Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Forgotten

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

release date: June 7th, 2011

hardcover, 288 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for honest review

description: Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

Review: I loved this book! There's not a lot that can be explained without spoiling too much, but this book exceeded any expectations I might have had for it, even after reading several great reviews for it. I'm sure we've all seen the subject of extreme short-term memory loss (also known as anterograde amnesia---there's a bit of trivia for you!! ;D) used in books and movies before, but the unique spin that Cat Patrick gave this story is what made it so gripping.

When the protagonist, London, remembers somethings, its not from the past, its from the future. My heart just went out to her trying to keep her life together as best as she could when every night her brain gets wiped clean. She has to keep extensive notes to herself about everything from conversations she had, to what she wore, to who she met. What made this even more interesting was that she decides what (and who) she wants to remember and what she would rather forget. When she meets Luke, she is completely drawn to him and they start dating, but she can't see him at all in her future memories and she has to find out why. The story took turns that I never would have expected. There were definitely several jaw-dropping moments that had me gripping the book in anticipation and growling at anyone that dared to interrupt me! In the last half of the book, the story races along, little surprises jumping out everywhere. It may have been the "mother of a little guy" in me, but there were parts that were
literally so tense and emotional that I cried.

Such a wonderful story. It has it all---laughs, tears, love, friendship, and a completely unpredictable gripping plot. I fell head over heels for this book, and it will definitely be one that I recommend to everyone and will be rereading myself soon!

You can find Cat Patrick's site here!

Be sure to check out the LB-teen site for a fun video diary from the main character, London!

Purchase Forgotten at: Amazon BN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Site

by Jennifer E. Smith

hitting shelves January 2nd, 2012 from Poppy

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

My thoughts: Speaking of love at first sight...I wanted this from the moment I saw it. I am so drawn to that cover! Upon reading the synopsis, I just knew I had to have it. And after reading a great review of it from Kit over at Reading Teen, I am now deeply smitten and counting the days to January!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Passion

Passion by Lauren Kate

publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

release date: June 14th, 2011

hardcover, 420 pages

intended audience: Young adult

previous books in series:
• Fallen (
• Torment (review)


source: from publisher for honest review

Warning!! Description and review may contain spoilers for Fallen or Torment!! If you haven't started this series, stop reading now! :)

"Every single lifetime, I'll choose you. Just as you have chosen me. Forever."

Luce would die for Daniel. And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.

Review: Throughout the great wide book-reviewing blogosphere, I see readers who love this series and people who...don't. It's just one of those things. Me...I don't know if I can pin-point the exact reason...but I absolutely adore this series. And with this latest installment, it has only gotten better.

Passion is this expansive, breathtaking race through five thousand years of Luce's reincarnations as she is desperately trying to find the answers she needs: what is the reason for her and Daniel's curse? Is there a way to break the curse? And most importantly, whether or not their love is real or just some torturous trap they are compelled to fall into lifetime after lifetime. She jumps from time to time, witnessing their love and her death over and over, trying to understand what it all means. It was fascinating to see who she was in each lifetime and how Daniel found her each time. We're swept along through Russia, Italy, France, England, Tahiti, many places and each one felt like it's own fascinating mini-story. I can't help but try to imagine the insane amount of research that went into making each time and place come to life. It's fast-paced all the way through, the tension builds just perfectly, leading up to an completely explosive ending! I can tell already that the next book is going to be intense and very exciting!

All my favorite characters are there again---Daniel, of course, as he chases Luce through their past lives; we get to see Cam periodically and understand him a little better. Luce's character has evolved so much from the first book, she's much stronger and determined to take the whole curse situation into her own hands. Arriane, Roland, Gabbe...we get to see them only briefly but its fun to run across their characters in different time periods. There is the addition of a new character, a gargoyle named Bill. He is a sort of guide that Luce runs into inside her announcer (for those who don't remember, the "announcers" are the shadowy portals to other times and places). He plays a very big part in the whole story. It's funny but when he was first introduced I couldn't stop thinking of him as a "jiminy cricket"-type character, even so much that when he spoke I heard a very jiminy-like voice. :)

For those of my fellow readers who love this story like I do---I hope you are as completely blown away as I was by Passion!! For those of you who haven't tried this series out yet, I highly recommend it!

Visit Lauren Kate's site here.

Purchase Passion at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sweetness on Sunday: Super Fudgy Mint Cupcakes

These are heaven. They are so easy and with the minty coolness and dense gooey chocolate texture, they are the chocolate-lover's perfect summer cupcake! I actually made these for my Dad on father's day and aptly named them "Dad's Milkshake Cupcakes". Why? Well, because growing up, we went to Baskin Robbin's alot. And Dad always ordered a Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake. So these were inspired by him. :)

(created by combining two recipes from Big Book of Cupcakes by Jan Moon, and altered just a bit!)

For the cupcake:
~6 (1 oz.) semisweet chocolate baking squares
~1 cup butter
~1-3/4 cup sugar
~1 cup all purpose flour
~4 large eggs
~2 tsp. vanilla extract
~1/4 tsp salt

• Over a double broiler with simmering water in the bottom pot, stir chocolate squares and butter just until melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
• In the meantime, whisk together sugar, flour, and eggs in a large bowl. Add in chocolate/butter mixture and stir just until combined. Add in vanilla and salt and stir.
• Line cupcake pan with paper cups and lightly spray with cooking spray. Fill with batter 2/3 full.
• Bake 13-15 minutes at 350. They should be gooey in the middle and crackly on the top. The centers will fall a little, that is good! Makes the perfect place to hold a spoonful of frosting! :) Cool these in the pan for 10 minutes, and then cool completely on a cooling rack.

For the Frosting:
~1/2 cup butter, softened
~1/3 cup whipping cream
~1-2 tsp. peppermint extract (I like mine extra minty, so I might have added just a bit more!)
~2-4 drops green food coloring
~1/8 tsp salt
~1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar

Mix first 5 ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix each time on low speed (or the sugar will fly everywhere!) until the frosting is at your preferred consistency. Then beat for an additional 2 minutes until creamy. I left this one a little thinner, kind of like whipped cream so I could do a cute little dollop on the cupcakes :) Makes approximately 3 cups.

With a spoon, dollop (why yes, I do like that word!:D) a nice spoonful of frosting onto the cupcake center.
To garnish these, I coarsely crumbled frozen mint chocolate cookies (i.e. Keebler grasshopper cookies or Girl Scout Thin Mints) and sprinkled them generously on top!


In My Mailbox {72}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

So..exciting book week :) I pretty much squealed at everything that came through my mail slot each morning! Also, this week, I hit 1,000 followers!! You guys know I can't let that go uncelebrated so be on the lookout for a big fat giveaway this week!!

For Review:
Witch Song by Amber Argyle
Beautiful cover, high could I not be excited about this?

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
I've been completely in love with this cover since it was revealed. And the story sounds good and creeeeepy. :)

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Been dying to read this one. And this one is even prettier in person--the cover is a sheeny gemstone red.

Fateful by Claudia Gray
Werewolves...on the Titanic. Come on, you've got to admit, that sounds pretty awesome!

Many thanks to Rhemalda Publishing, TorBooks, Macmillan and HarperTeen for these!

RAKs from lovely friends!
Kiss Me, Kill Me from Lauren Henderson
I've been meaning to read this series forever---I just got the fourth book for review so I guess now would be the perfect time to start! Thank you, Lisa from Lisa Loves Literature!!

Hounded by Kevin Hearne
This was sent to my from the amazing Allison at The Allure of Books! I've heard some great things about this, but I have to admit, its the hottie on the cover that makes me want to read it! Thanks, Allison!:D

So that's what I got this week! Let me see those mailboxes! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

publisher: Dutton

release date: December 2, 2010

hardcover, 372 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: purchased copy

description: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Review: You'd be hard pressed to find a less than glowing and slightly giddy review of this book. So before you even read this review, I will tell you right now---you won't find one here either. Anna and the French Kiss is about as close to a perfect reading experience as one would ever hope to find. It's nearly impossible to focus on whether the writing technique was exceptional or the story arch was perfect (which I'm quite sure they were), because once you start reading about Anna and St. Clair and Mel and Rashmi and Josh---you are completely and utterly immersed in a feeling. This will be a book that I'm going to reach for time and time again whenever I feel like I need my spirits lifted, or I need to lose myself in a far off place, or I need the comfort of friends when mine are all away. Anna and the French Kiss is comfort food in book form.

Anna's experience in Paris was sheer wonder. I would love to go to Paris someday, but who knows if I ever will. The sights and surroundings are so beautifully described that I feel one step closer to being there and experiencing it. But that was not what made this story so great for me. Her experience with this little group of close-knit friends and with Etienne St. Claire were so spot-on and real and were about so many situations that eveyone can easily relate to. Things like facing a new and unfamiliar world head on and being brave enough to get out there and experience it on your own. And having friends you can really lean on in rough times and want to stand up for, and sometimes those that unintentionally hurt us, and the question of whether or not to forgive. And of course, falling in love, and the doubt and miscommunications and uncertainty that comes with it...and the wonder of finally getting there. The chemistry between Anna and St. Claire both as best friends and two people who are falling for each other is irresistible. There are all these delicious little romantic scenes that I found myself going back to read four or five times. And with Anna being overseas, and each of them being sort of one their own and far from family, it beautifully touches on the subject of "home" and what exactly that can mean to each person. What more can I was just wonderful.

Ah, St. Claire---next to my husband, I don't think any man has made me laugh so much in a long time! :D

On a side note: I'm glad St. Claire face wasn't shown on the cover---ever girl should have to chance to create a vision of their own St. Claire! While both my daughter and I would love to see this on the big screen, I would be terrified of the casting of St. Claire. I think a lot of fans of this book would agree, it would be hard to live up to the picture of him in my head and also to pull off his impeccable sense of humor! ;)

Visit Stephanie Perkins site here.

Purchase Anna and the French Kiss at: Amazon BN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

One more side note: Another reason I giggled through this book---my daughter, who read this way before me, kept interrupting me to ask "Isn't is awesome?" :D

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Follow Friday!

It's Follow Friday, where we all get to mingle around the blogosphere and make some new friends! If it's your first time visiting me here at Stories & Sweeties, WELCOME!! :D

The question of the week is posted by Mickey @ I'm a Book Shark:

Q: In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

A: I love fairy stories! Not to go for the obvious, but one of my favorites is Midsummer Night's Dream. Some recent favorites include Wings by Aprilynne Pike, Eyes Like Stars & Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev, and definitely Ash by Malinda Lo.

Check back soon for:
~A review of Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (*sigh*, loved St. Claire!)
~A review of Passion by Lauren Kate (its getting exciting!)
~A recap of the Lauren Kate signing I recently attended
~Don't miss Sweetness on Sunday, featuring Super Fudgy Mint Cupcakes!!

Please feel free to say hello in the comments so I can find you, too! :D

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Born Wicked
by Jessica Spotswood

hitting shelves February 2012 from Putnam BFYR

description: Cate Cahill and her sisters are considered eccentric bluestockings—a little odd, a little unfashionable, and far too educated for their own good. The truth is more complicated; they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it could mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. Before their mother died, she entrusted Cate with keeping them safe and keeping everyone, including their father, in the dark about their powers. When her father employs a governess and Cate begins to receive notes from her missing, presumed-mad godmother, her task becomes much more difficult. As Cate searches for answers in banned books and rebellious new friends, she must juggle unwanted proposals, tea parties, and an illicit attraction to the new gardener. Cate will do anything to protect her sisters, but at what cost to herself?

My Thoughts: I know this is a long way off, but I WANT THIS. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but the story also sounds completely amazing. I love sister stories and witch stories and stories about girls who are "far too educated for the their own good". Throw in the mysterious godmother, a sinister sounding brotherhood, tea parties and a hot gardener---I'm IN.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Bloodspell

Bloodspell by Amalie Howard

publisher: Langdon Street Press

release date: June 1st, 2011

paperback, 369 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for honest review

The spell was simple... Cruentus Protectum (Defend the Blood) But what do you do if your blood is your enemy? Victoria Warrick has always known she was different. An outcast at school, she is no stranger to adversity. But when she receives an old journal for her seventeenth birthday, nothing prepares her for the dark secrets it holds -- much less one that reveals she's a witch with unimaginable power. What's more, when she meets the dazzling but enigmatic Christian Devereux, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. Enemies will hunt her. Friends will turn on her. The terrible curse that makes her blood run black will stop at nothing to control her. And Christian has a sinister secret of his own... Without knowing whom to trust, can Victoria survive her blood's deadly desires? Or will she lose everything, including herself?

Review: I was really impressed with Amalie Howard's debut, Bloodspell. Behind the gorgeous cover lies a story that has all the romance and pull of the best of the forbidden love stories out there with twice the danger and intensity, and all the fascination of Harry Potter discovering his magical powers. In many ways, it starts off like many YA paranormal novels out there: a girl, 17, new school, struggling to make friends, has a run-in with Mr. Beautiful Gorgeous, finds out she has some sort of power. Its what's beyond all that that really sets this one apart. The writing is tight and entertaining, and the plot is so wonderfully complicated and complex and exciting! The characters are all very believable and easy to relate to, aside from the occasional dialogue slip that sounded a little too formal for a high school cafeteria chat. There are little surprises around every page-turn, so don't get too comfortable with any one character!

I love the addition of the journal entries from Tori's ancestor, Brigit. It got the story rolling and really added a lot of mystique to Tori's powers. You're left wondering if her powers will take her over and be completely uncontrollable. When I was reading the synopsis for this, I wondered if the reference to her blood running black would be literal or metaphorical. Her witch blood was quite literally a character in it's own right in parts of the story and it added a wonderful creepiness and gore to the story.

The love story was captivating and intense. Christian and Tori are far from a love-at-first-sight cliche. Even after they fall in love, they are constantly on shaky ground. It's forbidden love like you've never seen---because they are both equally dangerous to each other. Tori is a strong character and battles throughout the story---to understand and control her powers, to accept who she is and what she is capable of, and to be with Christian despite all the obstacles.

A very compelling read all the way through. I highly recommend this one and I'm definitely looking forward to book 2!

Visit Amalie Howard's site here.

Purchase Bloodspell at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound


Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox {71}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Ok, so this post is going up a little late---why? Because I am almost done with Anna & the French Kiss and I literally have to pry it out of my own fingers to put it down. I would be done by now, but life...oh, life, why must you get in the way!! :D

So here's what I got this week:

For Review:
Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
Wasn't sure about this one, but then I saw a rave review from Danny at Bewitched Bookworms, so I will give it a try! :)

Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby
Have heard amazing things about this one and can't wait to start it. Magic, ghosts, and the circus---a good combo in my book!

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
Signed copy! Yay! My daughter and I attended a signing this week so I got this one and my whole Fallen series signed. Will post about that later this week! New cover for this one is gorgeous!

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn (my review)
Shiver by Maggie Steifvater (my review)
So..I feel awful saying this, but I think I won these from somewhere, but I have no idea where! They came straight from Scholastic, but I vaguely remember entering a contest where these were some of the prizes. So, whoever I won these from, if you're reading this, THANK YOU!! So happy to finally have these in my collection! :D

edited to add: Thanks to Hyperion & Jennifer Sommersby for the review copies!

New On My Nook:
Simon & Schuster Galley Grab was phenomenal this month. Really looking forward to ALL of these amazing books!

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
Nocturne by Christine Johnson
Fury by Elizabeth Miles
Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia
Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Thank you, S & S Galley Grab for these!

Wishing everyone full and happy mailboxes this week! :D

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Hourglass

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

publisher: EgmontUSA

release date: June 14, 2011

hardcover, 397 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for honest review


One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

Review: This book had me wrapped around it's little finger. The southern atmosphere, the old buildings, the creepy visitors, Emerson and her absolutely hilarious voice (how cool is her name, btw?), Michael's charm, and little surprises around every corner,...this is one debut not to be missed.

Myra McEntire's has a writing style that draws the reader right in. It's a perfect mixture of casual, relatable dialogue and intriguing plot that makes you really care about each of the characters, even minor ones. Some of them I loved immediately (Emerson, Michael, her brother, Thomas and sister-in-law, Dru---she was so cool, one of my favorite characters.). Some I really disliked but definitely found myself empathizing with at one time of another (Kaleb, Ava). Emerson is great---complex, unsure, witty and sarcastic, and when it come to sticking up for herself, she can be downright bad-ass! Loved Michael, just couldn't help it, he was a charmer with a good dose of mystery and propriety. I really like their chemistry, and although the spark between them happens pretty instantly, I'm totally okay with that when it happens to be significant to the plot. I love that even though she was attracted to him, she stuck to her guns until she made sure he wasn't another "crack-pot" like the previous people her brother had hired to help her.

The plot of Hourglass is so wonderfully twisty! First you think you're reading a ghost story, then it turns out to be something else entirely. You come to love certain people and hate others, and then that completely switches around ( a couple of times!). You think something is over and final, and then something fantastic happens and completely changes the game. Definitely a roller coaster of emotions going on! I came very close to tears more than once---and I definitely laughed out loud more than a few times.

As you can tell, I highly recommend this one. Wholeheartedly. 100%. :)

A fantastic debut.

Visit Myra McEntire's site here.

Purchase Hourglass at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Siren's Storm
by Lisa Papademetriou

hitting shelves August 9, 2011 from Knopf Books for Young Readers

description: Nothing has been the same for Will ever since what happened last summer. One day, on an ordinary sailing trip with his brother, there is a strange accident. When Will wakes up, he learns his brother has disappeared, presumed drowned. Worst of all, Will can't remember what happened—his family finds him unconscious, with no memory of the accident.

Now Will and his best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, are starting a new summer. Gretchen seems troubled—her sleepwalking habit is getting worse, and she keeps waking up closer and closer to the water. Will is drawn to Asia, the exotic new girl in town. Nobody knows where she's from—all Will knows is that her beauty and her mesmerizing voice have a powerful effect on people.

Then there is another mysterious drowning, and Will and Gretchen begin to wonder: Is Asia just another beautiful, wealthy summer resident? Or is she something entirely more sinister . . . and inhuman?

My thoughts: Just can't resist an eerie siren story. Anything creepy about sleepwalking also tends to get under my skin...not sure why, I'm not a sleepwalker! The idea just gives me the willies, I guess, the thought of going to sleep in bed and waking up anywhere. I can't wait for this one!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Trailers: The Revenant & From Bad to Cursed

Some cool new trailers hit the web today! I can't wait to read either of these!

From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender:

and The Revenant by Sonia Gensler:

Both lovely & creepy! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: The Midnight Palace

The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

release date: May 31st, 2011

hardcover, 304 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for honest review

description: In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery...

Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life...

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night--and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.

Review: Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a master of atmosphere. He sets his stories in such vividly imagined settings and has a gift for immersing the reader right into the middle of it. 1930's Calcutta came alive for me---the smell of the sea, the rustic buildings, the grand train station, the crumbling Midnight Palace, and the simple orphanage that is the only home Ben and his group, who call themselves "The Chowbar Society", have ever know.

There were things that I really loved about this one. There some genuinely creepy moments---ghostly run-ins, some grueling night terrors, and the villan is as purely evil as one could be and for a long time we're left in suspense of his motives. I loved the character Ben instantly---such a charmer and with a boyish determination, Sheere was smart and witty, Ian was just a solidly likable character---but with all of the characters, I felt like we just skim the surface of really knowing them.

Instead, the plot is heavily driven by backstory and political intrigue that has mostly to do with the main characters' parents, and while that was interesting at times, it left me feeling kind of disconnected from the story.

The ending had a great build-up. The group's fight against evil comes to a thrilling head, but then the actual outcome of that fight was a bit of a let down. I guess for me, the answer was a little too convenient and neat.

So, for me, not all good and not all bad. If you're already a fan of Zafon, definitely give this one a try and see what you think! If you've never read his YA work before, I would start with The Prince of Mists (see my review here).

Visit Carlos Ruiz Zafon's site here.

Purchase The Midnight Palace at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sweetness on Sunday: Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

So what's your favorite Starbucks drink? Mine: Chai Soy Latte Frapp :D YUM. So I wanted to make a cupcake that had all the yummy flavors of my favorite drink. I love how these turn out---right before you take a bite, you get the rich aroma of Chai spices. ♥♥♥

For the cupcake:
1 box vanilla cake mix
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup Tazo Chai Tea Concentrate (you can get this at grocery stores and most starbucks, but I get mine at Target--link!)
3 eggs
1/4 vegetable oil
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk

Mix all ingredients together on slow just until blended with an electric mixer, then switch to medium-high speed and mix for 2 minutes. Spoon batter into lined cupcake pan and bake for 22-25 minutes at 350, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
a few pinches of salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp milk
Cinnamon to sprinkle

Mix butter, salt, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer (you can use a handheld mixer, but a stand mixer is easier!) until blended. Slowly add sugar a cup at a time on low speed until it's all blended in. Add in milk a tablespoon at a time until your frosting as at the desired consistency. Beat for 3 minutes. Frost each cupcake and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.

Enjoy! :D

In My Mailbox {70}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Sorry about the silent blog this past few days!! We were on a vacation! We packed up and went to Disneyland for my daughter and son's birthdays. We all had a blast---but after the crowds and hours of driving---it's definitely good to be home again. :)

Here's what's in my mailbox this week!!
For review:
Heist Society & Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Watched by Sharde Richardson
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Did three seperate little happy dances for each these (which was good since I'd just gotten out of the car after hours of driving!). SO excited for each of these---thank you so much to Disney Hyperion, Sharde Richardson, and St. Martin's Griffin!!

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
Forgiven by Janet Fox
The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Super excited for all of these, too. All great finds at my local Half Price Books!! :D
Pictured with my partner-in-crime for the week---Mickey Mouse! I love these little vintage looking stuffed characters..had to have it!

So coming up this week, look out for reviews of Midnight Palace and Bloodspell. And be sure to check out my Sweetness on Sunday post later for some yummy Vanilla Chai Cupcakes! ALSO---I am getting awfully darn close to 1000 followers! Stay tuned for a big giveaway to celebrate!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trailer + Giveaway!! Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

I have one more fantastic book to offer this week! The wonderful people at Macmillan are letting me give one lucky reader a copy of this gorgeousness:

Here's what it's about:

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Check out the trailer:

And HERE'S how to get yourself a copy!!
Fill out the FORM HERE for a chance to win.
Open to US & CA residents.
Ends June 15th, 2011, so hurry and enter! :D

Monday, June 6, 2011

Win Beauty Queens by Libba Bray + an Island Survival Kit!!

So you've all heard of this book, right?...

synopsis: The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and complete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eye liner. What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

SO...who wants to win a copy? Well, one winner is not only going to win a copy of Beauty Queens, but also their very own Island Survival kit!! Check this out:

You get a cool hat, cool sunglasses, and some awesome Philosophy Shelter Sunscreen!!
Just fill out THIS FORM for a chance to win!!
Contest ends 6/25/11.
edited to add-Open to US only.

This contest sponsored by:
Scholastic has launched a new online community called This Is Teen to connect readers with their favorite YA authors and books. Visit their page on Facebook for all the latest news on Libba Bray and her new book Beauty Queens:

* * * * *
Also, for those of you who are writers out there, be sure to check out the Beauty Queens writing competition. Check out the contest video:

Contest details:

The “Miss Teen Dream” contestants in Libba Bray’s new book Beauty Queens turn out to be anything but typical, proving that true beauty is way more than skin deep.

Now we want to know what makes YOU a Beauty Queen! In 500 words or less, share your most outrageous talent, your quirkiest catch-phrase, or your most inspiring platform.

The writer of the winning essay will receive a $250 shopping spree at Sephora, your very own sparkly tiara, and a signed copy of BEAUTY QUEENS!

To enter go to

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal US residents ages 13 to 18. Deadline to enter 5pm EST on July 1, 2011. Void where prohibited. For complete details and official rules go to

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In My Mailbox {69}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

A few fun things this week!

For review:
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
This one's getting raves already! Excited to read this!

Passion by Lauren Kate
SO excited for this one---but I'll apparently have to wait my turn because the moment it came, my daughter immediately snatched it away. I'm taking her to a Lauren Kate signing in a few weeks and we're both freaking excited!! :D

The Warlock by Michael Scott
This one is actually more for my hubby---he loves this series. I will read it someday soon!

New on my Nook:

Frost by Wendy Delsol
Absolutely loved book one, can't wait to read this one!

Misfit by Jon Skovron
This one sounds fun..mythology, magic,...and cute skater boy! Aww...hubby was a cute skater boy in high school :)

Solstice by P.J. Hoover
The very first line of the synopsis was what caught my eye: "Where mythology and dystopia meet". Sounds good to me!

Many thanks to Little,Brown, Random House, & Netgalley for these!

Show me those mailboxes!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Trailers: Miss Peregrine & Shatter Me!!

Two cool book trailers to share! Both books I can't wait to read!!

Oh, and, fair warning, both trailers are just a little creepy... ;)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's New: June Releases & Giveaways

Wow. Wow, guys! It's JUNE already!! So, of course, that means it's time for the What's New List & Giveaway here at Stories & Sweeties! :D As always, you'll find a full list of the new releases in YA for the month, and entry to the giveaway. At the end of each month, one lucky winner will get to choose any new release as their prize! So let's get started because it's a loooong list once again!

Oh, wait! First off, I want to announce last month's winner!
Elodie @ Once Upon A Quote!! Congrats, Elodie!

Ok, on with the list!!
June Releases:

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiani
Bloodspell by Amalie Howard
Eternal Sea by Angie Frazier
Ladybird, Ladybird by Abra Ebner
Spoiled by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Vampire Stalker by Allison Van Diepen

Dark Heart Rising by Lee Monroe
Forgiven by Janet Fox
Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

The Amanda Project 2: Revealed by Amanda Valentino & Peter Silsbee
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
City of Ice by Laurence Ye
Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer
Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
Everlasting by Alyson Noel
Flying Blind: Dragon Diaries
by Deborah Cooke
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My Undecided Life by Jessica Brody
Possesion by Elana Johnson
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
The Waking: Spirits of Noh by Thomas Randall

How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman
What We Keep is Not Always What Will Stay by Amanda Cockrell

Brother/Sister by Sean Olin
Crossing Lines by Paul Valponi
Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley
Displacement by Thalia Chaltas
Dragon Castle by Joseph Brachac
Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Magnum
War and Watermelon by Rich Wallace
What Would My Cell Phone Do? by Micol Ostow
Z. Raptor by Steve Cole

From Bad To Cursed by Katie Alender
Belladonna by Mary Finn
The Chamber of Five by Michael Harmon
Countess Nobody by Lynn Kiele Bonasia
Dead End by Jason Myers
The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Imaginary Girls by Nova Sum Rena
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
The Lost Heiress by Catherine Fisher
Mission (Un)Popular by Anna Humphrey
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley
Ordinary Beauty by Laura Weiss
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
Passion by Lauren Kate
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Trial By Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley
Dead Rules by Randy Russell
Eden by Keary Taylor
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw
Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maizel
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
Eternity by Heather Terrell
Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Legacy by Cayla Kluver
Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy
Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz
Torn by Erica O'Rourke
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

The Ascension by Michael Carroll
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

(links go to Goodreads)
Please feel free to email me if you notice any YA titles missing! :)

Giveaway Details: One winner will win a June Release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends at 11:59 PM, PST on June 30st, 2011.
• Must be 13 or older
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through
• Please enter one time only for each monthly giveaway.