Pros: Funny, hysterical, and lots of other synonyms for hilarious; plenty to make it valuable beyond the website
Cons: Obviously it would be cool if all the photos could be pro-quality, but by nature they can’t, and this has its own sort of charm
Rating: 5 out of 5
[This is one of those rare books that is not a review copy.]
Also posted on Epinions.com.
The Cake Wrecks Blog began when Jen Yates decided to post, for the amusement of herself and a few friends, photos of professional cakes gone “hilariously wrong.” Of course, as occasionally happens on the internet, she’d hit on something that had a far wider audience than she’d imagined. Soon she was getting thousands of hits a day and submissions of “cake wreck” photos from all over the globe—and eventually she even got a book deal. The result of that deal is Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, a wonderful organized collection of both best-of-the-blog photos (with snarky commentary) and additional material that never made it into the blog.
Whether you prefer the “literal LOLs” (cakes where the decorator took his instructions a little too literally), the “dreaded CCC” (cupcake cake), the “poo phenomenon” (in which decorators don’t seem to notice that piles or extrusions of brown icing look… wrong), “holiday horrors”—it’s all in here, along with plenty more. Creepy cakes; bizarre cakes; the “say what?!” cakes and the “how on earth could the baker not realize how WRONG that is?!” cakes. You’ll read the story of the naked baby carrot jockey that has become the mascot of the blog, and tales such as the bride who said she didn’t care what kind of bachelorette cake she got as long as it wasn’t a penis cake. So of course, she ended up with a cake on which the words “not a penis cake” were immortalized in icing.
Mind you, Cake Wrecks wasn’t created to be mean to bakers. Jen anonymizes the wrecks, and sometimes bakers actually deliberately share their own wrecks with her. She also isn’t going to be mean to your Aunt Edna, who once baked a cake for your birthday because your mom asked her to; these are professional wrecks, where either the bakers should have known better, or the customer specifically asked for something bizarre.
The book includes some fun background and extra tidbits on how the blog started, what it’s been like running it and dealing with issues like trolls, how Jen defines a wreck, and so on. Jen’s writerly voice is entertaining no matter what she’s writing about, so this material is every bit as enjoyable as the wrecks themselves.
Some of the photos are of imperfect quality, but keep in mind that often they were snapped by cell-phone in a hurry while dodging an angry bakery manager. In a way it just adds that much atmosphere and silly authenticity to the whole thing.
My personal suggestion: keep this book around for any occasion on which you’re feeling a little down. Pick it up, open to a random page, read about a few wrecks, look at the wacky photos, and laughter will almost certainly pick up your spirits!
I was originally hoping to go to a Maryland signing of the book on Tuesday, but then Jen’s husband came down with a seriously dangerous set of illnesses and they had to cut the book tour short for a hospital stay! Please wish them well; believe it or not they’re trying to reschedule the rest of the tour. Now that’s dedication! Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to the reschedule, and come back to insert a few photos taken at the event. In the meantime, if you’re still uncertain as to whether or not you want to buy the book, go look at a few entries of the Cake Wrecks Blog! I have a feeling you’ll immediately want the book, too.