Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: Wings

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: March 1st, 2009

hardcover, 294 pages

intended audience: Young adult



Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

Review: This was a fun and enchanting introduction to this series! It was sweet and romantic and magical...a very fast read. What a unique twist on faerie lore!

I really liked the main character, Laurel. Her story is kind of a double-edged fish out of water story. When we first meet her she is trying to acclimate to public school after being home schooled her whole life. I liked that she was shy, but kind and willing to make friends when they approached her, but still kind of clung to her comfort zone. It's probably a lot like I would be so I related to that. One day she notices a bump on her back, and begins to really freak out when it gets bigger each day---of course going through all the worst case scenarios in her head. I never did understand her hesitance to go to her parents with that, as they were all very close. She wakes one morning to a shock: a flower has sprouted from her back...a flower!! She freaks out a bit, but mostly it inspires her to find out more about where she came from and who she really is.

I was, of course, completely sucked in to the love triangle going on in this story. David, the first person she meets at school, is my hero ;) He is sweet and funny and charmingly geek-minded. Not to mention gallant in the face of danger and totally excepting of a girl with a weird flower growing out of her back! Tamani is another faerie and the one who enlightens Laurel on the details of where she truly comes from.When we first meet him, he comes off as a little smug and cocky. He alludes to the fact that he and Laurel have a pretty strong past together, and further on you see that he's hurting from having been forced to let her go so she could grow up in the human world. I liked him, but for Laurel, I liked David more. We'll have to see where the rest of this series goes, but by the end of Wings, I was Team David all the way.

I can't wait to read the rest of this series---so many more details that this one has left me salivating for! Why did the faeries choose Laurel to send to the human world? What is her real place in the faerie world? More about Avalon!! And I must know more about Tamani and Laurel's past!

Visit Aprilynne Pike's site here.

Purchase Wings at: AmazonBN.comBook Depository Indiebound

Next in the series:
Illusions (coming May 3, 2011!)

Wednesday, April 27, 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.

by Wendy Delsol

release date: October 11, 2011 from Candlewick Press

Wendy Delsol’s FROST, is the sequel to her YA debut STORK.

After the drama of discovering that she’s a member of the Storks, a mystical order of women endowed with powerful abilities, Katla Leblanc is finally settling into her life in chilly Minnesota. In fact, the ex-California girl even hopes for a white Christmas. But Katla’s wintry wish unexpectedly turns into the snowstorm of the century, drawing the attention of Brigid, a gorgeous environmental researcher with an amazing array of fur coats and an unusual interest in Katla’s boyfriend, Jack.

Inspired by Norse mythology and Hans Christian Andersen’s THE SNOW QUEEN.

My thoughts: I loved Wendy Delsol's debut, Stork. So unique from anything else out there, and the first book had some really funny moments. I can't wait to see where else she takes this fun premise! You can see my review of Stork here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interview with Aimée Carter & The Goddess Test Giveaway!!

If you haven't read the The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter yet, I highly recommend you pick up copy and do so! It's such a great story. You can see my review here, where I gushed about it and gave it a very deserving 5-cupcake rating! :D

So today on Stories & Sweeties, I'm lucky enough to have a fun Q & A with debut author, Aimée Carter! Thanks for stopping by, Aimée!!

~Describe The Goddess Test in your own words?
The Goddess Test is a sort of sequel to the myth of Hades and Persephone, taking place eons after the original myth occurred. In one sentence: what happens when Hades must replace Persephone, and someone is killing off the candidates.

~Which character in The Goddess Test was your favorite to write?
Three way tie between Henry, James, and Ava. They were all so much fun to write for completely different reasons, and their voices were the strongest of the supporting characters.

~Can you let us in on any future projects you have in the works?
I'm currently working on the third Goddess Test book, and I also have a dystopian series coming from Harlequin Teen sometime in the next few years. The first book is entitled Masked, and I am insanely excited to get the chance to share it with you all.

~Can you tell a little about how you got interested in writing?
I started by writing fan fiction, and the feedback I got from reviewers helped me learn what worked and what didn't in both crafting a story and writing it down. I wrote my first original story when I was fifteen, and it sort of went from there. I have over two dozen finished manuscripts, some decent, most not. But each one was a learning experience.

~Tell us about your ideal writing space.
I would love to have an office someday where I can deny myself an internet connection and really focus on writing, but for now I write in bookstores. I bounce between a few of them, and I usually find a comfortable chair, get something to drink, and resist connecting to the internet until closing time. I listen to a song on repeat as well to drown out conversation and other noises going on around me.

~Who are your favorite authors? What are you reading right now?
JK Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Suzanne Collins, Anne Bishop (who doesn't write YA), David and Leigh Eddings (also not YA), Meg Cabot, Rick Riordan, etc. I'll give anything a chance though. Right now I'm finishing up Josephine Angelini's Starcrossed, and I'm loving it.

~What kind of books did you love to read as a child/teenager?
I think I read every single Babysitter's Club and Thoroughbred novel at least twice. I loved Roald Dahl as well. Mostly I went for chapter books even from a young age - the thinner ones were always over too quickly.

Fun questions:
~Favorite snack while writing?
Hot chocolate

~Favorite movie?
I have two: The Lion King and Closer.

~Favorite color?
I don't have one, but I prefer bright, deep, vibrant colors as opposed to darker ones or pastels.

~Favorite band and song?
I don't have a favorite band, but my favorite songs are Shawn Mullins' Shimmer and Damien Rice's The Blower's Daughter.

~Favorite teacher from your school years?
All of my writing and English teachers. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite.

~And everyone who visits me here at Stories & Sweeties answers this one: Do you like cupcakes? More frosting or more cake? :)
I LOVE cupcakes. I am a cupcake fiend. I usually prefer the cake, but I'm addicted to the sweet kind of frosting you can buy jars of and eat from a spoon. And I often do.

Thanks so much for having me!!

You're most welcome, Aimée!! I have a weakness for the store-bought jars of frosting, too. ;)

(photo credit to onyonet.)

SO...want a chance to win a copy of The Goddess Test? I'm going to give a copy away to one lucky reader! :D

The rules:
~Contest will run until May 15th, 2011, 11:59 PM PST.
~Must be 13 or older to enter.
~This contest is open internationally!
~To enter, you must be a follower (all contests that are funded solely by me require this.)
~Earn one extra entry by tweeting about this contest!
~Earn one extra point by commenting below with something you have in common with Aimée Carter! :D


Monday, April 25, 2011

Cover Story: The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

A tiny sneak peek of this cover has been on Goodreads for awhile now, but I've been waiting for it to be posted in a decent size so we could see all the interesting detail to feature it here! Another cool cover for Brenna Yovanoff! The story sounds pretty amazing, too...I can't wait!

Everything burns in Pandemonium

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped—and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

Coming November 15th, 2011 from Razorbill!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In My Mailbox {63}

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

Got some cool stuff this week! Two requested and three fun surprises! :D

For Review:
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
This sounds like a fun MG! I love stories like The Time Travelers and Mysterious Benedict Society so I'm hoping this is as great as those were!

Airborne by Constance Sharper
This sounds unique and intriguing! Harpies! I've never seen those as the "featured creature" in YA fiction!

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Oh, this one looks like a sad one, I'll need to stock up on my couch-side kleenex! :)

Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Sumner
New faerie stories are always welcome in my tbr pile! I haven't read Bones of Faerie, so I'll have to track that one down first---don't want to be lost!

Flip by Martyn Bedford
Looks interesting! A boy wakes up one day and doesn't recognize his life or the face staring back at him in the mirror!

Many thanks to Random House, Candace Sharper, and HarperTeen!

So, question: Would anyone be interested in seeing a shelf tour from me? Not sure if I will, and certainly not sure of my video-making skills (haha), but just seeing if people enjoy these! :D

Show me what you got in those mailboxes, everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

publisher: Harlequin Teen

release date: April 19, 2011

paperback, 304 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher through Netgalley

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

Review: I'm going to try to keep this review short, because this story is full of little surprises and twists and turns that can easily be given away in all my blabbering and gushing, but I will say...I loved this book. The main character, Kate Winters, was courageous and selfless and completely relatable. Because her mother has been sick for so long, taking care of her is her whole life, there's been no room for anything else, no friends, no boys, no hobbies. Her mother moves them back to the town where she grew up. She insists that Kate go to school, make some friends, and hopefully let the town grow on her enough to stay after she is gone. While attempting to do just that, Kate meets a few new people, some of them not quite what they seem, and a jealous prank sets in motion a chain of events that Kate never could have expected.

I loved the unusual relationships in this one. Kate and her mother's, of course,---you easily feel how precious each moment is with her mother on the brink of death. I also loved the slow-blooming and sometimes tumultuous feelings between Kate and Henry. I love that it's not just cut and dry, sometimes she admires him, sometimes she can't forget that he is on some level her captor. Its a little bit Beauty and the Beast, a little bit Jane and Rochester; he is not at all what you first expect him to be. Not to give too much away, but there some moments between them that definitely had me feeling a little swoony.

The little twists and fun surprises in this were great, and even when I predicted a turn of events correctly, I couldn't wait to see it play out. A huge applause for Aimee Carter for the way she expertly wove the old mythical characters into her story, giving them fresh new lives and personalities. Not at all a rehashing of the old legends, but a wonderful newly-imagined tale!

This is a must-read! Don't pass this up!

Visit Aimee Carter's site here.

Purchase The Goddess Test at: Amazon BN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Tuesday, April 19, 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.

Juliet Immortal
by Stacey Jay

release date: September 13th, 2011 from Delacorte Books for Young Readers

"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

My thoughts: I love Romeo & Juliet---and this sounds like it completely takes that classic story and turns in inside out and upside down, and throws in a little paranormal fun in there just for kicks. I can't wait to read this one!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: A Need So Beautiful

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

release date: June 21, 2011

hardcover, 252 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: Around the World ARC Tours

description:Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

There have been others before who’ve felt the Need, but they’re gone—erased from the memories of everyone whose lives they had touched. It's as though they never existed. This is the fate that awaits Charlotte. But the last thing Charlotte wants to do is disappear, to be Forgotten. She wants to stay with her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. She wishes she could just ignore the Need, but she can’t. And as everyone important in her life begins to slowly forget her, she has to decide if she’ll fight the Need in order to remain herself—no matter how dark the consequences.

Review: A Need So Beautiful presents a really unique premise, and while I didn't fall head over heels in love with it, I did enjoy it quite a bit. The story really give you a lot to think about---Charlotte is not so much an angel as she is this being of light whose soul purpose on earth is to guide people to do the right thing and then be instantly forgotten. She feels "The Need" as she calls it, and is compelled, quite painfully I might add, to the place and person where she is needed, but once her message is delivered, its like she was never there. Furthermore, as her time on earth comes to a close, everyone she ever loved or knew starts to forget her. The story is about her struggle with all of this and the temptation to turn to something dark if it means being remembered and loved. This was the part of the story that I really enjoyed, the whole dark vs. light plot, and finding out which path Charlotte would choose. I also really loved the stories behind the people she was drawn to help and how they got into the situation they were in---all really interesting back stories.

I really liked Charlotte. She was pretty normal, in the beginning just kind of rolling with the punches of her strange "Needs" and humoring her best friend when she suspects that Charlotte is psychic. The blurb alludes to the fact that Charlotte's boyfriend, Harlin, thought she was cheating on him, but I didn't really see that anywhere. He was an interesting character; not your everyday variety bad boy---he's hiding a pretty big softy side and he really loved Charlotte. It's kind of funny, while I liked Charlotte and I liked Harlin, I didn't especially like them together. For me, it was a little too much boyfriend worship at the beginning. Whenever he was mentioned, it would be "oh he's so beautiful, oh he's so perfect". (And just a note, for those considering this for younger readers, there is a quite a bit of casual sex going on.) It wasn't until we got into Harlin's history a bit more that I got a feeling for his character. Same with the best friend. Sarah was hard for me to click with---she was selfish and self-destructive. It wasn't until really far into the story that you get a tiny glimpse of her home life and then I was able to feel some compassion for her. Monroe, Charlotte's boss, was meant to be a kind of father-figure to her, but he really just came off as kind of creepy to me---which was actually perfect for propelling the story since his motives often come into question.

A really thought-provoking story that pulled lots of conflicting emotions from me! It was poignant and heart-wrenching and filled with little moments of life lessons about family, love, giving selflessly, remembrance, and taking those little decisions for granted that effect our lives in big ways. Definitely worth a read and the ending left a nice possibility for a sequel.

Visit Suzanne Young's site here.

Pre-order A Need So Beautiful at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository IndieBound

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox {62}

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

I got a fun mix of books for review this week! Um, for some reason this picture looks a bit blurry, but it you click on it, it blows up nice and big and clear :)

For Review:
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (signed!!)
Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Survivors by Amanda Havard

It's very late and my brain is shutting down, so I'm beyond the ability to come up with my normal little mini blurbs for each one,...but I will say I'm incredibly excited for all of them!! :D
And HUGE thanks go out to Random House, Fiewel & Friends, Josephine Angelini and Kismet Book Tours, Harlequin Teen, Amanda Havard and NPG PR.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Old Books, New Looks

Ok, so not old books. Already released books, that's a little better, but doesn't make as catchy of a blog post title :D It seems to be an ongoing trend in bookworld these days to come up with a whole new cover concept for an updated or paperback release. Sometimes I like the new one better, sometimes I am peeved that they changed the look because usually, they match the sequel in a series to the madeover cover, so if I bought the hardcover, now my books won't be all matchy and pretty on my shelves. Ah well, c'est la vie. So here are a few that I've come across lately.

<~ From this

To this ~>

<~ and this

to this ~>

and last but certainly not least,

<~ this

to this ~>

Here's what I think: LOVE the new Eternal Ones, LOVE the new Natalie Hargrove (the original was a bit too cheesy for my liking), and I am torn between the two Between Shades of Grey covers, both are very pretty, but something about the single sprout coming up in the snow on the original cover gives the book a more dramatic, somber feel.
So what do you think? Fan of the new or the original covers?

Wednesday, April 13, 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 Name of the Star
by Maureen Johnson

release date: September 29th, 2011 from Putnam

description: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

My thoughts: This sounds like a great blend of murder mystery, thriller, and a little bit of paranormal goodness thrown in for good measure. I've never read this author, but this looks like it's going to be a good place to start!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: The Gathering

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: April 12, 2011

hardcover, 359 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for an honest review

description: Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

Review: This is the start of another amazing trilogy for Kelley Armstrong. It takes place in the same world as her Darkest Powers series, but in a different place. Being such a fan of the last books, it seriously sent shivers up my spine to see the names of the creepy scientists from the before mentioned in this one, too. The story is based in a town that was built around a research facility. Most of the parents work for the lab and the testing, examinations, and secrecy (supposedly to keep their research from being stolen) are part of the daily life for everyone in the town, including the local teens. It was a fascinating setting and it set up a very unique dynamic for the whole town. It was like a small town set up, but ten times more enigmatic.

Maya was a fantastic character. She is strong, competitive, willful, but also kind. She had the most entertaining sense of humor---any character that has me laughing out loud no less than four times in the first twenty pages is good with me. She has a strong connection to nature and animals, which she thinks nothing of having grown up in the forest, until she crosses paths with a mysterious old women who calls her a witch and it gets her curious about some strange things that have been happening. I really liked the friendship between her and Daniel. There is quite an impenetrable bond there, having been friends since they were 5 or 6 and having gone through the worst tragedy possible together. He is just this rock, and seems like they would be able to stand against the world together! I can't wait to see where the whole thing with Maya and Rafe, the new kid in town, leads. Obviously, they've got some major things in common and some serious chemistry going on there, but we'll have to wait and see what consequences that amazing ending will cause!

As with the Darkest Powers series, the cliffhanger ending is brutal. It reminds me of the old-timey TV shows were it would be in the height of the action and intrigue... and then the announcer would come on and say "tune in next time to see if our hero makes it out alive!"
Kelley Armstrong is my official Queen of the Cliffhangers! This one ends and my mind was literally spinning with questions: "but, but, but...what about?? and what happens to?? and who was this person really??"
She certainly knows how to get her readers hooked and hungry for the next installment. OH, it's going to be a long wait.

Visit Kelley Armstrong's site here!

Purchase The Gathering at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository IndieBound

Monday, April 11, 2011

Daniel Cohen: Master of the Veil

Daniel A. Cohen, author of The Ancillary's Mark, has just signed on with Spencer Hill Press for his upcoming book, Masters of the Veil. SHP is a smaller publishing house, but has put out exceptional YA fiction like The Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and The Ganzfield series by Kate Kaynak. So congrats, Daniel!

While the book won't hit shelves until March of 2012, I'm happy to be able to share the cover with you and a little about the story!

Life can’t get much better for Sam Lock. Popular, good-looking, and with a future as a professional football player… every guy at Stanton High School wishes he were Sam. That is, until his championship football game, when Sam accidentally links with an ancient source of energy known as the Veil and reveals his potential to become a powerful sorcerer.

Sam’s dreams are crushed as he is whisked off to Atlas Crown, a community of sorcerers who utilize the Veil as a part of everyday life. Once there, he trains beside a mute boy who speaks through music, an eternal sage who is the eyes and ears of the Veil, and a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot.

As it becomes clear that Sam is meant for power magic—the most feared and misunderstood form of sorcery—people beyond Atlas Crown learn of his dangerous potential. An exiled group of power sorcerers are eager to recruit Sam, believing that he is destined to help them achieve their long-held goal. If they succeed, they could bring about the downfall of not only Atlas Crown… but all of humankind.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sweetness on Sunday - Mini Malt Ball Cupcakes!

Who likes Whoppers Malt Balls?? I do, I do! :D
So if you're with me on that one, I've got a great little cupcake for you this week!
I make this in mini-cupcake size for two reasons,...they are very rich and chocolatey, so the tiny size is the perfect portion, and two, because I like the malt ball garnish to be nice and big on top! :)

I've seen this one around, variations in books, on the internet. Everyone seemed to credit someone different, and when I baked them I made a few changes as I went along to suit my tastes, so I'm not sure who to credit for these! They were quite wonderful though!


Mini Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes
makes 48 cute little mini cupcakes! (or 24 regular size cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 cup of malted milk balls, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup instant malted milk powder
1-1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened a bit
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons of instant malted milk powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup whipped milk chocolate frosting (like Betty Crocker-this is optional, I added it mainly because I didn't like how the light in color the frosting was, but it also gave it a little more chocolate flavor!)

Get Baking!
~Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper cupcake liners in each cup of your cupcake tin.
~In a large bowl, mix cake mix, crushed malt balls, and malted milk powder.
~Add the water, oil, and the eggs. Beat with a mixer on low for 2 minutes.
~Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
~Bake for 15 minutes. (This time is for mini cupcakes. Bake about 20 minutes for regular cupcakes. Insert a toothpick, when it comes out clean, they are done!
~Cool completely on cooling rack.

Make the frosting!
~Beat all ingredients together on medium speed until it's smooth. I suggest starting off with 2 tablespoons of milk and adding milk as needed until you get the desired consistency for your frosting.

To garnish: I simply cut malt balls in half and put them on top of each cupcake. I've seen other variations where your leave the malt ball whole, or sprinkle with crushed malt balls. Up to you!

Hope they put a smile on your face! :)

In My Mailbox {61}

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

Got 2 for review and a ton of great stuff at the local library book sale!!! I love those. It never ceases to amaze me that the books I get are all withdrawn library book, but once you take the plastic cover off, they look brand new like no one's ever even cracked them open!

For Review:
The Time Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
I've heard mixed reviews for this one, but as a vintage dress collector, I am absolutely in love with the beautiful illustrations of vintage ensembles inside. I hope I love the story as well!!

Supernaturally by Kiersten White (!!!)
And here we have my happy dance book of the week! SO excited to get this one, loved, loved, loved the first book!!

Library Books Sale:
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Billie Standish Was Here by Nancy Crocker
Library sale books, continued...

And library sale books, continued some more!
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
One Trick Pony by Daniella Brodsky
At the Sign of the Sugar Plum by Mary Hooper
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
The Dark Flight Down by Marcus Sedgwick
The Silver Child by Cliff McNish
Seredipity Market by Penny Blubaugh

Ok so now I have two question for everyone!! :)
~Aside from Audrey, Wait, Silver Phoenix, and Fire (all of which I'm super excited to have found for a $1!) , I haven't heard of many of these wonderful goodies I found at the book sale. I picked them up because, by the description on the jacket flap, they all sounded really great! Have you read any of them? Recommend them? I wanna know!

~I get so many books at library book sales for such a great deal (I paid $9 bucks for this whole haul), and I'll love to share them once I've read them. They are literally like new, including the covers, except for a discard stamp and barcode right on the first blank cover page. So my second question is this---would you want to see these in a giveaway? Or find them acceptable in a trade? I would disclose that they were ex-library books, of course!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday

It's time to hop around and make some new blog friends!! If it's your first visit to Stories & Sweeties, WELCOME!!! Please feel free to link in the comments so I can visit you, too! :)

First off, we have Follow Friday hosted by Parakjunkee's View! (click the logo to get there!)Here's the featured question of the week:
Do you judge a book by it's cover?

My answer: YES. Yes, I do. I love pretty books. I love them to look pretty on my shelves, I love them to feel pretty in my hands (I can't get enough of that lovely suedey-feeling paper that they are using for some book covers these days---like Fallen--- *goes to feel up Fallen & Torment covers*---Ok, I'm back. Seriously. YA book covers have become some of the most gorgeous and creative around and, yes, once in while I let a cover completely sell me on a book, which of course on occasion, lands me with a bit of disappointment. On the other hand, there have been a few that I wasn't in love with the cover and the book became one of my favorite books (for example, Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus---love that book with all my heart, but think the cover could have been better.)

Next up is the Book Blog Hop hosted by Crazy-for-Books! (click the logo to get there!)This week, she asks: (question to come!! Check back later!) (update: the book blogger hop has been postposted until friday afternoon, so check back then for the q & a!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Winner Announcements!

Congrats to the following winners of my recent contests!!

Clarity Giveaway:

Crystal of Elegantly Bound Books
Carrie of In the Hammock

March "What's New?" Giveaway:

Meredith Miller

Happy dance for the winners! Enjoy your new books!

Wednesday, April 6, 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.

Circle of Fire
by Michelle Zink

releasing August 1, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Description: With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way.

There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them. This stunning conclusion to Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy will make saying good-bye bittersweet for readers.

My thoughts: I am SUPER excited for this book, but I know full well that when I turn that last page its going to leave a big gaping whole in my heart. I love this series. Its definitely up there on my list of favorites, and I am completely torn in half with sadness at seeing it end and pure excitement at seeing how the events will unfold for Lia, Alice, Dimitri, and the Prophecy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Huntress

Huntress by Malinda Lo

publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

release date: April 5th, 2011

hardcover, 384 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for honest review

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo's highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

Review: Stunning. Adventurous. Beautiful. Romantic. Lushly descriptive. Rich in culture and magic. High fantasy at it's very best. All of the above.

I could not wait to step back into the beautiful world that Malinda Lo built in her debut, Ash. In Huntress, we go back 200 years before the story of Aislynn and Kaisa, to see how the very first Huntress came about. Two students of the academy where sages are trained are called upon to make a perilous journey and meet with the Fairy Queen, hopefully to find out what she knows about the changes in the seasons that are destroying their lands. They are opposites, one is a devout student and a gifted seer who intends to become a sage. The other is a bit of wild child who will do anything to escape the fate her father has planned for her. Both of them were easily relatable, complicated characters. On this journey, they found bravery, adventure, strength, loss, friendship, and love.

The love story was perfect: tense and unsure, forbidden because all sages must take a vow of celibacy, they resist but dare to hope. They had this intense connection, each seemed to strengthen the other. As it played out, it was both heart-pounding and heart-breaking.

The language and flow and descriptions were just beautiful and completely effective in drawing up perfect visuals of what was happening in the story or the way something looked or sounded. One perfect example is this passage from the story:

The words were in another language---something brutal and dark, like a knuckle scraping against stone. She felt light-headed as her blood drained from her, making a slight hissing sounds when it struck the mixture in the clay pot. She couldn't look at the cut anymore, it was a mouth on her arm; it screamed at her.

One thing I did find slightly distracting was the quick changes in point of view. There were times when the POV would change so fast that I had to backtrack a few lines to be absolutely sure of who's head I was in, but it didn't take away from the story as a whole at all. I wouldn't have wanted it written any other way---all the different perspectives definitely added to the richness of the story.

This was another stunner from Malinda Lo---and I can only hope that she'll be writing these wonderful stories for a long time to come.

Visit Malinda Lo's site here.

Purchase Huntress at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In My Mailbox {60}

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

Got some great stuff this week: one tour book, one super gorgeous review book, and I happened upon an awesome sale at 3 paperbacks, get a fourth free---so I did a little book-buying as well! (By the way, the fourth paperback was for a friend so it's not shown here, but it was Ruined by Paula Morris, which I read last year and loved!)
For Review:
Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
Happy dance for this one! I'm very excited to read this modern day retelling of Tristan and Isolde. This cover is one of my favorites out there right now!

From Around the World ARC Tours:
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Been looking forward to this one for a long time, so when the tour opened, I happily jumped on board!

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
I received the second book in the this series, so I grabbed this to read first. I opened it as soon it got here and I was immediately drawn into the story!

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore
I've always wanted to read this one and I'm really anticipating the authors upcoming book, Texas Gothic---thought it was the perfect time to try this one out!

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
I reluctantly handed this one back to the library unread recently, so when the B&N sale came along I ordered a copy of my own. :)

Hope everyone has a good week!

Friday, April 1, 2011

What's New: April Releases & Giveaway

Well another little bit of 2011 has slipped sneakily by...and what does that mean?? It's time for the April "What's New" New Reads List & Giveaway here at Stories & Sweeties! Here 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, without further ado...the book birthdays of April!

April Releases:

Betrayal by Mayandree Michel
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowen
Eclipse of the Jaguar by Richard Trout
In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastophes by Amber Kizer
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Faerie Winters by Janni Lee Simner
The Fitzosbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper
Flip by Martyn Bedford
The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High 2) by Lisi Harrison
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Plague by Michael Grant
Red Glove by Holly Black
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Teeth: Vampire Tales by Cassandra Clare, Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Marr, etc.
Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer
Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigiani
Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Rage by Jackie Kessler

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap
My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipson
What Comes After by Steve Watkins

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier by Jonathan Strahan
On the Volcano by James Nelson
The Returning by Christine Hinwood

Shatter: A Daughter's Regret by Melody Carlson

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez
Coven's Daughter by Lucy Jago
Defiance by Lili St. Crow
Eona by Alison Goodman
Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
Rage of the Fallen by Joseph Delany and Patrick Arrasmith

Abandon by Meg Cabot
Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Carmen by Walter Dean Myer
Corsets and Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances by Lesley Livingston, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, etc.
Family by Micol Ostow
Forever Summer by Alyson Noel
Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese
Gifted : Speak No Evil by Marilyn Kaye
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley
Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel by Candace Bushnell
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Back When You Were Easier to Love
by Emily Wing Smith
Exile by Anne Osterlund

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

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