[BLOG TOUR REVIEW] All Four Stars by Tara Dairman – “YUM!!! + Pictures Abound!”

[BLOG TOUR REVIEW] All Four Stars by Tara Dairman – “YUM!!! + Pictures Abound!”
All Four Stars
All Four Stars #1
by Tara Dairman

Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Publication date: July 10, 2014
by Putnam Juvenile


Amazon | Book Depository

Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.

But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Oh, man. This book was like my tummy’s dream come true, as it was full of talks of exotic food and tasty desserts that would surely make anyone’s mouth drool. Fair warning, my dear friends: don’t read this book when you’re hungry as you’d be looking for the nearest restaurant in a jiffy!

All Four Stars is definitely an endearing read that will connect to the chef (and eater!) in you, as it follows the story of Gladys Gatsby, a young sixth grader, follow her dreams in the most unconventional way. She has loved food at a very tender age, and has since then experimented with recipes behind her parents’ backs. It has gone so, so well, until she caught the kitchen’s curtains on fire when she was attempting to make a Crème Brûlée, a tasty French treat that assure you is as delicious as it sounds. She got banned from the kitchen, from looking up cookbooks, and pretty much everything that has anything to do with food and cooking, but what’s she to do when she (unintentionally) finds herself hired to review a dessert shop for the New York Standard? Looks like her dream isn’t yet ready to give up on her, either…

One word to sum up this book? Freaking. Adorable.

And it’s not because of the food, either! The main character, Gladys, was such a sweetiepie. I loved how behind that timid and shy persona was a young girl oozing with passion. I loved how the mere sight of food (and real food, not just the fast-food half-cooked stuff that’s served in East Dumpsford!) put her in euphoria. Her eagerness was so contagious that her descriptions of the Indian cuisine and the desserts in Classy Cakes pretty much sent my stomach to a grumbling and growling frenzy. But most of all, it was so admirable to see someone so young pursue cooking for the mere fact it made her happy and fulfilled. I don’t remember being that way when I was eleven years old. I was awkward and all over the place, and I didn’t know what I really wanted to do in life, and seeing Gladys like this made me want to be young again and be as full of fire.

At the beginning, she was quite hesitant to share her enthusiasm for food, and how could she not? For one, her parents were terrible cooks and fast-food-lovers who deemed cooking as an “unapproved” eleven-year-old activity. Her only friend in school, Parm, was someone who only ate cold cereal and plain spaghetti and had no palate for anything else. Her Aunt Lydia, who introduced her to cooking in the first place, lived so far away in Paris. It was therefore such a momentous moment to see her finally stand her ground and make her dreams come true on her own terms. She didn’t wait for it to happen to her – she made it happen herself. She found ways. She exerted effort. She tried. And every step of the way you’ll be cheering her on, because she braved the waves when it felt like the whole world was against her.

And the food descriptions! My goodness! They were such delectable delights, as they surely made my imagination run wild. It’s no secret that this blogger here loves food. If I have to choose, I’d rather spend my money on going out to restaurants than on shopping sprees. Who could possibly resist dumplings, foie gras, or some pasta Alfredo? When Gladys recalled her foodtrip at her Indian friend’s house, I was reminded of the Sultanate of Oman, an Arabian country I frequently visit where I regularly eat Arabian, Turkish, and Indian cuisine. It was so awesome to see the food so stunningly described here. They truly made my mouth water.

And the best part? THE PARENTS! Okay, okay, maybe they’re not the best part, but they were an awesome factor nonetheless. They were a little on the bizarre side, but I really appreciated how they still looked after Gladys and how they were so worried she might be isolating herself too much. They definitely wanted the best for her, and you can see that in their actions, even if some of them were a liiiiittle misguided. The teacher, Ms. Quincy, was so awesome, too. It was so endearing to see a teacher truly concerned for the well-being of her students, encouraging them to give the very best in what they do. Like Gladys, you can see her passion in teaching. She was so inspirational, and it’s really thanks to people like her that kids like Gladys get the courage and confidence to step up.

All in all, this was a cute, endearing, adorable, and stunning MG book that kids and adults alike will surely love. The heroine is awesome, the food is awesome, the writing is awesome, the messages are awesome, the whole package is awesome. This is a must-read, folks! Not only for your heart and mind, but also for your tummy!

Rating Report
Overall: 4.3

Thank you, The Midnight Garden Tours, for allowing The Social Potato to be part of this tour!
Visit the kickoff post for All Four Stars to see all the tour stops!


Meet the author

Tara Dairman headshot

Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and survivor of the world’s
longest honeymoon (2 years, 74 countries!) Her first middle-grade
novel, All Four Stars, will be published on July 10, 2014 by
Putnam/Penguin. Tara grew up in New York and earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College; she currently lives in Colorado, where she teaches writing to students aged 6-13.

Keep up with all of Tara’s latest news on her website, Twitter, GoodReads, and Facebook.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

All Four Stars Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 1st              The Midnight Garden
Wednesday, July 2nd        The Reading Date
Thursday, July 3rd            For What It’s Worth
Friday, July 4th                 The Spirit of Children’s Literature
                                         A Baked Creation
Monday, July 7th              Xpresso Reads
Tuesday, July 8th             For the Love of Words
Wednesday, July 9th        Finding Bliss in Books
Thursday, July 10th          Candace’s Book Blog
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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    She’s only 11? Seriously? Why wasn’t I like that? Can I make my life over again? :P but wow, she’s done so much at a young age. And to keep going despite all the struggles is definitely inspiring. I love eating, but I’m definitely not as adventurous as you or Gladys. I think I’d be hungry though. And really good descriptions of desserts might be the death of me. I’d want to eat them all. And I’m glad she had a passionate teacher. We all definitely need more of those. I will definitely read this one.
    Francine Soleil recently posted…I entitled this “Bananas in Pyjamas”

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    • FayeFaye says

      I know, right?! When I was 11, I was trying so hard to conform and blend in with everyone else that I don’t think I had a passion that was uniquely mine. I wish I was like Gladys and found my passion early. That would have made me childhood far more happier and I guess eventful? Haha. My early puberty days were highly quiet…

    • FayeFaye says

      I know! I don’t think I’ve really seen a negative review for this one yet. It’s hard to feel anything negative towards the main character as she is just so absolutely relatable. And the food descriptions! They will surely make you hungry! I mean, I’ve hardly eaten 98% of them but they still made me so hungry!

  2. says

    This book looks so cute, Faye! I want to read it despite not being too big on MG novels. The food is more than enough to make me want to read it, but also Gladys makes me want to read the book. I love how she is so passionate despite being so young.
    And you HAD to put up pictures of food, did ya, Faye?
    *is hungry*
    Lovely review! :)
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : Ruin and Rising by Leigh BardugoMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, it really is cute, Nick! It will surely appeal to the kids, dreamer, and chef in us. I’m sure we’re still a bit of that even in our adult years, somehow ;)

      Indeed, her passion is very admirable, and you won’t help but cheer her on every step of the way. I’m glad she’s intriguing you, enough to make you want to read this book! AND YES, I CANNOT NOT POST PICTURES OF FOOD ON A BOOK THAT’S ABOUT FOOD. IT MUST BE DONE! Haha.

  3. says

    You know how sometimes you read a review and for some reason, you just HAVE to read the book because it appeals greatly to you? Yeah, that’s this book. 1) Food, 2) MG contemporary, which I don’t read enough of and 3) Quirky parents. Definitely have to get my hands on this one.

    Also, that picture of the cake??? WHERE’S MINE??
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor and The Little Loony WriterMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, yes, YES! I’ve had many cases like that and I’m happy to know you’re feeling the exact same way towards this book. There’s just that tug that compels you right? Food is love. Like seriously, I’d spend all the money in the world just for food (okay maybe a bit of internet, and some rent, and some books… hmmmm). The parents were definitely unique in an endearing way. I have a feeling you’ll love them!

    • FayeFaye says

      YES! Mango Bravo! It was the first time I’ve eaten it actually, the day I took those pictures. And it was absolutely delicious. Who knew that it tasted so heavenly?

      And yeah. I’ve never eaten those Indian cuisine before, but the descriptions were enough to make me imagine…

  4. says

    Since I read The Westing Game I’m feeling quite inspired to read more MG and following the tour for this one I’m super happy that I did preorder it (it’s finally shipped today, hooray!).
    The only thing that I was as passionate at eleven was books (some things never change) but food was something more utilitarian, if I can use that word… though I was never against trying new things. Now, as a grown adult I actually LOVE trying new foods and discovering new places, so I’m sure I’m gonna ADORE this book!
    Great review, Faye!!
    Pili recently posted…First Chapter, First Paragraph #2: Shimmer by Paula Weston!!My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Ugh! Thank you for reminding me of The Westing Game. I really need to try that out as I’ve heard nothing but praise for it. You followed the whole tour, really? That’s awesome, Pili! I hope you enjoyed all the stops!

      I know… when I was young, I just ate whatever my parents gave me. I just thought that they were a basic need and not really something you need super special effort for. But now that I’m 21, I have grown to develop a palate for them, especially new tastes and spices. Perhaps I need to thank my boyfriend for that one as we went restaurant-hopping when I was in France…

  5. says

    I officially hate you Faye.

    Anyways, I’ve had this book on my radar for a while now because if there’s one combination you can’t go wrong with, it’s MG+foods. XD I’ve read two of them(far as I can remember) and both were good. Lovely review and pictures of fooooooooooodddddd. I just ate and youse making me hungry. I’m glad there are descriptions of Indian cuisine in there too. There are not enough descriptions of Indian foods in the readersphere for me!!! All everyone ever talks about is curry, curry, curry-I sure hope that ain’t the case here.
    Stuti recently posted…Extraction (Extraction #1)My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Aw, don’t say that Stuti Patootie! You know you can’t resist me! Mwah!

      Yeah, MG + Food is a strong AND deadly combination. Deadling meaning powerful, endearing, and adorable, of course ;) That’s what I do, Stuti! I make you all hungry! Hungry for books, hungry for food.. miam~ And don’t worry!! The Indian cuisine here are truly exquisite and not the stereotypical stuff people think you guys eat only haha. The carrot cake!!! I told you about that on Twitter ;D

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Kimberly :) The food desriptions were truly heavenly. Either the author has done her research or she has eaten A LOT of food over and over again to get the stuff right ;)

  6. says

    I think I saw another review for this on The Midnight Garden, and it was a positive review, too! I have to admit that I’m not really into middle-grade books since they usually fall short of my expectations, but I love the sound of this! So adorable and sweet and just plain cute. So happy that this was a great read for you, Faye!

    I loved how behind that timid and shy persona was a young girl oozing with passion.” — Is it weird that I think I’ll connect with Gladys really well? O_O I’m a super shy person as well (and a huge introvert), but I have passion for a lot of things. Sounds like she and I will get along just fine! I also like that there’s a sort of hidden message in here to never give up on your dreams even if everyone seems set against it, so this isn’t just a fluffy and meaningless book after all.

    And oh my gosh, Faye, I totally blame you for the way my stomach is grumbling right now. PASTA. CAAAAKE. And I just had dinner, too! D:
    Megan (Adrift on Vulcan) recently posted…TL;DR: Pawn by Aimee Carter & The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn BarnesMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I’m not surprised ;) It’s hard not to love this book as every aspect is brilliant – from the main character, to the secondary characters, to the writing and food! There are so many awesome Middle Grade books, Megan! :o I’ll recommend you some sometime when you’re up for it :)

      Definitely not weird at all <3 Gladys is that kind of kid who we just know we'll relate to because we've been in her shoes sometime in our lives. Pasta + Cake is the most powerful combination ever for our tummy... man, I'd love some Pasta Alfredo right now!

  7. says

    Aw, this has such a cute cover! Me loves!! Hahaha. The food junkie in me definitely wants to give this one a go even though I don’t really read MG. I love different kitchens (um, with different origins) and this sounds wonderful! Alsoooo, yay for awesome parents! I’m glad you enjoyed this adorable tale, Faye and lol @ the pics (le gasp! That cake is huuuuuge)! Thanks for sharing :D
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    • FayeFaye says

      The cover really is so cute, isn’t it? I do admit it was the first thing that caught my attention – not the blurb, and not even the mention of “food” at all! I’m just a sucker of visually-enticing covers…

  8. Larissa says

    I’ve actually heard so much about this middle grade novel c: It seems like something I’d love to read at that age, and honestly even now. I love to bake, and I feel like it’d make connecting with main character so easy c: I also love to read about yummy food, even if it does make me hungry ahaha. I also like the sounds of the parental relationships. Though they’re actions are misguided, they’re realistic and that’s why I think I’d enjoy reading about them.

    I also love those pictures Faye! Haha c: That cake looks delish.

    Wonderful review c:

    • FayeFaye says

      Ooooh, you and Rashika love to bake! :D Ella @ The Filipina Booknote loves to bake, too. You guys should put up some recipes, bake them, and make a post about it. I swear we would ALL love it to bits. While being jealous because omg why can’t I bake as good as you guys?! D:

      The cake IS delish~ It’s called Mango Bravo, and the inside is more waffle-y than flour and stuff.

  9. says

    Sew, I don’t really cook. Like I know how to make certain things (which is mostly easy pasta dishes) but I never had the drive to cook. I think it’s because I don’t like touching raw meat and fish. I love to bake but cooking doesn’t make me happy as much as baking. Which is why I think an 11 year old girl so passionate about food amazes me. And it’s amazing how effective the book is in its description of food because hey if it can get you hungry, that’s a good sign. I don’t read a lot of MG but I will definitely check this out Faye, I want to test if it will make me starve for gourmet! Haha! And love the pictures! I love to eat too so food pics are awesome. And cake! Yum :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Me, too. For a long while I never had the drive to cook, either. I just depend on my mom, or my grandma (she cooks heavenly. I especially love her dessert “Leche Flan” and her trademark Seafood Paella!). Although recently, I was looking for Chicken dishes, saw this one recipe, tried it out, got successful, and now I wanna make more of them ^_^

  10. says

    OMG FOOD AND CUTE STORY. YES PLEASE. This book sounds totally cute, Faye! While it may seem quite unbelievable at first, I think it’s too cute to pass. :) It’s amazing that Gladys is passionate about things she loves and actually tries to reach for her dream. <3 Haha, I think I haven't done anything productive when I was 11. :P I love books with focus on food and dishes, so I'll definitely check this out! Glad to hear that the writing is awesome as well – nothing beats beautiful, stunning description of a dish. <3

    I hope she makes another crème brûlée and successfully makes it. <3 All this talk about food makes me totally hungry haha. *grabs the nearest chocolate bar* Awesome review, Faye! :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thanks, Hilda. This one is surely cute and adorable in all of its aspects. It’s definitely not one to pass if you’re up for a light and fluffy read. When I was 11, I don’t think I have a single passion, aside from wanting to watch all the anime in the world, but that’s pretty childish now in hindsight. Haha.

  11. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) says

    AH ADORABLE BOOOK I NEED TO READ THIS CLEARLY. I absolutely love fluffy and fun reads, and this one sounds extra amazing because FOOD! Who doesn’t love food? my top 2 fav novels are MG novels so I am quite sure I will love this.

    Lovely review Faye! <33

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, Melanie! I totally thought of you when I was reading and writing this book. Not just because you’re young, but because you love fluffy and fun reads, and this is as fluffy and fun as fluffy and fan can get ^^

    • FayeFaye says

      It really is cute! Like too cute for words, no kidding. Pfft, there’s ALWAYS room for dessert, Tanja! Come get some creme brulee to make your day even more perfect!

    • FayeFaye says

      Awww <3 Mission accomplished for me then. I love it when I make other people hungry due to my posting of good. Haha.

  12. says

    Ummmm. I just had a substantial breakfast, but now I’m hungry all over again Faye! I got hungry just look at that adorably delicious cover, and then you had to go and post food pictures too. *shakes fist at you* ;-) This sounds like such a fun book, I’m adding it to my list of things to recommend to my cousins who I think would love it!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, we’ll always have room for more food, Jenny! Not that I am promoting gluttony or anything of that sort, but if you’re hungry, EAT! XD I hope your cousins will like it!

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, desserts are the best, no? Well, second to the foie gras of course… foie gras is food from the gods themselves!

  13. says

    OMG Faye! That CAKE!! I have to keep scrolling up and looking at it some more, LOL. I just did it again! This girl loves food too, FYI. And I believe you–Gladys sounds freaking adorable. You probably know that I don’t read much MG, but I feel an exception coming on . . . I mean, how can I go on, not knowing how, ” she (unintentionally) finds herself hired to review a dessert shop for the New York Standard?” Aaaannndd there’s the cake again ;) Fabulous review (and CAKE), Faye!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, it looks delicious, isn’t it, Jessica? It’s called Mango Bravo, and inside have layers of different waffles with mangoes every 2-3 layers. Seriously, seriously good. There should always be an exception for stuff like this, Jessica! ^_^

    • FayeFaye says

      YES! I reckon it will teach the kid, the eager, and the food-lover in us a little something about passion :D

  14. says

    Aw, Faye, I’m so glad that you loved this one! Beautiful review! (By the way, that rating report is just awesome, how did you get that?) I normally don’t ever pick up middle grade novels, but something about this one just fascinates me. Is it the food? x) The friendship? I don’t know, but it just sounds awesome. :)
    Michelle recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #2: July 12My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you~ It’s a plugin called Rating-Report, but I think its only for WordPress :( I’m not sure you can get it for Blogger >< Time to migrate, yes? ;D And yes, the friendships aren't that deep, but they are awesome! Just perfect :)

  15. says

    The parents in the book remind me of the woman who posts up the FB status that she was angry at her toddler for never eating McDonalds and that he just wanted cooked squash. She didn’t want to keep cooking for him.

    It was an adorable book!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: InlandMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, yeah… I love McDonalds on a lazy day, but man, I wouldn’t want to keep eating it forever. My body would beg for death instead!

  16. says

    wow I love the pictures, now I want to taste all that too! Mainly the cake lol. Never saw something like that it’s impressive. This book has a cute cover and it sounds really good, lol I’ll keep in mind to not be hungry at the time if I try it. Thanks for the nice review!
    Melliane recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #101My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, thanks. The cake is awesome, its name is Mango Bravo and it is DELICIOOOOUS~ The inside is all waffle though. First time I’ve seen it actually! Haha.

    • FayeFaye says

      Thanks, Maddy. It definitely fulfills that fluffy and cute thing. The characters are just so endearing and you can’t help but cheer them on in everything that they do!

    • FayeFaye says

      YES! Very inspirational indeed. Makes you wonder, man, where did my 11 year old childhood gone and why isn’t it as awesome as this?!