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Publisher's Summary

Introducing White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras, who is rising-and sleuthing-to the top. Includes recipes for a complete presidential menu! Never let them see you sweat-that's White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras's motto, which is pretty hard to honor in the most important kitchen in the world. She's hell-bent on earning her dream job, Executive Chef. There's just one thing: Her nemesis is vying for it, too. Well, that and the fact that an elusive assassin wants to see her fry.

©2008 Tekno Books (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[A] compulsively readable whodunit full of juicy behind-the-Oval Office details, flavorful characters and a satisfying side dish of red herrings - not to mention 20 pages of easy-to-cook recipes fit for the leader of the free world." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    80
  • 4 Stars
    84
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    97
  • 4 Stars
    65
  • 3 Stars
    25
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    76
  • 4 Stars
    67
  • 3 Stars
    32
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    7
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Pure fiction -- I still loved it!

Okay -- it's not believable. No winsome young white heterosexual lass like Ollie would ever be hired as the White House Chef -- that's a patronage position, and would go to someone with political clout, or as a bow to some interest group. At least in these post-JFK days, cooking ability has very little to do with it.

And right, one would assume that security in the White House would be a whole lot better than it was in this book -- or at least one WOULD have assumed that, up until the several recent and very serious breaches of security have made the headlines. Now that part of the plot doesn't seem so far fetched at all.

But okay, this is fiction, for crying out loud! It doesn't have to echo real life -- and there were so many more things to really like about this book I couldn't stop listening.

Ollie got her first "Atta girl!" from me when she unabashedly went out to the firing range to practice -- now remember, Ollie is not a PI, she's not a detective, not in law enforcement. She's a cook, an artist, and still she likes to shoot! Good deal -- a nascent Sarah Palin, right there. Ollie could probably plug a boar with the best of 'em. Not only that, but she reveres her father, who was killed in the service. She regularly goes to Arlington Cemetery to honor him, seek his presence and consolation. That's nice; nice to see a young girl who honors and respects her dead father. AND she gets goose bumps when she hears the Star Spangled Banner! Are you seeing a pattern, here? We actually have a conservative protagonist -- something so rare in contemporary fiction that it deserves to be celebrated. I like that.

True, she should dump that boyfriend of hers -- any man who repeatedly talks to her as though she's "a wayward second grader" deserves to be dumped, and fast. She doesn't deserve that -- she deserves someone a whole lot better than that weasel. But maybe she takes care of him in a subsequent book.

All in all it was a great listen -- lots of red herrings. I had several resolutions in mind, all through the book, and none of them were right. The ending was fine -- took me by surprise. I also loved all the tidbits of information about cooking in the White House -- they may be fiction, too, for all I know, but it sounded plausible enough. I resonated with the evil political appointee who was trying to run the show -- that was one character who was most definitely NOT fictional. Those kind of turkeys exist, oh, yes they do. As do ambitious characters like Laurel Ann -- that wasn't fiction either.

Good book! I've already added two more by Julie Hyzy to my wish list. Good light reading!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Carla
  • United States
  • 04-03-14

Annoying

What disappointed you about State of the Onion?

I liked the whole premise of this story (White House Chef), but I am only willing to suspend belief so far. Therefore, I can live with the opening chapter where a petite chef is the only member of the White House staff able to subdue a possible terrorist, besting an entire group of Secret Service. But, after that, I need the story to feel like it could possibly happen. This heroine does one stupid thing after another and the characters introduced to be her nemeses are so one-dimensional that they are unintentionally funny.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Some one who writes better

What does Eileen Stevens bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She was fair- her voice was acceptable as the voice of the heroine, but other voices were not very distinct.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Annoyance

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great, easy listen

Where does State of the Onion rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the top series

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes, I usually read on my to/from work. I found myself wanting to listen to it all the time. I often listened to it in bed.

Have you listened to any of Eileen Stevens’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. That is how I found this book. I really like the way she narrates. A good narrator makes all the difference. She doesn't just read but performs the books. I love her!!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found myself in the book and whatever emotions the main character was feeling, I was feeling too.

Any additional comments?

This is a great new series. It is a cozy mystery and such a simple fun listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Summer lightweight

A pleasant, undemanding addition to your summer activities. The main character is annoyingly naive sometimes. Spoiler alert: Would you go home alone to your apartment if an assassin was after you?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Pleasantly surprised

I hard a hard time being interested in this story at first but I hung in there and actually ended up enjoying it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nancy F.
  • Sierra Foothills, Northern CA
  • 01-01-15

What Great Fun!!

Ok, how would any sane reviewer give 3 and 4 stars for performance and story, but still give an overall 5? Let me see if I can explain.

The narrator was mildly annoying, using a very tight throat to give voice to male characters. The story was pretty good -- just not great. There were holes left in the plot; e.g. why was the main character's boyfriend so cool toward our heroine in the middle of the book, and other such unexplained circumstances. The plot premise was entertaining and easily kept my attention, but didn't really dwell on character development or plot complexities.

The overall 5 had to do with the mesmerizing pace and the overall cadence of the written words. Even though I knew what happened (not complex enough to be confusing), I still went back and relistened to a couple chapters because I was enjoying the overall experience. So ... my 5 star explanation isn't terribly enlightening, I know. I would recommend just listening to this book and maybe you can help me explain why it is so enjoyable.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Col
  • fayetteville, GA, United States
  • 06-25-14

Food Related

If you could sum up State of the Onion in three words, what would they be?

Fast pace, good food, interesting

Who was your favorite character and why?

I like Olivia, even though she does do some stupid things. Peter Sargent is a love to hate character as is Loral Ann

What about Eileen Stevens’s performance did you like?

I think she is great. All her characters are believable. She is really good and the men and women all sound different.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My reaction was: how could you do that? I love food related mysteries but I don't like it when the author has the main character do obvious dumb moves.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Beatrice
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 02-13-14

okay but not believable

The White House setting is unique and I enjoyed listening to the goings on in the kitchen. However, I can't imagine a real White House chef behaving as the lead character. I imagine the White House as a highly organized with supreme security standards. Which is why I have a problem believing that a chef would behave the way Ollie behaved. I don't want to give any spoilers. I'll just say that Ollie's character wasn't believable. I also thought she needed to grow a backbone. There is a difference between being professional and just being a pushover. Ollie might also want to rethink her relationship choices. Knowing that Ollie was in danger he promises to drive her home. Then, he leaves her high and dry. He could have at least arranged to for a safe ride home for her. There were several instances when I rolled my eyes or scoffed. However, I will listen to the next book because the background was very interesting. I hope things get better in the next book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Did not like

What disappointed you about State of the Onion?

The story line is odd, and unimportant. I found it boring.

Has State of the Onion turned you off from other books in this genre?

Yes

What three words best describe Eileen Stevens’s voice?

Good, it was the story that was awful.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from State of the Onion?

I would not have published it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Not bad for "cozy" espionage

This is one of those gentle murder books, a coffee-house, caterer, cookie shop mystery. It is better than many. I have tried several in my search for lighter fare than The Gray Man and Mitch Rapp; most cannot be stomached, but this one is okay. Many of the characters are well-fleshed and distinct, notably the kitchen staff--Henry is the most endearing, but Bucky turns out to be quite interesting. There is less food fascination, and no recipes. The romance angst is a bit juvenile, but again, not too bad.

Two plots are intertwined, first, the application and audition process for new White House head chef introduces a celebrity rival witch who assumes she's a shoe-in. The WH major-domo is also a cut-out villain. These two beg to be slapped, but add some fun to the mix. The second plot line is a warning that the president is in danger from the Chameleon, the most-feared international assassin. You can probably figure out the result of the first, but the getting there is fun, and there are still surprises at the end. The second takes a moment longer, and really isn't a big surprise in the end, but again the journey is okay.

The main plot flaw, as I saw it, was with Kasim, the made-up Middle-East-country interpreter and right-hand man to the visiting prince. This man from a strict Muslim country, whose visiting princess wears full burqa and speaks to no one, blithely chats with the main character, a woman chef dressed in white chef's trousers, tunic, and toque. He almost confides in her. I found this intimacy highly improbable.

The narrator does the women's voices pretty well, but the men's voices are forced and obvious. She especially fails at dear Henry's (the retiring head chef) voice. She also mispronounces several words.