Monday, 29 May 2017

Review: The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty

by Erin Beaty
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
An obstinate girl who will not be married.

A soldier desperate to prove himself.

A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

When I was first introduced to The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty, I was captivated with it's pitched premise - a tale about a girl that society deemed to be ill-fit for marriage. How so? Her snarky remarks, her "less than lady-like" mannerisms, and her views on the world around her appeared to make her stand out more than socially acceptable, and thus I was eager and curious to discover what made protagonist Sage Fowler an inspiring enough character.

Unfortunately, I failed to fall for Sage or the premise in The Traitor's Kiss. It always hurts to say that I did not enjoy a book, especially one I was so desperately eager to read, but I felt like Erin Beaty's first title in the Traitor's Kiss trilogy fell shortly for me. Though, that is not to say that the title was poorly written and was not enjoyable in the slightest. In fact, it was the contrary. Erin Beaty's writing was lively, fluid, and highly descriptive, and additionally the general idea behind the story she had planned for protagonist Sage and for her surround supporting characters, was quite interesting and was, in fact, one of the things that first pulled me to the story. It was unfortunate, however, that the first few chapters were what inevitably lost me as I felt there wasn't a substantial amount of development between Sage and her fellow supporting characters in order to keep me interested. Even so, I will most definitely be reading the next installment in Erin Beaty's series. I am curious enough to discover what Erin has in store next for the series. I also highly encourage readers to put The Traitor's Kiss on their to-read lists. Although it fell shortly for me, it does not necessarily mean that it will do the same for you. The title had many positive aspects, and I highly encourage all young adult readers to give it a try!

3 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept 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, 19 May 2017

The Names They Gave Us Blog Tour - Review + Q/A

Hello, Cupcakes!
Today it is my pleasure to host the final stop on the The Names They Gave Us blog tour! Hosted by Raincoast Books, the blog tour has spanned the entire week with some fantastic bloggers sharing their personal thoughts on Emery Lord's latest novel in addition to some amazing Q/A sessions with the author herself! If you haven't already, I urge you to check out the tour posts - they're amazing! Below, you will find my candid review on the novel in addition to Emery Lord's answer to my question. I want to extend a thank you to the team of Raincoast Books and Emery for making this blog tour possible.


by Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 16th, 2017
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

“You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before.”

I honestly feel like anything with Emery Lord's name on it is an auto-buy for yours truly. I was impressed with her debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and immediately not long after followed suit in binge-reading The Start of Me and You, in addition to When We Collided. When you think YA Contemporary, Emery Lord is a name that pops up quite often and for good reason - she's a spectacular writer! When The Names They Gave Us arrived on my door step, I couldn't wait to prop it open. What strong-willed heroine would I meet next? Would she be more like me, or maybe someone I know? Would I get to witness a unique personal growth for our heroine? I couldn't wait to learn more about Lucy Hansson!

“I believe in nature, in science, in jazz, in dancing. And I believe in people. In their resilience, in their goodness. This is my credo; this is my hymn. "

The Names They Gave Us was exactly what I expected it to be - life-changing, well-written, and so inspirational! Lucy was a character I so strongly related to, and the personal connection I felt with her through her experiences, struggles, triumphs, and failures, was astonishing. I feel like Lucy is one of the strongest characters I've read from Emery Lord yet, and I feel readers, even those who they themselves do not feel particularly religious, will enjoy. And although much of the book focuses on Lucy's coming to terms with her faith and learning so much more about herself, I felt that the book's strong message never faded from the surface, and I feel that Emery's beautiful writing and character building made for such a telling and inspiring story. It was bliss!

5 / 5 Cupcakes

Q/A with author Emery Lord

Q: Emery, I ultimately loved following Lucy on her journey, and I want to thank you for making such a relatable character. I felt like I truly connected with her, having shared many of what she goes through in THE NAMES THEY GAVE US, and I found her loyal and brave personality immensely inspiring. My question is, how much work went into developing Lucy and her growing relationship and understanding of faith?

A: Thanks! I spent years on this book, and Lucy’s path was an integral part of that. I wanted to be really honest about what it can be like to grow up in a religious culture and how it feels when you start to harbor doubts. So, I did use a lot of knowledge from my own life. But, in a broader sense- beyond faith even, I wanted to write what it feels like as a teen to realize you may not want to do things the way your parents do. So, while there’s a lot that is particular to Lucy—the music and touchstones of church life—I hope some of it is pretty universal.

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept 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, 15 May 2017

Recap: Fall 2017 Teens Read Preview Event

On May 6th of 2017, Raincoast Books invited Canadian book bloggers to attend this year's Fall 2017 TeensRead Preview event, in order to introduce and discuss highly anticipated young adult and middle grade titles. I have always looked forward to this event with great anticipation, however I unfortunately could not attend in person for the Fall preview due to an already full schedule. However, luckily Raincoast Books, as they have before, wonderfully set up a Google livestream of the event for everyone who couldn't physically attend. With that said, I immediately joined in on the fun when the event began, and gasped at all the incredible titles that quickly jumped onto my highly anticipated release list!

The event kick-started almost immediately with the introductions of our courteous hosts and dove immediately into discussing some of this fall's most exciting teen titles. Below you will find a list of all the titles discussed at this year's fall preview event, including an additional list of my most anticipated releases!

Young Adult:
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough
Behind the Song by K.M. Walton
When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter
Spinning by Tillie Walden
I Have Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin
The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook
Because I Was a Girl, Edited by Melissa De La Cruz
Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
The Love Letters by Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle
As You Wish Chelsea Sedoti
Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
The Equals by Daniel Sweren-Becker
We Can't Be Friends by Cyndy Etler
Ally by Anna Banks
Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz
Hidden Kingdom by Amanda Hocking
Teen Phantom: High School Horror by Chandler Baker

Middle Grade:
Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser
The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner
Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl

My Highly Anticipated Titles:
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, Illustrated by Sara Kipin
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Meet Cute, collaborated collection of shorts
Retribution Rails by Erin Bow
Sun Warrior by P.C. Cast
Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill

Following the upcoming title discussion, we were greeted by Jennifer Honeybourn, this year's Fall TeensRead preview event guest of honor! She spoke of her upcoming title, Wesley James Ruined My Life, an upcoming July 2017 contemporary title that sounds spectacular. She discussed getting published and gave us a sneak peek into her upcoming title, and additionally answered some questions from attendees. 

All in all, I found this year's Fall TeensRead Preview Event to be highly informative and exciting! I came away with a new list of incredible titles I can't wait to read. I want to extend a big thank you to the team at Raincoast Books for putting together another flawless event and for extending an invitation to me. 

Preview Event Goodies:

Friday, 5 May 2017

Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

I wholesomely believe that Julie Murphy's RAMONA BLUE is the book to read this year. Drop everything you're doing and pre-order it or make a pit-stop at your nearest bookstore/library and pick this beauty up.

If you don't know who Julie Murphy is, she's a book-writing splendor. Her debut, DUMPLIN', was highly received by readers and critics all over the world. It focused on the tale of self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson who adores everything Dolly Parton. She was an inspiring character through-and-through, and by reading her story I found myself resonating with her on a level I didn't think possible. It was a powerful story about loving yourself, bullying, and love, and when I officially learned of Ramona Blue, I was hoping for something just as powerful!

“I love you, too,” I whisper back with my lips already pressed into hers. She tastes like SpaghettiOs and the cigar we stole from her dad’s portable humidor. Her lips are chapped and her hair dirty with salt water from our midnight swim just a few short hours ago. I feel her dissolving into a memory already."

Ramona Blue is just as inspiring, powerful, and moving as Dumplin', or rather perhaps even more so. Protagonist Ramona is a larger than life character who is positive she knows who she is. She knows what she wants to do in life, where she plans to be in the future, and is positive of her attraction towards girls. However, when her old friend Freddie returns and invites her to swim, Ramona finds herself being attracted to him in ways she never thought she would. In this, Ramona begins to question every aspect of her life, her fluid attraction, and her responsibility towards her family.

Ramona Blue floored me. I, honestly, haven't felt so inspired from reading a book in a long time, and Julie Murphy's Ramona Blue brought up many important topics worth discussing. Ramona's need to take care of her family and keep things together resonated deeply with me, and I absolutely adored how every character throughout the story was realistically imperfect. Additionally, and I don't mean to preach, but Ramona is the character many of us need/needed during our teen years. Someone who was unafraid to face the world, and someone who challenged herself. I truly adored Ramona's journey and I hope you will, too. Ultimately, Ramona Blue was the feel-good and realistic book many of us need. It was human, it had perspective, and it completely blew me away. It's an absolute must!

4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept 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.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Putnam
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

If you're as big of a reader as I am, then you've likely heard of Mindy McGinnis. Mindy wrote one of my favorite 2016 titles, The Female of the Species, in addition to a few of my other favorites, which include A Madness So Discreet, and Not a Drop to Drink. When I learned of Given to the Sea, prior to it's synopsis' release, I was told it was somewhat of a Little Mermaid/Thrones of Glass fantasy title that was sure to please many YA fantasy readers. I was instantly sold with just the description, however when the full synopsis made it's way online, I absolutely couldn't believe how insane the plot sounded, and that's insane in a good way. Not only did it sound promising, but it had a wide array of characters I couldn't wait to learn more about. I'm often one to be overwhelmed with too many characters or too large a world, however I was almost certain Mindy McGinnis would not disappoint.

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis was unique, well-written, filled with depth, and possessed quite a bit of lore I had not come across in the YA fantasy genre. It was, at first, extremely difficult to keep track of it's characters, alternating perspectives, and settings, however after catching on to the rhythm, I found myself enjoying the title quite a bit. Even so, I did find quite of bit of Given to the Sea's events to be extremely problematic, and at times, uncomfortable to read, so I heavily suggest that readers who are sensitive to steer clear or be cautious when reading the title. Despite that, I found Given to the Sea to be a fairly promising title. I eagerly look forward to reading it's companion!

3.5 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept 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, 1 May 2017

Fresh on the Shelf - May 2017 Book Releases + Giveaway


I hope everyone had an incredible April! I trust everyone did plenty of reading, I know I certainly did! Additionally, I've started reading a lot more graphic novels and manga, some of which I hope to review sometime over the summer here on A Cupcake and a Latte. Other than reading, however, when not working I did plenty of sight-seeing, in particular to High Park here in Toronto to see some beautiful freshly bloomed Cherry Blossom trees. I've always loved looking at them, and this year's bloom was spectacular!

(Photos by yours truly, from recent High Park visit.)

As for May, I'm hoping to do a lot of reviewing! I have an entire stack of May releases I can't wait to share my reviews for, and I must say this month's lineup is enticing! Stay tuned for a blog tour and plenty of glowing reviews, in addition to a Anime North 2017 recap and possible book signing recap, as well! Here's hoping for another wonderful month of reading!

Happy Reading! 📚

May 2017 Book Releases
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Avenged by Amy Tintera
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye
Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Legion by Julie Kagawa
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
The Black Witch by Laurie Frost
The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty
Release by Patrick Ness

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sugiura
Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent
Grit by Gillian French

Giveaway (International)

The giveaway is for one book from the May 2017 book release line up above.
One winner will be selected from all valid entries.
Open to anyone who can internationally receive shipments from The Book Depository.
I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged books received.
Please fill in entries accordingly for a valid entry.
Happy reading and good luck! ^_^

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Reading,