Review: A City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

This is a book that will leave you drooling and running to the oven to bake a beautiful apple pie or a soft, melt-in-your-mouth cake. Even if you can’t bake, you’ll be inspired to become a baker. Just be sure to be careful, since inexperienced bakers are known to accidentally set things on fire, just like Livvy did. Except…she wasn’t inexperienced, so that means it’s even more important that you, as a possibly inexperienced baker, be cautious.
Chased by scandal and embarassment after setting the kitchen on fire from a lit Baked Alaska, Livvy fled to Vermont to join her best friend Hannah. She is hired by Margaret, the owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, to bake her beautiful and swoon-worthy desserts. It’s a stroke of good fortune, since, after all, she had set the kitchen on fire at the last place.
I found the book to be a very enjoyable and cute read, something that can be read beside a fireplace with a blanket wrapped around you. You’ll drool over the desserts (don’t actually drool though…that would damage the pages of a beautiful book!) and find yourself smiling at the little happy moments. It wasn’t as cliche as I expected, which I really enjoyed. I found that it was predictable, but most cute reads are like that, unless they’re the odd ones that suddenly turn into SciFi or the apocalypse. Even if there weren’t major shocking points, I feel that a read like this is a nice break from all of the recent action-packed books being released.
I found that I especially enjoyed Livvy’s character. She reminded me of myself, actually, since she colored her outrageous colors. She had a very unique personality that way and I could envision her as well as I could envision her baked goods. It was a nice detail to have differently colored hair, since most main characters have a unique feature that isn’t so outrageously unique- like striking eyes or high cheekbones. Her features just made her the fun and interesting main character that I found her to be.
I also loved the parts about friendship and family. It wasn’t only descriptions of food- I promise! Though I don’t think you’d complain… since the descriptions felt like stories of their own (that may be my own exaggeration though–but truly I loved those parts!). There was, of course, a love interest, which as usual I shipped so hard. I mean, who can blame me? I just naturally form fictional ships that I either sink with or sail away with into the sunset. Other than the love, she also formed her own new family. Ever since she was sixteen, Livvy had been caring for herself. Now that she had moved to Vermont, she formed a family not only with the locals, who she baked for and played banjo for with the Hungry Mountaineers, but with a family named the McCrackens. I couldn’t help falling in love with their family–smiling at their successes and breaking my heart with their heartbreaks, like how Henry McCracken is battling colon cancer and his son Martin gave up his life to help out at home. I couldn’t help feeling sad for both the McCrackens, since they had to be facing such a challenge, and Livvy, who unlike Martin, didn’t have anyone she could give up her life for to help, and as such, I found a lot of joy in that she was able to finally find a family and make Henry the father she lost.
I would recommend this book to anyone, even if you do not have a passion for baking. I never bake anymore and I don’t eat sweets (wow, what an alien, am I right?!) but even I could appreciate the descriptions of the food. I just find imagery to be one of the features that stands out most to me in books, and the fact that the book had so much made me love it even more. I would read it again, since it was a cute adventure that I would enjoy traveling upon again. As well, it was an easy read, which made it a good break from my recent reads.

I recieved this book from Blogging For Books for this review, which absolutely does not change my opinion of the book. I value honest feedback as a growing experience for the author and as a true recommendation to my readers.

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Reading Update: I ADOPTED A BUNNY?

Did I say a bunny? More like a cat-puppy hybrid.

Cat: licks excessively and alternates between sleeping and eating. Is the alfa animal (reigns over human as well)

Puppy: likes to greet the owner and runs with flopping ears

That’s something misunderstood about bunnies. They’re not boring, food-consuming animals that look cute for pictures. Okay, they do look adorable for pictures, but that’s not the point.

Ever since my bunny arrived, all I’ve been doing is either thinking about her or   petting her. Or… cleaning up her poop. Which somehow is more than the food actually consumed… I mean, they did say that bunnies are pretty similar to horses. I’m getting off-track. Give me a break! It’s 3am and I’m ranting about my bunny. 😭

Having Essie has been throwing my reading off. It took me two weeks TWO WEEKS to read Carry On! I was too busy playing with her (yes- bunnies do play. This is her puppy  characteric: she loves to jump around when I wiggle my fingers on the ground or jump from side to side. It’s my workout routine now 😂) and stopping her from tossing around her food bowl like a toddler or flicking her poop into her waterbowl. Has she mistaken herself for a toddler and thinks that playing with her food and pooping in her waterbowl like a human toilet is acceptable for a bunny?? Sometimes (ok always) I am confused what type of animal Essie thinks she is.

Fun fact about Essie (I mean, these are all fun facts but I needed a transition. I also need some sort of coffee right now. I’m going to read this in the morning and regret ever staying up so late writing): She really is a miniature toddler. When I don’t give her enough attention by looking at my phone, she thumps her back leg until I shower her with kisses and treats- though not too many because a fat bunny is a rabbit, not a cat-puppy hybrid. By the way, thumps sound like your heaviest book- like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- fell off the top of your shelf in the middle of the night and scared the bejeebus out of you. Yes, that has happened. Yes, I skipped a few heartbeats.

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Wait, this is a reading update, not a bunny update (if you want a full bunny update, let me know, because I am a very proud mommy who doesn’t mind ranting about her child okay???).

I recently read Carry On, which I rate 5/5 stars because it honestly blew me away. I thought that it was a contemporary, but it actually is a DRARRY FANFICTION?!?!?!! Um, yes! I’ll rant about it in another post because it deserves its own mini essay.

As for my current read, I’m reading Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell. He very kindly sent the book to me for review, which I was so happy about since the summary told me that it would be a beautiful novel with romance that can probably help me with my Baz-Simon (from Carry On) obsession right now. I clearly need someone else to ship. I already started the book and I can tell you right now that the beginning itself is a story. I haven’t lost attention at all, which usually happens to me in the beginnings of books, and I had to force myself to stop reading it last night so I could at least get a few hours of sleep before going to see the movie La La Land.

By the way, if you enjoy musicals and the chemisty between RYAN GOSLING (who is literally O.M.G. BEAUTIFUL) and Emma Stone then you neeeeeeed neeeeeeeeeed to see La La Land so that we can rant together.

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This was more of a talkative post and directionally-challenged post, but I hope you enjoyed it!

Let me know what you thought of your last read! If you already reviewed it, I’ll be sure to check out the review as well on your blog! ❤

Author Stories & Autographs Tour!

Now I haven’t met enough authors yet, but I’ve had some pretty strange experiences that I still laugh about! Is it weird for me to say that I have crushes on authors? That sounds so strange, but what I mean is nonromantic crushes and more like dayumn-i-want-to-be-them and can-we-please-be-friends crushes.

Erin Hunter – author of the Warriors series

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(hers is the least pretty of the signatures just saaaying)

This is my most prized autograph, both for the story behind it and the fact that it was my very first author autograph. The book is from the Warriors series, a 30-book (even longer now) series that I was absolutely in love with. It was my favorite book from the series, and I have to treat it with caution now because the cover is barely hanging on and the pages are yellowed from constant flipping. I must’ve read the book at the very least ten times.

The series is in the point of view of cats who are divided into four clans. They are constantly fighting, gory deaths (some of the worst fictional deaths for cat lady me) in every book. Even though the books had torn apart my heart, I kept reading. Clearly these were the books that made me nearly immune to fictional deaths.

I was so excited to meet Erin Hunter (though little did I know, Erin Hunter was actually 6 women) and with this book and several others in tow, I went to listen to her talk. One of the first things she said was…I actually don’t like cats. WHAT?! If minds could literally be blown, mine would be in pieces. I have a strong suspicion that she’s the one who encouraged all of my favorite cats to die. As a cat hater, she had too much power…

Markus Zusak – author of The Book Thief

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I totally copied Sasha Alsberg (because she is bookaholic goals, let’s be honest) with the autograph on the outside cover. Zusak outlined the cover 😍

I totally expected him to be awkward. His writing is just so perfect, and he can’t be perfect in every way, right? Wrong.

If his accent was a person, I would marry it. Instantly. Combined with his humor and story-telling, I could listen to his voice for my entire life. I don’t need music anymore with his voice in the world. This is exactly why I fell in love with all of the Harry Potter characters! Accents just get to me. I CAN’T HELP IT!

He said that he never expected The Book Thief to be popular and that it took years for it to be published! In the beginning, he read his book to a person in a library (telling this from memory so could be a little different) and they fell asleep while he was telling it. If that’s not inspirational for us struggling writers, I don’t know what is!

Sabaa Tahir – author of An Ember in the Ashes

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THE SIGNATURE LOOKS LIKE BEAUTIFUL GRAFFITI ON MY BOOK! goals goals goals goals I need to stop saying goals!! But what author here ISN’T GOALS?! (oh except for Hunter because she is a cat-hater 😂 I do have priorities, you know)

I didn’t get much of her talk because of a family in front of me (yes, those people. We all know them). The little girl kept singing and glaring at me like I had stabbed her teddy bear repeatedly. It’s hard to concentrate when a child is directing all of the hatred such a tiny human can have directly at you. I didn’t even do anything…I love children! (I sound like I’m responding to the police- “I swear I didn’t kill her teddy bear!”)

I remember from it that Sabaa is incredibly beautiful! She was so nice and funny (tip for writers: eat a lot of chocolate and you can write like her. Sort of. Easy, right?!).

Adam Silvera – author of More Happy Than Not

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His smily faces are so cute. Mine usually look confused

He seemed like the type of guy you could easily be friends with. I met him this year when I was halfway through his book. I know, I know, I’m horrible for not finishing it! I finished it that night, okay? 😅  When he learned I hadn’t finished it, he didn’t mention any spoilers without telling me to cover my ears. Completely awkward for shy me, but worth it because it turned out there was a huge plot twist at the end (I started screaming when I got to that part and instantly commented on his Instagram page thanking him for not spoiling it for me 😂)!

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I highly recommend all of these books and authors (yes, even the cat-hating one)!

What authors have you met?

 

 

Review: Guide Me Home

Goodreads Synopsis:

Working in the massive cave might allow Rebekah the chance to bring joy back to her family.
But will it claim more than it gives?
After tragedy leaves its mark on Rebekah Hardin s family, she plans to help her parents and six siblings honor her beloved brother’s memory and alleviate their poverty by working as a guide in the dangerous cave system. Kentucky’s renowned Mammoth Cave presents profitable opportunities for hardworking, capable”men.” But Rebekah is determined and if it means presenting herself as a”himself,” then she’s up to the job.
Under the wing of experienced guide Tolly Sanford, Reb begins to learn the complexities of the cave and the two are joined by an aspiring young cartographer, Devlin Bale.
The university student has traveled to the hill country to map tunnels, not to fall for a girl in disguise. Can the God who designed miles of underground astonishment shape Devlin’s ambitious plans and free Reb from the weight from the past?

This has become my favorite book from the 1900’s. Filled with romance, drama, and a healthy dose of knowledge, I wasn’t ready to let the book go when I hit the acknowledgements. The worst feeling is when you think you still have several more pages to exist in a book’s world, then realize that those pages are just the acknowledgments. 😭 You know that feeling.

One of my fears is of enclosed spaces. I like to be free and surrounded by air, and honestly I would go shoeless if I could because I hate my feet being enclosed too. Weird, I know. Anyways, I never go in caves because not only are they enclosed, but there are cave-ins that can trap me even more. However, the book described the caves so beautifully, capturing both the creatures and the crystals, that I immediately wanted to visit Mammoth Cave. I still would never enter the cave, mostly for the sake of preserving people’s eardrums down there when I would start screaming at every noise (and probably cause a cave-in while I am at it). Disclaimer: I am not usually overdramatic (I think).

One of my favorite things about the book was Rebekah’s family. She had so many little sisters, from adorable Little Nellie to sassy (and annoying) Cissy. The best scenes were when Rebekah returned home on Sundays from working as a guide at Mammoth Cave, though I did love those Devlin and Rebekah moments. 😉  Her parents quickly became my favorite fictional parents, especially her father, who was so loving of his daughters and gentle. They were both so strong and trusting in God. I loved their random and small talks about God and finding strength in him, and even if that isn’t your religion, they’re comforting.

Now I will talk about those Devlin and Rebekah moments (because we all know we are all really here for the romance 😏). I think the most refreshing thing about them was that their love was not instant, which is more realistic. They were both young adults, so didn’t ignore the impossibility that they could be together (Devlin being a rich Senator’s son and college student and Rebekah being a hills girl). However, their differences didn’t stop them from loving each other. Even Rebekah dressing as a girl and helping guide Devlin through the caves didn’t discourage him. He was a gentleman constantly, comforting Rebekah when she was sad and respecting her parents.

Devlin was misguided in the beginning of the book. He hoped to map the Mammoth Cave as his college project, but also secretly put together information for his father to use for his compaign to have the government seize control of Mammoth Cave for the money. If the government took it, they would also take the lands of the people living around it (but pay them), and from Rebekah’s side of view, not even money would appease her and the people. The people cared about their land more than wealth, since their ancestors had fought for it and they would not want any other land than theirs. I found this difference between them that was even bigger than themselves and the typical drama between people to drive the plot and their love.

This was a beautiful read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and the underlying theme of faith. Even if you are not interested in the parts about faith, there are very few, but I think it’s important thing to mention since it was such a driving force in the novel. The book is so beautiful and descriptive, making you feel like you’re part of one of the tour groups making their way through the cave and marveling at the white fish and shimmering crystals. It’s an experience I would go through again and a perfect book to reread.

I recieved this book from Blogging For Books for this review, which does not impact anything I have said about it!

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