Blogtober Day Three: Books & Baking – Tweet Cute

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Hiii, lovelies! I’m back again for another Books & Baking post! This is another that  baked and photographed forever ago. It was actually right around when everything closed in the U.S. due to Covid. So, like everyone else in the world, did a lot of baking. For this installment of Books & Baking, I attempted one of the bizarre and wildly appealing recipes from Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I also want to thank the wonderful Jen from Novels and Notions for allowing me to use the photo below. I read this book as an eARC so I didn’t have a copy to take pictures with, but Jen is a good friend of mine and I adore her photos. So, visit her Instagram to see more lovely pictures like the one below!

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Book: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Read my full review here!

I loved this book. It was funny and cheesy (hah!) and so heartwarming. It follows two teens who manage the social media for their parents. These two are as opposite as opposite can be. But they form an unlikely friendship that turns into more. Things get interesting when they both find out the other is behind the social media (which has turned into a viral Twitter rivalry) of their families business. I loved the family aspects of this story. There were good and bad moments, but the end really solidified my love for the story.

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

“But sometimes even shouting into a void feels better than just staring into it.”

“Do you ever feel like someone just took something from you?” Yes, I want to say. Sometimes it feels like it’s been four years of this place taking and taking, and I’m all out of pieces to give—like I don’t even know the shape of myself anymore.”

“A stolen day. The kind of day that ends too fast but stays with you much longer.”

“These are the things that tether me, the things I’ve always been and just assumed would always be. What she’s saying right now feels a lot like permission to leave it behind, and it scares me every bit as much as it relieves me.”

“I can see it too. That I don’t belong here. That even after all this time and everything I’ve done, the things I’ve pressed and organized and pushed into myself to fit into this place, home is still somewhere a thousand miles away. Farther than that, even. Because that version of home doesn’t exist anymore.”

Baking: Monster Cake 

Find the full recipe on Emma Lord’s website here! (Seriously, read this. It’s hilarious.)

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I chose to make Monster Cake from this book because, as I said at the beginning of this post, I chose to bake when the world started to close down and I was craving something super sweet. This definitely was that.

“But no matter what else happens, this one thing my mom has always had a weakness for–Monster Cake. A perilous invention from childhood, the day Paige and Mom and I decided to test the limits of our rinky-dink oven with a combination of Funfetti cake mixed with brownie batter, cookie dough, Oreos, Reese’s Cups, and Rolos. The result was so simultaneously hideous and delicious that my mom fashioned googly eyes on it out of frosting, and thus, Monster Cake was born.”

Ingredients

A box of Funfetti cake mix (plus the ingredients the box says you need)

A box of chocolate brownie mix (plus the ingredients the box says you need)

Edible cookie dough (or cookie dough you make without eggs)

A tub of vanilla frosting

A bag of Rolos

A bag of Reese’s

A box of Oreos

Googly eyes

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the brownie batter and cake batter in two separate bowls, and set aside. Chop your ingredients. This does not by any means need to be precise (Emma laid out 16 Rolos, chopped 12 Oreos into fourths, and chopped eight Reese’s Cups into fourths.) Divide your candy in half. Mix the first half in the brownie mix, and the second half in the cake mix. Grease baking dish. Put globs of the cake and the brownie mix into the pans. Then take a fork and swirl it around. You want the brownie and the cake batter to be mostly separate. Stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the Monster Cake out of the oven, and add globs of edible cookie dough on top of it. Stick it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Remove and let cool. Add googly eyes and squiggly mouth as it pleases you.

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This is just as horrifying and just as delicious as it sounds. I made the mistake of overbaking mine. I gave it five more minutes too many times, but it was still delicious. It was way too sweet for my husband, but perfect for me. I had so much fun with the utter ridiculousness of making this also. This would be super fun to make in a few years once my child is a bit older. Does this sound like something you would attempt? Let me know in the comments.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Books & Baking – What I Like About You

Hey, lovelies! Today on Books & Baking we will be talking about a 2020 release that I purchased specifically for this blog feature. The preorder incentive was a bookmark and (drumroll) a recipe card! So, obviously I couldn’t resist. I also used this recipe for my daughter’s birthday. I was planning to make cupcakes for her birthday anyway, so two birds, one stone and all that. This round of Books & Baking will focus on What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter.

Book: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

Read my full review here!

This book was full of sweetness (get it? Because of the cupcakes?), but it also dealt with grief and the struggle of having an online identity that’s different from your in person one. I really enjoyed that this book was focused around book blogging. There were a few things I disagreed with, but overall I liked the main characters point of view on what it means to be a book blogger, and a well known one online. The only thing I didn’t like was the secret keeping trope, but I didn’t totally hate it in this instance. I understood why Halle didn’t want to share her online persona with someone she now knew in both worlds. Overall, I enjoyed this story and it’s characters.

“That’s the problem with words. In my head, words are magic. My thoughts are eloquent and fierce. On the page, words are music. In the clicks of my keyboard, in the scratches of pencil meeting paper. In the beauty of the eraser, of the backspace key. On the page, the words in my head sing and dance with the precision of diction and the intricacies of rhythm. Out loud? Words are the worst.” 

“It’s knowing the world might be a trash fire, but it’s less trash when there are people to help navigate the darkness. Friendship is messy. Hard. Infuriating. Awesome. Fragile. Durable. Impossible. Worth it. Always worth it.”

Baking: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Above is the wonderful recipe card that I got as my preorder incentive. I love books with food in them and this one was stuffed full of cupcakes and baking. It made me want to bake some cupcakes and eat them while I was reading. This recipe was pretty easy. Though, I’d never zested a lemon before, so that was interesting. The mixing everything together was the easy part, everything after putting them in the oven was hard.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I did wrong, but they did not come out how I expected them to at all. The cupcakes were basically ruined in my attempts to get them out of my pan. I never use the cupcake liners, but I think I should have. I also think I should have baked them a little bit longer, but I almost always overbake things and I didn’t want to do that with these. I also had issues with the frosting. It wasn’t very frosting like. I was expecting it to be thicker, like frostings I have made in the past. I’m not even sure if it was supposed to be thicker, but it definitely didn’t stay where I wanted it to. Despite all of these issues, they still tasted delicious. The combination of lemon in the cupcake and the raspberry in the frosting was weird but so delicious. So, they look terrible but they taste really good and the taste is all I really care about. Do these sound like something you would try? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak

GoodReads Summary:
Ask anyone in Winship, Maine, and they’ll tell you the summer camp Quinn’s family owns is a magical place. Paper wishes hang from the ceiling. Blueberries grow in the dead of winter. According to local legend, a sea monster even lurks off the coast. Mostly, there’s just a feeling that something extraordinary could happen there.
Like Quinn falling in love with her best friend, Dylan.
After the accident, the magic drained from Quinn’s life. Now Dylan is gone, the camp is a lonely place, and Quinn knows it’s her fault.
But the new boy in town, Alexander, doesn’t see her as the monster she believes herself to be. As Quinn lets herself open up again, she begins to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined.
Wild Blue WonderReview:
Wild Blue Wonder was a wonderful story about siblings and grief and learning how to move forward after the death of someone important. This story is told in the past as well as the present. In the past, Quinn talks about how and when she fell in love with Dylan. The only problem with this is that Dylan is her best friend, but he’s also her siblings’ best friend and they might be in love with him too. I thought the chapters told in the past were really interesting. They were told in a suspenseful way that also enlightened us on the characters, made me care about them even more. It really gave perspective on how much things have changed for the siblings in the present. In the present, Quinn and her brother and sister can barely look at one another. They fight all the time or just ignore each other. It made me really sad to see them this way after getting to see them together during camp the previous year. I really liked the progress that the three made toward the end of the book. While this story was primarily about Quinn and how she was working on moving forward after the death of her best friend, which she views as her fault, there were some really great moments with the three of them toward the end. As with any horrible situation, like a best friend dying, each sibling has their own issues that they’re holding onto about it. I really loved the conclusion of the story when the three come back together and finally talk and work through what each of them is feeling and why they’re hurting. I just loved the family dynamic. Along with Quinn’s brother and sister, she also lives with her parents and her grandmother. I loved Quinn’s relationship with her grandmother. She always just seems to know what Quinn needs to help her feel a little better. They rebuild one of her grandfather’s boats together and it really was a wonderful part of the story.
Overall, I just really enjoyed this book. It was sad and heartbreaking, but there was real character growth and I loved these characters so much that it made my heart so happy to see them all work through their bad stuff and try to move forward. I also really liked Quinn’s friends. They were supportive and did their best to stand by her and help hold her together. I also liked how this story was diverse and inclusive. Quinn’s older brother was gay and that was explored a bit in both the past and present timelines. I thought this was a great story and I would definitely recommend it.

Quotes:

“My mother used to tell me that sometimes when a woman’s in darkness, she doesn’t need a goddamn flashlight. She needs another woman to stand in the dark by her side.”

“I could sell some of them — get a good chuck of change. But these were Grandpa’s. In my mind, these are Grandpa’s. All around us, this is my grief. And my grief fills the entire barn.”

“I chisel with frigid, numb hands. I scoop out crevices and corners, work over this spot and that spot again and again, dig out this disease that’s infecting everything. It’s the only way to begin.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

GoodReads Summary:
Today, she hates him.
It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.
Tonight, she puts up with him.
When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.
As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.
Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.
Today Tonight TomorrowReview:
Why is it so much harder to talk about books that you really loved compared to books that you didn’t? Well, that’s the struggle I’m having here.
Today Tonight Tomorrow follows Rowan during the last day of her senior year. The story opens with an introduction of her rival, Neil (aka McNightmare). There’s just something about rivals to lovers that is so great. Rowan goes to school for her final day of high school. She’s waiting on the news of whether she has won valedictorian or if Neil has won. Valedictorian is her last competition with Neil. It’s the last thing she can win. When she loses, she realizes there is one more competition for them: Howl. Howl is a game that combines assassin with a scavenger hunt. After she overhears some of her classmates plotting to target her and Neil (and saying some really hurtful shit related to her being Jewish) she decides to get Neil to team up with her and take the win from him at the last minute.
I really loved that this book took place over one day. I am fascinated by Solomon’s ability to write such a heartfelt and wonderful story that was only one day of these characters lives. In the beginning of the story, we really get a feel from Rowan’s perspective how fierce this rivalry is. But as the night goes on, Rowan realizes how little she actually knows about Neil. Over their high school career, Rowan has made a lot of assumptions about Neil without ever really getting to know him. So, they manage to get to know one another better while seeing the sights of Seattle. This includes dinner with Rowan’s family, meeting Neil’s mom, and seeing his room (in which he has a very specific romance novel!!) They share intimate details and I loved seeing them really develop a friendship. Rowan realizes that their rivalry might not be what she thought it was. I just really loved how naturally their friendship grew. The conflicts that got in their way were interesting and I liked that they were relatable issues. Rowan was scared and she let that get in the way. But she made amends and I ship this relationship so hard.
I also enjoyed Rowan’s friends. They were straight shooters that didn’t just let Rowan get away with her crappy behavior. I liked that they let her deal with how her actions were making them feel, while also letting her know that they still love her.
Overall, I just loved this book. Rowan just wanted to succeed, but she also learned from what those around her were telling her and tried to do better. She was imperfect, but did her best to work on the issues her loved once were addressing with her. I also really enjoyed going from thinking of Neil as someone that Rowan needs to completely obliterate to friendship to more. It was so well done and I just loved them. The last thing I want to mention is that both Neil and Rowan are Jewish. This comes up at a few different points in the story and I really enjoyed the moments surrounding those traditions that were included. While it was a really fun story, it also covered more serious topics like Rowan worrying about leaving Seattle and her future. Rowan also fights the good romance fight, constantly standing up for why it’s a valid form of literature (which it obviously is and this shouldn’t even be a debate anymore). I loved all of these things about this book.

Quotes:

“Neil McNair has become my alarm clock, if alarm clocks had
freckles and knew all your insecurities.”

“You wrote a fucking book. Do you know how many people
wish they could do that, or how many people talk about doing it
and never do?”

“Maybe that’s the definition of nostalgia: getting sappy about things that are supposed to be insignificant.”

“The love that I wanted so desperately: this isn’t what I thought it would feel like. It’s made me dizzy and it’s grounded me. It’s made me laugh when nothing is funny. It shimmers and it sparks, but it can be comfortable, too, a sleepy smile and a soft touch and a quiet, steady breath. Of course this boy—my rival, my alarm clock, my unexpected ally—is at the center of it. And somehow, it’s even better than I imagined.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

GoodReads Summary:
Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.
There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.
He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…
Except who she really is.
Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.
That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.
Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.
If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.
What I Like About YouReview:
The cupcakes were what sold me on this book. I love a book that has delicious treats and What I Like About You was full of cupcakes. This was a sweet and entertaining YA story. Halle and her brother move in with her grandfather for Halle’s senior year of high school while her parents are off filming another documentary. Her grandmother has recently died and they’re all learning how to deal with the loss. At the same time, she’s working on her college applications. Part of that is coming up with new things for her blog. She runs a book blog where she talks about books and also bakes bookish cupcakes. She’s most excited about the possibility of doing a cover reveal for a well-known author that is one of her favorite authors. She wants to work in the publishing industry, like her grandmother, and her first step to that is her blog and college. On her blog and her blog-related social media, Halle goes by the name Kels because she wanted to make a name for herself outside of what her grandmother was known for.
So, when Halle meets her online best friend, Nash, in her new town she doesn’t know how to tell him that she is Kels. This is one of my least favorite tropes, keeping secrets or miscommunication. But I sort of understood why Halle didn’t tell Nash who she was. I definitely think it could have been handled better, but I could see where she was coming from.
Overall, this book was good. There were good family dynamics. Halle’s brother was bisexual. Her friend group was interesting and I liked that they showed they were Halle’s friend and not just Nash’s when the truth came out about her being Kels. I also liked the conversations about religion. Many of the characters are Jewish. Halle and her brother are, but they missed out on a lot while moving around with their parents. So, they learn new things and traditions about their religion. They learn from their friends and from their grandfather. I liked that none of the characters had the same relationship with religion. Much like in real life, they each took something different from their beliefs. This is definitely a story I’ll be recommending, and I have a books & baking post planned for the future!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

GoodReads Summary:
Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.
As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.
I See London, I See France (I See London, I See France, #1)Review:
This story was so fun. I needed a book that had a heart in the title or on the cover for the OWLs Readathon and this book has a cute heart emoji on the cover.
I devoured this story. I loved the traveling adventures. I loved getting to see all the places they went to and the tourist attractions they visited. I thought the settings were really well done and made the story so fun.
The characters were interesting. I thought Sydney was really put out of her comfort zone on her trip to Europe because she doesn’t want to leave her mother who is agoraphobic. So, she’s constantly worrying about her mom and her younger sister having to take care of her mom. I thought this was interesting to include in the story. I loved how much she worried and cared about her family, but it was also nice to see her finally do something just for herself. She’s a person that just cares about the people in her life. Including the friend she’s traveling in Europe with.
Sydney and Leela’s relationship isn’t a perfect one. I liked that. It’s realistic and believable. I think they both had issues they needed to work out, and while I wished they’d addressed said issues sooner, I’m happy with the way that it was handled and resolved.
Overall, this story was fun and full of adventure. But it also included real-life problems and really enjoyed that. I think this was a great novel full of wonderful settings and interesting characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.