Everyday Life, Reading, Reviews, Young Adult

August Reading, Part 2, and A Tiny Rant Against Autumn

There’s a crispness in the air that I despise. Yes, I said despise. Sorry, Fall and Football lovers. I love summer and I cannot lie. I do not like cold days. I do not like the mess of leaves all over the back yard, and all the raking…raking…raking. I don’t like watching the summer flowers die. I don’t like heavy clothing and jeans every day.  But really, the biggest problem of all is that my family is not taking our one and only beach vacation until mid-September. Summer, please stay until then!

However! I am trying to conjure up happy memories of hot chocolate and books by a warm fire. Maybe if I start a Fall reading list, I’ll let go of my morbidity towards Autumn. If I can keep finding as many good books in the Autumn months as I’ve found in August, the coming season will be pretty swell.

Here are the books I finished this month.:

1. Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

Cybele's Secret (Wildwood, #2) The sequel to Wildwood Dancing, but not nearly as great. Still, a pretty good read, especially if you’re a fan of the genre. Marillier is one of  my new favorite YA authors.

2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Read my reviews (yes, there are two of them) here and here

3. The Artist’s Daughter

I really liked this memoir. Read my review here

4.  Slash Your Grocery Budget & Eat a Whole Foods Diet With Aldi by Carrie Willard

I read a slew of nonfiction this month. I consider it a slew, anyway. The main reason was that Ella came down with a stomach bug on Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t leave her side without her getting upset. So while she dozed, I read all the free e-books I’ve been downloading to the Kindle app on my phone. I find these free books on moneysavingmom.com, but I usually download them and then forget about them. I was grateful to have them this weekend, though.

Slash Your Grocery Budget was a great book for people who shop at Aldi or are considering shopping at Aldi. It includes menus and recipes—features that equal awesomeness in any nonfiction book. I haven’t actually tried any of the recipes yet, but I plan to. Look for this book to show up in my next Saturday Cooking feature.

5. A Simpler Season by Jessica Fisher

With the chill in the air and the impending hours watching football, I’m feeling like now is a good time to start planning some projects for Christmas. Last Christmas I had all kinds of ideas and hardly any of them got done. I’m okay with that; my kids were 3 and 1, we had a nice holiday season that was not as stressful as usual, we celebrated what mattered. Still, I’d like to be a little more involved in the details this year. A Simpler Season was a good starting point for me to think through those some of those details. Will you still find me in Target two days before Christmas? Probably. But hope springs eternal.

6. How to Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donahue

A departure from the norm for me, but in a fun, not-too-terrible, romantic comedy kind of way. Read my review here.

Now I’m working on East of the Sun by Julia Gregson. For school with Ella, we’re reading In Grandma’s Attic. I can’t tell you how much I am loving re-reading my favorite children’s chapter books with Ella. We tried The Bobbsey Twins, but it was a little wordy for now. Maybe in a year or two. I actually never liked those books much, but they seem cute to me now.

Tell me what should go on my Fall reading list! I need a long, cheering list to console me over being robbed (robbed!) of summer.

Reading, Reviews

How To Eat A Cupcake

There’s a part in the movie Music and Lyrics that I think of often when I’m reviewing books. Drew Barrymore confronts Hugh Grant about his pandering to a pop princess. She says “Your heroes, the Beatles, Smokey [Robinson], they never would have let this happen,” and Hugh Grant responds “That’s a completely different thing. They’re geniuses. They wrote dinner. I write dessert.”

How to Eat a CupcakeSome books are dessert. They’re not chocked full of nutrition for your brain, but they’re a nice change of pace sometimes. I don’t read dessert books a whole lot (I think each person may have his or her own definition of dessert). When I picked up How to Eat a Cupcake, I didn’t expect to like it. But I had a stack of ten books I’d gathered so far at the library and not one of them seemed at all promising. I started reading How to Eat a Cupcake on Saturday night when everyone else in my house was fast asleep and I was wide awake but wanting to be asleep. “This should do the trick,” I thought. I was wrong. I finished it the next day. It was not dinner, but I still kind of liked it. It was refreshing, in a way. Kind of like hanging out with an old friend watching old movies and drinking chocolate milk.

How to Eat a Cupcake was written by Meg Donahue and published in 2012. Here’s the plot line from goodreads.com:

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 friendship between Julia and Annie is complex. The story is told in turns by these two characters, which I think was a a great way to write the book. Readers can see what’s going on in the thoughts of the two main characters. Annie’s character was a little on the annoying side at times, but for the most part, it was easy to like the characters you were supposed to like. Donohue did a good job of introducing Julia as a society type you’d roll your eyes at and dismiss, or even loath, and then transforming her as you read and get to really know her. I didn’t enjoy the romance part of the book at all. It was very shallow. But it’s easy to skip over most of that. One of the best parts of the book was how it treated a certain grief many women have but don’t know how to deal with, or how to even talk about it. I won’t give it away, but it’s really a surprisingly insightful look into an issue that just doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, and I think it should.

Still, pick this book up only if you’re in the mood for a chick flick but would rather read a book than watch a movie. Or you feel like a very light read at the pool. Or you love this kind of book in general and don’t know why I’m making a huge deal over it. Forgive me. I’m still trying to get over my hang up about admitting that I like some books.

I’m also trying to get over a craving for cupcakes. I highly recommend buying the ingredients for cupcakes before reading this book.

Next on my to read list is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. There’s a lot of buzz about this book, which makes me nervous to read it. I’m looking forward to it, though.

~Some books I’ve read (listened to, actually) that are similar to How To Eat A Cupcake:

A Mile In My Flip Flops

Keeping the Moon

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