Hundred Word Review: “The Cupcake Queen” by Heather Hepler

Challenge No. 6: A Book From an Author You Love But Haven’t Read Yet

“The Cupcake Queen,” by Heather Hepler, finished May 26. Hepler co-wrote one of my all-time favorite YA novels, “Scrambled Eggs at Midnight,” with Brad Barkley, and I was so excited to read her first solo novel. Also, who doesn’t want to read a book about cupcakes?!

cupcakequeen

Hundred Word Review: Penny is dragged along when her mother returns to her small hometown and opens a cupcake shop, leaving Penny’s father and Manhattan behind. In between cake decorating and homesickness, Penny makes new friends, daydreams about the enigmatic boy in her art class, and becomes the target of the class mean girl’s vendetta. This coming-of-age novel reminds me of, well, a cupcake. Your adult brain says you’re too old to enjoy it; however, after one bite, you realize it has substance and sweetness, sass and sincerity. Fourteen-year-old me would love this book; for twenty-three-year-old me, it satisfied her literary sweet tooth.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Also, for a sneak peek at upcoming Hundred Word Reviews, click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Next up … we shall see!

Happy reading!

-Vicky

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Hundred Word Reviews: “Lady in Waiting” by Jackie Kendall

Challenge No. 5: A Nonfiction Book

“Lady in Waiting: Becoming God’s Best While Waiting for Mr. Right,” by Jackie Kendall with Debby Jones, finished May 20. My first foray into Christian “chastity books.”

Lady_In_Waiting_FINAL_Front_cover

Hundred Word Review: In this updated edition of her 1997 bestselling book, Christian speaker Jackie Kendall uses the biblical story of Ruth to discuss 10 qualities single women should develop before meeting their “Boaz,” or future husbands. The message is clear, and Kendall’s analysis of the Book of Ruth is helpful in providing historical and cultural context. However, the writing is clunky. Kendall is the prominent narrator, but sometimes, the writer will say, “I (Jackie),” as if Jones was speaking and the pen was handed back. I would have liked the message better as a chastity talk rather than an awkwardly written book.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Also, for a sneak peek at upcoming Hundred Word Reviews, click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Next up, “a book from an author you love but haven’t read yet.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle

Challenge No. 4: A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit

“A Year in Provence,” by Peter Mayle, finished May 3. It’s set in France. Of course I want to go there.

Hundred Word Review: In the late 1980s, Peter Mayle and his wife, Jennie, left the corporate rat race of England behind and bought a 200-year-old farmhouse in the sprawling countryside of Provence. This memoir details their first year in the village of Ménerbes, where they encounter bitter winter winds, moochy summer tourists, and laissez-faire construction workers. But there’s also mouthwatering regional cuisine, interesting new friends, and stunning scenery. It’s clear why this book is a classic piece of travel writing. If you love France, food, and richly detailed, funny writing, gobble this book up and wash it down with a glass of rosé.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a nonfiction book.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “Confessions” by Saint Augustine

Challenge No. 3: A Book with A One-Word Title

“Confessions” by Saint Augustine, translated by Garry Wills, finished April 23. I know I said I would do the one with nonhuman characters next, but it got complicated.

augustine

Hundred Word Review: Augustine of Hippo’s testimony is a staple in Catholic literature. Born in Africa in 354, he became a celebrated orator and conceited playboy. His mother, Saint Monica, prayed to the point of suffering for years for his conversion to Catholicism. Finally, Augustine became a Doctor of the Church in the ultimate come-to-Jesus story. Every Christian needs to get their hands on this book, but don’t expect to read it in a week. Beneath all of Augustine’s rich language and profound philosophy are moments that make you say, “That’s so me.” Take your time with this book. It’s well worth it.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

The Liebster Award

Bonjour, mes amis!

On a lighter note than my last post, I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by my dear friend Emily. I haven’t done an about-me post in a while and I’ve gotten a bunch of new commenters and followers in the meantime. So here’s a little fun diversion until the follow-up to my last post (coming soon, I hope).

The Liebster Award is an award given from one blogger to the next – a total of their favorite blogs – with fewer than 200 followers.

Rules:

  • link back and thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  • answer the 11 questions they give you
  • tag up to 11 bloggers who have 200 or fewer followers
  • ask your nominees 11 questions and let them know you tagged them!

So I may be biased because we’ve been friends for almost six (six?!) years, but Emily’s blog is amazing. If you love anything having to do with movies, TV and pop culture in general, you have to check out her blog. Oh, and did I mention you can find her writing for Elite Daily? Thanks for the nomination, girlie. Keep being awesome. I miss you!

OK, let’s see what we have here …

1. If you could have tea with any one person from history who would it be?

There are just so many! For a tea-drinking buddy, I’ll go with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, mostly so I could just bask in her saintly awesomeness. I haven’t read her autobiography yet, but I took a trip to Lisieux a month ago and it made me love her even more. Anne Frank is also on that list, but instead of having tea, I’d rather have a sleepover where we read girly magazines and spill our souls until 5 a.m.

2. Who is your favorite pop culture vampire?

DRACULA. Nobody beats the original and the best. Dracula will never not be scary, and he will never, ever sparkle.

3. What was the first chapter book you remember reading?

There were probably others before it, but the first I distinctly remember reading was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’m an old soul, I know. Mary Lennox just fascinated me, probably because I was more of a Sara Crewe kind of girl. I specifically remember reading the chapter where Mary enters the garden for the first time. That was such a magical and exciting moment, and I don’t think I’d turned a page that fast before.

4. What’s up next in your Netflix Queue?

Nothing at the moment, because I’m in a country with spotty Netflix. But I do have “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Virgin Suicides” from the library.

5. What is your favorite word?

You’re really making me pick just one?!

OK, for the purposes of this question, I love snarky in English, chamallow (marshmallow) in French, and squillare (to ring, like a phone) in Italian.

6. Which member of the Scooby Gang is your favorite?

Velma. She was always underrated, but to me, she seemed really awesome.

Oh wait, wrong show …

7. What is your favorite, ‘so bad it’s good’ movie to watch?

I had to really think about this one. I’ll have to go with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s “Passport to Paris.” No, this movie is NOT the reason I love France, because that’s just insulting. I always watched this movie at the dentist’s office because I never owned it. It’s enjoyably over-the-top and silly, and living in France has debunked many of the stereotypes in that movie for me. On a side note, if the American ambassador to France doesn’t know what French fries are, he’s doing it wrong.

8. What music album changed the way you listen to music the most?

Vanessa Carlton’s “Be Not Nobody” was the first album I listened to and loved all the way through. This was back in her “A Thousand Miles” days — don’t lie, you still know all the words. It was the first time I had ever heard a hit song by a new artist and loved it so much that I wanted to buy the whole album. And guess what? I still love her. She’s still making music. Her best songs are not on the radio, which is a dang shame. Oh, and she just had a baby.

9. What house do you think you would be sorted into at Hogwarts?

Huffleclaw. Or Ravenpuff.

10. What is your favorite Broadway musical?

“Into the Woods.” Easy.

11. Which celebrity death will you never really get over?

It’s not really a death, per se, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over the Civil Wars breakup. Ever. That was just one of the most beautiful and perfect duos of all time. Chemistry like that doesn’t come around that often, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for them. However, Joy Williams just released a new single and it’s awesome.

Whew, I did it! Amanda Livingston, Adventures of a Sunbeam, This M Word, No Money for a Compass, The Horseshoe Crab March, Confessions of an Aspiring Journalist, Bohemian Nerd, Dave’s Corner, THE FASHION MARIONNETTE, Curious Comet, and noveltreks, you’re up.

1. What’s one piece of advice you would give yourself five years ago?

2. Describe your dream place of residence.

3. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

4. Which song or artist in your music collection are you most embarrassed about?

5. What would you do if your blog had 1 million followers?

6. Which language would you most like to learn and why?

7. Finish this sentence: I could be happy without ____________.

8. If you could give a TED talk on any subject, what would it be about?

9. Which movie deserves a sequel?

10. If you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

11. Name one thing you did in the past week that you’re proud of.

Again, thank you Emily for nominating me. New nominees, go wild!

À bientôt!

– Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “The Man Who Was Thursday” by G.K. Chesterton

Challenge No. 2: A Book a Friend Recommended

“The Man Who Was Thursday” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton, finished January 28. Recommended by my brilliant friend and college roommate, Katie.

man-who-was-thursday

Hundred Word Review: Gabriel Syme, an undercover policeman, meets a young poet who promises a “very entertaining evening.” Before he knows it, he is elected to an elite anarchist council and given the name Thursday. In trying to overthrow the fearsome leader, Sunday, Syme meets unsuspected allies and new enemies in a wild chase of gunpowder, treason, and plot. This book makes your brain hurt, but it’s so fun to read! It’s scary, suspenseful, and hilarious with a mind-blowing twist. If anything, read it for the insults: “If you’d take your head home and boil it for a turnip, it might be useful.”

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book with nonhuman characters.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay

One of our recent assignments for Blogging 101 was to try a new type of post. I’ve been wanting to do reviews on this blog for a while, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. With the dawn of a new year, and me taking on PopSugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge, I’ve decided to post my reviews of the books I’m reading in 100 words or fewer. Obviously, this introduction doesn’t count.

Challenge No. 1: A Book You Can Finish in a Day

“Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay, finished January 3.

sarahskey

Hundred Word Review: On July 16, 1942, 10-year-old Sarah is awoken by French police coming to arrest her family. She locks her little brother in the cupboard for safekeeping, thinking she’ll return soon. Sixty years later, an American journalist learns Sarah’s story while researching the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, when more than 13,000 French Jews were sent to Nazi death camps. I finished this book in less than five hours. It combines many of my favorite subjects — France, journalism, history — and tells two equally gripping stories. Sarah and Julia are beautifully written, unforgettable protagonists. This is a must-read for francophiles and history buffs alike.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book a friend recommended.”

Happy reading!

Vicky