Thursday, May 31, 2012

Follow Me Friday (6)

Q: You are a matchmaker — your goal, hook up two characters from two of your favorite books. Who would it be? How do you think it would go?

My Answer: This is a tough one!! I believe that my answer would have to be Katniss from The Hunger Games and Elliot from The Masque of the Red Death. They both have that rebel characteristic that is bred deep within them and they both have an urge to obscure justice. They also are both very resourceful in the books. I think they would be the perfect power couple!

Book Review: How To Eat A Cupcake

Author: Meg Donohue
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins

Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls who know nothing of class differences and scholarships could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie is now a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. When a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, they must overcome past hurts and a mysterious saboteur or risk losing their fledgling business and any chance of healing their fractured friendship.

The moment I first saw this book I picked it up and I could not put it down. I was analyzing every single cupcake on the page and I was completely drawn in by the vintage look of the storefront window that they were placed in. I could not help but notice that each cupcake was sitting in lace wrappings and most of them had some sort of fruit, caramel, or chocolate topping on them. I wanted to be there! The red paint that covers what I suppose is front of the store was also the first thing to catch my eye, being a loud. And, of course, the title itself being “How to Eat a Cupcake!” I thought well I probably eat them all wrong because I completely devour them within like four bites! This was just one of those books for me that I did not even have to read the synopsis on the back cover because I knew right away that I was going to love it.

This book is about two women who grew up with one another as best friends but who come from different cultural and social backgrounds. Their relationship was sabotaged by a few nasty rumors many years back, but now, as if by fate, they have been placed back together. The friendships and other relationships that Meg writes about in this book were just like the cupcakes, so many different flavors! I loved the relationship between Annie Quintana and Julia St. Clair because it proved that old friends can bridge gaps and remember the real reasons why they became friends in the first place.

My favorite character in this book was Annie Quintana who is of Ecuadorian descent and whom has lost her mother some years ago. This story is Annie’s struggle to swallow her pride and fulfill her destiny even if it means working alongside the dreaded Julia St. Clair. Annie was a well written character. She had flaws and she knew that she was not perfect but she accepted who she was and the little flair of attitude that she carried suited her well. She was more relatable to me than Julia St. Clair. For some reason I could just never get on board with Julia. She was whiny and a snobby little rich girl who had everything she ever wanted handed to her on a golden platter. Annie was more the down to earth type and she just kept it real! I loved her because she never pretended to be something she was not.

Together both of these women open a cupcakery called “Treat!” My favorite part of this book was reading about the cupcakery unfolding and how they decided to design everything within the shop. I could Julia and Annie bonding over this cupcakery and I must admit I was flooded with such a feeling of warmth. This is one of those times when you can imagine everything that is going on in your head. I could picture Annie with dough all down her front preparing new cupcake recipes and I could picture Julia with a pen in her hand walking around the store deciding what pieces of furniture were going to be placed where. It was a very magical aspect of the book because it is the first time that you can see the old friendship being pieced back together.

The Cupcakes!! Ok, so I am sure you were wondering when I was going to get to this! Of course I loved reading about the cupcakes. Annie was always coming up with new creations like: Pink Lemonade, Mint Chocolate, and Chocolate Persimmon. I loved that almost every character in the book had a favorite flavor and they were all described so beautifully. Meg never left out one single detail! Thank you, Meg!! I wanted to include a description of one of the cupcakes from the book. This comes from Chapter 11, “For Ogden, I selected a Moroccan vanilla bean and pumpkin spice cupcake that I’d been developing with Halloween in mind. It was not for the faint of heart, and I saw the exact moment in Ogden’s eyes that the dashes of heat-courtesy of a healthy pinch of cayenne-hit his tongue, and the moment a split-second later that the sugary vanilla swept away the heat, like salve on a wound.” Isn’t that gorgeous? I am telling you, my mouth was watering while reading this whole entire book!

Later on in the book the girls discover that there is someone who does not approve of their rejoining and tries very hard to sabotage their new business project. They bond even more over this. They come up with a way to fight it all on their own and I loved the way that bad times seem to bond the strongest of characters. It is all so picturesque! Meg Donohue does a fantastic job and I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves, to read about food, friendship, and a few crazy and neurotic characters!

***Thank you to the publishers at HarperCollins and Meg Donohue for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly book meme that lets readers just like you guys know what to be expecting and waiting anxiously for. It is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

Author: Katie Crouch and Grady Hendrix
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Poppy

Every society has its secrets.

The members of Savannah's Magnolia League have it all: money, beauty, power, and love. Some may call them lucky, but we know better. Spells, potions, and conjures are a girl's best friends, and thanks to the Buzzards -- a legendary hoodoo family -- the Magnolias never run out of friends.

Golden girl Hayes Anderson would never dream of leaving the League or Savannah, where there's no problem that can't be fixed with a cup of Swamp Brew tea -- served in a bone china cup, of course -- and no boy who can't be won over with a Conjure Up a New Love spell.

But when danger lurks and family secrets are unearthed, Hayes discovers that her life may not be charmed after all.

Don't miss the second novel in Katie Crouch's enchanting and mysterious Magnolia League series.

Well first of all, I like to consider myself a Southern Belle and I think these girls and I will get along great! And I just love the idea of a society where all the girls share secrets and friendship. I have read other works by Katie Crouch and I think that I will love The White Glove War! What is everyone else waiting on?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

A huge thanks to all my many followers for participating in my first giveaway! I was so excited and happy to host it and there will be more to come! I am happy today to announce the winner and I will be contacting her later today! She has 48 hours to return my email or I will have to choose another winner. So without further ado…the winner is………

Congratulations Emily!! I am more than happy to be giving this to you! I will talk to you soon (:

P.S. Another giveaway will be up soon, so sit tight (:

Teaser Tuesdays (4)

My teaser this week comes from Flirting in Italian which is proving to be the perfect summer read. I am loving the highly detailed Italian landmarks and scenery and I am also getting a mini lesson in learning to speak Italian! The story follows Violet as she whisks off to learn the language, culture, and maybe even a little bit about her past!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review: Seeing Cinderella

Author: Jenny Lundquist
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Aladdin M!X

Calliope Meadow Anderson wishes her life could be more of a fairy tale—just like the stories she writes. Her best friend, Ellen, is acting weird, her parent's marriage is falling apart, and to top things off, she found out she needs hideously large and geeky glasses.

But Callie soon learns they aren't just any glasses—they are magical and let her read people's thoughts. For the first time ever she's answering all the questions right in math class, and gets a glimpse of what goes through people's minds all day, including what Ellen—and her longtime crush—really think of her.

As if dealing with these crazy glasses weren't enough, Callie tries out for the lead in her school's production of Cinderella and actually gets the part. Instead, Callie chooses to let Ellen have the lead and be Ellen's understudy—just like she has done for their entire friendship.

Add in a new girl who has something to hide, a secret admirer, a best friend stealer who isn't what she seems, and Callie's year just went from ordinary to extraordinary.

Can this supporting actress learn to be a leading lady in her own life? Or is she destined to stay in the background forever—even with her super-freaky-magic glasses?

The socks and the glass slippers definitely make the cover of this book. Cinderella wears the glass slippers with such grace and elegance and then you see the awkwardness of these two multi-colored socks here and you know that this Cinderella story is in for a serious twist. I also love how the heel of one of the glass slippers has broken out one of the lenses on the glasses, letting us know that we may have a bit of a klutz on our hand with our heroine. The various colors on the front cover are sure to catch anyone’s eye and they especially caught mine as I love any color out there!!!

CHARMING!!! I loved the style of this book and the characters were probably my favorite part. The writing had a very comical twist because at times you just had to burst out laughing at Callie’s awkwardness. If you remember any part of your middle school days then I am sure you can relate to the funny and absurd thoughts that would sometimes enter Callie’s mind. However, she owned her awkwardness! At first she was unsure of whom she was, but I love how Callie realizes that it is perfectly acceptable to have frizzy, disastrous red hair and tons of freckles.

I did not mention this in the video, but I love how Jenny incorporated Callie’s parents into the story. Parents are important for any adolescent or child and here you see firsthand how they have affected Callie’s upbringing. Her Mom and Dad are both very influential pieces to Callie’s large puzzle, but in different forms. Her parents are, at the time, separated and this takes a lot of Callie because she struggles daily trying to make sense of it all. Lundquist hits the nail on the head in adding this detail to her story because many adolescents that are Callie’s age do face problems like Callie does on a daily basis whether it be with their parents, friends, boys, or just trying to grow to accept and appreciate who they really are and who they are becoming.

Callie’s friends were another of my favorite parts of this story. We all know how girls can be; mean, devious, malicious, and downright hateful. Callie faces some trying times and some trying little girls. Her best friend, Ellen, has changed right before her eyes and Callie cannot seem to figure out why she is continually leaving her out in left field while she takes it upon herself to make new friends. Most girls go through stages like this all the time they develop and their likes and interests change so their friendships drift apart. Just another fun twist to Callie’s story! She makes new friends and develops some pretty unlikely romantic interests, but her story is definitely a fast, fun read that will take you straight back to middle school, in a good way (:

***Thank you to Aladdin M!X for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: Sweetly

Author: Jackson Pearce
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past -- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone -- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

Sisters Red was one of my favorite books, so when I saw this book I immediately wanted to give it a try. First off, I love fairytale retellings and the cover of this book is like the opening to a wonderland! I knew right away that this book would have to do with Hansel and Gretel. The way that the limbs wind and cover stand out in front of the mystic purple background let you know that a story is about to unwind at this little cottage in the woods. The cottage itself is very cozy and welcoming. The lights are on and the gigantic, alluring eyes overhead give it that eerie feel that you know will end up giving you the goose bumps later, but you just have to explore through the dark forest anyway!

The plot within Sweetly is just as alluring as the wispy branches on the front cover of the book. There were times, while reading, that I could look down and see the hair standing up on my arms. I was literally freaked out!!! Pearce’s writing has just enough gothic edge to give the forest and the characters within it a tantalizing coldness that makes you close your eyes before turning the next page. I wanted to pull my favorite zebra print blanket over my eyes! (: But seriously, if you are looking for a chill up your spine, Jackson Pearce does not disappoint.

I must go ahead and say that I did enjoy Sisters Red more simply because I loved the sister/sister relationship better, whereas here we are given a brother/sister relationship that I did not feel was as strong. I loved Gretchen and Ansel, but they were lacking some gumption that I felt Rosie and Scarlet, on the other hand, had an abundance of. Ansel’s character was not as deep and heartfelt as I would have liked him to be. He did love his sister but I felt a lack of compassion for her at times. Gretchen was the weaker character at first. As the novel progressed, I can say that she did break free from the nightmares that she often hid behind.

Sam, as a character, I fell in love with. I am always drawn to the outcasts and the people that no one in the town wants to associate with. Sam is that person in this book. He takes a chance in telling the townspeople what he really knows to be in the woods and in return he is deemed the exile. I can admire him for that simple reason and because he helps Gretchen to do the same. He sees something in her that she has tried to keep hidden for years and years. He is such an admirable character just because he is so real and masculine. He defends Gretchen with a chivalric quality that I wish we saw more of in reality.

Jackson Pearce’s writing was eloquent and complete with a gothic twist at times. The descriptions of the Chocolatier and of Sophia Kelly kept me hanging on for more. Who doesn’t want to read about a cozy, sweet cottage that smells like cinnamon and hazelnut all the time? I only wish that Gretchen and Ansel would have been stronger characters. Instead, I felt that it was Sophia Kelly and Sam who kept me hanging around. They were such a stronger lead than the two main characters. Sophia and Sam each share a uniqueness and a secret that sets them apart from the rest!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stacking The Shelves (3)

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews, in which we share the books that we have bought, received, or borrowed from the previous week!

Goodreads  |  Provided by Author

Goodreads  |  Provided by Publisher

Goodreads  |  Provided by Publisher

I am so excited to see what everyone else got! May has been a great month in books :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review: The Summer of No Regrets

Author: Katherine Grace Bond
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

The day Brigitta accidentally flings herself into the lap of a guy she's never met, her friend Natalie is convinced he's Trent Yves, egotistical heartthrob-in-hiding. When the boy, who calls himself Luke, is nearly eaten by a cougar, Brigitta finds herself saving his life, being swept into his spectacular embrace and wondering if she wants Natalie's fantasy to be true.

As the two spend the summer together raising orphaned cougar cubs, Brigitta still can't be sure of his true identity. But then again, since her grandparents' death, her father's sudden urge to give away all their possessions and become a shaman, and her own awkward transition from girlhood into a young woman, she isn't sure of anything. What is the truth? More importantly, can she accept it?

I am drawn to the majesty of crashing ocean waves. The ocean has always felt like such a magical place to me where romance and adventure were just waiting to take place. When I saw the cover of this book I thought back to every summer vacation that I have ever spent at the beach, and wondered how many summer loves did I miss out on? I was enticed by the two young lovers on the cover because they looked like they have a fabulous story to tell. The orange and pink hues in the background alluded to the perfect sunset and I immediately added this book to my wishlist!

After reading so many reviews of this book online I had to tear into the pages myself and see what all the fuss was about over the baby cougars! I found it. The story line immediately captured my heart and all day today, I literally DID NOT put the book down. I was so wrapped up in this story that is unlike any other young adult romance novel that I have read thus far. The lines, characters, and plot were not predictable and with the turn of each page I was sitting on the edge of my seat dying to know what would take place next.

The cougar cubs were just an added spark to this firework show! They made the story complete and reading about Brigitta and Luke and how they were so determined to nurture and care for them just warmed my heart. I have such a soft spot for animals and Brigitta is just like me in that aspect. She was kind, soft spoken, and had such a genuine nature. The cubs were so drawn to her and that made the story even better to read. The cubs really helped Brigitta see who she was becoming as a person.

I loved watching Brigitta develop into a mature young lady. She was on a path for self discovery throughout the entire book, and by the end I, as the reader, felt that by allowing herself to open up the world around that she had somewhat came to a better understanding about herself and who she wanted to be. Her relationship with Luke allowed her to open up more and to share who she really was with someone that she actually cared about. I did not understand her relationship with her parents at times and sometimes found myself feeling sorry for Brigitta because I felt, just like she did, that she was all alone.

What made this story so special you may ask? The love and romance that developed between our two leading characters in this story was not superficial, but yet they bonded over something that they each cared about and something that had the power to hold and bind them together. I believe that their passion and dedication to one another and to those cubs helped them to be able to rely on and trust each other wholeheartedly. When reading and purchasing this book be prepared to feel several emotions all at once and I cannot promise that you will not cry, but, my sweet readers, I can promise that it is all worth it! With much pride and admiration I comment Katherine Bond for a job well done and a story well written; I am looking forward to many more from her.

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Follow Me Friday (5)

Q: Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?

My Answer: I can think of two places that I would love to be right now in order to relax and catch up on a ton of reading….

1. The City of Love: Paris

Paris is filled with so much culture and romance. I could easily pull up a chair near the Eiffel Tower and read all day, while enjoying a nice glass of wine of course!

2. Sailing anywhere tropical: A Cruise

Who couldn’t enjoy a nice cocktail while soaking up the sun on a nice boat ride to a beautiful tropical destination such as Jamaica or The Virgin Islands? I would love to be there right now!