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Archive for the ‘Book Clubbin’’ Category

Kill the Boy BandCover Me:  I love everything about this cover.  The simplicity with the black background and the bold hot pink is killer.  (Pun intended.)  Even after you strip off the book jacket, it reveals a hot pint book binding and I fall in love all over again.  This cover didn’t have to draw me in because I was already in love with the concept when I read about it six months ago.  I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

The Concept:  Four Mega-fans of the boy band The Ruperts get together to find a way into their sold out concert.  Their plan is to stay at the same hotel.  In a short time due to to coincidence, they end up kidnapping the least popular member of the band.  Things go from bad to worse when he ends up dead.

What is there not to love about this concept?  It’s all my favorite things in a nice little package.  Music? Check. Superfans? Yup. Hijinx to get close to their fave band?  Solid.  This concept had me months before it came out.  I couldn’t wait to read it, even before all the terrific reviews rolled in about this dark comedy.

The Peeps:  The main character never gives her name, although she’s made out to be the most sane in the group.  Don’t we all think that when telling our version of the story?  Each of the four girls are described well and have distinct personalities.  The same goes for the The Ruperts, even though they all share the same first name.  I most enjoyed Rupert the Juggler who ends up dying.  Sure he was a giant asshole when talking with the fangirls.  At least he owned it, which was in contrast to his band persona where he really couldn’t find his identity.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  The story had nice suspense in trying to figure out what happened in the room when Rupert died.  Especially when our main character doubts her sanity and wonders if maybe she did kill him.  Hey, I think we’ve all been there when you get wrapped up in excitement, right?  I know there’s been some times I may have regretted my concert action the next day.  (For the record, no one died.)

The romance between the main character and her favorite Rupert (I think it was K, but I’m not sure any more) was cute.  Isn’t it every fan girl’s dream that when she does meet the object of her affection, he finds her charming, interesting, beautiful in her own way, and wants to continue to hang out with her?  Oh, just me?  I’m not sure this rings anything near reality because Mikel has yet to say anything about my charming personality or wanting to be BFFs.

The actual resolution to the murder mystery was a little flat for me, but I understand why it had to go there.  There were humorous parts to the book, but I wasn’t falling down laughing like I thought I might.  However, it’s still a solid, fun read.

What I Cooked Up:  Since I may know a thing or two about being a fangirl, even at my age, I wanted to incorporate how I appreciate my favorites.  It seemed only fitting to make the band into a cookie.  While I don’t really know what they look like, this was my interpretation.

ruperts

 

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Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and RollThe Cover:  There’s nothing too exciting about the cover.  Lucky for the book I wasn’t judging if I should read it based on the picture.  The book was suggested to me a couple years ago at a writing conference when I was talking concerts with an agent during cocktail hour.  I must have asked for the title three different times because I kept forgetting (or maybe had a few too many.)  Then I still forgot it when I returned home.  Flash forward a couple years, where I’m trolling Barnes and Noble searching for books about rock n’ roll concerts.  Perfect time to commit, throw down the ten bucks, and actually read the damn thing.

The Concept: In this autobiographical work, Joe has been in Watershed for twenty years and only touched the outskirts of success.  Now older, and no more successful with the band, he must decide if he’s going to continue with his touring band or give it up to move forward in his life.

Such a great concept!  And to know it’s someone’s actual life makes it even more fascinating.  The whole question revolves around how long do you follow your dream?  And do you need success to keep on track?  Can the journey really be satisfying enough that you don’t care about the destination?  I loved reading about the contrast from when the band was in their early twenties fighting to get to the top versus now being forty somethings eating Taco Bell and using family discounts at hotels.  This book gave great insight to touring realities and from a very different view than the one I usually get from the fan perspective.

The Peeps: Joe’s the main character.  Surrounding him are the Watershed band mates, including his best friend Colin who pushes Joe to move forward chasing their music dreams no matter what.   Waiting at home, and asking him to give up the band, is Joe’s wife Kate.  All of them are well described and have a point of view you can understand.  Even though Kate’s the symbol of growing up, you feel for her too.

I appreciate Joe’s candor in describing the rock star experience.  The honesty is what makes the book such a great read.  No bullshit in trying to save face when some of the scenes are pretty sad.  The humor comes through loud and clear.  I caught myself laughing out loud at some of the descriptions.  Right from the start, when Joe goes through a detailed explanation about how unrealistic it is to think he could have a one night stand with the bartender from the dive he’s playing that night.  It’s scenes like that where you can see his world and it’s pretty damn funny.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  Throughout the book Joe is waiting for their last show on this tour to determine if he should stick with it or not.  You can tell well before there’s really not a way for him to turn it down.  I think it was much more likely he would end up divorced before giving up his band.  I’m not all that convinced he’s still married now if I Googled it.

It’s not really a surprise that’s what ends up happening.  Not to say that makes the book feel any less satisfying.  For someone who loves music, concerts, and the bands who make it all happen, I would’ve been crushed if he could walk away from it.  I want to believe there’s a deep need in their souls to continue with it even after you’ve read about how shitty the experience could be.  Because everyone wants to believe that rock stars are doing it for the music, not the fame.

If you love bands and concerts, this is a great look behind the scenes.  There are times when things aren’t so glamorous and the magic we see as fans might be a bit overstated.  His description of the middle aged “Superfan” stung a bit as I saw myself a little too clearly in it.  (Hell, I’m old and travel for my faves.  Don’t worry, the similarities stop when the aged gals try to hook up with all the members.)

What I Cooked Up:  A baked good to describe this book was a challenge.  I knew I needed something that wasn’t appreciated for all its greatness.  Something when mentioned, all people say “Oh yeah, I always loved that baked good” but don’t think to go out and seek it when they have a sweet craving.  And certainly the good had to be something that is never showcased as the star, like a beautiful cake or delectable cookie.

With all this in mind, it seemed like coffee cake was the perfect choice.  It’s a baked good everyone loves, even takes some comfort in, but never gives it the full respect it deserves.  Just like Watershed.

hitless wonder

 

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The Cover:   The cover is a hot mess in my opinion.  Sure, it has a stone in the middle to represent the Godstone which gives the lead character powers, but why everything else?  The colors are muted and dark.  Nothing commands your attention to sit down and start reading this book.  This might be the reason it sat in my Nook library forever without being touched.  What a pity too because this series is something special.

The Concept: One person every century is chosen by God to have a jewel gifted in their navel during their naming ceremony when they are very young.  The Godstone is the source or great power although there isn’t much information or instruction on what to do with it.  The people only know it’s to be used to fulfill some prophecy which usually ends up in the bearer’s death.  Even though no one is quite sure what to do with a Godstone, everyone wants it.  They also don’t mind killing Princess Elisa to carve it from her stomach.

The Peeps:  Elisa is a princess being married off in an arranged ceremony to strengthen two kingdom’s relationship.  She’s overweight, not very attractive, and the opposite of a born leader.  While this may seem like the set up for every main character ever, the way this one is written is quite endearing.  The details in the desert settings, the unique food, and religious interpretation makes this a unique read from her perspective.  It doesn’t take long to be endured to her plight.

The supporting characters changes throughout the novel with makes it even more interesting.  They are well developed in a short time what they are trying to accomplish.  I think this is what I enjoy the most in this story is you can appreciate what everyone is trying to do.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  The spoiler is this is a trilogy.  But unlike other trilogies, I read up the other two to complete it.  I’m not one where that’s a given.  If the first book is okay, I’m not committing to two more.  This book had been chomping for the next ones.

In this book Elisa loses a lot.  Her first love dies and then her husband is also killed.  She is able to unknowingly summon the Godstone’s power to defeat the bad guys, but it doesn’t finish them off.  There’s still the threat about her kingdom rejecting her, rebuilding the damage done, and more bad guys are out there.  How can you not pick up the next books?

What I Cooked Up:  Although there were great food descriptions from interesting recipes they fixed, I wanted something to highlight the Godstone.  This was the star of the show.  To represent it, I made a thumbprint cookie and filled it with a blueberry preserve to match Elisa’s blue colored gem.

godstone

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailCover Me:  The cover is pretty classic and makes even more sense when you read the forward.  The boot is a symbol for many things throughout the book.  Well, at least I looked at it that way.  It seems like the perfect cover for her story.

The new version is based on the movie and splashes Reese Witherspoon on it looking less glamorous than she usually is.  I guess this is a selling point to highlight the fact you can watch the movie too.  I deliberately bought the cover with the boot like I was proving something to myself about wanting to read it for the story it was and not the movie it became.

The Concept: This is Cheryl Strayed’s true story about hiking across the Pacific Trail to heal from her mother’s death.  Yep, that’s it.  Nothing really more.  This is one of those coming of age stories, but you’re in your 20’s.

The Peeps:  Cheryl introduces us to many characters in the book and they all have their own lives.  Hers is the dominant force and I loved how she exposed herself.  She dropped big details in short sentences and moved on through complex relationships in few pages.  I think this was an amazing parallel to the story she told about herself.  My favorites were the little acquaintance stories that just happened.  They weren’t really bigger than what they were, unless you learned more from it because it means something to you.  Such a great thing to read when you’re a writer.

I felt for her relationship with her ex-husband Paul.  Watching them fall apart was harder than the other familial relationships she left by the side of the road.  Cheryl’s love for him while betraying their marriage told how deep the damage went in her heart.

The relationship with her mother was the dominating force and shaped her person when she started on the trail.  I had a hard time getting through the first chapters because it was gut wrenching.  Still healing from losing people in my life, I had a hard time experiencing someone else’s broken spirit.  And yet, I understood it.  So much so, I encouraged Hubs to read the book when I was done.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):   She finished the trail.  But you knew that, didn’t you?  I think the thing I expected the most was Cheryl would meet someone on the trail who would mean something enough it would shape her future life.  You know, like a man she would fall in love with and marry.  (I think I’ve read too much fiction.)  Maybe I even felt a little unfulfilled when she reached the end and I didn’t know more about how good she would be.  I had to remind myself, it wasn’t my story, it was hers.

The thing I most appreciate about this book was Cheryl’s honesty.  Some scenes were so blunt, so raw, so unafraid to say it like she wanted.  I commend her.  It’s one of those examples where you tell yourself as a writer to be brave and scare yourself with the story you are willing to tell.  Hats off to you Cheryl Strand.

What I Cooked Up:  This was a hard treat to make.  I knew I wanted something to honor her “monster.”  It’s the large backpack she hauled through all those miles.  It started over-packed and weighed her down to where she was crippled by it.  As she went through the trail, she shed unnecessary pack weight, hardened to the process, and learned a simpler way.

It seemed the perfect thing to highlight with a cake that represents way too much.  I’ve nicknamed this “Monster Cake.”  It’s all my favorite things put into one dessert.  Not only does it have cake, it has layers of cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie, and is frosted in peanut butter buttercream. It’s so much, it might make you puke.  Just like Cheryl’s monster pack.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Every DayCover me:  The cover is cool.  Edgy.  Artistic.  Different.  It intrigued me from the moment I saw it when fishing around for good e-book deals.  The author’s name also caught my attention because I’ve seen it thrown around Twitter when John Green’s name pops up.  I should’ve figure it out sooner because he’s the co-author of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON.

The Concept:  The main character, known as A, wakes up every morning in a different body.  He’s learned to accept the isolation of his situation until he wakes up as Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.  After spending the day with her, he knows he needs more.  In his next bodies he finds his way back to Rhiannon and makes an attempt to have a relationship with her even though his exterior changes every day.

The Peeps:  A makes it easy to slip into his head.  It’s so intriguing because you get a different physical description each day.  It shapes his personality and his indifference.  Seeing the world through the different eyes of his bodies was exciting, then fascinating, and then got a little boring.  To really see his life, I guess you have to see all of it.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  Rhiannon can’t get past his outside.  They’re doomed before they really begin.  How can you love someone who doesn’t physically exist?  It’s an interesting question.  I hate to break it to you looking for a happy ending.  They don’t end up together.  “A” knows he can’t stay with her but sets her up with a nice boy before he goes.

This book raised interesting questions about the depths of love.  I got a little tired of A chasing after Rhiannon.  Then I got a little bored with Rhiannon’s indifference.  Are you in or are you out?  I guess when you’re dealing with this kind of crazy it takes a while to make a decision.  It was too much back and forth for me at times.

Mr. Levithan is a gifted character writer, similar to Mr. Green.  I found the peeps interesting and worth following.

What I Cooked Up:  People are hard to represent in baked goods.  Different characters being an important theme in this book, I knew it had to be the focal point in the treat.  The more the merrier to showcase how many “every days” are in A’s life.  Here we have cake pops highlighting that even though the outside of the person looks different, the inside could be the same A, represented by chocolate cake pop goodness on the inside.

Every Day by David Levithan

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Reboot
Cover Me:  While the cover might look a little dull at first sight, you read that tag line and I bet you’re in.  It’s pretty spectacular.  It will at least get you to read the back cover and then I really challenge you to try to resist it.  Obviously, I couldn’t.

The Concept:  When children die, they come back as Reboots.  The longer they are dead, the stronger they become and the farther they are from the humanity they once had.  The government takes advantage of this new outbreak by training reboots to be soldiers.  Wren is the strongest Reboot, being dead for 178 minutes, and her role is to train new Reboots to be as strong a soldier as she.  She takes on her biggest challenge when she chooses to train Callum, the youngest Reboot at 22 minutes.

The Peeps:  Wren is pretty awesome right from the start.  She’s strong, smart, and efficient when it comes to kicking ass.  And she knows it.  Her development starts by showing she doesn’t have the traditional feelings like she did when she was alive.  She does however have a loyalty to her roommate and a curiosity with Callum.  Both lead her to make choices where she slowly gains back some of her humanity and makes her question the authority she’s been following for the last five years.

Callum is pretty perfect too.  Where he lacks in dead time, which means he’s pretty weak, he makes up in tenacity and charm.  He works his way into Wren’s world and before too long you’re rooting for their relationship.  The two decide to escape when Wren realizes the government is going to kill Callum when he doesn’t follow orders the way he should.  Just one more reason to think he’s adorable.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  The two escape but it’s not as clean as they hoped.  Callum has been used for experiments and he needs the antidote or he will be dead for good.  Wren forms a plan to break back into the compound to save Callum.  Of course they make it because the author would’ve broken my heart if Callum didn’t make it.

There’s a bigger problem to solve here with what society will become.  Which means, it’s a sequel.  Oh, these are getting tougher for me to invest in.  Though Reboot has a chance.  The action and the love story make this book a fun read to see how much humanity Wren can get back.

What I Cooked Up:  Reboots are just a number. Their baked good should reflect the same.  The bar code tattooed on each Reboot with their minutes dead number serves as the inspiration for our cookie plate.  Of course Wren and Callum take center stage.

Reboot by Amy Tintera

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Legend (Marie Lu's Legend Series #1)Cover Me:  The cover is kinda “meh”.  It’s got that whole futuristic look to it, but that really doesn’t do it for me.  It was the awesome word of mouth which got me to purchase it when it showed on the B&N’s Deal of the Day.  I heard it was a great book and boy howdy, did it deliver.

The Concept:  Set in a futuristic Southern Californian where the government is feared, the desperately poor are separated from the affluent.  One boy, Day, revolts against it after escaping his death sentence.  June works for the government and is determined to bring Day in after he’s the main suspect in her brother’s death.

The Peeps:  Day and June are pretty spectacular.  The book is a dual narrative from chapter to chapter and done very well.  It makes you sympathetic to both characters even when they are enemies.  Day is pretty much the perfect combination of charm, smarts, skill, hotness, and sensitivity.  Honestly, there isn’t a flaw in him.  And maybe that should be a problem, but not for me.  I wanted to love him.

June is also well written.  She’s strong, confident, and smart.  I love it for the female role.  The best part is even though she is smitten with Day when they meet, she doesn’t soften.  She keeps to her role and moves forward with trapping him.

The thing they both have in common which ups their likability is their devotion to family.  It’s their motivation for every action they take and you understand why they make every decision.  Folks, that’s great writing.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  Day is captured by June and sentenced to death.  In the days leading up to it, June investigates and realizes Day isn’t responsible for her brother’s death.  Instead, it is the government she works for who killed her brother, and her parents years before.  June works to help Day escape and they go on the run.

My only issue with the ending was it was kinda anticlimactic.  The novel is fast-paced, emotionally intense with surprises, and the ending was kinda expected.  When you read about an awesome boy like Day you know he’s not going to die, especially when there are two more books.  I guess this is the downside to series.  There are some losses in the end, but I wasn’t surprised.

This is still a great read.  I’ve already recommended it to those around me who love YA.  Once I’m caught up with my To Be Read pile I will probably finish the series.

What I Cooked Up:  It took me a while to come up with a baked treat for this book.  Weeks, in fact.  The two things I knew for sure was I wanted something contrasting, yet the same.  This is a lot like June and Day.  June is accepted by her opulent community while Day survives as a poor outcast.  They couldn’t be more different, yet share the things that mean the most like a loyalty to family, the desire to do what’s right, and hope in tomorrow.

A black and white cake seemed to highlight their different worlds.  Keeping with the same cake texture to represent them shows they really aren’t that different.  The cake layering gives homage to their stories being intertwined and building on each other.  Plus, it was pretty darn tasty just like this book.

Legend by Marie Lu

  

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