How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
My parents got me this book for Christmas. They know my style. A chick-lit book about childhood friends that open up a bakery? Sold!
How to Eat a Cupcake is the story of Annie Quintana and Julia St. Clair. Julia comes from a life of privilege and wealth. Annie grows up on the outside, yet inside of that life as Annie’s mother is the St. Clair’s housekeeper.
The girls grew up very close until a falling out in high school. The story begins ten years later as the two find themselves back into each others lives. In an attempt to make amends, Julia offers to help Annie open a bakery. Although prideful and suspicious, Annie needs the financial help and agrees.
I found myself comparing this book to Something Borrowed, which isn’t a fair comparison except it’s both about childhood friends. This book is not nearly as good as Something Borrowed. I wasn’t especially drawn to either Annie or Julia. I found Annie a bit whiny and Julia was definitely not my cup of tea.
My favorite character was a farmer, Ogden, that supplied food to the bakery. The book is a quick read though….and it did make me hungry. Mocha cupcakes, Chocolate persimmon spice cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, etc.
3 out of 5 stars
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Brain on Fire was the last book that I read in 2012. I was hoping for an interesting book that kept me turning the pages. This book did not disappoint.
Brain on Fire is a memoir of what Cahalan went through after contracting a very rare brain disease. It follows her from the first on-set of symptoms to the battle of finding what was wrong with her to the even longer battle of recovery.
I didn’t focus too much on the medical terminology in the book. That part was quite over my head. But her personal story and that of her friends/family was very interesting. This disease masked itself with systems of paranoia, hallucinations, and extreme up’s and down’s in mood.
Following her struggle to find normalcy and seeing how different people reacted to her was an interesting case in fight or flight. Her first neurologist was adamant that Cahalan was just drinking too much and was overly stressed. Other doctors simply chalked it up to being schizophrenic.
I couldn’t help but wonder…how would I react if I was suddenly losing my mind while baffling doctors? How would people around me react? How would you react?
4.5 out of 5 stars
In 2012, I upped my reading game by purchasing an iPad. After going to book club once and being the only one without an e-Reader, the peer pressure got to me. Oh yeah, I wanted to read the shameful 50 Shades of Grey books without having to buy the books in-person.
The 50 Shades books were horrid….although I still read all three of them. But my iPad reading and I are two peas in a pod.
In 2011, I read 21 books. Let’s see how 2012 panned out.
Books Read in 2012
1. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
2. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
I love this book so much!!! 2012 was definitely the year that I got more into reading memoirs.
4. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe
Really enjoyed this book too!
5-7. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
8. How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely
9. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
10-11. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
12. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
After moving to Austin, this book really helped me in my quest to make friends!
13. How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
14. The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
15. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Haven’t you read this book yet?!?!?! It’s only been on everyone’s top books of 2012 lists, including mine!
16. How To Be a Woman by Caitline Moran
Other people really enjoyed this book. Sadly, I was not a fan.
17-19. 50 Shades of Grey trilogy by E L James
Sorry, lapse of judgement there…
20. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
21. White Jacket Required by Jenna Weber
22. Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
23. The Affair by Lee Child
Lee Child writes the Jack Reacher books, which is currently a movie out with Tom Cruise. They are solid “guy books”. An easy read, but not my normal choice of book.
24. The Confession by John Grisham
25. The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy
26. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
This book is being made into a movie too. I enjoyed the book…even without knowing a lick about mythology. If you studied mythology in school, you may enjoy it even more than I did.
27. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
I just finished this book today!! I really enjoyed it and am anxious to see what my book club thinks about it when we meet in January.
What was your favorite book that you read this year??
I haven’t done any book reviews in 2 months.
I picked several so-so books recently that I chose not to review.
The 50 Shades of Grey triology by E L James
–Yes, I read all 3 of them! I only enjoyed the 1st one though. The 2nd two were a constant roller coaster of girl is whiny/man is brooding, they argue, they make up & have great sex. Rinse & repeat for hundreds of pages.
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
–Evanovich has a new series about a pastry chef that has mystical powers. It was super hokey, which is true Evanovich. If you are a Stephanie Plum series fan, you may enjoy them. I did finish the book in one day, but the hokey-ness turned into groaners for me.
The Affair by Lee Child
–My Dad gave me this book when I visited in July. It’s similar to all of those mystery/government conspirary type books that men read. Or at least, that’s what I associate as a “guy’s book”. It started off strong and kept my interest, but I felt dissatisfied with the ending.
Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert
–I usually love snarky female memoirs, but I could only get through about 1/4 of this book before giving up. There’s too many books out there to force yourself to read one that you’re not into!
The Confession by John Grisham
–I’ve read almost all of Grisham’s books. I’m not sure if my tastes have changed or if this book just wasn’t at the same level. I remember being younger and riping through The Firm and The Pelican Brief and loving them so much! With The Confession, there was more despair than hope. Next!
I’ve been on a bit of an upward slope with my most recent two read thoughs!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
–We read this book for book club and met last week. About 70% of us liked the book, but even if you didn’t like the book…it led to a great discussion! I chose not to review the book, because it’s a modern classic and I don’t feel equip to review “real” books. I do recommend it for a book club though. The themes really stand the test of time and we could still correlate to today. Great book!
White Jacket Required by Jenna Weber
–If you read Jenna’s blog: Eat, Live, Run, then you’ll enjoy this book! I read it one evening and couldn’t stop. It’s odd when you feel like you know someone so well, when they are still a stranger!
Next up for my book clubs, I’ll be reading:
How To Be a Woman by Caitline Moran
Nerves of Steel by CJ Lyons
Have you read any of the books mentioned?
What should I read next???
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I just finished reading Gone Girl tonight! Exciting Friday night, eh? But considering I usually wait eons to blog about things, you have to take my word for it….great book!!
Gone Girl is the story of married couple, Nick & Amy. Nick & Amy have been married for 5 years. They were living the high life in NYC, but downsized and moved to Missouri about a year prior. On the day of their 5th anniversary, Amy goes missing. There are signs of a struggle. What happened? Where is Amy? Who took her?
The husband did it! Or did he….????
If you want to read a summer thriller with twists and turns, then read this book. It definitely had some “OMG I didn’t see that coming” twists for me. I both found myself thinking that couldn’t happen and then in the next moment…oh man, what if that sort of thing DOES happen??
And then the ending….ah you’ll have to find out yourself.
5 out of 5 stars
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Description from Amazon:
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.”
I’m finding it hard to describe this book, which is why I referenced the Amazon description above. People seem to either love or hate this book (at my book club, most of the gals were on the hated spectrum). I was one of the in-betweeners. If you love imagery and long descriptions, you’ll love this book. I usually loathe description and crave fast-paced dialogue, which this book is not. But I was intrigued by the story!
Two older magicians (true magic, not illusions) wager that they can both train a superior magician. For the years of their youth, Celia and Marco are the chosen trainees. I really enjoyed the chapters about the young magicans and the training they had to go through. Once they are adults, they find out that the circus is the the stage of their competition.
Interesting concept, right?? Confusing concept too though! The unique premise kept me reading this book. The slow pace and reliance so heavily on imagery left it short for me.
3 out of 5 stars
How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
“As a young Japanese lady, you have been schooled in all the way of housekeeping. Your high school taught you how to arrange flowers, the fine art of fan dancing, and how to launder and store kimonos.
Now that you have married an American, you might be at a loss as to certain American customs. How to iron a Western shirt. How to make a bed properly. If you were lucky enough to have worked as a maid in a Western-style establishment, you may already know these things. But for those of you who do not, or do not know the details of American culture, this book will provide all the higher education that you need.”
How to Be an American Housewife follows the story of Shoko, a young Japanese woman trying to survive during WWII. Shoko’s father believes that her best opportunity in life would be to marry an American GI and leave Japan. Shoko gets a job at a hotel where many GI’s are staying. She even makes a portfolio of her suitors to get the input from her father on who to “woo”.
With her father’s blessing and her brother’s grave disapproval, Shoko moves to American with her American husband, Charlie. Dilloway’s book follows Shoko as she tries to acclimate to life in America. Her only help is a book to guide her: How to Be an American Housewife.
The book bounces from Shoko’s past to her present. It’s many years later and Shoko wants to return to Japan to try to patch things up with her brother. Shoko’s poor health prevents her from traveling, so she enlists the help of her daughter, Sue, to travel on her behalf.
I enjoyed this book. It was really interesting learning about Shoko’s past in Japan and how she coped with culture shock as a new bride. Each chapter started with a passage from the “guide book” like the one above.
If you enjoy historical fiction wrapped in family bonds, you’ll be a fan of this book as well.
4 out of 5 stars
Since moving to Austin two months ago, I’ve met around 20 new people already. I’ve been a busy bee! I’ve been asked a few times about how I’m meeting so many people so fast.
A book!! A book helped me!! A book saved me!! A book has helped me and made me so happy!! Shortly before I moved from Wichita to Austin, I saw MWF Seeking BFF sitting on a table at Barnes & Noble. The timing was so great. I read this book the week I move to Austin and then I was off!
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
MWF Seeking BFF is a memoir by Bertsche. Bertsche was living in NYC, but moved to Chicago to move in with her boyfriend and got married soon after. She was a newlywed in a new city with a new job and a new spouse. But she was really missing her girlfriends. What do you do in a new city with no one to call for brunch or to grab a glass of wine with? You can still call your BFF’s out of state to randomly talk about stray chin hairs or confess the amount of Biscoff you ate in one sitting (enter Sarah for me, she’s my person). Woman can’t live by phone calls to friends alone though!
Bertsche set a goal for herself. She’ll goal on 52 friend dates in a year with the hope of finding a Chicago BFF. I love this book so much because I learned how to get out of my comfort zone. Is it initially awkward to ask a virtual stranger out for lunch? Yes. But if you were on the receiving end of this invitation would you be flattered and happy? I would!
Bertsche really got out there even more than I currently have the guts to do. For example, she asked out a salesperson at a clothing store to meet up. And she wrote her number on a receipt after she really hit it off with a waitress that she enjoyed. Both ladies said yes though!
I’ve had the most success with Girlfriend Social so far. Bertsche actually had no luck with this site, but I’ve met 6 ladies through this site. And yes, I do feel like I’m on a platonic Match.com site. But once again, would you rather get out of your comfort zone or sit at home alone? Of the 6 ladies, I really enjoyed 3 of them and have seen 1 more than once. There was only one that I felt was totally not a good “friend fit” for me.
Here are some highlights that I took away from the book:
–Women are BUSY. Don’t get discouraged/take it personally if you don’t hear back for awhile or if you get cancelled on. It’s frustrating, but unfortunately if a woman has a family/job/etc, friends are one of the 1st things to get put on the back burner. As a very sensitive person, this insight really helped me.
–Try not to get too annoyed if you make a friend date and the woman brings a friend with her! It’s kind of rude actually, I feel. But that woman is probably very nervous and did it to help her comfort level. This happened to me already, so I tried to roll with it.
–You’re not alone!! As a woman in your 30′s, it’s HARD to make friends. Most friends are made in school and at work. Many women may be in a same boat as you yearning to make a new friend. To be successful, you may have to make the “first move” though. Although online dating is so commonplace now, saying that you need more friends has a stigma attached still. So women may be suffering in silence, but if you’re brave enough to reach out, you may be making the other lady’s day!! I found the “first move” to be very important on Girlfriend Social. All the woman I met, signed up for the website on a whim but then never did anything about it. We’ve been conditioned to wait for a man to make the first move….so on a friend site, it was a stalemate situation. If I hadn’t have emailed the women, I don’t think anything would have come from the site.
–Follow-up is KEY! If you meet a new friend, you have to follow-up! Since you are the one making the plan from the beginning, they will kind of expect you to follow-up if you want to meet up a second time. Once again, I think this goes back to women being conditioned to wait to see if a guy wants a 2nd date. I’m now focused on following up with the woman that I had a blast with to see if they want to get together again. At some point, it has to become a back & forth/give & take situation to be a real friendship though. I think I’ll have to play that by ear.
I have so many pages that I’ve marked in MWF Seeking BFF that were light bulb moments for me. I could talk about this book for hours. My advice: BUY THIS BOOK….. and do you want to meet up for coffee?? ;)
5 out of 5 stars
Did you read and love The Hunger Games?
Are you looking for another trilogy to reel you in?
Look no further!
Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Similar to The Hunger Games triology, the Divergent series follows a female lead character and is set in a dystopian society. And also similar to The Hunger Games, I sailed through both books in less an a week and loved them. Roth has yet to come out with the final book in the Divergent series. Hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long! According to IMDB, the Divergent movie is tentatively slated for 2015.
Divergent is set in a future society based in the former city of Chicago. There are different factions of society: Erudite (intellectuals), Dauntless (adrenaline junkies), Candor (truth speakers), Amity (polite, happy go lucky), and Abnegation (selfless). At the age of 16, each youth takes a test to tell you which faction you are best suited for. Each youth then has the decision to make: stay with your family in the faction you’ve grown up in….or switch factions and never see your family again.
Divergent follows the path that 16 year Beatrice (born into Abnegation) aka Tris makes. During Tris’ test, she finds out she has an equal aptitude for a few factors which makes her “divergent”.
I found Roth’s two books to be so interesting! I kept thinking what faction would I be in if I lived in this dystopian world. If you know me at all, it would be Candor hands down…for good or bad. :) There’s even a quiz at the end of the book to find your faction.
I can’t wait for Roth to realize the final book!
5 out of 5 stars
I joined a book club group! Finding a book club was one of my top to-do’s when I moved to Austin. It was a fun, diverse group…very Austin-y. :) There was even a guy there!
It wasn’t the gossip & wine-filled book club that I’m used to, but maybe that’s a good thing. We actually talked about the book!!
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter follows Silas “32″ Jones. He’s returned to Mississippi to become constable in his small town. Silas spends most of his days handling traffic duty during shift change at the mill and giving out speeding tickets. But a girl in the town has now disappeared.
The disappearance brings up old memories of an unsolved missing girl from 20 years ago. The suspect was always Larry Ott. Larry still lives in the small town, but has been shunned by the community convinced of his guilt.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter shifts from the past to the present and intertwines the lives of Silas and Larry. I enjoyed the plot lines of this novel, but it left me wanting more. I found the “surprises” in the book to be predictable. Franklin could have taken the story in a few different directions that I would have preferred. Similar to a “choose your own adventure” book, I wish I’d read through another path of this story.
I did like Franklin’s portrayal of Silas and Larry. Neither character is particularly likeable, but you got to know them well. I found myself wanting to shake Silas for some things he did. And I felt such sadness for Larry living his life of solitude.
3 out of 5 stars