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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Read of 2009
I work in a bookstore and read soooooooooo many books that and often I lose interest and toss the book aside to move on to the next one.

Well. I LOVED this book. I read it in two days and found myself making home made bread and vanilla cake (which was THE BEST EVER).

This is the story of Sandra Bullocks's sister, Gesine, who worked in Hollywood for...
Published on September 10, 2009 by Loves Books

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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Geh-see-neh get over it already
Gesine ( pronounced Geh-see-neh, which you will read over and over again ) willing chose a career in Hollywood. She hated it and moved to Vermont to open Gesine Bakery. Since she choose to relocate to Vermont, as opposed to let's say... Germany, and she willing chose to name the bakery after herself - she finds yet another environment where people, most of whom are not...
Published on October 6, 2009 by J. Weber


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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Read of 2009, September 10, 2009
I work in a bookstore and read soooooooooo many books that and often I lose interest and toss the book aside to move on to the next one.

Well. I LOVED this book. I read it in two days and found myself making home made bread and vanilla cake (which was THE BEST EVER).

This is the story of Sandra Bullocks's sister, Gesine, who worked in Hollywood for her sisters production company and gave up a career most American's would drool over. Famous Stars - check! Fabulous clothes - check! Lunch/dinner dates - check!
First class travel - check!

Gesine chucked all the "phoniness" of LA to follow her passion for baking and ended up opening her own bakery - due mainly to an offhand comment her sister made about Gesine's fabulous macaroons.

If you love to bake (or eat) hurry and place your order for this book. If you're not a foodie but your doing a job that drains you and long to do something else, buy this book!

It's a heartfelt, easy, inspiring, read.

Truly the best book I've read all year. I will not be loaning my copy to ANYONE. And I rarely keep books I read (I usually pass them on). I have ONE SHELF that holds favorite books (6 in all) - and this takes first place.

Did I mention I LOVED this book! Funny. Heartwarming. Inspiring. Funny.

And there's recipes!!!!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Confection of Cookbook and Memoir, August 16, 2009
Fresh out of law school and hanging out in L.A., Gesine's sister hits the big time, and she becomes an executive at her newly formed production company. Several years later, her very health-conscious mother dies from colon cancer. Hit hard by the loss, she finds herself channeling her grief into baking. Day after day she produces popular treats in a fashion that renders even the most congealed L.A-weary hearts putty in her hands, working out her angst into heavenly macaroons. After realizing that she was profoundly unhappy in the biz and always would be, she takes off for Montpelier, Vermont, and sets up shop. There she finds the kitchen a haven from the unplesantness she experienced in Hollywood, and falls passionately in love with what she does.

Including wondrous nostalgia for the ways of her mother and grandmother, Gesine takes the reader through the world of her childhood in Austria and Germany and along the way, ending each chapter with a recipe that makes you want to run to the store and start baking like mad. The Golden Eggs recipe--for a simple yellow cake that tastes just like donuts--is not to be missed, nor all the recipes for truly divine German treats. She really cares about what she does, and it shows.

Now this is not a touchy-feely heroine who throws rose-petals at your face because she's found her own happiness--she's not the touchy-feely type--she's a self-confessed misanthrope who is usually way too blunt and socially inept for most people's taste. She initially loves the kitchen for its anonymity and not having to deal with people, which is what I like best about this book--it displays a remarkable honesty about her own character and who she is and why she does what she does--baking is the best way she has of expressing goodness to the world, and although she feels like she's never fit in, she finds that through her gift she becomes an integral part of people's lives in her new home town. This is because (oh, and I love her for this) good treats matter, dammit, so put down that Twinkie and have a piece of properly made cake! Now!

So if you're into baking or just want a good quick yet insightful read about finding what's true for you in your life, then this is the book for you and your book group. Gesine's no poet--the language is very plain spoken and blunt--but she wrote a book packed with meaning and self-truth that I loved. A real treat, inside and out. I'm truly glad to have read it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delicious Book, January 14, 2010
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Gesine Bullock-Prado lives the life that I am living in quiet desperation. Her bakery is the bakery of my dreams, her life the one of my aspirations. I, too, am a closet baker, giving love and affection to whoever will appreciate the time and care that go into a perfect chocolate chip cookie, a decadent double chocolate brownie pie, or anything else baked in my tiny kitchen in upstate New York. Gesine's road from Hollywood to Vermont makes perfect sense to anyone who dreams in sugar, flour and butter...and often chocolate, too. Her autobiographical story of lawyer to baker truly is well written and understandable, funny and intellectual...and then there are the RECIPES: almost as many as in any cookbook, but woven in as part of a story from a European-flavored childhood (Apfelkuchen and Zwetschgendatschi) to the very adult Devil's Cream Pie and Espresso Cheesecake. Can't wait to try them all. I loved reading this book and am thrilled to add it to my collection of special cookbooks that tell their own story. Please get this book; Gesine's story will make you laugh and will touch your heart.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars combination autobiography & cookbook, August 28, 2010
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This review is from: My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time (Paperback)
This autobiography is organized as "a day in the life" with each chapter being the next hour of the day. This gives a nice structure to the book as the author's memories jump around, triggered by some event that hour. It's also a nice touch to have recipes included at the end of every chapter! I am curious why the title changed from the hardcover's "Confections of a Closet Master Baker" to the softcover's "My Life from Scratch"?? Either way, it's a heart-warming story of the author's transition from working at a profitable-but-unpleasant job to a calling.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for the Soul -- So good you'll want to eat the pages!, February 16, 2010
I received an autographed, gift copy of Gesine Bullock-Prado's book for Christmas this past year. The givers were my brother and sister-in-law who live in Vermont, about 20 minutes drive away from Gesine's bakery. I plan to visit the bakery and them - probably in that order ;-) - when I next find myself in Vermont.

I loved this book! Quite apart from the fact I am an unabashed "foodie" -- known to drive ridiculous distances in quest of just one perfectly prepared food item -- I not only shamelessly slobbered all over the pages when ingesting the recipes, I laughed myself silly while reading the trenchantly witty, often self-deprecating narrative. And nevermind her serving as throwdown judge with FoodNetwork's, Bobby Flay. Gersine is a worthy battle of wits match for that bad-boy chef turned Travel Channel globetrotter, Anthony Bourdain. I'm betting our girl Gesine could leave claw marks on Bourdain's psyche before he knew he was bleeding.

That aside, the timing of receipt of this book proved poignantly bittersweet for me when I read the portion of the book devoted to loving recollections of Gesine's late mother, Helga Bullock. I am currently serving as caretaker for my own mother, who is in the final stages of Alzheimers. I split duties with my sister, as Gesine did with her actress sister, in providing my Mom with pretty much whatever she wants to eat -- mostly ice cream, in my Mom's case. When I read about the lengths to which Gesine and her sister went to supply their dying mother with her favorite foods, I literally had tears in my eyes. I'm guessing, at some irrational level they felt, as I have, that feeding their mother exactly what she wanted might in some miraculous way, heal her, even though it didn't.

I was thankful for the fact Gesine counter balanced the painful recollections of her mother's death, with screamingly funny recollections of her, in life. In particular, the incident involving the righteous wrath Mother Helga visited upon Gesine the Child, after Gesine was found to have stolen cookies from a neighbor's kitchen cupboard. So relate-able! I laughed aloud in recalling the time my own mother marched my eight year old self right back into a grocery store, and not only made me return a half eaten candy bar I'd pilfered, I had to apologize to the store manager. The humiliation of that stuck with me, to the extent I never shoplifted anything, again.

This is THE book to read when one is mired in indecision and debate over career changes. Gesine gave up an assured, big-bucks business career for more soul-satifying work that requires rigorous, uncompromising self-discipline and long hours of plain hard work. Yet she rejoices in providing exactly the right confection, to even the most temperamental of customers -- including: a screaming little boy who wanted a chocolate croissant as much as Gesine once craved to eat taboo Oreos, instead of her mother's homemade, whole-grain bread.

Finally, to Gesine: If I move to Vermont, will you puh-lease let me work in your bakery?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ahh, The Smell of Fresh Bread in the Morning, November 18, 2009
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To have a passion and be able to pursue it is a blessing, to be able to bring joy to others with that blessing - that is a gift. This is the life of Gesine Bullock-Prado. It doesn't matter who your famous family or friends are, what matters is the sweet luscious scent of chocolate or fresh baked bread. This is what is important in life and if you are taught by your much adored mother- well then- that's all the better.

Bullock-Prado describes her life before owning her own shop and her life after. There is no comparison, when you hate what you are doing, but make a gazillion dollars you still hate what you are doing, but when you are building a business, getting up at 4am and trudging through snow and ice to do it, well, then life is good. So, you don't have a gazillion dollars, but you do have coffee and delicious fresh pastries.

Owning your own business and meeting your new neighbors in a new town 3,000 miles away, well, you just have to see life an adventure. So the building is falling down and has to be rebuilt, the suppliers don't deliver soy on demand and the town has a few odd-balls. That's ok, there are always croissants.

This book is a delicious gastronomic pleasure. But my words of advice - get over the whole name thing. People are going to pronounce it wrong. And not everyone is going to have a subtle sigh when they say it.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Geh-see-neh get over it already, October 6, 2009
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Gesine ( pronounced Geh-see-neh, which you will read over and over again ) willing chose a career in Hollywood. She hated it and moved to Vermont to open Gesine Bakery. Since she choose to relocate to Vermont, as opposed to let's say... Germany, and she willing chose to name the bakery after herself - she finds yet another environment where people, most of whom are not German, can not pronounce her name correctly! She complains about people constantly asking if she is related to Sandra Bullock, and Geh-see-neh - perhaps they wouldn't if you dropped the Bullock from your hyphenated last name. The author doesn't seem to mind trotting our her sister for the opening of her bakery, mentioning her baked goods in an interview, or even using her sister as the opening line in book cover description. I found the tone strident and one self created complaint after another. Someone somewhere impressed Geh-see-neh with the phrase "social misanthrope" an identity the author loves ( which you will also hear about over and over again!) Geh-see-neh does describe some hilarious moments from her childhood ( where everyone apparently knew how to pronounce her name... thereby limiting the constant complaints) The recipes sound enticing. I was relieved when the book ended and I pray Geh-see-neh stays in Vermont.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Delicious!, October 2, 2009
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I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, fun, touching and full of heart, not to mention great recipes. Gesine paints an honest picture of her life. I was touched by her honesty. From her life as head of her celebrity sister's production company, where she had beautiful clothes, hobnobbed with celebrities, but was miserable, to her life as the owner of bakery in Vermont. The book is filled with colorful people and heart felt stories. Her mom, sister, dad, and grandma began to feel like family. Everything about this book is simply delightful. The cakes and pastries were described so well in this book I could almost taste them. I can't wait to try some of the recipes. This book is for anyone who wants to be inspired to live their dreams!

Another book I was inspired by is Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment by award winning authors Ariel & Shya Kane. I highly recommend both of these books.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable little memoir, October 22, 2009
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Anonymous (Seattle, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
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When I first started reading this book it was like the author was speaking directly to me. Yes, I love to bake! Yes, I totally know that 'high' you get from feeding other people! Yes, I am totally jealous of you being able to pursue your dream! I feel like the book started out strong, going through the author's day, getting a sneak peak into the bakery and her routine as well as the driving motivators for doing what she did. The last two or three chapters are what turned this from a 4-star to a 3-star review. The author admits to not particularly being a people person and I feel that towards the end of the book she feels like she is tired of having this conversation with you; something about the tone changes and while that can perhaps be attributed to the subject matter it sort of lost me. I also found that the book ended on a bit of a sour note, with her 'recommendation' . . . well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone so let's just say I found it very contrary to what I would have expected and hoped for. I really respect the author for minimizing the Hollywood bits and leaving out names and not turning it into some sort of trashy tell-all. Too bad for people who pick it up and are expecting that element and are disappointed; this is an entertaining, touching read that has so much more to offer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt & funny, a very delightful read!!, November 3, 2010
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This review is from: My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time (Paperback)
Now while I love reading reviews on books, I usually don't review any. But Gesine's memoir is so delightful to read, I wanted to put in my two cents. You won't regret getting this book! It's charming and funny, but most importantly very sincere & heartfelt... Makes me want to have a cup of coffee with macaroons or just fly to Vermont!! (Now her sister's THE Sandra Bullock, but Gesine doesn't rub that in to sell her book... instead, Sandy pops up in the book like how any other older sister would.)
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My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time
My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time by Gesine Bullock-Prado (Paperback - June 8, 2010)
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