Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

Title: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Published: July 21st 2015 by Gallery Books
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / IndieBound

"YOU'VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancĂ©…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together."

Thoughts: Food and books go hand in hand, right? Why not pair the two together and create a story based around a struggling chef and a food critic? Well, let me tell you, what's inside this novel is as delicious as how that coconut cake cover looks. THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE completely took me by surprised and sent me on this quirky, fun journey that had me craving food for days. Have you heard of cheese curds before? I haven't, and the name sounds gross, but now I can't help but want some. Thanks a lot, Amy E. Reichert!

One cup of drama.
The story starts off with Lou who owns a French restaurant named after her loving grandmother. This restaurant is her dream, and for the most part things are going well, until start taking a downward turn. It's bad enough Delvin, her fiance, doesn't want her spending so much time at Luella's (aka her restaurant), but then she ends up catching him with an intern at his office. Yikes. To top if off, Lou ends up creating the worst dish of her life which ends up being served to the nastiest food critic in town.

Al works in Wisconsin and hates it. He's a food critic and even though he has a huge following, he can't help but want to be somewhere else, life somewhere else, do something else. It's not until he meets this lovely lady with the heavenly smelling coconut cake till he starts to realize maybe he's where he should be.

There's just the problem of him being the one who wrote the vicious, possibly career ruining review of Luella's to deal with.

A Tablespoon of hope.
One of the things I adored about this book is how the two characters meet and what develops between them. It really is a YOU'VE GOT MAIL-esque novel, because as the reader, you know what's going on. You see it all through each of their point of views, and while you just want to scream HEY, OPEN UP YOUR EYES AND SEE, you can't. You just have to sit back and see what unfolds.

A teaspoon of romance.
The novel definitely focuses more on the characters and their lives rather than romance. There's friendship first, as well as the possibility for more, but there's also the inner struggle of what they want to do with their lives. Even if they know, where will it take them? Now, I will say that the little bit of romance that's there is fantastic, and the novel wouldn't have been the same without it. I loved that the story focused more about Lou and Al getting to know each other, visiting all the best places in Wisconsin, and not a "let's grab a can of whipped cream, bring it back to my place, and see where it goes" type of story.

THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a light-hearted, entertaining, feel good read that shouldn't be missed. Be sure to have plenty of snacks around the house and possibly some beer or cider. You're going to need it. Oh, and did I mention there's a recipe at the end of the novel? Exactly.


4 Stars

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine. It features each bloggers most anticipated books. This week my pick is 738 Days by Stacey Kade.

"At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

With charm and heart, Stacey Kade takes readers on a journey of redemption and love."

Why I Can't Wait: THAT SUMMARY! Holy cow, this book just sounds like something I could easily fall in love with and finish in one sitting. It kind of reminds me of a grittier version of JESSE'S GIRL (which I loved), but with slightly older characters. Also, I adore Stacey Kade. She's such an incredible storyteller, and I would pretty much read her grocery list if she'd let.

Expected publication
: June 28th 2016 by Forge Books
Add it on Goodreads

Monday, January 18, 2016

Firsts Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

Welcome, welcome, to the next stop in the FIRSTS Blog Tour. I'm your host for today, and boy, do I have a lot of fun things planned today. First off, let's get to know FIRSTS a bit more, shall we?

"Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up. "

By Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Hardcover: 9781250075963 / $18.99
eBook: 9781466887329 / $9.99

Now, time for an excerpt!

Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor. An awkward, sweaty, fumbling favor. Melanie, or whatever her name is, owes me big time.
Except she’ll never know it.


“You’re not staying over,” I say, fastening the robe around my waist. “You’ll get there. Girls care less about that than you think. Especially in the beginning. You can work up to it together.”
He grins. He looks different, more handsome somehow. In the softer light, his pimples aren’t as evident and his jawline seems more pronounced. One day, I think Evan Brown could even be a heartbreaker.
But that day isn’t today.

I glance at the clock on my nightstand. Eleven p.m. on a Tues- day. “It’s a school night, Evan. Time for you to go. Your mother will wonder where you are.” Or I assume she would. Most mothers do. Not mine, of course.
His grin turns into a frown. “Do I, you know, owe you some- thing? I don’t know how this works . . .” His voice trails off.

“You don’t owe me anything. Just be good to her, okay? Re- member everything we talked about.”

I know he will. He even took notes. Open her car door for her. Bring her flowers, not something generic like roses but her actual favorite flowers. Have dinner reservations in advance, not necessarily somewhere fancy but somewhere meaningful, like where you had your first kiss or where you realized you loved her. Kiss her, not just on her lips but in unexpected places. On the nape of her neck. On her forehead. On her wrist. Push her hair behind her ears gently. Take a picture. She’ll want to remember the night.

I swallow against a lump that has risen up suddenly in my throat. It’s not that Evan is different—he’s a nice guy, a kid who loves his girlfriend and wants to please her. Maybe I’m the one who’s different. Maybe this speech is starting to feel too familiar. I told myself five favors for five deserving virgins. Five was the line I drew in the sand, and I trampled over it like it wasn’t even there. Evan is the tenth, and ten is a line I can’t just trample past.

But I’m certainly not going to get into this with Evan, so I put on a fake smile. I gesture around the room at the chaise lounge and walk-in closet and floor-to-ceiling shoe rack. “Besides, I really don’t need your money. Spend it on Melody.”

He pulls his boxers and pants back on. His movements are more measured, not the bumbling, terrified movements of the Evan Brown who entered my bedroom an hour ago. Even his voice seems deeper, like he came here a boy and is leaving as a man. I suppose that’s not far from the truth. I allow myself a little smile, a real one this time. It’s easy to reaffirm what I do. What happened to Evan in my bedroom will change him, make him into a more consider- ate lover, even a better boyfriend. Moments like these are what made that line in the sand so easy to obliterate.

Moments like these, I could see an eleventh, even though I promised myself that’s not going to happen. I’m starting the second half of senior year with all of my good karma already under my belt.
“I don’t know where you came from, but you saved my life, Mercy. I mean, Mercedes. I don’t know what I would’ve done with- out you.”

“You would’ve ripped five condoms by accident, and you might’ve drowned the girl in saliva. But now, you’re going to nail it. Literally.”

He tugs his shirt over his head. “When Gus told me how you helped him, I didn’t believe it. But he was right—you’re an angel.” He pauses. “But can I ask you—”

I cut him off midsentence. “No, you can’t. Don’t spoil it.” “But you didn’t even let me finish,” he protests.

“Oh, I let you finish,” I say. “The one thing you can do for me is not ask me any questions.”

He nods. “Fair enough.” “Goodnight, Evan,” I say.

“Goodnight, Mercy. Uh, Mercedes.” He gets to my bedroom door and pauses with his hand on the doorknob.

“This won’t be awkward at school tomorrow, will it?” he says, looking back at me.

“Of course not,” I say, folding my arms over my chest. “It’s not going to be awkward at all, because what happened in this room becomes just a figment of your imagination the second you walk out that door.”

He gives me a tight-lipped smile and pulls the door shut after him. I can see his shoes underneath, can tell he’s lingering there, wondering if he said too much or not enough, not entirely convinced that his secret is safe with me.

But he has nothing to worry about. His secret, like those of nine of his fellow seniors, is safe with me. At Milton High, I’m my own statistic. People fail to see the great equalizer, the one thing the band geeks, the drama nerds, the jocks, and the preppies all have in common.

Me—Mercedes Ayres.

The girl who took their virginity.

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn went to school for journalism and later worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris. She lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and her Chihuahua.

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away one copy of FIRSTS to one very lucky person. This giveaway is open to US participants and ends February 12th (just in time for Valentine's Day!).

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