Monday, 31 August 2015

Review: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

The Blackthorn Key
by Kevin Sands
Publisher: Aladdin, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover, Ebook, Audio CD
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf
“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”

Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.

But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

*Note: Review might contain spoilers pertaining to events in the book*

"Let's build a cannon," I said.

On July 25th the ladies of Book Blog Ontario and I were honored to have debut author Kevin Sands spend the afternoon with us and talk about books. The Blackthorn Key, a debut middle grade title with a promising synopsis, was a novel that intrigued me from the moment I first came across it. A young apothecary's apprentice that is suddenly thrust into a world of cryptic puzzle solving, mysterious murders, and secret cults, sounded like the book for me and I was beyond thrilled to have a copy of my own.

"Tell no one what I've given you."

Christopher Rowe is an orphan living in 1665 England, where the world is difficult for all, especially for those who find themselves orphaned. Luckily, Christopher is given an apprenticeship under Master Benedict Blackthorn, a man who is responsible for creating powerful potions and weapons. With his friend Tom, Christopher often finds himself causing a bit of trouble, whether it's attempting (and succeeding) in deciphering his master's recipes or pelting those who dare walk the streets without wearing a sprig of oak on Oak Apple Day with rotten eggs.

I absolutely adored Christopher and Tom! Both characters worked wonderfully together to ensnare me and pull me further into the depths of the mysterious phenomena in The Blackthorn Key. A book not to be judged simply by it's genre, The Blackthorn Key positively caught me off guard. With cryptic hidden messages, charts, Latin translations, and shady character appearances, I found myself on the hunt with Christopher and Tom to puzzle solve and hunt down for a murderer. I don't come across middle grade titles I would recommend to an older audience very often, but The Blackthorn Key is one I highly recommend for readers of all ages, and one I hope many young readers will have the opportunity to read in the upcoming school year.

Fans of cryptic messages, mysteries, and surprise twists will want to pick up The Blackthorn Key and add it to their personal collection. Although a middle grade title, The Blackthorn Key is perfect for readers of all ages and will have you wishing for more from Kevin Sands. A phenomenal debut!



Rating: 4 / 5 Cupcakes. Recommended



ON SALE TOMORROW!
Also, Kevin Sands plans to make an appearance at Indigo Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto on September 28th at 7:00PM. Kevin will be joined by authors Lisa McMann, Kevin Sylvester and Kenneth Oppel. More information about the event can be found here.



This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accepted in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited without the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Fangirl Meltdown - The Sailor Moon Series And Franchise


WHAT I'M FANGIRLING ABOUT:
Sailor Moon. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Bishōjo Senshi Sērāmūn.

WHY:
It was a big part of my childhood and essentially the first time I was exposed to anime. It influenced much of my childhood, inspired me to be more independent and free-thinking, and pushed me to expect more powerful women on television no matter the format.

In 1995 Sailor Moon made it's way onto Canadian broadcasting channel YTV. I had no knowledge of the show prior and didn't have a clue about it's huge fan base. I was absolutely amazed by the story of everyday teenage girls transforming and defending the world from evil. I wanted a talking cat like Luna and I desperately wanted to be a Sailor Senshi as well (Sailor Scout in the original English dub).

It wasn't just the girls and the mysterious Tuxedo Kamen (Tuxedo Mask) that pulled me into the fandom, it was the very real relationships and struggles the girl dealt with together. Sailor Moon wasn't just a show about girls in sailor outfits saving the day, the characters often struggled with first love, confidence issues, and even life altering decisions about their futures. They worried about real issues, issues you and I would someday in our teen and even adult years would worry about. It felt good knowing that I wasn't the odd person out who wasn't sure about her career after graduation, and it most definitely felt amazing knowing that I wasn't the only person out there who wasn't confident in her abilities. The show even portrayed two incredible LGBT characters, which were unfortunately (and unfairly) re-written for the US/Canada dub.

Recently the Sailor Moon franchise celebrated it's 20th anniversary (has it been that long already?) and with the news of it's anniversary came the ultimate announcement for any Sailor Moon fan - a new series! The new series, titled Sailor Moon Crystal, would be truer to the original manga story line, minus the fillers. When the first episode was released I was thrilled! I felt myself reliving my childhood once again and actually watching the series without any silly name alterations or character changes (although the old series has recently received a new dub). For anyone who has ever wanted to see the series the way it was intended, I would highly recommend you take the time to see Sailor Moon Crystal. I found Sailor Moon Crystal to be incredibly fast paced and true to the manga.

(Vol. 8 & Vol. 12 covers for the new translation of the Sailor Moon manga. Now in stores from Kodansha)

Dramas and Merchandise

The Sailor Moon franchise and fan base has always been more than just the animated show, and unfortunately for yours truly I wasn't exposed to all it's glory until my very late teens. It was then that I learned that there had been musical productions for the franchise, and even a live action drama series starring actors Sawai Miyuu, Izumi Rika, Kitagawa Keiko, Azama Myu, Komatsu Ayaka, and Shibue Joji. I also discovered that there were all sorts of merchandise for the series, merchandise we were never exposed to in Canada. The only merchandise I recall seeing were the dolls (which I proudly owned) and the Halloween costumes (I was the best Sailor Moon ever, I swear).

The Japanese market for Sailor Moon merchandise was, and still continues to be, a Sailor Moon fan's paradise. Fans can have their own transformation brooch that is also a powder makeup compact (need,want,must have). There's also Powerstick perfumes, stuffed Tuxedo Masks, Luna Pens, Moon Rods, lingerie, key chains, and if you're feeling particularly bad ass, even life-sized models of your favourite sailor senshi's powerstick or rod. The merchandise for the series is endless.

Frankly, no matter how much older I get, I doubt I'll ever stop loving Sailor Moon. It was the first television show that ever caught my attention, it's the first show that taught me all about girl power, and it made me feel like I could do anything with just a little (or a lot) of hard work. It was a big game changer in the anime industry, it inspired not only people like myself but also inspired how people viewed anime with strong female protagonists.

Earlier this week I asked people why they loved and/or enjoyed Sailor Moon. Here are some responses:

Michele -
"I watched the one from my childhood that aired on YTV. I loved it because it had crime fighting, silliness and different personalities that, as kids, we could identify with!"

Joey -
" Because you could play pretend during recess."

Natalie -
" I enjoyed the realness of the characters even if they did have super powers."

Gwenyth -
" I started watching it shortly after I moved out on my own at a pretty young age. It was weird because although I found Sailor Moon extremely whiny and annoying, I also found it oddly comforting that this whiny little twig of a girl could basically save the universe. I also ended up naming my son after Tuxedo Mask..."

Vanessa -
" I'm not sure why I enjoyed it so much. I remember being obsessed with the skirts I just loved how they were drawn and every skirt I drew after looked like sailor moons. It might've also been the plot. As a child it was just so exciting. "Is she going to find the next scout? Will she find out who tuxedo mask is? Will I ever get to see more clips of the moon kingdom and the princess? And why is Serena so freaking annoying!?"



Were you a fan of Sailor Moon growing up?
Any favourite characters?
Feel free to share your thoughts on the series in the comments below.



Happy Reading,
Wendy (Cupcake Queen)

PS. If you'd like to post your own meltdown post, feel free to do so!




(Disclaimer: The blogger and the blog are in no way associated to Viz Media, Toei Animation, or the Sailor Moon franchise. No money was accepted, made or exchanged for this post. The blogger is simply a fan and wanted to share her thoughts. The bloggers words are her own and belong to her. You may not repost without the bloggers permission.)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Recap: Simon & Schuster Canada Fall Kids Preview Party


I was excited when I received the invite to the S&S fall kids preview. There were many amazing titles I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into, like Minrs and The Blackthorn Key, and I couldn't wait to finally attend a publishing event after my long hiatus (goodness, it's been soooo long).

The Simon & Schuster Fall Kids Preview Event took place at the spacious The Spoke Club in Downtown Toronto. I had met with Michele @ Justalillost earlier for a cup of coffee prior to the event and enjoyed catching up. At ten to six, we made our way upstairs to the event space and were greeted by Jackie, and told we could enter to win two fun prize packs.  After filling out our entries we made our way to our fellow book bloggettes.

A photo posted by Wendy (@caffelattequeen) on

There was fine wine, fun prop picking, and copious amounts of maneuvering into photos before someone kindly offered to take it for us. Further into the spacious event room, we discovered that there was a candy buffet table with enough sugar to keep our inner children satisfied. Sour keys, jaw breakers, gum balls, an oreo manifestation that perplexed me, and all with unique names pertaining to the night's featured fall titles (eg. pigeon poop for The Blackthorn Key and Rainbows for Imagine a World). Right across the way there were we also delicious snow cones (yum) and old-timey fizzy drinks from The Pop Shoppe (double orange yum).

The entire evening was an absolute success. I caught up with all the bloggettes, met some new bloggers from our Book Blog Ontario meet, even met some amazing authors and new friends. I also learned about a novel that wasn't quite on my radar prior to the event, A Pocket Full of Murder by RJ Anderson. It's an upcoming middle grade title that sounds really fun. Throughout the event, guests were welcome to pick up copies of the night's featured titles and pick up a swag bag. I personally picked up a copy of Minrs and Madly, but missed out on all the copies of A Pocket Full of Murder. My blog readers can expect to see reviews on Minrs, The Blackthorn Key, The Scorpion Rules and Madly this September.

It was a night of great bookish chats, mingling with book lovers, chatting with amazing authors, and tasting of delicious foods. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for putting together such an incredible event where readers could connect with the authors of your upcoming fall titles. I'm looking forward to sharing my reviews!

Featured Fall Titles:
*click the cover to be redirected to their Goodreads listings*


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Review: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)
by Libba Bray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 624
Format: Hardcover, Ebook
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities... Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

*Note: May contain spoilers for readers who have not read The Diviners by Libba Bray

A thrilling joy ride with head-turning murder mysteries and action. 
Positively unforgettable!

It's been three years since I've read The Diviners, the first book in Libba Bray's phenomenal historical thriller. Little did I know that on that day three years ago, reading The Diviners would completely change the way I see and read Libba's books forever.

The Diviners thrust readers off into 1920's New York, a high-energy and bustling city filled with speakeasies, jazz clubs, and where the flapper/dapper trend ruled. Couture was on point and murder was a foot, and in this tale of high stakes readers were introduced to an array of phenomenal characters. Evie O'Neill, a young girl and the main protagonist of The Diviners, was exiled from her boring hometown and sent to live with her uncle. Suddenly she finds herself thrust into a world of the occult and her secret supernatural abilities are revealed and put to great use. The Diviners, without a doubt, became my favourite release of 2012.

Now in Lair of Dreams, Evie's secret supernatural abilities have been brought to the public's attention. Some see her as "America's Sweetheart Seer" while others only see her Diviners abilities as an unwelcome phenomena. Once again, Evie finds herself in the middle of an epidemic. An unknown sleeping sickness begins to claim victims and the only way she can stop the killer is by descending deep into the dreamworld.


"The doorknob rattled, then fell silent. It was followed a few seconds later by the click of a key in the lock. Evie took in a deep breath." - p.346

Wow! Simply wow! Libba Bray's Lair of Dreams is positively my best read of the year. Readers will be pleased to discover that Libba quickly pulls the reader back into Evie's world,  introduces a new atmosphere completely different than that of The Diviners, and manages to have you holding on for dear life until the very last page. Libba's poignant and irresistibly captivating characters leave you wholly content with their growth. Evie is twice the person she was in The Diviners and has grown substantially from her old-spoiled demeanor. Greatly appreciated from someone who absolutely adores the protagonist!

Lair of Dreams was surprisingly fast paced despite it's 624 pages. Each page held my attention with it's strong and meaningful moments and it's creepy twists. Libba forever changed the way I now view historical mystery thrillers and now I can't help but expect more from my reading material. Libba was not afraid to bring up racism and discrimination. People are often mistaken by the era and see it as a glamorous period in American history.  The disgusting amount of discrimination and racism in the era is often overlooked and I'm glad Libba made it a point to bring this issue up several times in book one and book two.

Readers who read and loved The Diviners will positively adore it's sequel in Lair of Dreams. Book lovers who enjoy conspiracy theories, murder mysteries, and the hustle and bustle of 1920's New York are highly recommended to try the Diviners series by Libba Bray. It's a phenomenal thriller that is out of this world and perfect for readers over the age of 13.

Rating: 5 / 5 Cupcakes. Highly Recommended



A THROWBACK TO WHEN LIBBA BRAY WAS IN TORONTO (2012)
A photo posted by Wendy (@caffelattequeen) on
A photo posted by Wendy (@caffelattequeen) on



This title was purchased by the blogger for their personal collection. No payment was received/accepted in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited without the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's

Waiting on Wednesday - Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Reign of Shadows
by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized. With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Why I'm Anticipating This Book:

In my early book blogging days I fell in love with Sophie's Firelight series (Firelight, Vanish and Hidden). It's a YA series that focuses on a young teen girl who also happens to be a draki, hidden from the world with others like herself. Sophie pulled me into this world and I couldn't resist following her every release. From the Uninvited series and Foreplay Chronicles, to the Debutante Files and Forgotten Princesses series, I found myself thoroughly enjoying everything she's written. With the upcoming release of Reign of Shadows, I find myself highly anticipating Sophie's high fantasy adventure. Mysterious characters, murder, and promising high stakes - I'm very eager for February's arrival and absolutely cannot wait to read Reign of Shadows and share my thoughts with everyone.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Happy Reading,
Wendy (Cupcake Queen)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Review: A Wrinkle in Time - The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson

A Wrinkle in Time - The Graphic Novel 
by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 392
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O'Keefe, and the three Mrs--Who, Whatsit, and Which--the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery award-winning classic A Wrinkle in Time. But in 50 years of publication, the book has never been illustrated. Now, Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of tessering and favorite characters like the Happy Medium and Aunt Beast. Perfect for old fans and winning over new ones, this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read.

A fantastic graphic novel read for fans of the series or new readers hoping to sink their teeth into an all time classic.

The Time Quintet series by Madeleine L'Engle is one that positively shaped my childhood and was one of the first books that pulled me into the imaginative and rewarding world of reading. As a young reader I was obsessed with Goosebumps titles but desperately searched for something new to capture my attention, something that didn't involve creatures that went bump in the night. When my elementary school librarian introduced me to A Wrinkle in Time, I wasn't convinced. I stared at the cover, completely worn over time, and doubted I'd enjoy it. I was wrong, very wrong.

First released in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time was a novel that opened new doors for me when it came to reading material. I was instantaneously pulled into an incredible fantasy/time travel adventure that boggled my mind and had me begging my parents for the rest of the series. Sleepless nights, stressed parents, and five books later I had found a new world to enjoy. My mini obsession with Madeleine's characters mystified my parents.

"It was a dark and stormy night."

When I learned that a graphic novel for the first novel in the series was being adapted by Hope Larson, I freaked (more like squealed). I was excited to see how Hope would portray my all time favourite characters - beings that played such an important part in my early reading experiences. Would my most memorable quotes make an appearance? Would Meg appear the same way I'd imagined her all those years ago? In my opinion, Hope Larson nailed it! She perfectly captured Meg, Charles, Calvin, and Mrs Who, Whatsit, and Which. It was a walk down memory lane, bringing back fond memories of why I fell in love with the fantasy genre and renewed my love for all things timey-wimey.  The graphic novel for A Wrinkle in Time perfectly captured every key moment of the novel without leaving anything out, a welcome change in recent book-to-graphic novel adaptations.

Readers who love time travel, scientific concepts, and nonstop mind boggling action will find themselves pleasantly surprised by A Wrinkle in Time. In novel or graphic novel format, the series has the power to captivate you and draw you deep into it's world. I have no doubt that fans of ANY fantasy series, whether it dabbles into science fiction and time travel or neither at all, will adore this series. Don't be fooled by it's intended audience, readers of any age will enjoy A Wrinkle in Time. I highly recommend readers who have not read the series to begin with the graphic novel if unsure. I'm positive any reader, young or old, will fall in love with Madeleine's iconic characters and feel inspired.



Rating: 5 / 5 Cupcakes Highly Recommended.




This title was purchased by the blogger for their personal collection. No payment was received/accepted in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited without the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's

Friday, 21 August 2015

Fangirl Meltdown - Funko POP! Collectibles

WHAT I'M FANGIRLING ABOUT:

Funko POP! collectibles

WHY:

It's a great way to feed your fandom. Funko POP! figures feature all your favourite characters from movies and tv shows. Have a favourite character? Then it's likely there's an adorable figure of them with an oversized head out there. Here's why I couldn't resist joining in on the POP! craze.


It wasn't exactly love at first sight with Funko's POP! collection. I didn't immediately find a figure that called to me. I recall seeing them in stores and at conventions (eg; FanExpo) and not thinking much of them. I figured they were another new collectible trend that would (probably) die out in a year.

It wasn't until I came across the ballroom Belle and Beast figures from Disney's Beauty and the Beast that I thought "hey, these are cute and awesome. I need these two. They'll look amazing on my bookshelves." I'd only intended to pick up the two, I swear! I wasn't planning on starting a collection (I don't think anyone really thinks they will when they first pick one up) but it was so hard to try to resist purchasing peasant Belle when she was released, and the rest of the Beauty and the Beast cast (we still need a Gaston and LeFou, Funko!) From there my fiance, knowing how much I loved Hello Kitty in high school and college, picked up a Hello Kitty he spotted on sale. She was adorable and ridiculously heavy but she earned a spot on my shelf regardless.



My collection grew, spanning into GOT (I've got 2 Danys and a Jon Snow), Harry Potter, Supernatural (I am in possession of a cute FBI Dean), and Disney characters and princesses (my favourites being glass slipper GusGus and Robin Hood). There's even a Vegeta from DBZ, couldn't resist him because he was my all-time favourite anime character for YEARS (him and Inuyasha, which we also need Funko!) The fun part about collecting POP! figures is the fandom and enjoyment you get out of having a figure of your favourite characters. It cheers me up seeing these guys up on my bookshelves every time I pick up a book or walk into the room.

No matter your fandom you're guaranteed to find at least one you like.



Characters I'd Like to See as POP! Figures:

The Cast of Pretty Little Liars: I've recently started catching up on the series and still find myself loving their unique looks. I'd love an Aria figure for my collection.

Draco Malfoy: Any Harry Potter fans out there disappointed by the lack of Draco in the new POP! release for the film franchise? I'd love a little Draco of my own.

The Cast of The Hunger Games: I'm really surprised the licensing rights for this movie franchise have yet to be acquired by Funko. I expect it will soon so fans can have their own Finnick or Katniss!

Book Characters: The POP! figure universe severely lacks iconic book characters. Wouldn't you love a small Elizabeth Bennet? Maybe a Cinder from the bestselling series The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer? How about a Pip, Sir Lancelot, or Mrs Norris?

More Anime Characters: I'd love to see Inuyasha, Cardcaptor Sakura, Escaflowne (I'll love you forever for a winged Van) and other iconic anime characters as POP! figures. Heck, add Akira into the mix!

My TV Character Wishlist

Once Upon a Time - Emma Swan
Once Upon a Time - Regina (Evil Queen)
Once Upon a Time - Captain Hook
Flash - The Flash
Arrow - The Arrow (masked)
Outlander - Jamie Fraser
Outlander - Claire Randall
Sherlock - Sherlock With Violin
Agent Carter - Agent Peggy Carter
(photos: Funko.com)

My Disney Character Wishlist

Brave - Merida
Tangled - Rapunzel and Pascal
Snow White - Snow White
The Little Mermaid - Ariel (mermaid)
Cinderella - Cinderella
The Nightmare Before Christmas - Nightshade Sally
Disney - Minnie Mouse 
Disney - Mickey Mouse



Are you a POP! collector? 
Is there another collectible you enjoy?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you like, share a photo of your collection no matter how big or small.


Feel free to post your own meltdown post on your blog. If you do, please share below! I'd love to check out your post. It can be about a book or series, movie, tv show, or a collectible of your choice.

Happy Reading,
Cupcake Queen


(Disclaimer: This post is of the bloggers own words and opinions. No compensation was accepted or received for this post. The blogger simply loves POP! figures.)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Review: All It Takes by Sadie Munroe

[Website] [Twitter] [Goodreads] [Kobo] [Amazon] [Smashwords]
Nineteen-year-old Star Collins never intended to return to her hometown, Avenue. That part of her life ended when she was nine years old, and child services took her away from her hoarder mother. Her mother chose her stuff over her daughter. That part of her life was supposed to be in the past.

But her mother has just passed away and Star finds herself giving up her summer to quietly clean out her old home. She just wants to sell it and move on with her life. However, things aren't going the way she planned. With her dyed-black hair and tattoos, she's attracting almost as much attention from the small town residents as Ash Winthrope, the guy who was just released from prison.

All Ash wants is a chance to start over. He screwed up and he knows it, he's going to have to live with the guilt for the rest of his life. But he's stuck in Avenue until his parole ends, and no one, not even his own parents, wants anything to do with him. Nearly out of money and completely out of options, Ash takes the only job he can, helping Star haul stuff out of her mother's house.

Neither of them expects anything to happen between them, or for their lives to change. But sometimes meeting the right person is all it takes.

"Like everything bad that has ever happened in my life, it started with a phone call."

'All It Takes' is Sadie Munroe's debut novel. Although it's categorized as a new adult title, it brings the genre a welcoming breath of fresh air. College campus dramas, angsty young adults, and incomprehensible drama are no where to be found. Instead the reader finds that Sadie Munroe focuses on real life problems that are often ignored in many genres; hoarding, coming to terms with your past in a healthy way, and working towards a hopeful future. The emotion and events in 'All It Takes' are real and free from ridiculous and over the top scenarios. It's certainly unlike any other new adult title I've read in the past.

Ash and Star, two troubled characters with a fierce determination for a fresh start, meet in the most unlikely of situations. Star hires Ash to help her clear the aftermath of her mother's hoarding and the two connect in a way that is both surprising and refreshing; through mutual respect and friendship. Key word: mutual respect, not angsty dramatic nonsense that will leave you questioning every decision you've ever made. Trust me, that's happened to me. Instead, Ash and Star have a connection that isn't initiated by lust and it's one of the most redeeming qualities of this novel. It's something I'd like to see more in my reading material, not only in the new adult genre.

Sadie Munroe shows promise with this debut. Her writing flows wonderful and holds onto your attention, you're wholeheartedly invested in Ash and Star's story. Her characters are real and don't fail to connect with the reader. I'm impressed and I certainly hope to see more from her.

"Stars. Eighteen of them. One for every year I'd been trying, and failing, just to be me."

Readers looking for a new book in the new adult genre or just a refreshing new summer read before the school year begins, are recommended to give 'All It Takes' a try. It's a story that won't leave you rolling your eyes, will keep you hooked, and will make you wish to see and learn more about Ash and Star (sequel, please). I expect to hear more from Sadie in the near future and look forward to reading anything she releases. Sadie, I look forward to your unique perspective and tales.



Rating: 4 / 5 Cupcakes. Recommended.



This title was purchased by the blogger for their personal collection. No payment was received/accepted in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited without the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Return of the Cupcake Queen - She's Back to Book Blogging

The Cupcake Queen has returned to the land of the living!
And by land of the living I mean the book blogging world.
And by that I mean I was lost without you and I love you and I want to hug all of you!

Hello, Cupcakes!

A Cupcake and a Latte is back and it's been a long, long time. Almost three years to be precise. Yeesh! Three years is a pretty long time to be away from blogging but it wasn't without reason. Your royal cupcakeness needed some time away to relax, wind down, and rediscover what I loved so much about the book blogger community. I met so many wonderful people in my pre-blogging days (that's early 2010) and in my early book blogging days (2011) and I can't wait to reconnect with everyone. With that said, I'm happy to be back! It was a long process and took quite a bit of convincing from friends but I'm happy to be back at this again. Took me long enough, eh?

Sadly, after three years (has it REALLY been that long already?) much of my reviews were lost and can't be salvaged. Am I sad about that? Not in the least! It's a fresh start I welcome with open arms. Over three years my opinions have changed, though slightly, and I have changed as a person. Older and wiser. With that said, I'll be reviewing again and hopefully you'll still enjoy my old signature crazy cupcakeness that was present in my posts. For the time being I will not be opening up review requests, I'll be focusing on books I'm currently reading and already own.

Now that the blog is back you'll be seeing more than just book reviews and the occasional bookish post and giveaway. You'll also be introduced to a new feature to the blog titled "Fangirl Meltdown", which will pop-up on the blog every Friday. On "Fangirl Meltdown" I'll introduce you to something I was particularly excited about that week. It can be an upcoming book, movie, collectible, etc. Of course, an old favourite called "Fresh on the Shelf" will make a comeback. For those not aware it's a feature from my old blog where I'd keep readers up to date on upcoming titles for that month. When this feature will reappear will be determined by how smoothly I transition into blogging again. Also, for the time being, please be aware that my old Facebook page for the blog (which still exists, hurray!) is going to be going through some changes. Sorry in advance!

Oh! For those who weren't blogging back in 2012 and don't recognize me or the blog, here's a quick recap on my past in blogging:

After being an active reviewer on Goodreads as Mocha  Latte back in 2010/2011, I chose to create a blog titled A Cupcake and a Latte where I could spread my love of young adult books. Over time my love for YA grew and my blog had an astounding 2,000+ followers who enjoyed reading my honest and fair reviews. I would also keep my readers up to date on new books released with a monthly post.

Now that I'm back I'm looking to take this slower. Not too slow but I'm certainly not looking to grow my blog to a readership that I previously had (that would be insane). I'm looking to return to sharing my love for reading again and to reconnect with fellow readers with zero pressure. If you want to keep tabs on me feel free to follow through any social media platform of your choosing. Also be sure to say hi in the comments, don't be shy, and to tweet me whenever you like. Chatting with fellow book readers is why I started blogging in the first place!

What to expect from me on my first week back:

A Review - Yes, you'll be seeing my first review after returning from my hiatus. Expect a review on Sadie Munroe's All It Takes
Fangirl Meltdown - I'll keep the topic of this post a secret until then, however friends will likely guess what it'll be about.
Chaos - Not really, but a lot still needs to be organized on the blog, a routine needs to be made, and I need to get a handle on being back in the blogger world. Please be patient =D



With that said, I hope for many happy bookish days ahead!

Happy Reading!
-Wendy aka Cupcake Queen