Review: Bite-Sized Magic

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Bite-Sized MagicBite-Sized Magic by Kathryn Littlewood
Series: The Bliss Bakery #3
Published by Katherine Tegen on February 11, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Humor
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

This third book in Kathryn Littlewood's acclaimed Bliss trilogy mixes the down-home heart-punch of Ingrid Law's Newbery Honor Book Savvy, the always-on-the-edge-of-chaos comedy of Cheaper by the Dozen, and a humorous magic all its own to create a thoroughly original confection, a delicious guilty pleasure for readers of all ages.

Rose won back her family's magical Cookery Booke in an international baking competition in A Dash of Magic, the second novel in the series. Rose is now world famous—so famous, in fact, that Mr. Butter, head of the Mostess Corporation, has kidnapped her so that she can develop new-and-improved magical recipes for his company's snack cakes. With the magically enhanced Dinkies and Moony Pies, Mr. Butter plans to take over the world.

Together with her brothers, their talking cat and mouse, and an unlikely team of bakers, Rose must overthrow Mr. Butter before he destroys civilization, one magically evil snack cake at a time.

After receiving book three unsolicited, I decided to power through this middle grade series if I liked it well enough. Though I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own, I definitely do not begrudge the time that I spent hanging out with Rosemary Bliss. Like most middle grade, I think it’s probably only going to truly shine for young readers, but it was still enjoyable for me as an adult, or at least I play one in my daily life.

Bite-Sized Magic has the charming elements of the previous books, and the appeal is essentially the same. Please understand that it was still really fun to read, but I don’t have too much to say on the positives since I’ve related them already in my reviews for the first two books. The good does still definitely outweigh the bad. The puns, the food, the talking animals and the fast pace are all still present and delightful.

However, I feel like this third book is by far the weakest installment. For one thing, it’s a good deal chunkier in pages and in plot. I feel like Littlewood shoved way too much into this single volume, like it’s handling what could have easily been at least two books. Plus, there’s some awkwardness to the subject matter as well. Generally, I found the plot troubling.

The first aspect of the plot, which seems really awkwardly mashed onto the top of the story is the “be careful what you wish for.” At the opening of the novel, Rose idly wishes for a break from the bakery and Gus the cat says warningly that wishes can be dangerous. Then DUN DUN DUN the bakery is shut down by a new law (more on that later). Because of this one wish, not made on magic cake or anything, Rose is held responsible for all of the ridiculous events to come. It’s a lot to put on a kid, considering that pretty much everyone is wishing for things all the time on some level. Plus, this bit, referenced at the beginning and the end, really added nothing but a guilt complex for young Rose. What is the point of that?

Then there’s that new law. It declares that corporations with over 1000 employees have been unfairly treated, so all bakeries smaller than that have been shut down, leaving two. On the one hand, this is clever political satire, I suppose, but what do middle graders care about political satire. I don’t know. I’m sure some 8-12 year-olds care, but I for sure didn’t, and I’m not sure if a book about a magical bakery is what those kids would pick up to be honest.

Anyway, then Rose is kidnapped by Mostess, the biggest maker of preserved, food-like confections. The whole novel is essentially an indictment of how disgusting and inhuman Hostess treats are. Like, I know they’re not good for you and local bakeries have tastier food, but they are straight up out for world domination and this book, and that’s a little weird for a middle grade audience. It’s all covered up with humor and cake and silliness so that it’s fun to read (unlike Colin Meloy’s Under Wildwood which has a similarly heavy anti-corporate message), but I was tilting my head in confusion at all of this. I mean, I think promoting local enterprise and indicating that corporations are messed up is one thing, but the kidnapped a kid to make their recipes magically addictive for world domination purposes, and used her idiot parents for ransom (they didn’t call the cops to report their missing, kidnapped daughter, thus getting themselves captured).

Oh, also, I finally definitively know why Ty speaks in Spanish sometimes. Like everything else he does, it’s simply to sound cool. I was hoping that despite their non-foreign names they might be POCs, but nope. He’s taking Spanish and thinks it makes him sound cultured. Gag me.

Based on the blurb on Goodreads, this is the final book in the series, but I suspect that this is misleading. The ending included a taunting note from Aunt Lily about how she wasn’t done yet. Though I’ve had fun, I think I might bow out at this point either way. It’s been fun, but I could be reading other things.

Despite the ranting, I really did like this and think it was fun to read, despite the problematic elements of some of the plot lines. It is, however, the weakest of the series.

Favorite Quote:

Age 13—HORRIBLE. Age 14—Never mind! Age 15—I got taller. That’s something, I guess. But mostly? HORRIBLE.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

when happy i eat when upset eat

4 responses to “Review: Bite-Sized Magic”

  1. This series continues to sound cute and fun. I’m going to have to see if my library has the 1st one so I can give it a try. I’ve enjoyed your reviews of the series and think they would be nice to have for those times when I want something light.
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  2. Bonnie says:

    Ha, Wildwood. Those books were nuts I cannot imagine a Middle Grader seeing that on the shelves and picking it up. This series sounds like it wandered into strange territory. I’m not sure I’m interested enough to start though. I’m a sucker for foodie type books but not sure if this is the one for me.
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  3. Ms. Yingling says:

    I rather enjoyed this one, and my students have as well. I think that tweens like their villains to be a little more slapstick than I like my villains to be.

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