️quick read
✔️fantastic cover

😠 S.L.O.W. burner - took too long for the BIG reveal
😠 ending - left me underwhelmed
😠 connection to the characters - I wasn’t rooting for anyone

An amazing offering for a debut author, this book seems primed for a sequel. 

I was gifted this copy by Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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I was excited to read this book as it looked like a lot of fun (and has a striking cover).

Celebrity chef Betsy Martinis hosting the tenth season Bake Week at her remote gothic estate.  Over the course of 5 days, 6 contestants will compete to win the baking competition.  

However, there seem to be problems right from the start this season.  Betsy clashes with her new co-host Archie, someone is sabotaging the contestants bakes and then a body is found increasing the tension further.  

I think the concept of this book is great, however I found the pacing of the story to be jarring.  It seemed to be all over the place.  I found most  of characters unlikeable.  There were also several plot twists that I found completely implausible.

Overall I think this book had good ideas with poor execution.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for providing me with an eARC of this book to read and review.
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A surprisingly engaging story about perfectly spherical characters

Let's get one thing out of the way right at the start. /The Golden Spoon/ is not a mystery novel. That is, it is not what one thinks of when the words "mystery novel" are said -- it is not a book in which the central plot is the investigation of a mystery (typically a murder committed by an unknown actor) of which everyone is aware. The publisher's blurb claims that "/The Golden Spoon/ will keep you guessing until the very last page." That is utter nonsense.

Someone does get killed in /The Golden Spoon/. However, that event occurs only when you have read 80% of the book. <spoiler>The book begins with a prolog in which a body is discovered, but we then go back two weeks in time. It takes 80% of the book to get to the thing that happened in the prolog.</spoiler> Although some details are only revealed near the end of the book, it very rapidly becomes clear who is responsible for the killing. This is partly because of the way the story is told. 

There are eight main characters in /The Golden Spoon/, the two judges of the baking competition, Betsy Martin and Archie Morris, and the six competitors. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one character. For the duration of the chapter we are in the point-of-view character's head and know what he or she is thinking. Thus, immediately after the discovery of the body, we have a chapter from the point of view of one of the competitors, in which he looks at his fellow competitors and wonders which one could be a murderer. This immediately tells the reader that the point-of-view character himself is not the killer. In this way most possible suspects are rapidly eliminated. Thus, the claim of the publisher's blurb, "when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect," is quite, quite false, at least for the reader.

OK, /The Golden Spoon/ is not a mystery. But that is not really the important question, is it? Is /The Golden Spoon/ a good story, well told? The answer, with one serious exception described below, is "Yes." It started slow, but once it got going I found myself interested in the plot, eager to find out what would happened next. 

The exception -- the thing I didn't much like about the book, is the characters. As an example, consider contestant Gerald. Gerald is a mathematician. Actually, Gerald is NOT a mathematician -- he is what someone who doesn't know any mathematicians thinks mathematicians are like. Nonmathematician's-idea-of-a-mathematician is the height and breadth of Gerald's character. He is the Platonic ideal of nonmathematician's-idea-of-a-mathematician. There's a joke that is often told about physicists

<blockquote>Milk production at a dairy farm was low, so the farmer wrote to the local university, asking for help from academia. A multidisciplinary team of professors was assembled, headed by a theoretical physicist, and two weeks of intensive on-site investigation took place. The scholars then returned to the university, notebooks crammed with data, where the task of writing the report was left to the team leader. Shortly thereafter the physicist returned to the farm, saying to the farmer, "I have the solution, but it works only in the case of spherical cows in a vacuum."</blockquote>

This alleged joke mocks physicists' tendency to simplify problems to an absurdly implausible degree. That's how I felt about each of the characters of /The Golden Spoon/. Each character's personality could be reduced with no loss of accuracy to a single sentence description. They are perfectly spherical personalities -- neither believable nor interesting.

Despite this, I was surprised as the story went on to find that it was engaging me. I didn't care much about any of the characters, but I did care about the story, about how these spherical characters bounced off each other to produce events, and curious to know what was going to happen next and in the end. 

Thanks to NetGalley and to Simon and Schuster Canada for an advance reader's copy. This review expresses my honest opinions. To be released 7-Mar-2023.
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[arc review]
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.
The Golden Spoon releases March 7, 2023

This debut novel is perfect for fans of The Great British Bake Off.

Initially, I was really drawn to this. I absolutely love anything culinary or baking related - pair that with a locked-room murder mystery to solve? Sign me up.
The downfall I think was that the advertising for this was more enticing than what played out.

The Golden Spoon starts out really approachable. The writing is very fluid. There are character outlines before the baking competition even begins, which takes away all of the guesswork of trying to figure out who each of these contestants are, since there are 7 pov’s in total. I did think it was odd though that all of the pov’s were written in first person except for Betsy’s, which was written in third person.
Each character had their own distinct traits that set them apart. One that was fastidious, another that was in a depressive state who was only doing this as a fun outlet, another that had ulterior motives for being in proximity to the Grafton Manor, and so forth.

Despite how effortless the Bake Week events were written, the pacing was really off. 
The whole murder mystery aspect never came into play until 80% of the way through, and that to me is just way too long to hold out for anything to happen, making the ending seem very rushed.
To me, the suspect was clear as day which took away from the fun of trying to solve the mystery.
Since there were parts of the plot surrounding the host that took place many many decades ago, there could have been more developed for that instead of having so much focus on the literal baking - OR, there could have been several more chapters added towards the end since it felt so rushed and unfinished. I mean, skipping right to a “one year later” immediately proceeding the exact night of this advertised murder that everyone has been waiting for? That’s messed up.
I’m also not too sure about the whole Stella/Hannah/Archie narrative and if that was entirely necessary. The cheating and alluded SA/ptsd was something I didn’t need added to an otherwise light read.
Even though there were so many pov’s already, I would have loved to have dove into Melanie’s thoughts as she was the coordinator and seemed to be at the center of every single character mentioned.

All in all, if you’re looking for something not too complex to read for a cozy/rainy day, and are already a fan of GBBO, I’d say give it a chance.
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The Golden Spoon is a Master Chef meets Agatha quick read. Initially, it takes a bit to get all the characters straight. Once sorted, you’ll be hooked. The Bake Week competition, set in a unique country estate, in Vermont yields descriptions of the bake challenges that will  have you craving sweet indulgences. The peek at the ‘behind the scenes’ of the show’s production will make you question why anyone would want to be a contestant. 
Thank You to Simon & Schuster Canada, NetGalley and Jessa Maxwell  for the opportunity to enjoy this ARC.
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I think this book suffers from incorrect advertising - it's billed as a mystery/thriller, but is more of a cozy mystery: light and breezy, which is not how I like my mysteries/thrillers to be. If this book were a movie, it would be a Hallmark one (in case you're unsure, that's not a compliment). 

The pacing was off - slow beginning and rushed ending - and it took forever for someone to die (well into the third act). Aspects of the premise weren't quite there, and the 'mystery' was quite obvious early on. I don't see the  advertised comparisons to Nita Prose and Anthony Horowitz, though I'm sure it will find an audience as a limited series on Hulu (probably among those who also watch Hallmark movies).

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for this ARC.
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