Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman and Mind Games by Jana Oliver

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

The Dark Days Club
by Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 486
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Add it to your Goodreads shelf
New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Why I'm Anticipating This Book:
It's been a while since I've read a novel about a demon hunter....a long while. The last demon hunter series I read/fell in love with was The Demon Trappers series from Jana Oliver. It was fantastic and in my early blogging days I recommended the series to everyone I knew. As for The Dark Days Club - the setting, the characters, the entire synopsis sounds perfect and right up my alley. I'm highly anticipating it's release this January.

Mind Games (The Demon Trappers #5)
by Jana Oliver
Format: Ebook (not sure if this one will be in paperback)
Release Date: October 15th, 2015
Add it to your Goodreads shelf
Riley Blackthorne’s life as a Demon Trapper is about to hit the wall. Knowing she will always be a target for those who want to exploit her “connections” with Hell, she’s learning defensive magic. It seems the only way to ensure she and her fiancé, Denver Beck, have a future together. But not everyone in Atlanta, or at the Vatican, is pleased by this news. In fact, some want to ban the use of all magic, and Riley would make the perfect scapegoat.

As a new demonic enemy stalks her, Guild politics roil the city, throwing the trappers into chaos. To protect herself and the man she loves, Riley will be forced to choose: continue in her legendary father’s footsteps, or carve her own path. A path that may well lead to her losing everything she so desperately seeks to protect.

Why I'm Anticipating This Book:
So I recently learned that there's a book 5 to my all-time favourite demon hunters series coming out next month. My reaction - "OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG Epic Muppet Flail OMG OMG OMG JANA I LOVE YOU!" If you haven't read this series yet, please please PLEASE make room for it on your read list.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Please feel free to share your WoW below and I'll be sure to stop by!

Happy reading,
Wendy (Cupcake Queen)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Review: Madly by Amy Alward

by Amy Alward
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.

*Note: Review might contain spoilers for those who have not read the book*

I can easily recall the exact moment I first learned of Madly by Amy Alward. I was full of gelato and organizing goodies for Book Blog Ontario. I took one look at the cover and had to know what it was about. As I flipped to the back and read the synopsis, I was instantly sold.

"Strange. She'd always expected a love potion to be red, not blue." 

A tale of a poisoned princess, crazy magical mayhem, and a laborious search for the cure. Madly by Amy Alward follows the narrative mind of one Samantha Kemi, a young girl who comes from a long line of old-school alchemists. When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion intended for her handsome crush, all alchemists are called to the palace through Audun's Horn for the Wilde Hunt - a treacherous and time consuming search for the cure.  Samantha, against her family's wishes, enter's the hunt in hopes of finding the cure and regaining her family's once respected reputation.

Social media, television broadcasts, magic, and a fairytale-esque world setting - Madly by Amy Alward simply begged to be read. Sam Kemi was an engaging and responsive character. As an average girl with amazing talents, I thoroughly enjoyed reading her narrative. Learning about her family's history was wonderful, and learning of Samantha's past with other characters proved to be quite revealing of her personality. The alchemy aspect of the tale, although quite refreshing, paused me on several instances. In fact, it's one of the reasons why I set Madly down more than once before finishing it. As enticing as the idea of alchemy was, I found myself forgetting a lot of the terminology and the rules of the hunt.

Despite hitting a few bumps here and there, I'm pleased to say that finishing Madly was well worth it. The character's were excellent and the race to the cure completely thrilling. I'm curious to see where book two in Amy's Potion series leads it's readers.

Madly by Amy Alward was a quick and fun read that satisfied the fantasy lover in me. Teens with a passion for everything magical are sure to enjoy Amy's latest.

3 / 5 Cupcakes

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.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Recap: The Word on the Street - Toronto Book & Magazine Festival 2015

Toronto's The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival - when Christmas comes early for book lovers.

I've been attending the free annual event for a few years and I'm always impressed with the special programs, guest authors, and exhibitor tents. A lot of time is put into creating a great event that promotes literacy for all - thank you to everyone who worked hard to create another wonderful year for Word on the Street.

This year the event was moved to a new venue - the spacious Harbourfront Centre. With a vast space for tents, stage set-ups, and a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario, I felt the new space worked well. The organizers of WOTS took advantage of the entire property, spreading tents and stages evenly on both sides of the property, reserving one side for kids entertainment and lit. They also utilized The Power Plant Art Gallery space for the Bestsellers Stage and author signing area. The space was easy to navigate (except for the crowding) , and I found myself looking at the map only once (with the help of a friend) in search of a special program tent.

Book lovers were also given the option to enjoy a very unique experience and addition to WOTS - an author cruise. Guests were given the option to purchase tickets for the 60 minute cruise on large ship accompanied by a lineup of incredible bestselling authors. I didn't participate in the cruise, unfortunately, but certainly plan to in the future if WOTS chooses to bring it back next year.

This year I was unable to stay and attend many of the programs taking place at WOTS, however I did manage to sit down for Monica Heisey's short reading and Q/A for "I Can't Believe It's Not Better" at the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent. I was also lucky to stop by and catch a few minutes of "Supernatural Sovereignty: Humans Defending the Earth" at the This Is Not The Shakespeare Stage, featuring Leah Bobet, Megan Crewe, Evan Munday and Natalie Gent (note: it was amazing to see an ASL interpreter at this reading!)

Book shopping - I managed to do all my book shopping in the first few minutes of WOTS. After stopping by Harlequin's tent, I took advantage of their generous sale and immediately picked up nine reads on my to read list. The damage: an astonishing and surprising $15! Notably, I also stopped by HarperCollins Canada (which had a wonderful lineup of their titles for sale), Penguin/Random House Canada (where they were hosting a fun giveaway and handing out sample colouring pages), Simon & Schuster Canada (where I couldn't resist doing more book shopping), and a few other vendors.

Overall, I had a successful and fun visit at this year's WOTS. Although very crowded at times, I had a great time catching up with old friends, finding new reads, and listening to some very talented individuals. I'm highly anticipating next year's programs!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Fangirl Meltdown - September 2015 Loot Crate Unboxing

The September 2015 "Summon" Loot Crate - a monthly box for gamers and geeks filled with goodies, including shirts, stickers, collectible figures, and more.

*Loot Crate Promo Image*

Out of all the monthly box subscriptions, Loot Crate was the only one that caught my interest. After the Fiance and I spotted their booth at Fan Expo Canada 2015 (remember that Cartman vinyl we received from them?) , we decided to order a subscription to check it out (plus there was an expo discount so we spent a lot less than we would have ordering from home).

The Fiance and I were pretty much counting down the days to our first Loot Crate. We were anxious to see what it was (Loot's teaser images DID NOT help), and I was personally pretty skeptical we'd get things we'd like in our first box. For the most part, I was worried it wouldn't be worth what we paid for it.

*Pictured: Opening the crate and refolding the crate box to create a summoning tome.*

What we received in this month's crate: 
- Loot Crate Magazine 
- Monthly Loot Crate Button for "Summon" 
- Golden Buddha Homer - I've seen the original in stores and must say the golden version looks way better 
- Pikachu Hat - you too can be cute like Pikachu 
- An Impala Car Model from Supernatural - perfect for Supernatural fans 
- A Hearthstone Collectible Coin - nifty collectible 
- A Hearthstone Stress Ball - made of foam and a totally neat design idea 
- Master Summoner Mobile Game Code - this game uses augmented reality and your summon tome loot crate box to create a unique experience. 
- Hearthstone Card Pack - for fans of the game 
- Summoner Wars Card Game - for fans of the game


I'm not disappointed! Glad to see our first crate was an even mix of what both the Fiance and I enjoy. While I absolutely loved the Pikachu Hat, Impala Model, and Golden Homer Buddha, the Fiance loved all the gamer items. We're both looking forward to getting our next crate! If you're interested in signing up for your own Loot Crate subscription, be sure to use our referral code.

(Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Loot Crate. We did not receive compensation or the crate free of charge for this recap.)

Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules
by Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Precepture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

Enter Elián Palnik, the Precepture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Precepture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

*Note: This review has been shortened in order to prevent spoilers*

I hate to break this to you under these circumstances, really truly I do, but...The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow is a book you can't miss. Really. Next time you're at a book store, even a large retailer that also happens to have a book section,  and you see this book - buy it, read it, relish in all it's epicness. After all of that's been done, come back and thank me. Really. Cupcakes are good, too.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart is the Duchess of Halifax and the Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation - she's also a child of peace. Being taken from her family, she has gracefully accepted that someday if her family so chooses to declare war, that her life be forfeit.  The same goes for all the other children in the isolated schools called Preceptures. However, when Elian Palnik arrives, a new hostage at the Precepture, Greta's entire world begins to tilt.

To prevent spoilers from leaking all over the place, I'll be keeping my review short and simple - if I could give this book 5 goats stuck in a tree out of 5, I would. However, since my rating system is solely dedicated to cupcakes, I'll have to award Erin Bow's The Scorpion Rules a complete delicious cupcake rating. Truly, I'm not sure why I'm surprised that Erin's latest wowed me, she's always wowed me!

With a crazy terminator feel, The Scorpion Rules was phenomenal. Erin's wide collection of diverse characters was refreshing, innovative, and imaginative - quite possibly the most unique characters I've ever read. Seriously, Greta was amazing! Furthermore, the story was incredible and emotionally captivating, a  title that focuses on serious issues disguised as a simple young adult book. In conclusion, Erin Bow is an author not worth missing out on.

Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes - Highly Recommended

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.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Review: Bitterroot (Part 1) by Heather Hildenbrand and SM Reine

Bitterroot (part 1)
by Heather Hildenbrand and SM Reine
Format: Ebook,
Purchase: [Amazon] [B&N][iBooks]
Seventeen year-old Regan Vuk has lived her whole life under the shadow of her future: the pack alpha. She is fast, smart, and determined. According to her own pack members, she is a shoo-in. But Regan’s dad has a secret.

Seventeen year-old Charlie spent her adolescence drifting from place to place with a mother desperate to hide her illegitimate daughter from the unforgiving reality of werewolf pack dynamics. All Charlie has ever wanted is to know her father--and the family that's been kept from her all these years. But most of all, she wants a place to belong in the world. Where she doesn’t have to pretend she can’t sprout fur and paws at will. Being kidnapped on her way home from prom was not she Charlie had in mind.

When Charlie finds out the only way to fit in with her new family is to defeat her long-lost sister for the role of alpha, she refuses. That is until she learns that the strange and alluring vampire she's befriended, Owen, is the same vampire prince that's been promised the winner.

Regan has no doubt that, although she loathes the vampires, it will be her who "wins" Owen.

Only problem: Charlie's already fallen for him.

Bitterroot is a Young Adult Paranormal with a dose of sibling rivalry... Who will you root for?

I won't bother you with any unnecessary fangirling throughout my review, I'll give it to you straight and simple - there's a reason why I've always been a fan of Heather Hildenbrand and SM Reine.

I reviewed titles by Heather Hildenbrand and SM Reine in my early blogging days, prior to my long hiatus, and I always recommended their titles to all of my readers (eg. Six Moon Summer and Dirty Blood - absolute musts). With their latest release, Bitterroot part 1, I can honestly say that readers who enjoy the paranormal young adult genre will absolutely fall in love with SM Reine and Heather Hildenbrand's characters.

"High school dances were overrated. Sweaty perfume, crepe paper, and a whole lot of trying too hard all in the same room. What was the point?" - Bitterroot

Bitterroot starts off with the introduction of Charlie, an ordinary supernatural teen girl who's lived most of her life moving from one city to another with her mother.  The reason: her mother doesn't want her daughter to face the harsh reality of being part of a werewolf pack. Regardless of her mother's wishes, Charlie is kidnapped on her way home from prom and is introduced to a father and sister she's never met. Furthermore, she's told that she must compete against her sister for the title of Alpha and that the winner will be promised in marriage to a vampire prince.

I absolutely adored Regan and Charlie. They were two half sisters who completed each other wonderfully in alternating perspectives. Although Bitterroot part 1 doesn't give the reader much depth about their personalities or histories as of yet, I'm optimistic that Regan and Charlie will grow more on me as the series progresses. Furthermore, the vampire prince in question, the hot and smoldering Prince Owen, is for the most part an enigma in Bitterroot part 1. He was instantly enticing but there's so much more I want to learn about him. To word it simply - I need more Bitterroot and I'm anxious to get my hands on part two.

I love that the philosophy of Alpha's being female is convention in Bitterroot. As a big reader of paranormal and supernatural titles, always coming across only male Alphas and Betas becomes nauseatingly repetitive. I love that SM Reine and Heather Hildenbrand made it a point to include this, although the two authors are already well known for writing powerful and inspiring heroines.

Teens and adults will surely fall in love with Bitterroot's characters, plot, and expression. Perfect for a reader new to the genre and/or new to these two incredible authors.

So, when can I get my hands on part two?

Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes - Highly Recommended

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.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Shot of Reckless by Maddie Paige (Cover Reveal + Giveaway)

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

Cover Reveal + Giveaway

A Shot of Reckless
by Maddie Paige
Publisher: Elephantine Publishing
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 14th, 2015
Pre-order: [Kobo] [B&N] [Kindle]
Add it to your Goodreads shelf
Art major, Roxy Thompson, is a ball of fun—but she's also careful to keep her walls intact when it comes to men. She likes relationships just like her coffee: light and sweet. After having her heart shattered once before, she’s determined not to ever feel that broken again.

College senior, Lake Foster, is just tempting enough to make Roxy rethink her rules of engagement. Suddenly, high-dollar shots and a no-strings night out aren't enough anymore. But Lake isn't looking for long-term. His future is set, and in four months, he intends to graduate and leave Georgia—and everything in it—behind. Luckily, short-term fun is Roxy’s specialty, and Lake can’t resist what he promises will be a fleeting taste.

Will Roxy and Lake really walk away when their time is up? They only have one shot to find out.

About Maddie Paige:
Writing duo Maddie Paige bonded over books, shirtless boys and Step Up movies. One lives for her coffee while the other prefers hot chocolate. Both lovers of romance, they tag teamed a manuscript over late nights at Steak 'n Shake. They live in Atlanta, GA and A Shot of Reckless is their debut.

A Shot of Reckless comes out October 14th! Below you can learn a little about it and enter to win an ebook!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Let me know in the comment section below!

Happy Reading,
Wendy (Cupcake Queen)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Recap: Kate Beaton at The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon

I first learned of Kate Beaton while sitting in during the "Comedy...? What's Funny in Funnybooks" panel at the Inspire! Toronto Book Fair last year (an event that, unfortunately, won't be getting a second chance. Boo!) Michele (@JustaLilLost) had recommended Hark! A Vagrant , a series of hilarious comics, and I knew I needed to check it out immediately.

With the release of Kate's second Hark! title, "Step Aside, Pops", I was super excited to pick up a copy and see her at the Toronto Reference Library's Bram and Bluma Appel Salon. The event was completely sold out, although tickets to the events at the library are always free. Arriving at the library at about 5:10PM, Michele and I were both surprised to see the short line. We'd expected a larger crowd with less than an hour to go before the doors opened. Give or take 20 minutes later, the line grew exponentially and wrapped its way around the library's 2nd floor barrier. 

Kate Beaton Reads Comics 

Tonight's event included a quick comic reading by Kate herself, a Q/A with Kate hosted by Emily Keeler of The National Post, and an audience question period. Kate was absolutely hilarious and had myself (and the audience) laughing to the brink of tears. An excellent way to end a Tuesday evening!

My favourite Kate Beaton quotes of the evening:
  • "You can't just take a s#!t all over something that's important to people." Kate Beaton on what's appropriate to parody.  Related quote: "My Holocaust hilarity roller coaster isn't coming."
  • "My books are for sale at the post office." Kate Beaton on her hometown Cape Breton.

Overall, it was an excellent evening! A big thanks to The Toronto Public Library for hosting such a wonderful bookish event, and to Kate Beaton and Emily Keeler for attending.

The Hark! A Vagrant Titles:

Monday, 21 September 2015

Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 560
Format: Hardcover, Ebook,
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Ethan, aka "Scam," has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn't just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn't consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts - like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him - his former group of friends, the self-named "zeros" who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam's latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.

*Note: This review might contain spoilers for those who have not read the novel*

Teens and adults looking for a stimulating new series with a cast of oddball and eccentric characters will want to read Zeroes by Scott Westefeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti immediately.

"The voice sucked at planning ahead. The voice just knew when Ethan wanted out. It also liked to twist the knife sometimes. " - Zeroes p.6

Six Californian teens that each possess their own remarkable ability.

In Zeroes, readers meet Ethan (Scam), a teen with the unusual ability to speak of things he consciously shouldn't even know, thanks to a strange voice in his head. The voice has caused more than enough trouble for Ethan, and when he goes too far with the wrong people, chaos ensues and the only people who can pull him out are the others - the Zeroes. However, when the Zeroes make their move to help Ethan escape, things get out of control and the teens find themselves facing an array of dangerous criminals. Fast paced, addicting, and completely thrilling - Zeroes was my favourite sci-fi read of the year!

Being a long time Scott Westerfeld reader it was a given I'd be excited for the release of Zeroes. However, not having read anything from Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti previous to Zeroes, I wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily, Zeroes completely wowed me. Told in the alternating perspectives of all six teens, Zeroes was completely bewitching. I found my need to learn more about each character more electrifying as each chapter flew by. Other than Ethan, the other teens were extremely captivating. Mob, Flicker, Crash, Bellwether, and Anonymous each possessed their own unique personality, and I enjoyed each of their perspectives without fail. By far, Anon proved to be the most moving of perspectives. I sympathized with him and cared.

Fans of science fiction in the young adult genre will not be disappointed by Scott, Margo, and Deborah's Zeroes. Ethan's perspective will immediately captivate you from page one, and the Zeroes will completely charm you. Highly recommended for teens and adults with a taste for adventure.

Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes. Recommended

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, 18 September 2015

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 15th, 2015
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

No one likes a bully - absolutely no one. I will never comprehend why a bully does what they do, why they feel the need to hurt - I simply can't wrap my head around it. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is a book I needed for a very long time, a book that had a vocal protagonist who knows how it feels to be bullied, how it feels to be different, and is an individual who isn't afraid to embrace herself.

Dumplin' is about teen girl Willowdean Dickson, a self-proclaimed fat girl who's obsessed with everything Dolly Parton. With her best friend El by her side, she's always felt at home in her own skin, until a series of events have her doubting herself.  She begins to feel like all control is slipping away, and in a desperate move to win back her confidence, Will enters the Miss Clover City beauty pageant along with a group of girls who are the unlikeliest of candidates.

“I think maybe it’s the things we don’t want to talk about that are the things people most want to hear.”  -Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Willowdean is a fictional character every teen (boy or girl) needs during their high school years. I can't say that I completely identify with what Will's been through in Dumplin', but I did see myself in her. I was bullied by 'friends' for numerous ridiculous reasons, things that were completely out of my control, and I couldn't help seeing myself in the way Willowdean handled every situation. She saw things the way I did during those pivotal moments, wanting to avoid all of it and wanting to take others going through the same thing far away from the cause - the bully. Julie Murphy rattled something inside of me I hadn't thought of for years and I found myself tearing up several times.

I absolutely loved Willowdean, Bo, El, and Mitch. They were great characters that embodied much of the drama that teens go through during high school. Failing friendships, clumsy relationships, and a whole lot of learning can be found in Dumplin.

Patrick - I hated him and that's a heck of a lot more than I thought I'd ever feel for such a character. Reading Dumplin' brought up a lot of old feelings from my earlier years, plenty of stupid and silly memories, and Patrick just reminded me of all the silly nonsense I dealt with. I simply can't wrap my head around what makes a bully tick, what inspires them to hurt others, and I'd really like to figure out why.

Dumplin' was an emotional and powerful read about acceptance and bullying. It had me tearing up and cheering on from beginning to end. Julie Murphy is a brand new find for me, an incredible author with the ability to suck you into her story immediately, and I'm looking forward to reading her other title "Side Effects May Very" and keeping a look out for any new releases from her in the nearby future.

 I highly recommend teens and adults give Dumplin' by Julie Murphy a read. I'm sure all readers will find themselves identifying, in one way or another, with Willowdean Dickson. Be sure to keep a healthy supply of tissues and red suckers nearby, you'll need it.

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

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

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

The Art of Being Normal
by Lisa Williamson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 31st, 2016
The debut novel from an outstanding new voice in YA fiction, that is not only immensely readable and compelling but also deals with a very current issue.

Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he's gay. The school bully thinks he's a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth - David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal - to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long ...

Why I'm Anticipating This Book:
I'm glad there's a book like The Art of Being Normal being put out into the world. It sounds wonderful and focuses on incredibly important topics. The world needs more LGBTQ titles and The Art of Being Normal is a title I'm absolutely highly anticipating! Be sure to add it to your Goodreads list.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Please feel free to share your WoW below and I'll be sure to stop by!

Happy reading,
Wendy (Cupcake Queen)

Monday, 14 September 2015

Recap: Raincoast Books Teens Read Winter + Spring 2016 Preview

September 12th was a day of bookish awesome in the city of Toronto. As book bloggers made their way to Downtown Toronto's Public Reference Library, Raincoast Books, Jenn (Lost in a Great book) and Vanessa (Ampersand Inc) were hard at work putting the finishing details to this year's Winter/Spring 2016 preview. While Toronto and Vancouver were having an in person meet up for the preview, other bloggers across Canada were also invited to attend the event virtually via Google Hangout.

At around 2:00PM Toronto book bloggers meeting at the entrance of the Toronto Reference Library made their way into the event space, a cozy boardroom nestled in the back of the library. We were each greeted by Jenn and Vanessa, who offered us name tags, candy, coffee, and snacks. After helping ourselves to goodies and receiving our swag bags, we were ready to begin the preview event via Google Hangout. 

Using the packets included in our swag bags, we followed along as Raincoast Books introduced us to all the incredible upcoming Winter/Spring 2016 titles. A lot of highly anticipated titles were mentioned and a lot of unknown titles were brought to our attention (including some early cover reveals *wink wink*). Each title sounded absolutely wonderful!

Titles From the Teens Read Preview I'm Highly Anticipating:
*My thoughts are quoted below and titles are linked to Goodreads*

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
"Jane Austen meets X-Men. Who are we kidding here? I'm all over this!"

Riders by Veronica Rossi
"Have you read Under the Never Sky? No? Well we can't be friends then (just kidding, we totally can!) Veronica Rossi is one of my favourite authors (I have many) and I'm so excited for Riders. It's a sci-fi/fantasy title sure to wow readers this February."

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
"Readers who have read anything by Sarah Rees Brennan know why I'm highly anticipating Tell the Wind and Fire - she's brilliant. I have no doubt that Sarah's latest will wow me."

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
"I've had the opportunity to read the sampler of Truthwitch and what I've read was fantastic! I'm highly anticipating Susan Dennard's latest and strongly feel that it should be on everyone's next to read list. Sarah J. Maas (author of the bestselling Throne of Glass series) calls it "An instant classic. Fierce and vibrant world, richly-drawn characters, and dazzling intrigue".

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
"Recommended for fans of Harry Potter and Cinderella's Dress, two titles/series that I absolutely loved. Can't wait for Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake!"

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
"Another upcoming novel from a Canadian author that I feel everyone should add to their read lists. It's got an interesting premise but sounds like a wonderful contemporary. I'm looking forward to reading it!"

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
"Outlander for teens? SOLD! You need not say more. I'm an avid Diana Gabaldon fan, so when a publisher compares an upcoming title as being similar to Outlander, I'm in."

All The Feels by Danika Stone
"That title was what first caught my attention. After reading the premise I was instantly sold. An avid fangirl's favourite character is killed off (all readers can relate to this) and she and her best friend choose to fight back."

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey
"A hilarious homage to Jane Austen by a Canadian author residing in Nova Scotia. The cover is gorgeous and that premise - eep! Is it April yet? No? *cries* "

Holding Court by KC Held
"Holding Court is a romantic, humorous YA mystery in the vein of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I haven't had a chance to read that series (I will - I promise) but Holding Court sounds excellent. It's a YA detective story I can't wait to read."

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
"Fans of the Lunar Chronicles will need to make room on their shelves or e-readers for Stars Above. I'm very excited for this!"

No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista
"A modern day Great Gatsby - sold! I actually received this title in my swag bag from the preview event. It looks and sounds like an excellent read, perfect for teens and adults looking for a breath of fresh air."

Upcoming Titles You Need to Check Out:
*My thoughts are quoted below. Titles are linked to Goodreads.*

This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
"An upcoming title from Sourcebooks Fire about a two best friends, love, and being true to yourself. This upcoming title sounds like the perfect emotional and romantic read."

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
"This one has a very powerful and intense premise. It takes place over the course of 54 harrowing minutes during a high school shooting. The author is also a member of We Need Diverse Books, the founder of DiversifYA and a founding contributor of YA Misfits. A definite must read this January."

I See Reality
"Twelve original stories from twelve incredible authors about real issues for real teens. A title that asks hard questions about sexuality, addiction, violence, and immigration. I highly recommend this for teens looking for something outside of fiction and focusing more on current real issues."

This Is The Story Of You by Beth Kephart
"A tale of a young girl who braves a terrible storm only to deal with the aftermath."

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
"Fans of The Winner's Trilogy know what this title is - it's the conclusion! I'm so excited for the end of Marie's series. It's an incredible read and I absolutely recommend readers who haven't had a chance to read it to do so asap!"

In Real Life by Jessica Love
"The buzz? My Best Friend's Wedding meets The Hangover - for teens. Here, take all my money. In Real Life is about a girl who meets her online BFF in real life. After an impulsive road trip, the protagonist discovers that her online BFF has secrets he's left unshared. This one's a definite on my to read list."

Gena/Finn by Kat Helgeson/Hanna Moskowitz
"Gena/Finn sounds promising. A tale about two young women who forge a friendship through fanfiction, message boards, and is told through texts, chats, and blog posts. Interesting concept!"

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
"An interesting tale about a young girl, grieving her brother's death, whom turns into a daredevil in his memory. A definite must read from Sourcebooks Fire this March."

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
"Scarlet Letter meets Divergent - an interesting choice of titles to compare to an upcoming book, but the premise of Flawed sounds like a definite must read. It focuses on a society where rebellious behavior is severely punished."

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
"A time travel romance readers are sure to be curious about. I hadn't heard of The Square Root of Summer before the preview but I'm glad I did!"

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
"Any fan of Zoraida Cordova is sure to be anticipating Labyrinth Lost. I loved her Vicious Deep series! Also, Labyrinth Lost involves brujas. Yeah, I'm sold. I'm confident Zoraida will impress with Labyrinth Lost!"

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
"Gorgeous cover and a powerful premise. The Art of Being Normal is about two transgender friends who figure out how to navigate teen life with help from each other."

How It Ends by Catherine Lo
"A title from a Canadian author that focuses on teen friendship and it's struggles. It focuses on what happens when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other. "

Other Titles:

After learning about all the incredible releases readers can expect to see this upcoming winter/spring season, preview participants were asked to break into discussion over what titles they were highly anticipating. My instant pick was Thief of Lies. It's described as being a perfect fit for fans of Harry Potter and Cinderella's dress, and the premise sounds intriguing.  My second choice was a no brainer - Sarah Rees Brennan's latest. I'm a big fan of her titles and Tell the Wind and Fire looks/sounds like an epic read!

When several minutes of bookishly discussion passed, Raincoast Books drew three winners for some incredible prize packs. Congratulations to all the winners!

Overall, the event organized by Raincoast Books, Jenn, and Vanessa was informative and fun. Readers can expect amazing new titles from authors we already love and debut authors that are certain to knock our socks off.

Thank you to Raincoast Books, Jenn and Vanessa for taking the time to organize the preview. If you're interested in finding out more about the event, feel free to check out the #TeensReadFeed hastag via Twitter.

(Pictured: Book blogettes and swag from the preview event. Thanks to Hayley for taking the photo!)

My Favourite Tweets From the Evening:

Friday, 11 September 2015

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 457
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook,
Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

*Note: This review might contain spoilers for those who have not read the novel*

“I thought I knew what loneliness was before he found me, but I had no clue. You don't know what real loneliness is until you've known the opposite.”  - The 5th Wave

I wasn't around the book blogging world for much of the buzz and hype for The 5th Wave. I'd just started my blogging hiatus but still caught wind of Rick Yancey's brand new series. With early buzz and hype I'm always wary, I'm never sure if it somehow influences my reading experience and interferes with how I truly feel about a book. With that said, I'm glad I chose to postpone reading The 5th Wave until now, especially with the release of the movie just around the corner.

“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.”  
- The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave is a tale of post apocalyptic alien invasion survival with an incredible female lead. Cassie's narrative made her easy in which to relate. She was snarky, bad ass, responsible, brave, but she also feared for her life. She was a character who was unafraid to show her true colours and was,  by far, my favourite character of the novel. That's not to say that other characters, including Evan and Ben, weren't great. Rick Yancey took great care to give them realistic and vividly deep personalities, a great way of making me feel a deep connection with each character that held a key role to the progression of the story. Furthermore, the relationships between the characters were realistically strong. I could feel myself being emotionally attached with each character in every dire situation they encountered.

As I mentioned before, I'm thankful for missing out on reading The 5th Wave during it's initial hype. I've always been cautious of reading something before or immediately after it's release due to rave reviews, hype campaigns, and blog tours. Choosing to read it now made the read fresh for me and I walked into it completely void of expectations. Overall, I truly enjoyed The 5th Wave. Cassie was an amazing character, Rick Yancey did an excellent job sucking me into the story, and I find that I'm completely intrigued by the world he's created. I highly recommend The 5th Wave to readers over the age of 13, who are looking for a great action packed read about aliens, survival, and fierce characters. Pick up your copy before the movie hits theatres.

Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes. Recommended

Check out the movie trailer:

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