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Blog Tour: The Winning Ingredient by Kelly Swan Taylor | Review and Favourite Things About the Book

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Author: Kelly Swan

Pages: 262

Genre: YA Contemporary

Published: 22nd September 2021, by Link Press

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


As the past and the present collide, one baker and one quarterback team up.

The two might be the winning ingredient in a timeless recipe.”

Mia DeSalvo is one tough cookie, who can throw a perfect spiral and bake a perfect biscotti. But, as George Washington High’s top student and ninth-grade class president, she’s thrown off her game when asked to tutor boarding school drop-out and secret-weapon-on-the-football-field, Bryce Fitzgerald. Despite his to-die-for dimples, he’s a total bore. Besides, her plate is already full, trying to save her family’s struggling century-old Italian bakery.

Determined to tackle her family’s business woes, Mia secretly devotes her free time to developing new recipes, with the help of her Sicilian great-great-grandmother’s handwritten cookbook. She soon discovers that blending her own innovations with her Nonna Antoinette’s history may be the key to the bakery’s success.

But Mia’s not the only one with a secret. As rumors swirl around Bryce’s lightning-speed exit from prestigious Chadwick Academy, she’s resolved to get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, the star quarterback’s bad attitude, mixed with her flaming temper, is a recipe for disaster.

When Mia stumbles upon Bryce’s beautifully written journal, it’s clear his talents aren’t confined to the football field, and there’s much more to the hazel-eyed quarterback than she could’ve imagined. While the journal may hold all the answers she’s looking for, the weight of its heartbreaking words may be too much for her to carry.

With the future of the DeSalvo Bakery and the football State Championship hanging in the balance, Mia and Bryce might just have what the other is missing.

Armed with an antique cookbook and a football, this unlikely pair will discover the importance of embracing an enduring legacy and keeping cherished memories alive.

The Winning Ingredient is a lower young adult novel about unwavering friendship through loss and triumph and is the debut novel for this previously published author.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Info:

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Kelly Swan Taylor is a Boston-based attorney and former laboratory scientist. As a competitive runner, racing from sun-drenched Hawaii to frigid Iceland, her first publishing credit was in Simon & Schuster’s best-selling book series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Running for Good, highlighting her experiences in the historic 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. Growing up immersed in beloved “Teen” novels, Kelly now crafts her own sweet stories that bridge the gap between middle grade and young adult fiction that is so often forgotten but so sorely needed in the market today. She has a soft spot for the sincere yet flawed character with a kind heart who tries to do the right thing, stumbles along the way, but eventually becomes a hero in everyday life. In her free time, Kelly enjoys traveling and collecting snow globes and race medals from around the world. A proud alumnus of Syracuse University, she cheers her Syracuse Orange from both her sofa and the metal bleachers of the Carrier Dome. She resides in Providence, Rhode Island with her architect husband, Jonathan, and two spoiled geriatric kitties.

Author Links: Goodreads


Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and the author for providing me with a free digital copy to review. All the thoughts and opinions are mine. You can check out the other posts on the tour h

Honestly, I think this might be the first novel I’ve read written in this age range. And well it was okayish.


The plot was super basic, and could have been better had it been developed better. Like, I didn’t see the book coming to an end, yet it felt super long. I felt like the author had trouble carrying it forward. Every aspect wasn’t explored like it could have been. But, I did enjoy how the author didn’t just make Mia do the baking, and Bryce just football. Both of them did both the things.


I did not like Mia. She read Bryce’s journal, when it was clearly personal. She was too mature for a ninth grader, and she just felt unrealistic.
Another character who bothered me was Harper because of her excessive use of boss.

I loved Zach and Bryce though! They were so sweet and helpful and cute!

Writing Style:

I loved the banter between the characters, and how the author had tried to include so many things- football, baking and whatnot. It did seem a tad bland though. The writing style was goodish.

The book wasn’t bad for a debut novel, but it wasn’t perfect either. It had loads of potential, it just wasn’t explored.

Favourite Things about the Book:

  1. Zach and Mia’s relationship: I loved that the author showed the fact that a boy and a girl can be just friends. They helped each other out all the time.
  2. Bryce: I mean, he’s so sweet and cute and funny and smart! I loved reading him!
  3. The baked goods: I mean, do I even need to explain?
  4. Gender equality: The girls were shown to be equally crazy about football as the guys. And well, the guys didn’t shy off of helping in the baking. I loved that.

And that’s all I have for today! I recommend this book to everyone looking for a cute, quick baking romance! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this book!

P.S.- For those of you who are tired of seeing blog tours, this is the last one until December- the next one I have is scheduled after a month, so well. And I got over excited and signed up for so many, so well😅😅


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